How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king

History’s Vikings is finally back for the second half of season 5 and the story has shifted focus from the legendary Viking warrior, Ragnar Lothbrok, to his sons, Björn Ironside and Ivar the Boneless.


While previous installments of the show took plenty of creative liberties in order to craft a coherent story of the sparsely documented early days of the Viking Age, the lives of Björn and Ivar are more thoroughly recorded, which means this season is likely to be rooted in hard evidence.

In real life, Björn “Ironside” Ragnarsson was a legendary king of Sweden and founder of the Munsö dynasty. He brought tremendous prosperity to his people by leading vicious raids and establishing bountiful trade routes across the Old World. Ivar “the Boneless” Ragnarsson, on the other hand, is remembered as either being a masterful, yet slightly psychotic general of the Great Heathen Army or as the revered founder of Dublin — sometimes both.

Since most historical accounts are steeped in myth and lore, it’s hard to pin down what kind of Viking Ivar was.

The stories are fascinating nonetheless. Upon first hearing his name, you’re bound to wonder how he came to be known as “the Boneless” — there are several theories. Some historians believe he suffered from osteogenesis imperfecta, otherwise known as “brittle bone disease,” a genetic disorder that causes the person’s bones to be, as the name implies, extremely brittle, which was a less-than-desirable affliction to have during in the Viking Age.

This theory is reinforced by accounts from the Great Heathen Army’s siege of Northumbria, during which, according to both English sources and Norse legends, he was carried atop a shield. This gave the English “proof” that he couldn’t walk on his own — a trait common among those with osteogenesis imperfecta. It’s important to note, however, that other sources of this period say that a viking victoriously riding on the shields of their enemies was the equivalent of sending a ceremonial middle finger to the losing side.

There’s also speculation that, since he never fathered any children, the name may have been in reference to him being impotent. Though there’s no conclusive proof of this, vikings were known for giving each other crude nicknames of that ilk.

Finally, a third theory stems from poems describing his agility in battle. The poems said that he was a fluid fighter, like a snake on the hunt. “The Boneless” would then imply that he fought as if he had no bones, dodged around swings of swords and axes with ease.

It’s hard to say now which of these theories is most true.

Still, it’s important to recognize that they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive — as is shown in the television series.

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king

Fans of the show are quick to call it a plot hole when Ivar is seen wavering between walking with a limp, walking with crutches or a cane, flat-out crawling around. That’s not a plot hole. That’s just how life with Type 1 OI can be.

Though the evidence isn’t conclusive that he lived with brittle bone disease, there’s enough evidence to assume. Legend has it that his mother, Aslaug, was a shaman who foretold that if she and her husband, Ragnar, were to consummate their marriage within three days of his return from a siege, their child would be cursed. Overcome with lust, Ragnar didn’t heed her warning.

In actuality, osteogenesis imperfecta is extremely rare — fewer than 20,000 cases occur in the United States annually. Patients with most severe cases of OI, unfortunately, don’t typically make it past infancy even with modern medicine. Living with Type 1 OI, the most common and most mild type of OI, is understandably difficult, but it’s not a death sentence — even during the Viking Age.

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king
(“Landing of a Viking fleet at Dublin,” James Ward, 1923)

Modern-day Dublin was established through a healthy diet and moderate exercise. If it’s good enough for Ivar, it’s good enough for you.

Any viking with Type 1 OI, like Ivar, would not be suited for the shield wall or disembarking from ships to raid monasteries. Instead, as all legends, tales, and historical accounts of Ivar say, he would stay in the back and strategize from a location that wouldn’t put his body in jeopardy.

Adults with Type 1 OI are encouraged to maintain a healthy, low weight/high repetition workout routine. Higher weights can cause fractures in the bones that take years to heal, but toning muscles with lower-impact exercises helps fortify the bones. These same low weight/high rep workout routines also result in a more lean and agile body type, just as Ivar was described in the poem, Hattalykill.

Additionally, one of the best treatments for brittle bone disease is a high-calcium diet. Luckily for Ivar, the typical Danish diet is one of the highest in calcium in the world. Once you factor in all of these, the likelihood of Ivar managing to be a deadly fighter with Type 1 OI is far more plausible.

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king
(Derby Museum)

In one man’s story, you’re the villain. To the others, you’re the hero.

Ivar the Boneless was a complicated character, both in reality and in fiction. Ivar was painted as the villain by Christians of Old England and loathed by other vikings when he left for Ireland. In Ireland, he was a beloved leader known as Imar the King of the Norsemen of all Ireland and Britain.

Again, much has been lost to time, but there’s a lot of evidence that suggests Ivar and Imar are the same person. Both were Norsemen, both were said to rule in Dublin around the same time, and both were said to have been killed around the same time. There are even periods of time in which Imar isn’t mentioned in the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland that line up perfectly with Ivar’s return to Denmark. The peculiar thing is that Imar was never said to have brittle bones — and he fathered three children who carried on the Uí Ímair dynasty.

The series actor who portrays Ivar, Alex Høgh Andersen, explained in an interview with the New York Post, “he is an antihero with emphasis on ‘anti.’ It’s interesting to have a character who is becoming the lead character and yet he’s almost the villain.”

