The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world - We Are The Mighty
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The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Editor’s Note – The following is an updated repost of a story on the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine Epidemiology Reference Laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, which was originally published on March 27, 2018. It contains new information on the lab’s mission during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

For the latest Air Force information and guidance on COVID-19 go to https://www.af.mil/News/Coronavirus-Disease-2019/

UPDATE – COVID-19 AND THE USAFSAM EPI LAB

The United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine’s epidemiology laboratory is the Air Force’s sole clinical reference laboratory, and as such, is testing and processing samples of COVID-19 sent from military treatment facilities around the world.


EPILAB

vimeo.com

The lab was authorized by the Defense Health Agency to test samples from Department of Defense beneficiaries for COVID-19 in early March, and received its test kit from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention shortly after.

“The USAFSAM Epi Lab is currently working long hours, testing and processing samples of COVID-19 that are coming in from MTFs globally,” said Col. Theresa Goodman, USAFSAM commander. “If you ask anyone on this team how they’re doing, they’ll tell you they’re fine–that they’re just doing their jobs. But I couldn’t be more proud of them right now — their selfless and tireless dedication to this mission. COVID-19 testing is our primary mission right now and the members of the Epi Lab are my front line to this fight.”

USAFSAM’s epidemiology laboratory, nested in the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing, has a long history of testing and identifying various infectious respiratory diseases, including those that occur on a regular basis like influenza, and the ones similar to COVID-19 that become a public health issue, spreading globally. Because of this, the team works closely with the CDC and other agencies.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

Col. Theresa Goodman

“We have been in operation for approximately 30 years, and therefore involved with many other infectious disease outbreaks, for example SARS,” said Col. Dana Dane, USAFSAM Public Health Department chair.

This laboratory is only authorized to test samples coming in from DoD beneficiaries, but those outside this demographic have the support of their state public health departments for testing purposes. USAFSAM is working closely with public health professionals across the DoD, as well as with the CDC as the situation evolves. Per CDC guidelines, reference laboratories are no longer required to submit samples to the CDC for further testing and final confirmation. If the tests do show as positive, the USAFSAM Epi Lab marks the sample “confirmed positive.”

USAFSAM’s laboratory is not participating in vaccine development. It also is not the type of laboratory where people go to get blood drawn, nasal swabs, etc., like a CompuNet or clinic at a doctor’s office or in a hospital. USAFSAM’s clinical reference lab is set up to receive these samples from military treatment facilities. They run the tests on those samples and log the data.

“We’re all sensitive to those around the world who are grieving losses due to this awful virus as well as to others who are just downright scared. Our hearts go out to you,” said Goodman. “But just know that our epidemiology laboratory here in USAFSAM is waiting at the door 24/7 for any and all samples that come in from our DoD family.

Goodman also stated that the team is lockstep with public health personnel around the world as well as with our partners at the CDC.

“We truly are all in this together,” she said. “Fighting this virus will take all of us doing our part–from those staying at home washing their hands a little more often and checking on neighbors to USAFSAM’s public health team testing samples and getting the data where it needs to go.”

THE DISEASE DETECTIVES (ORIGINAL POST – MARCH 27, 2018 )

After slowly using a blade to cut through thick tape, a technician in a protective gown and glasses opens the flaps of a cardboard box revealing a polystyrene container. As her gloved hands cautiously remove the lid, a wisp of vapor rolls slowly over the edge of the box, clinging to its surface as it descends onto the tabletop.

The technician gingerly reaches through the fog and removes a plastic bag filled with clear vials from the container. This process is repeated over a hundred times each morning as carts filled with boxes of clinical patient specimens arrive at the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine’s Epidemiology Laboratory Service at the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Created in 1990, the Epi Lab, as it is referred to at USAFSAM, focuses on clinical diagnostic, public health testing and force health screening, performing 5,000 to 8,000 tests six days a week (or about 2.1 million tests a year) for clinics and hospitals treating active duty service members, reservists and National Guard members and their dependents and beneficiaries.

The data collected from these tests not only enables the analysis of disease within the joint force, but is shared with civilian public health agencies contributing to the tracking of diseases, such as influenza and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), as well as supporting disease prevention efforts, such as the formulation of vaccines.

While the lab receives most of its medical samples from Air Force bases around the world, it also tests specimens sent by Navy and Army hospitals and clinics, totaling more than 200 military medical facilities around the globe.

The Epi Lab’s workload is a result of its efficiency and economics, according to Elizabeth Macias, Ph.D., a clinical microbiologist, and director of the Epi Lab.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

Elizabeth Macias, Ph.D., is a clinical microbiologist, and director of the Epidemiology Laboratory Service, also known as the Epi Lab, at the 711th Human Performance Wing’s United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and Public Health at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. The lab, which receives between 5,000 and 8,000 samples, six days a week, for analysis, routinely reports results to Department of Defense hospitals and clinics around the world within 48 hours of a sample being shipped to the lab.

PHOTO BY J.M. EDDINS JR.

“A lot of the testing is very specialized, and in some cases can be very expensive. Many of our Air Force clinics and laboratories are small and don’t have the personnel to do that kind of thing or the funding to get all the specialized instruments that we have,” Macias said. “Our personnel are comprised of military, government civilians and contractor civilians, so we have the expertise and the personnel to handle the workload.”

