Borne the Battle: The state of military film - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

“1917” and “The Last Full Measure” will soon be coming to a theater near you. These military movies have been carefully crafted to capture an authentic look at life in the military. Fortunately, many military films and TV shows have been carefully crafted with the help of veterans like Dale Dye, Travis Wade, Jennifer Marshall, and Hiram Murray. They came on Borne the Battle to discuss the business of making military films in the current Marvel and Call of Duty era.


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According to the panel, Hollywood often looks to veterans for military advising, but only recently has it begun to see the benefits of casting veterans as actors. The panel discusses professionally balancing the two roles on set.

Additionally, the panel talks how difficult it is to make military films. From getting the right actors at the right time to placating Hollywood execs. In the panel, Dye mentions why it is worth it to “herd cats” on set.

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Finally, the panel lays bare that these films need the support of veterans. In the current superhero climate, veteran support of military films and TV series are what show Hollywood that these types of films have a large audience that wants to see these stories.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

After 43 years, hero Vietnam vet gets Navy Cross

It’s the summer of 1968 in Vietnam, a sergeant with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment was forced into a position he never could have imagined. He had to lead his entire company through a deadly enemy ambush after the company commander, platoon commander, and senior enlisted leadership were wounded in the fight.

These were the circumstances of retired Marine 1st Sgt. John J. Lord during the battle of Hue City, nearly half a century ago, during the Vietnam War.


Lord was awarded the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award for combat bravery, during a ceremony at a Marine Corps Birthday Ball celebration in Vancouver, Washington Nov. 17, 2018. The Navy Cross award was an upgrade from a Bronze Star that Lord received in 1975, seven years after he put himself in the cross-hairs of the North Vietnamese Army when rescuing his fellow Marines who were wounded.

Lord took over command of the entire company and located one of the only working radios and then started directing air support against the enemy.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

U.S. Marines fighting in Hue.

The day immediately following the battle, now retired Lt. Col. Michael Sweeney began pushing for Lord to be awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism and valor during the fight. Even after the Bronze Star was awarded, Sweeney continued to push for the Navy Cross. Finally, 43 years later, Sweeney’s efforts bore fruit.

According to his citation, Lord’s actions helped turned the tide of the battle. However, he always stayed true to his men and their efforts during the fight.

“Everything on that citation is true except one thing they left off,” Lord said. “They left off the Marines who served with me that day.”

Four of his fellow unit members were in attendance the night of the ceremony, and stood at Lord’s behest to receive a standing ovation from all who were in attendance just like they did for Lord just moments prior.
Lord proclaimed how honored he was to serve with these Marines and how important they are to the mission.

“I can only stand here and say how proud I am to have served with you Marines — and corpsman, I won’t forget you too,” Lord said. “I am honored to call you brothers in arms.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

6 reasons why Vikings were just like our Marines, long before Tun Tavern

Troops today love to liken themselves to the warfighters of old — Spartans, crusaders, knights, pirates, or whatever else. It helps our troops buy into the classic warrior mentality and it makes us feel more badass. When it comes to U.S. Marines, there’s really one comparison that stands out above the rest as apt: the Vikings of the middle-ages.


I’m not going to sit here and tell you, young Marine, which historical badass you should try to emulate — you do you. But if you’re looking for some inspiration from history’s toughest customers; if you’re looking for some sea-faring, slightly-degenerate tough guys that howl for a fight, you’d do well to start your search with the Vikings.

Here’s where Vikings and modern Marines overlap:

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

1. Both were masters at disembarking amphibious landing ships to fight on land

First and foremost, there are no two groups in history more feared for their ability to storm beaches and absolutely destroy everything within range than Vikings and U.S. Marines. The Vikings are famous for their sieges on Northumbria while the Marines are known for successes during the South Pacific campaign of WWII. For both groups, their presence alone is often enough to force a surrender.

But their skills on the coastline don’t discredit their ability to fight inland. Vikings, accustomed to the frigid north, fared extremely well when fighting in the Holy Lands — not too far from there was where the Marines fought in the Second Battle of Fallujah.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

Hell, one of the stories of Thor is about him basically trying to drink an entire ocean made of booze.

2. Both are known for intense post-combat partying

Another key trait of the Viking lifestyle that isn’t too far off from what happens in the average lower-enlisted barracks of any Marine Corps installation: consuming volumes of alcohol that would incapacitate mere mortals is just the pregame for Vikings and lance corporals.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

​I’m highly confident that a Jomsviking leaderwould have been completely cool with wall-to-wall counselling to solve any issues.

3. Both share a deep brotherhood with their fellow fighters

Most troops, regardless of era, become friends with the guys to their left and right, but Marines and Vikings are known for taking that brotherhood to a new level.

The Viking mercenaries, known as the Jomsvikings, followed a strict code that revolved around brotherhood among their ranks and their motto is roughly translated as, “one shield, one brotherhood.” This way of live was written into their 11 codes of conduct. It doesn’t matter who you were before you became a Jomsviking, but so as long as you’re a brother, you will not fight with each other and you will avenge another should they fall in combat. And if there was infighting, the dispute was mediated by the leadership (or chain of command).

All of these things are essentially within the UCMJ.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

Or the story of Harald “Bluetooth”… because he ate a blueberry that one time.. Yep, Vikings were creative like that.

4. Both had a penchant for giving each other nicknames

Giving someone a terrible nickname after they made a silly mistake is one of the more bizarre tidbits of Viking lore — but it is exactly what Marines still do to one another today. The platoon idiot is “boot,” the big guy in the unit is “Pvt Pyle,” and you know damn well that certain guy they call “Mad Dog” did something to earn that name.

History speaks of the famed viking warrior named Kolbeinn Butter Penis (named after his sexual exploits) and Eystein Foul-Fart (named for the noxious small that came from his ass). Hell, even Erik the Red got his name because he was a ginger — or because he was a violent sociopath at the age of ten… nobody can say for certain there.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

On the topic of Valhalla, Marines hold Tun Tavern with about the same level of respect.

5. Both believe that the older the fighter, the more terrifying the man

There’s an old, anonymous saying that’s often attributed to Viking culture:

Beware of an old man in a profession where men usually die young.

The only thing more terrifying than a 47-year-old Master Gunnery Sergeant who’s fueled entirely by alcohol, tobacco, and hatred was a 47-year-old, bearded-out berserker who’s lived in the woods for the better part of twenty years.