Since campfire tales and second-hand accounts written well after a person’s death can skew a person’s story, it’s hard to accurately describe Ivar as a leader. Imar was said to have been deeply loved by his people but Ivar was depicted as a monster by his enemies — but one man can certainly be both.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Special Forces veterans were the most important part of ‘Triple Frontier’

If you haven’t given Triple Frontier a go on Netflix, you definitely should. If you’re unfamiliar, the story follows five Special Forces veterans who travel to a multi-bordered region of South America to take money from a drug lord. It stars Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, and Garrett Hedlund, who all do a fantastic job capturing the attitudes of their characters. But one thing especially helped make this film feel realistic: the presence of Special Forces veterans.

While Hollywood productions generally do have military advisors, it isn’t necessarily common that those advisors take the time to work with the cast to really nail down things like tactics and weapons handling. In this case, J.C. Chandor had two Special Forces veterans who did just that — Nick John and Kevin Vance.

Here’s why they were the most important part of the production:


How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king

This may not seem like a big deal but nicknames are a huge part of military culture and knowing how service members earn their nicknames can help you really understand the culture itself.

(Netflix)

They taught the actors about nicknames

Charlie Hunnam plays William Miller who goes by the nickname “Ironhead,” and, of course, he wanted to know why, so he asked one of the advisors who explained that the nickname likely comes from the character having survived a gunshot to the head.

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king

This film will have you saying, “Wow, these actors actually know what they’re doing with that weapon.”

(Netflix)

They taught the actors how to handle weapons

Most of us who spent a lot of time training in tactics can really tell when the actors on screen haven’t had enough training, if any at all. It’s probably most evident in the way they handle weapons. In the case of Triple Frontier, Nick John and Kevin Vance really took the time to train the actors, and it shows.

They trained the actors with live ammunition

When learning how to handle a weapon, it helps to shoot live ammunition. Well, at the end of the first day of the two-week training, Nick John felt the actors were prepared to handle it. So, they gave them live ammunition and let them shoot real bullets, which is not standard for a film production, but it really pays off in this film.

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king

The way these actors clear buildings is very smooth and convincing.

(Netflix)

They taught tactics

After trusting the actors with live ammunition, Nick John and Kevin Vance ran them through tactics. From ambushes to moving with cover fire, the actors learned the basic essentials to sell their characters on screen, and they do so extremely well.

Actor Charlie Hunnam said, “It was amazing. I was shocked by how much trust they put in us. Very, very quickly, they allowed us to be on the range with live fire, doing increasingly complex maneuvers. We started ambush scenarios, shooting through windows and panes of glass, doing cover fire, and operating movements I’ve never done before.”

Triple Frontier | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

www.youtube.com

They made this movie feel realistic

Veterans have a tendency to spot inaccuracies immediately. But, what Triple Frontier brings to the table is realism. While not perfect, it does a great job of really making you believe these characters are real and all the work Nick John and Kevin Vance put into teaching the actors really pays off.

If you haven’t checked out Triple Frontier on Netflix yet, you definitely should.

Articles

Channing Tatum moans about the pre-gender-integrated Navy in this song from ‘Hail, Caesar!’

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king
(Photo: Universal Studios)


“Hail, Caesar!,” the latest movie from the Coen Brothers, hits theaters on Friday, February 5. Here’s a sneak peek at one of the military parts of the film (cause that’s how we roll at WATM), a song where Navy man Channing Tatum complains that there ain’t gonna be no dames on his upcoming deployment.  The song also contains veiled sexual references using sealife (octopus and clams), which is in line with what audiences have come to expect from the Coen Brothers in terms of hilarity.

So the next time you complain about gender integration, think about this poor sailor with clams in his rack.

MIGHTY MOVIES

15 best foreign war films

We on Team WATM agree that no matter how you feel about the countries depicted or the wars they’re fighting in these movies, without a doubt, all these films are better than The Hurt Locker.


Here are the 15 best foreign war movies:

1. Days of Glory (France)

Days of Glory is the story of Algerian troops enlisting to fight to save a fatherland (France) they’ve never seen. Though they feel it’s their patriotic duty, they still encounter discrimination and injustice as they attempt to fight the same conflict as their French countrymen. Rumor has it the President of France at the time of the film’s release was so moved by it, he raised the pensions of former colonial troops to be the same as their French counterparts. Essentially, this movie so good and realistic it made the president give them a raise. Not bad.

 

2. Das Boot (Germany)

Das Boot (The Boat) is not just one of the greatest foreign war films, it’s one of the best films of all time, from anywhere. It follows a U-boat crew as they attempt to wreak havoc on allied shipping during WWII without getting killed themselves. The film beautifully (and sometimes chillingly) depicts life aboard the U-boats: boredom, frustration, and all the trials of life in a diesel-fueled tin can in the middle of the ocean. You will forget what side these guys are on and by the end, and will feel like a member of the crew, struggling in silence, hoping for survival. Das Boot is remarkable for its detail and suspense. (And do yourself a favor — watch it in German with subtitles.)

 

3. Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (South Korea)

Two brothers are forced to fight for the South Korean Army when North Korea invades the South. One brother makes a deal with his commander to kill an impressive number of enemy troops in order to get his brother released from his enlistment. He becomes a war hero, but soon develops a taste for fighting, killing, and cruelty, leading the brother he fights to save to question his older brother’s humanity. The film may not be completely accurate in weapons or their effects, but it’s a great view of the war from the Korean perspective.

