If the United States and China are on a war footing in space, one of the People’s Republic’s top generals has some tough talk for the U.S.: Be prepared to lose. Maj. Gen. Qiao Liang, is a top general in China’s air force and recently co-authored a book called “Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America.” In it, he warns the United States that they could not outspend a wealthy, organized, and manufacturing-oriented Chinese economy.
Retired People’s Liberation Army Air Force Maj. Gen. Qiao Liang.
“China is not the Soviet Union,” Qiao the South China Morning Post. “If the United States thinks it can also drag China into an arms race and take down China as it did with the Soviets … in the end, probably it would not be China who is down on the ground.”
At the same time, China and the United States are in competition for space dominance. The Pentagon believes China is developing directed-energy weapons for use in the vacuum of space, and the United States is creating its sixth branch of military service, focused solely on a space mission. China has had such a program for the past four years. Now, both countries seem to be preparing to fight a war in space rather than avoid one.
General Qiao Liang says China is not seeking such a war but is asserting itself and its right to national defense. Its biggest asset at the moment is its economic and manufacturing superiority, a position Qiao says will leave it as the winner of an expensive space race with the world’s only superpower.
“When the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in the Cold War and the arms race, the United States was the largest manufacturing country, and the Soviet Union was not even the second,” he said. “But today it is China who is the world’s top manufacturer.”
The Army is now crafting early requirements for what is expected to be a new attack helicopter — beyond the Apache — with superior weapons, speed, maneuverability, sensor technology, and vastly-improved close-combat attack capability.
“We know that in the future we are going to need to have a lethal capability, which drives us to a future attack reconnaissance platform. The Apache is the world’s greatest but there will come a time when we look at leap ahead technology,” Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told a small group of reporters.
A future attack-reconnaissance helicopter, now in its conceptual phase, is a key part of a wide-spanning, multi-aircraft Army Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program. FVL seeks a family of next-generation aircraft to begin emerging in the 2030s, consisting of attack, utility and heavy-class air assets. Ultimately, the FVL effort seeks to replace the Apache, Black Hawk and Chinook.
Current areas of exploration, McConville elaborated, include examinations of aerodynamics, aircraft configurations, new sensor technology and the physics of advanced attack helicopter flight.
The Army is now working on two Initial Capabilities Documents (ICDs) to lay the conceptual groundwork for new weapons, munitions and a supplemental next-generation drone.
The new attack-recon helicopter is intended to follow the — now much further along — FVL utility helicopter program effort; currently being developed as a Science & Technology demonstrator program, this program now includes built, airborne helicopters.
The concept informing a new attack-recon initiative rests upon the realization that even the most advanced existing Apache helicopter, originally emerging in the 1980s, may ultimately have some limitations as threats evolve in coming years. Although the most current Apache, the AH-64E, contains composite rotorblades, improved avionics and a new 701D engine, a new platform would be expected to introduce a quantum leap forward with respect to attack helicopter technology.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dustin Knight)
For instance, the new aircraft will be engineered to integrate weapons and sensor systems to autonomously detect, designate and track targets, perform targeting operations during high-speed maneuvers, conduct off-axis engagements, track multiple targets simultaneously and optimize fire control performance such that weapons can accommodate environmental effects such as wind and temperature, Army officials describe. Any future attack platform will also be optimized for what’s called “high-hot” conditions, defined as 95-degrees Fahrenheit and elevations of 6,000 feet, where thinner air can make helicopter maneuvers far more challenging.
No particular air frames or specific technologies have as of yet been identified for the new Attack-Recon aircraft, however the new air vehicle itself is likely to contain composite materials, higher-resolution sensors, infrared heat suppressors, and radar signature reducing configurations.
