This is how you definitively rank challenge coins - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how you definitively rank challenge coins

Challenge coins have a special place in the hearts of many. Enlisted troops keep them as souvenirs to commemorate a specific moment while officers display them at every opportunity to build clout. It’s like a hardened war-fighter’s version of collecting trading cards.


But not all challenge coins are created equally. This is especially important when it comes to the military’s drinking game. If two troops or vets are in a bar and someone calls, “coin check,” whoever doesn’t have one must buy the drinks. If you want to take it to the next level (or if everyone pulls a coin), have the person with the worst coin buy while the troop with the best coin chooses what the group is drinking.

There isn’t a clearly defined ranking system, but here’s the generally accepted hierarchy if you want to call someone out.

Think of these are having a pair of twos in a game of poker.

(Coinsfornothing.com)

8. Any store-bought coin

At the very bottom are the “at-least-I-have-it” coins. There’s no challenge involved in getting these coins. There’s nothing unique about them and they cost a couple of bucks at the Exchange.

They often have just an installation marking, regimental crest, or a generic rank on them. But, hey, they’re better than nothing.

It only counts if it was given on a military installation, at any military event, or from a military-related company.

(Gregory Ripps)

7. Promotional coins

An obvious but effective marketing gimmick popular among companies who’ve done their homework is to make a branded military challenge coin. Companies will often give these to troops and vets on a whim and it’s more about spreading brand recognition than displaying individual achievement.

Nonetheless, they’re usually pretty nice and we rank them slightly higher than a store-bought coin because you have to be at the right place at the right time to get one.

Some commanders put plenty of thought into their coins. See the exceptions below.

(Photo by Lieutenant Junior Grade Samuel Boyle)

6. Unit coins

This is the category under which most coins fall. Each unit commander can commission their own coin to be made with the unit insignia alongside the names of the senior enlisted and hand them to deserving troops.

Determining where each coin falls within this level is easy. Battalion coins beat company coins. Brigade coins beat battalion. Divisional coins beat brigade. Branch coins may beat divisional coins if and only if they weren’t just bought at a store and were actually given at the Pentagon level.

Some are generic, some are spectacular — hence why they’re in the middle of the list.

(Photo by Cpl. Jesus Sepulvada Torres)

5. General officer coins

Each general officer has a coin made specifically for them. Fun side note: Officers who have coins made almost always pay out-of-pocket to have something to give to troops. Since generals have a nicer paycheck than captains, their coins are nicer and more prestigious.

To get a general officer coin, you have to do something outstanding enough to warrant a nice coin. This could be in addition to an official military decoration or officers may just feel like handing them out like candy. It depends on the general officer.

And a coin from that school’s commandant is higher than just attending that school.

(Photo by Tech Sgt. Eugene Christ)

4. School coins

Many military schools also hand a nice challenge coin to each graduate along with their diploma. The troop worked hard to get through it and the diploma will oftentimes end up forgotten in an “I-love-me” book.

School coins rank as high as they do because it takes far more effort to get one than just giving a proper salute to a general.

Impressing the most impressive men in military history at least gets you a beer.

3. Medal of Honor recipient coins

Not all, but many Medal of Honor recipients also have challenge coins that they can give to troops and vets.

Just shaking hands with one of America’s greatest is impressive enough. Getting a coin from one of them means that you will always choose the drink during a coin check.

There are also two exceptions to this ranking system that should also be taken into account should there ever be a tie or an appeal. A really cool unit coin can still beat a school coin if everyone in the group can agree that it meets these two criteria:

• Best design

If the coin is well-crafted and you can tell that the designer put plenty of heart into making such an outstanding coin, that person gets the boost.

I’m personally a sucker for bottle opener coins, so if I had to pick… you know where my vote is going.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mike Meares)

• Best backstory

Every coin should have a story to tell. If your story is something lame like, “I met this person and they gave me a coin,” you don’t lose points but it certainly doesn’t earn you any.

If the coin has some major significance, then you’re clearly the winner.

Being a soldier in the 101st and receiving a coin from the commanding general is great. Being a Marine and receiving one from him is far more impressive.
(Photo by Spc. Rashene Mincy)

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why fast-tracking promotions can ultimately hurt the unit

Promotions are hard-fought and well-earned by the right troops. After proving themselves to their chain of command, an ambitious troop is rewarded by being placed into a higher rank that’s worthy of their effort. In general, there’s a timeline for promotions. When you’re among the junior enlisted ranks, you can expect to your hard work to be recognized (roughly) every six months and, at your third or fourth year, you’ll be considered for the move up to NCO.

Then, there are troops that get a leg up on their peers by getting that promotion early. With the utmost respect to the troops that have dutifully earned their promotion, I think it’s fair to say we all know some troops that get handed a leadership position for all the wrong reasons.

Just because someone can do their job well and scores high on their PT test doesn’t automatically mean they’ve got what it takes to lead troops into battle.


Any hindrance on the unit may prevent it from fulfilling its sole purpose: fighting and winning America’s wars.

(U.S. Air Force by Tech. Sgt. Christine Jones)

While most soldiers, including myself, can attest to the lackluster leadership abilities of some fast-tracked leaders, the RAND Corporation is finally backing it up with evidence in a recently released report titled, The Value of Experience in the Enlisted Force.