 

4. Waltz With Bashir (Israel)

The only documentary film on the list, Waltz With Bashir follows the director’s experience as an Israeli soldier during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. This is also the only animated film on this list. Banned in Lebanon, this provocative film depicts the director remembering his role in the Sabra and Shatila Massacres in Lebanon, (though the Israeli Defence Forces didn’t actually carry out the massacres, but they didn’t stop it either) and his views of the aftermath. The director is quoted as saying the happiest day of his life will be when he can screen the film in Beirut. The trailer alone is better than The Hurt Locker.

 

 

5. Waar (Pakistan)

See how India and Pakistan feel about each other in the highest-grossing Pakistani film of all time – a cloak-and-dagger counterterrorism film set on the background of Pakistan’s War on Terrorism. It includes a depiction of the 2009 attack on a Lahore police station. A former Pakistani Army officer must foil attacks from the Taliban and from Indian Research and Analysis Wing spies on Pakistanis and his own family. Awesome action sequences accompany a really great and beautifully shot story.

 

6. The Battle of Algiers (Italy/Algeria)

The actual Battle of Algiers is as legendary as this film. This is a film about freedom fighters (or terrorists, depending on where you sit) in the Algerian struggle for freedom from France. Often used by governments and insurgent groups as a demonstration of urban-style guerilla warfare, The Battle of Algiers was so controversial, it couldn’t be screened in France until five years after it was finished.

7. Lebanon (Israel)

Set in the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the entire film is the war from the point of view of Israeli tankers. The crew can only see the outside world through a gunsight. Only four soldiers are in the tank and are ordered to clear an area of enemies using illegal munitions and must deal with POWs, equipment problems, unclear orders, and the general discomforts of living in close quarters – Like a Das Boot for Israeli tankers.

8. Mongol (Kazakhstan)

The story of the legendary Genghis Khan Temujin as he was raised on the Mongolian steppe, lost his parents, was sold into slavery, won his freedom, defeated his best-friend-turned-enemy, and became the Khan of All Mongols. Originally intended to be the first in a trilogy, the end of the film definitely leaves the viewer wanting to see the rest.

 

9. Paradise Now (Palestine)

Every country wages war the best way it can, with the weapons and tactics they have. How you see these characters again depends on where you sit. During the Second Intifada, Palestinians used suicide bomber attacks. Paradise Now follows two such suicide bombers on their last days before their mission in Tel Aviv. Rather than being the emotionless death robots they could so easily be portrayed as, this film takes the time to humanize them as they realize what they’re doing and why suicide bombing is an awful tactic. The film is so provocative and controversial, one Israeli author called it “a quality Nazi film.”

10. Assembly (China)

Set during the Chinese Civil War in 1948 between Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalists and Mao Zedong’s Communists, a Communist infantry captain defends the south bank of the Wen River until the retreat assembly call is heard. Politics disappear as his troops defend the bank for hours and the captain is injured. He wakes up in a hospital to find out the Communists think his troops are missing or deserted and goes to the site of the battle to make sure they get the recognition they deserve.

11. Gallipoli (Australia)

This is a depiction of the ANZAC invasion of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) during World War I. Through the relationship between two young soldiers (Mel Gibson and Mark Lee), joining to fight after being influence by homeland propaganda campaigns, the two enlist, train in Egypt, and soon experience the realities of trench warfare, eventually ending up in the Dardanelles fighting the Turkish army in what became one of the worst killing fields of any war.

12. Silmido (South Korea)

This film is a dramatization of the true story of Unit 684, a special operations unit of the South Korean Air Force. They were formed from convicts on death row and some with life sentences, and assigned to assassinate North Korean Leader Kim Il-Sung in response to North Korea’s attempt to assassinate South Korean Prime Minister Park Chung-hee. The 31 men of Unit 684 were trained on the island of Silmido but when relations warmed, their mission was cancelled. The men rebelled in 1971, killed their guards and fled to the mainland. The real reason for the mutiny is unknown, but the film depicts a version of the catalyst events on the island.

 

13. Talvisota (Finland)

Talvisota is a Finnish depiction of the fight against the Soviet invasion of Finland during 1939-1940. Though Stalin’s troop advanced quickly into Finland, the “Winter War” is generally seen as much of a Finnish victory, due to the heavy resistance of Finnish troops. Talvisota uses real Soviet T-26 light tanks and is a realistic reenactment of the war.

14. The Star (Russia)

Set in WWII Poland, The Star is about Soviet forward reconnaissance scouts behind enemy lines. The film plays with war movie clichés, only from a Russian perspective, featuring a mix of people from various origins in the Soviet Union. Keeping in mind the staggering Russian losses, the toll of civilian casualties, and the brutality of the Wehrmacht toward the Red Army and its prisoners, The Star is an interesting take on the enemy: near shadows, only seen when killed or captured.

15. Border (India)

The Battle of Longewala in India’s Rajasthan region pitted one Indian company (120 foot soldiers) against a Pakistani tank regiment (2,000 soldiers and 45 tanks) during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War. Border is the 1997 Bollywood depiction of those events. Like many Bollywood films, there is a great deal of singing, but the acting is reminiscent of older, over-the-top American action films while action sequences are completely unrealistic (see: fighter jet flies ten feet off the ground while one guy sits next to exploding tank). This film is really entertaining.