Also, in a manner quite consistent with the overall FVL program emphasis, a future attack-recon platform will seek much greater range, speed and fuel efficiency. A longer combat radius, enabled by newer engine technology, brings massive combat advantages. Principally, attacking air crews will, in many mission scenarios, be much less likely to need what the Army calls Forward Air Refueling Positions (FARP). FARPs are forward positioned mini-bases, often placed within hostile or enemy territory, designed to refuel and re-arm helicopters. A helicopter able to travel faster and farther without needing as much refueling naturally decreases combat risk.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Robert Carver, North Carolina National Guard Public Affairs)
One of the ICDs is preparing to solicit industry input for a next-generation drone demonstrator aircraft, engineered to work in tandem with an attack helicopter platform. The effort aims to achieve what Army developers describe as greater standoff, meaning an unmanned system can enter hostile combat while helicopter crews remain at a safer distance.
“We need to be dominating the aerial corridor. We will put our UAS’ in that dangerous breach,” said Brig. Gen. Walter Rugen, leader of the FVL Cross-Functional Team.
It makes sense that the Army would envision a new drone for its future attack helicopter as a way to add new dimensions to its existing Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) technology. Army Apache and Kiowa helicopters have already deployed with an ability to view real-time video feeds from nearby drones from the cockpit of the aircraft. More advanced levels of MUM-T enable helicopter crews to control the flightpath and sensor payloads of nearby drones.The new drone, along with the helicopter itself, will call upon advanced iterations of autonomous navigation. Emerging computer algorithms increasingly enable platforms to perform a wider range of functions without needing human intervention, potentially fostering a combat scenario wherein a helicopter crew would operate a forward-positioned armed attack drone.
Army program managers have told Warrior Maven that this technology has been impactful in combat, as it has at times enabled Apache crews to see real-time images of a target before they even take-off. Naturally, this not only improves the possibilities for surprise attack, but also minimizes the risk to the helicopters themselves by shortening their exposure to enemy fire.
Pursuing a new attack helicopter platform, including these more advanced iterations of MUM-T, involves several key areas of emphasis, senior Army leaders say. These include rapid prototyping, continued experimentation and efforts to engineer the technical infrastructure sufficient to integrate new weapons as they emerge.
“We gain insight from prototypes that help us derive requirements,” said Rugen.
The developmental philosophy for the FVL program, Army leaders describe, seeks to engineer a platform able to evolve as technology evolves to accommodate new weapons, sensors, avionics, as they are discovered. Senior Army developers have explained that the idea is not just to build the best helicopter for today, or even the next few years, but rather to engineer new aircraft designed to include the best technologies for the 2030s, and beyond. Rugen described this strategy in terms of “spiral development.”
In practice, what this means is that instead of looking for near-term or immediate replacements for things like the Apache’s 30mm chain gun, Hellfire missiles or infrared targeting sensors (Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sights) – Army developers seek to architect a platform able to embrace both near-term and future yet-to-be-developed technologies.
This approach is of particular relevance to the second ICD now in development focusing on weapons and munitions.
This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.
Babasoloukian — aka “Babalou” — tells a story that illustrates how easy it is for trainees to fall into traps set by their drill sergeants…or just actually fall…even when they’re told specifically not to fall (common sense would suggest that you wouldn’t have to tell someone that but…boots amirite?)
A genius moment is when one of the enlistees doesn’t know the difference between an Armenian and a Kardashian.
Maybe genius isn’t the right word?
But hey, when it comes down to it, all military personnel are well aware that our great nation faces threats of all shapes and sizes, whether it’s ISIS, al Qaeda, or Kardashian.
The Army is mulling over where they can set up the Army Future Command. One of the locations that’s been on the tips of everyone’s tongues is none other than the Motor City — until recently. There are countless benefits that the city of Detroit stands to gain, but the Army would benefit far more if they gave them a second look.
So, why turn down Detroit? The primary reason that Detroit was removed from contention is because of the “livability scale.” As a Michigan native, I can assure you those claims are blown out of proportion. Yes, there are bad neighborhoods in Detroit, but the area most suited for the Future Command would be the really-nice suburb of Warren.
