Visual effects team explains Rey's new lightsaber - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

One of the biggest reveals in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” other than Rey’s identity, came at its very end when the character revealed she had her own new lightsaber with a distinctive yellow-orange hue.

What color exactly is the lightsaber and how did the visual effects team land on it?

“A fair number of colors have been used in lightsabers. So there was a design challenge there in terms of what color it should be,” “TROS” visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett told Insider Monday of the direction given for the lightsaber seen at the movie’s very end.


“There was an optimistic kind of quality to that, but we also wanted [Rey] to have a very unique color,” he added of coming up with the color we see on screen. “We ran some tests and decided in the end what color it would be.”

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

Rey prepares to slice through Kylo Ren’s ship with Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber.

(Lucasfilm)

Is there a specific name to Rey’s lightsaber color? We’re going with ‘yellow optimism.’

“That specific color yellow, if you go too pale — this is getting really in the weeds here — if you go too pale and you make it too light, it’s going to look white a lot of times,” Industrial Light Magic (ILM) visual effects supervisor Patrick Tubach said of one factor that helped them land on that precise color. “Colors on film, sometimes they bleed away depending on the exposure and the quality of the light in the scene.”

“Making it that more golden yellow gives you that optimistic feeling, and it also allows you to make it supersaturated and still feel like it’s in the ‘Star Wars’ universe,” he added.

Yellow sabers aren’t anything new to “Star Wars” lore, but they are uncommon. In the past, yellow lightsabers have mostly been limited to Jedi temple guards, who wielded double-bladed sabers.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

Here’s Kanan Jarrus going up against a Jedi Temple guard on the animated series “Star Wars Rebels.”

(Lucasfilm)

When asked if they had a specific name for the color, optimism was a word that came up frequently to describe the tone they were going for with the look of Rey’s lightsaber.

“We definitely went for things like golden and sun and optimism,” said Tubach.

“I think the optimism carried that choice,” added Guyett.

“I’m going to paint my house ‘yellow optimism,'” joked creature and makeup effects creative supervisor Neal Scanlan.

Did the hilt of Rey’s lightsaber look familiar? It should have.

(Lucasfilm)

Rey’s lightsaber does include a yellow kyber crystal

“Yeah, it’s supposed to be a yellow crystal,” said Tubach.

It was not a clear crystal that changed color after chosen by Rey. Neither was it a purified version of a red kyber crystal as Ahsoka Tano did in the past to create her white lightsabers.

Insider thought Rey’s saber color may have contained a healed version of Kylo Ren/Ben Solo’s cracked red kyber crystal, but it seems that’s not the case.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

Did the hilt of Rey’s lightsaber look familiar? It should have.

(Lucasfilm)

The small detail within Rey’s new lightsaber you may have missed: The hilt of her lightsaber comes from her original staff.

“That was the concept,” said Guyett of the inspiration behind the hilt of Rey’s lightsaber. “The art production design and the art department, we all contribute to the designs of various things… [director] J.J. [Abrams] just thought it was logical that she had the staff, and, therefore, the saber should somehow be linked to that.”

In hindsight, when you go back to “The Force Awakens,” Rey’s staff always looked like it could eventually be transformed into the perfect lightsaber hilt.

“The Rise of Skywalker” is currently in theaters. You can read our review here.

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

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Humor

What it’s like having a submarine crash into your ship

A U.S. Marine stationed aboard any Naval vessel enjoys a lifestyle very similar to that of cargo. Marines are often sequestered to their color coordinated quarters (ours were red) where they sleep in coffin racks, are given a small window of time to utilize the gym, and in some cases even have separate hours for chow.


All of these measures actually have a purpose, and that is to keep green side (Marines) and blue side (Navy) separate.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber
USS New Orleans. Not pictured: Sailor and Marine rivalries.

However, there are jobs Marines can be volunteered for, jobs involving laundry, trash, and foodservice. Lucky enough for this young leatherneck, having a culinary degree puts you to work aboard the U.S.S. New Orleans in the galley.

So there I was, a twenty-two year old Corporal with a culinary degree being put to work as leader of the night shift aboard a navy vessel. There were no sailors under my charge, which I found to be slightly condescending, but that’s of no consequence. On my team there were no less than three infantry Marines with zero cooking experience and one supply Marine from Baton Rouge, LA, which is plenty of cooking experience on its own. We were tasked with prepping the next days lunch and dinner meals, baking fresh bread, and preparing and serving breakfast.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber
USS Hartford (the villain of this story).

Unbeknownst to my crew and me, a U.S. submarine submerged at periscope depth in the straight of Hormuz was soon to make its move. The U.S.S. Hartford is a Los Angeles class Navy submarine that had a date with destiny in the form of a San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ship, the U.S.S. New Orleans. After 63 days at sea, it would seem that the crew of the Hartford had had enough and decided to break up the monotony with a little fender bender.

Related: This is what life is like for sailors on a US Navy submarine

Meanwhile aboard the New Orleans in the ship’s galley were five Marines working diligently. I remember quite vividly the jarring vibration of a f**king submarine crashing into a war ship, causing a mess. I was making pancakes at the time (and none were lost — not bragging just saying).

An infantry Corporal came running in asking if I could spare one of my guys, who happened to be one of his junior Marines. I calmly approved and the Corporal decided to start screaming at his young troop to get his weapon and gear because we were under attack. The young Marine yelled back, “Yes Corporal!” before running to his quarters.

He soon returned, showcasing his, “I thought I was finally going to get to shoot my rifle in combat” face of disappointment. The rest of the crew replied with laughter and taunts.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber
Hartford vs. New Orleans

One of our battalion’s intel Marines informed us that our theories — we hit a whale, we ran aground, we were attacked by pirates — were not only incorrect, but the hapless ramblings of the simple-minded. He then told us we would not be allowed to call out or use the internet, that all coms were being controlled, and that we were hit by our own submarine. We took him seriously until that last part.