Now: These are the veteran stars of the GI Film Festival

Articles

Rejoice! ‘Office Christmas Party’ is here to save the holiday

This is the party your first sergeant had nightmares about.


And yet, “Office Christmas Party” was exactly what I asked Santa for this year: it was funny and festive all the way down to Rudolph the Red-Nose pasty on some background actor’s left boob.

The throwaway lines were so fantastic I almost didn’t want to laugh — lest I miss something — but I did laugh. I “ho ho ho’d” the whole way through.

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king
L-R: Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Munn, Jason Bateman, and T.J. Miller in OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Jennifer Anniston plays the Grinch-like CEO of Zenotek, who threatens to close down the branch run by her brother (played by T.J. Miller, who may have actually been Cindy Lou Who in a previous life).

Miller enlists his earnest Chief Technical Officer (Jason Bateman) and my new girl crush Olivia Munn to host an epic office Christmas party in a last-ditch effort to impress a potential client and save the branch.

We’ve seen Anniston, Miller, and Bateman play these roles before — and they’re perfectly good at them — but let’s talk about the true heroes of this film, starting with Kate McKinnon, the HR rep fighting a long, uphill battle.

McKinnon’s ability to steal a scene with but a wink is something I’ll never tire of. She is precious, especially in her non-denominational holiday sweater. Be sure to stick around for her bloopers during the credits and check out her bonus material on the film’s Facebook page.

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king
Kate McKinnon, Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Olivia Munn are ready to make some Christmas magic happen. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Veep’s Sam Richardson turns it up when he rocks the DJ booth; he nails unassuming characters with the precision of a SEAL sniper and I never want to go to a party without his “fwam fwam fwam” again.

Then there’s Jillian Bell, perhaps best known for “Workaholics,” whose portrayal of a pimp almost makes me want to become a pimp. She definitely has me rethinking whether I should indeed take that open-carry course…

All in all, this film everything one could want from the holidays: mayhem, familial arguments with a “tap out rule,” and a killer party playlist.

Now let’s go make like a Christmas tree and get lit!

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king
T.J. Miller, Courtney B. Vance, and Rob Corddry are ready to make some bad decisions. (Photo: Paramount Pictures)

Humor

This is how drunken shenanigans influence pilot callsigns


Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher

In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Shannon, Tim, and O.V. discuss the interesting process of how Air Force pilots receive their callsigns.

In the military, callsigns are considered much more than just a name — they’re meant to capture the personality and spirit of the person.

When you think of the characters in “Top Gun,” you’re not thinking of Pete Mitchell or Nick Bradshaw — it’s Maverick and Goose, and they probably have hilarious stories that explain where those names came from. Those stories are told in a naming ceremony.

The details and traditions vary, but the rite of passage is usually met with drinks and shenanigans. Like a roast, the pilot sits front and center while his or her buddies one-by-one regale a story and propose a callsign related to it.

“It’s kind of like a roasting,” Air Force veteran Shannon Corbeil humorously explains. “This is where you get to make fun of your friends.”

The squadron then collectively debates and votes on the final name.

Related: These are the wars we’d fight in if we had a time machine

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king
When you see it.

Although the other branches use radio callsigns and nicknames, the pilot’s callsign is highly meaningful, as is the ridiculous and amazing ceremony behind it!

Hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (AKA O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Shannon Corbeil: Air Force veteran and On-Camera Host

hauntedbattlefields

You don’t know the real Rudy Reyes

We’ve all heard of Rudy Reyes, the Recon Marine, martial artist, and actor who famously played himself in the HBO miniseries, Generation Kill, but few people really know what Rudy has been up to these days. Hell, we didn’t know either until we asked Rudy to sit down and chat.

The only problem? Rudy doesn’t sit. He’s always on the move. Always.


As a former Marine and Green Beret myself, I should’ve known what I was getting into when I asked Rudy for an interview. I’m sitting in my office waiting for the 47-year old Marine to arrive from Mongolia (yep, you read that right). After knowing Rudy for years, I can tell you there is one thing I should be doing right now: stretching.

I first met Rudy in a NYC restaurant back in 2010, just a few weeks after I had left the Marine Corps myself. I was in that awkward, post-military transition phase where the opportunity for a new life seemed so real, but I still had no idea what to do with myself after three tours to Iraq. That’s when I ran into Rudy. He was waiting tables at a Thai restaurant in Brooklyn, trying to pick up some extra cash between auditions. I can tell you with 100% accuracy, Rudy is a horrible waiter, but that didn’t stop him from giving the task his complete focus and energy. He only knows one speed: fast.

In fact, the Recon Marine and veteran of some of Iraq’s most gruesome battles moved around the restaurant like he was clearing a room. Maybe it was the newly grown “veteran” beard on my face or just the post-military emptiness that all warriors feel, but Rudy stopped when he saw me and asked me, “hey brother, are you a vet?” When I answered,”yes” and mentioned that I was just a few weeks out, Rudy invited me to join him for a workout the next day. See, that’s the kinda guy Rudy has always been. He knew me for less than a minute before welcoming me into his world.

