Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered - We Are The Mighty
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Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

When Ann Mills-Griffiths sent out her regular National League of POW/MIA Families newsletter in September 2018, she included an announcement that Navy Cmdr. James B. Mills, missing in Vietnam since 1966, had been recovered, his remains positively identified by the Pentagon.

She did not mention that he was her own brother.

“DPAA [Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency] announced on 8/24/18 that CDR James B. Mills, USNR, CA, was accounted for on 8/20/18,” Mills-Griffiths’ simple announcement read.

The newsletter said that the accounting for Mills and another MIA from Vietnam, Air Force Col. Richard A. Kibbey, “brings the number still missing from the Vietnam War down to 1,594.”


So why did Mills-Griffiths withhold that the latest identification was that of Jimmy, her older brother by just 11 months?

“It would’ve been wildly inappropriate,” she told Military.com in an interview.

In her role as head of a POW/MIA advocacy group, “I’ve never mentioned my brother’s case in any official capacity,” she said.

Fighting for all families

Given her position, in which she works closely with the government on recoveries and policy, Mills-Griffiths said she didn’t like to draw special attention to her brother’s case.

“The other part is we never expected to get my brother accounted for — ever,” she said.

At age 77, Mills-Griffiths said she had no plans to retire from her position at the League, where she currently serves as chairman, just because her brother has been found.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

Ann Mills-Griffiths, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the National League of POW/MIA Families.

She acknowledges that she has been combative, and at times controversial, in pressing various administrations and defense secretaries over the years for a full accounting on the missing.

She has also become a lightning rod for other advocacy groups and what she calls the “nut fringe.”

She has been outspoken in accusing some groups of raising false hopes among the families that their loved ones would come back alive, if only the so-described appeasers and bureaucrats in government would get out of the way.

Mills-Griffiths once had a staff of seven. She now has just one staffer, but she dismissed any suggestion of stepping down as head of the League.

“Why would I do that just because of my brother? I have to keep [DPAA] on the right track,” she said. “I’m still trying to make sure DPAA is informed and going in the right direction.”

Her longevity with the issue has proven invaluable to the government in getting more cooperation from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, according to DPAA officials.

Despite Mills-Griffiths’ reticence to give her brother special attention in her official role, he still got a hero’s welcome back home. At California’s Bakersfield High School, where Mills lettered in three sports for the “Drillers” and was active in student government before graduating in 1958, a welcome home event in his honor featured current students.

They paraded on California Avenue in front of the school, sang the national anthem, waved flags and chanted “Once a Driller, Always a Driller,” Bakersfield.com reported.

“This is a very teachable moment, and the kids are embracing it big time,” said history instructor Ken Hooper.

“If he was part of my family, I would want to welcome him home,” senior Kareli Medina said. “He’s a Driller. We are his family.”

“That was amazing,” Mills-Griffiths said of the rally at the school where her late father, E.C. Mills, was once vice principal. “It was really something that they took that up and had that nice patriotic demonstration. Nicely done, guys.”

A “miracle” discovery

For 52 years, the rib bone of an American had been at the bottom of the South China Sea in shallow waters off the North Vietnamese coastal village of Quynh Phuong.

The rib had been there since Sept. 21, 1966, when a Navy F-4B Phantom from Fighter Squadron 21, flying off the carrier Coral Sea on an armed reconnaissance mission to North Vietnam, disappeared from radar without a “Mayday” or contact with other aircraft. The reasons for the disappearance are still unknown.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

A U.S. Navy McDonnell F-4B-21-MC Phantom II (BuNo 152218) of Fighter Squadron VF-21 “Free Lancers” flying in Vietnam.

From 1993-2003, Defense Department teams conducted a total of 15 investigations in a fruitless effort to determine what had happened to the aircraft and where it went down.

Everything changed in 2006, when a fisherman from the village snagged something in his net. He pulled up what turned out to be part of a cockpit canopy.

Joint field activities by DPAA’s forensics and scuba teams resumed, including five underwater investigations, the agency said in a release. More parts of the aircraft were pulled up.

In 2011, the Air Force Life Science Equipment Laboratory, now part of DPAA, concluded that the aircraft was the one flown by pilot Capt. James Bauder, then 35, of La Canada, California, and his radar intercept officer, Mills — who would have been 78 on Aug. 31.

In 2017, the recovery teams found bone material. And in June 2018, DPAA determined through DNA analysis that the remains were those of Capt. Bauder.

The teams had found not a trace of Mills’ remains. Mills-Griffiths said the family had long ago accepted that Mills’ remains would never be found, but were grateful that the F-4B had been located and Bauder’s family had been notified.

“None of us ever had any of what folks would call ‘false hopes,'” she said. “What are the chances? It’s not like we knew he was on the ground, it’s not like anybody last saw him alive … Our chances of ever knowing anything specific were not high and we knew that all along.”

Mills-Griffiths said she learned earlier this year that divers were about to go down on the site again.

“If you don’t get it, that’s still the last time I want you to go there,” Mills-Griffiths said she told DPAA.

In June 2018, another DPAA excavation turned up new remains.

“It turned out to be a rib bone, and they were able to get a cut and take a DNA match quickly,” Mills-Griffiths said. “It was a virtual miracle.”