The report explores the relationship between a leader’s experience and junior soldiers’ attrition rate. The three key traits of an effective leader, as found through interviews, were:

  1. leaders who care about their soldiers,
  2. leaders who effectively train their soldiers,
  3. leaders who are knowledgeable.

Soldiers under leaders who mastered all three of these were far more likely to reenlist in the Army. Soldiers who served under leaders who failed in two or more these categories were far more likely to leave after just one term. This is precisely where a lack of experience in leadership positions hamstrings the unit.

Being a leader is more then even book knowledge – it’s finding the balance in all traits of being a leader.

(U.S. Army photo by Timothy L. Hale)

There are two key types of experience that leaders need in spades: Interpersonal experience, which is knowing your soldiers and how they react to things, and technical experience, which can be learned in school and by simply leading. Both of these can only be achieved with time.

Soldiers who are tossed under leadership lacking in this invaluable experience are set up for failure. They’ll be unprepared to handle all the minor things that no one tells you about leading troops, like the insane amount of paperwork required or a complete lack of a personal life.

Most of these problems of inexperience are solved by gradually transitioning a troop into a leadership role. It’s best to start someone with command over one or two soldiers rather than immediately putting them in charge of the entire platoon.

Just be honest with yourself and your superiors. Everyone is affected by a single leader in the unit.

(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Alex Kilmon)

Now, this isn’t to say that fast-tracking promotions is inherently wrong. It’s more to say that the qualities many units use to identify troops for quick promotion are flawed. These should include leadership skills — not just outstanding PT scores or test results.

As for sergeants, staff sergeants, and sergeants first class, they should only bite off what they can chew. If it takes a trip to the NCO academy before they’re 100-percent confident in leading, then they should go. No one is being helped by shoehorning an unprepared NCO into a leadership position just to maintain the status quo.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How the US could take down North Korea without firing a shot

Dennis Blair, a former director of national intelligence, on Jan. 30, defined what he called North Korea’s “kryptonite,” saying it could collapse Kim Jong Un’s government without firing a shot.


While President Donald Trump’s inner circle reportedly weighs the use of military force against North Korea, Blair, a former U.S. Navy Admiral, has suggested another method of attack that wields information, not weapons.

“The kryptonite that can weaken North Korea is information from beyond its borders,” Blair said in a written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Kim Jong Un New Years speech (Image KCNA)

North Koreans have no idea how bad things are in their country, Blair said, because they’re subject to an “unrelenting barrage of government propaganda.”

North Korean citizens caught with South Korean media can be sentenced to death or sent to horrific prison camps, as control of the media and intolerance for different narratives are pillars of North Korea’s government.

But Blair said the U.S. could leverage a recent trend in North Korea: cellphones.

About one in five North Koreans own a cellphone, many of which can connect to Chinese cell towers across the Yalu River along the countries’ border, he said.

Also Read: The US is ready to hit North Korea with tactical nukes

“Texts to these cellphones can provide subversive truth,” Blair said. “Cell towers can be extended; CDs and thumb drives can be smuggled in; radio and TV stations can be beamed there.”

Blair added: “The objective is to separate the Kim family from its primary support — the secret police, the army, and the propaganda ministry.”

Though outside media does get into North Korea and reaches the country’s elites, the U.S. could expand efforts to flood it with outside news. The U.S. used a similar tactic during the Cold War in setting up Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty to combat the Soviet Union and its state-controlled media.

Yun Sun, a North Korea expert at the Stimson Center, told Business Insider last year that a similar idea floated by a former U.S. Navy SEAL had legs.

“Kim Jong Un understands that as soon as society is open and North Korean people realize what they’re missing, Kim’s regime is unsustainable, and it’s going to be overthrown,” Sun said.

Kim Jong Un waves at North Korean soldiers. (Image KCNA)

Sun said that in the past when South Korea flew balloons that dropped pamphlets and DVDs over North Korea, Kim’s government responded militarily, sensing its frailty relative to those of prosperous liberal democracies.

Blair pointed to other totalitarian states where popular uprisings have become informed and sought to take down a media-controlling dictator, concluding his testimony by saying that “once that process starts, it is hard to stop.”

“Such will be North Korea’s fate,” he said.

MIGHTY MONEY

This meditation company is giving away free downloads to veterans

Deployed Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, coalition partners and civilians go relax as they finish the largest Yoga session to take place in Qatar history July 11, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.


A meditation company with an iTunes app is offering free downloads to veterans. Meditation Studios has developed 200 meditation tracks that can be downloaded through their app in the iTunes store.

Through a recent partnership with Give Back, the company created the Veterans Collection, a unique series of meditations that are designed to help veterans improve their focus, relieve stress, and encourage better sleep.

In a statement to We Are the Mighty, Meditation Studios said:

Please enjoy these complimentary meditations from Meditation Studio App. For more from this collection, download the app. The guided meditations in the Veterans collection will help to improve focus, relieve stress, encourage better sleep and generally bring more peace of mind. The mind can be a great source of distress when it’s out of control. When we can relax, pause or slow the mind down, it becomes a source of consolation and peace. As we learn to meditate, we learn to recognize emotions, thoughts and sensations without reacting to them. It helps us to respond more thoughtfully, without impulse or overreaction. This can be very comforting, giving veterans more control over the thoughts and emotions that accompany a return from deployment.

