Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

On Sept. 11, 2001, Air Force flight surgeon John Baxter showed up to work at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, to a full load of patients and completing physicals — just like any other day.

Halfway through his morning while getting his next patient, he saw that a civilian airliner had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers.

While with the patient, Baxter said he noticed the background noise in the Pentagon changed. It seemed quieter than usual. Then, he heard shouts. He opened his door and saw people running and shouting, and smoke in the hallway.


At first, Baxter didn’t know if there was an explosion, a fire or some other event. Despite the unknowns, he assembled his team of flight surgeons, a nurse and medical technicians. They grabbed medical kits and traveled as a group. Their emergency plan was to meet up with other medics at the Pentagon’s DiLorenzo Clinic.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

A red flower sits atop of every bench to remember the fallen on Sept. 11, 2001, during the Pentagon Memorial Observance Ceremony in Washington D.C., Sept. 11, 2018.

(Defense Department photo by Tech. Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

Then they heard the news: there were casualties in corridor 5.

Baxter’s team ran to the spot. They found Army veteran Brian Birdwell, who was in excruciating pain from burns. It was a situation that Baxter was unexpectedly prepared for: Months earlier, in an emergency exercise, the flight clinic trained for the same scenario that unfolded on 9/11: a plane crashing into the Pentagon.

John Baxter still serves at the Pentagon, though now as a civilian flight surgeon. For this week’s Born the Battle Podcast, Baxter details his story of 9/11 and the days that followed.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Troops return from border, but thousands to stay through holidays

Having completed their missions, some troops deployed to the US-Mexico border are heading back to their home bases, US Northern Command reported Dec. 13, 2018.

The number of troops at the border, which peaked at 5,900 troops from across the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, has been decreasing. Around 750 service members serving in Texas and Arizona redeployed to their home bases to prepare for other missions on Dec. 12, 2018. The Department of Defense currently has roughly 4,200 active-duty troops at the southern border.


By state, there are 1,700 active-duty troops in Texas, 1,000 in Arizona, and 1,500 in California. There are also approximately 2,100 National Guard units deployed to the US-Mexico border. For the active-duty troops, the mission, originally known as Operation Faithful Patriot but later renamed “border support,” was expected to end on Dec. 15, 2018, but the Department of Defense agreed to extend the mission to the end of January following a Department of Homeland Security Request.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

Army engineers install concertina wire Nov. 5, 2018, on the Anzalduas International Bridge, Texas.U.S Northern Command is providing military support to the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to secure the southern border of the United States.

(US Air Force photo by Airman First Class Daniel A. Hernandez)

The troops that have left the southern border are certain engineering, logistics, and headquarters units, some of which were involved in hardening points of entry and erecting barriers. Since late October 2018, troops have set up 70 miles of wire obstacles and moveable barriers at 22 ports of entry.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

(U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Alexandra Minor)

Among the remaining troops are military police units, which have completed 10,000 man-hours of unit training — including tactical and riot control training — in recent weeks, while military rotary wing aviators flew more than 740 hours in support of the border mission. These units will continue their service in border areas.

Several thousand troops were sent to the border toward the end of October 2018 to support Customs and Border Protection as large caravans consisting of thousands of Central American migrants marched northward. While the mission initially focused on barrier emplacement, a force protection element has also been incorporated for the active-duty military personnel deployed to the border.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

U.S. Soldiers and Marines assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 7, practice non-lethal crowd control drills at the Calexico West Port of Entry in Calexico, California on Nov. 27, 2018.

(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Nyatan Bol)

While there was a clash between migrants and CBP personnel at the San Ysidro port of entry November 2018, there have not been any serious escalations since. Some of the migrants have actually started heading home.

President Donald Trump stated Dec. 11, 2018, that the military could be directed to build a wall on the US-Mexico border, but the Pentagon explained the same day that there is no plan at this time for service members to do so.

Many of the president’s critics have accused Trump of using the military for a political stunt. These accusations have been rejected by the Department of Defense and the administration.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This military family’s dog came back from the dead to rejoin them

It’s hard to say goodbye to a loved one, even if they may not understand what “goodbye” means. When the Harworth Family relocated to South Korea from Fort Bragg, they had to leave behind Zeus, the family dog. Putting Zeus under the care of a family friend, they took off for Asia in 2012 with the hopes that they would see Zeus again.

Just a few months later, the friend told Ben Harworth that his beloved Chow Chow-German Shepherd-Rottweiler-mixed best friend had died. The family was devastated.


Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder
The Harworths’ dog, Zeus.

Time went on and the Harworth’s pain over losing their family friend slowly eased and life continued as it always had — but that’s not where the story ends.

Much after the dog’s reported demise, Laura Williams of Durham, N.C., picked up what looked like a Rottweiler along the roadside. It was thin and gaunt but otherwise looked like a healthy dog. She picked him up and took him to the nearby Banfield Pet Hospital where veterinarians found the canine was microchipped. The information on the chip told them that the dog’s name was Zeus and that he belonged to the Harworth Family.