Nearly 30 people work throughout the morning, removing samples packed in dry ice from their boxes, ensuring the patient information on the specimen tubes and paperwork match the orders on the computer system and then re-labeling them for the lab’s computer system before sending the samples to the appropriate testing departments.

“The laboratory consists of three branches; Customer Support, Immunodiagnostics and Microbiology. Immunodiagnostics and Microbiology perform testing, such as immune status and screening for STDs, like Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), gonorrhea, syphilis and hepatitis and some other serology assays,” said Tech. Sgt. Maryann Caso, noncommissioned officer in charge of the immunodiagnostic section of the Epi Lab.

Just over a year ago, the Epi Lab adopted fourth-generation HIV testing, which enables the lab to detect an HIV infection two weeks sooner after a patient is exposed. This newer technology allows patients to receive treatment and counseling sooner.

There is a constant flow of samples requiring STD screening and immune status testing, as these are gathered as part of the in-processing screening for each new service member. The tests help screen for potentially infectious diseases as well as establish a baseline of antibody types and levels for each new recruit to precisely target which vaccines they need.

“For example, all the new recruits are tested for measles, mumps, and rubella. So if they have antibodies to those diseases then they’re not vaccinated again. This saves the Department of Defense because they don’t waste manpower and money to vaccinate somebody that is already protected against those diseases,” Macias said.

The lab has become more efficient and safer for laboratory technicians after the installation of an automated testing system last year.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

Laboratory technicians unpack and log in blood serum, fecal, urine or respiratory samples which arrive from U.S. Air Force hospitals and clinics around the world, as well as some other Department of Defense facilities Jan. 30, 2018. The Epidemiology Laboratory Service, also known as the Epi Lab, at the 711th Human Performance Wing’s United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and Public Health at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, receives 100-150 boxes a day, six days a week. The lab, which tests between 5,000 and 8,000 samples daily, is a Department of Defense reference laboratory offering clinical diagnostic, public health, and force health screening and testing.

PHOTO // J.M. EDDINS JR.

“The samples come in now and are put on an automated line. It will actually uncap the sample, spin it down, aliquot it (divide the sample into smaller portions for multiple tests) and sort it to whatever section and analyzer it needs for a particular test,” Caso said.

“Before, our techs had to manually uncap the tubes, aliquot the samples and sort them. When you have thousands of samples that you have to uncap and then recap by hand, you get repetitive-motion injuries to the wrist – such as carpal tunnel. The whole idea is to have automated processes and to eliminate or mitigate pre-analytical errors, such as specimen contamination.”

Once tested, the results are automatically returned to the submitting hospital or clinic via computer, unless the system notifies a technician to intervene and manually certify the test result.

“Specimens are collected at hospitals and clinics around the world and sent to us,” Macias said. “We receive the boxes within 24 hours and most of the results are completed within 24 hours… So, generally, we get those results back to the submitting clinic within 48 hours from when they are shipped to us, so the docs can then treat their patients appropriately and with a good turnaround time.”

In addition to the immunology testing that is performed in the lab, the Microbiology branch performs testing on bacterial cultures, examines fecal samples for parasites that cause intestinal disease, and performs influenza testing.

The Air Force began an influenza surveillance program in 1976 to collect data about disease and its spread in response to an outbreak of what was called “Bootcamp Flu.” In the close quarters of basic training, the virus spread through many barracks, according to Donald Minnich, technical supervisor for the Virology and manual testing section at the Epi Lab.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

Donald Minnich, technical supervisor for the manual testing section, oversees the influenza surveillance program at the Epidemiology Laboratory Service, also known as the Epi Lab, at the 711th Human Performance Wing’s United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and Public Health at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.The lab identifies and sequences the genome of influenza samples received from U.S. Air Force hospitals and clinics around the world, as well as other Department of Defense facilities. The data collected on active flu strains contributes about 25 percent of the total data used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to formulate its yearly influenza vaccine.

PHOTO // J.M. EDDINS JR.

To combat illness, recruits needed to be regularly monitored, giving birth to Operation Gargle, in which recruits gargled with a solution and spit it back into a specimen cup which was then tested for influenza and other respiratory pathogens.

The Air Force program is now part of the Defense Health Agency’s Global, Laboratory-Based Respiratory Pathogen program which grows, sequences and collects data on influenza, parainfluenza, adenovirus and the Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV.

The flu surveillance program at the Epi Lab has approximately 95 submitting laboratories scattered across the continental United States and the globe, from deployed areas to Europe, Japan and Guam.

In a typical flu season, the surveillance program receives between 5,000 and 6,000 specimens. This year, the Epi Lab has received 5,000 specimens in just the first few months of the flu season, according to Minnich.

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

Articles

Army fires miniature hit-to-kill missile from a new multi-mission ground launcher

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
U.S. Army photo


The Army fired an interceptor missile designed to protect forces on the ground by destroying incoming enemy fire from artillery, rockets, mortars, cruise missiles and even drones and aircraft, service officials explained.

The successful live-fire test, which took place at White Sands Missile Range N.M., demonstrated the ability of a new Army Multi-Mission Launcher to fire a weapon called the Miniature Hit-to-Kill missile. It is called “hit-to-kill” because it is what’s called a kinetic energy weapon with no explosive. Rather, the interceptor uses speed and the impact of a collision to destroy approaching targets, Army officials explained.

