Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Surrounded by thousands of racers, Lt. Col. Frederick Moss stood out at the Army Ten Miler.

“I always get the question, ‘Why is this dummy running with this binder? He must be some staff guy that is all about his work.’ You know?” Moss joked, while discussing the annual race.

Indeed, Moss is a staff officer. He works for senior leaders at the U.S. Army Reserve Command headquarters on Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Yet, the binder is not his work.

It’s his duty.


Inside, the pages hold the names of 58,000 American military members who died serving in Vietnam.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, stares into the camera for a portrait at the North Carolina Veterans Park in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Sept. 27, 2019.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

He carries the white binder on all the military-oriented races. The Marine Corps Marathon. The Army Marathon. The Navy Nautical. Some of these races won’t allow backpacks for security purposes, such as the Army Ten Miler, so he hand-carried the book 10 miles through the streets of Washington, D.C.

“It’s an act of remembrance. It’s an act of appreciation for them and what they’ve done,” Moss said.

He recalled printing the names at home years ago. He walked away from his computer thinking the job would be finished when he returned. Instead, the printer was still spitting out papers.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, runs nearby the North Carolina Veterans Park in Fayetteville during a film production Sept. 27, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Javier Orona)

“Wow, wait a minute. Now this can’t be right. It’s still going,” he said. “It went from 100 to 1,000 to 2,000. And that’s just the letter ‘A’ … 2,000 husbands, wives, uncles, brothers, cousins. They paid the ultimate sacrifice. And that’s really when this thing kind of hit me. This is really big. That’s a lot of people here.”

He originally printed the book to remember his father, Terry Leon Williams, after he died in 2012. Williams had survived Vietnam, but he rarely talked about the war.

“He was a Marine’s Marine. He’s a man’s man. I learned a lot from him, and I owe a lot to him,” said Moss.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, looks through the names of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with his son, Brandon, while visiting Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Felix Fimbres)

Williams deployed twice, but in spite of his love for the uniform, the Marine didn’t wear it as he returned home from an unpopular war. He faced a country that offered protest, not praise.

“There’s still Vietnam veterans out there who feel some type of way about how they were received when they came back into this country,” Moss said.

That’s a vast difference from how the nation welcomed Moss in 2006. He had deployed to Iraq as a military police officer. When his airplane full of soldiers landed in Atlanta, firetrucks greeted them on the runway by spraying the plane with water.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with his son, Brandon, and wife, Cherie, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Felix Fimbres)

“We got off the plane … and everybody was hugging and kissing us. It was crazy. Holy smoke! It was hundreds, thousands of soldiers walking through the airport … I thought to myself: my dad and his comrades didn’t get that. It wasn’t America’s finest hour. So, that’s why I chose in my small way to show appreciation, for him and them, for their service to this nation,” Moss said.

The binder is for his father, but also for his uncle, Henry, who returned from Vietnam, yet wasn’t really home.

“He didn’t make it. He came back, but he wasn’t the same. You know, the hidden scars of combat. He ended up committing suicide,” said Moss.

Moss’ father was soft-spoken. He spared few words and rarely squandered those words on comforting his children. During his teenage years, their relationship was horrible, Moss said. A strict father and a rebellious son often at odds, he described.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with his family in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Javier Orona)

“If you fell, he wasn’t going to hug you. He was going to tell you, ‘Get up. Dust yourself off. Fight on,'” he said.

He was more interested in teaching his son to defend himself than to show him affection.

“Sometimes, I feel like I’m running from him still,” Moss said, laughing.

His running days began in high school when he joined cross country track. Running calls him out of bed in the morning. He wakes up in the darkest hours and slips out of the house unnoticed. His wife, Cherie, jokingly calls it his “mistress” because she wakes up to an empty bed.

But Moss communes with God during those runs. He prays and listens to gospel music. Time and worry vanish. He might look at his watch at any moment and realize 20 miles have gone by. Just don’t let him sit through a meeting afterward, because he might fall asleep, he jokes.

He has run so many military races that he keeps his medallions in a bag. There’s no room to display them in the house.

Yet, after high school, his running stopped for a while. His first military experience took him off the track and tossed him toward the water.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, pages through a binder he printed holding the names from the Vietnam Memorial Wall during a film production day at his home in Spring Lake, North Carolina, Sept. 27, 2019.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

“I joined the Navy, and I gained, like, 260 pounds,” he said, exaggerating the weight, with a laugh. He reached 260 pounds, but that’s not how much he had gained.

As he spoke, he pulls out a framed photo of himself in a white Navy uniform. A rounder version of himself looks into the camera, with a mustache hovering above his lips.

“This was pre-Army. I was like the ice cream man, right here. So I lost my love for running at the time because in the Navy, it’s all about systems and ships. Not a lot of room to maneuver to run on the ship,” he said.

He deployed twice with the Navy, to Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Later, Moss joined the Army as a staff sergeant. It was a rude awakening because, suddenly, he was in charge of soldiers without any prior experience in managing people.

“The Navy’s a little bit different. It’s not about people … it was about systems. I was an engineer in the Navy. A boiler technician. You need steam to make the ship go. To turn the turbines. To get power. To drink water. But you flip it, and you go to the Army, and the Army is all about people,” he said.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, takes a selfie with Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve, while showing him a binder representing the fallen veterans of the Vietnam War during the Army Ten Miler in Washington, D.C., Oct. 13, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Felix Fimbres)

Those times in the military made him appreciate his father in ways he never could as a son.

