6 art projects to tackle with kids - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

6 art projects to tackle with kids

Parents, it’s time to get those creative juices flowing! Take advantage of extra time with the kiddos and see what everyone can do with their best art skills at work. Look to local inspiration (and plenty of grace for the non-artists among us), for a fun way to spend some of your quarantine.

Stained “glass” decor

This trend has probably blown up your newsfeed. Get some tape, some paint or chalk, and map out a pattern with triangles and squares. It’s perfect for anyone living on post who wants to share some beauty for all to see. Best of all, it’s colorful!

Inspiration art

Straight out of elementary art class, this project can be adjusted for any age. Provide kids with a subject (vehicle, animal, design), along with a few art supplies. Let each kid create their own masterpiece, then have a discussion about what they liked most. Kids can even comment on which aspects of their siblings’ pieces they like the best. Take it a step further and set up a gallery.

Messy painting

Let your inner control freak go and let them make a mess! Set up sheets, canvases, paper, or t-shirts in the lawn and let them get wild. Our favorite methods include: paint-filled balloons or squirt guns, and sponges launched from far away.

String art

Grab a piece of wood and strategically place nails. (Older kids can even do the nails themselves.) Next, provide some colored string and let them weave away. Do this in the backyard, or (if open) head to some beautiful open spaces on base for a change of scenery.

Slime drawings

These days slime is a big deal. Grab a slab of it and have kids make their own marker drawing, yes, right on the slime. Once done they can stretch and mold the artwork to change its entire look. Mix it all back together and start all over again!

Melted crayons

This is a fun project that allows kids to create and transform their art project. Help them grind up old crayons and encourage them to spread it out and make a design on some waxed paper. Once finished, add another layer and iron the whole thing for a lasting project you can hang on the fridge or in a window for colorful light.

What are your favorite art projects to do with kids during quarantine?

MIGHTY HISTORY

Old Guard marks 70 years of ‘Flags In’ to honor Memorial Day

Almost seven years ago, Spc. Dakota Williams lost more than his stepbrother. He lost his hero.

His stepbrother, Spc. Dylan Johnson, had been deployed in Iraq’s Diyala Province just north of Baghdad for less than a month when a bomb detonated next to his vehicle. The explosion killed him.


Inspired by his service to the country, Williams later joined the Army to follow in his footsteps.

On May 24, 2018, he personally honored his stepbrother when he placed an American flag at his headstone in Section 60 of the Arlington National Cemetery during the annual Flags In event.

“He’s not here, but he’s here,” said Williams, 23, of Salina, Oklahoma. “He’s still such an important part of my life.”

All Soldiers, including Williams, in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” participated in some way in 2018’s Flags In. The regiment has conducted the event before every Memorial Day since 1948. It was then when the regiment was designated as the Army’s official ceremonial unit.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Lane Hiser)

Over a course of four hours, more than 234,000 small flags were laid in front of headstones across the 624-acre cemetery. Flags were also placed inside the Columbarium as well, where the cremated remains of service members reside. In all, enough flags were placed to account for the more than 400,000 interred or inurned within the cemetery. Regiment Soldiers also placed about 11,500 flags at the nearby Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery.

“It’s a great commitment by these Soldiers to do this, to place them at the hundreds of thousands of graves here,” said Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper. “What it does is it pays respect and homage to those who served before them, going all the way back to the Civil War and signals the importance of their service and that they will never be forgotten for what they did. So that they know, these young Soldiers today, much as I knew when I was in uniform, that should I have to pay that ultimate price, I would not be forgotten either in America’s hearts and minds.”

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Lane Hiser)

Col. Jason Garkey, the regiment commander, said Flags In is also a time of reflection for the Soldiers who participate.

“For every one of those headstones where we put a flag at, we have the solemn honor to put that flag in for a family member who can’t be here to do it themselves,” he said. “That’s a privilege.”

Each Soldier who took part in the event had the opportunity to place hundreds of flags into the ground, about 1 foot centered in front of every headstone.

When doing so, Garkey encouraged his Soldiers to read the name engraved onto the headstone.

“I tell them that the cemetery is alive,” Garkey said. “If you pay attention, it will tell you things.”

Buried throughout the cemetery are Medal of Honor recipients, young service members who were killed in war, retirees and spouses — all with a story to share.

Garkey, who took part in his sixth Flags In, recalled one time seeing two graves next to each other with the same last name. From the dates on the headstones, he believed they belonged to a father who had served much of his adult life in the military and his son who had died in combat years before him.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Lane Hiser)

“There’s no worst thing than for a parent to bury their child,” he said. “But they ended up there for eternity.”

When his Soldiers recognize those sacrifices, he said, it helps put things into perspective while they perform their ceremonial duties.

“You realize there are many stories in the cemetery and that brings the cemetery to something more than just a place where we go to work,” the colonel said. “It makes it a living, breathing entity where we honor our fallen.”

For Sgt. Kevin Roman, who serves with Williams in the regiment’s Presidential Salute Battery that is responsible for firing blank howitzer rounds during ceremonies, Flags In gives him the chance to appreciate those who came before him.

“Memorial Day is a day to pay your respects to the [service members] who have made the ultimate sacrifice or who have served honorably,” said Roman, 23, of Bronx, New York. “For some people, it’s just a holiday and the unofficial start of summer.”

Before he participated in his fourth Flags In, he said every time he gets to place flags it is still meaningful to him.

“When you get out there and start reading tombstones, you gain that respect back that you may have lost during those hard days in the cemetery,” he said. “Everything comes flooding into you and you get that sense of proudness and that American spirit.”

Some gravesites are even more significant to other Soldiers in the regiment, whether they belong to a family member or a service member they once served with.

Garkey places a flag at the headstone of retired Lt. Col. Toby Runyon, a Vietnam War veteran and a family friend who died two years ago.