The downloads are available through the app, or through SoundCloud. The app, which is $3.99 and has high ratings, features unlimited access to all of the company’s meditations and courses; population and situation specific mediations; step-by-step “courses” with instruction on proper meditation; meditations in various lengths to fit into busy schedules; a section for tracking progress, scheduling meditations, and an in-app calendar.

The meditations offered by Meditation Studios are Self Care and Relax and Energize.

An uncontrolled study published in Military Medicine in June, 2011 found that meditation among Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom combat veterans with moderately severe post traumatic stress “may have helped to alleviate symptoms of PTSD and improve quality of life in veterans of OEF/OIF with combat-related PTSD.”

A similar study by the Army in 2013 determined that meditation could have a positive impact on PTSD, and noted that more research was needed.

The VA notes that meditation, when combined with other treatments, may “improve outcomes” of treatment.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Marines just took tanks out of secret caves to train near Russia

US Marines from the 4th Tank Battalion withdrew tanks and weapons from caves in Norway early May, 2018, taking them east to Finland, where, for the first time, they took part in the annual mechanized exercise called Arrow 18.

The drills took place from May 7 to May 18, 2018, in southern Finland, which shares a long border with Russia and has a history of conflict with its larger neighbor. It involved about 150 armored vehicles and 300 other military vehicles. Only 30 Marines took part, but they were joined by thousands of personnel from Norway and Finland.


The live-fire event is led by the Finns, who perform the exercise with partner forces to test the fitness of their military, which is largely made up of conscripts.

“The Finnish Army’s mechanized exercise concentrates on mechanised units’ offensive and involves Army helicopter measures as well as Air Force flight activities,” the Finnish army said. “The exercise also aims at enhancing interoperability in cooperation with foreign detachments.”

Marines joined the multinational exercise for the first time “in order to increase interoperability, reassure partner nations, improve readiness and reinforce relationships,” a Corps spokesman told Marine Corps Times.

Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, fire a M1A1 Abrams tank during a low-light live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 16, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

The Marine Corps began storing vehicles, weapons, and other supplies in caves in Norway during the Cold War in an effort to pre-position equipment in case of conflict. The gear is housed in a chain of six caves in the Trondheim region of central Norway; the exact location is not known.

Three caves have everything from rolling stock to towed artillery. The other three hold ammunition, officials told Military.com in 2017. There is enough gear and food to stock a force of 4,600 Marines for several weeks of combat with everything except aircraft and desktop computers.

“All of our major equipment was drawn from the caves in Norway,” Capt. Matthew Anderson, a tank commander who participated in the exercise, told Stars and Stripes. “This exercise would not have happened without the caves. The equipment, forward-staged, allows us to conduct these exercises. Without it, it’s a whole lot less likely that we would have been as successful as we were.”

Below, you can see what Marines faced during their first time in Finland.

Tensions between Russia and other countries in Europe have been elevated since early 2014, when Russia intervened in Ukraine and annexed Crimea.

U.S. Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tank Battalion, fire the M1A1 Abrams tank during a live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 15, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

In the years since, NATO has reassessed its security posture in Europe, deploying more forces to eastern Europe and seeking to streamline operations.

Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, prepare to fire a 50-cal. machine gun mounted on a M1A1 Abrams tank during Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 17, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

The initiative, designated Operation Atlantic Resolve, has seen multinational forces stationed in rotations in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The US has also sought to rebuild its armored presence on the continent after withdrawing the last of its tanks in 2013.

The US Army’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, from the 1st Cavalry Division, known as the Ironhorse Brigade, recently arrived in Antwerp, Belgium, using the trip from the port to its base in Germany as a chance to practice the overland movements that a military mobilization would require.

Niether Finland nor Sweden are NATO members, but both countries have worked more closely with each other and the defense alliance to develop military capabilities and maintain readiness.

A Finnish soldier overlooks live-fire training in Pohjankangas Training Area, Finland, as part of Exercise Arrow 18, May 15, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

Helsinki said in early 2017 that it would increase troop numbers by 20% and add to its defense budget in response to rising tensions with Russia.

Source: Reuters

Russia singled out those moves closer to NATO by Finland and Sweden as a matter of “special concern.” Russia has also criticized neighboring Norway for allowing a US Marine rotational force to be stationed in the country — the first time a foreign force has been posted on Norwegian soil since World War II.

Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, drive the M1A1 Abrams tanks during a live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 16, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

Source: Reuters, Business Insider

The Marines deployed to Finland with M1A1 tanks for the exercise, where they were joined by soldiers from the Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment using Stryker armored vehicles. US personnel and a Finnish mechanized infantry brigade took part in a mock battle in woods and marshland in the western part of the country.

Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, fire a 50-cal. machine gun mounted on a M1A1 Abrams tank during Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 17, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

Source: Stars and Stripes

The exercise saw Marines working with Finnish soldiers to attack the enemy, a role filled by other Finnish troops. “We would punch holes through the enemy lines and the conscripts would come in and give us support,” Anderson, the tank commander, told Stars and Stripes.

Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, fire an M1A1 Abrams tank during a low-light, live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 16, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

Finnish army cooks also supplied troops in the field with hot meals every day, sparing soldiers and Marines from having to eat Meals, Ready to Eat. “It doesn’t get any better than that,” Anderson said.

The territory presented a new challenge for the Marines.

Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, review the scheme of maneuver for a live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 16, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

“We’re used to operating in open terrain,” Anderson told Stars and Stripes. “This is very different. It is very forested, and we’ve had to adjust to the way Finnish tankers fight, more closely together.”

Marines with Bravo Company, 4th Tanks Battalion, prepare their M1A1 Abrams tanks for a live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kanakaanpaa, Finland, May 16, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

Source: Stars and Stripes

One of Finland’s Leopard 2 tanks got stuck in a swamp during the training, giving Marines a chance to show off. “That was a lot of fun for my crew,” Sgt. Jonathan Hess, a recovery-vehicle mechanic, told Stars and Strips. “We showed the conscripts how to do recovering with our vehicle, because they have nothing like what we have.”

Finnish soldiers stage Leopard tanks during a live-fire exercise as part of Exercise Arrow 18 in Pohjankangas Training Area near Kankaanpaa, Finland, May 18, 2018.
(US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Averi Coppa)

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

War with North Korea will either be all out or not at all

US Navy Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of the US military in the Pacific, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 15, 2018, that the US isn’t planning a one-off, “bloody nose” strike on North Korea, but rather it’s planning to go all out in war or not at all.


Senior administration officials are reportedly exploring the “bloody nose” strategy, which entails a limited strike to humiliate and intimidate North Korea. When asked about this during the Senate hearing, Harris said no such plan existed.

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

“We have no bloody nose strategy. I don’t know what that is,” Harris said in response to a question from Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, USNI reported.

“I am charged by the national command authority of developing a range of options through the spectrum of violence, and I’m ready to execute whatever the President and the national command authority directs me to do, but a bloody nose strategy is not being contemplated,” Harris continued.

President Donald Trump.

Experts uniformly reacted in horror at the news that President Donald Trump’s administration was reportedly planning a limited strike on North Korea, as they allege it would likely result in an all-out, possibly nuclear retaliation from Pyongyang.

According to Harris, the US feels the same way.

Related: Trump commits US to maximum pressure on North Korea

“If we do anything along the kinetic spectrum of conflict, we have to be ready to do the whole thing,” Harris said, pouring cold water on the idea of a limited strike that would only have rhetorical ramifications.

Speculation over Trump’s willingness to strike North Korea peaked after he dismissed Victor Cha, a widely respected Korea expert, as US ambassador to South Korea after almost a year of consideration.

Cha’s dismissal owed to his disagreement Trump’s plan to attack North Korea, multiple outlets reported at the time.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How the CIA recruited and handled its top KGB mole

On June 22, 1977, Aleksandr Ogorodnik killed himself with a CIA-supplied suicide pill after the KGB arrested him based on information initially provided by a mole within the Agency. Just over three weeks later, CIA officer Martha (Marti) Peterson — unaware of Aleksandr’s death — was seized in a KGB ambush while servicing a dead drop in Moscow.

The streets of Moscow were one of the most important, and dangerous, battlefields of the Cold War. American intelligence officers like Marti worked with assets like Aleksandr in the shadows to collect Soviet secrets. The Soviets, in turn, closely watched all foreign nationals and their own citizens for signs of espionage.


Although the story of TRIGON ended tragically, the intelligence Aleksandr provided gave US policymakers valuable insights into Soviet foreign policy plans and intentions. It was insights like this which ultimately helped us win the Cold War.

Recruiting a spy:

Aleksandr Ogorodnik was a mid-level official in the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) posted in Latin America and had access to information about Soviet intentions for the region. He enjoyed his life in Latin America and disliked the Soviet system, which he found oppressive.

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The CIA recruited Aleksandr in South America in 1973. Upon signing up to spy for the Agency, he was given the codename TRIGON.

TRIGON smuggled documents from the embassy and took them to a safe-house, where Agency officers photographed them. The material he provided gave unique insights into Soviet policies in Latin America, including plans to influence other governments.

Return to the motherland:

In anticipation of his recall to Moscow, CIA officers taught TRIGON operational trade-craft and techniques. He also received training in secret writing, the use of one-time pads, and dead drop techniques.

One of the first female CIA case officer to serve behind the Iron Curtain, Marti Peterson, went to Moscow to be TRIGON’s handler. At the time, the KGB discounted the ability of women to conduct intelligence operations, so Marti went unnoticed for almost 18 months.

TRIGON’s value rose significantly after he returned to Moscow in October 1974. He had agreed to continue spying for the Agency, but he asked that the US government resettle his then-pregnant girlfriend. Before leaving for the Soviet Union, TRIGON requested a suicide device in case he was caught. After high-level deliberations at Langley, his CIA handlers reluctantly gave him a fountain pen containing a cyanide capsule.