Unlike their contemporaries, Vikings had a special place in their groups for the older warrior men and treated their cumulative knowledge as sacred. Younger Vikings would pick their brains, trying to learn their tactics. And, at the end of the day, the old viking were said to fight even more ferociously in battle, knowing that their time was short. After all, dying sick in bed won’t get the Valkyries’ attention — only through glorious combat could they earn entry into the hall of Valhalla.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

Ah, vikings. You unruly, blood-thirsty a**holes. Some things never change.

6. Both enjoyed fighting more than anything else

The most glaringly obvious similarity between these two groups of warriors is how sacredly they hold the concept of fighting. Much like a Marine being told their deployment got pushed back a few months, Vikings would complain if they weren’t given their time on the battlefield.

Vikings’ culture wasn’t based entirely on fighting, but man, were they good at it. That’s probably why nobody ever talks about the Vikings’ expansive trading network. There’s also a reason why people never really talk about a Water Dog’s “water purification skills.”

H/T: to Ruddy Cano, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and fellow We Are The Mighty contributor, for helping with this article.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Your computer’s keyboard is a disgusting petrie dish

Your computer keyboard is probably dirtier than a toilet seat.

In fact, an Australian study found that the typical desk has 400 times the amount of bacteria found on a toilet seat.

Toilet seats actually harbor around 50 bacteria per square inch, making that a relatively un-germy zone. Not so with the computer, especially those shared by multiple people. One Chicago hospital found that its computer keyboards held drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus like MRSA for up to 24 hours. Another hospital in the Netherlands studied 100 of its keyboards and found that 95 tested positive for Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and other pathogens, making them the dirtiest surfaces in the intensive care unit.


Considering how frequently we use computers, it’s understandable that dirt constantly gets lodged in between the keys. We’ve all rushed to type something quickly after being out and about, eaten meals at our computers, and typed while simultaneously dealing with sticky substances.

Those of us who use computers at work talk, sneeze, and cough on the keys all day long, too.

When to clean your keyboard

Most microbiologists agree that everyone should wipe down their desk and keyboard at least once a week.

Doctors and nurses at the National Center for Health Research (NCHR) suggest that hospital keyboards should be disinfected much more often, though: at least once per day. The NCHR also suggests washing hands before and after using any shared computers, especially during flu season.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
(Flickr photo by Pete)

If you’re the only one using your computer (and you’re not touching many people throughout the day), most of the bacteria on your keyboard comes from your own hands and fingertips, so it probably isn’t doing you any harm.

Still, wash your hands frequently to keep your desk space clean for longer.

How to clean your keyboard

Cleaning and disinfecting your keyboard is a simple process, and it works.

First, shut the computer down and unplug it before you start disinfecting. Then get rid of any crumbs or grit stuck on the keyboard with a can of compressed air before giving the keys a wipe.

Cleaning expert Melissa Maker recommends using a solution of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol, and applying it using a microfiber cloth. You can also use a q-tip dipped in alcohol to get between the keys.

While you’re at it, consider giving your phone a cleansing swipe, too. Smartphones can easily pick up E. coli and Streptococcus bugs because we handle them so frequently and take them everywhere with us.

Philip Tierno, a microbiologist and pathologist at the New York University School of Medicine suggests giving your phone a good wipe down at the end of each day.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-35Bs enter Central Command for first time with 13th MEU

In early September 2018, the Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II entered the Central Command area of operations for the first time.

The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the attached Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 is the first continental U.S.-based Navy and Marine Corps force to deploy with the Lightning II. The Essex ARG/MEU team is currently conducting a regularly scheduled deployment.

While in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, the amphibious force is trained and equipped to conduct maritime security operations, crisis response operations, theater security cooperation and forward naval presence operations to reinforce to the U.S.’s commitment to partner nations in the region.


“As a forward-deployed force we are appropriately postured to ensure freedom of navigation and commerce in the world’s most important sea lanes,” said Gerald Olin, commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1. “The embarked Marines of 13th MEU allow us the flexibility to rapidly respond to crises and set conditions that promote security in the region.”

Following a six-month comprehensive, pre-deployment training period, the Essex ARG/MEU was certified for deployment. The training consisted of three integrated at-sea periods which collectively ensured the Navy/Marine Corps team is at its highest level of readiness to accomplish missions across the range of military operations. VMFA-211 was certified for deployment across all mission essential tasks to include deep air support, close air support, offensive air support, and electronic warfare.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

USS Essex (LHD 2) transits the Pacific Ocean.

(Photo by Communication Specialist 3rd Class Huey D. Younger Jr.)

“When combined with inherent capabilities of the 13th MEU and Essex ARG, the F-35B strengthens the amphibious force through new and increased multi-mission capabilities, making our team a more lethal and survivable crisis response force,” said Col. Chandler Nelms, commanding officer, 13th MEU.

The Essex ARG is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47). During deployment they will operate with embarked forces of the 13th MEU, PHIBRON 1, the “Blackjacks” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, and detachments from Assault Craft Unit 5, Naval Beach Group 1, Beachmaster Unit 1, Fleet Surgical Team 3 and Tactical Air Control Squadron 11.

The 13th MEU consists of the command element; the aviation combat element comprised of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 Reinforced and VMFA 211; the ground combat element comprised of Battalion Landing Team 3/1; and the Logistics Combat Element comprised of Combat Logistics Battalion 13.

This article originally appeared on the United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How these military spouses plan to achieve one million acts of kindness

Three military spouses say they hope to change the world, through one act of kindness at a time.

To accomplish this, they aim to encourage more than one million acts of kindness in the military community through a viral movement called GivingTuesday Military Edition, set for Dec. 3, 2019.

“One million acts sounds like a lot,” admitted Maria Reed, an Army spouse and organizer for the event. “But, it just takes one act to inspire another, and if enough people are inspired — we can reach a million acts together.”


It was Reed’s optimistic thinking that initially helped her form a bond with two like-minded spouses: Samantha Gomolka, a National Guard spouse, and Jessica Manfre, a Coast Guard spouse.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

Three military spouses, Maria Reed an Army spouse, Samantha Gomolka, a National Guard spouse, and Jessica Manfre, a Coast Guard spouse visit Los Angeles, Calif., Nov. 6, 2019, to promote their online movement called GivingTuesday Military Edition.