When Moss commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army, his family surrounded him in celebration. He remembers sitting at a large round table with his father and relatives.

“I’ve got something to say,” Williams spoke, stopping the conversation around them.

Moss’ father pointed around the table to those who had served in the military. Four branches were represented there: Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

“My son was enlisted Navy,” Williams said. “But my son did something different. I never thought my son would be a commissioned officer.”

A pause. A quiet befell the table as the family waited to see what might happen next. Williams stood and saluted his son. Moss stood and returned the salute. He could sense people holding their breath. The two men dropped their salutes and sat back down.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, runs from his home in Spring Lake during a film production day, Sept. 27, 2019.

(Photo by Master Sgt. Michel Sauret)

Then, just before the conversation could resume, or an applause might follow, Williams spoke again.

“Now, you’re a lieutenant. You’re officially a punk. Nobody likes lieutenants!”

The table broke in laugher, cheering, and the family returned to their celebration. But a moment had caught during the exchange. A shifting in balance – a new respect – occurred as the older saluted the younger. His father had changed.

Serving in the Army had helped Moss see that change, because service was about sacrifice and legacy. Not individual fame, but a legacy carried by the collective. He saw the military as a family who passed traditions from generation to generation.

“That legacy just keeps going on and on. A legacy of war fighters. People who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and you don’t ever want that legacy to be lost. So, one of the things I do, is I carry this book. That book, to me, signifies that you never, ever forget what other people have done for this nation to make sure that we continue to be free,” said Moss.

The Army Ten Miler reminds Moss of that legacy and of his love for people. He calls it a family reunion, where year after year he hugs brothers and sisters in arms who return to D.C. for the run. It’s a small nuisance that backpacks aren’t allowed, but it’s also an honor for Moss to carry his father’s generation of veterans in his hands.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Lt. Col. Frederick Moss, a senior staff officer for the U.S. Army Reserve Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with his son, Brandon, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 12, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Felix Fimbres)

“Sometimes the book is a little cumbersome, but it doesn’t bother me. Because it’s 58,000-plus fallen comrades in that book. What I’m doing for this short period of time is nowhere near the price they had to pay for us,” he said.

He reflects on those names through Washington, D.C., as he runs. He envisions their stories. He mourns with their families. He considers the children who never saw their fathers or mothers come home. Yet, he is grateful for one name who is not in his book. Not on the wall. Not on any official memorial except for the etching of his memories.

His father.

Terry Leon Williams.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Combat in Afghanistan hits five-year high for American forces

The situation in Afghanistan is getting worse with the Taliban controlling more territory and American forces reaching a five-year high in terms of dropped ordnance last month. That is what Congress was told in testimony Oct. 31 by the man tasked with overseeing the effort in that country.


According to a report by the Washington Times, John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, told Congress that the Afghan National Army has lost 4,000 troops, and 5,000 Afghan policemen have also dropped from the ranks. The decline in Afghan forces comes as armed clashes are on the rise.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names
An F-15E Strike eagle conducts a mission over Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2008. The F-15E Strike Eagle is a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)

“Afghanistan is at a crossroads,” Sopko said. “President Donald Trump’s new strategy has clarified that the Taliban and Islamic State-Khorosan will not cause the United States to leave. At the same time, the strategy requires the Afghan government to set the conditions that would allow America to stay the course.”

Sopko also complained that the military was classifying some important information that had exposed wasteful spending. One of the more egregious cases included the expenditure of $500 million for Italian planes that were unable to operate in Afghanistan. The presence of “ghost” soldiers, whose paychecks are pocketed by senior officers, is also a problem.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names
Ktah Khas Afghan Female Tactical Platoon members perform a close quarters battle drill drill outside Kabul, Afghanistan May 29, 2016. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis.

From January 1 to August 23 of this year, 10 Americans have been killed and 48 wounded during operations in Afghanistan. That figure does not include the death of Chief Warrant Officer Jacob M. Sims of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, who was killed in a crash on Friday.

According to iCasualties.org, 2404 Americans have died during Operations Enduring Freedom and Resolute Support. Since President Trump took office, U.S. forces have taken a more aggressive posture, including the first combat use of the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Burst bomb.

Featured Image: Afghan agents with the National Interdiction Unit participate in the grand opening ceremony for the new Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan Headquarters Compound June 17, 2010, in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of CNP-A, U.S. Embassy, Kabul, Afghanistan)

MIGHTY CULTURE

‘The Last Full Measure’ is the must-see film that honors one of America’s finest

On April 11th, 1966, three companies of the 1st Infantry Division, known as the “Mud Soldiers,” were pinned down by Viet Cong forces outside of Cam My, Vietnam. Pararescuemen of the 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron were dispatched to evacuate the wounded. The battle raged and the soldiers were taking a heavy beating.

As if an angel were descending from the heavens, Airman First Class William H. Pitsenbarger, lowered onto the battlefield to tend to the wounded. When given the opportunity to fly back to base, he elected to stay and care for the men he didn’t even know that remained in harm’s way.

He did all he could to save his fellow troops before paying the ultimate price. Pitsenbarger’s sacrifice ensured at least nine men made it home. It took him 34 years to be recognized fully for his incredible actions.

The Last Full Measure faithfully and honestly retells this story — and it’s something that our military community must see and support.


