Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

As a rookie with the Los Angeles Police Department, Charles Bennett was sitting in his squad car with his white partner when the senior officer turned to Bennett and said, “You’re not black, I’m not white — we’re blue. And trust me; if something ever happens to you at 3 o’clock in the morning, they’re going to call guys, and they’re not going to care what color or nationality you are. They’re going to roll out here and solve the problem and win. We’re going to find out whoever hurt you, and we’re going to arrest them and do what we have to do.”


Those words resonated with Bennett 10 years later when he found himself answering the call to bring justice after a fellow officer’s death.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killersCharles Bennett retired in 2010 after serving 33 years on the LAPD. Photo courtesy of Charles Bennett.

Bennett started with the LAPD in 1977 and spent his last 10 years as a supervisor within the LAPD’s elite Special Investigation Section (SIS). The SIS completed surveillance on suspected criminals for all of the LAPD’s units and sometimes neighboring departments. Bennett said that his unit had a 99% conviction rate because of the airtight cases they built by observing the suspects planning the robbery, and sometimes watching the crime happen and making an arrest immediately after.

During his 33-year career, he rose through the ranks to detective three, which is a specialized detective who is considered a subject matter expert within the LAPD. He specialized in robbery and tracking down cop killers. One case in particular has always stood out in his mind.

Mylus Mondy was a US Customs and Border Protection agent who was murdered March 9, 2008. Mondy had just left his shift at the Los Angeles International Airport and had stopped by a Bank of America ATM in Ladera Heights, an unincorporated area in Los Angeles.

A robber was holding someone at gunpoint at the ATM location when Mondy went to withdraw from the ATM. When he saw Mondy, the robber struck him on the head with the pistol and demanded money. When Mondy tried to get away, he was shot and killed him.

Bennett’s team was called in to bring the murderer to justice. The team spent approximately a day and half chasing down leads, gathering evidence, and identifying different addresses to surveil.

Bennett supervised while one of his rookies in SIS sat “on the point,” gathering information on traffic to and from one of the locations, scanning for their suspect, and collecting every little detail that might lead to an arrest. Suddenly, the rookie broke radio silence to report, “Boss, it’s No. 1, and he’s on the move.”

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killersFootage from the security camera footage at the ATM where US Customs and Border Protection agent Mylus Mondy was shot and killed. Photo courtesy of Charles Bennett.

Bennett asked if he was absolutely sure.

“I’m 1,000% sure,” the new officer fired back. Bennett ordered his man to let the suspect turn the corner and avoid alerting him of their presence in front of his house. Bennett knew others might be inside the suspect’s house and, if alerted, would destroy any evidence the SIS unit would need to finalize charges against him.

As 23-year-old McKenzie Carl Bryant turned the corner, the SIS team waited patiently. Once there was a good cushion of distance between Bryant and his house, they brought down the hammer and arrested him.

“That guy is doing life without possibility of parole now, and you know, it was a really good feeling,” Bennett said of Bryant’s arrest. “You understand that you just got justice for a fellow officer who you didn’t know. You didn’t need to know him because you knew he was out there doing his job the best he could, and he didn’t deserve what happened to him.”

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killersFootage from the security camera footage at the ATM where US Customs and Border Protection agent Mylus Mondy was shot and killed. Photo courtesy of Charles Bennett.

The all-hands-on-deck approach to cases like Mondy’s murder is what Bennett enjoyed most about working within SIS, as well as their ability to remain silent professionals. He said there were officers who worked on tracing leads and then fed verified information to the officers conducting ground surveillance. Though some LAPD units knew what SIS was doing, the unit largely remained anonymous. The LAPD command handled press conferences regarding the work of the SIS unit but never named them.

“We always go to the fallen officer’s funeral, which is always sad,” Bennett said.

In another case, Bennett helped arrest three of the five men responsible for the death of an officer.

“There were a lot of people quietly slapping us on the back, including the chief,” he said.

In those times of sadness, the quiet slaps on the back brought back that “good feeling.” While they couldn’t change what happened, at least they had achieved some kind of justice for the fallen officer and their family.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This 87-year-old grad still enjoys marching with new cadets

Through 20 years of March Backs, Wallace Ward has seen it all.

In the beginning, the march was 15 miles, now 20 years later it is only 12. Over the years it has moved from taking place in the middle of the night to starting in the morning. There has been rain and thunderstorms that soaked and threatened the marchers. There was a hamstring injury that slowed him down, but couldn’t stop him.

No matter the obstacle, the distance or the weather, since members of the Long Gray Line were invited to the March Back 20 years ago, Wallace Ward has completed every single one.

This year, as he stepped off from Camp Buckner before dawn with India Company, Ward, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in the Class of 1958, earned the distinction of being the oldest graduate to participate in the annual tradition.


He first joined the March Back at 67 and now aged 87 he once again walked the entire way from start to finish.

“I come back to March Back every year because I love to run,” Ward said. “I’ve participated in 10 marathons and one ultramarathon that was 62 miles. I have been running and walking all my life so when they said they wanted people to hike back with the plebes I thought that was a great opportunity since I love being outside running and walking.”

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

Retired Lt. Col. Wallace Ward, USMA Class of 1958, marches back with the Class of 2023. Ward, 87, was the oldest grad to participate in the 2019 March Back.