The idea is to give Soldiers deployed on a Forward Operating Base the opportunity to defend themselves from attacking enemy fire. The MML is configured to fire many different kinds of weapons; they launcher recently conducted live fire exercises with an AIM-9X Sidewinder missile and an AGM-114 Hellfire missile. These MML is engineered to fire these missiles which, typically, are fired from the air. The AIM-9X is primarily an air-to-air weapon and the Hellfire is known for its air-to-ground attack ability.

The Multi-Mission Launcher, or MML, is a truck-mounted weapon used as part of a Soldier protection system called Integrated Fire Protection Capability – Inc. 2. The system, which uses a Sentinel radar and fire control technology to identify and destroy approaching enemy fire and protect forward-deployed forces.   The technology uses a command and control system called Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, or IBCS.

The MML launcher can rotate 360 degrees and elevate from 0-90 degrees in order to identify and knock out approaching fire from any direction or angle.

“The MML consists of fifteen tubes, each of which can hold either a single large interceptor or multiple smaller interceptors. Developed using an open systems architecture, the launcher will interface to the IBCS Engagement Operations Center to support and coordinate target engagements,” an Army statement said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea threatens to pull out of the US peace summit

North Korea appeared to turn the tables on the US on May 15, 2018, by threatening to pull out of a summit scheduled for next June 2018.

The threat is an apparent broadside against the Trump administration and looks like a power move that could make Washington consider concessions to Pyongyang.


North Korea released statements on May 15, 2018, bashing officials in the administration, canceling talks with South Korea, and threatening to withdraw from the planned summit with the US.

In doing so, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has turned the tables on President Donald Trump, who has built enormous expectations for the meeting.

One statement from North Korea’s state-run media likened ongoing military exercises involving US and South Korean forces to a rehearsal for an invasion, returning to a talking point from 2017, when Trump and Kim were trading nuclear threats.

In a later statement, a North Korean official expressed “violent anger” at the US’s behavior and said Pyongyang would have to “reconsider” the meeting with Trump.

The official offered Trump an ultimatum: Cede to North Korea’s demands, or lose the summit.

How the tables have turned

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

When Trump accepted Kim’s offer to meet for a historic summit — which would be the first time a sitting US president meets with a sitting North Korean leader — experts and analysts were more or less united in viewing it as a legitimizing win for Kim.

Kim bought his way to the table with Trump with a single, virtually meaningless word: denuclearization.

The US has long maintained that it will not talk to North Korea unless the prospect of disarmament is on the table.

When Kim started discussing the prospect in early 2018, Trump and his top officials cheered the move as proof that its unique approach to North Korea had worked.

But in statements on May 15, 2018, North Korea said Trump had employed the same tired ideas that had failed in the past, asserting that its “treasured” nuclear program had brought it international power.

Now, after Trump has repeatedly hyped his progress with Pyongyang, it is Kim, the leader of a rogue state, dangling the prospect of a summit to gain concessions from the US.

What North Korea demands and how Trump might cave to it

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
Kim and North Korean officials at a nuclear facility in September.
(KCNA photo)

North Korea’s recent statements push back on longstanding US-South Korea military exercises and call for Trump to back off of his demand for “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.”

Already, it looks as if the US may cave to save the summit. South Korea’s Yonhap News reports that the B-52, a US nuclear bomber, could be pulled from air combat drills in a nod to North Korea’s new demands.

But before that, Trump’s top officials had minced words about the aim of talks with North Korea and the possible definitions of “denuclearization.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been to North Korea twice in the past month or so, has in a series of recent interviews described slightly different aims of the talks.

While Pompeo often speaks in absolute terms, saying total denuclearization and removal of nuclear facilities must come before Washington eases off Pyongyang, he told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on May 13, 2018, that talks with North Korea would seek to ensure that “America is no longer held at risk by your nuclear weapons arsenal” and ending Kim’s chemical and biological weapons program and missiles “that threaten the world.”

Adam Mount, the director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists, tweeted that, in other words, Pompeo said the US would accept “a standard that could permit retention of nuclear warheads, facilities, material, and possibly short range missiles.”

Kim’s master bluff

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
Kim leading South Korean President Moon Jae-in across the demarcation line into North Korea.

Jeffrey Lewis, a North Korea expert, said of the country’s recent statements, “I can’t imagine Kim gives up his summit.”

Lewis added: “I think Kim wants that photo with the President of the United States, paying tribute to him, for the front page of the Rodong Sinmun,” North Korea’s state newspaper.

Similarly, the historic diplomatic meeting may play well for Trump, motivating him to meet Kim’s conditions for talks.

North Korea’s recent hardline statements contradict what a South Korean official told reporters in March 2018 — that Kim had said he “understands the South’s stance” on the military exercises, which were happening at the time.

Basically, Kim seemed fine with the exercises when he was trying to get meetings with the US and South Korea, but now that he’s secured those talks, he has started to object.

“North Korea is back to its old game of trying to raise the stakes prior to a meeting,” said Bruce Klingner, the former chief of the CIA’s Korea division. “But Kim risks undermining the good will he had built up through his diplomatic outreach since January 2018.”