(U.S. Army TARDEC Photo)
There’s historical precedent here. This suburb was once home to the Detroit Arsenal, where the Army manufactured its tanks until 1996. It’s still currently home to the Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. The Army chose to this location for two separate installations throughout history for the same reason they’re now eyeing the outskirts of Washington D.C.: it has an infrastructure capable of handling many people.
When many cities around the United States were created, the infrastructure had to evolve around them. Most cities east of the Mississippi River struggled to restructure themselves around a new need to support everyone’s cars — except Detroit. In recent years, the infrastructure has taken hits — there’s no denying that — but the city has been recovering far faster than anyone cares to admit.
(Photo by Sean Marshall)
Choosing Detroit as the center for the Futures Command also affords it many opportunities to work hand-in-hand with TACOM. The tanks and vehicles that are going to be used in combat are literally just down the street. Logistically, this means you can get a good gauge of where the Army is at with a quick meeting at your local Tim Hortons.
Another factor that disqualified Detroit (an excuse first employed by Amazon and seemingly copied by the Army) is the educational credentials of the potential workforce. To counter this, I show you the nearby city — one of Forbes’ Most Livable Cities — Ann Arbor. It’s home of also one of Forbes’ best Public Colleges, the University of Michigan. The workforce is available and highly educated, with 75.2 percent of the population holding a degree and a whopping 10.3 percent with doctorates.
Detroit and the surrounding regions are making a strong comeback. The goal of Future Command is to detail how the Army will advance it’s technology into the coming decades. There really is no better place to look towards than the city that is leading the way.
The Norfolk-based, guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87) took part in the transport of passengers from a damaged seaplane that was adrift at sea in the Western Atlantic Ocean Aug. 25, 2018.
Mason was conducting operations in the Atlantic with Carrier Strike Group 12, when the U.S. Navy diverted the ship to rendezvous with the container ship M/V Polar Peru to transport the rescued passengers back to the United States.
“It was a great team effort to safely rescue the seaplane crew,” said Cmdr. Stephen Aldridge, Mason’s commanding officer. “Those who go to sea have a special bond to help fellow mariners in distress. From the team ashore, to the U.S. Coast Guard, to the merchant ship in the area, the ‘destroyermen’ and naval aviators aboard Mason, it was great to see the collaboration that resulted in locating, rescuing, and returning the stranded passengers ashore.”
The seaplane had departed Elizabeth City, North Carolina, early Aug. 25, 2018, morning when it was forced to make an emergency landing after striking an object during takeoff, which damaged the aircraft’s front node. The plane landed approximately 460 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Watchstanders at the Coast Guard’s 5th District received notification of the distressed plane by the International Emergency Response Coordination Center. An HC-130 Hercules aircraft was launched from Air Station Elizabeth City to monitor the situation while the Coast Guard used the Automated Mutual Assistance Rescue System to contact the Polar Peru, which was transiting nearby. The Polar Peru recovered the passengers until the Mason could arrive on scene.
US Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules.
Mason launched two rigid-hull inflatable boats and picked up the five passengers, which included the seaplane’s flight crew and an oceanography researcher. Once aboard, the passengers were able to contact their families.
“There was an excitement on the deck plates for the opportunity to help fellow Americans in trouble at sea,” said Command Master Chief Maurice Purley. “It was a reminder to the crew of Mason why we love being in the U.S. Navy.”
“Although not a frequently-executed mission, search and rescue is a mission that Navy destroyers train for,” added Aldridge. “In fact, just days ago, Mason conducted integrated rescue training with our small boats and helicopters to practice rescuing survivors from the sea and into the helicopter.”
Additional search and rescue mission aircraft aboard Mason include an embarked MH-60R helicopter of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46, based out of Naval Station Mayport, Florida.
Marines have been given the approval to let their hair down — at least some of it — while they work out.
Women with medium-length hair are now allowed to wear a “half ponytail” hairstyle during physical training. The style, which pulls the top portion of the hair away from the face and into a ponytail while the rest of the hair remains down — is one of several new uniform-related changes the commandant signed off on this week.