(Photo by Brandon OConnor)

The decision brought him full circle as it was running that first introduced Ward to West Point.

A track athlete in nearby Washingtonville, New York, Ward competed at a regional track meet at West Point as a high schooler. He entered the meet with a single goal — earning the one point he needed to secure his varsity letter for the season — and determined to do whatever it took to secure it.

With the finish line nearby and his goal within reach, Ward dove across the line. His last bit of effort earned him his letter, but it also left shrapnel in his left elbow that has served as a, “reminder of West Point for the rest of my life.”

It would prove to be the first of many marks West Point would leave upon him as the track meet set him upon a path that eventually allowed him to enter West Point as a prior service cadet after he was not accepted directly from high school and enlisted in the Army in 1951.

“I’d never been to West Point,” Ward said of that track meet roughly 70 years ago. “I got there and saw this great fortress over the Hudson River and said, ‘Wow, this is fantastic. I’d sure like to be able to go there for school.'”

His time at West Point changed the course of his life after being abandoned along with his brothers in a Brooklyn flat by his mother. They bounced through different foster homes before finding stability and discipline after moving near Washingtonville.

West Point continued the process of instilling discipline and helped to keep him from becoming, “a kid in New York, running the streets, stealing and things like that, getting in all kinds of trouble,” Ward said.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

Retired Lt. Col. Wallace Ward, USMA Class of 1958, marches back with the Class of 2023.

(Photo by Brandon OConnor)

He retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel in 1979 after a career as an air defense officer. Now 61 years after his graduation from West Point, Ward uses his time with the new class during March Back to encourage them and teach them about the place that means so much to him.

“We spend half the time (talking), except when we are going uphill. I always tell them, ‘Cut if off, wait until we get to the top of the hill. Then we can resume the conversation,'” Ward said. “When we are walking and having a conversation with the plebes we tell them it is going to be a tough year, stick it out, keep your nose clean and work hard and things will come out alright and you will be proud of the fact you went to West Point.”

With 20 years and more than 200 miles of March Backs under his belt, Ward hasn’t decided if he’ll be back for number 21. He said he will have to, “think about it,” before lacing up his sneakers and hiking through the woods with another class seven decades his junior even though he enjoys his time spent with the plebes and talking with them as they traverse the hills.

“I get the enthusiasm of going back to West Point every year and seeing that great fortress on the Hudson River, meeting old friends and comrades and enjoying the atmosphere,” Ward said of why he has come back for the last 20 years.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Civil War vets wanted to invade Canada to liberate Ireland

In the years following the American Civil War, Canada was still very much a possession of the British Empire. As such, it had a number of official fortifications and other important areas along its border with the United States. One of those was Fort Erie, directly across the Niagara from the American city of Buffalo, New York. In June 1866, some 850 men crossed the Niagara from Buffalo, intent on capturing the fort.

They were Irishmen, and they were going to conquer Canada to free their home country.


Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

Irish immigrants flowed into the United States in droves following the Acts of Union that saw British domination of Ireland since the early 1800s. The Great Irish Famine of the late 1840s also saw a huge emigration of Irish people to the United States. By 1860, there were more than 1.6 million people of Irish descent who called themselves American – and upwards of 175,000 of them were about to serve in the Union Army.

The Irish made-up 40 percent of foreign-born enlistments in the Civil War, and were 17 percent of the overall Union force. When these battle-hardened veterans returned home after the war, many of them were headed to New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New England. It was there that Irish National leaders were waiting to use the veterans’ new talent for combat.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

To be fair, when this plan was hatched, there were upwards of 10,000 Fenians.

Called the Fenian Brotherhood, its original aim was to send money, arms, and supplies to Irish rebels in Ireland via Irish émigrés living in the U.S. Many in the movement were soon convinced that liberating Ireland through a direct uprising was impossible, so they decided to step up their game a bit. If the Irish couldn’t mount an invasion of Ireland, then they would mount an invasion of Canada, the nearest British-held country and trade it for Irish independence.

T.W. Sweeny a former Union general who also served in the Mexican War hatched a three-pronged plan to invade Canada, set up an Irish government-in-exile, and pressure Britain to release Ireland to the Irish. It called for multiple incursions into Ontario in an effort to draw the main British force out of Quebec. With that done, the main Fenian force would invade Quebec, cutting off lines of communication and supply.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

Noncommissioned officers of the 10th Royal Regiment of Toronto Volunteers, circa 1870.

On June 1, 1850, a force of Irish-American members of the Fenian Brotherhood landed in Ontario and planted the Irish flag. They tore up railroads and cut the telegraph wires, effectively cutting Fort Erie off from the rest of Canada. Then, 600 Fenians marched westward. At the same time, the commander of British forces in Canada activated upwards of 22,000 troops to put the insurrection down. While the larger force formed up, 850 men under Lt. Col. Alfred Booker were dispatched to pin the Irish down and keep them from wreaking any more havoc.

The two forces met at Ridgeway in Ontario, Canada. It was the first time an all-Canadian force was led by a Canadian commander. Unfortunately for the Canadians, the Fenians were well-armed and skilled fighters, having just braved the battlefields of the American Civil War. The Canadians were soon reinforced, and the superior numbers caused the Fenians to retreat.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

No. 5 Company of the Queen’s Own Rifles.

