How '1917' military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI's devastating battles - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

Creating a realistic battle scene — whether it’s from World War II or the Napoleonic Wars — demands technical know-how and precise attention to detail.

Paul Biddiss, the military technical adviser on the upcoming World War I movie “1917,” taught the actors everything they needed to know, from proper foot care to how to hold a weapon, “which allows the actor to concentrate on his primary task. Acting!” Biddis told Insider.

Biddiss has worked on projects from a variety of time periods — “large Napoleonic battles through to World War I, World War II, right up to modern-day battles with Special Forces,” Biddiss said.

Read on to learn about how Biddiss prepared “1917” performers for the gruesome, grueling warfare of World War I.


How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

(Air Force photo by Senior Airman Javier Alvarez)

Biddiss spent 24 years in the British military before finding a career in film.

Biddiss, a former paratrooper, started his film career as an extra on the movie “Monuments Men.”

Since then, he has worked on projects like “Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation,” HBO’s “Catherine the Great,” and “The Crown.”

“I always tell people military film advising is 60% research and 40% of my own military experience added in to the mix,” Biddiss told Insider by email.

To prepare for a shoot, Biddiss obtains authentic training manuals appropriate to the conflict.

“I like to first understand the recruitment and training process, the rank structure and attitude between the ordinary ranks and officers,” he said. “This helps me better understand the battles and tactics used by the men and what must have been going through their heads at the time.”

That helps him structure a training program appropriate to the conflict, and safe for the performers — even when he’s short on prep time.

“When tasked to train 500 supporting artists for [the BBC’s] ‘War and Peace,’ I only had three days to research Napoleonic warfare and prepare a safe structured training program before flying out to Lithuania to train the men before a large battle sequence.”

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

Director Sam Mendes with actors Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay on the set of “1917.”

Training on “1917” started from the ground up — literally.

“Foot care was one of the first lessons I taught George [MacKay] and Dean [Charles Chapman], the importance of looking after their feet daily,” Biddiss said, referring to two stars of “1917.” “Basic recruits are taught this still even today.”

Trench foot, a common condition in World War I, is caused by wet, cold, and unsanitary conditions. It can be avoided by keeping the feet dry and clean, but left untreated it can lead to gangrene and amputation.

“The boys were wearing authentic period boots, walking and running in the wet mud all day and if not addressed early would have cause them major problems on set,” Biddiss said. “I taught them how to identify hot spots on the feet where the boots rubbed, taping up those hotspots to prevent blisters and applying talc and clean socks at every opportunity.”

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

A battle scene in “1917.”

Battle scenes require a lot from performers, but Biddiss said he “would never dream of asking an actor to do something I was not physically able to do myself.”

“I naturally train most days to keep myself in shape” and to instill confidence in his abilities, Biddiss told Insider.

“It’s not a good look if you’re a military adviser and you’re carrying around excess weight” and get winded after a short walk, he said.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

Shooting a scene from “1917.”

(Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures)

With hundreds of extras, making sure all the performers were right for the movie was a massive task in itself, Biddiss said.

“We first ran local auditions,” Biddiss said. “I then ran assessments before boot camps to make sure we had the right people who not only looked right, but were coordinated and physically robust to take on the task.”

After the performers were selected, “I started with basic arms drill to test coordination, fitness to test stamina,” he said. “Then to weapon handling, historical lessons, and tactics.”

“There so much attention to detail, like I’ve never seen before on set,” Biddiss said.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

Mendes with Chapman and MacKay on the set of “1917.”

Biddiss has to teach the performers how to look and feel both natural and accurate when using their weapons.

Weapons handling is one of the main hurdles in preparing an actor for battle.

“There could [be] over 500 supporting artists on set with bayonets fixed and firing blank rounds,” Biddiss said. “The blanks used are very powerful and can still do permanent damage, so if time is not invested in training it could all go horribly wrong.”

It’s also one of the things he notices other productions often don’t get right. Biddiss said he notices performers never reloading their weapons or always having their fingers on a gun’s trigger.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

MacKay in a scene from “1917.”

Throughout the production, the mindset of the performers has to be just like that of a soldier, Biddiss said.

“I like to impress on one aspect,” Biddiss said. “Fear and anger.”

“I tell actors and supporting artists that they need to show both feelings on their faces when about to act a battle sequence,” he said. “Fear of dying, but anger towards the people who have brought them to this situation.”

“There is nothing ninja about soldiering,” Biddiss tells the performers he trains. “You have one job. Close in and kill the enemy.”

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time Americans won a battle using only bayonets

The British position at Stony Point, New York was really just an attempt to force George Washington out of the mountains and into a pitched battle – one the British could win. The American War of Independence had been going on for years, and by 1778, the British were languishing in New York City. To get things moving, General Sir Henry Clinton sent 8,000 men north to keep the Americans from using King’s Ferry to cross the Hudson.