“I’ll take a photo and send it to his spouse just to say that we were thinking of Toby today,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said, the regiment’s sentinels who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier will stop at the gravesites of former sentinels.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Lane Hiser)

“Everybody has got their specific places that they go to,” Garkey said. “There’s a healing aspect that goes into it for us. It’s more than just a task, it’s an experience.”

Esper also placed flags at gravesites in the cemetery. A former Soldier himself, he said, he knows comrades in arms who have died in service to their country.

“On a day like this, I think about also my West Point classmates,” Esper said. “I know one for sure who passed away during my war, Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I had another one who was killed when the Twin Towers were felled on 9/11. And another one killed in Afghanistan. And I think about them as well, because they are peers, and like me, I can relate more to their point in life, where they got married or had children, or maybe never had the opportunity to do either. I think about them especially.”

Over Memorial Day weekend, Esper said, he hopes that Soldiers, family members, and Americans across the country will be thinking about those who fought for and died to secure freedom for the United States.

“Hopefully they will all reflect upon the great sacrifices that America’s Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines make in defense of our country and in defense of our liberties,” Esper said. “Particularly those fallen heroes that are here in Arlington National Cemetery.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @usarmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

China admits army had no idea what to do with fancy new tanks

China is developing a lot of new and advanced weaponry, but a recent state media report suggests the Chinese military may not be entirely sure what to do with these new combat systems.

During a mock battle held in 2018, an “elite combined arms brigade” of the 81st Group Army of the People’s Liberation Army was defeated, despite being armed with superior weapons, specifically China’s new main battle tank, the Type 099A, the Global Times reported Jan. 20, 2019, citing a report last week from China’s state broadcaster CCTV.


China is “on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapon systems in the world,” Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley explained in a recent assessment of China’s military power.

“In some areas, it already leads the world,” he added.

While the DIA assessment called attention to China’s advancements in anti-satellite capabilities, precision strike tools, or hypersonic weapons, China appears particularly proud of achievements like the Type 099A battle tank, the J-20 stealth fighter, and the Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, arms which advance the warfighting capabilities of China’s army, air force, and navy respectively.

The J-20 stealth fighter.

But the Chinese military is apparently still trying to figure out what these developments mean for modern warfare.

In the interview with CCTV, two senior officers reflected on why Chinese troops armed with the new tanks lost in 2018’s simulated battle. “We rushed with the Type 099A too close to the frontline, which did not optimize the use of the tank’s combat capability,” Xu Chengbiao, a battalion commander, explained. “We only studied the capabilities of older tanks, but have not completely understood new ones,” Zhao Jianxin, a second battalion commander, reportedly told CCTV.

A Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times that weapons alone cannot win wars.

David Axe, a defense editor at The National Interest, argued that the Chinese media report indicates that China struggles with “inadequate” military doctrine due to the country’s lack of combat experience. The Chinese military has not fought a war since the late 1970s.

China is focusing more on the navy, air force, rocket force, and strategic support force than it is on the army, which his experienced a major reduction in personnel. This shift, according to some analysts, highlights an interest in power projection over home defense.

As the warfighting capabilities of the Chinese military grow, it will presumably need to adapt its military doctrine to emerging technologies to maximize capability, but that process may take some time.

The Chinese military is undergoing a massive modernization overhaul in hopes of achieving Chinese President Xi Jinping’s stated goal of building a world-class military that can fight and win wars by the middle of this century.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 ways to de-escalate an argument

Arguments are an unfortunate byproduct of any relationship. Even the best of partners will disagree on something from time to time. Of course, there are disagreements that walk the line between minor spat and major throw-down. When it comes to such arguments, a couple must perform a delicate balancing act that keeps the conversation on point while preventing things from escalating to a full-blown war of words. Sometimes a simple turn of phrase, a moment of patience, or a gentle touch is all it takes to cool everyone’s jets and bring the conflict to a peaceful resolution. Here’s what to do to prevent an argument from spinning out of control.


1. For the love of god, don’t interrupt

One of the main reasons an argument falls apart is because one or the other participant can’t get a word in. This never fails to be infuriating. People with a predilection for interruption will often simply wait until their partner is done talking and then jump in with an already formulated response, which is a way of signaling that they wait for their turn rather than listening. In order to keep the argument on message, give your partner the time they need to say their piece. “Even if you completely disagree with their point of view, it’s not healthy to shut them down,” says Maria Sullivan, a relationship expert and the vice president of Dating.com. “Let their voice be heard, just as you would want your partner to do the same.”

2. Mind your tone

When you raise your voice, your partner will begin to mimic your tone. From there, things can quickly escalate, until you find yourselves locked in a battle royale. The key, then, is to keep your tone even and calm. Not only will it keep the argument on track, but it will also help you to keep your thoughts organized. “If you take a deep breath and speak calmly and slowly, your significant other will do the same,” Sullivan says.

3. Keep things solution oriented

When couples argue, very often they tend to hammer at the problem over and over again, outlining what is wrong, why it’s a problem, and who’s responsible. This does nothing but fuel anger and resentment on both sides. Try to state the problem up front and then offer a solution. Saying something like, “I know it makes you angry that I don’t always get to the dishes; what’s a system we can put in place to make sure they’re done?” can diffuse an argument before it gets worse. “What has happened in the past is past. Look for a way to avoid it in the future,” says Susan Petang a lifestyle and stress management coach, and author of The Quiet Zone — Mindful Stress Management for Everyday People. “Asking your partner to come up with a solution or offering a collaborative solution makes it more likely they’ll stick to an agreement.”

(Photo by Trung Thanh)

4. Rely on the power of touch

When an argument gets heated, both partners tend to retreat into their corners, pulling apart, and avoiding any contact. This can even extend to body language, with crossed arms and legs sending a message to the other person to keep their distance. Before things begin to escalate, reach out for your partner and try to make a connection. You would be surprised how a simple touch can change the emotion in the room. “It is really hard to continue fighting with someone who is being vulnerable and either asking to be held or who takes their spouse’s hand in their own,” says Dr. Miro Gudelsky, an intimacy expert, sex therapist, and couples counselor.