After breakfast was ready and the crew sat down to eat in the ship’s mess area, we turned on the television for some news. We were surprised to see that not only was everything intel said true, but also that we had leaked around 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the straights. We ended up dry-docking the ship on an island off the coast of Saudi Arabia known as Bahrain.

Beautiful location, lots of black flags — if you’ve never been, I don’t recommend it.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber
Dry docked Hartford.

After six weeks of dry dock repairs, the New Orleans was back in the ocean ready for duty. It was determined that the incident was solely the fault of the Hartford and its Captain, who was relieved of command along with others. Damages to the New Orleans totaled $2.3 million dollars, which may seem like a lot until compared with the $120 million dollar price tag attached to the Hartford repairs.

I actually had a beer with one of the crew of the U.S.S. Hartford. We compared stories of the incident in which he shared with me that the submarine spun like a football — nearly 90 degrees in the water (a lot for a sub). The collision trashed the entire ship and administered one of the most jarring wake-up calls in U.S. naval history.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Heroic Fort Leavenworth Soldier stops active shooter with his car

On Wednesday, an active duty U.S. Army soldier brought an active shooter situation in Kansas to an abrupt end by ramming the suspect with a vehicle after another soldier was wounded.

Police were first called to Centennial Bridge over the Missouri River, which spans across the border between Kansas and Missouri, after reports of a road rage incident at approximately 11 a.m. local time on Wednesday. By the time they arrived, the shooter had already been neutralized by a Soldier that had been waiting in traffic. According to Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens, responding officers arrived to find one Soldier nursing a gunshot wound and the suspect “trapped under the car” of another Soldier. Neither of the Soldier’s names have been released thus far.


Both the soldier who was wounded and the shooter were transported to a nearby hospital where both are now listed in “serious, but in stable condition.”

Fort Leavenworth soldier stops active shooter on bridge

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According to reports, the shooter was armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol, and responding officers found bullet holes in a number of surrounding vehicles. According to witnesses on the scene, the shooter wasn’t seeming to target anyone specifically.

The Soldier, who is stationed in Ft. Leavenworth, was reportedly waiting in traffic when the shooting first began. Once he had assessed that it was an active shooter situation, he took quick action to pull his vehicle out of the line of traffic and sped directly toward the shooter. As the shooter was already firing rounds at surrounding vehicles, the decision to ram him was a risky one, and police are crediting his quick and decisive action for potentially saving a number of lives.

“What was a very, very dangerous situation, fortunately, was ended quite quickly,” Kitchens said in a press conference.

“The soldier intervened by striking the shooter with his vehicle, causing him to be critically injured, but ending the encounter with the active shooter and likely saving countless lives,” Kitchens continued.

You can watch Chief Kitchen’s full statement about the incident in the video below:

Fort Leavenworth soldier saves ‘countless lives’ by ending active shooter situation on bridge

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Thus far, the U.S. Army has not revealed the identity of the Soldier who stopped the shooting, nor have they made any official statements regarding the incident.

“It’s one thing to react under fire in a war zone — you’re in that mental state, even when you’re relaxing your mind is still kind of on edge all the time. It’s another thing to have the quick thinking and courage to do something like this stateside — shootings back home are extremely surreal,” former Army Ranger and author Luke Ryan told Sandboxx news. Ryan speaks from experience–having served in combat as a Ranger after surviving a school shooting as a student.

“They don’t feel real, and it takes your mind longer to sort out exactly what’s happening. Of course, in a violent situation like that, every second is precious and can mean another life lost. The soldier who stopped this shooter is commendable, not only for their courageous actions, but also their ability to think fast and act decisively. I don’t know what this soldier’s background is, whether they relied on years of combat experience or whether they were just a regular person reacting the best way they knew how — either way, hats off.”

An investigation into the incident, including what the motive for the shooting may have been, remains ongoing.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY MOVIES

The new ‘This is Us’ military arc is deeply personal

U.S. Marine Corps veteran James LaPorta is “nervous as hell” for season four of the critically-acclaimed NBC drama This is Us because for him, the story couldn’t be more personal.

An infantry Marine with multiple Afghanistan deployments, LaPorta understands the impact of war. He also has some strong opinions about Hollywood’s depiction of it, which he shared for Newsweek when This is Us explored the Vietnam War during season three.

“While Hollywood has improved upon its depiction of military veterans in recent years, the majority of characters produced are still one dimensional. Usually, the audience is delivered a stereotype of either the incredibly heroic service member or the tragically broken veteran who is unable to function. In reality, these are plot vehicles for lazy writing that garner cheap emotional responses and that can contribute to the civilian-military divide that is already occurring,” he wrote.

Many in the military community agree and are quick to condemn military stories in film and television, but it was the Vietnam storyline that first caught LaPorta’s attention. In his opinion, This is Us had figured out the right way to tell veterans’ stories — though he couldn’t have predicted that he would sign on to be part of the team that would tackle the war in Afghanistan.

A war that, in LaPorta’s own words, is “being forgotten even as it’s being fought.”


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzmL4KNtcb0
This Is Us Returns for Season 4

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Watch the Season Four trailer:

LaPorta, already a fan of This is Us, was impressed by the Vietnam storyline and its depiction of how our veterans of that war were treated when they came home. LaPorta reached out to This is Us creator Dan Fogleman, who told Newsweek that the story was “not just about combat in war—[it was] about what veterans, and in particular, veterans of that generation, kept from their families, from significant others. Things they may have even kept from themselves at certain times.”