The Raleigh-based hospital called the Harworths — who were living in Washington State in 2015. When the family found out their beloved Zeus, presumed dead for three years, was actually alive, they were ecstatic.

“We all got chills,” Williams told Raleigh’s CBS affiliate WNCN. “The girl from the vet got chills. I got goosebumps and I almost started crying because, for the past three years, they thought their dog was dead.”

The hospital arranged a Skype reunion between the family and their dog – Zeus’ tail wagged furiously for the entire duration. Sadly, this was the only meeting they could arrange at the time. Zeus was suffering from heartworm and was unable to fly the 3,000 miles to the Harworths’ new home.

But don’t worry — the story doesn’t end there, either.

Banfield Pet Hospital covered the cost of treating Zeus’ heartworm, but the employees there went a step further. Banfield’s practice manager, Rachel Overby, decided to drive Zeus home. She took him nearly 3,000 miles to reunite Zeus with his family after three long years.

Zeus was met by Ben, Melody, and the entire Harworth family (along with a crew of reporters who followed the journey on Instagram with the hashtag #GetZeusHome). Tears no doubt filled everyone’s eyes as Zeus climbed out of the van that made the cross-country trip to get him home.

The only difference in the Harworth family was the addition of Bear, a nine-pound Chihuahua that joined the family after Zeus’ supposed death.

No one is sure why the Harworths’ family friend told them Zeus passed away or even how Zeus managed to make it from the Fayetteville area to the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. The Harworths hadn’t spoken to that friend in the three years since Zeus’ alleged passing.

Articles

US paratroopers are testing this new tactical chest rig

The US Army is testing a new fighting load system for paratroopers, designed specifically for airborne operations.


“The Airborne Tactical Assault Panel, or ABN-TAP, was developed with the paratrooper in mind and will allow the paratrooper a greater degree of comfort, mobility, and safety during static line airborne infiltration operations,” said Rich Landry of the US Army Soldier Systems Center laboratories in Natick, Massachusetts.

Previous fighting load system designs interfered with the fit of the T-11 parachute harness and moved T-11 reserve activation handle further away from the paratrooper’s grasp.

The ABN-TAP, which is similar to the old Load Bearing Equipment or LBE, enables soldiers to rig the fighting load under the parachute harness but below the reserve parachute.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder
Fort Bragg paratroopers in action. Army Photo by Sgt. Steven Galimore.

“This will allow paratroopers to properly adjust the T-11 parachute harness to their specific sizing requirements and keep the T-11 reserve parachute handle well within reach,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ian Seymour, Test NCO from the Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate, or ABNSOTD.

The ABN-TAP design actually draws its lineage from the older LBE system used with the T-10 and MC1-1 parachute systems by paratroopers for decades.

Soon after the Global War on Terror began, all branches of the armed services rushed to modernize field equipment to meet the rigors of modern combat and allow for the constant presence of body armor, according to Mike Tracy, deputy test division chief at ABNSOTD.

“With the vest/plate carrier systems seeing overwhelming soldier acceptance, the task of providing the paratrooper with a modern design compatible with current parachute systems is challenging to say the least,” Tracy said.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder
Soldiers from the 57th Sapper Company, 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, assemble the Airborne Tactical Assault Panel. US Army photo by Jim Finney.

The ABN-TAP bridges this gap by providing both new and old capabilities to the paratrooper.

Tracy explained that this new fighting load system allows not only for rigging under the parachute harness and reserve, but can be rapidly adjusted to serve as a “chest rig” design upon landing.

“Ground troops consider this to be the most efficient design under current operational conditions,” said Tracy.

“Operational testing using airborne paratroopers, collects data which truly allows the Army to evaluate the suitability and safety of the ABN-TAP when worn during static line airborne operations and follow-on missions,” Tracy said.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder
The Airborne Tactical Assault Panel (ABN-TAP) rigging configurations. Photo from US Army.

Before testing soldiers participated in New Equipment Training, which included familiarization with the system, fitting and proper rigging of the ABN-TAP with the T-11 parachute system.

Soldiers then conducted parachute jumps from a C-17 aircraft at 1,250 feet above ground level over Sicily Drop Zone at Bragg.

Upon completion of testing, the ABN-TAP could potentially be issued to Army airborne forces worldwide.

“Any time soldiers and their leaders get involved in operational testing, they have the opportunity to use, work with, and offer up their own suggestions on pieces of equipment that can impact development of systems that future soldiers will use in combat,” said Col. Brad Mock, the director of all the Army’s Airborne testing.