(Photo by Jeremy Yap)

5. Take a break

There’s nothing wrong with calling a time-out. In fact, sometimes it’s the best way to cool down a dispute and keep things from rising into the red. Stepping out for a half-hour and taking a walk or doing a calming activity can be just what you need to gather your thoughts and approach the discussion rationally. “The reason we often feel regretful after arguing is because we get caught up in the moment and say things we don’t mean,” Sullivan says. “Take a breather and recollect yourself before continuing the discussion.”

6. Try a little humor

Yeah, you might not be feeling too funny in the moment, but a little laugh can take a lot of the stress and tension out of an argument almost instantly. You could throw out a one-liner like, “I’m sorry, could you yell a little louder?” or make a self-deprecating joke. Suzann Pileggi Pawelski, co-author of Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts, even recommends speaking with an English accent (or a different accent for our English readers!). “We have used it in our own relationship many times,” she says. “We find that this healthy habit can transform relationships by increasing awareness of unhealthy behaviors that we automatically fall into when arguing.”

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

Jobs

This is how military linguists get fluent in just 64 weeks

The job title “military linguist” sounds pretty impressive, right? It should, since linguists work around the world to translate highly classified documents and connect with troops and allied forces.

You don’t have to know anything but English to go into that career, either. That’s where the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center comes in. It’s one of the world’s foremost language schools that can make you fluent quickly, whether you’re learning Arabic, Farsi, Pashto or Mandarin Chinese.


The DLIFLC teaches 17 foreign languages in Monterey, California. Most enlisted students take its immersion courses to go into military intelligence jobs, while federal employees from other agencies, such as the FBI and National Security Agency, also go there.

It’s no cake walk

The courses are intense. They’re six to seven hours a day (NOT including homework), five days a week, and they last for 64 weeks over three semesters.

“Usually starting from the second month of their study, the teachers – we already use almost all of the target language in the classroom,” said Zhenshuai Liu, one of the DLI’s many native Chinese-language instructors.

Utah Army National Guard Pfc. Logan Jensen and Air Force Airman 1st Class Joseph Rutledge are two of the school’s current students. Both loved language and culture going into it, but neither knew a word of Mandarin. Rutledge said he was nearly panicked when his class began having days without using any English.

A student works with a teacher at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Asian School on calligraphy of Chinese letters as part of activities to celebrate the Chinese New Year, Feb. 15, 2018.
(Army photo by Patrick Bray)

“You definitely realize how much you do and don’t know all at the same time,” he said. “They do it in such a way that it’s manageable … but you’re definitely out of your comfort zone.”

Air Force Tech Sgt. Benjamin Walton, the school’s chief military language instructor, knows all about that. Walton was a DLI student a decade ago. He was trained in Chinese, too.

“It kicked my butt, but I was able to survive it,” he said. “None of the students are prepared for the amounts of information and the pace of the course and what they’re going to have to go through when they come here.”

That’s not a knock on the students, though, who are very bright.

“Students who coasted through high school and those who even may have coasted through college – they really didn’t have to study much,” Walton said. “They all come here … and think they’re going to jump into this and ace it, despite our repeated warnings.”

Students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center play Chinese games as they immerse themselves in the culture during the Chinese New Year, Feb. 15, 2018.
(Army photo by Patrick Bray)

But they’re still fast learners. Liu said DLI students only need about one week to learn basic syllables and phonetic sequences to the level of greeting people.

“In a civilian school, this can usually take one semester,” Liu said.

Jensen and Rutledge were about a third of the way through the course when we spoke, and they were learning 25-30 words a day, as well as how to distinguish them – an often confusing task.

“A lot of them sound alike. So, you could say one thing, and depending on the context or tone you say it in, it could have up to five different meanings,” said Jensen, who spent the first few months drinking a lot of coffee and doing pushups to stay awake. “You’re spending so much brain power just trying to understand what you need to do.”

The keys to learning

Liu said the key is to link your interests with the language so you can stay motivated and keep up with the pace. The school incorporates extracurricular activities such as cooking days, storytelling of legendary warriors and heroes, and there are immersion trips to places like a local Chinese market to get the students to appreciate the culture.

A Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center instructors shows Chinese language students a tea-tasking ceremony as a way to immerse them in the culture.
(Army photo by Patrick Bray)

“You have to be interested in it in order for it to be successful,” Rutledge said.

And that’s not guaranteed. In general, the success rate for students at DLI is 75 percent. Some can’t keep up academically, while others fail out due to disciplinary reasons. Walton said the students who make it to the end of the Chinese course have one of the highest passing rates – 95 percent – which makes students’ “ah-ha moments” so satisfying.

“To actually be able to get through to somebody – that’s the reason why we [instructors] came back here … to try to impart our wisdom to the students now,” Walton said.

Most of the students who do succeed reach the college level of understanding within a year and a half, which requires a lot of studying. Some students listen to the language in the shower, while others review flashcards whenever they have the chance. Liu calls them “super students.”

“They don’t only take care of their study, they actually have military duty after class hours. They have to go to training and pass all the tests,” he said.

If the students do well, they get the chance to go to Taiwan or mainland China to do a month of immersive language study.

A student at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Asian School practices calligraphy of Chinese letters as part of activities to celebrate the Chinese New Year, Feb. 15, 2018.
(Army photo by Patrick Bray)

Jensen and Rutledge still have a way to go before they finish the course. But they’re getting there.

“In some ways, the grammar is similar, even sometimes easier,” Rutledge said. “Sometimes you can express rather complex ideas in very few words or written characters.”

One thing’s for sure: it takes a lot of focus, especially as a military student.

“If you slip up on a test or opt to go out and have drinks with friends instead of study, that can really come back to bite you,” Rutledge said, who will be a cryptologic language analyst when he’s finished at DLI. He isn’t sure if he’ll stay in the military long term, but either way, he’d like to be a translator or do international business, both of which will make the course worth it.