Nearly a decade later, I am excited to see my friend again, especially now, because he’s literally traveled the globe to come up to my office. Besides his warrior spirit, there is one thing that I’ve always loved about Rudy: He knows how to make an entrance. He’s just walked in wearing a sleeveless WWII blouse while carrying a kettlebell and tactical boombox.

So let’s get this interview started…

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king

Photo Courtesy of Rudy Reyes

Brother and leader of Marines, welcome back to We Are The Mighty. What the hell are you wearing?

RR: Hey brother, good to see you. Aww yeah, you love this jacket. My buddy who worked on ‘The Pacific’ hooked me up. It’s what the hard chargers wore when they stormed Iwo Jima.

And what about the sleeves?

RR: Didn’t need them. [Rudy’s now doing pull-ups in the office]

Dude, it’s been a decade since ‘Generation Kill,’ and you still look like you’re on the teams. How the hell do you find time to get in the gym?

RR: Brother, I am the gym. I have Sorinex center mass bells, Monkii bar straps, and a positive attitude. That’s all I need.

Ok, well, I have no excuse not to work out today. What were you doing in Mongolia?

RR: Aww, oh my gosh bro, it was amazing. I’m part of the Spartan Race Agoge Krypteia. I am one of the leaders of these 60-hour endurance races all across the globe. Just like the Spartans of Greece, we train people to be the strongest and [most] mentally tough citizens on earth.
How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king

(Photo Courtesy of Rudy Reyes)

Why Mongolia?

RR: It’s the land of Genghis Khan. We took a group of Agoge athletes through a training program just like the amazing warriors of the steppe. There was wrestling, archery, and shapeshifting.

Shapeshifting?

RR: Oh yeah, the Shaman [priest], covers his face so you can’t see it, but it’s real. He changes into different animals to help the athletes remove the evil spirits from their lives. It’s amazing how this cleansing will move you towards peak performance.

Wow, this just got interesting. You really think that fighting spirits is part of fitness?

RR: I don’t just think it, brother. I know it. I’ve been cleansing my own demons for years as I move toward being my best self. I’ve learned to dive into my dreams and explore the world as if I was awake. I’m an oneironaut.
How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king

(Photo Courtesy of Rudy Reyes)

An Onierawhat?

RR: Oneironaut. I’m able to travel into my dreams, and once I am awake, I draw what I saw so that I can learn about the future or the past. It’s like being on a reconnaissance mission again. I have to get close to the enemy around me so that I can learn how to defeat them.

What have you learned from these dream missions?

RR: The enemy can come in many forms both internal and external. I have to fight things like self-doubt and depression as well as evil spirits that put barriers in our path to success. I’ve grown to be a better warrior, athlete, and father as an oneironaut. I recently dreamed about my son and I traveling to a beautiful waterfall.
How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king

(Photo Courtesy of Rudy Reyes)

Can you teach me how to do this?

RR: Yes, of course.

Sh*t! He said yes, change the subject before we actually start fighting spirits.

It sounds like you’ve had a helluva year thus far, what does 2019 look like for you?

RR: Brother, I am so blessed. I’ve spent the years since I first met you focused on the things I love and believe in, and now it’s paying off. I get to be the warrior I am on camera with the Spartan Agoge and travel the world. I also have my non-profit, Force Blue, where we pair special operations veterans and underwater conservationists to save the planet’s coral reefs. We were just awarded a grant from the State of Florida to rescue and restore the coral reef off of Miami and the keys.


How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king

(Photo Courtesy of @ianastburyofficial)

Wait, what? The state of Florida is paying you guys to dive coral reefs?

RR: Hahaha [Rudy’s laugh is now visibly causing all my coworkers to look in our direction]. Pretty much, brother. Florida’s reef is the 3rd largest in the world and one of the most threatened. The coral is both a wall and source of life. By getting in the water and restoring the coral, we are protecting the coastline from tidal erosion and protecting the fishing industry. We call it Project PROTECT.

Dude, that’s awesome. You’re rocking it. I see the same passion in you now that you had back when we first met in NY. What’s your secret?

RR: Positive mental attitude, my brother. We are our best when we believe in ourselves. That’s where I start each day and try to land each night. Positivity is contagious just like an insurgency.

You know I like that.

RR: Semper Fi.

Semper Fi, brother. [Rudy is now doing more pull-ups]

MIGHTY MOVIES

Marvel stars respond to Spider-Man leaving the MCU

Spider-Man has officially been booted out of the MCU, and the Marvel stars are just as upset as we are. Earlier this week, it was announced that Sony and Disney were unable to reach a new deal on the new films, so Tom Holland’s Spider-Man would no longer be a part of the Marvel Universe. Fans are heartbroken over the news, and it looks like MCU actors Jeremy Renner and Ryan Reynolds are equally torn up.

Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye in the Avengers franchise, called Sony out in an Instagram post last night. “Hey @sonypictures we want Spider-Man back to @therealstanlee and @marvel please, thank you. #congrats #spidermanrocks#? #please,” the actor wrote alongside a photo of himself as Hawkeye.


Even if Disney is technically to blame for the decision (they wanted a 50/50 co-financing agreement), fans were quick to cheer Renner on. “YES!!! Thank you for speaking up Renner!! #savespidermanfromsony” one user commented.

Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds also chimed in to support Spidey after a fan tweeted at him and Tom Holland: “Can we get a Spiderman Deadpool movie now?” Reynolds responded: “You can. But you can only see it in my heart.”

This was clearly too soon for heartbroken fans, as the replies are full of crying gifs and teary emojis. Some fans are even begging Reynolds to somehow step in and reverse the decision. “RYAN U HAVE MORE POWER THAN ANY OF US PLEASE DO SOMETHING” one Twitter user replied.

It’s likely that even Reynolds’ clout won’t change Spidey’s fate at this point, but as Spider-Man taught us: with great power comes great responsibility.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

Intel

‘A War’ shows the complexities of ROE while trying to win hearts and minds

‘A War’ is an Oscar-nominated Danish film that deals with what happens in the field and on the homefront when warfighters are made to fight with restrictive rules of engagement. As much as the film is a story about one officer’s experience (and how his choices under fire potentially affect his family) it is also a commentary on the nature of the limited wars that members of NATO and ISAF have found themselves involved in since 2001.


The war in Afghanistan has been specifically challenging with respect to ROE. The enemy isn’t another nation-state. Some areas are more secure than others, but overall there are no front lines. Add to that the overall mission of convincing the local populace that modernity and following a western model of rule of law is the better choice over the savage and unmerciful nature of Sharia law and the draconian elements that come with it. The ability to win “hearts and minds” is heavily leveraged against avoiding collateral damage while attacking the enemy.

All of that distills down into an ROE matrix that requires the warfighter in the field to accept risk. This primary mission is keep the locals safe; it’s not keep your troops safe. And it’s not kill the enemy at all costs.

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king
Scene from the Danish film ‘A War.’

In all-out warfare unflinching ROE can be established, stuff like “if it flies it dies” and “everything east of this longitude is hostile.” In limited war the steps are complex and nuanced, almost like trying to build a case in a courtroom. Only a battlefield is no courtroom.

In limited war the fact your unit is under attack doesn’t give you carte blanche to defend yourself. “Positive ID” must be established. You have to be able to prove you know where the bullets are coming from before returning fire rather than destroying whole city blocks. You have to be able to tell “the pepper from the fly shit,” as they say.

Complying with this PID methodology gets harder when troops start dying around you. At that point you’re apt to do whatever it takes to make it stop.

And once the shooting does stop and you’re back in the antiseptic light of day, you will be judged on your conduct. You’ll be judged by those who weren’t there, and who probably never have been or ever will be there.

Such is the essence of the Post-9/11 conflicts. The harm into which we’ve sent our most recent generation of warriors is distinct from those who fought before them, and the respect they’re due is unique and equal.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Top Gun 2’ will fly the F/A-18 Super Hornet, not the F-35

The actor Tom Cruise on May 31, 2018, tweeted a teaser for the long-awaited sequel to the movie “Top Gun” — and in doing so, he wandered into one of the most heated debates in modern combat aviation and delivered a savage burn to the F-35.

The original “Top Gun” film was nothing short of a revelation for the US Navy. People around the US and the world saw fighter jets in a whole new light, and naval aviation recruitment shot up by 500%.

A new “Top Gun” movie, now 32 years after the first, could again spike interest in combat aviation at a time when the US military struggles to retain and attract top talent. But for the most expensive weapons system in history, it already looks like a bust.

Here’s the poster for the new “Top Gun.”


Notice anything? The F-35C, the US Navy’s long overdue, massively expensive new carrier aircraft, is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the F-18 Super Hornet, the F-35’s main competitor, can be seen.

The F-35 community was not thrilled.

“Everybody that’s flown a fighter in the last 25 years, we all watched ‘Top Gun,'” retired US Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Berke, who flew F-35s and actually attended the US Navy’s Top Gun school, previously told Business Insider.

“Damn shame,” Berke said in response to the new movie’s choice of fighter. “I guess it will be a movie about the past!”

While experts agree that the F-35’s carrier-based variant, the F-35C, and its vertical-takeoff sister, the F-35B, represent the future of naval aviation, they’re just not ready for the big time yet.

The F-35B had its first operational deployment in 2018 in the Pacific, but the F-35C remains a ways off from adoption onto the US Navy’s fleet of aircraft supercarriers. Persistent problems with launching the sophisticated airplane off a moving ship have pushed back the schedule and resulted in huge cost overruns.

Meanwhile, the F-18 Super Hornet continues to do the lion’s share of combat-aviation work aboard aircraft carriers, and its maker, Boeing, has even offered an updated version of the plane that President Donald Trump entertained buying instead of the F-35.

In short, it’s an embarrassment to the F-35 program that mounting setbacks have pushed it out of a potentially massive public-relations boost.

“It’s a capable aircraft,” retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Studies, told Business Insider of the Super Hornet. “It’s just last century’s design.”

He added: “It is a missed opportunity.”

Berke pointed out that the producers of the new “Top Gun” may have gone with the Super Hornet over the F-35 because the Super Hornet has two seats, which could facilitate filming and possibly on-screen dynamics.

The popular aviation blog The Aviationist also pointed out that Cruise is holding an outdated helmet and that the photo does not appear to take place at the US Navy’s Top Gun school. But Hollywood sometimes makes mistakes.