Articles

New Civic Health Index details what vets bring to communities

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder


Sociological examination of veterans confirms higher rates of voting, volunteering, and civic engagement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The veteran empowerment campaign Got Your 6 today unveiled the latest findings of its annual Veterans Civic Health Index, a major study that confirms significant and positive trends in levels of civic engagement among veterans. As the nation approaches Election Day, Got Your 6’s findings provide tangible evidence that veterans volunteer, engage with local governments and community organizations, vote, and help neighbors, all at rates higher than their non-veteran counterparts.

Findings from the report were highlighted this morning at an event titled “Veterans: America’s Greatest Assets” at SiriusXM’s Washington, D.C. studios. The event featured panels moderated by SiriusXM POTUS Channel 124 host Jared Rizzi and included Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald, co-chairs of the Congressional Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.), and Got Your 6 Executive Director Bill Rausch, among others.

Among other data points, the 2016 Veterans Civic Health Index found:

  • Voting – 73.8 percent of veterans always or sometimes vote in local elections, versus 57 percent of non-veterans.
  • Service – Veteran volunteers serve an average of 169 hours annually – more than four full work weeks. Non-veteran volunteers serve about 25 percent fewer hours annually.
  • Civic Involvement – 11 percent of veterans attended a public meeting in the last year, versus 8.2 percent of non-veterans.

    Community Engagement – 10.7 percent of veterans worked with their neighbors to fix community problems, compared to 7.6 percent of non-veterans.

The full report is available here.

“This report shows that by investing in our country’s veterans we’re really investing in our communities,” said Rausch. “The Veterans Civic Health Index continues to be shared as a tool to increase understanding, eliminate misconceptions, and empower veterans as they return home. Now, as our nation prepares to vote in November, this report serves as an indispensable annual metric for evaluating the veteran empowerment movement.”

“I’m thankful to Got Your 6 for putting this study together which proves what many of us inherently know to be true: that veterans are engaged members of their communities. To them, service does not end when the uniform comes off; it often means being a leader in their community, a dutiful employee, a coveted neighbor and a civic asset,” said Sec. McDonald. “A sense of purpose lasts a lifetime. Our nation is stronger because of its veterans.”

“Contrary to the misguided stereotype that veterans have difficulty coping when they re-enter civilian life, this report confirms what many veterans already know: veterans continue to impact their communities in positive and significant ways after leaving the military. Veterans are not a population that requires services, but a population that continues to serve our nation,” said Rep. Perry, co-chair of the Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus.

“This report underscores what so many of us see and experience every day: when our veterans return to civilian life, their mission of service doesn’t end. Whether it’s running for local office, volunteering in their communities, exercising their right and responsibility to vote, and so much more, our veterans continue to give back and serve our communities long after they leave the military. With roughly 500 veterans reentering civilian life every day, this report highlights the many ways our veterans continue to serve, and the responsibility we have to support and empower them,” said Rep. Gabbard, co-chair of the Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus.

“It is important to recognize how civic health is entwined with many of the social and political issues that are top of mind for Americans today,” said VCHI author and Got Your 6 Director of Strategy Julia Tivald. “As the VCHI reports, civic engagement is vital for strong communities, and veterans – through their consistently high engagement – are strengthening communities at higher rates than their non-veteran peers. As we search for solutions to some of our country’s most pressing issues, we should look to veterans who are continuing to lead in their communities, and also follow their example by engaging alongside them.”

Listen to “Veterans: America’s Greatest Assets” on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel 124 Friday, Sept. 30 at 2pm ET and Saturday, Oct. 1 at 1pm and 9pm ET.

The report also features a detailed examination of the city of Baltimore, Md., demonstrating that local veterans volunteer more than local nonveterans (30.7 percent versus 27.2 percent), participate in civic organizations (20.7 percent versus 7.3 percent), and vote at higher rates in local elections (75.8 percent v 61.2 percent).

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The US’ most powerful helicopter ever enters service next year

The Marine Corps is nearing the end of testing for a new heavy-lift helicopter expected to be a game-changer for the service.

The CH-53K King Stallion is on track to enter service in 2019, replacing aging and worn CH-53 Echo heavy-lift helicopters.


While the aircrafts look similar, and have comparable footprints, program managers said April 9, 2018, at the annual Sea-Air-Space exposition that the new aircraft represents a leap forward in capability and intelligence.

“[This is] the most powerful helicopter the United States has ever fielded,” said Marine Col. Hank Vanderborght, the Corps’ H-53 program manager. “Not only the most powerful, the most modern and also the smartest.”

The King Stallion recently lifted an external load of 36,000 pounds into a hover and hoisted a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle into the air, expanding a capability envelope that is ultimately expected to see the new helicopter carrying three times the load that its predecessor could handle.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder
A CH-53K King Stallion aircraft prepares to land at Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Jupiter, Fla., March 8, 2016.
(US Marine Corps photo)

With flight tests ongoing since October 2015, the King Stallion has logged more than 800 flight hours and is headed into the final stages of testing before initial operational capability sometime in 2019

Smart controls and a fly-by-wire system make the aircraft safer to fly and decrease the workload for the pilot, Vanderborght said.