“The section of hair pulled back into the half ponytail should be secured over the ‘crest of the head,'” according to a graphic depicting the new authorized look. “The half ponytail must lay flat, and hair may not stick straight out or at extreme angles from the head.”
Female Marines with medium-length hair are now allowed to wear a “half ponytail” hairstyle during physical training.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pamela Jackson)
Half ponytails are allowed only for female Marines with medium-length hair. The style is authorized during PT, including when the Marine Corps combat utility uniform is worn during physical training. Women with long hair will still need to put their hair up, in a regular ponytail or free-hanging braid.
Half ponytails won’t be allowed with any Marine Corps headgear, the message states. And if the combat utility uniform isn’t being worn for PT, it’s back to the regular hair regs for all women, according to the message.
Women have also been given the OK to wear silver earrings with their service uniforms. Female Marines were previously allowed to wear only gold earrings with that uniform.
Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit participate in an endurance course.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Caleb McDonald)
“Small, polished, yellow gold or silver colored, ball, or round stud earrings (post, screw-on, or clip), not to exceed 6 millimeters (about 1/4 inch) in diameter, may be worn with the service, blue dress, and blue-white dress [uniforms],” the message states.
The changes follow a survey the Marine Corps Uniform Board conducted earlier this year. Officials declined to provide the results of that survey, but it did ask Marines to weigh in on these two approved changes.
The commandant also this week granted men the approval to use black umbrellas when it’s raining while they’re in their service or dress uniforms.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
Reporting from the ground in Syria, NBC News’ Richard Engel and Kennet Werner spoke to Brig. Gen. Jonathan Braga, whose forces beat back the pro-Syrian government advance on a well known US position near valuable oilfields.
The Pentagon said the pro-Syrian forces, including many Russians hired by private military contractors, made an “unprovoked attack” on their positions with artillery fire. The US response included airstrikes and artillery shelling that sources say wiped out much of the advancing column in just minutes.
“Those artillery rounds could have landed and killed Americans, and that’s why we continue to prepare our defenses,” Braga, who directs the US-led operations against ISIS, told NBC News.
Braga also confirmed that it was largely Russian nationals that took part in the fighting, though the Kremlin denies this.
But despite the overwhelming victory that saw zero casualties on the US side, Braga said he’s “absolutely concerned” about further clashes in the future.
After the massive battle, Russian job listing sites were seen as advertising security work in Syria, in what is likely a recruitment play for more mercenaries. A man claiming to recruit Russians to work as private military contractors said that the recruits he now met were joining up to take revenge on the US after the battle shook their national pride.
Possible round two
Now, according to NBC News, the forces that once attacked the US sit just three miles away, and Braga is uneasy.
“There is no reason for that amount of combat power to be staring at us this closely,” Braga said. “I don’t think that’s healthy for de-escalation.”
As a result, Braga’s forces are digging in and preparing for what could be a future clash.
Russia stands accused of using military contractors, or Russian nationals without proper Russian military uniforms, to conceal the true cost of fighting in places like Ukraine and Syria.
But when the Russian mercenaries were crushed by US airpower, they reportedly had no anti-aircraft weaponry.
It’s unclear how the Russian mercenaries and pro-Syrian government forces expect to stand a chance against the US without the involvement of the proper Russian military, or at least weapons that can take down the US Apache helicopters that are said to have strafed and mopped up the mercenaries towards the end of the battle.
When we first enter the gym, we’re usually greeted by a vast inventory of supplies and supplements, all up for sale. After all, gyms are businesses, and if they want to keep their doors open, they need to find many sources of revenue.
Sure, every once in a while, you might find yourself in a bind and have to buy a product or two from their shelves, like a pre-game drink or some amino acids, but these products can be fairly expensive and it’s a known fact that enlisted troops don’t make a whole lot of cash. Pinching pennies where you can will improve your financial situation in the long haul.