New headstone at Arlington

Cmdr. James Mills, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, joined the Navy through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. His eyesight wasn’t good enough to become a pilot under the standards of the time, and so he became a backseat Radar Intercept Officer on Phantoms, Mills-Griffiths said.

He was a lieutenant junior grade when his plane went missing on his second tour off Vietnam.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

Navy Cmdr. James B. Mills.

He flew off the carrier Midway on his first tour. He did not have a spouse or children.

Mills-Griffiths said her brother had volunteered to return “so that other radar officers who had wives and kids wouldn’t have to go back.”

“He was not an optimist” about the war, as were so many others who served at the time, she said. “He believed in what he was doing, even though he didn’t believe in the way the war was being run.”

Mills-Griffiths said she can’t remember how many times she’s been to Vietnam and the region.

“I stopped counting at 32,” she said.

In that time, the Vietnamese officials she first knew as junior officers and diplomats have come into leadership positions, she said.

Her brother already has a place at Arlington National Cemetery. The headstone over an empty grave for James B. Mills simply reads “In Memory.”

DPAA officials said that Mills’ name also is listed on the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for,” DPAA said.

Mills-Griffiths said a ceremony for the burial of her brother’s remains will be held at Arlington on June 24 2019. The headstone will be replaced with a traditional one listing his name, rank, date of birth and date of death on Sept. 21, 1966.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day will be observed on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018.

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

Articles

Navy orders stand-down of littoral combat ships after breakdowns

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered
The littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) underway in the Pacific Ocean | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Keith DeVinney


After the littoral combat ship USS Freedom sustained major engine damage July 11 because a seal malfunction allowed seawater to seep in, the commander of Naval Surface Forces quietly ordered all LCS crews to observe a stand-down, halting operations to review procedures and engineering standards.

“Due to the ongoing challenges with littoral combat ships, I ordered an engineering stand-down for LCS squadrons and the crews that fall under their command,” Vice Adm. Tom Rowden said in a statement. “These stands down allowed for time to review, evaluate and renew our commitment to ensuring our crews are fully prepared to operate these ships safely.”

The reviews were completed by Aug. 31, Navy officials announced Monday, adding that every sailor in each LCS crew with a role in engineering will observe retraining.

The training, officials said, will take place over the next 30 days. During that time, leadership of the Navy’s Surface Warfare Officer’s School in Newport, Rhode Island, will review the current LCS training program and recommend any other changes they see fit.

The school’s engineers will also supervise current and future training efforts. They will develop a knowledge test and specialized training for LCS engineers, to be deployed to them by Oct. 5. A separate, comprehensive LCS engineering review is being conducted by the commander of SWOS, Capt. David A. Welch, and is expected to take between 30 and 60 days.

“From there, more adjustments may be made to the engineering training pipeline,” officials with Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.

The Freedom, the first of its class made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Marinette Marine, returned to its San Diego homeport Aug. 3 to address the damage it sustained to one of its diesel propulsion engines, which Navy officials said will require an engine rebuild or replacement.

It remains unclear what caused another LCS, the USS Coronado, to be sidelined with damage to one of its flexible couplings assemblies Aug. 29.

Upon its return to Pearl Harbor Sept. 4, the Coronado was met by a group of maintenance experts sent by Rowden to inspect the ship, officials said. The experts investigated the ship’s engineering program, but no information has been released about the cause of the problem or whether it might be related to previous engineering casualties.

“A preliminary investigation will provide an initial assessment and procedural review of the situation, and any shortfalls will be addressed quickly to get the ship fixed and back on deployment,” officials said.

The Coronado, so far the only trimaran-hulled Independence-variant LCS made by Austal USA to suffer an engineering casualty, had been just two months into its maiden deployment.

The Freedom and the Coronado are the third and fourth littoral combat ships to experience engineering casualties inside a 12-month span.

Last December, the LCS Milwaukee broke down during a transit from San Diego and Halifax, Nova Scotia when a clutch failed to disengage when the ship switched gears. The ship had to cut short the transit in order to be towed to Joint Base Little Creek, Virginia, for repairs.

In January, the LCS Fort Worth was sidelined in Singapore when it broke down in what officials said was a casualty caused by engineers failing to properly apply lubrication oil to the ship’s combining gears. After eight months in port in Singapore for repairs, the Fort Worth departed for its San Diego homeport in August.

Articles

America says goodby to its first hispanic Navy admiral, Diego Hernandez

Retired Navy Vice Adm. Diego Hernandez, who was the first Hispanic-American to serve as vice commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, has died at the age of 83.


According to a report by the Miami Herald, Hernandez, a Vietnam War veteran who was shot down twice and awarded the Silver Star among other decorations, passed away on July 7 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Hernandez was best known as the Navy’s highest-ranking officer of Hispanic descent.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered
A Navy F-4 Phantom drops bombs over Vietnam. Hernandez flew 147 missions in the Vietnam War, and was shot down twice. (US Navy photo)

Born in 1934, Hernandez came from a working-class family in Puerto Rico. In 1955, after graduating from the Illinois Institute of Technology, he entered the Navy. In 1956, he was designated a Naval Aviator. After flying 147 combat missions over Vietnam, he attended the Naval War College and served on the faculty.