But the Americans weren’t stupid. Assaulting a fortified position against overwhelming numbers was a bad call no matter how you try to justify it. So when the British Army left Stony Point with just a fraction of its troops as a garrison, that’s when Washington saw his opportunity.


How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

If there’s anything Washington excelled at, it was picking his battles.

The setup was so grand and well-made, the British began to refer to their Stony Point position as the “Gibraltar of the West.” The fort used two lines of abatements, manned by roughly a third of the total force in each position. To top it all off, an armed sloop, the HMS Vulture, also roamed the Hudson to add to the artillery guns already defending Stony Point. It seemed like a suicide mission.

But when the bulk of the troops left to return to New York, Washington knew his odds were never going to get better than this. The British left only 600-700 troops at Stony Point. The defenses were intimidating, but Washington wasn’t fielding militia; he had battle-hardened Continental Soldiers, and a General they called “Mad Anthony” to lead them.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

This is not some tiny stream.

The American plan seemed as Mad as Gen. Anthony Wayne. The Americans discovered that the British abatements didn’t extend into the river during low tide, so they could just go around the defenses if they timed their attack right. They created a three-pronged plan. Major Hardy Murfree would lead a very loud diversionary attack against the British center and create alarm in the enemy camp. Meanwhile, Gen. Wayne and Col. Richard Butler would assault either side of the defenses and flank the British. But they had to do it in total silence.

They unloaded their muskets and fixed bayonets to surprise the British.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

They don’t call him “Mad” Anthony Wayne for nothing.

And the British were surprised. They were completely flanked on the sides of their abatements. As Murfree attacked the center, the other Americans completely rolled up the British defenses and cut off the regiments fighting Murfree in the center. They stormed the slopes of Stony Point and completely routed the British positions. They captured almost 500 enemy troops, and stores of food and weapons.

In a dispatch to Washington, Anthony wrote that the fort and its garrison were now theirs and that “Our officers men behaved like men who are determined to be free.”

MIGHTY GAMING

Fly combat missions for India’s Air Force in this new video game

Look out, Pakistan – archrival India is getting a slew of brand-new pilots ready to take to the skies to defend the Hindu homeland – at least, in the digital world. The Indian Air Force recently launched a new mobile game for Android and iOS that lets players fight in aerial combat and take off on air strike sorties, all from the palm of their hands.


India’s chief Air Force officer, Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, said the game gives India’s youth a realistic feel for the air force while teaching them more about it. They might even be motivated enough to think of the IAF as a viable career option, one that will be exhilarating at the same time.

“This new facilitation-cum-publicity pavilion and the IAF-themed mobile game have been designed to raise awareness among the youth like you, about the IAF, and inspire them to take up career in the Air Force,” he told a group of students at the game’s launch. The game is intended for kids 14 and older.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

Yes, there’s a helicopter mission.

This newest game is called “Indian Air Force: A Cut Above,” and allows the player to take to the wild blue yonder on ten missions, each comprised of three sorties to highlight the various roles the IAF can play in a wartime or contingency situation. It especially highlights air combat scenarios, but it isn’t limited to air combat. The game is supposed to be a realistic representation of the multilateral nature of India’s air forces.

“The various missions, include, airstrikes, air-to-air refueling, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief. Also, career navigator and augmented reality sections are available, which will give a realistic feel of the IAF’s assets to the user,” the Chief Marshal said.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

Defend India when the Red Skull attacks.

But this isn’t the only Indian Air Force game available to play on mobile. The IAF launched another game in 2014 called “Guardians of the Skies,” which received more than a million downloads. This new version has an upgraded platform, augmented reality integration and an entirely new phase of the game due out in October. The new version will include multiplayer capabilities, just in time for Indian aviation enthusiasts to celebrate Air Force Day behind the stick of an F-16.

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time Richard Nixon almost sparked an invasion of Venezuela

The Cold War was a worldwide war that often manifested in bizarre ways that aren’t fully understood, even today. In 1958, Richard Nixon was veep to Dwight Eisenhower’s Presidency and the Cold War was in full swing. Latin America was experiencing a tide of anti-American sentiment, and Nixon was sent to Venezuela on a goodwill tour to help stem that tide.

By the end of his trip, Ike almost had to send the Marines in to get him out.


How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

Crowds begin to form around the Nixon motorcade.

In truth, the U.S. government should have been prepared for what (at the time) was called the most violent attack ever perpetrated on a high American official while on foreign soil. The United States had just granted asylum to Venezuela’s recently overthrown dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez and awarded him the Legion of Merit. Nixon was on a goodwill tour of the entire continent and had already visited Uruguay and Ecuador, and it was well known that Nixon was on his way.