The DLI’s headquarters is in California, but it has the ability to instruct another 65 languages through its Washington, D.C., branch. There are also several language training detachments at sites in the U.S., Europe, Hawaii and Korea.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why 3 naval battles can claim to be history’s largest

There are a lot of articles that talk about the “largest naval battle,” but they don’t always agree on what battle that is. The Battle of Leyte Gulf, with nearly 200,000 participants and 285 ships, comes up often, but that isn’t the largest number of participants or ships that have clashed at a single point in history. So what’s really the largest naval battle?


The big issue is that it’s hard to define what, exactly, is the proper metric for determining the size of a battle. While land engagements are nearly always measured by the number of troops involved, naval battles can be measured by the number of ships, the size of the ships, the number of sailors, total number of vehicles and vessels, or even the size of the battlefield.

Here are three naval battles with a decent claim to “history’s largest.” One by troops involved, one by ship tonnage and area that was fought over, and one by most ships that fought.

A French map of the movements involved in the Battle of the Red Cliffs.

(Sémhur, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Battle of the Red Cliffs—850,000 troops clashed on river and land

The Battle of the Red Cliffs is likely the largest amphibious battle of all time with estimates of the troops involved going up to 880,000 with up to 800,000 marching under the Chinese General Cao Cao. Liu Bei and Sun Quan stood up a small navy and army opposition that numbered around 50-80,000. The whole fight took place in 208 AD.

If it sounds like the allied force would get railroaded, realize that they were the ones with better ships and they had hometown advantage. They sailed their ships through the rivers, likely the Han and Yangtze, set them on fire, and managed to crash them into Cao Cao’s fleet. Cao Cao’s men on the river and in camp burned.

A Japanese destroyer withdraws from the Battle of Leyte Gulf while under attack from U.S. bombers.

(Naval History and Heritage Command)

Battle of Leyte Gulf—285 ships clash over 100,000 square miles

The Battle of Leyte Gulf is what usually pops up as the top Google search for history’s largest, and it’s easy to see why. The fighting took place over 100,000 square miles of ocean, one of the largest battleships in history sunk, and 285 naval vessels and 1,800 aircraft took part. Of the ships, 24 were aircraft carriers.

It was also a key battle strategically, allowing the U.S. to re-take the Philippines and further tipping the balance of power in the Pacific in World War II in favor of the U.S. and its allies.

One odd note about Leyte Gulf, though, is that it’s often accepted as its own battle, it’s actually a term that encompasses four smaller battles, the battles of Sibuyan Sea, Surigao Strait, Cape Engano, and the Battle off Samar.

Painting depicts the Battle of Salamis where outnumbered Greek ships annihilated a Persian fleet.

(Wilhelm von Kaulbach, public domain)

Battle of Salamis—over 1,000 ships

At the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC during the Greco-Persian Wars, the Persian fleet of 800 galleys had penned 370 Greek triremes into the small Saronic Gulf. The Greek commander managed to draw the Persian fleet into the gulf, and the more agile Greek ships rammed their way through the Persian vessels.

The Persians lost 300 ships and only sank 40 Greek ones, forcing them to abandon planned offensives on land.

(Note that there are conflicting reports as to just how many ships took part in the battle with estimates ranging up to 1,207 Persian ships and 371 Greeks, but even on the lower end, the Battle of Salamis was the largest by number of ships engaged.)

If you had a battle in mind that didn’t make the list, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily out of the running. The Battle of Yamen saw over 1,000 ships clash and allowed the Mongol Yuan Dynasty to overtake the Song Dynasty. At the Battle of the Philippine Sea, 902 American aircraft fought 750 Japanese planes. The Battle of Jutland, the only major battleship clash of World War I, makes many people’s lists as well.

Hell, Wikipedia has a page that lists nine naval battles as potential contenders for world’s largest.

MIGHTY TRENDING

After 16 years, family of fallen soldier presented with his Distinguished Service Cross

Hundreds of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers, Army veterans, Pittsburgh-area officials, and Army leaders recognized U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker for his heroism April 5, 2019 — 16 years to the day after he was killed in action while serving in Iraq.

Booker’s mother and sister were presented with the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor, during a ceremony at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood — near the University of Pittsburgh — as family, fellow soldiers, city officials and veterans watched.

“I am so honored … I am so proud of all my son accomplished,” said Freddie Jackson, Booker’s mother. “I didn’t realize how much my son did and how he inspired other people. Steve died for his country, not just for the Booker Family,” she said.


Booker died on April 5, 2003, while serving as a tank commander with Company A, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor of the 3rd Infantry Division. The 34-year-old Apollo, Penn., native was killed in action near Baghdad while serving in Iraq during the “Thunder Run” mission as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Booker attended Apollo-Ridge High School, near Pittsburgh, and enlisted in the Army in June 1987, at age 19, shortly after his high school graduation. He was promoted to Army staff sergeant in February 2001 and deployed in March 2003 to Iraq.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, left, deputy commanding general of Forces Command, speaks in Pittsburgh’s Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum, during the presentation of the Distinguished Service Cross to Freddie Jackson, right, the mother of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker for his 2003 heroism while serving in Iraq.

(Photo by Mr. Paul Boyce)

“We’re here to honor his service, his sacrifice and his heroism … as well as his Family” said U.S. Army Forces Command Deputy Commanding General Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson. “He gave his life for something bigger than himself; he gave his life for others. He’s a Pittsburgh hero, an Army hero and an American hero.”

Richardson attended Friday’s ceremony along with 3rd Infantry Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. Leopoldo Quintas, 3rd Infantry Division soldiers, the 3rd Infantry Division Band and two retired Army generals. Army and Air Force cadets from the University of Pittsburgh’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program participated and attended as well.