The three first met in May at the 2019 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year awards ceremony, held in Washington, D.C. All three won that night for their respective branches.

Following the ceremony, the three connected “easy and effortlessly,” Reed said, largely due to their shared goal to use their platform to bridge together the military community and help others.

At first, they didn’t know exactly how they would collaborate, they said. But, that changed soon after a plan was hatched to contact GivingTuesday, the parent organization of their group. Shortly after they made contact, GivingTuesday representatives agreed to partner up and the military edition was created.

“It’s inspiring to see military service members, veterans, and their families who already have committed so much to something bigger than themselves, lead the way to encourage one million acts of kindness,” said Asha Curran, GivingTuesday chief executive officer, in a news release.

The military edition kicked off in September 2019, and since it was announced they have received nation-wide attention. However, according to Reed — who is a military spouse of 16 years — the need to help others is just a part of being in the military community.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

U.S. Army Spc. Janerah W. Glaze, 253rd Transportation Company, New Jersey Army National Guard, grills hamburgers during the Sgt. 1st Class Robert H. Yancey Sr. Stand Down at the National Guard Armory in Cherry Hill, N.J., Sept. 27, 2019.

(Photo by Mark Olsen)

Her husband, who is currently deployed, plans to responsibly participate from his undisclosed location overseas.

“Military families are called to serve, it’s in our DNA and [GivingTuesday] is a way that we can all serve and give back to the community,” Reed said.

No act of goodwill is too small, she added. “It doesn’t matter, kindness is kindness.”

Whether serving food to the homeless, volunteering at an animal shelter, buying coffee for a stranger, or simply holding a door open for someone — there are no shortage of options, she said.

In addition to individual acts, Reed said various schools, companies, and blood drives across the country have committed to join in the effort to meet their seven-digit goal.

But, the true measure of success, Manfre said, is simply to inspire others to be kind.

“If all we do is inspire just one person to be kind to someone else, that’s what matters,” she said.

The inaugural event will be documented online with #GivingTuesdayMilitary.

With more than 50 chapter ambassadors at the forefront of local efforts, and thousands of eager participants who are affiliated with more than 800 military installations worldwide, the trio agree their movement will grow every year.

Social media pages have been set up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the campaign, all with the handle @GivingTuesdayMilitary.

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

Articles

3 reasons things could still get worse because Turkey shot down that Russian jet

Borne the Battle: The state of military film


First the good news: Despite Internet memes about Putin having Turkey for dinner last week, the chances are low that Armageddon will be on the menu any time soon.

In other words, the chances that World War III will erupt this holiday season are mighty slim because a Turkish F-16 fighter shot down a Russian Federation Su-24 Fencer M bomber last Tuesday after it apparently violated Turkey’s airspace.

Outraged Russian officials are already talking about economic sanctions. During a news conference, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the shoot-down a “planned provocation” but said the two countries would not go to war over the incident.

But does that mean Russia will forgive and forget? Hardly. Comments by Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin indicate he is not only infuriated by events, he’s also willing to escalate Russian military presence in Syria as well defend Russian national pride.

Here are three reasons why things could still get out of hand very quickly in one of the world’s most volatile places:

1. In Putin’s world, nobody shoots down a Russian plane and gets away with it

Russian aircraft routinely test the limits of different nation’s sovereign airspace – including the U.S. and Britain. Those missions are absolutely designed and principally intended to appeal to Russian pride and national identity, as well as show the world that Russia military power is a force worthy of respect.

As recently as July 4, multiple nuclear-capable Tu-95 Bear bombers flew into U.S. air defense identification zones off California and Alaska. In fact, some of the Bears flew within 40 miles off the California coastline.

But even though we scramble fighters to intercept the bombers, the U.S. and other NATO nations don’t shoot them down. Turkey did, principally because in recent weeks Russian warplanes bombed Syrian rebels who are also Turkmen, an ethnic group considered kinsmen of the Turkish people.

What’s more, the rebels killed one of the Russian plane’s crew members as well as a Russian Marine who was part of the search-and-rescue operation.

To put it bluntly, Putin is pissed off by the shoot-down and what he considers a war crime committed against Russian fighting men.  In addition, he describes what happened a provocative act on the part of Turkey, hence his “stab in the back” comment.

As far as the Russian government is concerned, their men are heroes. Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov, the dead Fencer pilot, posthumously received the Hero of the Russian Federation award “for heroism, courage and valor in the performance of military duty,” the Kremlin announced today. Both Alexander Pozynich, the Russian Marine killed during SAR operations, and the surviving Fencer co-pilot Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin both received the Order of Courage, the Kremlin said.

Yes, Lavrov says there will be no war between Russia and Turkey. However, the Russian president is also well-known for practicing the old maxim about revenge being a dish best served cold – and Putin has already amply proved he has no concern about civilian casualties when Russians fight their wars.

2. The Russian people are angry – really angry

In Moscow, crowds of protesters gathered outside of the Turkish embassy, carrying signs calling the Turks “murderers,” pelting the building with eggs, and even smashing windows with rocks. (As an aside, it’s interesting to note that the Russian economy has improved enough that the middle-class can spare the eggs for protest purposes.)

True, the protest could have been a good old-fashioned exercise in agitprop – as far back as the Soviet era Kremlin employees were often organized into groups for “spontaneous protest.”

But Russian social media is white-hot with comments like “f**k the Turks” and calls for revenge. There is even a parody of the Eiffel Tower peace symbol that went viral after the Paris attacks by Daesh – except the Russian version has the silhouette of a Su-24 with its fuselage and wings where the lines of the peace symbol should be, superimposed on the Russian flag.

So, Russians fury toward Turkey is also linked to fierce Russian nationalism. Consequently, the shoot-down is an incident that will not just blow over with the Russian people – and Putin knows that.

3. Syria is getting pretty damned crowded with belligerents

The area is rapidly filling up with the aircraft and missile systems of many nations. Turkey, Russia, France, Canada, Australia, and the United States all have planes in the air either over Syria or near Syrian airspace.

In response to the shoot-down, Russia is deploying its S-400 “Triumf” air defense missile systems (NATO name: “Growler”) to its Hmeymim air base near Latakia, Syria. Using three different missiles with varying ranges and an upgraded radar system, it can strike airborne targets up to 400 miles away.