The Fenians were repulsed elsewhere along their proposed lines of attack. Having assumed that Irish Canadians would join the uprising, they were surprised at how the Canadians responded to their invasion. By the time British forces mounted a full response, many of the Fenians had retreated back across the river, the United States Navy was stopping Fenian barges from bringing reinforcements, and the U.S. declared total neutrality in Canadian affairs.

There would be more Fenian uprisings in later years, but for the time being, the push to trade Canada for Ireland would not come to pass.

Articles

Duncan Hunter petitions Mattis to approve Medal of Honor for fallen Marine

Congressman Duncan Hunter is urging the new secretary of defense to re-examine the case of Sgt. Rafael Peralta, a Marine who died in house-to-house fighting during the 2004 Battle of Fallujah.


In a letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the Republican congressman wrote that it is his hope “that we can finally give Sergeant Peralta the recognition he deserves.”

Also read: Mattis’ first message to the troops shows his leadership style

In 2008, the Marine Corps recommended Peralta for the Medal of Honor after fellow Marines told investigators the 25-year-old sergeant jumped on a grenade and shielded them from the blast after he was mortally wounded by insurgent fire. The recommendation went all the way up to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who initially approved it, before rescinding the decision amid an inspector general’s complaint.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers
Marine Corps Portrait of Rafael Peralta

An independent review panel later found that the grenade did not detonate beneath Peralta’s body. Peralta’s award was downgraded to the Navy Cross. And years later, in 2014, a number of witnesses came forward to The Washington Post to say they had embellished the original story.

Still, Hunter has been fighting for years to get the Pentagon to upgrade the award to the nation’s highest honor. Two other defense secretaries, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel, declined to overturn Gates’ ruling.

“Multiple eyewitnesses conveyed that from their respective fields of view, Peralta initiated several movements toward the grenade and pulled it into his body,” Hunter wrote. “In the spirit and tradition of the Medal of Honor, these eyewitness accounts are exceedingly sufficient, but they were overridden based on questionable forensic evidence assembled by Pentagon bureaucrats.”

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers
Secretary of Defense James Mattis greets U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after arriving at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2017. (DOD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

Hunter is optimistic that Mattis, the former commander of 1st Marine Division, will look into the case. Hunter told the San Diego Union-Tribune Mattis had originally signed off on the Medal of Honor award recommendation before it went up to Gates.

“I believe you have the right perspective and familiarity with the facts to make an informed judgment on this matter,” he wrote. “Even more so, you have the courage to do what’s right where others have been too sensitive to internal Pentagon politics.”

The public affairs office for the defense secretary did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

MIGHTY CULTURE

One year after devastating hurricane, Tyndall AFB continues slow recovery

In the early hours of Oct. 10, 2018, many communities in Northwest Florida prepared for a storm expected to make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane.

Tyndall Air Force Base was also preparing for the storm named Hurricane Michael.

Base leaders evacuated nonessential personnel, stored equipment in protected areas as much as possible and a team of individuals battened down the hatches in a two-story cinder block emergency operations center building with almost no windows to ride out the storm on base.

Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, was one of the individuals who stayed during the storm. The “ride-out team” was ready for a Category 2 hurricane.


However, the scene soon changed.

“We realized very quickly that this would be the storm we had trained for,” Laidlaw said.

The Category 2 hurricane escalated into a Category 5 within just a few hours.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, walks with President Donald J. Trump, after a flightline tour at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., May 8, 2019. Tyndall AFB leaders and civic leaders met with Trump to provide an update on base recovery efforts.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Monica Roybal)

Hurricane Michael hit the coastline and surrounding areas of Tyndall AFB, Mexico Beach and Panama City.

“Without question, this was not just a Tyndall AFB event,” Laidlaw said. “This was a Northwest Florida event. The whole area took a hit. Thankfully we were in a secure building to wait out the storm.”

As the storm progressed, the eye of the hurricane passed over Tyndall AFB for a handful of minutes.

“The only reason we knew we were in the eye of the storm was because the walls stopped shaking,” Laidlaw said.

The eye passed. After the second half of the storm ran its course, it was safe for the ride-out team to emerge from their shelter and survey the damage.

“We recognized very quickly how much work we had to do,” Laidlaw said. “It will probably take five to seven years before the rebuild (of Tyndall AFB) will be complete.”

An assessment of the damage concluded that 484 buildings on base were destroyed or damaged beyond repair, while the other half were stable enough to sustain repairs.

“This base has been here for 79 years and most structures pre-date modern day building codes,” Laidlaw said. “We built the infrastructure in the 40s and 50s and repurposed it many times over the years. It was important, very soon after the storm, to bring in engineers to take a close look at the base. As we did so, we learned what worked and what didn’t work.”

According to Laidlaw, the Air Force allocated 8 million for immediate repairs. To get the base back to pre-storm capacity will require more time and more funding in the future.

One of the first concerns was how to make the base available to accept relief forces.

“The Air Force and our joint partners sent us relief just a little faster than we were able to take it,” Laidlaw said. “We saw an outpouring of support from the Air Force, and other organizations, to get us back on our feet.”

“Much like many communities across Florida, our community is fiercely protective of our airmen and the missions we have here,” Laidlaw said. “We have to make the base compatible not only for today’s missions but for those of the future and to protect assets and aircraft we haven’t even invented yet.”