Veterans of Booker’s unit also travelled from across the United States to attend the medal-presentation ceremony, organized by the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division, based in Fort Stewart, Ga. The Army ceremony honored Booker for his heroic actions, personal dedication, and commitment to his fellow soldiers.

Booker’s platoon led a task force on April 5, 2003, along Highway 8 towards Bagdad International Airport. About 1.2 miles after the line of departure, the platoon came under heavy small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire from enemy forces. Booker immediately communicated the situation to his chain of command, encouraged his crew, and returned fire with his tank-mounted machinegun.

“When both his and his crew’s machineguns malfunctioned, Booker, with total disregard for his personal safety, exposed himself by lying in a prone position on top of the tank’s turret and accurately engaged the enemy forces with his personal weapon,” according to the award’s summary. “While exposed, he effectively protected his platoon’s flank and delivered accurate information to his command during a critical and vulnerable point of the battle.”

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker.

(Facebook)

Booker’s “fearless attitude and excitement over the communications network inspired his platoon to continue the attack and assured them and leadership that they would defeat the enemy and reach their objective safely,” the award’s narrative explains. “As he remained exposed, Booker identified an enemy troop carrier which was attempting to bypass his tank, but within seconds engaged the enemy vehicle and destroyed it prior to the enemy troops dismounting. Along the five-mile route he remained exposed and continued to engage the enemy with accurate rifle fire until he was mortally wounded.”

Army Col. Andrew Hilmes, Booker’s former company commander in Iraq, said the heroic staff sergeant prepared his crew well for that day’s battle. “His ability to train his soldiers saved a lot of lives. Not just his actions on April 5, but the training he put his soldiers through prior to the 5th of April paid off for the unit.”

Booker’s sister echoed their mother’s comments during a media conference attended by Pittsburgh-area news media prior to the awards ceremonies, which included a plaque dedication in the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial’s Hall of Valor. “He’d be very proud. He’d probably be pumping his chest right about now,” said Booker’s sister Kim Talley-Armstead. “It’s a bittersweet moment, but we are extremely proud.”

After giving careful consideration and reviewing the recommendations from the Senior Army Decorations Board, Army officials said, the Secretary of the Army made the determination that Staff Sgt. Booker be awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross. In recognition of their gallantry, intrepidity and heroism above and beyond the call of duty, 12 soldiers recently received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest award for their valor.

Previously recognized for their bravery by awards of the Silver Star, the Department of Defense upgraded the soldiers’ medals as part of a 2016-2018 comprehensive review of commendations for heroism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Four soldiers are still on active duty; three are posthumous awards; three recipients have since retired and two recipients previously separated from the Army.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 ways to honor Memorial Day during COVID-19 pandemic

Memorial Day is often a conflicting moment for those of us with friends or loved ones who were killed during military service. Traditionally, the three-day weekend has been celebrated in America as the unofficial summer kick-off — a time for sales events and parties.

For those of us who remember the fallen, however, the weekend is bittersweet. Some honor it with service while some prefer solitude. Others gather with friends to celebrate the lives of lost companions.

With COVID-19 numbers remaining dangerously high (at the time of publishing, the CDC reports 1,551,095 total U.S. cases — 22,860 new cases compared to the day before — and 93,061 total deaths — 1,397 new dates compared to the day before), it still isn’t safe to pay tribute the way we might prefer.

Here are some ways to honor the holiday during the quarantine:


(Let this double as your weekend safety brief; while states are slowly reopening and we can go out, it isn’t necessarily safe to do so — and while we all feel invincible, let’s remember the military core value of putting others before ourselves, lest we risk becoming an asymptomatic carrier who exposes someone at risk to a fatal infection.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoU2KnbRrxg
Salute Across America

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1. Salute Across America — Saturday, May 23, 2020

Salute Across America will be a first-of-its-kind live stream honoring fallen service members. Prominent veteran companies such as Kill Cliff, Combat Flip Flops, Nine Line Apparel, Grunt Style and many more are joining forces to send a message of gratitude for those who have defended our freedoms while promoting togetherness during this time of isolation.

During the live stream, New York Times Best Selling Author John Brenkus will be joined by influencers and celebrities including NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, MMA Legend Randy Couture, actors Donnie Whalberg and Jenny McCarthy, Bruce Arians, Dan Quinn, Nate Boyer, Jay Glazer, Rich Salgado and musicians Ryan Weaver, Tim Montana, Joey McIntyre, Ted Nugent and Jesse Hughes.

Viewers will have the opportunity to simply click a link and make a donation. Likewise, the Salute Across America webpage will have links to the military charities supported by the companies behind this initiative in an effort to drive awareness and donations for some incredible non-profits doing great work to support our troops, including the Navy SEAL Foundation.

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2. Take The Murph Challenge — Monday May 25, 2020

The Murph Challenge is an annual fundraiser that raises funds for the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation in honor of Mike Murphy, a U.S. Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in action on June 28, 2005.

This Memorial Day tradition will continue on May 25, 2020, where participants are invited to complete the Crossfit Hero WOD (workout of the day) ‘MURPH’ then return to TheMurphChallenge.com to submit their ‘MURPH’ time and compare their achievements with those of others around the world. All times will be displayed on a worldwide leaderboard and the top five men and top five women will be recognized for their efforts.

Since 2014, the foundation has raised over id=”listicle-2646068043″,000,000 in addition to bringing the community together to push each other and pay tribute to LT. Michael P. Murphy.

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3. Volunteer with Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon has been actively responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by launching initiatives to help local communities. Called #NeighborsHelpingNeighbors, Team Rubicon volunteers have activated to meet the needs of their communities through safe individual acts of service.

“During this time of the COVID-19 crisis, many people are unable to access and afford their most basic needs, including food. Team Rubicon and Patient Advocate Foundation have partnered to provide emergency food assistance to those who have cancer, Multiple Sclerosis or Rheumatoid Arthritis, and have been affected by COVID-19.