Now the question for the Trump administration is whether to call Kim’s apparent bluff or quietly meet his demands.

But by backing off from complete denuclearization, Trump could end up with a bad deal — and if he calls Kim’s bluff, the two leaders could land right back on the nuclear brink.

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

Articles

How Marines used a 3D printer and a little ‘grunt ingenuity’ to make gadgets that help them in combat

Second Lt. Ben Lacount knows that it’s never a good thing to run out of rounds during a firefight. And it’s certainly not a good thing to be surprised that you have.


That’s why he invented the “Lacounter” with help from Navy engineers and a 3D printer that allowed him to cut prototyping time down to a fraction. The device allows shooters to see how many rounds they’ve expended while pulling the trigger so that they’re not in a bind when they do.

The Lacounter even works with belt fed weapons like the M249 and M2 .50cal.

Lacount’s prototype takes advantage of a process known as “additive manufacturing,” and it’s one that could change the face of military logistics forever.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
U.S. Marine 2nd Lt. Ben Lacount presents his winning entry from the Marine Corps Innovation Challenge during a showcase at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, in West Bethesda, Md., Aug. 15, 2017. Lacount created an expended rounds counter for the M16 rifle in the Manufacturing, Knowledge and Education Laboratory, Carderock™s additive manufacturing collaborative space. (U.S. Navy photo by Dustin Q. Diaz/Released)

“My goal for this project was to have a simple, lightweight, low-cost and no battery solution to this issue,” Lacount said, according to a Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock release.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

And Lacount’s not alone.

Captain Kyle McCarley helped come up with a new way to carry the “Bangalore torpedo,” an explosive device used to blow up obstacles like barbed wire. While they are very useful, they are bulky, and take up space. But McCarley used a 3D printer to make a quiver-like pack with elastic straps for the devices that can attack to a normal assault pack.

Then there was Staff Sgt. Daniel Diep, an artilleryman. After noticing that the cable for the Chief of Section Display got damaged from debris that got stuck in the cable – something that took a week and $3,000 to fix – he designed a 3D-printed cable head that cost $10 to make.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit fire their M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in northern Syria as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Zachery Laning

“The neat thing about this cable cap is the cable heads themselves can be additively manufactured, and Marines like myself can take all the old cables, cut them down, and we can put new heads on them after 3-D printing,” Diep said.

But the neatest trick of all is getting the 3D printers closer to the grunts. Captain Tony Molnar and Master Sgt. Gage Conduto have worked that out – not only by bringing the printers to units at FOBs, but also a processing center to recycle plastic, like water bottles often delivered to troops on deployment. This will be a huge boon for explosive ordnance techs like Conduto.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
Spc. Ryan Rolf, a combat engineer from Fullerton, Nebraska, with the 402nd Engineer Company, places a field expedient bangalore packed with C-4 explosive in a barbed wire obstacle during an in-stride breach event at the 2014 Sapper Stakes competition at Fort McCoy, Wis., May 5. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret)

“I can’t walk down to the Marine Corps machinist with a stinger missile in my hand and say, ‘I need a set of tools made, can you get these back to me next week?'” he said.

But the tech could go even further, than just helping come up with new tools. In fact, it could be a huge game-changer for any forward-deployed unit.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
3D Printing in a laboratory setting. Now, imagine a field-deployable 3D printer set-up, along with something to harvest or recycle materials to use in the printer. (Photo by Jonathan Juursema.)

“This container will benefit the Marine expeditionary units and the Marine Corps and DOD because it can do two things: One, it enhances the expeditionary readiness of forward-deployed units by being able to print parts locally on site using recycled materials, and second, it helps those combat units forward by providing stuff that they can’t do, as well as printing stuff for the local populous during humanitarian disaster relief that we couldn’t normally do and that we’d have to pay someone to do,” Molnar told the Navy News Service.

Marine grunts getting inventive — that’s a very frightening thought … for America’s enemies.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Was it actually the Marine Corps that helped delay the Army’s 7.62 battle rifle program?

The commander of Program Executive Soldier today refuted recent media reports that the Army’s senior leadership has killed a requirement to field a new 7.62mm Interim Service Combat Rifle capable of defeating enemy body armor.


“It is not dead. The decision has not been made,” Brig. Gen. Brian Cummings (P) told Military.com.

Cummings’s comments come a day after The FirearmBlog reported that the Interim Service Combat Rifle competition, which was launched in early August, has been cancelled.

Despite Cummings insistence, a source told Military.com that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has decided to cancel requirement, and ultimately the competition, but has not made yet made it official yet.

The Army identified a potential gap in the capability of ground forces and infantry to penetrate body armor using existing 7.62mm ammunition, according to the Aug. 4 solicitation.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
A Special Forces soldier takes a rest during a patrol in Afghanistan. The Army is considering outfitting its front-line troops with a 7.62 battle rifle like this Mk17 SCAR-H. (Photo from US Army Special Operations Command)

The opening of the competition came just over two months after Milley revealed to Congress that the M4 Carbine’s M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round cannot penetrate modern enemy body armor plates similar to the U.S. military-issue rifle plates such as the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI.