Russian television also said that Russian bombers will now fly with fighter escorts.

All this hardware and manpower milling around in a very small place could cause things to get out of hand very, very quickly. The result could be old-fashioned nation-on-nation warfare. All it could take would be one more downed warplane.

One other thing to note: Past is not always prologue, but it’s interesting to consider that Russia and Turkey (in the guise of the Ottoman Empire) fought one of the longest conflicts in European history.

The Russo-Turkish Wars from the 16th century until the early 20th century included none other than Ivan the Terrible sending the so-called Astrakhan Expedition in 1569 to pound on 70,000 Turkish and Tatar soldiers, Peter the Great and his army capturing Azov in 1696, and Tsar Alexander II sending Russian troops into Ottoman territory in 1877 to protect Christians from Muslim subjugation.

Russian forces overwhelmingly prevailed over the Ottoman Turks during those wars.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Is this a pandemic-proof career for military spouses?

The latest jobs report shows 21 million Americans out of work, largely attributed to the effects of the coronavirus and efforts to contain it, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Double-digit unemployment rates are nothing new for spouses who have seen increased efforts over the years to elevate the plight of a demographic working to establish a career around military life. But is there a career field immune from PCS moves and pandemics? The CEO of Squared Away thinks so.

Michelle Penczak, a Marine spouse, co-founded Squared Away in 2017 to give military spouses opportunities that demand a range of skills, like social media, project management, and human resources. The company has now grown to 95 and she says the field is “extremely sustainable” even with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


“Most of our clients are taking their businesses remotely and are leaning on us to make the transition as smooth as possible. We also add a great amount of value to teams who have been forced to downsize but still have the need of an assistant,” Penczak said in an email interview.

Squared Away was inspired by Penczak’s own challenges in maintaining employment as her husband, a Marine officer, received orders to different duty stations around the U.S. She initially worked as a personal assistant to a lobbyist in Washington, DC. until relocating to Jacksonville, North Carolina, near Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. The transition from a large city to a small military town was difficult in terms of finding comparable employment.

“No one would hire me … it was so defeating and I didn’t want anyone to ever feel that way,” she said.

Eventually, after many interviews and rejections, she found employment as a virtual assistant with Zirtual. However, it was not long after the business closed, but lingering clients wanted her to remain with their companies. Then her husband received orders to Hawaii.

“I was terrified I would lose my clients,” Penczak said because her clients operated on Eastern time. “So, I got up at 3 am to work with my East Coast clients.”

She said she told herself it would never work, but six months into it her husband encouraged her to change her thinking.

“He said, ‘It’s working.’ I would drive myself out of bed [at 3am PCT] and do my stuff. Then I’d have all the rest of the day to hang out in Hawaii which wasn’t a bad deal. I became more productive and it worked better for me. My co-founder [Shane Mac] told me, ‘I need you to build a company.’ I told him he was crazy. I had no idea how to run a company,” she said. “I thought about it for a couple of days and said let’s do this.”

Squared Away places virtual assistants with a myriad of companies to include venture capital firms, startup companies, and marketing firms. Penzcak added that the company does not invest in marketing. She notes her client base has grown exponentially over the past year strictly from a referral base.

“Anyone who needs extra supports … They become their righthand man … All of our clients are saying how much they love us, working with amazing people who believe in our mission. I’ve never felt more blessed in my life. My team is amazing,” she said.

Squared Away employs military spouses stationed within the U.S., along with remote assistants in Germany as well.

“Nothing feels better than one of my girls coming to say … you are making such a big difference to me and my family,” Penczak said.

The company’s structure also allows its team members to balance personal and professional responsibilities.

“All of our spouses have a unique story … We can be dedicated to our clients, but also be flexible to be there for our kids. Currently, we have 110 clients … it’s growing steadily. The more clients the more assistants we can hire,” she said.

Penczak’s 2020 goals include expansion of her team.

She offers a message to anyone adapting to a different kind of virtual working environment during COVID-19.

“Give yourself some grace. Everyone is going through this together and most have kids and spouses home. Don’t require perfection from yourself,” she said.

Visit https://gosquaredaway.com to learn more about Squared Away’s career opportunities for military spouses and services for businesses.

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

Articles

USS Tripoli, 2nd America-class amphib, will launch with F-35B

The Navy is getting ready to launch its now 56-percent complete second next-generation America-Class Amphibious Assault ship with specific built-in modifications designed to accommodate the emerging Marine Corps variant of the Joint Strike Fighter – the F-35B.


The future USS Tripoli will formally launch sometime next year, Christianne Witten, spokeswoman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Scout Warrior in a statement.

The Tripoli, now called LHA 7, is a follow on ship to the USS America – the first in a fleet of planned new America-Class amphib; the Tripoli is slated to deliver in 2019.

“The super modules have been integrated,” she added.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
The U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) returns to Huntington Ingalls Shipyard, Pascagoula, Mississippi (USA), after completing sea trials. | U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Lawrence Grove

After delivery of LHA 6 (USS America), a group of changes to the ship’s flight deck structure and equipment were necessary to accommodate the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35B) aircraft, Witten explained.

“These improvements are being incorporated into the basic build of LHA 7, which is expected to yield a better overall technical solution at reduced cost.  Additionally, the LHA 7 design will incorporate the Consolidated Afloat Network and Enterprise Services (CANES) and will address fact-of-life and obsolescence instances identified throughout construction of LHA 6 and LHA 7,” she said.

Thus far, the Navy and Marine Corps have made progress with a series of extensive preparations on board amphibious assault ships in order to ensure that their flight decks, sensors and weapons systems can accommodate the first ever deployment of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter slated for 2018.

The Marine Corps short-take-off-and-landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35B, could be the first ever fifth-generation aircraft in the world to deploy when they serve on board several amphibs in 2018, Marine Corps and Navy leaders told Scout Warrior.

The technological modifications are already complete on the USS Wasp, an operational Navy amphib; they are now underway aboard the USS America and USS Essex while also being built into the USS Tripoli, Navy officials said.

“We have one ship that is fully modified (USS Wasp). LHA 6 (USS America) has received many of the upgrades and is receiving the rest of the upgrades now. USS Essex upgrades are beginning in 2016 and we will phase the other LHD (Navy amphibs) through these modifications in coming years,” Maj. Gen. Christopher Owens, Director of Expeditionary Warfare, told Scout Warrior in an interview last year.