With the wounds of the departed Jimenez still fresh, anti-U.S. sentiment running high, and a long-planned visit from a high-ranking American official in the works, Nixon should have been ready for anything. Instead, he was largely “uninterested,” according to his biography. The VP and his wife arrived to an angry crowd of demonstrators who threw stones and spat at them. Instead of a planned visit and wreath laying at the Tomb of Simon Bolivar, the Nixons went right to the U.S. Embassy. It seems a crowd of Venezuelans had met the Vice-Presidential team at the tomb, attacked them, and destroyed the wreath anyway.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

The car’s “shatterproof” glass.

As their car made its way through the capital of Caracas, traffic began to build, slowing down Nixon’s motorcade. As the procession slowed, crowds of angry Venezuelans began to mob the vehicle, banging on the windows and shattering the glass. As they attempted to flip the car, the 12 Secret Service agents protecting the Veep drew their pistols and prepared to fire into the crowd. Nixon stopped them and ordered them to fire only on his order. According to Nixon, the Press Corps’ flatbed truck kicked into high gear and began to push through the crowd as protestors began to climb aboard. The truck cleared the way for Nixon’s car to escape to the Embassy.

When news of the incident reached Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Arleigh Burke, he immediately prepared “Operation Poor Richard,” an invasion of Venezuela using the 2nd Marine Division, the 101st Airborne, and the USS Tarawa Carrier Group, all coming from Guantanamo Bay. The Venezuelans weren’t going to have Dick Nixon to kick around.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

But despite a lack of protection from the Venezuelan military during the incident, they were omnipresent in the hours and days that followed. The streets had been cleared with tear gas, and infantry and armor units protected Nixon’s motorcade as it went to the airport the next day. The invasion of Venezuela would never have to materialize.

Nixon never forgot the events in Caracas that day, as the violence of the crowd would certainly have led to the death of almost everyone involved. His experience later helped form his foreign policy decisions regarding South America during his Presidency.

MIGHTY MOVIES

14 Top Gun call signs ranked, worst to best

Top Gun is an iconic movie, no doubt about it. The action flick, which came out in 1986, was a blockbuster hit and has stayed popular in the three decades since.


The sequel comes out this summer and its trailers have already made us crave the need…. the need for speed.

The movie’s lexicon has permeated into our everyday language over the years. We tell others to “Cover me, Goose,” “Be my wingman anytime,” or “take me to bed or lose me forever.”

If you have ever been stationed in or have visited San Diego, you might have sung “Great Balls of Fire” at Kansas City Barbeque, sang “Highway to the Danger Zone” as you watched jets fly around Miramar, or hummed, “Take my Breath Away” as you hung out on a beach in Oceanside. The San Diego Padres have even tried several times to make “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” their version of the Red Sox’s “Sweet Caroline.”

One of the most iconic parts of the movie has to be the call signs.

Everyone loves call signs. They can be badass, cool, funny, and always give some glimmer of personality to a person in a military that tends to dissuade individuality.

(When my unit first got to Iraq, our command floated the idea of letting us pick a call sign. For an afternoon, I went back and forth between “Indian Outlaw” and “Buckeye” (my parents were from India and I left Ohio State to enlist the Marines). Unfortunately, the movie “300” had recently come out, and after having every junior enlisted Marine fight over why they deserved to be called “Spartan” or “Leonidas,” the idea was scrapped, and we were assigned call signs based off our rank and last name.

Hence, instead of “Indian Outlaw,” I became “Echo4Juliet”…puke.)

On the flip side, Top Gun had some amazing call signs.

So let’s rank them from worst to first. We went off how awesome they sound, if they fit the character, and if they resonate with the audience. Here we go!

“Charlie”

Charlie, played by Kelly McGillis, was based on a real-life civilian mathematician and maritime air superiority expert Christine “Legs” Fox. Her character did showcase the amount of data and analytical studies that went into studying and perfecting the art of aerial warfare. But the call sign Charlie was pretty lazy (the character’s first name was Charlotte) and really didn’t add anything to her personality.

“Chipper”

Chipper is barely in the movie and is more of a seat filler. The lack of character doesn’t really give us much to wonder about his name. Doesn’t look very chipper to me.

“Merlin”

When you think of the name Merlin, you think of wizardry and magic. You would think that someone with that call sign would either be doing some type of aviation wizardry. Instead, Merlin, played by Academy Award winner Tim Robbins pretty much looks like he’s about to crap is pants most of the time. Merlin is more apt for Andy Dufrense because of his escape from Shawshank and less Robbins character in Top Gun.

“Slider”

“Slider…. You stink…” Does it have to do with how he gets with the ladies? Or sliding in behind the enemy? Did he slide off a runway when in training and end up in the backseat as a result? Or was he a college baseball player that just had one pitch? I don’t know why this name doesn’t sit well, but it just doesn’t.

“Cougar”

Maybe Cougar liked to go after older women. But, he probably was named after a ferocious animal. Its not a bad call sign, but not that original. His character, losing his edge, didn’t help.