“A month ago, I got to fly the 53K for the first time,” said Vanderborght, a CH-53E pilot by trade. “It is absolutely night and day between Echo and the Kilo. I could have pretty much flown the entire flight without touching my controls.”

That matters, he said, because in “99-plus percent” of aviation mishaps, a major cause is human error.

“In degraded visual environments, we lose sight of the ground and crash the aircraft. If you’re able to take the human out of the loop, you’re going to increase that safety factor by multiple Xs,” he said. “That’s what the 53K is going to do for the Marines.”

The CH-53K is equipped to fly so the pilot “pretty much could be sipping on a martini while the aircraft does its thing,” Vanderborght said.

All that capability comes with a price tag, but it’s not as high as some feared it would be.

In 2017, Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., raised concerns that the per unit cost for the King Stallion was climbing, to $122 million apiece in development. Program officials said the aircraft was never set to cost that much in production.

Vanderborght said the unit cost of the aircraft is now set to come in at $87 million. While that means the King Stallion will still be the most expensive helo the Marine Corps has ever bought, it’s below the service’s initial cost estimate of $89 million in production.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How problems on Navy’s new supercarrier helped it build the next one

Days after the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford sailed out of a “challenging” post-shakedown work period that was extended three months because of maintenance problems, the dry dock holding the second Ford-class carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy, was flooded, launching the carrier three months early.

The Kennedy’s builders and crew have gotten a boost from the Ford, according to the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Todd Marzano.

“We are definitely benefiting from being the second aircraft carrier in the class,” Marzano told Business Insider last week. “We’re leveraging their lessons learned, which has helped not only from the construction side but from our sailor training.”


Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

Capt. Todd Marzano, the Kennedy’s commanding officer.

(US Navy photo by MCS3 Class Adam Ferrero)

A graduate of Naval Fighter Weapons School, or Top Gun, Marzano has gone to sea aboard Kitty Hawk-, Nimitz-, and Ford-class carriers, serving as a fighter squadron commander as well as executive officer and commanding officer of the carrier itself.

At a ceremony in May, Marzano recalled driving past the Ford as construction began in late 2015 and thinking that “some lucky captain” would get to be its first skipper. In a mast-stepping ceremony after that speech, he put his first set of gold aviator’s wings under the 650-ton island as it was lowered onto the flight deck.

That “signified my commitment as the CO of the ship to ensure … that I’m going make sure that the crew is ready to do their job and operate the ship when we take it out to sea,” Marzano said. “So it meant a lot to me. This is definitely a pinnacle tour in my career.”

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

The Kennedy.

(US Navy photo by MCS3 Class Adam Ferrero)

Marzano assumed command of the Kennedy, designated CVN-79, on October 1, at a ceremony attended by the carrier’s first 43 sailors, who were handpicked for the assignment.

“We officially stood up the command on October 1, and as of today we have just over 150 crew members on board, and that number just continues to grow daily,” Marzano said on Nov. 19, 2019. “The current focus since they’ve shown up is to create a solid foundation, which means getting our programs, our procedures established. We’re also focusing on a lot of training and, most importantly, developing a healthy culture throughout all levels of the command.”

Marzano added that “some of the sailors on the Ford have now been transferred over to our ship, so we can benefit from their knowledge … gained on their tour.”

The Ford-class carriers — the Ford, the Kennedy, the Enterprise, and the unnamed CVN-81 — are or will be equipped with new technology the Navy believes will keep them effective for decades to come. The Ford’s first sailors, with months or even years of hands-on experience with that tech, were creating “basically instructions on how to operate this ship with its systems and its new design,” as one sailor put it.

“Now we’re going to benefit from that, and they can help train our new sailors,” Marzano said.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

The island of the Kennedy is placed on the flight deck during a mast-stepping ceremony in Newport News, Virginia, on May 29, 2019.

In addition to changing or excluding some features, the Navy and the carrier’s builder, Huntington Ingalls Industries, have made changes to the Kennedy’s build strategy to control costs and stay on schedule.

The Ford was being built as it was being designed, according to Mike Butler, Huntington Ingalls’ program manager for the Kennedy. But the Kennedy had a complete model, saving time.

“Every piece of pipe, every cable, every other piece of equipment was loaded in a three-dimensional product model, and that gave us the ability, for example, [to do] hole cuts, where you have a bulkhead or a deck and you have to cut a hole in it for a pipe to go through or an electrical cable,” Butler told Business Insider on Nov. 29, 2019.

On Nimitz-class carriers, “prior to the product model,” Butler said, “we probably cut 75% of those holes on ship once we ran the pipe and saw where it went through the bulkhead.”