Fogleman invited LaPorta to visit the set and talk with the staff writers, which lead to LaPorta’s involvement on the show. He was hired as a military advisor for season four, which introduces the character of Cassidy Sharp (played by Jennifer Morrison), a soldier who struggles to return home from Afghanistan.

The story comes with pressure to “get it right.” LaPorta didn’t want to depict another military caricature, but the balance between telling an entertaining story and showing what it’s truly like for veterans is a tricky one. For LaPorta, it’s not only personal in that he shares his own experiences, but he also wove the stories of people he served with into this season.

Late post from last night’s @NBCThisisUs premiere. Actor Rich Paul is also a @USMC veteran. His character is Sgt. Lasher, which is also an homage to another #Marine I served with in Afghanistan. Lance Cpl Jeremy Lasher was killed in combat on July 23, 2009 https://thefallen.militarytimes.com/marine-lance-cpl-jeremy-s-lasher/4207099 …pic.twitter.com/njME4HVT35

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LaPorta not only provided guidance about uniforms and weapons, but he was intent on getting every detail right, down to the proper tourniquets for the military units or the red dye in the beards of Afghan locals. He wanted it to be visually authentic at a minimum.

But he took his role as military advisor further by truly bridging the divide between the military and civilians in the cast and crew. One of the more meaningful ways he did this was by making and gifting memorial bracelets to honor the memories of fallen service members.

Among those who received bracelets were Fogleman and Morrison, the writing team, Executive Producer and Director Ken Olin, and Milo Ventimiglia, who plays a Vietnam War veteran in the show (and whose father was an actual Vietnam War veteran).

It was quite powerful and important to us my friend. Our North Star for her story this season. #ThisIsUshttps://twitter.com/JimLaPorta/status/1176714723280244736 …

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When I asked what he was most excited about with this season’s story, LaPorta mentioned that female veterans in particular are underrepresented on-screen. “We’ve seen my story before, in terms of the male infantryman. We’ve seen it. But we haven’t really seen what women go through,” he insisted.

Then, about two weeks prior to his first meeting for season four, Navy cryptologist Shannon Kent had just been killed in an ISIS suicide attack.

While Cassidy Sharp isn’t based on Kent or any one veteran in particular, she is a character who is serving in a combat zone, which many Americans are surprised to discover is the reality of post-9/11 wars. Female service members are risking their lives every day and their experience is unique.

“As we’re making this storyline, there are actually people fighting these wars,” LaPorta shared. “It’s something I’ll never forget, and I wanted to give the memorial bracelets so the cast and crew can remember that fact, too. It was a way to thank them for telling this story.”

This is not how we expected Cassidy to cross paths with the Pearsons…pic.twitter.com/dVtxFAVwws

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Watch This is Us Tuesday nights on NBC at 9/8c.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Best battle proven tricks to win a ‘sniper duel’

Snipers face countless threats on the battlefield. Ambush. Exposure. Separation from friendly forces. But, one of the most dangerous is being hunted by another deadly sharpshooter.

“It becomes a game of cat and mouse,” US Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Rance, the sniper instructor team sergeant at the sniper school at Fort Benning, said in a recent interview with Business Insider. “You have to be very cautious.”


Sniper duels like those seen in “Enemy at the Gates” and that well-known scene from “Saving Private Ryan” are rare, but they do happen. During the Vietnam War, Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock battled several enemy snipers, reportedly putting a shot clean through the rifle scope and eye of a North Vietnamese Army sniper.

We asked a handful of top US Army snipers, marksman with years of experience and multiple combat deployments, how they hunt enemy sharpshooters. Here’s what they had to say.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

Spc. Dane Pope-Keegan, a Scottsdale, Arizona native and sniper assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, performs reconnaissance and collects information during air assault training on July 10, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andrew McNeil / 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

US snipers have been fighting insurgents in the Middle East for nearly two decades. These enemies, while dangerous, are often considered lower level threats because they lack the training that US forces have.

“Some of our lower threat level [enemies], just because they are carrying a long gun, they may not have the actual experience of a sniper,” Rance told BI. The far greater threats are from professionally trained shooters from advanced militaries like those of China, Russia, and possibly even Iran.

“As you get into the near-peer threats, adversaries that have the proper tools and training, it’s a greater challenge for us to go get them because often they are professional school-trained snipers,” he said. They know the tricks of the trade, and that makes them much more deadly.

When there is a suspected sniper holed up nearby, there are a few different options.

“The best answer might be to go around,” Army Capt. Greg Elgort, the company commander at Fort Benning, told BI. “But, if your mission requires you to go through, you have a lot of different offensive options that are available.” They don’t necessarily have to hunt the enemy down one-on-one.

Snipers regularly support larger military force elements, scouting out enemy positions and relaying critical information to other components of that larger force, which can strike with mortars, artillery or infantry assault to “root out and destroy” the enemy. The snipers can then assess damage caused by the strikes from a safe distance.

But, sometimes eliminating the threat falls squarely on the shoulders of the sniper.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

A U.S. Army sniper and infantryman with the U.S. Army Sniper School poses during a video shoot at Fort Benning, Georgia, Dec. 13, 2018.

(U.S. Army Reserve photo by Capt. David Gasperson)

The hunt is a tedious and dangerous game, as Rance said. US troops must pinpoint the emplaced sniper and range them without exposing themselves to fire.

“It’s going to take patience,” First Sgt. Kevin Sipes, a veteran sniper with more than a decade of experience, explained to BI recently. “You are waiting to see who is going to make a mistake first. Basically, it is going to take a mistake for you to win that fight, or vice versa, you making a mistake and losing that fight.”