“Wolfman”

Wolfman should have been called Cowboy. He wore a cowboy hat in class, after all. But he does have a personality that shines through all throughout the movie and comes across like an old school radio DJ ala Wolfman Jack. So that pushes him up on the list.

“Stinger”

“Your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash!” Lines like that make it obvious why Stinger is well, Stinger. His butt chewings would make him a great First Sergeant, and when he speaks, he means business. “And if you screw up just this much, you’ll be flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog shit out of Hong Kong!”

“Hollywood”

Hollywood looks good and acts the part. He’s got the shade and swagger and doesn’t seem to lose his cool. The name fits so much that after he is shot down and ends up ejecting and needed to be rescued out of the water, he still looks Hollywood-like.

“Sundown”

It might have to do with the fact he is African American. It might have to do with the fact when he flies in, the sun goes down, and darkness arrives. Or both.

Regardless it is an awesome name. The helmet is even more bad ass.

“Goose”

Image result for goose top gun

Goose normally would suck, but it fits its characters personality so well. A guy with a callsign, Cobra wouldn’t be serenading women in bars, yelling “Great Balls of Fire” after getting in trouble, or taking Polaroids of MiGs…. WHILE INVERTED. Anthony Edwards, the actor who played Goose, later gave insight on why writers came up with the name.

“Jester”

Image result for jester top gun

“You can run kid, but you can’t hide” Jester is probably the perfect name of an instructor. He is wily, knows all the tricks, and is keen to remind you of why you are the student while he is the teacher. He also will break the rules and then throw them back in your face when you break them. (He did go below the hard deck first…..)

Jester was played by veteran actor Michael Ironside, whose own last name should be a call sign.

“Iceman”

Image result for iceman top gun

“That’s right…. Ice…Man… I am dangerous.”

Iceman chomps his teeth at him.

Everyone in the military fashions themselves to be the Iceman type. Cool. Calm. Collected…and Cocky. You keep your cool under pressure and stick to your training and planning. Nothing gets under his skin, and he thrives at the hint of competition.

Iceman looks Maverick right in the face and tells him why he is dangerous but doesn’t go running to higher command. He takes it as a challenge and goes out and wins. The only time he starts to crack is when he’s taking on five MiGs by himself (and can you really blame him on that?)

“Viper”

Image result for viper top gun

Based on Vietnam veteran, Top Gun instructor, and technical advisor Rear Admiral Pete “Viper” Pettigrew (holy Harry Potter name), Viper is a bad ass based on a real-life bad ass.

Vipers might look slow and sluggish but will deliver a quick strike. In the same manner, Viper doesn’t go around yelling like Stinger or Jester. He is quiet and calm and gives off the demeanor of tranquility… until he is in the air.

There he makes short work of his pupils.

“Maverick”

Image result for maverick top gun iceman

Did you really think this name wasn’t going to be number one? Maverick has become synonymous with breaking the rules and flaunting the fact you’re doing it. It has been co-opted by politicians, someone you served with, and is now the #73 most popular boy’s name in America.

The name fits the character perfectly.

Jester : His fitness report says it all. Flies by the seat of his pants. Completely unpredictable.
Viper : He got you, didn’t he?
Jester : [pauses] Yeah.

Maverick knows what it takes to get the job done and has the talent to do it. He also does what drives a lot of the military brass (and Iceman) crazy. He thinks outside the box.

Once he is able to reconcile being a good wingman while still utilizing his talents, it is game over for the enemy MiGs. All we can do is enjoy the ride with the “oh crap” look that Merlin has.

Let us know if you had a great call sign in the military! Comment your call sign and why you got it!

Indian Outlaw… out.

Humor

5 of the sneakiest ways people try to fool the front gate MPs

We, the military community, generally operate between the lines. We have our sh*t together and it’s all standardized — it’s not only part of our culture, but in combat, this can save a life.


We are still people, however, and sometimes that means we may need to get a little creative in certain situations…like trying to get past the MPs at the gate.

Now, why you don’t have ID, is neither here nor there — these are five of the best ways to get through the gate in a pinch.

Related: 6 signs that you might be a veteran

Disclaimer: This post is purely for entertainment purposes. We Are The Mighty fully supports the law and would never recommend breaking rules…

5. Forgot your ID? Bring the MPs food.

It is extremely easy to leave your CAC in a card reader at work or the pair of pants from yesterday.

This isn’t a horribly difficult fix; just bring the cop some food. By food, I mean an actual meal of some sort. There is a really good chance that cop hasn’t had a good meal, and if they have, that meal is either hours to the rear or to the front of them. It doesn’t have to be extravagant — a pizza will do the trick.

Sidenote: Bringing donuts could actually turn your day into a sh*tshow, so be careful.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles
Actual authorized alternate form of ID.