TRIGON’S dead drop instructions made by CIA.
(SPYCRAFT, by Robert Wallace and H Keith Melton)

A few months later, per his recontact instructions, TRIGON gave a “sign of life” signal in February 1975. As face-to-face meetings were too dangerous, impersonal operational encounters—using signal sites, radio messages, concealment devices, dead drops, and car drops—began in October and were scheduled monthly.

For nearly two years they worked together, Marti and TRIGON never met. They were only spies passing in the night.

Dead rats for dead drops:

Moscow was a challenging environment to operate within. Even finding one’s way around Moscow proved difficult because Soviet-produced maps of the city were deliberately inaccurate. The Agency had to get creative when communicating with assets, which regularly included the use of dead drops.

Dead drop rock intended for TRIGON.
(SPYCRAFT, by Robert Wallace and H Keith Melton)

Dead drops are a way for intelligence officers to leave or receive items at a secret location in order to exchange information with an asset without having to meet directly. Everyday items like fake bricks can be used for dead drops. Packed with messages or supplies, the bricks can be deposited at a set location, such as a construction site, for later pickup.

Marti Peterson’s purse, used during dead drop operations in Moscow.

One of the more surprising concealment devices sometimes used by the CIA were dead rats. The body cavity was large enough to hold a wad of money or roll of film. Hot pepper sauce kept scavenging cats away after the “rat” was tossed from a car window at a prearranged drop site.

Marti used a purse to conceal supplies and equipment that she transferred to TRIGON via dead drop exchanges. Because of the KGB’s gender bias, the purse, like Marti herself, did not attract suspicion.

The mole:

TRIGON soon secured a position in the Global Affairs Department of the MFA that gave him access to incoming and outgoing classified cables to Soviet embassies worldwide. He provided sensitive intelligence about Soviet foreign policy plans and objectives. His reporting went to the President and senior US policymakers.

Meanwhile, Karl Koecher, a naturalized US citizen, was working at CIA as a translator and contract employee. (Unbeknownst to CIA, he was also working concurrently for the Czech Intelligence Service.) He had incidental access to information about TRIGON’s first dealings with the Agency and told his intelligence service, which then notified the KGB.

When that occurred is not known, nor is the time when the KGB began investigating TRIGON. In early 1977, however, his case officers began noticing indications—principally a marked decline in the quality of the photographs—that he had been compromised and was under KGB control.

The Krasnoluzhskiy Most

TRIGON never showed up for a dead drop encounter on June 28, 1977, so another was arranged via radio message for two weeks later.

Krasnoluzhskiy Most, Moscow Bridge site for dead drop.
(SPYCRAFT, by Robert Wallace and H Keith Melton)

On July 15, Marti went to the Krasnoluzhskiy Most — a railroad bridge near Lenin Central Stadium —to set up the dead drop. The bridge spanned the Moscow River with a pedestrian walkway running along the side of the tracks. A spot was prepicked where TRIGON would receive a “drop” from Marti, and leave a package to be retrieved later that same night.

As night fell over Moscow, Marti left a concealment device in a narrow window inside a stone tower on the Krasnoluzhskiy Most. It was a trap.

(SPYCRAFT, by Robert Wallace and H Keith Melton)

A KGB surveillance team was waiting and seized Marti. They took her to Lyubianka Prison, where she was questioned for hours and photographed with some of the espionage paraphernalia Agency officers and TRIGON had used. She was declared persona non grata (an unwelcome person) and sent back to the US immediately.

The Agency later learned that Alexander Ogorodnik had killed himself a month before Marti had been apprehended. He told the KGB he would sign a confession but asked to use his own pen. Marti wrote in her memoir, The Widow Spy, that “Opening the pen as if to begin writing, he bit down on the barrel and expired instantly in front of his KGB interrogators. The KGB was so intent on his confession that they never suspected he had poison….TRIGON died his own way, a hero.”

This article originally appeared on Central Intelligence Agency. Follow @CIA on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This new film shows the potential of stem cells for wounded vets

The Census Bureau says there are 3.8 million wounded veterans living in America today. That’s as many wounded veterans as there are people living in the states of New Hampshire, Hawaii, and Maine combined.

What’s even more heartbreaking, though, is that many of these veterans feel ignored and misunderstood by the country they gave their blood and bodies to serve.

Working Pictures, an independent film company dedicated to producing content with purpose, wants to help change that with the release of Wise Endurance, a documentary profiling two brave veterans — and the collective of stem-cell physicians providing them with cutting-edge treatment for their combat injuries.


One of these veterans is Roger Sparks, a former Air Force Pararescueman and Silver Star recipient who served during the bloody Operation Bulldog Bite in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. Sparks is now a veteran advocate who is seeking stem-cell treatments for his and his fellow combat veteran’s blast-induced, traumatic brain injuries.

This specific treatment is called autologous stem cell therapy, where stem cells are harvested directly from the patient’s own fat tissue. The removed stem cells are separated from the fat and reintroduced intravenously to boost healing.

During the film, both Sparks and his 14-year-old son, Oz (who has Cerebral Palsy and type 1 diabetes), experienced noticeable results from their stem cell treatments. Oz’s results are visible — the show follows Oz as he moves from non-verbal to speaking. The results, captured on film, lead the collective to encourage other doctors to offer the same service to veterans, with a plan to use the findings as part of a national study and database to further the treatment of concussive injuries using adipose derived stem cells.