In the aftermath of the battle, Pitsenbarger was awarded the Air Force Cross. However, his fellow PJs and the Mud Soldiers he fought with continued to advocate for the award to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that he was finally bestowed the Congressional Medal of Honor for giving, what President Lincoln said during his Gettysburg Address, his last full measure of devotion.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Keep an eye out for Jeremy Irvine. His portrayal of William Pitsenbarger will catapult him far in Hollywood.

(Roadside Attractions)

Written and directed by Todd Robinson, The Last Full Measure follows Scott Huffman, a jaded Pentagon lawyer (played by Sebastian Stan) as he is tasked with upgrading Pitsenbarger’s Air Force Cross to the Medal of Honor at the behest of Pitsenbarger’s fellow pararescueman veteran (played by William Hunt) and father (portrayed by Christopher Plummer).

The story unfolds as Huffman pieces together the gallantry of Pitsenbarger by interviewing the soldiers who had been saved back in Vietnam. Samuel L. Jackson, the late Peter Fonda, Ed Harris, and John Savage each portray the Mud Soldiers and give fantastic performances as they crawl through painful memories. The audience watches the fateful day in Vietnam through flashbacks as the veterans recall being saved by Pitsenbarger (portrayed by Jeremy Irvine).

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Pictured left to right: Kimberly Breyer, producer of Last Full Measure, Sidney Sherman, and Kimberly’s husband Sean Breyer

(Photo by Eric Milzarski)

Kimberly Breyer, the niece of William Pitsenbarger, was in attendance of the world premiere of The Last Full Measure. She told We Are The Mighty,

“This film means people get to hear the very important true stories of my uncle Billy Pitsenbarger, Frank, Alice, and all the people who fought with him. We want as many people who possibly can so these stories keep being told and retold.”

She also noted how true-to-life Christopher Plummer’s portrayal of her grandfather, Frank Pitsenbarger, felt. “When we saw it, especially my grandma Alice, the hair went up on the back of her neck and she started to cry. He makes me miss Frank so much. We’re very grateful to him for how beautifully he portrayed our grandfather on screen and how hard everyone worked for so many years to get this project to come together because it’s so unique in so many ways.”

I

(Photo by Eric Milzarski)

The production covers two key time periods, from the jungles of Vietnam to the halls of the Pentagon. The star-studded cast filmed in the United States and Thailand to portray the retelling of Pitsenbarger’s sacrifice. The film stays away from typical action movie tropes and instead dives deep into the psyche of the troops who returned home. It gives an accurate depiction of what goes on behind-the-scenes when a Medal of Honor is to be awarded. The film helps us understand the excruciating lengths (and sheer volume of bureaucratic red tape) that stands between valor and recognition — and leaves you wondering how many heroes haven’t been given the credit they deserve.

Dale Dye, USMC veteran who served in the Vietnam War and military advisor for many of the greatest war films, played a large role in ensuring the film was as accurate as possible. It’s all the perfectly-captured, little moments that help set the stage.

Dye tells We Are The Mighty,This is a film that goes directly to my heart and soul. And the reason is because it talks about the selfless nature of veterans and the dedication we have towards each other. This is a story of veterans who go to extraordinary lengths to get recognition for one of their own. And that’s the nature of every combat veteran.”

The writer and director of the film, Todd Robinson, tells We Are The Mighty, The military was very bullish about this film. It promotes a career field called pararescue, which promotes saving lives. So it wasn’t hard for them to get behind this film.

The Last Full Measure is a beautiful film that is rare in Hollywood. It’s not an action-packed film made with set pieces for the trailers. It’s not an overly played-out drama that uses war as backdrop. It’s the real-life story of a man who gave his all for his fellow troops and those men fighting tooth-and-nail to get him the honor he deserved.

I can’t recommend this film enough for every veteran, active duty troop, their family, and anyone who’s life has been touched by the actions of these brave men and women.

See it in theaters now.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Alleged Benghazi plotter convicted for terrorism, not murder

A Libyan militant was convicted Nov. 28 of terrorism charges stemming from the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. But a federal jury found him not guilty of murder, the most serious charge associated with the rampage he was accused of orchestrating.


The attack became instant political fodder in the 2012 presidential campaign, with Republicans accusing the Obama administration of intentionally misleading the public and stonewalling congressional investigators, though officials denied any wrongdoing. Some were particularly critical of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the conflict, which dogged her during her presidential campaign.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. (Image under Public Domain)

But the seven-week trial of Ahmed Abu Khattala was largely free of political intrigue.

Jurors convicted Khattala on four counts, including providing material support for terrorism and destroying property and placing lives in jeopardy at the U.S. compound, but acquitted him on 14 others. Even with the mixed verdict, Khattala, 46, still faces the possibility of life imprisonment for his conviction on a federal firearms charge.

Prosecutors accused Khattala of directing the attack aimed at killing personnel and plundering maps, documents and other property from the U.S. mission in Benghazi. But defense attorneys said their evidence against him was shoddy.

Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed in the first attack at the U.S. mission, along with Sean Patrick Smith, a State Department information management officer. Nearly eight hours later, at a CIA complex nearby, two more Americans, contract security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, died in a mortar attack.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names
The United States Air Force Band plays the national anthem during the dignified transfer of the remains J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans, Sept. 14, 2012, at Joint Base Andrews, Md. (USAF photo by Senior Airman Perry Aston.)

“Today, a small measure of justice was meted out,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in a message to CIA employees. Of Khattala he added: “It took intelligence to find him, soldiers to assist in capturing him, law enforcement to interview him, and a legal team to put him away. Khattala’s sentencing is to follow; but no term in prison will bring our people back.”