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

Staff Sgt. Jake Gonzalez, fire truck and refueling mechanic temporarily assigned to the 325th Logistics Readiness Squadron, repairs a refueling truck component at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., June 4, 2019. Hurricane Michael brought devastation to Tyndall AFB and units across the base adapted to limited manning and temporary facilities.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

Prior to Hurricane Michael, Tyndall AFB was home to two F-22 Raptor squadrons including the training school house for that weapons system. Today, some aspects of that mission are still here at Tyndall AFB, like the academics and simulator facility, while others have moved temporarily to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

As for the rebuild of Tyndall AFB, the base is preparing to take on a new mission consistent with the long-range goals of the Air Force.

“The secretary of the Air Force directed a rebuild to house up to three squadrons of F-35A Lightning IIs, and the base remains the preferred alternative for the MQ-9 Reaper,” Laidlaw said.

According to Laidlaw, Tyndall AFB is a critical asset for the nation’s defense strategy.

“We have some of the best training airspace anywhere in the Department of Defense,” Laidlaw said. “Tyndall AFB has 29,000 acres of land, 70% of which are in their natural state and are uninhabited.”

According to Laidlaw, the buffer Tyndall AFB acreage and 129 miles of coastline provides, allows for testing and training that is invaluable and free from encroachment. The base takes great pride in maintaining the land in its natural state.

Almost one year after the storm, Tyndall AFB is building up forces again.

“Currently, we have 80% of the (personnel) we had before the storm,” Laidlaw said. “As we recover the base we’ve transitioned from living in offices, to living in tents, to living in modern facilities and, in some cases, in repaired dorms and lodging rooms.”

“We no longer have any airmen living in tents” he continued. “We moved our airmen from these short-term temporary tents into facilities to hold us over until we fully rebuild.”

Tyndall AFB had 11 operational dormitories available when Hurricane Michael hit. Only three survived the storm but required immediate repairs before personnel could move in. Currently, there are four dorms available for housing airmen.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

Task Force Talon II Airmen rally around Chief Master Sgt. Craig Williams, 325th Fighter Wing command chief, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 28, 2018. Williams spoke to his fellow Airmen on the state of Tyndall AFB now and in the future. Task Force Talon II Airmen are responsible for clearing debris from various parts of Tyndall AFB.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Isaiah J. Soliz)

In addition to building replacement dorms for personnel, Tyndall AFB has the enormous task of rebuilding other buildings across the installation. For this task, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center Program Management Office stood up a unit on Tyndall AFB to coordinate the construction efforts.

“We are going to combine multi-purpose facilities, which will give us fewer buildings, but we will get much more use out of them,” Laidlaw said. “Brig. Gen. Patrice Melancon, Tyndall AFB Program Management executive director, is championing the technologies needed to build the base of the 21st century.”

Tyndall AFB and AFCEC PMO have been working together from the very beginning to get Tyndall AFB back to full capability and ready to accept F-35s and MQ-9s.

“The partnership between the 325th Fighter Wing and the Tyndall AFB Program Management Office following Hurricane Michael has been like no other,” Melancon said. “Col. Laidlaw’s leadership has been instrumental to the base’s success. I am so very proud of the dedicated airmen, civilians, and contractors who flew in from around the country with their sleeves rolled up ready to work. These dedicated individuals have literally moved mountains of debris and worked to repair key buildings quickly this past year to get critical base missions back online.”

According to Melancon, Tyndall AFB will be ready for an F-35 mission by October 2023.

“The rebuild will support a 21st century mission while also focusing on structural resiliency and efficiency,” Laidlaw said. “The people who are here want to be here. We have the right experts in the right areas.”

“When an event like this happens, it becomes a team effort,” he continued. “I do think there’s a story to tell. We’ve learned a lot, and the communities around us have learned a lot, and we are happy to share what we have learned.”

“The (partnership between Tyndall AFB and) the state of Florida and Bay County is very beneficial,” Laidlaw said. “It will take a long time to recover. Like us, our community takes great pride in taking care of our airmen and our mission.”

“I never thought we’d come this far so fast,” Laidlaw said. “It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year. Our people are amazing. We have the right people in the right places with the right resources, and they have accomplished so much.”

“There have been some great airmen, both military and civilian, at Tyndall AFB before, during and after the storm,” Laidlaw said. “Their hard work and determination have sustained our momentum through twelve long months.”

“I can’t imagine where we would be without these people and the support from their families,” he continued. “The reality is, (you can replace buildings, but) you can’t replace people. The mission needs airmen. Tyndall AFB’s airmen make the base just a little bit better every single day.”

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

Articles

Group asks Army to end probe into alleged recruiting bonus fraud

A large association of enlisted National Guardsmen is calling on the Army to end its six-year criminal probe into a now-defunct recruiting bonus program, accusing investigators of inflicting “relentless harassment” on targeted soldiers.


The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command since 2011 has been investigating soldiers who participated in the National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program, or G-RAP. It created a new cadre of recruiting assistants who received up to $2,000 for each recruit they helped sign up to meet a soldier shortfall during two wars.

Army auditors found fraud in the form of recruiting assistants receiving money for people they did not assist and full-time recruiters receiving illegal kickbacks. But the amount of fraud has not come close to the $100 million figure predicted by the Army in 2014.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

“We believe those still being investigated are unfairly being targeted and that the result of the investigation has ruined lives, careers, marriages, and credit; indeed, some have opted for suicide to end the relentless harassment,” said the open letter from the 40,000-member Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States.