There was “much less” cutting on ship on the Ford because of the product model, Butler said. But on the Kennedy, “with the complete product model, I virtually cut 100% of all of those hole cuts in the ship.”

“While the shop was still fabricating the deck plates and bulkhead panels, they could go in and robotically locate and cut all of those holes in those structural members while it was still in the shop environment, which is a big deal because there are probably close to 100,000 holes that go through decks and bulkheads that have to be cut,” Butler added.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

The upper bow unit of the Kennedy is fitted to the primary structure of the ship on July 10, 2019.

(US Navy/Huntington Ingalls Industries/Matt Hildreth)

The design and planning documents for the Kennedy were updated as work continued on the Ford. But the biggest change was in how the second Ford-class carrier was actually put together, Butler said.

About 1,100 structural boxes are built to assemble the carrier, each outfitted with components like wiring. Those boxes are put together into larger sections called super lifts, which are outfitted further. The carrier is then assembled from those super lifts — “sort of like a Lego build,” Butler said.

On the Kennedy, “particularly early in the program, we did a lot more outfitting,” Butler said. “We built larger boxes in our steel fabrication division. We brought those to our final assembly plant. We built larger super lifts than we did on [the Ford] in some areas, and we put more outfitting in a lot of those super lifts, particularly early in the program.

“So we ended up with less lifts into the dock and many cases of larger super lifts that had more outfitting … which drives your cost down as well,” Butler added.

“We’re definitely aggressively seeking the lessons learned and then applying them to the Kennedy, and we’re already seeing benefits of that. Construction progress has gone much more efficiently,” Marzano said. “So both on the construction and the level-of-knowledge side for the sailors, that’s paying off. Being the second in class is definitely easier in that regard for sure.”

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer is briefed by the USS Gerald R. Ford’s commanding officer on Jan. 17, 2018.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Kiana A. Raines)

The Ford’s marquee features have been among the most troublesome, particularly the advanced weapons elevators, drawing congressional scrutiny and the ire of former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, who excoriated Huntington Ingalls, saying last month that the shipbuilder had “no idea” what it was doing.

Those electromagnetically powered elevators are supposed to carry more ordnance faster — up to 24,000 pounds at 150 feet a minute over Nimitz-class elevators’ 10,500 pounds at 100 feet a minute — from storage magazines deep in the hull. But just four of the Ford’s 11 elevators have been certified and turned over to the crew.

Those new elevators have new electrical and mechanical technology and are “a lot more complex than traditional weapons elevators,” with “a lot tighter tolerances because of that,” Butler said.

Work on the Kennedy’s elevators was delayed to incorporate lessons from the Ford, Butler added.

“A lot of the areas where they’ve had issues that they’ve had to resolve we’ve been able to hold back, get those issues resolved, change the design, change the work documents,” Butler said. “That allows us now to go in and do that work the first time with those lessons learned already.”

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

Sailors review safety procedures for the Upper Stage 1 advanced weapons elevator in the Ford’s weapons department on Jan. 16, 2019.

Those pauses didn’t affect work on the hull and parts of the ship exposed to seawater, allowing it to be launched ahead of schedule in October 2019, Butler said.

In addition to being ahead of schedule, the Kennedy was also 5% more complete than the Ford at the time of its launch, according to James Geurts, the Navy’s acquisitions chief.

Like Marzano’s crew, Butler’s team has also benefitted from an influx of personnel from the Ford.

Butler said that “working through all those different technical issues” on the Ford, they had “developed a set of industry experts at the shipyard, and our design, manufacturing, construction, and testing of those elevators.”

“Now that expert team is beginning to migrate to my ship, bringing those people and those lessons learned, working with my team,” Butler added, “so that we’ve got people on the deck plate who’ve been through these elevators, helping us modify our build plan to improve that process.”

Butler declined to comment on Spencer’s criticisms, saying he was “laser-focused” the Kennedy.

“Morale is great. We know we’ve worked through a lot of the first-in-class problems,” Butler added. “We are building this ship cheaper; we’re building the ship faster. And to us that is showing that first-of-class-to-second-of-class improvement is exactly what we thought it would be.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This band’s veterans served in all conflicts from WWII to the GWOT

The Iowa Military Veterans Band boasts a roster of 100 veterans who have served in almost every conflict from WWII to the GWOT. These musician veterans represent every branch of the military – even the Coasties!

And the crowd went wild!

The Iowa Military Veterans Band got together to perform at the dedication of a WWII monument back in 1996. That just made sense, since the majority of the veterans at that time served in WWII. Others served in Korea and Vietnam in both combat and combat support units. But the crowd responded so well to their performance that these talented musicians decided to stay together and permanently form a band. They’re still going strong 20 years later!

Music has been a part of military history since, well, forever. Back in the day, regiments used to perform on the field to convey orders and keep the grunts motivated. Then militaries got wise and formed official bands that traveled with their units to keep up the espirit de corps. In fact, that’s where marching bands as we know them came from! These days, there are plenty of examples of great military bands. Some have even gained fame from shows like America’s Got Talent.