Prosecutors acknowledged they lacked evidence to show Khattala personally fired any gunshots, but argued he orchestrated the violence out of his hatred for U.S. freedoms and his suspicion that Americans were operating a spy base in Benghazi. They said Khattala led a group of militia “hitmen” who could be seen on surveillance footage toting weapons and a gas can the night of the attack. Their case relied heavily on the testimony of informants, including one who was paid $7 million to befriend Khattala, help the government gather information on him, and arrange his capture.

Related: US bodyguard gives harrowing account of Benghazi attack

Defense attorneys sought to discount the informants as liars who were paid for their stories. Federal public defender Michelle Peterson said in closing arguments that prosecutors were playing to jurors’ emotions to make up for shoddy evidence, including blurry surveillance video and cellphone records she described as inconclusive. Khattala is a deeply religious man who believes in conservative sharia law as outlined in the Quran, which “is not the same thing as terrorism,” Peterson said.

But prosecutors argued the evidence was enough to convict Khattala on all counts.

“He was there to kill Americans, and that is exactly what he and his men did,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael C. DiLorenzo told jurors.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names
A man rallies in front of a burning vehicle in Benghazi, Libya (Image via website of Congressman Mike Bost)

The trial, which opened Oct. 2, was one of the most significant terrorism prosecutions in recent years in a U.S. civilian court, even though the Trump administration had argued such suspects are better sent to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The mixed verdict could revive that debate, even as newly captured terror suspects — including a second man charged in the Benghazi attacks — are instead brought to federal court.

Supporters of the military commission system argue valuable intelligence is lost when suspected terrorists are afforded protections of the American legal system. But prosecutors said Khattala, who was interrogated at length during 13 days aboard a Navy transport ship headed to the U.S., provided information about other members of the Islamic extremist militia group blamed for the Benghazi attack. Among the men he pegged was Mustafa al-Imam, who was captured last month and awaits trial in the same federal courthouse in Washington.

Jonathan Hafetz, a senior attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who has handled terrorism cases, said the Khattala trial showed federal courts are capable of handling terror cases, even with his acquittal of murder charges.

“No court system can pretend to protect due process if it only achieves the resolution the government wants in every case,” he said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran claims its military controls the Persian Gulf

“Everything north of the Strait of Hormuz is under our control,” said Ali Fadavi, a senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. If that’s true it would mean the Islamic Republic controls the flow of one-fifth of the world’s oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran also says it controls the American Navy.


Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Let’s see how that works out for Iran.

“American battleships in the region are under the complete control of Iran’s army and the Revolutionary Guards,” Fadavi told Fars News Service, without providing any further details. While Iran isn’t going anywhere near the recent rocket attack that struck the Green Zone just a few days before the IRGC Navy commander made the statement, the provocations against American forces in the region appear to continue.

Meanwhile, the United States is increasing its presence in the Gulf region, sending bomber aircraft along with three more ships to bolster its forces. The Pentagon is also weighing a plan to deploy five to ten thousand more troops to the region.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group entered the U.S. Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf in 2016

Iran has approximately 20,000 men from the Navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps stationed in and around the Persian Gulf, manning missile boats, torpedo boats, and even speedboats. Of most concern to the ships of the U.S. navy and its allies, however, is the number of coastal and aircraft-fired anti-ship missiles in the region. On top of the IRGC’s naval assets are the approximately 15,000 men and Marines aboard the the dozens of more traditional ships – frigates, destroyers, corvettes – in the Gulf.

As for the buildup of American troops in the Gulf, Iran recently said the power posed by the force have turned from threats to targets.

“If (the Americans) make a move, we will hit them in the head,” A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander told the Iranian Students’ News Agency .

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy ships more ready for war, but submarine backlog continues

Senior U.S. Navy officials in December 2018 sought to reassure lawmakers that the service’s staggering backlog for ship and submarine maintenance is improving despite having 17 warships out of service in 2018.

Seeking to dispel what GAO Defense Capabilities And Management Team Director John Pendleton called “a wicked problem for the Navy” at a joint hearing of the Senate Armed Service Committee subcommittees on Seapower and Readiness and Management Support, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and Adm. William Moran, vice chief of naval operations, said ships are going into drydock and getting out of shipyards, but more-utilized vessels, like aircraft carriers, take priority over submarines.


“It is the age old problem of what we talked about the last two years,” Moran said.

Pendleton told lawmakers that 2018 was “particularly challenging” for the Navy, with the equivalent of 17 ships and submarines not available because they were waiting to get into or out of maintenance.

“Since 2012, the Navy has lost more than 27,000 days of ship and submarine availability due to delays getting in and out of maintenance,” Pendleton said. “”Looking forward, I do see some cause for concern, because the dry docks are short about a third of the capacity that will be needed to conduct the planned maintenance that the Navy already has on the books.”

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Vice Adm. William F. Moran, Chief of Naval Personnel.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Russell)

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, was visibly shocked when Navy officials told him that the USS Boise, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine, has been out of service for four years and is still waiting to go into dry dock for maintenance.

“It’s not there yet?” Rounds asked in disbelief.

Spencer said that the Boise is scheduled to go in for maintenance in January 2019.

“It’s been four years out of service for an attack submarine,” Rounds said. “Do we have any other attack submarines that are currently at dock not able to dive awaiting dry dock services?”