“Hollywood doesn’t build movies around what makes sense — they build movies around what makes money,” Deptula said.

But despite what might have come as a slight sting to F-35 boosters hoping a new film could help usher in what they call a revolution in combat aviation, both Berke and Deptula said they were looking forward to the film.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The first large crowd to gather after 9/11 will probably not surprise you

The days following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were a strange time for Americans. For the first time in most people’s lives, political divisions disappeared. Daily life became anything but routine, even if you lived far from Ground Zero. Even American pop culture was deeply affected by the events, unsure of when it would be acceptable to laugh again.

Leave it to America’s foremost experts in drama and onscreen conflict to show everyone it was okay to gather once more.


On Sept. 13, just two days after the attacks that shook the world, it was the WWE who gathered people together in (where else but) Texas. Houston, to be exact. Emotions were still riding high, not only among the people who create the WWE’s show twice a week, but the nation as a whole. Just like the rest of America, Vince McMahon and his staff had watched helplessly as planes flew into the Twin Towers, not once but twice.

But the WWE – its producers as well as its staff and the “Superstar” wrestlers who make the show happen – considered themselves lucky, lucky to be with the people with whom they spent a majority of their time anyway. They were with the people who were as close to family as they could get in those stressful hours.

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king

(WWE)

The show that night, just two days after the attacks, was supposed to be a Smackdown! taping in America’s third largest city. The WWE initially felt the taping should be postponed, that America had other things to worry about. They weren’t alone. Many shows, especially live-taped shows, were airing reruns instead of new episodes. No one knew exactly what to say.

New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani appeared with the cast of Saturday Night Live and told America is was okay to laugh again. Jon Stewart used his time on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to remind Americans that life had to go on, and that it was okay. But people and entertainers were still wary of getting together in large crowds.

Not the WWE.

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king

(WWE)

After Vince McMahon was assured by government officials that regular WWE programming would actually be more helpful in getting people’s minds off the tragedy, they went ahead with the show. WWE Superstars crowded the ringside as their boss, the wrestling mogul, entered the ring to an enthusiastic crowd, chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!”It was McMahon giving a speech just like the ones a WWE Superstar would give as part of the plot of any given Raw or Smackdown! episode, challenging a rival to a grudge match.

“The spirit of America lives here in Houston, Texas,” McMahon said, as he began a speech that sent condolences to the victims and families of 9/11 and condemned the terrorists. “Our nation’s leaders have encouraged us to return to living our lives the way we normally do… the American way… Make no mistake about the message this public assembly is sending to terrorism tonight. That message is simply we will not live our lives in fear.”

“America’s heart has been wounded but her spirit shines as a beacon of freedom,” he said, “that will never be extinguished.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

What vets can learn from It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s a Wonderful Life turns 74 this year and watching it is a Christmas tradition in my home. The film hearkens to a bygone era where characters from the Greatest Generation grow up before our eyes. We feel their joy, sorrow and redemption on a personal level. It’s funny, sad and triumphant all at once. Having served three combat tours, this film now holds an important place in my heart. What it teaches today’s veterans makes it more than just a holiday film.

How many realize that the discouraged character of George Bailey is played by a real life war hero? In 1941, Jimmy Stewart received an Academy Award for Best Actor, but weeks later he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. With his significant civilian flying experience and degree, he was soon commissioned as a pilot, performing publicity and flight instruction duties. Stewart was not satisfied, and eventually fought his way into an assignment flying B-24 Liberator bombers, rising to Chief of Staff for the 2nd Combat Wing, 8th Air Force. On one of his 20 bombing missions over Nazi Europe his unit lost 13 planes and 130 men to enemy fighters and anti-aircraft guns. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. But the horrors he witnessed had made him “flak happy,” crushing him mentally. Reluctantly, Stewart was sent home to recover.

When he returned from the war he was haunted by what he had experienced in combat. Fearing that his Hollywood career might be over, he returned to California looking for work. Fresh young actors were taking roles that previously would have been Stewart’s for the picking. The stress of war made the 37 year old look more like he was 50, dashing his hopes of being a leading man again. Jimmy knew he had to do something. At first he wanted to do a comedy, as he felt there was enough sorrow in the world at the time. Eventually, director Frank Capra convinced him to play the lead role of George Bailey.  

Filming the classic movie was arduous, with a visibly changed Stewart struggling tremendously with Post Traumatic Stress. It was obvious to the cast and crew that Stewart was drawing heavily from the anguish and fear he felt flying over Nazi Germany. That’s what makes his performance so meaningful. A near-suicidal George Bailey was really Jimmy Stewart trying desperately to come to grips with the nightmare of World War 2. Watch the film again and see the raw emotion on full display. As Stewart prays desperately at Martini’s bar for help from God, you see a man absolutely broken. Those on the set were understandably shocked at what was happening. Stewart was unleashing a torrent of emotion, baring his very soul for all to see. It’s as pure a performance as you’ll find in cinema. This was the role that likely saved the actor’s career and perhaps set him on the path to true recovery.