Alternative: Show an alternate form of ID. That, together with a polite demeanor and some personal recognition should also work.

4. Trying to bring a visitor on base, after hours? Try the trunk.

Many bases have a curfew and/or prohibit overnight civilian overnight guests. This makes bringing home any friends you make during a night out on the town literally against regulation.

Another simple fix: have your friend rest in the trunk as you enter the base. For compounding points, bring the cop a Monster or Red Bull.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles
Mission: Success.

Alternative(s): Stop being cheap and get a room. Date someone with their own place. Promote yourself out of base housing.

3. Had a few drinks? Roll down the windows and pop Altoids.

Coming on base just a little bit drunk is a reality for a lot of service members (this actually is really dangerous and stupid so don’t do it JUST DON’T DO IT).

Great. You did it. Your next problem is that the MPs are just itching for anything to happen.

Chug water, roll down the windows a few miles out from the gate, and fill up on Altoids.

Also, make sure you turn off your headlights a reasonable distance from the gate, drive as straight as possible, and drive an appropriate speed.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles
Billy zigged when he should’ve zagged

Alternative: Don’t drink and drive, d*ck!

2. Hanging out with someone’s drunk spouse?

No matter the circumstance, the optics on this will never favor you, and if you are made by the MPs you very well may have started the end of your time in uniform. Cops know all the gossip on post simply by nature of being first responders in a micro-community.

The activity can be completely innocent but it will never look innocent. Before you can get into work on the next duty day, the word around town could easily be that you came through the gate engaged in all-out sex in the backseat and only stopped to give your ID to the MP.

The very best thing to do in this situation is be in a mixed group as much as possible.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles
How it looks driving someone’s drunk wife home.

Alternative: Don’t hang out with drunk married people.

1. Are you a chaplain driving around with empty beer cans and four scantily clad women?

Give the gate guard a fist bump and say the outreach program is working great.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

MIGHTY CULTURE

Soldier recalls serving with Medal of Honor recipient Travis Atkins

“He was a selfless leader, a brother and a friend.”

That is how Stuart Hollingsworth remembers Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins, the former 10th Mountain Division (LI) soldier who posthumously received the Medal of Honor during a ceremony at the White House on March 27, 2019.

Hollingsworth, a former staff sergeant assigned to 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, had first met Atkins a month before their deployment to Iraq in August 2006. He said that Atkins was originally with another company, but he was needed to serve as a team leader in D Company.


“He was training his previous team for combat, and was such a master of his craft, that he was able to step into another team leader role and earn the trust of everyone he met,” Hollingsworth said.

“My first impression of him was that this man was very much an authoritative leader. He led from the front and led by example — never asking anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do himself.”

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

Soldiers kneel to pay their respects during a memorial ceremony June 7, 2007 at Camp Striker for Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins, who was killed June 1, 2007 by a suicide bomber near Sadr Al-Yusufiyah, Iraq.

(Photo by Spc. Chris McCann, 2nd BCT PAO)

Hollingsworth said that theirs was a tight-knit team, and they developed a bond that would carry them forward into combat.

“Staff Sgt. Atkins was a huge proponent of team camaraderie and unity,” Hollingsworth said. “We would do everything as a team — we moved as a team, trained as a team, ate, slept — everything.”

With that, it was easy to learn everything there was to know about his teammates, and Hollingsworth said that Atkins spoke constantly about his son Trevor.

Also read: What you need to know about the solider receiving the Medal of Honor

“He was very much a family man, always talking about them,” Hollingsworth said. “I would also say that he probably loved his men almost as much, if not the same.”

That camaraderie and the love he had for his team is demonstrative of his actions on June 1, 2007, when Atkins sacrificed his life to shield his fellow soldiers from a suicide bomber. Atkins had engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the insurgent who had resisted a search, and then threw himself on top of the suicide bomber to bear the blast of the detonation.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

A soldier from 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, stands in front of the monument honoring 2-14 infantry soldiers who died in service to their nation.

(Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Hollingsworth said that every soldier learns the words to the Soldier’s Creed, but some of those words impact him more now because of Atkins.

“There’s that one phrase — ‘I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life’ — that has more meaning to me today than ever before,” he said.

In November 2007, Atkins’ name was among those added to the 2-14 infantry monument at Fort Drum. Atkins’ heroism received national attention when he was honored with the Distinguished Service Cross during a Veterans Day ceremony at Fort Drum in 2008.

Also read: This is the infantryman posthumously receiving the MoH

Hollingsworth had attended both ceremonies, but he said that words failed him upon meeting Trevor, who was 12 at the time.

“I was not able to adequately describe to Trevor how much I appreciated his father, what he meant to me and how truly great a man he was,” Hollingsworth said. “So being here at the Medal of Honor ceremony, I am incredibly grateful to be in the presence of the Atkins family. To have this opportunity to spend this time with them is a great honor.”