Moran said two more attack submarines “are not certified to dive today. Both of those go into dry dock after the new year, one in February and I think the next one May or June 2019.”

The Navy testified in late November 2018 that it plans to put a high priority on solving its attack submarine shortage by ramping up Virginia-class submarine production to two per year, with the potential for producing more than two per year in the future.

The service also has turned to using private shipyards to perform maintenance on submarines to take the strain off public shipyards.

Despite these steps, Seapower Chairman Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, asked “Why did that happen?” following up on the revelation of the Boise’s delay.

Moran explained that attack submarines have to wait behind warships that have “been ridden very hard” and have a higher priority for maintenance than submarines.

“We have begun to put them into private yards … and get submarines that need to be in dry dock into dry dock sooner.”

Rounds was not satisfied.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

USS Boise enters Souda Bay, Greece, during a scheduled port visit Dec. 23, 2014.

“It appears to me that even with the resources we have allocated so far, we are going in the wrong direction, it would appear, with regard to the fleet that we’ve got,” Rounds said. “If it’s a matter of resources, and if you are not here in a public testimony to tell us what the impacts are of not having the additional resources that are necessary to keep these critical pieces in the defense of our country operational, how in the world can we ever go to what we know we need in a 355 ship Navy and support them?”

Spencer answered by saying “I couldn’t agree with you more senator, but as a fine example, so everyone truly does understand the ups and downs of this, the monies that you gave us to optimize the shipyards — that’s a two-year project at the least to get that up and running to the new flow rate.”

Spencer than offered a recent study of one of the shipyards to further illustrate the problem.

“They tracked one of the maintenance people for his hands-on time; he drove a golf cart around the area for four miles one day in search of parts,” Spencer said. “We have to bring the parts down to the ship. This is what I am talking about — the science of industrial flow that needs to be put into these old ship yards. We are doing it. The monies that you have given us will get after that; it’s two years to affect that, but to kill it now … would be a crime.”

Moran added that the Navy has just “got back the shipyard workers in the public yards to the level we wanted after sequestration five years ago.”

“This is a unique, highly-skilled workforce in our nuclear yards, and if they don’t feel like they are supported, if we are not given them the adequate resources to do their job and have the manning levels where they need to be — they walk,” Moran said.

“They can go other places because they are highly skilled, and it takes a long time to recover that.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

The best Halloween memes that describe 2020

This year has undoubtedly been a doozie. One we don’t wish to repeat any time soon. However, as the calendar dates continue to drone on, we can look into the next few months and realize that soon, we’re starting a New Year. (We can only hope 2021 can be much kinder.)

Until then, we can endure whatever the world continues to throw at us. Sit back and enjoy some of the most relatable memes that we can link back to how this year has gone.


Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names
Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names
Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names
Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names
Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names
Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names
Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names


MIGHTY CULTURE

The most muscular unit in the Marine Corps is accepting applications

If you can squat more than 300 pounds — and then do it again nine more times — the Marine Corps may have an elite job for you.

The Corps is accepting applications to join its legendary cadre of body bearers, a small unit of roughly a dozen men headquartered at Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., whose primary responsibility is to carry the caskets of Marines to their final resting place.

According to a Marine Corps administrative message, the service is looking for Marines who “possess a high degree of maturity, leadership, judgment and professionalism, as well as physical stamina and strength.” To be eligible, Marines must be male, between 70 and 76 inches tall, in the rank of corporal or below, and able to serve 30 months following check-in to ceremonial drill school.


The physical strength requirements are truly daunting. Marines must be able to conduct 10 repetitions of the following exercises:

  • Bench press 225 lbs.
  • Military press (a variant on the overhead press) 135 lbs.
  • Straight bar curl 115 lbs.
  • Squad 315 lbs.
Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Body bearers from the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. (8th and I), help conduct military funeral honors with funeral escort for Col. Werner Frederick Rebstock in Section 12 of Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 13, 2019.

(U.S. Army photo by Elizabeth Fraser/Arlington National Cemetery)

Those selected to join the Body Bearers Section can expect to train for up to a year before they’re considered ready to participate in military funerals. Once they join the section, body bearers participate in the funerals of Marines, Marine veterans and family members at Arlington National Cemetery and military cemeteries in the National Capital Region; they may also be asked to travel across the country to conduct funeral honors for former presidents and other senior dignitaries.

There’s no room for error; the word “flawless” is used no fewer than four times on the Body Bearers Section web page. And while other services use eight body bearers to carry coffins, the Marine Corps uses only six.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Marine Corps Body Bearers carry the body of Maj. Gen. Warren R. Johnson Sr. inside the Memorial Chapel at Fort Meyer.

(Photo by Cpl. Bobby J. Yarbrough)

“This billet is not for everyone. Marine Corps Body Bearers serve as a tangible, physical manifestation of the institution that our fallen brothers and sisters have poured their hearts and souls into fortifying,” the page reads. “As such, the mental, emotional, and physical toll this responsibility exacts from the Body Bearers as well as Ceremonial Drill School students is immense. That being said, the honor and pride the Body Bearer Section takes in caring for Marines the way they do is one of the most gratifying experiences of their lives.”

In addition to all the strength requirements, Marines must meet conventional height and weight standards and maintain first-class scores on their physical fitness and combat fitness tests. While the job was once reserved for infantry Marines, it’s now open to all military occupational specialties in the Corps.