Milley told lawmakers in late May that the Army does not believe that every soldier needs a 7.62mm rifle. These weapons would be reserved for the Army’s most rapid-deployable infantry units.

The Army intended to purchase up to 50,000 new 7.62mm rifles to meet the requirement, according to the solicitation.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
A soldier lines up a target during the final day of M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System (SASS) qualifications at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s Grezelka Range, July 10, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Justin Connaher)

It’s still unclear what changed; why the Army leadership decided to kill the effort.

It might have something to do with the U.S. Marine Corps’ lack of interest in the requirement and that it has decided to go in the opposite direction. In August, the Corps announced its plans to purchase more than 50,000 additional M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles (IARs), which are chambered for 5.56mm.

Humor

The 13 funniest memes for the week of Jan. 12th

It’s the second week of January and the gym seems to be about back to normal.


The weather is getting there, so take advantage of drawing d*cks in the snow while you can. Looking at you, Navy.

13. “But the Marines took a lot of little islands!” — “We took a lot of little countries.”

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
(Image via Army as F*ck)

12. Pick something that has a weak enough scent that whatever you mix it in will over power it (like rum in a coke) and sip from it all day.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
Everyone below E5, and most LTs. (Image via Army as F*ck)

11. “I keep paying $20 towards it a month. Why does it keep going up?”

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
We told you not to buy that stupid TV. (Image via Army as F*ck)

10. The PX barbershop only ever gives, like, four or five different haircuts. And yet they f*ck them all up.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
Now you’re *really* not getting laid this weekend. (Image via Army as F*ck)

9. If a girl in a bikini can get 10,000+ likes, how many can we get for our homeless veterans?

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
Make it rain, America. (Image via ASMDSS)

8. Since it’s the same four HDDs floating around, that means you probably re-downloaded the same videos at least twice by now…

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
You’re gross and we’re all judging you. (Image via Decelerate Your Life)

7. “But Sergeant! I need you to-“

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
Back away slowly. Don’t make eye contact. (Image via Decelerate Your Life)

6. “Hearts and minds,” right? Two in the heart. One in the mind.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
Double-tap so terrorists know you care. (Image via Military Memes)

5. If the Coast Guard goes to the range more than you do, you’re a super POG.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
Semper Paratus. (Image via Military Memes)

4. Whatever you say, Staff Sergeant. Your neckline can only help you out so much.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
January PT hurts. (Image via Pop Smoke)

3. It’s even worse if you’re drunk.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
You’re probably why we even have safety briefs. (Image via Pop Smoke)

2. Can’t tell which one gave the least amount of f*cks: the NCO who signed off on the original DA 5988-E or the mechanic that typed it up.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
It’s next to the adjustable powerband. (Image via USAWTFM

1. Looks like an ingenious plan but if he got locked in there that CBRN gear will be Hell.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
I am begging you to shut those doors. (Image via USAWTFM)

Articles

Former SEAL and host of Discovery’s ‘Future Weapons’ loses battle with cancer

A popular former SEAL and television host Richard “Mack” Machowicz passed away Jan. 2 after a two-year battle with brain cancer. He was in his early 50s.



Machowicz was a SEAL for 10 years in both Team One and Team Two and left the Navy in 1995. Shortly after that, he landed a job as the host of the hit Discovery show “Future Weapons” where he used his tough, aggressive style and gritty voice to demonstrate the technology of various small arms and military technology to a voracious post-9/11 audience.

He was reportedly moved to hospice care in late December before friend and fellow SEAL Craig “Sawman” Sawyer posted the news on his Facebook page that Machowicz had died.


Machowicz had more recently signed on with the HISTORY channel to host its “Ultimate Soldier Challenge” show, where American teams of special operations troops were pitted against commandos from other countries.

In one episode, Machowicz runs a team of former SEALs against a team of private security contractors and former Russian SPETSNAZ commandos through a series of intense challenges.

According to his Facebook page, Machowicz was married in 2011 and leaves behind two daughters.

His media credits include 30 episodes of “Future Weapons,” 10 episodes of “Deadliest Warrior” on the Spike network and six episodes of “Ultimate Soldier.” Machowicz also published a motivational book “Unleash the Warrior Within” in 2002.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what happens when an aircraft breaks the record for hypersonic flight

Aerodynamic heating at Mach 6.72 (4,534 mph) almost melted the airframe.

On Oct. 3, 1967, the North American X-15A-2 serial number 56-6671 hypersonic rocket-powered research aircraft achieved a maximum Mach 6.72 piloted by Major Pete Knight.


Operated by the United States Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as part of the X-plane series of experimental aircraft in the 1960s, the X-15 was a missile-shaped vehicle built in 3 examples and powered by the XLR-99 rocket engine capable of 57,000 lb of thrust.

The aircraft featured an unusual wedge-shaped vertical tail, thin stubby wings, and unique side fairings that extended along the side of the fuselage.

The X-15 was brought to the launch altitude of 45,000 feet by a NASA NB-52B “mothership” then air dropped to that the rocket plane would have enough fuel to reach its high speed and altitude test points. Depending on the mission, the rocket engine provided thrust for the first 80 to 120 sec of flight. The remainder of the normal 10 to 11 min. flight was powerless and ended with a 200-mph glide landing.