To learn more about Atkins and to watch the live webcast of today’s Medal of Honor ceremony, visit www.army.mil/medalofhonor/atkins.

MIGHTY GAMING

This gaming charity sends troops the greatest care packages

There’s nothing in this world that makes a deployed troop happier than opening a care package from the folks back home. Some of momma’s cookies, hygiene stuff, and little sentimental things are always appreciated. But everyone gets hyped the moment the MWR gets some new video games.


One of the unspoken realities of deployment life is, between missions, there’s almost nothing to do. Boredom causes complacency — and complacency is cause for concern. This is where Operation Supply Drop comes in.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles
When this is all you have between missions – video games are a life saver.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Khoa Pelczar)

Since 2010, Operation Supply Drop has impacted 471 deployed units, supporting over 361,271 troops. The care packages include some of the top video games that troops miss while overseas, consoles to play them on, peripherals to enjoy them, and some coffee to help work gaming into their schedule.

Glenn D. Banton, Sr. CEO & Executive Director of Operation Supply Drop, tells We Are The Mighty “Being able to provide a positive impact and morale boost to our troops at this scale is a huge driver for OSD. What really keeps us going is that many of these men and women then become active members in our community programs when redeploying back home. OSD provides relevant services to the military community during service, through transition, and into civilian life.”

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles
And as a leader, it’s always great to know exactly where your troops are… playing video games at the MWR.
(Photo by Maj. Erik Johnson)

While this is their most well-known program, it’s only about half of their mission statement. They’re also making great things happen in a program they call Respawn, through which they supply injured troops at military medical centers around the world with video games. There have been many studies conducted on the physical and mental health benefits of playing video games. Mentally-challenging and thought-provoking games have been instrumental in assisting those who sustain traumatic brain injuries.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles
Video games are one of the most effective, and most positively received, rehabilitation tools at Fort Sam Houston.
(Photo by Mr. Steven Galvan)

Other amazing programs run through Operation Supply Drop include Heroic Forces, which provides one-on-one professional development support to troops leaving the service; Thank You Deployments, where the community nominates fellow veterans for VIP events, like attending the E3 Expo or meeting sports legends; and an awesome, recent addition in Games to Grunts, which gives free game codes to veterans. There’s no catch: Just sign in with a verified account from ID.me and you get some pretty sweet games.

Insurgency is a lot of fun, but the one I’ve personally been hooked on is Party Hard.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Service members face off in a battle of strength

Members of the U.S. military community competed against one another Sept. 29, 2019 in another installment of Okinawa’s Strongest: Battle of the South on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.

The event was held to determine who were some of the strongest men and women on Okinawa.

“Today went great,” explained Taryn Miller, an adult sports specialist for Marine Corps Community Services. “The weather was awesome. The competitors had a lot of energy. There was a lot of camaraderie along with a competitive edge among everybody.”

Okinawa residents and service members traveled from all across the island to participate in this event.


The competitors were divided into five different weight classes. Two female weight classes and three male weight classes.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles


U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Ian Dernbach, a heavy equipment operator with III Marine Expeditionary Force Support Battalion, lifts an atlas stone during the Okinawa’s Strongest: Battle of the South, Sept. 29, 2019 on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Brennan Beauton)

The first event was the yoke carry, which consisted of a competitor carrying a set weight 50 yards in a race against time. The second was a farmer’s carry 100 yards followed by 10 log cleans and presses for time. The third event was the atlas stone lift, which involved the competitors lifting three different stones and placing them on a platform for time.

Competitors with the highest combined score in their weight class at the end of the competition were declared the winners.

The champion from the female weight class up to 150 pounds was U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Kathryn Quandt, a future operations officer with 9th Engineer Support Battalion.

The champion from the male weight class up to 150 pounds was U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Ezekiel Garza, a motor transportation mechanic with III Marine Expeditionary Force Support Battalion.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Ezekiel Garza, a motor transportation mechanic with III Marine Expeditionary Force Support Battalion, executes a log clean and press during the Okinawa’s Strongest: Battle of the South, Sept. 29, 2019 on Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Brennan Beauton)

The champion from the male 150-to-200 pound weight class was U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Kermeen, a faculty advisor with the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy on Camp Hansen, and the champion from the male over-200-pound weight class was U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Ian Dernbach, a heavy equipment operator with III MEF Support Battalion.

The island-wide Okinawa’s Strongest competition will feature winners from both the Battle of the North and South and will take place in November 2019 on Camp Foster.

“Today’s event had a lot of similar movements that you will see in the event coming up in November 2019 which will have eight different stations as opposed to the three that we had here today,” said Miller. “This was a great way for competitors to get a feel for what it’s going to be like at the big one.”