Most military veterans took their oath to serve because they felt the call to take action and help others. Finding “service after service” is healing and therapeutic for vets — and Memorial Day is a perfect time to answer the call once more.

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4. Host a “Virtual Cook-Out”

Stoke the fire, grill or cook up your favorite summer foods, and jump on a Zoom or Google Hangout with your friends. Memorial Day is about remembering the fallen and raising a glass in their honor. The act of cooking or grilling is a great way to pass the time — and talking with friends is a cathartic experience for anyone grieving a loss.

Talk about the people you lost. Share their stories online. Acknowledge how it feels to miss them. Take comfort in the virtual company of your friends.

You’ve been eating enough microwave food — give yourself the gift of a home-cooked meal and enjoy.

5. Go to a Drive-In Movie

Parks, trails and beaches sound great after you’ve been cooped up inside, but face masks and the aerosol range of potentially contagious partiers really puts a damper on the experience. Still, if you’re craving an experience out of the house to boost your mood, find a local outdoor movie theater and catch a flick.

Drive-In Movie Theaters are making a comeback with safety restrictions in place to help protect people. Viewers remain in their vehicles, which are parked further apart. Anyone entering restroom facilities must wear masks and most locations are limiting the number of people allowed in the restroom at any given time.

This makes a great date to enjoy with anyone you’ve been sheltering in place with. It’s also an opportunity to park near your buddies and either live-text or zoom together from car-to-car. The shared experience and change of pace can give you just the kind of morale boost you’ve been craving.

6. Donate to your favorite veteran non-profit organization

Many nonprofits are working hard to stay afloat and continue their initiatives. If you have money to spare, consider making a contribution to causes you believe in. If you’re also hurting financially, share their content online and show your support.

We’re going to be separated for a while longer — but that doesn’t mean we’re alone. Whatever you do this Memorial Day weekend, reach out to your friends, take care of each other and stay safe.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Obesity severely impacting military mission readiness

Obesity is not only a health crisis for this country as a whole – it’s also deeply affecting the military’s mission readiness. The majority of young America is unfit to serve in the United States Armed Forces.

Major General Michael Hall (ret.) has watched in alarm as the negative impacts from the rise in obesity overtook the country as he served in the Air Force from 1968-1995. As rates continued to climb, he saw how simultaneously the military itself became less fit and there began to be less viable candidates for a critically important service.


“I think if you go to the overarching issue, 71 percent of our young people are not qualified to serve in the military. That begs the question, ‘If you aren’t qualified to serve in the military, why? And what else does that keep you from doing because the military is a very broad based workforce,”‘ Hall said. “Obesity is a significant part of the failure to qualify.”

Although finding people able to serve is a struggle for the military, maintaining a fit and ready service is also becoming much more difficult. “Around a sixth of the military itself is obese so this problem doesn’t go away even if they were able to get into the military and then the epidemic continues to affect military readiness,” Hall explained.

In America’s military, obesity in its service members rose 73 percent from 2011 to 2015.

Quite literally, obesity is affecting our national security. When service members are unfit to deploy, there’s either a shortage in a unit causing safety concerns or it leads to continuous redeployments for others. Both outcomes impact the health and wellness of service members but also severely impact mission readiness as a whole.

It starts all the way at the beginning. Hall didn’t hold back as he addressed the true elephant in the room; the inability for a large portion of America’s children to get nutritious meals. “The bottom line is that there are many people in our society that don’t have ready access to nutritious meals,” he said.

In the 1960s and 1970s, only around 5 to 7 percent of children qualified as obese. Now, that number is around 17 percent, according to the American Psychological Association. Research has demonstrated that socioeconomic status plays a significant part in the rising rates of obesity in America. The CDC found that children within a household that had a higher education level and income had lower rates of obesity.

“It starts with awareness,” Hall said. “I think where we are right now is to help the broader population understand that there is a problem and that problem is being exacerbated.” It is his hope that communities will begin asking what they can do to tackle this issue and help young people not only develop good nutrition habits, but receive access to it as well – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we were in crisis before, that crisis has been a battle that over the past few years has stayed static… now we’ve got significant more challenge facing us,” Hall said. “We have to remember that there is a very fundamental societal health and service value associated with nutrition. All the programs put together to improve nutrition are stressed right now and unable to function as they were originally intended.”

With COVID-19 causing widespread quarantine-like policies to be put in place, it also means many children are losing their access to more nutritious food. Although states and communities have rallied to develop programs to get food to families in need, more needs to be done.

“I think a big part of this is that this message gets back to Congress, saying, look we are making a lot of choices now about what we support, but let’s not forget early childhood nutrition when we make these decisions,” Hall explained. “The lifecycle of the cost of obesity in America is huge.”

Obesity-related costs in this country skyrocketed to 7 billion in 2008. The Department of Defense spends id=”listicle-2647430404″.5 billion a year alone. Those who are active duty and obese are more likely to sustain injuries as well. In many cases, obesity starts with poor nutrition in childhood, leading to habits in adulthood that causes a catastrophic health domino effect. This epidemic is severely impacting the country’s health outcomes and its national security.

“I think that helps crystalize people’s thinking and understanding that this is a national challenge that also affects military readiness, but is far more than that,” Hall implored. “It’s important that people step back and look at this as a pandemic, a pandemic of obesity.”


MIGHTY CULTURE

Generals visit Arctic to prepare for future climate battles

A contingent of senior Air Force leaders and other high-ranking officials are visiting multiple locations across the Arctic April 27-May 3, 2019, in an attempt to better understand operational challenges and refine approaches for meeting the changing security dynamics in the region.

“The Arctic has always been a vital, indispensable part of any strategy to ensure the security and prosperity of the United States, our allies and our partners,” said Maj. Gen. Brian S. Robinson.