It’s not likely the Iowa Veterans Band is going to perform for AGT anytime soon, but maybe they should think about it?

Service is part of their blood

Iowa Military Veterans Band
The Iowa Military Veterans Band in all their glory

Here’s what makes this band so special. It’s the only one of its kind in the entire country. True to their military roots, the Iowa Military Veterans band is officially a nonprofit organization. They’re all about giving back, helping their community, and improving the lives of veterans. They help support other VSOs in the Iowa veteran community. All concerts are free and most of the admin expenses are paid for by veterans themselves.

They keep going thanks to generous donations from Iowa businesses and individuals. Not once have they used tax dollars for support. 

An orchestra of veterans

Of course, these accomplished musicians in the Iowa Military Veterans Band play a variety of instruments. This includes the usual you’d expect in a band like trumpets and clarinets. But there are also some harp and euphonium musicians, too! As a matter of fact, the band even has a vocalist. With that in mind, most of the band’s set lists are performances of songs by great American composers. These include the big names like Karl King, Meredith Wilson, John Philip Sousa, Irving Berlin and George M. Cohan.

In a normal year, the band plays between six and seven concerts from early May to Veteran’s Day in November. All members volunteer their time for rehearsals and shows to share their love of music with the people of Iowa.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The National Veterans Memorial and Museum presents a virtual tour of “We The People: Portraits of Veterans in America”

A special virtual art exhibit called “We The People: Portraits for Veterans in America” was debuted last week at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.

Mary Whyte is the watercolor artist who created the special exhibition. Her paintings have earned her international recognition and she is the recipient of the Portrait Society of America’s Gold Medal and the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award. She is also an author and the founder of The Patriot Art Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring veterans and assist them into transitioning into civilian life.

The “We The People: Portraits for Veterans in America” exhibition includes 50 watercolor portraits of veterans in their civilian lives. Although the exhibit opened to the public in September of this year, Whyte and the National Veterans Memorial and Museum created a virtual exhibit so that more people could have access to this unique art experience.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

The virtual experience not only includes a tour of the exhibit by Whyte but also stories from her experiences as she visited her subjects around the country. 

Lt. General Michael Ferriter, U.S. Army (Ret.) is the president and CEO of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum. He notes that the virtual experience brings the art into the lives of those who otherwise might not be able to experience it.

“Thanks to [Whyte] and our amazing team, we have reached another museum milestone — our first virtual tour … We are excited to share this incredible Veteran art to connect, inspire, and educate families — wherever they may be — during the holidays and beyond.”

The virtual tour lasts about 24 minutes and takes viewers through the museum’s Great Hall, where the exhibit is located. Viewers will see Whyy’s detailed portraits as she shares the stories of her seven-year journey across America to paint a veteran from every state in the U.S.

The series depicts military veterans of all ages and walks of life, including an astronaut, a zookeeper, and more.

“The taxi driver, schoolteacher, dairy farmer, and rancher among others, are a collective symbol of the pursuit of peace and the freedom in which this country was founded,” said Whyte.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

Tickets for the virtual exhibition are available now until March 21, 2021 through the National Veterans Memorial and Museum website for $7. Museum members can enjoy the tour for free. Each ticket is available to the viewer(s) for 72 hours after purchase and can be viewed multiple times during the three-day period.

To secure your tickets for this unique and moving exhibit, visit the National Veterans Memorial and Museum website.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

US Marines take the Humvee’s replacement out for a spin

Multiple units on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton have started to introduce the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to their Marines by teaching them the basic operations of one of the Marine Corps’ newest ground vehicles.

“The JLTV is a lot more capable than the Humvee,” said Mario Marin, the JLTV lead instructor with the I Marine Expeditionary Force JLTV Operator New Equipment Training course. “The ability for the driver to actually manipulate the system itself, using what’s called a MUX panel, a multi-plex panel, or the driver smart display. The driver has, at his finger tip, a lot of control of the vehicle. It has a lot of technological advances that the Humvee does not, and that is just your basic JLTV.”


The JLTV is meant to replace the Humvee all across the Department of Defense. The JLTV is equipped with more highly evolved technology compared to the basic equipment of a Humvee.