His later career included tours commanding VF-84 (the famous “Jolly Rogers”), Air Wing Six, the carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), and the Third Fleet.

During his time at the Third Fleet, Hernandez played a major role in integrating Alaska into United States Pacific Command and turning that force into one that was ready to take on the Soviets around the Aleutian Islands and off the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered
USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67), one of the commands Vice Adm. Hernandez held during his 36-year military career. (US Navy photo)

“Duke’s task was to turn this ‘McHale’s Navy’-style lash-up into a proper combat-oriented staff. It fell to Duke to awaken the whole Pacific Fleet to this, shall we say, cold reality,” retired Navy Capt. Charles Connor told the Miami Herald.

After commanding the Third Fleet, Hernandez took the post as vice commander as NORAD, which also made him the deputy commander of Space Command.

“He had his hands on the red buttons with all our atomic warfare,” former Miami mayor Maurice Ferré told the Miami Herald.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered
Adm. Hernandez was deputy commander of NORAD, which included the Cheyenne Mountain Complex. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

After his retirement, he served with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Minority Veterans as a member of the Advisory Committee. He also helped plan for the future transportation needs of Miami-Dade County, highlighted by the opening of the Port Miami Tunnel in 2014.

Admiral Hernandez’s funeral will be held Saturday at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church in Miami Lakes.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Interview with ‘Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation’ with former Special Agent Luis Elizondo


In December of 2017, The New York Times published a stunning front-page exposé about the Pentagon’s mysterious UFO program, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). Featuring an interview with a former military intelligence official and Special Agent In-Charge, Luis Elizondo, who confirmed the existence of the hidden government program, the controversial story was the focus of worldwide attention.


Previously run by Elizondo, AATIP was created to research and investigate Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) including numerous videos of reported encounters, three of which were released to a shocked public in 2017. Elizondo resigned after expressing to the government that these UAPs could pose a major threat to our national security, and not enough was being done to deal with them or address our potential vulnerabilities.

Now, as a part of HISTORY’s groundbreaking new six-part, one-hour limited series “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation,” Elizondo is speaking out for the first time with Tom DeLonge, co-founder and President of To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science, and Chris Mellon, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Intelligence, to expose a series of startling encounters and embark on fascinating new investigations that will urge the public to ask questions and look for answers. From A+E Originals, DeLonge serves as executive producer.

In collaboration with We Are The Mighty and HISTORY, I had the opportunity to sit down with this warrior for an interview.

Series premieres Friday, May 31, at 10/9c on HISTORY.

Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation | Premieres Friday May 31st 10/9c | HISTORY

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Luis Elizondo – Director of Global Security & Special Programs

Luis Elizondo is a career intelligence officer whose experience includes working with the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, the National Counterintelligence Executive, and the Director of National Intelligence. As a former Special Agent In-Charge, Elizondo conducted and supervised highly sensitive espionage and terrorism investigations around the world. As an intelligence Case Officer, he ran clandestine source operations throughout Latin America and the Middle East.

Most recently, Elizondo managed the security for certain sensitive portfolios for the U.S. Government as the Director for the National Programs Special Management Staff. For nearly the last decade, Elizondo also ran a sensitive aerospace threat identification program focusing on unidentified aerial technologies. Elizondo’s academic background includes Microbiology, Immunology, and Parasitology, with research experience in tropical diseases.

Elizondo is also an inventor who holds several patents.

Secretive program tracked UFOs for 5 years

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What was it like operating under high levels of secrecy regarding AATIP?

I think in my position as a career intelligence officer in the department of defense, I am used to working discreetly on programs of a national security nature. I think the very role of intelligence tends to be secretive, obviously for the purposes of Operational Security (OPSEC), you don’t want to inadvertently compromise your activities or efforts and have those fall into the hands of a foreign adversary. You know, it was just another day at the office.

UFO spotted by US fighter jet pilots, new footage reveals – BBC News

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Has AATIP found any man-made threats?

Well, what I think AATIP was successful in identifying signatures and performance characteristics that go beyond the typical profile of adversarial type technologies. I know from that perspective AATIP was very helpful because you’re looking at performance characteristics including; extreme acceleration, hypersonic velocities, low observability, multi-median or trans-median travel and, frankly, positive hits without any type of propulsion or flight surfaces or wings.

Put that into context of what you’re observing electro-optically on radar and what’s being reported by the military eyewitnesses. I think you have to pause for a minute and scratch your head thinking ‘you’re not looking at a conventional technology.’

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

A+E Network

What kind of repercussions are there with providing the public with this type of information?

Well, I can’t answer on behalf of the government. Obviously, there are some individuals that remained in the department that may not appreciate what I did or how I did it. At the end of the day, if the information is unclassified and is of potential national security concern, I think the public has a right to know. Keep in mind that at no point in time were [any] sources or methods compromised, vocational data or any other type of data, [that] we try to keep out of the hands of foreign adversaries.