“While that has not changed, there are new activities and concerns in the Arctic, and our allies and partners are on the front lines of those changes. This trip provides important, firsthand insight on how our partners are preparing for a shifting landscape and how we can best adapt our policies, activities, and partnerships to successfully meet the emerging challenges in the region,” Robinson said.

The group includes Robinson along with Air Force Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, Brig. Gen. Michael G. Koscheski as well as senior Air Force officials Kenneth E. Bray and John M. Trumpfheller. All of them are touring facilities in Norway, Finland, and Sweden to see how Arctic allies and partners of the U.S. view security and operate in the region’s harsh conditions. The trip also offers opportunities for representatives of the countries to discuss joint operations and other activities that contribute to the shared interests and priorities of each country.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Paul McKenna, the NORAD and USNORTHCOM Command Senior Enlisted Leader, visit units and tour facilities at Thule AB, Greenland, April 24, 2019. The Arctic is strategic terrain in the defense of our northern approaches and is critical to our national security.

(Photo by Preston Schlachter)

The visit is especially important given changes in the Arctic’s climate and environment, which have increased activity in the area from nations and commercial interests. Also notable is its timing, since the Department of Defense is required to deliver to Congress a detailed strategy for the region by June 1, 2019.

The visit is just the latest effort on the part of the Air Force to develop an Arctic strategy nested within DoD objectives. In broad terms, the DoD’s objectives are to prevent and deter conflict in the Arctic and prepare to respond to a wide range of challenges and contingencies, with the ultimate goal of a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded and nations work together to address challenges.

As an Arctic nation, the U.S. has long been active in the region. Key allies and partners in the Arctic include: Canada, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, all NATO allies and NATO’s Enhanced Opportunity Partners, Sweden and Finland. These nations work together in numerous fora to address shared regional concerns (e.g., fisheries management, shipping safety, scientific research).

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @USAF on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Nuclear investigators found uranium at a secret facility in Iran

Nuclear investigators have found uranium particles at a facility that had not been declared by Iranian government, Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Associated Press (AP), and the BBC reported, suggesting the country’s further departure from the 2015 nuclear deal.

“The agency has detected natural uranium particles of anthropogenic origin at a location in Iran not declared to the agency,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, said in a confidential report published Nov. 11, 2019, according to AFP.

The particles had been mined and had undergone initial processing, but not enriched, AFP reported.


The report did not name the facility that had been producing the particles, the BBC and AFP reported. However, anonymous diplomatic sources told AFP that the samples had been taken from a facility in Tehran’s southwest Turquzabad district.

Uraninite is the most common ore mined to extract uranium.

Iran has previously claimed that the Turquzabad site is a carpet cleaning factory that has no other purpose.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has repeatedly warned about Iran’s undeclared nuclear archives, told the UN last year that the Turquzabad site contained “a secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program.”

Many Iranians mocked Netanyahu’s claim and took selfies in front of the facility to refute his claims at the time. Iran has repeatedly said that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

The IAEA has not yet responded to Business Insider’s request for comment on the report and clarification on the location of the uranium found.

Separately, the IAEA’s report also confirmed that Iran had been enriching uranium and using centrifuges in Fordo, an underground site in the country’s northwest, the AP reported. The nuclear deal had ordered the Fordo site to be a research center, but it is now home to 1,000 centrifuges, the AP said.

The IAEA also said Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium had grown to 372.3 kg (820.78 pounds) as of Nov. 3, 2019, according to the AP. The nuclear deal limited the stockpile to 202.8 kg.

Iran said last week that it was now enriching uranium to 5%, higher than the 3.67% mentioned in the deal, AFP reported. The IAEA report said the highest level of uranium enrichment is currently at 4.5%, the news agency said.

Iran has over the past few months taken incremental steps away from the 2015 nuclear deal in what appears to be an attempt to stand up to President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement and increased sanctions on the regime under his “maximum pressure” campaign.

The ministers of foreign affairs of the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, France, China, the European Union, and Iran, March 30, 2015.

(United States Department of State)

The country prompted suspicion earlier this month when it attempted to impede an IAEA investigation into its nuclear facilities.

Country authorities forbade an unnamed IAEA inspector from entering the Natanz uranium enrichment facility — claiming that she had triggered an alarm at the entrance — and briefly held her, Reuters reported.

The inspector later had her travel documents and nuclear accreditation taken away, the news agency reported. The IAEA has disputed the claim that the inspector triggered an alarm, and said Iran’s treatment of her was “not acceptable,” the BBC and AFP reported.

Richard Nephew, the lead sanctions expert in US-Iran negotiations from 2013 to 2014, told Business Insider earlier this year that Iran is looking for “leverage” amid the sanctions and the EU’s inability to bring Washington and Tehran back to the nuclear deal.

“The Iranians have showed us since May 2018 [when the US pulled out of JCPOA] that their first priority is to take small steps that demonstrate they can take bigger steps, but not to do things that fundamentally change” the geopolitical landscape, Nephew said.

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

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MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy gears up for ‘leaner, agile’ operations in Arctic

This is not your grandfather’s 2nd Fleet.

The Navy‘s newest combatant command will be “leaner, agile and more expeditionary” than the U.S. 2nd Fleet that was deactivated in 2011, Rear Adm. John Mustin, the fleet’s deputy commander, told attendants Jan. 16, 2019, at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium.


The 2nd Fleet, which the Navy re-established in May 2018, is designed to assert U.S. presence in the Atlantic and support operations in the North Atlantic and Arctic. While its actual makeup is still in the works, it is expected to reach initial operational capability summer 2019.

When it does, it will be a small fighting force that has taken lessons from the service’s overseas fleets and II Marine Expeditionary Force, Mustin said.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Laird)

“The focus of 2nd Fleet is to develop and dynamically employ maritime forces ready to fight across multiple domains in the Atlantic and Arctic,” he said.

According to the service, the fleet will serve as the maneuver arm for U.S. Navy North in the Western Atlantic, “ensuring freedom of the sea, lines of communication and executing operational missions and exercises as assigned.”