Navy engineers and shipbuilders are doing extensive work on board the USS America, the lead ship in a series of 11 planned America-class big-deck amphibs. The USS America, or LHA 6, was commissioned by the Navy October of 2014 and has completed a trail period known as “post-shakedown availability” and gone on missions to South America to connect with key allies. The ship is slated for full operational deployment with the F-35B in the future.

The USS America will undergo a series of intense modifications in order to ensure that the weapons and sensors and synchronized with the Joint Strike Fighter and that flight deck can withstand the heat of the F-35B vertical take-offs-and-landings.

Navy engineers are installing a new heat-resistant thermally sprayed non-skid, which is designed to prevent long-term heat damage to the flight deck and underlying structure, adding intercostal structural members below landing spots seven and nine. This reduces stress on flight deck, and integrating the flight deck with support equipment, sensors and weapons.

“With the added structure, these two landing spots will provide the capability to perform closely timed cyclic flight operations with the F-35B without overstressing the flight deck,” a Navy official said.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
The F-35B conducts a vertical landing on the USS Wasp. | US Navy photo by Mass Communication Seaman Natasha R. Chalk

Also, some of the modifications may involve re-adjusting some of the ship’s antennas in order to allow for a clear flight path for the JSF.

Once operational on Navy amphibs, the F-35B will conduct a wide range of missions to include support for amphibious ship-to-shore operations, ground operations, close-air support and what’s called “suppression of enemy air defenses,” Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns told Scout Warrior in an interview.

At the same time, the advanced sensor suite and computers on the Joint Strike Fighter will allow for a greater range of missions compared to traditional fighter jets, Burns explained.

“The F-35B will also be used as a C2 (Command and Control), limited offensive and defensive counter air, air interdiction, assault support escort and armed reconnaissance,” she added.

Some of these sensors include the F-35s Distributed Aperture System, which places 360-degrees worth of cameras around the aircraft, and a high tech targeting sensor called EOTS, or Electro-Optical Targeting System. The aircraft’s computers also allow for something called “sensor fusion,” a technology which integrates information from a host of different sensors on-board a single screen for pilots to view.

Sensors, combat systems, radars and weaponry on board amphibs are also being upgraded to better integrate with the F-35.

America-Class Amphibious Assault Ships

Much of the effort with the USS America is going inside the ship and dropping lighting and ventilation and piping wiring and everything down far enough so new material can be installed and welded in place, senior Navy officials said.

“The America class is intended to operate for sustained periods in transit and operations in an Amphibious Objective Area to include embarking, transporting, controlling, inserting, sustaining and extracting elements of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force and supporting forces by helicopters and tilt rotors supported by Joint Strike Fighters F-35B,” Witten added.

The LHA 7 design will incorporate a high-tech Navy ship-based computing network called Consolidated Afloat Network and Enterprise Services, or CANES, Navy officials said.

Overall, the USS Tripoli will be 844-feet long and 106-feet wide and have a weight of more than 44,000 tons. A fuel-efficient gas turbine propulsion system will bring the ship’s speed up to more than 20 knots, a Huntington Ingalls statement said.

The ship will be able to carry a crew of 1,204 and 1,871 troops, meaning the ship is being engineered to carry a Marine Expeditionary Unit, the statement added.

America class ships are outfitted with a group of technologies called a Ship Self Defense System. This includes two Rolling Aircraft Missile RIM-116 Mk 49 launchers; two Raytheon 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts; and seven twin .50 cal. machine guns, Navy officials said.

Unlike previous amphibious assault ships, the first two America-class big deck amphibs are being built without a well deck in order to optimize the platform for aviation assets such as the MV-22 Osprey and F-35B.  The ship is configured with more deck and hangar space for aircraft and is designed to maximize the technological advantages provided by the F-35B and Osprey.

One of these strategic advantages, among other things, is described as vertical maneuver – the ability to use the range and speed of the Osprey to forward project mobile units deep into hostile territory possibly behind enemy lines, Navy and Marine Corps units have described.

The third America-class amphib, called LHA 8, will feature the return of the well deck.

Advance Procurement funds for the third America-class ship, LHA 8, were competitively awarded to Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), in June 2016, Witten explained. The Construction portion of the contract will be awarded in 2017.”Using Advance Procurement funds, HII has commenced planning as well as initiated the process to procure long lead time materials, she added.

“Using Advance Procurement funds, HII has commenced planning as well as initiated the process to procure long lead time materials, she added.

F-35B Will Change Tactics and Procedures on Amphibs

Part of the challenge to F-35B integration is recognizing how its technologies will change concepts of operations, tactics and procedures; the F-35B is a very different aircraft than the Harrier jets it is replacing, Navy officials said.

Harrier jets, which also have the ability to conduct vertical take-off-and-landings, are multi-role jets primarily designed for light attack missions – such as quickly flying over land locations where Marines are forward deployed and providing close air support.

While the F-35B can perform these missions as well, the new Joint Strike Fighter brings a wide range of new sensors, weaponry and aviation technology to the Corps.

The C5I (command, control, communications, computers, collaboration) requirements for the F-35B will be very different than how the Navy operated the Harrier.

Navy officials also said the service is upgrading the seeker on various ship defensive systems such as the Rolling Air Frame missile and NATO Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile to an active seeker.

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This veteran-owned company gives back by turning discarded military items into fashionable accessories

The idea of turning “swords into ploughshares” — that is to say, converting military technology and/or equipment into materials with a peaceful civilian purpose — is a very old concept. The phrase comes from the Bible’s Book of Isaiah 2:3-4:


And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

This is where Sword Plough draws its name. The company  sells unique designer handbags and accessories made from discarded military surplus items. Co-founded by the daughters of a 30-year U.S. Army veteran, Col. (ret.) Joseph Núñez, Sword Plough is a veteran-owned-and-operated business, dedicated to hiring and supporting veterans.

One daughter, Emily Núñez Cavness, is SP’s CEO, and is also an active duty Army 1st. Lt. serving with the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Emily co-founded Sword Plough with her sister Betsy Núñez, who is the Chief Operations Officer.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
Emily Betsy

“We have received such an incredibly positive and supportive response from our community,” Núñez Cavness says. “We’re still a young company, but we’re growing fast and we have a lot happening in the new year. In addition to expanding our product line, we have a number of exciting brand partnerships in the works and we’re planning to grow our wholesale business to brick and mortar shops throughout the country.”