Keep in mind, had the system worked [from] the beginning I wouldn’t have had to resign. I resigned out of a sense of loyalty and duty to the department of defense. I tried to work within the system to inform my boss, General Mattis at the time. This is the man who was the secretary of defense, and my experience with him in combat was he was a man who wants more information, not less. We didn’t have the ability to report certain information or aspects of AATIP up the chain of command to the boss — that was a problem.

Sometimes if you want to fix something, you have to go outside of the system to fix it. That’s my perspective anyway.

Let’s not forget that secretary Mattis did almost the exact same thing almost a year later, he had to resign for reasons that he thought were important to him.

UFO spotted by US fighter jet pilots, new footage reveals – BBC News

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Project Blue Book insisted that UFOs were not a threat to national security, however, decades later your findings tell otherwise. What is responsible for this shift?

Do I think they’re a threat? They could be if they wanted to be.

Let me give you a very succinct analogy: Let’s say at night you go to lock your front door, you don’t expect any problems, but you lock it anyways just to be extra safe. You lock your windows, and you turn on your alarm system, and you go to bed. You do this every morning, and let’s say one morning after you wake up, you’re walking downstairs, and you find muddy footprints in your living room.

Nothing has been taken, no one is hurt, but despite you locking the front doors, the windows, and turning on the alarm system — there are muddy footprints in your living room. The question is: is that a threat?

Well, I don’t know, but it could be if it wanted to be.

For that reason, it’s imperative from a national security perspective that we better understand what it is we’re seeing.

My job at AATIP was very simple: [identify] what it is and how it works, not to determine who is behind the wheel or where they’re from or what their intentions are. What I’m saying is that other people who are smarter than me should figure out those answers.

To me, a threat is a threat, until I know something isn’t a threat, in the Department of Defense, we have to assume it is a threat. The primary function of the Department of Defense is to fight and win wars, we’re not police officers, we don’t go to places to protect and serve. I hate to say it but our job is to kill as many bad guys as possible, so from that perspective, if this was not potentially a threat it would be something someone else should look at — There are different agencies out there such as Health and Human Services, DHS, FAA, and State Department.

This is something that is flying in our skies with impunity. It has the ability to fly over our combat air space and control overall combat theaters, potentially over all of our cities and there is not much we can do about it.

I have to assume it’s a threat.

Keeping in mind that if a Russian or Chinese aircraft entered out airspace the first thing we’d do is scramble F-22s and go intercept it and it would be front page on CNN. [These things, however,] because they don’t have tail numbers, insignia on their wings or tails — they don’t even have wings or tails [at all], it’s crickets. This is occurring, and no one wants to have a conversation about it. That, to me is a greater threat than the threat itself because we can’t allow ourselves [to talk about it] despite the mounting evidence that is there.

Is there anything the public can do to put pressure on our leaders to have a more appropriate response?

First of all, in defense of the Department of Defense, people like to blame DoD “oh, these guys said it was weather balloons or swamp gas” but the reason why there is a stigma is because we made it an issue and made it taboo as American citizens and therefore the Department of Defense is simply responding to the stigma we placed on it. The DoD, for many years, wanted to look at this but the social stigma and taboo, put a lot of pressure on the DoD not to report these things. It’s a shame because of a laundry list of secondary, tertiary issues that ensue if you ignore a potential problem.

I think DoD, in defense of our national security apparatus, nobody wanted to own this portfolio because it was fraught with so much stigma. million of taxpayer dollars were used to support this and it’s problematic because how do you, as a DoD official, go to your boss and say “there’s something in our skies, we don’t know what it is, we don’t know how it works, and by the way, there is not a damned thing we can do about it.” That’s not a conversation that’s easy to have.

Now imagine having that conversation with a man named “Mad Dog Mattis.”

You want to have answers.

In this particular case, we didn’t have enough data. We need more data.

The only way you’re going to get more data is by letting the Department of Defense and Congress know that the American people support this endeavor. The reason they’re not going to respond to it is if they’re [only] getting calls from their constituents saying “what are you doing wasting my taxpayer money?”

I think that once the American people decide this is an issue that should be a priority, then I think the national security apparatus would respond accordingly.

Do you have any advice for service members that may witness strange events? How would you advise them to come forward?

I would advise them [by] letting them know that there are efforts underway in looking at this and they should report this. The Navy and the Air Force are changing their policies to be able to report this information to a cognoscente authority without the fear of repercussions.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

A+E Network

What could the readers of We Are The Mighty expect from your work in the future?

The truth.

That’s it, the truth.

By the way, there are areas which are classified, and I can’t talk about, but I only say that to you off caveat. I don’t like to speculate, I prefer to just keep it to the facts. As a former special agent, for me, it’s always just about the facts. Let’s collect as much data as we can and let the American people decide what this information means to them.

Series premieres Friday, May 31, at 10/9c on HISTORY.

Articles

Lawmakers want some aircraft carriers moved to Florida

Florida’s congressional delegation has restarted its campaign to move a Norfolk-based aircraft carrier to Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville.


In a March 20 letter to Jim Mattis and acting Secretary Sean Stackley, the legislators argued — as they have in the past — that homeporting all the East Coast carrier fleet in Hampton Roads is dangerous.

“The risk to our current and future carrier fleet far exceeds the one-time costs of making Mayport CVN capable,” wrote the state’s 29-member delegation.