This article originally appeared on Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Here’s what the GOT creator thinks about the finale

Game of Thrones may have come to an end on HBO Sunday night but the saga continues off-screen, in the yet-unfinished series of books penned by George R.R. Martin which inspired the hit show. On May 20, 2019, the author reacted to the finale and also hinted at what’s to come for fans.

“Let me say this much — last night was an ending, but it was also a beginning,” Martin wrote in a post on his website, Not a Blog. “There are characters who never made it onto the screen at all, and others who died in the show but still live in the books… if nothing else, the readers will learn what happened to Jeyne Poole, Lady Stoneheart, Penny and her pig, Skahaz Shavepate, Arianne Martell, Darkstar, Victarion Greyjoy, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Aegon VI, and a myriad of other characters both great and small that viewers of the show never had the chance to meet.”


How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

George R. R. Martin speaking at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con International, for “Game of Thrones”, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

The 70-year-old went on to add that he’s still working on the next installment in the series, The Winds of Winter, which was originally supposed to be published in 2015. “Winter is coming, I told you, long ago… and so it is,” he promised. “[The next book] is very late, I know, I know, but it will be done. I won’t say when, I’ve tried that before, only to burn you all and jinx myself… but I will finish it.”

And that won’t even be the last book. Martin said that fans can also expect A Dream of Spring to round out what he thinks will be a total of 3,000 pages between the final two reads.

As for whether the books will end the same way as the show, Martin remained vague, saying, “well… yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes.”

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This Nazi army was made entirely of Soviet POWs

It’s sometimes hard to remember that World War II wasn’t actually a single, globe-spanning conflict. It was really about a dozen smaller conflicts that had all been openly fought (or at least simmering) in the months and years leading up to the German invasion of Poland — the moment most historians point to as the beginning of the war.


Members of the Russian Liberation Army stand together in 1943. The “POA” patch features the Cyrillic-language abbreviation of the unit’s name in Russian.

(Karl Muller, Bundesarchiv Bild)

One of those long-simmering conflicts was between the Soviets in Russia and the Fascists in Germany. Both countries descended into harsh autocracies between World Wars I and II, but their leaders were deeply distrustful of one another. And, their populations were split as to who the worse evil was, even during the war.

That’s probably why somewhere around 200,000 Russian soldiers were recruited from prisoner of war camps and Soviet defections to form the Russian Liberation Army, a military force of Russian citizens who fought for Hitler against Stalin.

The head of the unit, abbreviated from Russian as the ROA, was a decorated Soviet officer, Lt. Gen. Andrey Vlasov. Vlasov and his men fought well against the Nazi invasion of Russia.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

A Leningrad building burns after a German air raid in World War II. The city was besieged by German forces, and Lt. Gen. Andrey Vlasov was in charge of a large segment of the forces sent to free it.

(RIA Novosti Archive)

Vlasov commanded the 4th Mechanized Corps, and he and his men retook multiple cities from Nazi forces during counterattacks, escaped encirclement at one point, and even helped save Moscow at one point. His face was printed in newspapers as a “defender of Moscow” and he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.

But he was then placed in command of an army and sent to break the siege at Leningrad. He failed, though some historians point to the failure of other commanders to exploit openings that Vlasov created. Regardless, most of his army was eventually slaughtered and he was captured.

While imprisoned in prisoner of war camps, Vlasov was known for making statements against Stalin. Eventually, this led to Vlasov advocating for a new military unit made up of Russians and commanded by Russians — but fighting for Germany.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

Russian defector to Germany Lt. Gen. Andrey Vlasov speaks with volunteers in Germany in 1944.

(Bundesarchiv Bild)

This wasn’t entirely crazy. There were actually a lot of Soviet citizens who hated Stalin and communism, and some of them saw the German invasion as a liberation. Not nearly as many as Hitler had hoped, but enough that some estimates posit as many as one million Russian men eventually opted to fight for Germany, with 1 in 10 prisoners captured on the coasts of Normandy on D-day being Soviet citizens.

After months in POW camps, Vlasov was able to convince Germany to create the ROA. He wrote pamphlets and other materials to convince more Soviet POWs to join, and these were also dropped as leaflets over Soviet formations to trigger defections. The main selling point was that, after the war, Germany would allow for a free and democratic Russia.

Unfortunately for Vlasov, the Germans still barely trusted him. Most Russians recruited into the ROA served under the command of other officers, including German ones. Vlasov was promoted to general but only put in command of the ROA against Soviet forces one time. On February 11, 1945, Vlasov led the ROA against the Red Army as the Soviets pressed against a Polish river.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

Russian defector Gen. Andrey Vlasov meets with senior Nazi leaders, including Joseph Goebbels at far right.

(Bundesarchiv Bild)

The ROA performed well, but was ultimately withdrawn and never sent into full-scale battle again. As Germany continued to lose ground, many in the ROA switched sides again, and fought their way through German units towards the western Allies, hoping that British and American forces would accept a surrender and request for asylum.