Read Also: Air Force developing hypersonic weapons by 2020s

An interesting account of Oct. 3, 1967 record flight was written by Flight Engineer Johnny G. Armstrong on his interesting website. Here’s an excerpt:

As the X-15 was falling from the B-52 he lit the engine and locked on to 12 degrees angle of attack. He was pushed back into his seat with 1.5 g’s longitudinal acceleration. The X-15 rounded the corner and started its climb.

During the rotation as normal acceleration built up to 2 g’s Pete had to hold in considerable right deflection of the side arm controller to keep the X-15 from rolling to the left due to the heavier LOX in the left external tank. When the aircraft reached the planned pitch angle of 35 degrees his scan pattern switched from the angle of attack gauge to the attitude direction indicator and a vernier index that was set to the precise climb angle.

The climb continued as the fuel was consumed from the external tanks, then at about 60 seconds he reached the tank jettison conditions of about Mach 2 and 70,000 feet. He pushed over to low angle of attack and ejected the tanks. He was now on his way and would not be making an emergency landing at Mud Lake.

“We shut down at 6500 (fps), and I took careful note to see what the final got to. It went to 6600 maximum on the indicator. As I told Johnny before, the longest time period is going to be from zero h dot getting down to 100 to 200 feet per second starting down hill after shutdown.”

Final post flight data recorded an official max Mach number of 6.72 equivalent to a speed of 4534 miles per hour.

From there down Pete was very busy with the planned data maneuvers and managing the energy of the gliding X-15. He approached Edwards higher on energy than planned and had to keep the speed brakes out to decelerate.

On final approach he pushed the dummy ramjet eject button and landed on Rogers lakebed runway 18. He indicated he did not feel anything when he activated the ramjet eject and the ground crew reported they did not see it. Pete said that he knew something was not right when the recovery crew did not come to the cockpit area to help him out of the cockpit, but went directly to the back of the airplane.

Finally when he did get out and saw the damage to the tail of the X-15 he understood. There were large holes in the skin of the sides of the fin with evidence of melting and skin rollback. Now we are talking Inconel-X steel that melts at 2200 degrees F. Later analysis would show that the shock wave from the leading edge of the ramjet’s spike nose had intersected the fin and caused the aerodynamic heating to increase seven times higher than normal. So now maybe we knew why the ramjet was not there.

The following 48-sec footage shows the extent of the damages to the X-15-2 aircraft. Noteworthy, the ramjet detached from the aircraft at over 90,000 feet and crashed into the desert over 100 miles from Edwards Air Force Base.

The X-15A-2 never flew again after the record flight. It is currently preserved and displayed at the United States Air Force Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

MIGHTY MEMES

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of March 1st

With the first of the month comes a whole new promotions list across the board. To each and every one of you who made it, bravo zulu. You’re going to take the next step in your career. May your slight increase in pay help soothe over the mountain of sh*t that comes with the added responsibility.

And let’s be honest. When you’re the lowest guy on the totem pole, it seems like it sucks, but there’s nothing really demanded of you — outside of performing your assigned duties, cleaning the company area, and keeping out of trouble that is. No one is calling you into the MP station at 0300 on a Sunday night because someone you assumed was an adult did something you never thought to add to a safety brief. No one bothers seriously chewing your ass out for something someone else did.


So if you didn’t get promoted today, don’t sweat it. It could be worse. Regardless, one thing’s for sure: the memes have arrived.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via Broken and Unreadable)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via Not CID)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via Do You Even Comm, Bro?)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via Untied Status Marin Crops)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via ASMDSS)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via Military Memes)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

(Meme via Air Force amn/nco/snco)

MIGHTY SPORTS

Week one at Tokyo Olympics: Update on 19 service members and more

The greatest athletes in the world had to wait an extra year to display their abilities on the world stage, but the Tokyo Olympics have finally come. The one-year delay due to the pandemic was worth the added anguish for many athletes who have already competed in the six days since the opening ceremonies on July 23rd. Many events are already wrapped up, but there is plenty more action to come through August 8th.

The United States has represented itself well, currently with a commanding lead in the total medal count at 37 (13 gold, 14 silver and 10 bronze), with China, Russia, Japan and Australia rounding out the top five. The U.S. currently trails Japan (15) and China (14) in gold medals earned, but there is plenty of time left to overtake them. 

19 service members are in Tokyo representing the United States, of which 17 are Soldiers. Nine of them are competitive shooters. Most notable among them thus far is 1st Lt. Amber English, who was outstanding when the lights were shining brightest. The 31-year-old Army Reserve logistics officer set an Olympic record in skeet shooting, hitting 56 of 60 targets to edge Italy’s Diana Bacosi by only one target, and take home the gold.

Most shooting events have been wrapped up, but track and field, boxing, the modern pentathlon, sailing and wrestling are all still to be decided and will have service members among them. Lt. Nikole Barnes (sailing) is the first active-duty Coast Guard officer, male or female, to represent the United States at the Olympics. The medal rounds for sailing begin Saturday, July 31st. SSgt John Stefanowicz, the only Marine at the Games, joins Spc. Alejandro Sancho and Sgt. Ildar Hafizov on the U.S. Wrestling Team. Their action won’t begin until Sunday, August 1st.