See all of Sword Plough’s repurposed military surplus products

“What sets Sword Plough apart is our commitment to a quadruple bottom line,” she continues. “People, Purpose, Planet, Profit. This means that we are simultaneously focused on improving veteran employment and supporting American jobs, bridging the civilian-military gap, repurposing surplus material, and donating 10% of our profits back to veteran organizations.”

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
Purchases of this “Urban Rucksack” from Sword Plough directly benefit Operation Finally Home

One of their biggest passions is supporting veteran entrepreneurship.

“Betsy and I grew up on Army posts across the country and we couldn’t be more excited to be able to give back to the military and veteran community,” Núñez Cavness says. “One of the most rewarding parts of both serving in the Army and leading Sword Plough is the ability I have to bring the knowledge of starting a business to the veteran community. Many soldiers and veterans approach me with exciting ideas and ask for advice on how to start. Mentoring aspiring veteran entrepreneurs is one of my favorite things to do. Veterans already have so many of the leadership and management skills necessary to be successful in entrepreneurship or business. It is such an energizing experience to help chart realistic pathways to bring their ideas to reality.”

Since launching in 2013, Sword Plough repurposed over 35,000 pounds of military surplus, supported 38 veteran jobs, donated 10 percent of profits annually, and shipped over 10,000 products globally. Not a bad startup period.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
The Signature Tote was one of their first products and it continues to be one of the most popular bags.

Their father commanded Army forces at the company and battalion level, taught political science at West Point, and deployed to Haiti in 1994 in support of Operations Restore Democracy and Uphold Democracy. Their uncle, Kenneth Cameron, served in the Marine Corps. Cameron is a retired Colonel and was an aviator, test pilot, engineer, and NASA astronaut who piloted three missions to outer space.

Being from such a strong military family, Emily Núñez Cavness is herself an ROTC graduate of Middlebury College. She recalls her introduction to the civilian-military divide, which happened as she walked to a military science class one morning.

“I was abruptly stopped when an upperclassman walked out of the fine arts building,” she says. “He meandered toward me and asked, ‘Hi there, What play are you in?! I’ve never seen you around here.’ I didn’t have a lot of time to talk since I’d be late for my class, so I quickly explained that my uniform was not in fact a costume, but my actual government issued uniform for Army ROTC.”

This would be the first of many instances to leave an impression on her. They would come to help influence Sword Plough’s mission to empower veteran employment and bridge that divide in any way they can. But it doesn’t stop there. The summer after her sophomore year at Middlebury, Núñez Cavness found herself at the U.S. Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

“Even though I grew up in a military family on several Army Posts, this was the first time I was training next to Soldiers as a fellow service member rather than as a military kid,” she recalls. “We would spend almost every day quickly running from place to place in our helmets and boots, only to wait for hours under the hot sun until it was our turn to practice the parachute landing fall or how to properly pull a slip.”

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
1st Lt. Emily Núñez Cavness

“It didn’t take long for these periods of downtime to become some of my favorite moments of the course because it was then that the students to my left and right would open up to me about their past experiences in the Army and their goals and hopes for the future. Some expressed an interest in leaving the military in the near future but were seriously worried about their job prospects after talking to veteran friends who had been unemployed for a long time after leaving military service. At the time, I didn’t always know what to say, but I never forgot those conversations. It seemed like such an injustice to me that a group of people who had sacrificed so much and become such proven leaders would face this type of adversity.”

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
SP is dedicated to hiring veterans and making their products in the USA.

Fast forward one and a half years and Núñez Cavness is listening to Jacqueline Novogratz, the founder and CEO of Acumen, give her keynote speech during Middlebury’s first Social Entrepreneurship Symposium. She was talking about a business which incorporated recycling into its business model. The talk had young Núñez Cavness’ mind running 100 miles per hour.

“The way she described it immediately made me reflect on my own life,” Núñez Cavness said. “I asked myself, ‘what in my life is wasted on daily basis that could be harnessed and made into something beautiful?’ Having grown up on Army posts, I immediately thought back to the huge piles of military surplus I used to see that were going to be buried in a landfill or burned. As I looked around the audience, I noticed that every student had a backpack or bag of some kind propped up next to them. And then… it clicked! Why don’t I take the military surplus that would otherwise be discarded and turn it into stylish bags?”

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
Their newer Wool Handbag and Wool Crossbody are also very popular items.

As part of its dedication to giving back to veterans, Sword Plough makes financial contributions to veteran-focused organizations like Rocky Mountain Human Services, Feeding Our Vets, and Got Your 6. They support charitable organizations by donating their products for fundraisers.

These donations have helped recipients raise thousands of dollars through blind and live auctions. They also donate products to events which can raise general public awareness about veterans’ issues and the civil-military divide. To date, they have made more than $10,000 worth of product donations to organizations like the Navy SEAL Foundation, the 3rd and Goal Foundationthe Headstrong Project, and more.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

Find out more about Sword Plough’s quadruple bottom-line

Núñez Cavness designed the first three bags herself, but Sword Plough now has a creative director to design products. They also have a number of products designed by veterans.

“The military relies on cutting edge gear and technology to carry out its missions,” Núñez Cavness says. “This relationship with their equipment has definitely influenced the way we think about design and fashion. We repurpose military surplus equipment not only for the environmental benefits and vintage appeal, but also for its durability. Our team draws inspiration from cities that we live in, the people that we interact with, the feedback from the SP community of supporters, the history of the materials we use, and we try to honor tradition by constantly innovating and keeping functionality in mind.”

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How a soldier earned a rare battlefield promotion during an ISIS fight

When Jeremy Penderman joined the Army, he wasn’t quite sure what his job would entail.


“I’m not even sure the recruiter knew what the job was,” he said.

But Penderman, a multichannel transmission systems operator/maintainer, said the job hasn’t disappointed.

Now serving in Iraq with Fort Bragg’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Penderman has an undeniable impact on his unit and the ongoing fight to retake the key northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State terrorist group, officials said.