“This harassment must stop now and complete restitution to those innocent Guard members must be made,” proclaimed the letter signed by the group’s 25 officers.

Frank Yoakum, executive director, said he plans to talk directly to top Army officials at the Pentagon next week. He said the enlisted group was trying to facilitate a joint letter with the larger National Guard Association of the United States, but that group never signed on.

“We’ve been kicking around what action to take for almost a year,” said the retired sergeant major.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers
Recruitment fraud has been much less pervasive than originally thought – U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy

The Washington Times has published stories on, and spoken with, Guardsmen who have been under investigation for years without a final outcome. Meanwhile, their uncertain status has played havoc with private-sector jobs, military careers and personal lives.

The Times recently published two stories on a Virgin Islands Guardsman, full-time recruiter First Sgt. Trevor Antoine, whose 18-year career is slated to end abruptly based on a CID report. Handed to his commander, the report says he committed theft and identity theft by sharing personal information with recruiting assistants.

There is no proof in the CID report that he received any money from recruiting assistants. The Times reported that the rules sent out by a private contractor changed frequently.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers
The G-RAP program was designed to increase recruitment in a time of need – Photo Courtesy of the DoD

At one time, assistants were urged to acquire ID information from recruiters such as Sgt. Antoine. The Army itself did not forbid the sharing by full-time recruiters it oversees until 2010, when the program was five years old. The Army ended G-RAP in 2012.

The enlisted association letter states, “We, the undersigned, as officers of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, call upon the Congress of the United States and the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Army in the strongest possible way to stop the investigation of National Guard members by Army Criminal Investigation Division agents relative to the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP).”

It is unclear how many Guardsmen remain under investigation. The Times reported last year that the Army had identified $6 million in fraudulent payments.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers
DoD Photo by Jeffrey Castro

Out of more than 100,000 National Guard and Army recruiting assistants during the G-RAP period, 492 were determined to be guilty or suspected of fraud, though the majority (305) received $15,000 or less each. Of that group, 124 assistants took less than$5,000 each.

The Times has asked the Army to update these figures. A spokeswoman said the Army is working to acquire updated numbers.

Liz Ullman, a business owner in Colorado, became so alarmed at CID’s long nationwide probe, she started a campaign to expose what she considers overreaching.

She started a webpage, Defend Our Protectors, communicated with Guardsmen under investigation and posts court discovery documents.

“Their lives are being turned upside down,” she said. “They are losing their jobs.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone… a farewell to Navy veteran and soul singer Bill Withers

Bill Withers died earlier in the week from complications from heart disease at age 81. Withers was known for his amazing vocals, soulful songs and was one of the best soul singers of all time. He was also a veteran of the United States Navy.

His death has resulted in an outpouring of mourning and grief from singers, artists and fans cross the world.

Regarded as one of the best songwriters of his generation, his influence has been seen in multiple genres of music and generations of artists. Withers gave us such classics as ‘Lean On Me,’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ ‘Grandma’s Hands,’ ‘Just the Two of Us’ and ‘Lovely Day.’

But there is one song that really resonates with veterans. In 1973, Withers released a song he had written while America was still involved in Vietnam.

Bill Withers – I Can’t Write Left Handed

www.youtube.com

Withers was born July 4, 1938, in Slab Fork, West Virginia. He was afflicted with a stutter from the time he was a child. He enlisted in the Navy at 18 where he served as an aircraft mechanic. He had good reason for wanting that field.

Withers told Rolling Stone, “My first goal was, I didn’t want to be a cook or a steward. So I went to aircraft-mechanic school. I still had to prove to people that thought I was genetically inferior that I wasn’t too stupid to drain the oil out of an airplane.”

While he was in the Navy, he was able to do speech therapy so he could stop stuttering. In fact, he stayed in the Navy as long as he could so he could work on his speech. He overcame his stutter using various techniques while also developing an interest in singing and songwriting. After nine years of service, he was discharged in 1965 and moved to Los Angeles to try and break into the music business. Withers worked for the aviation industry during the day while playing local night clubs at night trying to get noticed. His hard work paid off, when in 1970, he was signed to a record contract. His first album came out a year later and his career took off shortly thereafter.

After a couple of years of hits, Withers would write and perform a song that would be hailed as one of the most poignant songs about veterans and the war in Vietnam.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

“I Can’t Write Left-Handed” was written from the perspective of a wounded warrior. It wasn’t a political statement, it wasn’t self-righteous, it wasn’t inflammatory. It was simply what he thought Vietnam Veterans went through and what they were going to go through. It was one of the first songs to touch on the mental anguish and post traumatic stress many Vietnam Veterans experienced in the years after the war.

Withers opened the song with a spoken intro….

“We recorded this song on October the 6th. Since then the war’s been declared over. If you’re like me you’ll remember it like anybody remembers any war: one big drag. Lot of people write songs about wars and government … Very social things. But I think about young guys who were like I was when I was young. I had no more idea about any government, or political things or anything. And I think about those kind of young guys now who all of a sudden somebody comes up, and they’re very law-abiding, so if somebody says go they don’t ask any questions they just go. And I can remember not too long ago seeing a young guy with his right arm gone. Just got back. And I asked him how he was doing. He said he was doing all right now but he had thought he was gonna die. He said getting shot at didn’t bother him, it was getting shot that shook him up. And I tried to put myself in his position. Maybe he cried, maybe he said…”

The lyrics then tell us the story of the man with a missing right arm.