Notable non-service members who have earned gold along with 1st Lt. English include the Men’s 4×100 Relay Swimming Team, the Women’s 3×3 Basketball Team (the inaugural year for the event), Anastasija Zolotic (57 kg Women’s Tae Kwon Do), and Katie Ledecky (Women’s 1500m Freestyle). It was Ledecky’s sixth career Olympic Gold. She also took silver in the Women’s 400m Freestyle.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

Of course, with the elation and glory of triumph comes the pain and disappointment of defeat, and there have been a couple of notable ones already. Simone Biles, considered the hands-down best gymnast in the world, shocked everyone and withdrew from competition during the Women’s team final on Tuesday. It appeared she had left the floor after her first vault attempt due to injury, but it was later revealed that she pulled herself from the competition for mental health concerns, saying she wasn’t in the right headspace and didn’t want to risk the team a medal. 

“I didn’t want to go into any of the other events second-guessing myself,” Biles said in the press conference later. “So, I thought it would be better if I took a step back and let these girls go out there and do their job.”

Biles’ contributions were sorely missed, as Russia took the gold. The U.S. Women’s team was able to hold on for silver. Biles has also withdrawn from all of the individual gymnastics events that begin Thursday, She had qualified for all four.

The U.S. Men’s Basketball Team, lead by Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard, also continued to struggle. After surprising losses to Nigeria and Australia in exhibition play before heading to Tokyo, most assumed that the Americans would get back on track before the games counted — they were wrong. Holding a 74-67 lead over Team France with 3:41 left to play, Team U.S.A. imploded. The French finished on a 16-2 run that felt like a microcosm of everything wrong with American basketball today. The U.S. played soft defense, missed free throws, and were unimaginative on offense down the stretch, just jacking up three-pointer after three-pointer. The offense dried up and France took advantage. 

Team France has five NBA players of their own, including All-Star Rudy Gobert, but nothing anywhere near the level of talent on the American side. It is hard to see the loss as anything but a massive underachievement. Team U.S.A. recovered to annihilate Iran 120-66 yesterday. In all likelihood, they will easily dispatch the Czech Republic in their last game of pool play on Saturday, allowing them to begin play in the eight-team knockout tournament next week. While the loss to France is concerning to say the least, and Iran is hardly a measuring stick for basketball success, the U.S. may have righted the ship in time for a gold medal.

This article by Tory Rich was originally published by Sandboxx News. Follow Sandboxx News on Facebook.

Feature image: Brittany Nelson/ IMCOM Public Affairs

Articles

This veteran buried treasure in the Rockies and left hidden clues for hunters

When veterans retire, they often set out to pursue the hobbies they never had time to do in service. For Forrest Fenn, that meant the hunt for buried treasure.


But this Air Force veteran didn’t want to go looking for others’ valuables, so he buried his own.

A decorated war hero, Fenn flew 300 missions over Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star and two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

After he retired from the Air Force in 1970, he started an art gallery with his wife Peggy in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

He successfully battled cancer, but vowed if it ever came back, he’d hike into the desert with a chest full of booty and wait for treasure hunters to find him and his loot.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

“If it comes back, I’m going to grab a pocketful of sleeping pills, take a treasure chest filled with treasure and a copy of my bio, and I’m going to walk out into the desert,” Fenn told writer Margie Goldsmith. “Sometime they’ll find my bones and the treasure, but my bio will be inside the box, so at least they’ll know who I was.”

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
Forrest Fenn in his home. (Photo from Visit New Mexico)

But the cancer never came back. So Fenn, “tired of waiting,” went ahead and buried the treasure in the Rocky Mountains near his home.

“It’s difficult so it won’t be found right away, but it’s easy enough so that it’s not impossible to find it,” Fenn told Goldsmith who wrote about the treasure for the Huffington Post. “I want sweaty bodies out there looking for my treasure — they just have to find the clues.”
The treasure is buried in an honest-to-God treasure chest and contains gold nuggets, gold animal figurines, and gold coins, as well as some gems and valuable historical artifacts.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world
Forrest Fenn’s treasure. No joke. This is buried somewhere. (Forrest Fenn)

Before you lace up your hiking boots, note that the search may not be an easy one. More than one hiker has gone missing looking for the treasure and digging on public lands could be problematic.
One of those treasure hunters, Randy Bilyeu of Colorado, died in his search.
As of this writing, the treasure has not yet been found. Fenn, now 80 years old, advises people to wait until after the snow melts in spring to begin their search.
“The treasure is not hidden in a dangerous place,” Fenn told the Daily Mail UK. “I’ve said many times not to look for the treasure any place where an 80-year-old man couldn’t put it.”

Clues to the treasure’s location can be found in Fenn’s book about his life. “The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir” is only available at the Collected Works Bookstore in downtown Santa Fe. Proceeds from the book benefit cancer patients who can’t pay for treatments.

Fenn says the following poem contains at least nine clues. Good luck!

As I have gone alone in there

And with my treasures bold,

I can keep my secret where,

And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt

And take it in the canyon down,

Not far, but too far to walk.

Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,

The end is drawing ever nigh;

There’ll be no paddle up your creek,

Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,

Look quickly down, your quest to cease

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,

Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go

And leave my trove for all to seek?

The answers I already know

I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak

So hear me all and listen good,

Your effort will be worth the cold.

If you are brave and in the wood

I give you title to the gold.