Master Sgt. Roger Sparks, a pararescueman with the 212th Rescue Squadron.

Sparks introduces Pararescueman team member Jimmy Settle, who was shot in the head during Bullbog Bite (Settle’s memoir, Never Quit, is a national best-seller). The treatment was so effective for Settle that he began to heal his inability to freely touch his face. The former track champion also was able to resume running again, which he had previously been unable to do.

These successes in autologous stem cell therapy have inspired Sparks to become an advocate for his fellow combat servicemen. As a result, Sparks, Cell Surgical Network’s doctors, including Dr. Kyle Bergquist, Dr. Mark Berman, Dr. Elliot Lander, and Dr. Larry Miggins, and the filmmakers have established Healing Our Heroes Foundation — a non-profit organization whose goals are to treat combat veterans with adipose-derived stem cells and study the initial, promising results.

Staff Sgt. Jimmy Settle.

Because there are no medical treatments for TBI, stem cells could be a real game-changer in the health of our wounded warriors.

A national network of providers have already committed to treating a significant portion of the population of former combat veterans through the efforts of the Wise Endurance team, and further fundraising is being planned through the sale of the documentary and donations.

The film is available online for purchase on the film’s website. Proceeds will go to fund the Healing Our Heroes Foundation, which will provide treatment, travel, and accommodation for the veterans, as well as cover the costs of studying the outcomes.

MIGHTY TRENDING

NATO prepares massive war games in response to tensions

NATO is gearing up for its “biggest exercises in many years,” the alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg revealed Oct. 2, 2018, according to multiple reports.

Around 45,000 troops will take part in the Trident Juncture exercises in Norway in late October and early November 2018, the secretary said, according to AFP. The “fictitious but realistic” drills, reportedly the largest since the end of the Cold War, come on the heels of the massive Vostok 2018 joint military exercises involving tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Russian and Chinese troops that were held in September 2018.

In addition to troops, the 29 NATO allies and their partners will send 150 aircraft, 60 ships, and 10,000 vehicles to the training grounds.


The drills come amid heightened tensions with Russia. For instance, US Envoy to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchinson called Russia out on Oct. 2, 2018, accusing it of violating the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. Warning Russia that Moscow is “on notice,” she said that the US might “take out the missiles” before they can be deployed if Russia refuses to change course.

Western allies have bolstered their military presence in the years following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Trident Juncture 2018 is designed to increase interoperability among allied and partner forces to respond quickly and effectively to an external threat, such as Russian aggression.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“It will simulate NATO’s collective response to an armed attack against one ally. And it will exercise our ability to reinforce our troops from Europe and across the Atlantic,” Stoltenberg explained Oct. 2, 2018. The aim is preparation for “large-scale military operations” under trying conditions, the Norwegian Armed Forces previously introduced, adding, “Exercises like this make NATO better prepared to counter any aggression, if necessary. “

In an effort to maintain transparency, NATO has invited Russia to monitor the joint military exercises. “All members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including Russia, have been invited to send observers,” the secretary said, according to Russian state media.

In early September 2018, Russian and Chinese forces, along with a small contingent of Mongolian troops, trained together in eastern Russia, leading to significant speculation about stronger Russian-Chinese ties as both Moscow and Beijing confront Washington.

Russia touted the exercises as unprecedented, claiming that the drills included hundreds of thousands of troops and tens of thousands of tanks and other military vehicles. Many suspect that the joint exercises were actually much smaller than stated.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This was the ‘unluckiest’ U-boat of World War II

U-505 was a near absolute failure as a killer, failing to sink a single ship for multiple combat tours in a row, suffering the only suicide of a commanding officer in the German undersea service until the final days of the war, and becoming the first submarine captured in the war despite failed attempts to scuttle the ship.


Yeah, the crew couldn’t even sink the sub properly.

The “unluckiest” U-boat, U-505, after its capture by sailors of Task Group 22.3.

(U.S. Navy)

The boat, U-505, would earn the moniker “unluckiest” for its struggles, though some of its former crew members have pushed back against that, saying that the boat should not be blamed since it got nearly all of its crew home every tour despite its struggles.

Kapitänleutnant Axel-Olaf Loewe commissioned the boat in August 1941 and led it on three tours, sinking seven ships. (Kapitänleutnant is roughly equal to a U.S. Navy lieutenant, the O-3 grade.) Loewe did have one black spot on his record, though.

On July 22, 1942, a misunderstood command led to the ship shooting off the mast of a sailing boat with no flag and then sinking it. The ship belonged to a Columbian diplomat, and Columbia declared war after the incident. Berlin wasn’t exactly worried about Columbia, but that still ended up being Loewe’s last patrol.

Loewe then relinquished command to Kapitänleutnant Peter Zschech who had a much rougher time on the boat.

Zschech had been a successful officer before his command, and he held two Iron Crosses when he arrived on the U-505. He was expected to be a star. But his first two patrols had resulted in only one sinking. Before he could leave for his third patrol, French dockworkers sabotaged the U-505. They were executed, but their sabotage had the desired effect.