Troops who meet eligibility requirements and are interested in the opportunity should contact Company B, Marine Barracks Washington, D.C.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Meet the first enlisted female Guard soldiers to graduate Ranger School

Two soldiers from the South Carolina and Pennsylvania National Guard are the first enlisted National Guard females to graduate from U.S. Army Ranger School.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jessica Smiley, a South Carolina National Guard military police non-commissioned officer serving with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, and U.S. Army Sgt. Danielle Farber, Pennsylvania National Guard 166th Regional Training Institute Medical Battalion Training Site instructor, completed the mentally and physically challenging school at Fort Benning Dec. 13, 2019. The school prepares soldiers to be better trained, more capable and more resilient leaders.


“My mindset going into this was to leave 100 percent on the table and never have regret or look back and say, ‘I should have pushed harder or I should have done something different,'” said Smiley. “My mindset today is that I did just that. I gave 100 percent. I did everything that I could, and now here I am.”

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

U.S. Army Sgt. Danielle Farber, Pennsylvania National Guard 166th Regional Training Institute Medical Battalion Training Site instructor, and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jessica Smiley, South Carolina National Guard military police non-commissioned officer currently serving with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, graduate U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia, Dec. 13, 2019, as the first National Guard enlisted females to complete the leadership school.

(Photo by Sgt. Brian Calhoun)

As the first female National Guard enlisted soldiers to graduate from the school, Smiley and Farber join a small group of women who have earned a Ranger tab since the Pentagon lifted the ban on women serving in combat arms positions. The others are U.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest and U.S. Army 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, who in 2015 became the first women to ever complete the school; U.S. Army 1st Lt. Emily Lilly, who was the first female National Guard officer to graduate in 2018; and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Amanda Kelley, the first enlisted soldier to graduate, also in 2018. However, Smiley and Farber do not think Ranger school is an accomplishment only they are capable of achieving.

“I don’t think it’s charting a course for other women because it’s something that we all have in us. We just haven’t been allowed to do it … There are many women out there who are completely capable of doing it,” said Smiley. “Do it … Put in the hard work, put in the dedication to accomplish the goal.”

Smiley and Farber said the accomplishment took years of training and did not come without setbacks. Farber has been working toward this goal since 2016 when she first tried for the Pennsylvania Ranger/Sapper state assessment program and was not selected. She tried again in 2018 and was selected, with approximately 10 other soldiers. A year later, she left for Ranger school.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jessica Smiley, South Carolina National Guard military police non-commissioned officer currently serving with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, graduates U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia, Dec. 13, 2019, as one of the first National Guard enlisted females to complete the leadership school.

(Photo by Sgt. Brian Calhoun)

“Train hard for it,” said Farber. “Come into it knowing you’re going to be doing things that every other male that comes through here has to do. Don’t come through here and expect any sort of special treatment because it won’t happen.”

Now that they have earned their Ranger tab, Smiley and Farber hope to use the skills they’ve gained and help the soldiers they work with and lead.

“This day to me is not the end of the school, but is the beginning of the new chapter in my career, not only for myself but for future soldiers,” said Smiley.

U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Russ Vickery, South Carolina National Guard command sergeant major, said he is proud of what Smiley and Farber achieved.

“It is a big deal to be the first enlisted females in the National Guard graduating Ranger School. … It’s groundbreaking,” he said. “We always tell [soldiers] that they can do it. Physical size is not the limitation; it’s the amount of heart and soul that a soldier brings.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

New details emerge of Medal of Honor recipient’s heroism

Tech. Sgt. John Chapman ran out of a bunker on the Takur Ghar mountaintop for the second time, intentionally risking fire from heavily armed enemy fighters.

Shot several times already, Chapman attempted to halt the al-Qaida forces’ assault on an incoming MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying U.S. special operators.


He no longer had the cover of night, and exposed himself to the enemy as he ran. Dashing out to the ridge line in five-foot-deep snow, Chapman fired at the enemy fighters who were loading rocket-propelled grenades, helping additional American forces to enter the landing zone.

It would be his final bold act before two shots from a large-caliber machine gun cut through his torso, one destroying his aorta and killing him instantly.

But this, Chapman’s final fight, occurred well after the special tactics airman had already been presumed dead.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Tech. Sgt. John Chapman.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

A 30-month investigation involving eyewitness testimony from nearby Army and Air Force service members and drone targeteers, intelligence reports and aircraft video feed proved that Chapman not only lived after he was initially hit and knocked unconscious early in the mission, but that he at one point engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat, fighting for about 70 harrowing minutes on the ground alone. In August 2018, officials who investigated the circumstances surrounding his death spoke publicly for the first time about their findings.

Chapman, a combat controller assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor, an upgrade of his Air Force Cross, for his actions on March 4, 2002, during a ceremony at the White House on Aug. 22, 2018. He will become the first U.S. airman to receive the military’s highest award since the Vietnam War.

“John was the only American that was alive on [that] mountain top, and there was somebody fighting for an hour,” said an Air Force special tactics officer who was part of the investigation team.

Speaking on background during a briefing at the Pentagon on Aug. 16, 2018, the officer explained how the Air Force Special Operations investigative team and the Pentagon concluded that Chapman had lived and continued to fight after his presumed death.

“When you watch [these videos], heroism jumps right off the page at you,” the officer said. “It chokes you up, and it makes you realize the incredible sacrifice.”

He added, “You don’t have to do 30 months of analysis to see that.”