MIGHTY CULTURE

9 epic photos of Marines drinking snake blood and eating scorpions

On Feb. 12, 2019, the US and Thailand launched Cobra Gold, one of the largest multi-national exercises in the world.

The annual exercise brings together 29 nations as participants or observers; nine participating countries include the US and Thailand as well as Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, and South Korea, according to a US Army release.

The exercise, which will end on Feb. 22, 2019, includes a field training exercise, humanitarian and disaster relief components.

One of the most anticipated aspects of the exercise is jungle survival training, when Royal Thai Marines teach their US counterparts how to identify edible foods, including plants and animals.

During the training, US troops have the opportunity to eat scorpions and geckos, and drink snake blood — all skills necessary to survive if one becomes isolated from their unit.


The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

U.S. Marines drink the blood of a king cobra during jungle survival training as part of Cobra Gold 19 at Ban Chan Krem, Kingdom of Thailand.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kenny Nunez)

1. These Marines aren’t drinking snake blood just for show.

Jungle training teaches essential skills for survival in a wild, tropical environment.

Marines learn skills from identifying poisonous plants, differentiating between venomous and non-venomous snakes, and finding water sources if they get lost.

One of the instructors interviewed by Marine Staff Sgt. Matthew Bragg said that drinking animal blood is one way to stay hydrated in the absence of another water source.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

US Marines cheer on comrades during the highly anticipated jungle survival training during exercise Cobra Gold.

(US Army National Guard photo by Spc. Mary Calkin)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

A Royal Thai Marine instructor shows US Marines different types of snakes during jungle survival training.

(US Army National Guard photo by Spc. Mary Calkin)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

U.S. Marines watch as Royal Thai Marine instructor shows off a snake during Cobra Gold 19.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Mary Calkin)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

Royal Thai Marine Corps instructor passes around freshly cooked meat during Cobra Gold 19.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Mary Calkin)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

A US Marine eats a scorpion in jungle survivor training during Cobra Gold 19.

(US Army National Guard photo by Spc. Mary Calkin)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Austin Gassaway eats a plant during jungle survival training as part of Cobra Gold 19.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kenny Nunez)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

Royal Thai Marine shows US Marines what to eat in the jungle during the exercise.

(US Army National Guard photo by Spc. Mary Calkin)

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

Royal Thai and U.S. Marines learn how to make fire in the jungle during Cobra Gold 19.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Mary Calkin)

9. Marines also learn skills like building fires and alternate ways to stay hydrated.

“I didn’t know that ants are a trace of water. Wherever they’re filing to, they know where the location of water is,” said US Army Spc. Louis Smith.

Smith said that new knowledge is something he’d take back home with him.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This WWII veteran evaded 4,000 enemy troops over 4 months

Some of our nation’s greatest treasures aren’t places, they are people. Leo LaCasse survived three crash landings and evaded 4,000 enemy troops during World War II. He now lives at a VA Community Living Center in Salem, Virginia. Here is his story:

Born on July 4, 1920, Leo LaCasse was one of five children–all of whom were born on birthdays of former presidents. At the age of 15, he joined the New Hampshire National Guard, and later the Army Air Corps, where he was assigned to a recruiting command. The private was soon promoted to corporal, then sergeant, as he traveled New England recruiting pilots from colleges and universities.

One day, Leo learned that he was accepted to flight school. It was a reward from his commanding officer who had submitted the application on his behalf. Despite never having gone to college, the Army sent Leo to college under an accelerated learning program, and when he graduated, he became a B-17 bomber captain.


Soon, flying planes “felt like home” to Leo.

“Some of them [planes] were cramped, but it didn’t make any difference to me because I was the pilot. When you’re packed in an aircraft and don’t have the room to move your body in the cockpit, any airplane you fly after that is good.”

In June 1943, Leo was assigned to the 8th Air Force, Bomb Group 548th in Suffolk, England, where he served under General Curtis Lemay.

Leo LaCasse flew 35 missions over Germany and other occupied countries, and survived three crash landings. During World War II, Leo evaded 4,000 enemy troops over 4 months.

One of Leo’s crashes landed in France, which was then occupied by Germany. He instructed his crew to head for the front lines, to surrender and tell whoever interrogated them that he was headed for Berlin. Instead, Leo left for Luxembourg to meet up with the French Resistance, where he crossed the Pyrenees Mountains, and made his way to Portugal.

In all, he spent four months avoiding Nazi capture. When the war was over, he was sent to Berlin for debriefing. That’s where he met and befriended a German general who recognized Leo’s name and revealed there had been 4,000 German troops looking for him following the crash landing in France.

The Air Force lab in charge of processing COVID-19 samples from military facilities around the world

Captain Leo LaCasse in front of his B-17 Bomber.

Leo retired from the military as a Brigadier General. For his service he has received numerous medals including the Silver Star Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Combat Medal, Joint Services Commendation Medal, World War II Victory Medal, European and Middle East Campaign Medal, Army Air Force Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and the American Defense Medal.

On June 5, 2016, Leo received the Legion of Honor Medal, France’s highest honor.

Leo now resides at Salem VA Medical Center’s Community Living Center located in Salem, Virginia.

On July 4, 2019, Leo will celebrate his 99th birthday.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

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