Meet the LAPD detective who specialized in hunting cop killers

I can’t write left handed

Would you please write a letter to my mother
Tell her to tell the family lawyer
Try to get a deferment for my younger brother

Tell the Reverend Harris to pray for me, lord, lord, lord
I ain’t gonna live, I don’t believe I’m going to live to get much older
Strange little man over here in Vietnam, I ain’t never
Bless his heart I ain’t never done nothin’ to, he done shot me in my shoulder

Boot camp we had classes
You know we talked about fightin’, fightin’ everyday
And lookin’ through rosy, rosy colored glasses
I must admit it seemed exciting anyway
But something that day overlooked to tell me
Bullet look better I must say
Rather when they comin’ at you.
But go without the other way

And please call up the Reverend Harris
And tell him to ask the lord to do some good things for me
Tell him, I ain’t gonna live, I ain’t gonna live, I ain’t gonna live to get much older
Strange little man over here in Vietnam, I ain’t never seen, bless his heart I
Ain’t never done nothing to, he done shot me in my shoulder

After a long career with many hits, Withers withdrew from the music industry. He felt that he was too old and that touring and performing were a young man’s game. Withers will go down as one of the true icons of soul and one of the best vocalists of his generation. Let us also remember him for his service to our country as well as using his talent to give a voice to those who served in Vietnam. Rest in peace, Sir.

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MIGHTY MOVIES

Sub thriller ‘Hunter Killer’ might be banned in Russia, Ukraine

The Russian and Ukrainian release of a Hollywood action film in which U.S. soldiers rescue a Russian president during a coup attempt has been postponed, and some reports suggest it could be banned in both countries due to its content.

Released in the United States in October 2018, the movie Hunter Killer, starring Scottish actor Gerard Butler, tells the story of a team of U.S. Navy Seals that rescues a Russian president taken hostage by his rogue defense minister — thus averting World War III.


Russian distributor Megogo Distribution asked cinemas not to show the thriller ahead of the scheduled premiere on Oct. 31, 2018, saying it had still not received a screening license.

The Culture Ministry, which issues licenses, said the company had provided an incomplete package of documents.

There was no official explanation for the delay of Hunter Killer in neighboring Ukraine, where the movie failed to open as scheduled in October 2018.

Megogo Distribution said in a letter “we still do not have any response from the [Russian] Culture Ministry” about the screening license, according to a report by industry publication Film Distributor Bulletin.

Hunter Killer (2018 Movie) Official Trailer – Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Common

www.youtube.com

This is despite the fact that all the materials and documents regarding Hunter Killer have been submitted in advance and the ministry previously had no objections to the film’s release, the distributor added.

The Culture Ministry told the AFP news agency that it had withheld a screening license for the film because Megogo Distribution did not show confirmation that it “transferred the film for permanent storage in the Russian state film fund [archive]” — a key prerequisite for obtaining a screening license.

The only copy the ministry received from the company was “of an insufficient quality,” it also said.

In a Facebook post, former Duma deputy and opposition figure Dmitry Gudkov wrote that the ministry could be blocking the movie for suggesting that President Vladimir Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, could be ousted.

In 2018, the Culture Ministry banned The Death of Stalin — a satirical British movie about the Soviet dictator — from cinemas, describing it as extremist, mendacious, and insulting to the Russian nation. The decision provoked international ridicule and heated debates in Russia over freedom of expression.

The Death of Stalin – Trailer

www.youtube.com

In Ukraine, an unidentified representative of film distributor Kinomania told AFP that Hunter Killer, which was initially due to open on Oct. 25, 2018, “fell under some law and was banned.”

‘Saving Private Putin’

A representative of the State Film Committee (Derzhkino) said the decision was “being reviewed and will be published soon.”

Reports cited a Ukrainian law that bans films that give a positive image of the Russian security forces and their representatives.

Social media commentators in Ukraine also saw parallels between the movie and real life.

“Saving Private Putin,” one of them wrote mockingly on Facebook, referring to Steven Spielberg’s 1998 epic war film Saving Private Ryan.

Ties between Moscow and Kyiv have dramatically deteriorated since Russia’s seizure of Crimea in March 2014.

Russia is also backing separatists in eastern Ukraine, where fighting between government forces and the separatists has killed more than 10,300 people since April 2014.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

How this combat exercise teams the Army with the Air Force

If the United States Army and the United States Air Force were to describe their relationship status on Facebook, they’d likely select “it’s complicated.” Seventy years ago, they went through a divorce. The Air Force became its own branch of United States Armed Forces and, with it, took (most of) the fixed-wing aircraft, leaving the Army with some helicopters and a lot of hard feelings.

The thing is, despite growing pains, the Air Force and Army still needed to work together. The Korean War helped things along a bit — the Air Force maintained control of the skies and backed up the Army. Since then, the two services have had a relationship filled with ups and downs. All the while, the two branches have done what they can to work together in harmony — one of the ways they enhance cooperation is through a spin-off of Exercise Red Flag, known as Green Flag.


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The F-15E Strike Eagle is the heavy multi-role fighter in the Air Force inventory.