The JLTV is mechanically reliable, maintainable with on-board diagnostics, all terrain mobile, and equipped to link into current and future tactical data nets.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

US Marine Lance Cpl. Xavier Puente, a mortarman with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, listens to an instructor during the I Marine Expeditionary Force Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Operator New Equipment Training course in 13 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

US Marines familiarize themselves with the inside of a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle during the I Marine Expeditionary Force JLTV Operator New Equipment Training course in 13 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

US Marines take notes in a class during the I Marine Expeditionary Force Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Operator New Equipment Training course in 13 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

US Marine Pfc. Nailey Riviere, a motor vehicle operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, loosens a bolt on the wheel of a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle during the I Marine Expeditionary Force JLTV Operator New Equipment Training course in 13 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

US Marines conduct cone skill drills during the I Marine Expeditionary Force Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Operator New Equipment Training course in 13 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 17, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

US Marines conduct cone skill drills during the I Marine Expeditionary Force Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Operator New Equipment Training course in 13 Area on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 17, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alison Dostie)

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

US Marines drive Joint Light Tactical Vehicles at White Beach as part of the I Marine Expeditionary Force JLTV Operator New Equipment Training course on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 24, 2019.

(Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

US Marines drive a Joint Light Tactical Vehicles through the water at White Beach as part of the I Marine Expeditionary Force JLTV Operator New Equipment Training course on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Oct. 24, 2019.

(Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

A US Marine parks a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle at White Beach as part of the I Marine Expeditionary Force JLTV Operator New Equipment Training course on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, October 24, 2019.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

“This license is better than any other license that I’ve had,” said Cpl. Devonte Jacobs, a motor vehicle operator with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. “This vehicle is capable of doing a lot more than any other vehicle, and it will help Marines become better.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

TrueCar partners up with DAV and Team RWB to give cars to wounded veterans

Last year, TrueCar teamed up with DAV (Disabled American Veterans) to put on the DrivenToDrive program and awarded U.S. Army Veteran and Special Forces medic Major Peter Way the keys to a new, adapted van at the closing ceremony of Team Red White & Blue’s Old Glory Relay on Veteran’s Day.

In May, 2018, they did it again, awarding ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Goodrich a new 2018 Honda Ridgeline. Goodrich is a veteran of the Iraq War, during which he sustained traumatic brain and leg injuries. After traveling the long road to reovery, he dedicated his life to helping other veterans through the use of art therapy — and the DriventoDrive program gave him the perfect tool for the job.

Now, TrueCar is teaming up with DAV and Team RWB to do it again. This Veterans Day in San Diego, California, the DriventoDrive program is going to award another new car to another courageous vet in need — and they need your help.


Submit your DrivenToDrive application here.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

Mike Goodrich receiving his new 2018 Honda Ridgeline.

An estimated 4.9 million veterans have a service-connected disability according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But, as many brave veterans like Way and Goodrich have shown, that doesn’t stop them from lifting up their communities.

The CEO of DAV, Marc Burgess spoke on the program earlier this year,

“DAV is grateful to partner with TrueCar and their DrivenToDrive program, which is designed to help the brave men and women who served our country regain their freedom and independence. Awarding a vehicle is a special way to recognize the sacrifices a veteran made and dramatically improve his or her quality of life. We’re additionally grateful to TrueCar for supporting DAV’s mission to honor our heroes and make them aware of the assistance we provide at no cost.”
Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

TrueCar wants to know what drives you. When applying, entrants should talk about the nominee, any details regarding his or her military experience and injuries sustained (if any), and what goals he or she hopes to achieve with a new vehicle.

All applications are then evaluated by a panel and, eventually, one winner is selected.

The ability to drive, especially in the United States, is a symbol of independence. It gives you the ability to go your own way — and TrueCar wants to give that freedom back to someone who worked to protect our freedoms back home.

If you’d like to enter for a chance to win (or nominate a deserving veteran in your community), be sure to visit the DrivenToDrive website — but act quickly. Submissions are open between now and October 8, 2018, at 8:59:59 PM PT.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un to end the Korean nuclear crisis

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited US President Donald Trump to meet and said his country would refrain from further nuclear and missile tests.


South Korean National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong and National Intelligence Service Chief Suh Hoon arrived to Washington, DC early March 2018 to brief their counterpart, national security adviser H.R. McMaster, on new diplomatic overtures from North Korea.

“Kim Jong-un said he is committed to denuclearization,” Chung said on March 8, 2018. “Kim pledged that North Korea will refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests.”

Also read: Kim Jong Un received a South Korean delegation for the first time

“And he expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,” Chung continued.

Chung said Trump “appreciated” the briefing, and agreed to meet with Kim Jong-un “to achieve permanent denuclearization.” The White House said a time and date for that meeting has not yet been determined.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder
Kim Jong Un

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Trump had accepted the invitation. She also emphasized that the US’s strict sanctions against North Korea, which were leveled in part because of the regime’s missile-test activity, will remain in effect.

“We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea,” Sanders said. “In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised the outcome through his spokesperson: “The May meeting will be recorded as a historic milestone that realized peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon reportedly said.

Related: This is why you can’t trust North Korea’s new charm offensive

“In particular, the leadership of President Trump, who gladly accepted Chairman Kim’s invitation, will receive praise not only from people in the South and the North, but also from people around the world,” Moon continued.