The U-505 struggled on its sixth patrol and sank no ships. Its seventh, eighth, and ninth patrols were cut short as the crew kept hearing strange noises that likely represented ongoing problems from the sabotage, and the boat turned back from each tour.

Zschech was professionally embarrassed. He was supposed to be a star of the submarine service but had sank one ship over the course of six patrols. On Oct. 9, 1943, Zschech took the crew on its 10th overall patrol, his seventh. Fifteen days later, the U-505 was spotted and came under heavy, determined depth charge attack.

The Capture of U-505 – 1944

www.youtube.com

Zschech pulled his pistol and took his own life. It was the only suicide of a submarine commanding officer during a war patrol for all of World War II. (Three other U-boat commanding officers would take their lives on shore during or after the war, but Zschech was the only to do so during a combat patrol.)

The Oberleutnant zur See Paul Meyer got his crew out of the depth charge attack and led them back to port. The ship received a new commanding officer, Oberleutnant zur See Harald Lange. His first patrol on the boat lasted only nine days with little effect. But his next patrol, launched March 16, 1944, would go for 81 days. But it would end horribly.

It wasn’t entirely Lange’s or the crew’s fault. The U.S. Navy Task Group 22.3 had successfully sunk U-515 on its previous tour, and the task group commander had gotten an idea for a greater coup. U-515 had, after suffering extreme damage, come to the surface in the middle of the task group. The task group quickly sank it with all the guns it had, but the commander wanted to try using only machine guns next time, hoping to save the sub and capture it.

Unluckily for the U-505, it was the next sub that Task Group 22.3 got its teeth into. The group had found no radar contacts on its May 1944 patrol and was headed back to refuel on June 2 when the group got a radar hit 50 miles east. That was followed by a June 4 sound contact in the area.

Survivors of the U-505 await their transportation to POW camps in 1944.

(U.S. Navy)

The USS Chatelain was the first to attack after Wildcat fighters from the USS Guadalcanal spotted the U-505, and it’s depth charges quickly forced the sub to surface. U-505 began circling to the right, and the gunners of the task group began laying into it out of fear it was lining up for a torpedo attack. This quickly proved false as submariners started leaping into the ocean, and the group commander ordered the larger caliber weapons to cease fire.

He broadcasted, “I want to capture that bastard, if possible.” He allowed the anti-aircraft gunners and machine gunners to fire a little longer, then ordered his boarding parties to attack the sub.

It was the first capture of an enemy ship by a U.S. Navy vessel since 1815. The boarding parties quickly got classified materials and the enigma machine out, and then set about trying to save the boat. This required closing the scuttling vents, disabling the charges, and then pumping water out of the boat.

And the U-505, in either a final slap in the face of its German crew or a final act of supporting sailors, depending on who you ask, the boat’s pumps successfully cleared the water, and it was towed to the Caribbean for study. The surviving crew members sat out the rest of the war in a POW camp.

MIGHTY TRENDING

NFL rejects an AMVETS Super Bowl ad asking players to stand

The National Football League rejected an advertisement for its official Super Bowl LII programs that urged players and people who attend the game to stand during the National Anthem, according to American Veterans, the organization that submitted the ad.


Omitted from the programs was a full-page ad picturing the American flag, saluting soldiers and the words “Please Stand,” referring to the movement of NFL players protesting racial inequality and injustice by kneeling during the performance of the National Anthem before the start of games.

Outcry over the protests surged last fall when President Donald Trump criticized the NFL for allowing it to continue. In October, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL owners decided the league wouldn’t penalize players for kneeling.

A print ad for AMVETS

Joe Chenelly, the national director of American Veterans, known as AMVETS, said Monday that the group was “surprised and disappointed” when the NFL told him Friday the league had rejected the ad.

“The NFL said it does not want to take a position on that,” Chenelly said. “Really, by not letting us run an ad, we think they are taking a position.”

Super Bowl LII programs began printing Monday, following the NFC and AFC championship games Sunday night. The New England Patriots will compete against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl on Feb. 4.

NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy said in a statement that official Super Bowl programs aren’t a place for political messaging.

“The Super Bowl game program is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and the Super Bowl. It’s never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement,” McCarthy said. “The NFL has long supported the military and veterans and will again salute our service members in the Super Bowl with memorable on-field moments that will be televised as part of the game.”

McCarthy said AMVETS was given a chance to amend their ad from “Please Stand” to other options, such as “Please Honor Our Veterans” or “Please Stand for Our Veterans.”

He noted an ad from Veterans of Foreign Wars was approved for the program. It reads, “We Stand For Veterans.”

Production on the programs was delayed while they awaited an answer from AMVETS, McCarthy said, and the NFL ultimately printed the programs without the ad in order to meet deadlines.

Also Read: NFL Falcon is sending military widow and son to the Super Bowl

Chenelly disputes the NFL didn’t hear back from AMVETS in time for printing. He said the group responded to the league that changing the words on their ad would mean abandoning their message.

AMVETS, an organization comprising approximately 250,000 veterans and 1,400 posts nationwide, sent a letter to Goodell on Monday calling the decision to exclude their ad an affront to free speech.