(USAF)

The purpose of Green Flag exercises is to help the Army and Air Force work together to learn how to best fight together and win a war while the stakes are relatively low. “Relatively” is a key word here, as there is still a measure of risk involved.

While the fate of nations does not rest on Green Flag, lives are certainly on the line. As author Tom Clancy once recounted, an OH-58 Kiowa crashed during the Green Flag he observed with the 366th Wing as he was writing Fighter Wing — killing the two-man crew on board. While flying to Nellis, an Army AH-64A Apache also went down. Thankfully, its crew survived to be rescued by a HH-60G Pave Hawk.

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In the Green Flag held in June 2018, F-15Es practiced close-air support – a mission usually carried out by A-10 Thunderbolt II attack planes.

(USAF)

According to an Air Force release, the June 2018 Green Flag featured F-15E Strike Eagles of the 391st Fighter Squadron practicing close-air support. While this mission is usually handled by A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, there are only 13 squadrons operating this plane. The 219 F-15E Strike Eagles — each with a crew of two, a pilot and weapon systems operator — are the go-to assets for backing up troops on the ground when the A-10 is not available.

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Seventy years since the Air Force-Army divorce, the two services now manage to get along for the sake of the country.

(USAF)

When the Air Force and Army work together in concert to dominate both air and ground, wars are won. During Green Flag exercises, the two services put a messy divorce aside and practice working in concert for the sake of our country.

Articles

Turkey claims US will disarm Kurdish allies after ISIS defeat

The US has told Turkey that it will take back weapons supplied to the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria after the Islamic State group is defeated, Turkish defense sources said.


The United States has told Turkey that it will take back weapons it supplied to the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria after the Islamic State group is defeated, Turkish defense sources said.

President Donald Trump approved arming fighters from the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units in May – which is part of the Syrian Democratic Forces – drawing strong condemnation from Turkey.

Ankara said on June 22nd that US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis promised to provide his Turkish counterpart with a monthly list of weapons handed to the YPG, with the first such inventory already sent.

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General Mattis. Photo courtesy of the DoD

In a letter to Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik, Mattis said that a detailed record of all equipment provided to the YPG was being kept and that all the weapons would be taken back after Islamic State was defeated, according to Turkish defense.

Mattis also said that Arab fighters would form 80 percent of the forces which will recapture Raqqa, the Islamic State’s main urban base in Syria.

Once the mainly Sunni Arab city is taken, it will be held by Arab forces, the defence sources said he told Isik.

Washington and Ankara are bitterly at odds over US support for the YPG, a Syrian armed faction that acts as the main ground force in the Pentagon’s plan to defeat the Islamic State group but that Turkey deems a front for the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

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A Turkish ACV-15 operated by Free Syrian Army. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Turkey’s concerns about the YPG were significant enough for Ankara to launch its own military operation inside Syria in August 2016, dubbed Euphrates Shield.

The operation had the dual goals of targeting IS and the Kurdish militia, particularly to prevent the YPG from controlling a contiguous strip of territory along the Syria- Turkey border.

The SDF – an Arab-Kurdish alliance formed in 2015 – spent seven months tightening the noose on Raqqa city before finally entering it last week.

An estimated 300,000 civilians were believed to have been living under IS rule in Raqqa, including 80,000 displaced from other parts of Syria.

Thousands have fled in recent months, and the UN humanitarian office estimates about 160,000 people remain in the city.

MIGHTY SPORTS

NFL helmet makers will upgrade US troops with the same tech

Bullets and shrapnel are no longer the biggest threat to U.S. troops. In fact, it’s not even on the battlefields where most of the damage is done to our troops. Eighty percent of traumatic brain injuries in the military are caused by blunt impact sustained during training and in other non-deployed settings. The National Institute of Health estimates chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain injury caused by repeated blows to the head, is the result of these constant impacts.

If “chronic traumatic encephalopathy” sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the condition many retired NFL players struggle with in later years: CTE. Now that roads between the U.S. Military and the National Football League intersect, the NFL’s helmet producer is stepping up to tackle the problem.


Every year, more and more deceased NFL players are found to have struggled with CTE. Meanwhile, four out of five U.S. military personnel who experienced post-traumatic stress are also found to suffer from CTE. That might be what prompted the medical staff at Joint Base Lewis-McChord to reach out to NFL helmet maker, VICIS, to see how they could team up.

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(NFL)

“The main thing is the current combat helmets are … not optimized for blunt impact protection and that’s what football helmets are designed to do, protect against blunt impact,” VICIS CEO and co-founder Dave Marver told the Associated Press. “And so what we’re doing, rather than working to replace the shell of the combat helmet, which is good at ballistic protection, we’re actually replacing the inner padding, which is currently just foam.”

The U.S. Army and VICIS are using experimental technology, the same used by the Seattle Seahawks, to put what they learned working with the NFL to use for American troops.

“Most startup companies you have to stay focused and get your initial product out,” says Marver, “but we felt so strongly about the need to better protect warfighters.”

VICIS and the Army announced this initiative in the Spring of 2018 and estimate the new helmet should be tested and in the hands (and on the heads) of American troops within two years. VICIS’ Zero1 football helmet ranks consistently high in player protection and laboratory test. That’s the kind of technology the company will send to the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center in its experimental models.