Members of Virginia’s congressional delegation who serve on House or Senate armed services committees said in statements Wednesday the huge cost of building shore facilities needed to keep at carrier at Mayport are prohibitive.

“I think it is inconceivable to consider spending almost a billion dollars on replicating a capability that already exists in Norfolk,” said Rep. Rob Wittman, who heads the House panel’s seapower subcommittee that oversees Naval operations. “As I consider options as to how to build a 355-ship , I can think of any number of other critical investments that are more important to the war fighter than building redundant infrastructure in Mayport.”

Senator Tim Kaine, a member of Senate Armed Services, agreed.

“Moving a carrier to Florida would cost a lot, stripping money away from other key defense priorities, without advancing our most pressing security goal. That is why past efforts to do this have always failed,” said the Virginia Democrat.

Left oken by both Florida and Virginia lawmakers is that hosting carriers represents a huge economic boost to a homeport. With the ship comes thousands of sailors, construction projects and lucrative support operations.

Mayport had once hosted conventionally-powered carriers, including the now-retired John F. Kennedy and Forrestal. However, all of today’s carriers are nuclear-powered, requiring more sophisticated base operations.

The Florida legislators argued the “over leverages risk to our carrier fleet” with one Atlantic homeport — particularly because it’s located near Newport News Shipbuilding, the sole builder of carriers.

“Not only are our operational CVN (carriers) in jeopardy, but our future capital ships under construction are practically co-located, risking tens of billions of dollars of assets as well as our ability to project power abroad now and in the future,” Florida legislators wrote in the letter, which was posted on Sen. Marco Rubio’s website.

Wittman contends the risk is overblown.

“In times of emergency, there are a multitude of ports available on the East Coast to support an aircraft carrier,” he wrote. “Furthermore, deep carrier maintenance would still be at Newport News.”

Hampton Roads is currently home to six carriers. Assigned to Naval Station Norfolk are the Harry S. Truman, George H.W. Bush, Dwight D. Eisenhower and George Washington.

The Abraham Lincoln has been at Newport News for a three-year, mid-life refueling and overhaul that is to be completed by early summer. The George Washington is slated to enter the private yard in August to begin its three-year overhaul.

The newest carrier, the Gerald R. Ford, is nearing completion at Newport News and expected to delivered to the in the spring.

President Donald Trump has said he wants to enlarge the carrier fleet 12 but has not offered specifics of how it would be funded or possible future homeports.

The , which has been required by law to have 11 carriers, has been operating with 10 for several years — with congressional approval. It will be back to 11 when the Ford is delivered.

MIGHTY CULTURE

You should have joined a military parachute team when you had the chance

Six military parachute teams from around the world are training together with the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights to sharpen their skills and share lessons learned.

About 80 parachutists have been dotting the sky each day with colorful parachutes identifying them as Army, Air Force, Navy or one of the international training partners from the British Army.

“They learn from us. We learn from them,” said Lt. Col. Ned Marsh, commander of the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army Parachute Team. “We establish joint and combined interoperability. That familiarity boosts safety among parachutists in preparation for shows thousands of feet about the ground.”


Amazing Helmet Cam Footage From The U.S. Army Parachute Team “Golden Knights”

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Amazing Helmet Cam Footage From The U.S. Army Parachute Team “Golden Knights”

Joint training is a normal part of the Golden Knights’ annual certification cycle; however, in the past, each of the other teams have come separately for training. This is the first time all seven of these teams have come to train together at the same time. Throughout the week they are developing advanced skills and maximizing safety standards for combined military performances at show sites for the 2019 season.

In addition to the Golden Knights, the teams here for training include: the British Army’s Red Devils, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Black Daggers, the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs, the U.S. Air Force Wings of Blue, the U.S. Special Operations Command Para Commandos, and Fort Benning’s Silver Wings.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

Talk about precision.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brandan Parra)

“It’s great to be over here and get some cross training,” said British Sgt. Maj. Dean Walton, who is one of 13 Red Devils who traveled to Homestead for the week. “Each team does things differently, and we can always improve. If we can improve and do things better and safer, it’s great to learn from each other how we can perform public displays.”

During the demonstration season, the Golden Knights perform with other U.S. and foreign military parachute teams at numerous events across the globe. Providing training for these teams is a key mission of the Army Parachute Team.

“There is no rivalry between the teams,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Hardy, USASOC paratrooper from the Black Daggers. “We all have good bases and we build off of that. If you look at the little targets on the drop zone, it’s a friendly rivalry to see who can land closest to the ‘X.'”

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

The Black Daggers use this training to perfect their demonstration team skills.

(Photo Credit: Lara HartmanPoirrier)

For the British Army’s Red Devils, the camaraderie is about much more than coming together to train each year. The team’s history with the Golden Knights dates back to the 1960s.

“When the Red Devils were originally formed, it was the Golden Knights that helped us get set up,” Walton said. “During the 1960s for an event, we actually jumped into Stonehenge with the Golden Knights.”

In June the Golden Knights will jump with the Red Devils for a demonstration in the United Kingdom.
“Personally, the best part is getting to train with these guys,” Walton said. “They are exactly the same as us. Similar sense of humor, similar experiences, and it’s great to meet up once a year. We have some quite good friends on the teams.”