Snipers are masters at concealing themselves from the watchful eyes of the enemy, but disappearing is no easy task. There’s a million different things that go into hiding from the enemy, and a simple mistake could be fatal.

According to the story of Hathcock, the renowned Vietnam War sniper, it was reportedly the glare of the enemy’s scope that gave away his position. “As a sniper, you are looking for anomalies, anything that sticks out, going against the pattern,” Rance explained.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

U.S. Army Spc. Artemio Veneracion, a native of North Hills, Calif., a sniper with Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, stationed out of Vilseck, Germany, looks through the scope of an M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS), during a combined squad training exercise with the Finnish Soldiers of the Armoured Reconnaissance Platoon at the Tapa Training Area, Estonia, June 15, 2016.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven M. Colvin)

These fights could easily be long and drawn out.

“In a real scenario, you could be in a situation for two, three weeks, a month maybe, determining a pattern, waiting for a mistake to be made,” Sipes said. Eliminating a threat could involve taking the shot yourself or using your eyes to guide other assets as they force the enemy “into a position to effectively neutralize them.” Either way, it takes time.

And, the waiting is tough.

“Staying in a position for an extended period of time, obviously it’s difficult,” Sipes told BI. “Patience is key. It’s terrible when you’re in that situation because it’s incredibly boring and you’re not moving. I’ve come out of situations with sores on my stomach and elbows and knees from laying there for so long.”

“It’s a cool story later,” he added.

No matter how tough it gets, a sniper must maintain focus, keeping his concentration. A sniper really only gets one shot, maybe two best case scenario.

“If they were to miss,” Rance explained, “they only have a few seconds to do that second shot correction before that target, seeks cover and disappears.”

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

MIGHTY MONEY

4 VA loan myths busted: What to know before you go

If someone were to ask me what the best advice is for someone buying a home, I would have to say “educate yourself.” I realize that sounds vague, but there is SO MUCH information, more importantly, incorrect information, out there and every family situation is unique. I’m hard-pressed to say what is most important, but breaking barriers to getting started would be first. Unfortunately, I see a lot of myths repeated on a daily basis, sometimes from fellow mortgage professionals! I will continue to share digestible pieces of information, but first, need to get these common myths out of the way, so no military family is deterred from getting started:


Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

There is no debt-to-income ratio cap.

The VA’s deciding factor on whether or not you can afford a loan is based on “residual income” (p.57), meaning how much money is left over every month after your debt obligations are met. This is a formula based on loan amount, geographic location and family size; it’s not always a one-size-fits-all answer. Some lenders have “overlays,” which are additional requirements that reach beyond what the VA themselves require, which is why the DTI myth is still floating around. The big takeaway here is that if you’re told by one lender your DTI is too high, they might have extra requirements on top of what the VA states, and you should SHOP AROUND! Not all lenders are created equal.

Residency requirements.

The VA has one residency requirement (pp.12-13), that you intend to make the home your primary residence and occupy “within a reasonable period of time” – usually deemed as 60 days. A spouse or dependent child can fulfill this residency requirement, but no other family member. I continuously see the myth of “one year,” circulated, but it is simply a myth. Last-minute moves and orders happen; the VA knows that, and according to their guidelines, you are not tied to live in any home for any period of time that doesn’t work for your family – period.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

County loan limits still apply for multiples.

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act Sec.6(a)(1)(C)(ii) that went into effect January 2020 lifted the VA county loan cap for how much money you can borrow with down, but that’s only if you have full entitlement available. A borrower can have multiple VA loans out at once, but if any entitlement is currently used, the county loan limits DO apply for bonus entitlements. You may be subject to a downpayment requirement if you exceed your remaining entitlement available.

Work history – what counts?

I repeatedly see posts in social media about a service member transitioning, receiving a new job (or job offer), and they don’t think they can qualify for a loan until two years into the job. This is totally false! Military active duty counts towards work history. The VA allows future employment income to be counted if the lender can verify a non-contingent job offer, including start date and salary. Documented retirement and disability pay also count towards qualifying income, but GI bill benefits do not.

Social media can give instant access to other people’s experiences, but some of the answers to your VA loan questions can only be found in a licensed professional. Make sure you’re talking to a lender that is passionate about educating you and your family, allowing you to make smart financial decisions. Not all financial institutions lend “by-the-book,” so ask more than one lender if something doesn’t feel right, or you’re not satisfied with the answer. An ounce of prevention, in this case, is certainly worth well more than a pound of cure!

MIGHTY TRENDING

7 places US forces fought the nation’s enemies in 2018

The US military gave or took fire in some form or another in at least seven countries in 2018: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya.

Here’s a breakdown of America’s military involvement in each country.


Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

U.S. Army Pfc. Aaron Birmingham, an infantryman with 1st Platoon, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, from Alpena, Mich., keeps on eye on a wadi in Andar, Afghanistan, April 21, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Guffey)

The war in Afghanistan

At least 15 US soldiers were killed in Afghanistan in 2018 in a war that entered its 18th year in October 2018.

The deadliest incident of the year occurred in late November 2018, involving a roadside bomb that ultimately claimed the lives of four US service members. This marked the largest loss of life in a single incident for the US in Afghanistan since 2015.

There are currently roughly 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

Members of 5th Special Forces Group (A) conducting 50. Cal Weapons training during counter ISIS operations at Al Tanf Garrison in southern Syria.

(US Marine Corps photo)

The fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria

The US military also continues to be active in Iraq and Syria in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State group, conducting airstrikes and advising local forces on the ground.

At least 10 US service members were killed in Iraq in 2018, though none of the deaths were a direct result of enemy action.

Master Sgt. Jonathan J. Dunbar was killed by a roadside bomb in Syria in late March 2018.