The focus on helmet safety in the NFL is the result of a rise of reported cases of CTE in deceased and retired NFL players. In response, the National Football League increased its investment in concussion research, tightened the rules surrounding concussed players on the field, and, along with the NFL Players Association, reviewed all the helmets used by NFL teams to reject designs that don’t actually protect the wearer.

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It starts with its padding system.

(VICIS)

According to VICIS, the current helmets are designed to defend against ballistic weapons, but most of the military’s head trauma is a result of blunt force impact during training. VICIS military helmets are able to cut the force inflicted on the wearer by half when compared to some of the helmets currently in use.

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(VICIS)

The current cost of a VICIS football helmet is id=”listicle-2611426115″,500.00 while the U.S. military’s current helmet carries a smaller price tag of 2.00. Still, it’s a small price to pay when compared to the cost of the VA caring for TBI-injured veterans over the course of a lifetime — an estimated .2 billion over ten years.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Carrier Theodore Roosevelt ends deployment rocked by COVID-19 and chaos

The carrier Theodore Roosevelt arrived in San Diego on Thursday, but it’s returning without two crew members who died during the deployment and the original commanding officer.


The crew has seen a challenging six-month deployment, fraught with sickness and leadership upheavals since it deployed to the Asia-Pacific region in January. Two other ships with the carrier strike group — the destroyer Russell and guided-missile cruiser Bunker Hill — returned to California on Wednesday, officials with Third Fleet announced.

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Electronics Technician 1st Class Vincent Testagrossa, a sailor assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Russell, hugs his family following his return to Naval Base San Diego after a six-month deployment, July 8, 2020. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin C. Leitner)

The Roosevelt’s crew lost two sailors during the deployment. Aviation Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer Justin Calderone, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 146, died last week following a medical emergency. In April, Aviation Ordnanceman Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr. died of complications due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Weeks earlier, the ship’s former commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, was relieved of command over his handling of an emailed warning about the carrier’s growing health crisis as COVID-19 cases began to spread rapidly. Crozier was one of the 1,273 crew members to contract the virus in the Navy’s largest outbreak to date.

Crozier’s relief was followed up with an unplanned visit from then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, who flew nearly 8,000 miles from Washington, D.C., to Guam, where the carrier was sidelined for about two months as the crew was evacuated and isolated. Modly, who had fired Crozier, slammed the captain’s decision to send an emailed warning about the coronavirus cases on the Roosevelt, calling him “too naïve or too stupid” to serve as their commanding officer.

The speech was recorded and obtained by media outlets, including Military.com. Modly faced backlash over his speech and the decision to fly across the globe to deliver it. He stepped down April 7, leaving the Navy secretary position suddenly vacant for the second time in six months.

The Roosevelt spent about one-third of its deployment docked in Guam. Much of the crew was moved into hotels and other facilities as the ship was disinfected, but the coronavirus spread rampantly among its personnel, eventually infecting about a quarter of the sailors on the ship.

The crew headed back out to sea in May. About a month later, the Navy’s top leaders revealed the findings of a new investigation into Crozier’s firing, announcing that they would uphold the decision and weigh the planned promotion of a one-star over what they called questionable decisions as COVID-19 cases began to mount.

That was after Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday recommended that Crozier be reinstated as the Roosevelt’s commanding officer. When pressed to address his reversal, Gilday said his initial recommendation was based only on a “narrowly scoped investigation” that examined Crozier’s email warning.

“I was tasked to take a look at those facts against then-Acting Secretary Modly’s justification for relieving him,” Gilday told reporters, “and I did not feel that the … facts supported the justification.”

“It is because of what he didn’t do that I have chosen not to reinstate him,” Gilday said, adding that Crozier was slow to put in place measures to keep the crew safe during the outbreak and released some members who’d been quarantined too quickly.

In June, the Roosevelt saw another crisis when an F/A-18F Super Hornet crashed into the Philippine Sea during a routine training flight. Both the pilot and weapon systems officer safely ejected and were recovered by an MH-60S helicopter.

Hundreds of members of the Roosevelt’s crew opted to participate in a study between the Navy and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looking at how coronavirus affects young people living in close quarters. The study found about a third of participants who’d tested positive for COVID-19 developed antibodies for the illness.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

China’s electric buses kill oil demand as US dependency increases

China’s rapidly growing fleet of electric buses could be the biggest existential threat to oil demand in the future as more and more vehicles shun fossil fuels.

A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggests that China’s electric-bus revolution could kill off oil demand in the future with 6.4 million barrels a day displaced by electric vehicles by 2040.


By the end of 2019, a cumulative 270,000 barrels a day of diesel demand, predominantly from China, will be removed from the market. China’s revolution in electric vehicles has been astonishing and looks set to continue into the future. For example, in the growing mega city of Shenzen, the entire 16,000 strong fleet of buses run on electric engines and taxis will soon follow suit.

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Bloomberg estimates that electric buses and cars collectively account for 3% of global oil demand growth since 2011. The market is still small, making up around 0.3% of current consumption, but is set to expand rapidly in the coming years.

Global energy demand is still growing despite the boom in electric vehicles, with the US set to become the world’s largest oil exporter in the coming years.

A number of American cities and universities, such as the University of Utah, have unveiled electric-bus fleets in recent years. And in 2017, 12 major global cities agreed to buy only all-electric buses starting in 2025, according to Electrek.

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

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