So undeniable that Penderman, who has spent nearly seven years in the Army, was the recipient of a rare battlefield promotion in April of 2017.

In an impromptu ceremony near Al Tarab, Iraq, Sgt. Penderman became Staff Sgt. Penderman when Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Martin pinned the new rank to his chest.

Penderman, who was at the base repairing communications equipment, said the visit — and the promotion — were unexpected.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
U.S. Army Col. Pat Work, deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve and commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, provides an operations update for Paratroopers at a patrol base near Al Tarab, Iraq, March 30, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull)

Martin, the commander of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command — Operation Inherent Resolve and the 1st Infantry Division, was able to promote Penderman after determining that the soldier “demonstrated an extraordinary performance of duties” while filling a job that’s typically held by someone of a higher rank.

It was a special recognition for Penderman, who had spent nearly two years awaiting a promotion but still lacked the requirements for a typical bump in rank.

“It was a complete surprise,” Penderman told The Fayetteville Observer from Iraq last week. “I didn’t know anything about it.”

Penderman, 25, is a Durham-native who oversees communications for the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute infantry Regiment, which has about 700 soldiers in Iraq and deployed late last year.

In that role, he leads a small team of soldiers who work to ensure troops can communicate across the battlefield, keeping a network in place to spur a constant flow of information from advise-and-assist teams embedded with Iraqi forces and between unmanned aerial vehicles and soldiers on the ground.

The job often sees him working with complex communications equipment, tapping into satellites and generally maintaining a tactical communications network in an austere and ever-changing environment.

Not bad for someone who knew little to nothing about his career when he joined the Army.

“I didn’t even know what an IP (address) was,” Penderman said. “I didn’t know anything about computers.”

Instead, Penderman had high hopes that baseball would be his future.

“I played everywhere,” he said of his time at the Durham School of the Arts. “But I went to college as an outfielder.”

That college was Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, where Penderman received a scholarship to play baseball.

But after being redshirted his freshman year, he began to reconsider another dream.

Penderman always wanted to join the military. He wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps as a Marine, although his parents urged him to try college instead.

He made a promise that he would give college a year, and, if that didn’t work, he’d be free to enlist.

Today, Penderman might have been a Marine if it wasn’t for one more discovery.

“I found out about the airborne,” he said.

Over spring break his freshman year — March 2010 — Penderman walked into a recruiting center and enlisted in the Army.

At first, he wanted to be an airborne infantryman, but a recruiter instead guided him through a list of available jobs.

He described Penderman’s current military occupational specialty, known as a 25Q, as “half infantry, half radios” and promised he could still become a paratrooper. Also, the job came with an enlistment bonus.

Since enlisting, Penderman spent more than four years in Germany with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team before joining the 82nd Airborne Division about two years ago.

He has seven years in the Army and plans to apply to become a warrant officer in the Signal Corps. While he wants to stay in the Army as long as possible, he said the skills he’s learned have opened the door to a bright future no matter if he wears the uniform or not.

“It’s really set me up for success, whether I stay in or get out,” he said.

Penderman is noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of his battalion’s S6, or communications, shop.

Typically, that organization would have upward of a dozen soldiers, including an NCOIC and an officer. But Penderman’s shop has three soldiers and no officer.

That shows the faith and trust that leadership has in the soldier, officials said.

In training while preparing for the deployment, the battalion trained with the smaller force. But Penderman said little could have prepared him for another aspect of the deployment — a constant leapfrogging of the battlefield.

When Penderman’s battalion arrived in country, they set up more than 20 miles from Mosul to partner with the 9th Iraqi Armored Division, one of the local forces looking to take back the city.

“And we moved six times,” Penderman said. “As they gain ground and they move forward, we move forward with them.”

Today, he’s based out of a tactical assembly area near the village of Bakhira. From there, he’s near the border of the city and close to the fighting.

“We can hear them shooting off mortars,” Penderman said.

He’s also seen forces treating wounded. And he said that knowing he has played a role in the march into the city has been humbling.

“It’s fulfilling work,” Penderman said. “I get to impact the battalion on a daily basis… It definitely feels like I’m making a difference in my battalion and helping to make a difference in the fight in Mosul.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy’s Osprey landed, refueled and took off from an aircraft carrier for the first time

Since 1965, the Navy’s carrier onboard delivery mission has been performed by the Grumman C-2 Greyhound. The C-2s fly mail, passengers and supplies between aircraft carriers and land bases. Despite decades of overhauls and upgrades, the Navy plans to replace the C-2 with the CMV-22B Osprey by 2024. On November 20, 2020, the Osprey reached its first major milestone on its path to taking on the COD role.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
A CMV-22B from VRM-30 lands on the USS Carl Vinson for the first time on November 20 (U.S. Navy)

While conducting routine maritime operations in the Pacific, USS Carl Vinson received an Osprey aboard its deck. The landing marked the first time that the new COD platform has ever landed on a carrier. The operations continued the next day to include a refueling and rolling takeoff.

The CMV-22B can carry up to 6,000 pounds of cargo and has a range of 1,150 nautical miles. While these performance figures are inferior to the outgoing C-2, the Osprey’s adoption is driven by its ability to support the new F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The Osprey is able to carry the F-35’s Pratt & Whitney F135 engine and deliver it to and from both aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships. Additionally, the Osprey brings a slew of new capabilities to the COD role.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
The first refueling of a CMV-22B aboard an aircraft carrier on November 21 (U.S. Navy)

Modified from the existing MV-22B Block C platform, the CMV-22B includes Navy-specific features including: a secure beyond-line-of-sight HF radio, an internal PA system to address passengers, fuel jettison capability, improved cargo bay and load ramp lighting, and an extended-range capability with fore and aft external conformal fuel tanks in the wings and sponsons.

The Fleet Logisitics Multi-Mission Squadron VRM-30 “Titans”, based out of NAS North Island, California, took possession of its first Osprey this summer. The squadron is scheduled to field the Osprey on its first operational detachment aboard the Carl Vinson in 2021. The Navy plans to establish a second COD Osprey squadron, VRM-40, on the east coast and equip them with aircraft in FY2022. A training squadron, VRM-50, is also planned to be stood up in California adjacent to VRM-30.

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Disabled Veteran’s Specially-Adapted Home a Dream Come True

(This is a sponsored post.)