Human rights groups have accused the US-led coalition of reckless behavior and “potential war crimes” in the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

While civilian casualties are still being assessed for 2018, a report from the monitoring group Airwars said the US and its allies may have killed up to 6,000 civilians via strikes in Iraq and Syria in 2017 alone.

The US has been waging a campaign against the Islamic State group since August 2014.

In April 2018, President Donald Trump also authorized missile strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, targeting chemical weapons facilities in concert with the French and British.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Missile strikes on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

In April 2018, President Donald Trump also authorized missile strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, targeting chemical weapons facilities in concert with the French and British.

The US fired more than 118 missiles, more than twice the number it used in an attack on Syria’s Sharyat Airbase on April 7, 2017.

Shadow wars in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Pakistan

Under Trump, the US has also dramatically increased the number of drone strikes in places the US is not currently at war.

In 2018, there have been a slew of strikes in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Pakistan, where the US is fighting what have been dubbed “shadow wars.”

The US conducted at least one drone strike in Pakistan in 2018, at least 36 in Yemen, and at least 39 in Somalia, according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has been tracking US drone strikes in these countries for years.

As the numbers above show, the US military has been particularly active in Somalia in 2018, where it’s been focusing on aiding local forces in the fight against the Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which is an al Qaeda affiliate.

In June 2018, Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Conrad was killed in southwestern Somalia when militants attacked his team as it worked alongside Somali and Kenyan troops.

The US has also been active in Libya in 2018, where it’s launched roughly half a dozen air strikes against militants linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

A US strike conducted in Libya in late November 2018 killed 11 al Qaeda-linked militants, according to US Africa Command. But locals have reportedly protested after the strike, claiming civilians were targeted.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Official US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ned Johnson)

The war on terror entered its 18th year in 2018

The various operations in which the US took or gave fire in 2018 were linked to the so-called “war on terror.”

Since the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the US has spent nearly trillion on the broad, ill-defined conflict, which has claimed nearly 500,000 lives, according to an annual report from the Costs of War project at Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs.

According to the report, America is conducting counterterror operations in 76 countries, and nearly 7,000 US troops have been killed since the war on terror began.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of March 22nd

It was recently reported that, back in October, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit drank Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland, dry when they pulled into port. That’s not an expression or an over exaggeration. They literally drank every last bit of alcohol in the city over the course of their liberty to the point where the town reportedly had troubles restocking for their own citizens.

The most astounding thing about this entire story is that only one young, dumb lance corporal got in trouble for disorderly conduct — and we can only assume they’ve since been Ninja Punched into oblivion. But seriously, I have strong reservations about there only being one drunken problem. You mean to tell me that we can’t throw a barracks party without the MPs getting involved and an entire MEU got sh*tfaced drunk and only a single idiot did anything wrong?

I’m not saying it’s completely impossible — maybe things happened and were simply kept in-house — but if it’s really true and everyone was that well-behaved… BZ. Color me impressed.


To all you troops out there that aren’t that one Marine in Reykjavík, you’ve earned yourselves some memes.

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Meme via Artillery Moments)

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Meme via Do You Even Comm, Bro?)

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Meme via Lost in the Sauce)

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Photo via US Army WTF Moments)

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Meme by Ranger Up)

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Meme via ASMDSS)

Visual effects team explains Rey’s new lightsaber

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

6 best video apps for staying connected during quarantine

As more and more states issue mandatory lockdowns and stay-the-f@$% home orders in the wake of COVID-19, people are finding any and every app they can to try and stay connected. While we’re all wishing we would have bought stock in these services in December, we’re just grateful they exist so we can have a beer with a buddy via a screen. Here are our favorite 6 apps for video chatting.


Eastern Virginia Medical School

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1. Zoom

If you’ve all of a sudden found yourself homeschooling or working from home (bottoms up if it’s both!), then you’re probably already familiar with Zoom. Used for meetings, webinars and group conferencing, Zoom has a lot of great built in features for everything from the online classroom to an office happy hour. Share your screen, raise your virtual hand to be called upon and even customize your background so it looks like you’re sitting on a beach instead of hiding in your laundry room. Or, better yet, fancy yourself on the set of Top Gun: Maverick, which premieres this summer.

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Zoom can host up to 100 people within a standard meeting and up to 500 with the large digital ad on.

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2. Facetime

This is a no brainer if everyone has an iPhone. With a quick press of the button you can easily video chat with up to 31 other fellow Apple-loving users. But, let’s be honest: we all have that one friend or family member who insists that their Android takes better pictures. Fine Susan, we’ll all download a new app just so you can be included.

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3. Houseparty

Houseparty is where it’s at. Simple to use with a visually pleasing layout of your fellow party goers (have up to eight in your party at a time), there are even fun little games to play while you’re using the app if you want to for the ultimate social distancing game night. When one of our neighbors had a birthday, we poured a glass of champagne and toasted our friend on Houseparty.

It’s easy to create groups and notifications so that you’ll always know when your party people are “in the house” and you can see what party they’re in. This is either super convenient or the most FOMO-inducing feature we’ve ever seen on the interwebs.

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4. Skype

Yes, Skype is still around! We know you might have flashbacks to a frozen screen circa 2005 while you were downrange, but the technology and ease has made vast improvements since Skype’s early days. Chat with up to 50 people at a time, leave voicemails, share pictures and you can even still use that same screen name that you had back in the day.

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Google Hangouts/Meet

5. Google Hangouts

Whether you want to livestream your Crossfit WOD in solitude or have 250 friends in a chat (COVID-19 wedding, anyone?), Google Hangouts is making it possible. With interactive features like posting statuses, GIFs, emojis, stickers and more, Google Hangouts is being widely praised for extending their premium capabilities to all users for freeeeeeee.