“Freedom of speech works both ways. We respect the rights of those who choose to protest, as these rights are precisely what our members have fought — and in many cases died — for,” wrote National Commander Marion Polk. “But imposing corporate censorship to deny that same right to those veterans who have secured it for us all is reprehensible.”

AMVETS was prepared to pay $30,000 to a third-party publisher for the full-page ad, the price available to nonprofits. The group had hoped to use the advertisement as a fundraiser for its “Americanism” initiative, in which its members travel to schools nationwide to teach flag etiquette. The program also involves a poster and essay contest for K-12 students.

Fort Campbell, Ky.- Soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division were invited to Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans to unfurl the American flag during the opening ceremony as long as during the halftime show on Nov. 12. The soldiers were brought onto the field for the opening ceremony where they unfurled the American flag. This flag displays the honor, commitment and devotion Fort Campbell Soldiers have to mission, those serving around the world and supporting citizens of the United States. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Patrick Kirby)

Chenelly said it wasn’t the group’s intention to criticize the NFL, though the group did write a letter to the NFL last year in opposition to players kneeling during the anthem.

“We never meant to be disrespectful,” he said.

The same advertisement was accepted by the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association for programs for their upcoming all-star games, Chenelly said.

Veterans, like other Americans, are divided on the issue of the NFL protests. In some cases, veterans and servicemembers have been used politically as a reason NFL players should stand during the anthem.

In September, the national commander of the American Legion issued a statement urging people to respect the National Anthem. As an organization, AMVETS never called for a boycott of the NFL, but some of their posts stopped showing the games, Chenelly said.

Articles

NASA nerds made a Franken-bomber, but they weren’t the first to do it

Recently, NASA made the news when its engineers managed to cobble together a new WB-57 Canberra out of parts from multiple other planes. This is a particularly notable achievement as one of the airframes had spent roughly 40 years at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.


These NASA nerds set a record for how quickly a plane was returned to flight status after being sent to AMARC. They did an impressive job of grafting together parts from the WB-57 Canberra from the boneyard with parts from a second Canberra near Warner Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, as well as F-15 parts for the main wheels, the ejection seats from the F-16, and the tires from an A-4 for the nose wheel.

But some Army Air Force mechanics in Australia pulled off something similar in World War II, and did such a good job that their Franken-bomber is still around today. That plane is currently at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio.

She’s called “Swoose,” and she is not only the only B-17D to survive, she is the oldest surviving B-17.

Swoose started out being assigned to the Philippines in 1941, flying in combat from Dec. 7, 1941, to Jan. 11, 1942. The plane suffered serious damage, but the mechanics used a tail from another damaged B-17 and replaced the engines. The plane then served as an armed transport for the rest of the war, including as a personal transport for Lt. Gen. George Brett (no relation to the star baseball player from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s).

DAYTON, Ohio – The B-17D The Swoose rests next to the B-17F Memphis Belle in the restoration area of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

After the war, the Swoose narrowly avoided the scrapyard. According to a 2007 Washington Post article, the plane was stored in various locations before the Smithsonian handed it over to the Air Force. The plane is currently being restored for eventual display alongside the famous Memphis Belle.

MIGHTY GAMING

World War I gamers held their own ceasefire on 100-year anniversary

Gamers playing “Battlefield 1,” a game set in World War 1, stopped shooting to participate in a ceasefire during an online match at 11 a.m. Canberra time to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, which marks the end of the first World War.

The ceasefire in the game took place on the same day and same time that the annual World War 1 commemoration typically occurs around the globe: On November 11 at 11 a.m.


The player who helped arrange the ceasefire posted a short video of the event on Reddit, but it’s hard to tell from the video everyone actually stopped shooting. It looks like some players either didn’t hear about the planned ceasefire at the specified time or they ignored the effort altogether. The game’s background audio and effects, like loud explosions and artillery from battleships were also still ongoing, which diminished the silence. There’s also a player in a plane who performs a strafing run on a bunch on players who are partaking in the ceasefire, which somewhat ruins the moment.

EA/Dice developer Jan David Hassel posted the video on Twitter:

Still, you can tell that some players abided to the ceasefire by the fact that the player recording the video was surrounded by enemy players (with red icons above their heads) and didn’t get shot. Any other day and time and the player recording the event would have been killed in seconds when surrounded by so many enemy players.

Ultimately, however, the player recording the event was stabbed and killed. The player doing the stabbing apparently apologized for doing so.

“Battlefield 1” players like myself will know how surprising it is that anyone partook in the event, considering how difficult it is to communicate with others in the game.

The player, known as u/JeremyJenki on Reddit, who helped set up the event and recorded the video posted on Reddit how they did it:

“At the start of the game, me and a couple others started talking about having a ceasefire. We made it known in the chat and many people were on board with it, deciding that this armistice should be held on the beach (This didn’t seem like a great idea to me at the time). Players started heading down to the beach early and for a few minutes it was amazing. When editing the video I cut out most of the in between, only showing the beginning and end. But hey, against all odds, we did it, and while short it was the coolest experience in Battlefield I had ever had.”

Featured image: Electronic Arts

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