The Golden Knights, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, are one of U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s key outreach teams dedicated to creating awareness about the Army and educating the American public about the opportunities and benefits of service.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is what it’s like to fire the A-10’s BRRRRRT in combat

“Oh, man … It’s amazing,” an A-10 Warthog pilot, who preferred to be called “McGraw,” told Business Insider when asked what it’s like to fly the aircraft.

It’s “incredibly easy to fly, outstanding performance,” McGraw said on the phone from Afghanistan, adding that it’s very reliable, which he partially credited to the maintenance teams.


“If you’re employing bombs, bullets, rockets, or missiles, obviously that’s rewarding because you know you’re impacting the battlefield to help save Coalition forces,” McGraw said. “But even if you’re just overhead and nothing’s going on on the ground, and you know that the ground forces are sleeping well because they simply know the A-10s are overtop, that’s a very rewarding and self-fulfilling mission.”

“Plus it’s just cool to fly A-10s,” McGraw added.

When asked what it’s like to shoot the 30mm gun, McGraw said, “I wish I had better terms for it — but it’s amazing.”

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered
US Air Force Senior Airman Corban Caliguire and Tech. Sgt. Aaron Switzer, 21st Special Tactics Squadron joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC), call for an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft to do a show of force during a close air support training mission Sept. 23, 2011, at the Nevada Test and Training
(DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

“To just feel the airplane shake and to know that you can employ a gun from an airplane diving at the ground [at] 400-plus mph [and at] a 45 degree dive angle, and [that] I can confidently, on every single pass, put 30mm exactly on target … it’s very rewarding,” McGraw said.

McGraw, who has completed five tours in Afghanistan, said he’s flown about 300 combat missions in the wartorn country, deploying his weapons about 25% of the time.

“That gun is incredibly accurate, and it obviously delivers fearsome effects and devastating effects … so when I pull that trigger, I know those bullets are going where I want them [to],” he said.

“The whole heads-up display shakes,” McGraw said. “You’re engulfed in the gun exhaust … it’s a pretty awesome feeling.”

The US sent a squadron of 12 A-10s back to Afghanistan in January 2018, where its quietly ramping up the longest-running war in US history.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army might have weaponized ticks and released them in the US

Ticks are some of the dirtiest disease-carrying bugs on Earth. They can carry any number of pathogens, bacterias, and viruses – a single tick bite can infect a human with more than one of those at any given time. The point is ticks don’t need any help to be terrible disease vectors.

But you couldn’t tell that to the U.S. Army, who apparently doesn’t have an off switch.


Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

“… and that’s how I made cancer airborne and contagious. Go Army, beat Navy.”

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to require the Pentagon’s Inspector General to tell the public if the Army weaponized disease-ridden ticks and then released them into the continental United States between 1950 and 1975. The vote came as part of a vote on amendments related to the 2020 defense authorization bill, which was passed the next day.

A very important aspect of the request is finding out if the military released the ticks on purpose or if the release came as an accident. Congress also required the Pentagon to provide the House and Senate Armed Services committees with a detailed report on the scope of the experiment.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

How would you vote on this measure?

Ticks can cause Lyme Disease, Typhus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Meningoencephalitis, Hemorrhagic Fevers, paralysis, and even an allergy to meat. The House vote was only to force the Pentagon to acknowledge and deliver a report on whether or not the military released weaponized ticks, despite a ban on such experiments implemented by the Nixon Administration. The vote, however, would not require the Pentagon to reveal what the ticks were carrying, though advocates of the bill are primarily interested in the spread of Lyme Disease, which affects 300,000 to 400,000 new people every year.

The Senate bill did not have the weaponized ticks amendment and it remains to be seen if the reconciled bill bound for the President’s desk will include it.

Articles

The proud World War II history of Navy ship DD-214

The Army has a saying, “Ain’t no use in looking down, ain’t no discharge on the ground.” But for some old sailors, looking down would have revealed a DD-214, just not the kind of DD-214 that are discharge papers.


Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered
(Meme via Sh-t my LPO says)

That’s because the USS Tracy — a destroyer and minesweeper — was commissioned as the DD-214, the Navy’s 208th destroyer (DD-200 through DD-205 were canceled).

The Tracy was laid down in 1919 and commissioned in 1920 before serving on cruises around the world prior to World War II. It was at Pearl Harbor undergoing a massive overhaul when the Japanese attacked in 1941.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered
The USS Tracy in Bordeaux, France, sometime prior to 1936. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Tracy’s gun batteries, boilers, ammunition, and most of her crew had been removed during the overhaul but that didn’t stop the skeleton crew on the ship from taking action that December morning.

The duty watch kept a log of all their actions, including dispatching fire and damage control crews to other ships and setting up machine guns with borrowed ammunition to fire on Japanese planes attacking the nearby USS Cummings and USS Pennsylvania. The Tracy suffered one man killed and two lost during the battle.

The crew of the Tracy got it back in fighting shape quickly and the ship took part in minelaying activities in March 1942. A few months later, the Tracy joined Task Force 62 for the assault on Guadalcanal.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered
The USS Tracy sometime before 1936. (Photo: Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum)

As part of the fighting around Guadalcanal, Tracy led the minelaying mission that doomed the Japanese destroyer Makigumo just a year after it was launched.