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6. Snapchat

Who knew that everyone’s favorite filter app had video chat capability? Well, apparently kids these days. This popular app allows you to connect 15 users at a time and still has the fun filters for which it’s known. Which is extra helpful in the era of not knowing what day it is or how many days since you’ve washed your hair.

No matter what app you turn to, stay connected while keeping your social distance.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China’s biggest new enemy in the Pacific will surprise you

China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region has made some of its neighbors uneasy, and many are making political and military efforts to counter what they see as a potential threat.

An unofficial report from the Five Eyes intelligence partnership, made up of the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, recently warned about what it saw as “a concerted foreign interference campaign” from China against New Zealand.

The current government in Wellington has denied any tension with its Five Eyes partners, and its latest Strategic Defense Policy statement, released in July 2018 by Defense Minister Ron Mark, puts the perceived challenges posed by Beijing in clear language.


“New Zealand is navigating an increasingly complex and dynamic international security environment, and will also face compounding challenges of a scope and magnitude not previously seen in our neighbourhood,” the document says.

New Zealand’s leaders have in the past shied away from directly naming China when discussing tensions in the region, but the statement makes explicit criticisms of China, saying that even as Beijing has benefited from the international rules-based order and sought greater economic interconnectedness, “it has not consistently adopted the governance and values championed by the [international] order’s traditional leaders.”

China, it says, “holds views on human rights and freedom of information that stand in contrast to those that prevail in New Zealand.”

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Chinese President Xi Jinping

Beijing wants to “restore claimed historical levels of influence in its periphery” and take “an enhanced global leadership role,” it adds. In Asia, “China’s more confident assertion of its interests has at times raised tensions with neighbouring states and with the United States.”

China’s growing military power raises the costs of acting against its interests, and Beijing also “has determined not to engage with an international tribunal ruling on the status of sovereignty claims,” the statement says, likely referring to a 2016 international-court ruling that rejected China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.

The paper cites other challenges, such as illiberal approaches to the international order taken by countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, internal concerns about national-security and political and demographic shifts in Western democracies, and global sources of disorder like terrorism, climate change, and cyber threats.

Uncertainty about the US’s future international role “has disruptive implications in itself,” the statement says. And amid increasing competition between world powers, “complex transnational threats will disrupt New Zealand’s neighbourhood in ways not previously seen.”

When presenting the document, Mark said it would not surprise China, which he said would respect New Zealand’s “forthrightness.” In the days since, however, Beijing has responded severely.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said July 9, 2018, that Beijing “lodged stern representations” with Wellington over the latter’s “wrong remarks.”

“We urge New Zealand to view the relevant issue in an objective way, correct its wrong words and deeds and contribute more to the mutual trust and cooperation between our two countries,” she said.

Winston Peters, New Zealand’s foreign minister, also said on July 9, 2018, that China had expressed concern over the paper through its ambassador in Wellington and to New Zealand’s ambassador in Beijing, but he downplayed the response and said his government would not change course.

“We’re not here to make people happy,” he said. “We’re here to be a responsible international citizen.”

“New Zealand’s position had firmed up,” Robert Alyson, a professor at Victoria University’s Center for Strategic Studies, told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s more willing to say things about China that are a bit critical.”

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A P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft

(Boeing)

New Zealand’s response to China’s growing presence is not been limited to words.

Days after announcing the new defense statement, the government there approved the nearly id=”listicle-2586055515″.5 billion purchase of four P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, which are made by Boeing and are in use by a number of allies, including Australia and the UK. South Korea also recently said it would purchase several Poseidons.

The purchase in Wellington’s biggest military buy in decades, and the planes will give the island nation enhanced patrol and intelligence-gathering capability — as well as an advanced sub hunter— at a time when China’s growing submarine fleet is worrying its neighbors.

Wellington got rid of its combat aircraft at the beginning of this century, and the fleet of aging P-3 Orion patrol aircraft that the Poseidons will replace have seen their maintenance costs spike over the past decade. The Defense Ministry has said the Orions would need to be replaced by the mid-2020s. The Poseidons are to start operations in 2023.

“This decision strengthens the coalition government’s Pacific reset by providing a maritime patrol capability with the significant range and endurance needed to assist our partners in the region,” Mark said.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why squadrons are the ‘beating heart’ of the Air Force

In the Air Force, squadrons are the basic level of operations, its “beating heart” as Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein calls them.

To better understand how significant the squadron is to the Air Force, it’s also important to know what a squadron is.

Within the Air Force, the squadron is the lowest level of command with a headquarters element. Squadrons are typically commanded by a lieutenant colonel, though smaller squadrons may be commanded by majors, captains and sometimes even lieutenants. Squadrons can also vary in size and are usually identified numerically and by function. An example would be the 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron or the 355th Communications Squadron.


Two or more squadrons form a group. In the Air Force, groups are usually based upon the assignment of squadrons with similar functions. For example, the supply squadron, transportation, and aircraft maintenance squadron would be assigned to the Logistics Group, the flying squadrons would be assigned to the Operations Group and the Dental Squadron and the Medical Squadron would be assigned to the Medical Group. Groups, in turn, are then assigned to a wing with the same number. For instance, the 49th Logistics Group is assigned to the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

However, the squadron actually predates the Air Force. In March 1913, the first squadron was created when the Army ordered the creation of the Army Air Services’ 1st Provisional Aero Squadron – known today as the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, the U.S. military’s oldest flying unit.