In all, Chapman sustained nine wounds, seven of which were nonfatal, according to his autopsy report. A medical examiner concluded he lived and fought through gunshot wounds to his thigh, heel, calf and torso, which pierced his liver. He had a broken nose and other facial wounds, suggesting he engaged in hand-to-hand combat in close quarters. The final fatal shots likely came from a PKM machine gun, officials said.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

John Chapman holding a child in Afghanistan.

The evidence

The night infiltration began March 3. The reconnaissance team aboard the Chinook, call sign Razor 03, was unaware of the hornet’s nest of al-Qaida forces they were about to encounter. Their overall mission was to establish a reconnaissance position in the Shah-i-Kot Valley in southeastern Afghanistan.

After the assault began, a Navy SEAL, Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts, fell out of the helicopter, which then crash-landed about four miles away.

Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt K. Slabinski led the SEAL Team 6 unit, known as Mako 30, to which Chapman was assigned back up the ridge on another helicopter, designated as Razor 04. Chapman began calling in airstrikes from AC-130 gunships circling overhead before returning with Slabinski and five other members around 4:27 a.m. local time.

Slabinski, now a retired master chief, was awarded the Medal of Honor in May, 2018 for his own heroism during the costly battle.

The team’s new objective was to rescue Roberts on the mountainside, which would become known as “Roberts Ridge.” Roberts did not survive.

Chapman ran ahead of his teammates, taking fire from multiple directions. He dug himself into a World War II-style pillbox that was chest-deep and hardened, designated as Bunker 01, officials said. He was 10 meters from a second bunker, but left cover to engage the al-Qaida forces.

At 4:42 a.m., U.S. forces with night-vision goggles observed Chapman falling in battle.

Statements from a nearby Army and Air Force reconnaissance team helped investigators prove that a U.S. service member was on the ridge alone, fighting from a bunker position — Bunker 01.

The second, five-member reconnaissance team was three miles away, listening to Chapman’s radio calls.

“I am absolutely positive [it] was John’s voice. I have no doubt whatsoever,” said one unnamed witness quoted in the months-long investigation, as cited by the Air Force.

“They saw somebody fighting against the enemy from that bunker position for an extended period of time,” the special tactics officer said. “They heard the enemy talking about the American on the mountaintop … And the enemy was talking excitedly — ‘An American! An American! An American!’ — and they were actually planning their assault.”

Meanwhile, another special tactics airman on the same radio frequency heard Chapman transmitting his call sign — MAKO 30C.

Two AC-130 gunships, dubbed “Grim 33” and “Grim 32,” were circling overhead alongside an MQ-1 Predator drone. The three were capturing different angles of the firefight below, although gaps in coverage existed for technical reasons or repositioning.

Grim 32 used a low-light TV sensor that could see various infrared markers, such as reflective tape on Chapman’s body armor as well as strobes from his scope.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Tech. Sgt. John Chapman.

“I continued to observe glint tape, strobe lights, muzzle flashes, and [Infrared Illuminator] laser movement after [4:42] from Bunker 1,” one AC-130 crew member said in his testimony.

The AC-130 pilots and navigator continued to reference Chapman’s position, but the gunships needed to leave the airspace as they had expended their fuel and the enemy could see them overhead.

By overlapping the AC-130 feed and eyewitness testimony alongside the MQ-1 drone feed and the reconnaissance team’s audio observation, “we took seven different subject matter experts that all looked at this independently from an intel perspective and then layered those conclusions in,” the special tactics officer said.

Additionally, the National Geospatial Agency worked with the Air Force to survey the terrain to measure correct distances, height and trajectory of the firefight.

The videos and testimony substantiated what Air Force officials had believed all along, providing the additional clarity needed to piece together the series of events.‎

“No one thing would tell [Chapman’s] story in its totality. It was bits and pieces combined,” the special tactics officer said.

The final fight

The mission was part of Operation Anaconda, a large-scale attempt to clear the Shah-i-Kot Valley of al-Qaida forces. Chapman died after fighting off al-Qaida forces for roughly two hours, but his efforts allowed the special ops teams that followed to advance their position on the mountainside.

Along with Chapman and Roberts, Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, Army Sgt. Bradley Crose, Army Sgt. Phillip Svitak, Army Spc. Marc Anderson and Army Cpl. Matthew Commons also died during the mission.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made the recommendation to upgrade Chapman’s Air Force Cross earlier this year. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and then-acting Defense Secretary Robert Work were also involved in the recommendation process as the investigation advanced.

The review of Chapman’s award and actions was part of the 2016 Defense Department push to audit more than 1,100 post-9/11 valor citations to determine if they warrant a higher award such as the Medal of Honor.

Even as rumors of Chapman’s upgrade remained unconfirmed for months, officials lauded his efforts.

“I think John Chapman is deserving of any honor that is bestowed upon him,” Wilson told Military.com in May. “If that happens, I think it will be an important day in the Air Force and for his family.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Wounded warrior Elizabeth Marks receives the 2016 Pat Tillman Award

Wounded warrior Elizabeth Marks sat down with Army veteran Bryan Anderson from We Are The Mighty to talk about her journey through recovery from her injury in Iraq to eventually becoming a Paralympic swimmer.


After receiving this year’s Pat Tillman Award at the ESPYs, she spoke about the support she has received after her injury and the inspiration she hopes to provide others in their struggles.

If you’re hurting, whether it’s mental or emotional; if ever you think you’re alone, you’re not. If ever you think no one cares, I do. Please come join me behind the blocks.

The Pat Tillman Award for Service honors an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the former Army Ranger and NFL star’s legacy.