After all, they had no delusions about what the Soviets would do to captured Russian soldiers who fought against Stalin and the Red Army.

Unfortunately for the ROA, most western officers ultimately gave in the the political pressures at the time and allowed Soviet troops to arrest the defectors, including Vlasov. Approximately 33,000 men were handed over between May and September, 1945. Most would be executed or sent to the Gulag until they grew old or died.

Vlasov was executed by hanging on August 1, 1946.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force identifies pilots involved in deadly T-38 crash

The Air Force has identified the pilots involved in Nov. 13, 2018’s T-38 Talon crash at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.

Capt. John F. Graziano, 28, an instructor pilot with the 87th Flying Training Squadron, was killed in the crash, officials said. Graziano was from Elkridge, Maryland. The crash was the 5th involving a T-38 in just the last 12 months.

Capt. Mark S. Palyok, also an instructor pilot with the unit, was injured in the crash. Palyok was transported to Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Texas, where he was treated for his injuries. He was released Nov. 14, 2018, officials said in an announcement on the official Laughlin Facebook page.


“Knowing how everyone is affected by this tragedy, my immediate concern is making sure that every member of our Laughlin family is okay,” Col. Lee Gentile, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, said in the post. “Together, we are Laughlin and now is the time that we stand together to take care of one another.”

The Air Force T-38 Talon went down at 7:40 p.m. local time on Nov. 13, 2018, at the base, officials said. Emergency crews responded to the scene.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

“Our investigators are doing everything possible to ensure they investigate this incident to the fullest,” Gentile said.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

Capt. John Graziano was killed Nov. 13, 2018, in a T-38 Talon crash.

(Air Force via Facebook)

The 87th is responsible for training student pilots and, to include specialized undergraduate pilot training for the active-duty, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard as well as foreign allied air forces.

The latest crash comes as the Air Force is on the path to receive new trainer jets to replace its current Northrop Grumman-made T-38s.

There have been four previous crashes involving T-38s in the last 12 months, one of them deadly.

In September 2018, the service awarded Boeing Co. a .2 billion contract to build the service’s next aircraft for training future pilots.

The new trainer cannot come too soon for the service as it struggles to maintain its aging Talons, as well as its T-6 Texan II aircraft.

The Texan has had its share of problems as well.

The Air Force cleared its fleet of T-6 trainers to resume training operations at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph after a “brief pause” following a crash near the base Sept. 18, 2018.

Both pilots safely ejected from the aircraft. The Texan was also grounded in February 2018 after ongoing reports of pilots suffering breathing problems.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

A French company is developing target-acquiring drones for tanks

Remotely piloted aircraft, more commonly known as drones, have become an established part of warfare, serving as both intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance (ISR for short) assets as well as attack platforms.

More recently, smaller man-portable drones have been proposed as a way to provide infantry units with a faster organic method of scanning the battlefield around them and relaying critical intelligence and data back to infantry leaders. Now, Nexter — a French defense contractor — wants to take drone usage in a different direction and attach them to heavy armored vehicles.

More specifically… tanks.


How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

The gunner’s station in a Leclerc tank

(Wikimedia Commons photo by Rama)

The theory behind fitting out tanks with small drones is maddeningly simple — just tether a drone to the hull or turret of the tank, and integrate scanners and sensors aboard the drone into the tank’s onboard computers. This allows the drone to seamlessly pass what it sees to the tank’s crew, and allows them to use the data to get a visual on the enemy before the enemy sees them, or to dial in their shots for better effects on target.

Using drones, tanks could shoot “blind” out of a defilade position, allowing them to mail accurate shots downrange without having to break out of cover or expose themselves to enemy fire and retaliation.

Nexter, the developer of the Leclerc main battle tank, states that its drone, which will be fully unveiled later this year at the 2019 International Defense Exhibition Conference in the UAE, will be able to designate targets for the Leclerc, and will likely work in tandem with the company’s upcoming POLYNEGE and M3M “smart” 120 mm shells.

Given that the idea and its surrounding development is in full swing over in Europe, it’s only a matter of time until target-designating drones become an asset for American armored elements, especially the Army and Marine Corps’ M1A2 Abrams tank units, which have seen action in both Afghanistan and Iraq in the past 15 years.

How ‘1917’ military advisor prepares actors to fight WWI’s devastating battles

(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Ted Banks)

In recent years, both the Army and General Dynamics Land Systems (which supports, produces, and rebuilds M1A2s) have made moves towards developing methods for the Abrams to not only interface with drones, but also take control of them and use them to attack targets in a dynamic combat environment.

With a concurrent push for guided artillery munitions and “smart” shells for tanks, it’s only a matter of a few short years until the Department of Defense brings in Nexter’s tethered drone concept and implements it across the board with the latest iteration of the Abrams — the M1A2SEP V4.