The creation of higher echelons came later as the role of air power grew during World War I. Groups and wings were formed in order to remedy the difficulty of coordinating aerial activities between dispersed aero squadrons. Though WWI saw the first great military mobilization, it also saw the first huge drawdown. What was more than 660 aero units diminished to a little over 70 squadrons by 1919, with an air component that was 19,000 soldiers strong reduced to around 5 percent of what it used to be. No one would have predicted that after two decades, the air component found itself expanding once again.

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108th Bombardment Squadron during the Korean War activation formation in 1951.

(US Air Force photo)

With the advent of World War II, then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt acknowledged the growing importance of airpower. He believed, according to his adviser, Harry Hopkins, “that airpower would win the war.” What was then renamed to the Army Air Corps was well funded and grew rapidly, seeing more planes and squadrons than it ever will in its history – from a workforce comprised of 26,500 soldiers in 1939 to a staggering 2,253,000-strong by 1945.

The aerial component saw a considerable drawdown after the war ended, and, despite becoming its own department through the National Security Act of 1947, the number of airmen and squadrons continued to fluctuate and shrink over the years.

In the current Air Force, led by Wilson, Goldfein, and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, the push for revitalizing squadrons, empowering airmen and supporting innovation is stronger than ever, but unbeknownst to many, these concepts have been implemented by many successful military leaders of the past. A prime example is one of the U.S. Air Force’s most iconic figures: a man known for his prowess in the aerial battlefield and his famously distinctive lip foliage, Big. Gen. Robin Olds.

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“Wolfpack” aviators of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing carry their Commanding Officer, Colonel Robin Olds, following his return from his last combat mission over North Vietnam, on 23 September 1967. This mission was his hundredth “official” combat mission, but his actual combat mission total for his tour was 152. Olds led the 8th TFW Wolfpack from September 1966 through September 1967, as it amassed 24 MiG victories, the greatest aerial combat record of an F-4 Wing in the Vietnam war.

(US Air Force)

Along with inspiring the Air Force tradition, Mustache March, Olds was known as a triple ace for shooting down 17 enemy aircraft during his career. Along with the accolades he received as a skilled fighter pilot, Olds was known for his innovative leadership. In Vietnam, he led the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing to 24 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 jet aircraft kills – an unsurpassed total for that conflict.

One of the most significant moments in his career was on Jan. 2, 1967, during Operation Bolo, where he, as a colonel, entrusted the planning of an experimental and high-stakes mission to a quartet of veteran junior officers and pilots in his unit. Operation Bolo was conceived in response to the North Vietnamese use of MiG-21s to successfully shoot down F-105 Thunderchief aircraft. Olds noticed that F-4 Phantoms and F-105 Thunderchiefs routes became predictable. Enemy intelligence analysts would listen in on radio transmissions and were able to recognize F-105 and F-4 call signs and flight patterns and used the information to target the more vulnerable F-105s. Olds charged his men to come up with a plan to trick the North Vietnamese into thinking the F-4s were the F-105s. The F-4s were then fitted with the jamming pods usually carried by F-105s so that their electronic signature would be the same and also used the same call signs and flew the same routes and pod formations as the F-105s. Needless to say, the operation was a success and lead to the most MiGs shot down during a single mission.

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Francis S. Gabreski (left) congratulates another World War II and Korean War ace, Maj. William T. Whisner (center). On the right is Lt. Col. George Jones, a MiG ace with 6.5 kills.

(US Air Force)

In a commentary commemorating Olds in March of 2018 written by Lt. Col. Bobby Schmitt, 16th Space Control Squadron commander, he said that Operation Bolo “showed innovation could work when the leader trusted and empowered his people to think of and implement new and better ways to do business.”

He also referred to Olds as “an innovative leader” at a time when the Air Force was in dire need of innovation to face difficult missions where a lot of people’s lives were at stake.

Just like Olds, Goldfein and Wilson ask airmen to help come up with ideas to reinvigorate squadrons for the force to be ready for the 21st-century fight.

They have gone as far as reviewing all Air Force instructions and empowering commanders to maneuver and make decisions as well as encourage wing commanders to let squadron commanders make important decisions.

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Capt. Lacey Koelling, the 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge, and 34th Bomb Squadron members Capt. Lillian Pryor, a B-1 pilot; Capt. Danielle Zidack, a weapon systems officer; Capt. Lauren Olme, a B-1 pilot; and 1st Lt. Kimberly Auton, a weapon systems officer, conduct a preflight briefing prior to an all-female flight out of Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 21, 2018. The flight was in honor of WomenÕs History Month and consisted of routine training in the local area.

(Air Force photo by Sgt. Jette Carr)

During an Air Force update in September 2017, where Goldfein talked about creating healthy squadrons who excel in multi-domain warfare and ready to lead the joint force, he concluded by saying, “It’s the secretary and my job to release the brilliance found throughout the airmen in our Air Force,” a sentiment that echoes the voices of great Air Force leaders of the past, the present and the future.

This article originally appeared on Airman Magazine. Follow @AirmanMagazine on Twitter.

Humor

5 reasons why ‘Saving Private Ryan’ should have been about Pvt. Ryan

In 1998, Steven Spielberg put forth what’s considered one of the best war movies of all time, Saving Private Ryan. The filmmaker brings audiences inside the life of an infantry squad as they maneuver through the bloody battlefields of World War II.


Saving Private Ryan follows a squad of Army Rangers whose sole mission is to locate one soldier and bring him home after his brothers were discovered to be killed in battle.

Despite the film’s title, the movie doesn’t center around the eponymous Pvt. Ryan, but rather the men who bear the struggles of war to find him.

Related: This is what the pilots from ‘Top Gun’ are doing today

So, check out five reasons why we think Saving Private Ryan should have been about Pvt. Ryan.

5. The Ryan brothers getting separated

After the audience learns that 3 of the 4 Ryan brothers have died in battle, General Marshall is informed that they were all separated due to the Sullivan Act.