A specialized VA lender, a military-friendly real estate agent and a national homebuilder joined forces to help a disabled veteran use his VA loan benefits with a government grant to build the home he’d dreamed of for almost 2 decades.

Real VA Loan Stories by iFreedom Direct®

Borne the Battle: The state of military film

John Swanson comes from a long line of military members. He was born at Southern California’s Fort MacArthur. His grandfather was in WWII and retired as a full bird Colonel. His father was an Army Sergeant in the Korean War, and his Uncle was an Army Captain. John was determined to carry on the family tradition. The Vietnam War was in full swing in 1971, and while he was more than ready to join, he was too young. Just before his seventeenth birthday, John enlisted in the U.S. Army Delayed Entry Program (DEP) to ensure an active duty slot when he came of age.

During an infantry training exercise, John fell 50 feet repelling from a helicopter. The medics found nothing broken, so John was ordered to keep training under advisement. He was ordered on a 10-mile compass run in shower shoes, during which John’s ankles collapsed underneath him. This time, the doctors determined he could not continue training. He was released under the discharge category “undesirable conditions. ”

“My whole purpose was to serve my country, but it wasn’t meant to be,” John shares. The Vietnam Era veteran had to fight for his honorable discharge, which he eventually received. Meanwhile, he had darting pain and decreased mobility in his arms and legs. Upon further medical examination, he was diagnosed with a chronic neurological syndrome called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). Now confined to a wheelchair, John was upgraded from 60 percent to 100 percent disability.

“It was hard not to notice the wheelchair,” says John’s finance Terry Kaut, whom he met at a singles club 13 years ago. “But John was so full of life and joy. Later I found out how much pain he was in, which made his outlook even more amazing,” she added. After 10 years of dating, John and Terry decided to live together in a two-bedroom apartment near Sacramento. The only room suited for John’s disability was the bathroom.

“I’ve bruised my knee caps and broken several toes,” shares John, referring to the narrow halls and doorways in typical rentals. “I chased the American Dream for a long time, but accessible homes just don’t come up that often,” John explains. “So I lived in what was available.”

John’s housing frustrations turned to hope when he heard of a grant administered under the VA Loan Guaranty Division. Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grants help veterans with certain service-connected disabilities build or modify homes to best suit their needs. He applied for the grant in 2012 and searched for a VA-approved mortgage lender to help him use his VA benefits.

John applied for a loan with iFreedom Direct®, a nationwide lender that specializes in home loans for veterans. Later John was connected to Sherry Dolan, a Sacramento-based Keller Williams® real estate agent familiar with the VA loan process. Sherry says, “I’ve sold a lot of homes to a lot of veterans, but this was the most challenging and most rewarding.”

The first issue was the grant. It had been months and John still hadn’t heard back from the VA. Debbie had a connection at the Department of Veterans Affairs that reported the paperwork had either been lost or never received. Together, Sherry and Debbie helped John reapply. Sherry enlisted the help of Sacramento Congresswoman Doris Matsui’s office to expedite the second application to make up for lost time. Within just a few months, John was awarded the fully-allotted $67,555.

Meanwhile, Sherry set out with the couple to look for a house. She saw John struggling. “Terry and I lugged a heavy ramp around just so he could get up the front steps,” she explained. “He couldn’t access back rooms or step-down garages.” Sherry also saw that sunken living rooms, common in California, were a problem.

Then another issue surfaced regarding renovation. John’s respiratory problems required that they live in their apartment until any construction dust settled. With John’s fixed disability income and Terri ‘s modest income as a middle school registrar, they could afford rent or a mortgage payment. Not both.

Sherry thought to seek help from a builder. She approached several, but only one took an active interest in helping John. Lennar Homes had a new subdivision in Rancho Cordova with six model homes. The company agreed to adapt a single-story floor plan under SAH guidelines to suit John’s disability. Lennar® also financed the construction phase so John and Terri could keep renting until the home was finished.

The original blueprint was modified with John and Terry in mind. The specially-adapted model resulted in a 1,794 square-foot, three-bedroom home with 42-inch doorways, wheelchair-friendly flooring, an accessible master bathroom with roll-in shower, a ramped garage, flat front and back entrances, left-handed light switches, and many more customized details.

“The home represents a unique situation for us, but the project has definitely increased our awareness and the need for adaptable homes,” says Division President Gordon Jones. “We were honored to be able to serve a veteran in this way.”

Given the venture’s success, the builder welcomes the opportunity to serve other veterans. According to Lennar®, John’s house was the first-ever specially adapted home built by the Northern California division with money from an SAH grant.

“Thanks to this dedicated team of professionals who worked together, Mr. Swanson was finally able to get into a home,” shares iFreedom Direct’s Customer Experience Director Tim Lewis, a Retired U.S. Army Major.

John may have never gotten the opportunity to serve on foreign soil, but, as fiancé Terry relays, he has served for years from his wheelchair. “He counseled GIs and other individuals with RSD and answered a hot line for years,” says Terry. “And, now because of John, the way is paved for other disabled veterans to build a Lennar® home to fit their needs.”

A housewarming party took place shortly after John and Terry moved into their new home. The entire team came together to celebrate, along with many of the couple’s new neighbors and some local veterans. To honor the special occasion, iFreedom Direct had installed a 20′ flagpole in the front yard and Tim Lewis presented John with an American flag during an emotional dedication ceremony.

Borne the Battle: The state of military film
(Left to Right: In front of the specially-adapted Lennar home after flag raising ceremony are iFreedom Direct loan officer Debbie Losser, Keller Williams real estate agent Sherry Dolan, homeowner John Swanson and fiancé Terry Haut and Dolan’s real estate partner Belinda Mills)

When asked what this house meant to him, John fought his emotions to get these words out, “It means the world. It’s hard holding back the tears when I think how everybody came together to make it happen for us.”

Veterans with permanent and total service-connected disabilities may be eligible for SAH grants. To apply, submit VA form 26-4555 to your VA Regional Loan Center. For information about VA loans, contact iFreedom Direct®.

iFreedom Direct®, a top VA-approved lender, has served America’s brave men and women by providing quality VA loans since 1996. These zero-to-low down payment mortgages, backed in part by the Department of Veteran Affairs, help eligible borrowers purchase and refinance homes at competitive interest rates. Pre-qualify at www.ifreedomdirect.com or 800-230-2986.