Stewart’s career was back on track. He had reclaimed his place as America’s leading man. Serving his country was in his blood though. He refused to allow his tough wartime experience to define him. Stewart pushed through his pain. In something never seen in today’s entertainment industry, Stewart even continued serving in the Air Force Reserve. He flew his last bombing mission in Vietnam and retired as a Brigadier General in 1968. He re-defined himself as an actor and never forgot the importance of selfless service. It was his willingness to embrace the tragedies in his life that transformed him, and it is an example for today’s veterans to follow.

I once saw a young patient dying in front of me as the medics removed him from my MEDEVAC helicopter. It seemed like he was staring through me. After that moment, I couldn’t speak to anyone for some time. It was like I was outside of my body, watching myself experience something over which I had no control. I thought I was weak. Eventually I talked it out with my buddy. Writing my book also helped me. Since then I have realized that I wasn’t weak. I didn’t have a “disorder.” I faced something abnormal and I wasn’t alone. 

There’s an awful lot of George Baileys in this country. They answered the call. They sacrificed their own dreams for others. They defended the disheartened and led from the front. They and their families have given up so much but now they question if their sacrifices were all for nothing. Some are on that snowy bridge next to George Bailey right now, staring into that icy river, that permanent solution to a temporary problem.

If you’re struggling with PTS, stay the course. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. It’s the situation you were in that was wrong. What’s wrong isn’t how you dealt with life and death situations or how you handled the loss of friends. What you did and what you saw was not normal. You aren’t the problem. You are a hero for having survived the trauma. 

Now is the time for you to confront it and then use the experience for good. The clouds will part — I promise you. You are not broken. Reach out to the friends who were there with you and talk. You might think that it’s just to help you, but I believe it might help them too; they just might have been too scared to reach out themselves. 

So… be there this Christmas for an old friend. Call one old buddy this week and just talk. 

“Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.” – Clarence

MIGHTY MOVIES

The stakes are high for American veterans fighting ISIS

People enlist in the military for a number of reasons, ranging from anywhere between the insane, “I love shooting stuff” to the more pragmatic, “I need the college money.” Many of us also join because it’s the right thing to do — at least, in our minds. Many who joined the U.S. military in the days following the September 11th attacks are looking down the barrel at their 20-year anniversary. Others joined because the rise of ISIS gave a clear picture of what evil looks like in this world.

Some needed a more direct route to the fight against ISIS. So, they traveled through Iraq or elsewhere to get to Syria, where they could join the Kurdish YPG, the People’s Protection Units, and the YPJ, the Women’s Protection Units, to form the front line against ISIS onslaught in Syria.

You can now actually watch the struggle to liberate the people of Iraq and Syria from the grips of the Islamic State. Hunting ISIS is on History every week on Tuesday at 11pm and it is a no-holds-barred look at the Westerners with the Kurds. Watch the pain and horror of those who suffer under ISIS as well as the elation of civilians and children as their homes are liberated.


The series follows a lot of vets around, but features primarily PJ, a Marine Corps veteran, and his team of Western volunteers as well as Pete, from New Jersey, who leads a team of medics supporting Peshmerga fighters in Iraq.

The lives of American combat veterans fighting ISIS in Syria was documented by camera crews who followed them through checkpoints and training and into their front-line lives in Syria. They came from all over America and all walks of life. Some picked up where they left off as veterans of the Iraq War and others simply wanted to stop the reign of terror, theft, rape, extortion, and violence that comes with ISIS occupation.


How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king
It takes a lot of ammo.
(History)

But they’re risking a whole lot more than their lives — they could be risking their own freedom.

United States law says anyone who “enlists or enters himself, or hires or retains another to enlist or enter himself, or to go beyond the jurisdiction of the United States with intent to be enlisted or entered in the service of any foreign prince, state, colony, district, or people as a soldier or as a marine or seaman … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

But that all depends on the interpretation. In the 1896 Supreme Court decision of Wiborg v. United States, the Court held that it was only illegal if the American was recruited into a foreign service. In the case of Wiborg, Americans armed themselves and made their way to Cuba to train and assist Cuban rebels fighting Spain while the U.S. was at peace with Spain.

The Kurds don’t actively recruit Western fighters, but they also don’t have a state. The Kurds are the world’s largest ethnic minority without a country of their own. Before the ISIS war, there were some 23 million Kurds in the region. But that all depends on how the Kurdish armed forces act on their own. The Peshmerga in Iraq is a pro-Western fighting force. But the Kurdish YPG in Syria – home of the International Brigades – is considered a terrorist organization by America’s NATO ally, Turkey.

How Ivar the Boneless became a feared Viking warlord and beloved king
(History)

You may remember the name John Walker Lindh, an American captured fighting with the Taliban in the days after 9/11. One of the key components to his defense was that he was in the armed forces of another state – the Taliban were the recognized government in Afghanistan – and that he personally didn’t attempt to join al-Qaeda or attack the United States.

The exact number of Americans and other western volunteers fighting ISIS isn’t known for sure, but the Kurds know most of them are military veterans. Though considered terrorists by Turkey, the United States considers all Kurdish forces to be an essential part of the fight against ISIS.

The one thing that is clear is that they can expect no direct help from U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria. The military and State Department are not obligated to aid volunteers in the two countries (American volunteers have, in fact, been turned away by the U.S. military). If they were caught at the checkpoints on their way back, they would go straight to a local jail.