The Tracy then supported the American-Australian offensive at Bougainville Island before heading back north to take part in the Okinawa invasion, rescuing survivors of a ship hit by a suicide boat attack.

The war ended a short time later and Tracy emerged from the conflict nearly unscathed with seven battle stars.

While it’s great to imagine an entire generation of sailors that had to serve on the DD-214 while dreaming of their DD-214 papers, no old seamen were that unlucky. The DD-214 discharge form wasn’t introduced until 1950, four years after the Tracy was decommissioned and sold for scrap.

The primary source of USS Tracy history for this article comes from the Naval History and Heritage Command article on the ship.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Check out the ‘flying car’ US Air Force leaders just watched take flight in Texas

The US Air Force wants flying cars, and service leaders recently watched one take flight in Austin, Texas.

On Thursday, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown, Jr., and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne Bass observed an electric vertical takeoff and landing flight (eVTOL) vehicle demonstration at Camp Mabry, according to an Air Force statement.


Others in attendance were members of the Texas National Guard and AFWERX, an Air Force innovation team.

The demonstration at Camp Mabry featured a Hexa vehicle developed by LIFT Aircraft. The vehicle has 18 independent electric motors and propellers, has floats for amphibious landings, and can be flown without a pilot’s license, according to the website.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Q. Brown, Jr., sits in a LIFT Aircraft Hexa aircraft during a visit to Camp Mabry, Texas, Aug. 20, 2020. Air National Guard photo by Staff. Sgt. Sean Kornegay

Will Roper, the Air Force’s acquisition chief, first announced the service’s interest in “flying cars” last September, and in February, the Air Force issued a request for industry ideas for what the service calls ORBs, which are not traditional military vehicles but could support similar missions.

“An ORB could act as an organic resupply bus for disaster relief teams, an operational readiness bus for improved aircraft availability, and an open requirements bus for a growing diversity of missions,” the solicitation document read.

In April, the Air Force officially launched the Agility Prime program and its search for flying cars. “Now is the perfect time to make Jetsons cars real,” Roper said in a statement.

LIFT, which has been working on its design for years, announced its partnership with Agility Prime the same month.

LIFT Aircraft

www.youtube.com

Col. Nathan Diller, AFWERX director and Agility Prime lead, said in a statement following the recent demonstration that the flight “marks the first of many demonstrations.”

Diller added that near-term flight tests are “designed to reduce the technical risks and prepare for Agility Prime fielding in 2023.”

When Agility Prime was officially launched in April, the Air Force secretary said: “The thought of an electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle — a flying car — might seem straight out of a Hollywood movie, but by partnering today with stakeholders across industries and agencies, we can set up the United States for this aerospace phenomenon.”

Roper previously said that the service wants to eventually aquire 30 flying cars. The Air Force said in a recent statement that it has more than 15 leading aircraft manufacturers looking to partner with Agility Prime to develop flying cars for the service.

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


MIGHTY SURVIVAL

How a negative pressure room lets families say goodbye

Some of the most treasured rituals involved in end-of-life care have become out of reach as we put in place the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 illness.

To protect our most vulnerable Veterans, the Community Living Center at VA Black Hills was the first ward to close to visitors. Even with compassionate exceptions, hospice visitation had a time limit and families could only visit one at a time. The policy required families to nearly give up the experience of physical touch, sharing memories and long goodbyes.


Dr. Mary Clark knew these protective measures were difficult for grieving families to accept. Hospice services aim to relieve suffering and provide bereavement support to families. Under normal circumstances, hospice care provides a comforting environment for families to share uninterrupted, quality time with their loved one. Clark is the Rehabilitation and Extended Care associate chief of staff.

Social worker Renee Radermacher works closely with Veterans and their families on the CLC. She thought of a way to give back some of what some families lost. She recommended converting one of the family rooms adjacent to the patient hospice room to a negative pressure room. This would provide an additional safety measure allowing up to three family members to visit for one hour each day.

VA Black Hills Hospice Family Room

A multi-disciplinary team addressed engineering, infection prevention, clinical considerations and social work. The team quickly added a reverse air flow machine and ready the room to receive families. Negative air flow is effective to reduce the transmission of dangerous infectious diseases. Along with good hygiene and masking, it allows families to spend more time with their loved ones, providing relief to the family

“The families are relieved” Dr. Clark said.

“Dr. Clark deserves all the credit for the hospice patients’ family visits. If not for her sensitivity and concern there would be no family visits and the patients would pass away alone,” added Brett Krout, safety manager and workgroup team member.

Providing compassionate patient care during this pandemic requires us to focus on safety while never forgetting the experience of the patient and their loved ones.

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

Articles

Congress wants to make it easier to fire bad VA employees

Congressional Republicans and Democrats have reached agreement on a bill to make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire its employees, part of an accountability effort touted by President Donald Trump.


The deal being announced May 11 could smooth the way for final passage on an issue that had been largely stalled since the 2014 wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center. As many as 40 veterans died while waiting months for appointments as VA employees created secret waiting lists and other falsehoods to cover up delays.