It also will serve as a maneuver arm for U.S. Naval Forces Europe in the Eastern and North Atlantic.

The idea is that the fleet will focus on force employment, capable of deploying rapidly, regardless of area of operations.

“When I say lean, what does that mean? The staff complement is organized and billeted to be operational. The majority of staff will focus on operations, intelligence, plans and training,” Mustin said.

The Navy first established the 2nd Fleet in the 1950s, a response to deter Soviet interest in the Atlantic, especially Europe. It was disbanded in 2011, and most of its assets and personnel were folded into Fleet Forces Command.

But growing concern over potential Russian dominance in the North Atlantic and Arctic prompted Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson to reactivate the unit.

2nd Fleet version 2.0, however, won’t look much like its historic predecessor.

Mustin said the command staff will be small, currently consisting of 85 members. The full number is still being determined, a 2nd Fleet spokeswoman said.

And while technically it will be headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, Mustin said sailors can expect that it will have the ability to deploy its command-and-control element forward, with a small team operating forward from a command ship or “austere offshore location.”

Naval Station Norfolk.

(Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ernest R. Scott)

The command also will integrate reserve forces on an as-needed basis and bolster its staff with personnel from allied nations, he added.

“This is not your grandfather’s 2nd Fleet or, as my staff likes to point out, my father’s 2nd Fleet,” Mustin said.

It will resemble overseas fleets, he said, which means it will become responsible for forces entering the integrated phase of composite unit training exercises, and “we will own them through deployment and sustainment.”

The ships will fall under operational control of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, but tactical control will be delegated to 2nd Fleet.

Standing up a fleet within a year has been a challenge, Mustin said, but there’s excitement surrounding the concept. He noted that many surface warfare officers interested in being assigned to the command had approached him at the symposium.

“It’s fast and furious, but we are getting there,” he said.

At the symposium, some observers questioned how integration will work with other naval fleets with overlapping areas of responsibility.

Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander of 6th Fleet, said the integration will be seamless.

“Our idea is not to make a line in the water. When you make lines, adversaries exploit them. Our idea is to figure out how to flow forces and how to address anything that flows our way,” she said.

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

Military Life

5 ways to tactfully square away your superiors

Everyone makes mistakes. Non-commissioned officers and officers have come to expect it from low-ranking privates, but even with over ten years in the service, you’re not exempt from the occasional goof. These accidents range from a mistake in uniform, leaving a CAC in the computer, and anything that falls under the category of “humans making human mistakes.”


Private Joe Schmoe has every right and responsibility to make on-the-spot corrections, even to the Chief of Staff of the United States Army. Leaders worth their weight in salt will take the correction and actually respect the subordinate for making it, but only if the mistake is addressed with tact. If you’re a Private and you interrupt the Command Sergeant Major because you saw him take two steps while he’s on the cell phone — I mean, yeah, you’re not entirely in the wrong, but no one will ever see it that way, especially the Command Sergeant Major.

This list outlines the ways you can tactfully correct your superior, starting with the most subtle methods intended for common mistakes and working its way up to grievous errors, with examples for each. Think of these as an escalation of force appropriate to the situation. With respect to the rank of the person being corrected, you should obviously not reach for the sledgehammer tactic to deal with a thumbtack problem.

5. Quietly point out the mistake

Example: Your superior has their patches on the wrong side.

As odd as it sounds to older Army vets and troops from nearly every other branch, a common mistake soldiers make when dressing in the morning is to put the Velcro “U.S. Army” and name patches on the wrong side. This usually happens when someone is in a rush in the morning and it simply slips their mind.

If your superior’s made this goof, get their attention and point to your own patches. They should (probably) get the hint.

And no one told the Colonel… (Image via US Army WTF Moments)

4. Point out the regulation

Example: Your superior instructs a class incorrectly.

This is best used when they’re so confident, but they’re so wrong. Don’t be a dick about it — you don’t need to do the, “well, actually, Sergeant, according to… you’re wrong!

Only attempt this if you’re absolutely positive that you’re right. If you’re only 99.9% sure, start what you’re about to say with, “Pardon me, sir, I believe it’s…” That way, even if you’re wrong, it gives them the opportunity to learn the proper way and you won’t be completely oblierated.

Bit of advice: Use Google before you start acting smart. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Aaron S. Patterson)

3. Pull them aside

Example: Your superior is slacking off.

If you need your supervisor to do something, the most effective way to get them off their lazy ass is to convince them that it’s their idea. Use phrases like, “Can you teach me how to…”

Whatever you do, never come at them like you outrank them. You still need to show respect to their rank, even if they aren’t acting like it.

But if they’re racked the f*ck out and they’re supposed to be on duty, by all means. F*ck with them. You’re in the wrong, but they’re more in the wrong. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Aaron Rosencrans)

2. Inform their peer

Example: Your superior might be drunk on duty.

For better or worse, the military handles issues at the lowest level possible. It’s terrible when that policy covers up something that should probably be addressed, but the consequences are the same and it keeps a clean paper trail.

If there’s an egregious situation at play that your superior won’t or can’t address, inform their peer. Pass the concern up the chain of command to someone more appropriate to handle the situation.

How it feels dealing with drunk NCOs. (U.S. photo taken by Spc. Joshua P. Morris, U.S. ARCENT PAO)

1. Inform their supervisor (or MP)

Example: Your superior does something that brings discredit upon the armed forces.

These are your heinous acts and criminal offenses. If they are your superior and you are aware that they did something horribly wrong, do not cover for them. The military justice system doesn’t care for the “snitches get stitches” mentality.

If you’re aware of criminal activity and you don’t speak up, you’re guilty as well. All it takes is an open-door counseling to at least one superior to keep you from getting caught up in their crime.

Only one person needs to make the big rocks smaller. You don’t need to join them. (U.S. Marine photo by Sgt. Jessica Collins)