Watching the Ryan brothers as they get split up, knowing it might be the last time they would ever see one another, would’ve been an exceptionally powerful scene.

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These Army officers discuss the news of Pvt. Ryan’s dilemma and formulate a plan to get him out. (Image from DreamWorks Studios)

4. The paratrooper’s perspective

At one point in the film, Capt. Miller learns about all of the mis-drops that affected airborne soldiers, including Pvt. Ryan. How awesome would the footage have looked with Spielberg behind the camera, capturing the paratroopers’ perspectives on inaccurate drops?

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Lt. Colonel Anderson informs Capt. Miller of his new and incredibly difficult mission — find one man in the whole damn war. (Image from DreamWorks Studios)

3. The first battle over the bridge

Cpl. Henderson debriefs Capt. Miller on their bloody encounters with the Germans while babysitting the bridge. Some of us would have rather seen that intense footage as opposed to watching one of our favorite medics pass away as a result of an avoidable firefight.

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Cpl. Henderson debriefs the Rangers on their bloody encounters with the Germans. (Image from DreamWorks Studios)

2. Humanizing Pvt. Ryan

Let’s face it, Pvt. Ryan isn’t our favorite, but we understand why he didn’t want to leave the only brothers he had left. But, a few minutes before the Germans show up to fight, Pvt. Ryan tells Capt. Miller a funny story of the last night he and his brothers were together.

Actually seeing the Ryan brothers all together, causing a ruckus, would bring some comic relief to an otherwise dark film.

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Ryan laughs as he remembers a funny story of the last time he was with his brothers. (Image from DreamWorks Studios)

Also Read: 5 things you didn’t know about Sgt. Elias’s death scene in ‘Platoon’

1. “Earn this”

Toward the end of the film, Capt. Miller brings Ryan in close and tells him to “earn this.” These simple words have a significant impact on Pvt. Ryan’s life moving forward. But, outside of bringing his family to Capt. Miller’s grave, we don’t know how Ryan lived out his days.

Centering the film around Pvt. Ryan and showing a montage his successful, post-war life could help give us closure.

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Capt. Miller and Pvt. Ryan watch the P-51s fly through the battlespace right after a hectic firefight. (Image from DreamWorks Studios)

popular

The incredible effort milspouses make to achieve life goals

My story begins at Abilene Christian University in Texas, where I began college in the late 1980s. The summer after freshman year, I met my husband Bob who was serving in the Air Force. Engaged within weeks and married following my sophomore year, my plan was to finish college in our new hometown of Austin.

Due to strict state university standards, I was required to enter college as a second-semester freshman instead of a junior. I was angry – so I took one class and quit.


Fast-forward about 10 years to our new home with two little boys in Altus, Oklahoma. I had a couple of friends from church who were preparing to graduate from community college. Those ladies had families with full-time jobs (and active-duty husbands that went TDY often). That “fire inside” finally found a spark again.

I worked hard over the next two years to earn two associate degrees, one in arts and one in science. I had been told that if you had an associate’s degree, universities had to accept it and couldn’t make you take their designated core classes. With one in each track, I thought I was set. It was also during this period that my dad got sick and passed away. I was able to pause my studies and finish up after I returned home. But once again, we found out we were moving. I didn’t have enough time to finish one last class, so the instructor permitted me to take an incomplete and finish it from Alabama – my first “true” tele-course!

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I took another break from school after that because our assignment was only for one year. After seven years (and another four PCS moves), we got the surprise of our lives when our family increased to include two more sons. We had two in junior high/high school and two preschoolers. I volunteered when I could, and one of those opportunities turned into a flex-time job in accounting, my dream job.

Then something changed. A situation came up, and I needed to leave that position. I was unwilling to give up that little bit of time at home with our last child. I understand that it’s not the choice for everyone – but this was my decision, and I am eternally grateful that I had the opportunity.

But now, with no job, I suddenly had a great deal of time on my hands. It felt like I was a fish out of water, and I couldn’t breathe.

My husband (who had by then RETIRED – and usually that means no more moving…) asked if I had considered going back to school. And that spark? It flickered again. I didn’t have too much time to decide, but I applied at the local university and was told that there were nine credit hours that Texas required before I could truly begin my junior year. That wasn’t too bad – so I earned those at a local junior college and had everything transferred.

At this point of my education “battle,” I was now up to SEVEN colleges. And in my FIRST SEMESTER at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, guess what? Bob got a promotion and another job offer – in San Antonio. Even I couldn’t believe my luck at this point. I took one last class from San Antonio but couldn’t continue because MSU didn’t have many online offerings – especially the upper-level accounting courses that I needed.

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Midwestern State University

So, I quit again. Or so I thought…

In 2015, I read about a new program that Champlain College Online was offering. It provided affordable degree and certificate programs that were 100 percent online. Moving was no longer an excuse to quit!

Speaking of life experiences, my own include three major neck surgeries, 11 moves (including one to Germany, during finals week), eight different colleges, and – as of spring 2017 – one well-deserved bachelor’s degree in accounting! I’m currently serving as the treasurer for our church and looking forward to performing more financial duties next year.

For some, it only takes four years to complete a degree, and for some of us more than 30 years. All that matters is that we as military spouses persist and eventually achieve our goals.

Jane Brumley has been a military spouse for 30 years. Her husband Bob retired from active duty in 2008 and currently serves as a Department of Defense civilian. They have four children, two who are still at home. They are currently stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Jane spends her time volunteering with both schools, serving as Treasurer of her family’s church and at the base tax center, utilizing her Accounting degree. She is thoroughly enjoying her time traveling throughout Europe.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.