MIGHTY GAMING

How Blizzard is putting the ‘war’ back in Warcraft

Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft is still going strong after nearly 14 years of being at the top of the video game world. One of the ways that Blizzard has maintained such success is by releasing a constant stream of new content for subscribers to enjoy. This trend continues with next week’s release of the game’s seventh expansion, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth.

This time around, instead of focusing on fighting some giant, world-ending bad guy, the developers are taking a different approach and are returning to what made the game so beloved: the faction-based conflict between the Alliance of humans, dwarves, and night elves and the Horde of orcs, trolls, and undead.


Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Players had little idea that a simple choice between left side or right side would mean so much fourteen years down the road.

(Blizzard Entertainment)

The game has always drawn players in by carefully scaling a character’s level of badassery with the amount of time spent playing. Couple this enrapturing, eventual rise to power with the ever-looming threat of attack by the opposing faction and you’ve got a recipe for player investment. When players are invested in the game, they start to care about the world — and its well-being.

The last expansion, World of Warcraft: Legion, saw players putting an end to the series’ primary antagonist, Sargeras. The fight against such a massive threat required that the Horde and Alliance mend bad blood and work together (mostly) to fend off a universal danger.

With the major threats quelled, players are rejoicing as opposing factions can finally go back to killing each other — and things have started off with a bang. As a lead-up to the expansion’s release, the Horde burnt down the capital city of the night elves, Darnassus. In return, the Alliance laid siege to the undead capital, The Undercity.

Right now, players are taking part in said attacks, storming the battlefield as either the defenders or the attackers, depending on which faction you chose when making your character — an event that, for some, happened nearly 14 years ago.

The Alliance-versus-Horde aspect of the game has long been a fan favorite. A huge section of player base has always taken their faction identity to heart. In the older days of World of Warcraft, if you made an Alliance character on a server, that was it. If you wanted to try life on the Horde, you had to pick a new server and start all over.

Back in 2004, it wasn’t uncommon for a group of friends to be split over something as simple as deciding to play as a dwarf or a troll because it meant they couldn’t play together. These restrictions have since been loosened and many players have characters on both factions — but they’ll remain fiercely loyal to their first, arbitrary choice.

This is actually the heart of what makes the advertisements for the new expansion so funny. Moments like the one in the video below really do happen between World of Warcraft players.

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

​My excuse is going to be “massive diarrhea to the point that I’d rather not risk seeing a doc.”

(Blizzard Entertainment)

It kind of goes without saying that the next expansion is heavily based on player-versus-player interactions. Players are highly encouraged to fight with their faction against their enemy and are given some pretty sweet in-game rewards for doing so. Ambush unsuspecting foes while they’re out exploring or take part in skirmishes in designated battlegrounds in the pursuit of honor — ‘honor’ here means both for the love of your faction and for literal ‘honor points.’

New to the expansion is the introduction of Warfronts, massive battlefields for which players fight to control. Victory means capturing a city that their faction retains until the next battle. There are also plenty of new zones filled brim with quests tailored specifically for your faction to help you reach the new max level, getting you ready to join the fight.

So, get ready to fight for your faction’s pride on Tuesday. Or, if you don’t play, get ready for some of your nerdy friends to sick call for a “totally valid” reason early next week.

MIGHTY TRENDING

When heroes need heroes: VA Nevada nurses deploy to New Jersey

Recently, I had the honor of sitting with five Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) from VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System in a quiet private airport in Reno, Nevada. We were waiting for their jet, courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, to arrive and whisk these heroes away to New Jersey. They were on their way to provide relief to the weary practitioners fighting the pandemic.

These LPNs volunteered to go to New Jersey to assist medical staff in nursing homes, where staff has been stretched to the breaking point caring for their high-risk senior population.


As I sat with them, I realized that I had an honest admiration not only for these five individuals, but also for my entire VA health care team.

Not one of them expressed regret with their decision to volunteer. Each would be working nonstop, 12-hour shifts (maybe longer) with complete strangers, caring for senior citizens on the East Coast. They spoke with compassion and used phrases like, “This is what I was born to do.”

Why this Army officer runs with a binder full of names

Nurses on their way to help in New Jersey.

We need nurses now more than ever

One even stated she has no family here in Nevada and if requested to extend her short tour in New Jersey, she gladly would. She said she hoped she would inspire someone to consider a career in health care. “We need more nurses,” she said, “now more than ever.”

The small Air Force C-21 jet arrived and three young crew members stepped down onto the tarmac. Through the waiting lounge window, the six of us made comments about the crew’s appearance in their military issued olive green flight suits.

We started making Top Gun references. “That one looks like Maverick,” said one. “If there’s a Goose, we are screwed!” said another. We all burst into laughter, which increased even more as the three young service members entered the airport with looks of bewilderment at our good humor. Their faces quickly transformed into comforting smiles. They understood that this moment was necessary.

“God speed and safe travels”

The pilot assured everyone that once the plane is fueled, loaded, and pre-flight checks done, they would be on their way. The flight crew graciously humored me with pictures of them with our nurses and the plane.

I assisted with loading the LPN’s bags onto the jet and bid everyone a safe journey. I remained in the small airport to watch through the window until the wheels were off the ground.

“God speed and safe travels,” I said aloud. I heard an “Amen” from behind me and turned to see a baggage handler had come to watch as well.

To the nurse who claimed to have no family here in Nevada, I beg to differ. You have VA. Together we are strong, and together we are a family.

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

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