Earlier on March 8, 2018, Trump teased that a “major announcement” would be made: “Hopefully, you will give me credit,” Trump quipped, according to ABC News journalist Meredith McGraw.

Trump has periodically indicated an openness to talks with North Korea “at the appropriate time, under the right circumstances.”

Beginning in January 2018, North Korea made several diplomatic moves to indicate a willingness to negotiate with the US and South Korea.

Following its participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics, the North conducted several meetings with officials from the South, including President Moon.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder
South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, in Seoul, South Korea in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) February 10, 2018.

In the meeting between South Korea’s envoy and Kim Jong-un, North Korea proposed a summit with Moon in April 2018 — the third such summit between the two Koreas since the Korean War.

Trump said of those developments on March 6, 2018: “I think that they are sincere, but I think they are sincere also because the sanctions.”

More: South Korea’s special ops wants to kill Kim Jong Un with suicide drones

“I hope they are sincere. We’re going to see and find out,” Trump said.

Kim Jong-un’s apparent verbal commitment to denuclearization, if he follows through with it, would be a significant victory for the US. Denuclearization is the key precondition for diplomatic engagement, as outlined by the Trump administration.

“Our condition is denuclearization,” US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said to reporters in late February 2018. “Our policy has not changed. We have talked about this policy since day one of this administration; and that’s maximum pressure, but it’s also the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

US officials remained cautious on March 8, 2018. Hours before Chung’s announcement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US was “a long ways from negotiations.”

“I think it’s – we just need to be very clear-eyed and realistic about it,” Tillerson said during a press conference from Ethiopia.

Japan, a country that has often witnessed North Korea’s missiles flying overhead, announced that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be visiting Trump in April 2018 to discuss the recent developments with North Korea, Japan’s Kyodo News reported.

MIGHTY HISTORY

7 awesome posters that motivated your grandfather in World War II

Not everyone joins the military right after hearing a news report about Pearl Harbor attacks, after seeing the Twin Towers fall, or after hearing a speech by President Polk talking about “American blood” shed “on American soil.” No, most troops who will join a war make the decision slowly, over time. These are the posters from World War II that might have helped your (great) grandpa or grandmother decide to contribute to the fights in Europe, the Pacific, and Asia.


Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

(U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

This iconic poster from 1942, “Man the Guns,” encouraged men to join the Navy and do their bit for victory on the open ocean.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

(U.S. Army Military History Institute)

World War II saw the first use of paratroopers and other airborne commandos in combat. Germany kicked off airborne combat history during its invasions of Western Europe, but all of the major Allied and Axis powers fielded some sort of airborne force.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

(Flickr/Marines)

“The Marines have landed” was a World War II recruiting poster that capitalized on the expeditionary nature of the Marine Corps. It was first completed in 1941 but was aimed at 1942 recruiting goals. The Marines focused on the Pacific Theater in the war, chipping away at Japan’s control of Pacific islands until the Army Air Forces were in range of the home islands.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

(United States Army Air Forces)

The air forces of the world saw huge expansions in World War I and then the inter-war years. By the time World War II was in full swing, thousands of planes were clashing over places like the English Channel and the Battle of Kursk. American air forces launched from bases in the Pacific, England, Africa, and more in order to take the ultimate high ground against the Axis forces.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

(U.K. National Archives)

This poster from England referenced a Winston Churchill speech in 1941 that reminded the English people of their great successes in late 1940 and early 1941. Hitler’s planned invasion of the British Isles had been prevented, and Churchill was hopeful that continued English resistance would pull America into the war. He finished the speech with this passage:

We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.
Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

(U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

American men who joined the Army started at a bare a month, equivalent to about 0 today. Joining the Airborne forces could more than double that pay, but it was still clear that fighting the Nazis or the Japanese empire had to be done for patriotism, not the insane pay.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

(U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

This poster by J. Howard Miller became an iconic image of wartime production and is thought to be the prototype that led to the “Rosie the Riveter” campaign and the accompanying image by Norman Rockwell on The Saturday Evening Post. Women entered the workforce in record numbers in World War II to help the country keep up with wartime demand while a large portion of the male workforce was sent overseas.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

(Flickr/Boston Public Library)

Not everyone could serve on the front lines. Whether restricted because of age, health, or some other factor, people who wanted to serve their country’s defense in the states could join the U.S. Office of Civilian Defense. If it sounds like busy work to you, understand that America’s coasts were being regularly attacked by submarines while the occasional raid by planes or balloons was an ever-present threat.

Borne the Battle: Air Force veteran John Baxter, 9/11 responder

(U.K. National Archives)

England took some of the worst hits from Germany in World War II, so British propagandists found it important to remind a scared English public that they’d been here before, that they’d survived before, and that Germany had been turned back before. It might have been cold comfort after France fell so quickly in World War II after holding out for all of World War I, but even cold comfort is preferable to none.

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