The Hill deal followed a fresh warning from the VA inspector general’s office of continuing patient safety problems at another facility, the VA medical center in Washington D.C. After warning of serious problems there last month, the IG’s “rapid response” team visited the facility again on Wednesday and found a patient prepped for vascular surgery in an operating room, under anesthesia, whose surgery was postponed because “the surgeon did not have a particular sterile instrument necessary to perform the surgery.”

The team also found “surgical instruments that had color stains of unknown origin in sterile packs,” according to the IG’s letter sent Wednesday to the VA. The IG again urged the department to take immediate action to ensure patients “are not placed at unnecessary risk.”

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Honorable David J. Shulkin, visits the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, April 27. Shulkin, who visited the medical center for the first time, spoke with various providers throughout the facilities to learn about the medical care given at the hospital. (Photo by Megan Garcia, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Command Communications)

The new accountability measure, led by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., softens portions of a bill that had passed the House in March, which Democrats criticized as unfairly harsh on workers. Sens. Jon Tester of Montana and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, the top Democrat and the Republican chair on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, agreed to back the new bill after modifications that would give VA employees added time to appeal disciplinary actions.

House Veterans Affairs’ Committee Chairman Phil Roe, sponsor of the House measure, said he would support the revisions.

“To fully reform the VA and provide our nation’s veterans with the quality care they were promised and deserve, we must ensure the department can efficiently dismiss employees who are not able or willing to do their jobs,” Rubio told The Associated Press.

It comes after Trump last month signed an executive order to create a VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, with an aim of identifying “barriers” that make it difficult for the VA to fire or reassign bad managers or employees. VA Secretary David Shulkin had urged the Senate to act quickly to pass legislation.

The GOP-controlled House previously approved an accountability bill mostly along party lines. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., argued the House should embrace language instead from a bipartisan bill by Isakson from last year with added due process protections for workers.

The Senate bill to be introduced Thursday adopts several portions of that previous Isakson bill, including a longer appeal process than provided in the House bill — 180 days vs. 45 days, though workers would not be paid during that appeal. VA executives would be held to a tougher standard than rank-and-file employees for discipline. The Senate bill also codifies into law the VA accountability office created under Trump’s order, but with changes to give the head of the office more independent authority and require the office to submit regular updates to Congress.

Conservative groups praised the bill.

“These new measures will disincentivize bad behavior within the VA and further protect those who bravely expose wrongdoing,” said Dan Caldwell, policy director of Concerned Veterans for America, pointing to a “toxic culture” at VA.

The agreement comes in a week in which Senate Democrats are standing apart from Trump on a separate issue affecting veterans, the GOP bill passed by the House to repeal and replace the nation’s health care law. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., warned the House measure would strip away explicit protections to ensure that as many as 8 million veterans who are eligible for VA care but opt to use private insurance would still receive tax credits.

Many veterans use a private insurer if they feel a VA facility is too far away, or if they don’t qualify for fuller VA coverage because they have higher incomes or ailments unrelated to their time in service, said Duckworth, a combat veteran who lost her legs and partial use of her right arm during the Iraq war. A group of GOP senators is working to craft their own health bill.

“Trumpcare threatens to rip health care out of their hands,” Duckworth said at a news briefing this week. “The question left is what will Senate Republicans do?”

Congress has had difficulty coming to agreement on an accountability bill after the Phoenix VA scandal. A 2014 law gave the VA greater power to discipline executives, but the department stopped using that authority after the Obama Justice Department deemed it likely unconstitutional.

Critics have since complained that few employees were fired for various VA malfeasance, including rising cases of opioid drug theft, first reported by the AP.

MIGHTY GAMING

A soldier is up on real-life charges for killing comrades in a video game

For the first time, a soldier is being brought up on real-world charges for battlefield offenses committed during a video game. A UK troop stationed in Edinburgh, frustrated at the lack of real training took that frustration out in the combat simulator in which he and his squad were training.


He wasn’t charged with murder, according to the Telegraph, he was charged with disobeying a direct order and reprimanded. The infantry rifleman told members of his unit he just wanted to be training outside and was fed up with being on a laptop. He will spend the coming weekend on guard duty as part of his punishment.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

“Guys, take this seriously, okay??”

Members of his unit told the Telegraph they had been training on the laptop computers for at least three weeks and were anxious to go outside and do real-world training. They also challenged anyone else to do the same thing for that long without needing to vent some kind of frustration.

“All this was taking place in an office at our headquarters, when we’d rather be doing real-life soldiering outside in the fresh air. But there’s less of that sort of exercise these days because the Army has committed to Unit-based Virtual Training.”
Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

Like training for, say, World War III.

The unit was training on what to do in an armored convoy in a hostile environment, filled with enemy forces. That’s when the soldier in question “lost his rag” and went on a Grand Theft Auto-level virtual spree, which started with killing the soldier next to him. He then stole one of the armored vehicles and drove it down the street to deliberately smash into local nationals’ cars.

His comrades thought the behavior was extremely funny, his superior officers did not.

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

Pictured: British Army convoy training.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence defended the reprimand, saying “We take the training of our service personnel very seriously and anyone who is disruptive to this training will receive disciplinary action..