If you’re looking to save more than just a few pennies, make sure to keep the following list of things in your gym bag so you’re not forced to overpay for them later.
Gyms make some money on your membership, but they also earn cash by selling you pre-made protein drinks. These tasty, high-protein drinks can cost you anywhere between to — which might not seem too costly at the time, but here’s some quick math for you:
You typically enjoy a drink after every workout. If you hit the gym at least four times a week, that tallies around to per month. Now, if you were to buy a 74-serving jug of protein for , that’s only 81 cents per scoop. At one scoop per drink, for the same number of drinks, you’re looking at .96 — just sayin’.
Weight belts support your back, protecting your spine as you lift. It’s a gym-bag essential because once you slip a disc in your vertebrae, the doctor bills will skyrocket as you embark on your road to recovery.
Invest in a weight belt now and save thousands in potential medical expenses later.
Most gyms do their best to keep clean. Unfortunately, despite all the hard work the cleaning staff puts into maintaining a sanitary gym, they rarely clean the fibers of the extension ropes attached to cable machines. This means that by using a cable, you’re coming in contact with nasty bacteria, which could lead to contracting an infection.
To make matters worse, gym-goers often use their hands to wipe the sweat from their faces. If you’ve been touching a germ-infested rope and then smear your hands across your face, you run the risk of catching a bad cold. Buying an extension rope and storing it in your gym bag will help you limit your exposure to germs, keeping you healthier and saving you money on visits to the doctor.
Walk into any gym and you’ll probably find an assortment of energy bars for sale. While the price of the individual bars will vary based on their nutritional values, you’ll always save money if you purchase them in bulk. Buy some at a health food store and pack one in your gym bag. Just as with protein powder, the savings add up over time.
What’s the difference between a weight belt and a dip belt?
That’s simple. A weight belt is used to protect the lower back from an injury while this specialized belt is worn to add weight to your workout at the dip or pull-up station.
Some gyms provide this easy-to-use piece of equipment, but, like anything, the chains and buckles can break over time. If you’re using a gym-owned dip belt and it finally reaches its breaking point, you’ll end up paying the full retail price to replace the item. It’s cheaper if you bring your own.
Like they say, “you break it, you buy it.”
An extra pair of clean gym pants or shorts
You’re probably wondering, “how the hell does bringing an extra pair of pants save me money?” Well, the ugly truth of the matter is that when we lift heavy weights, we put a lot of strain on our lower bowels. In fact, the added pressure is usually more powerful than the strain you put on yourself while using the bathroom.
Experiencing a suddenly bowel movement while lifting happens more often than you’d think. Keeping an extra pair of shorts or pants in your gym bag will save you some money — otherwise, you’ll need to purchase one at the gym at a premium price.
Aerie has made headlines in the past for not Photoshopping its models and now it’s continuing its body positive brand message with its latest campaign which celebrates models with disabilities and illnesses.
In the newly-released photos, you can see women of all shapes and sizes, including models Abby Sams, Evelyn Robin Ann, and Cat Coule just to name a few, rocking their bodies and loving themselves. There are women in wheelchairs, women with colostomy bags, and women with crutches all decked out in Aerie’s lingerie.
INSIDER reached out to Aerie for comment about the campaign but did not immediately hear back.
Fans of the brand were definitely here for the campaign’s statement.
A handful of brands have jumped on the inclusivity and diversity bandwagon when it comes to their marketing efforts in recent years, but few have actually embraced visible disabilities. The closest we’ve seen has been with ASOS in early 2018 when they featured people of varying abilities, genders and body types in their activewear campaign.
Aerie isn’t the first fashion brand to feature models with disabilities in their campaigns recently — ASOS made headlines in July 2018 for its release of a wheelchair-friendly jumpsuit.
Though it’s unclear if including these models will be a regular part of Aerie’s campaigns, it’s definitely a move many see as a step in the right direction for showcasing people of all different different bodies.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The father of our country was famous for his moderation but when he did imbibe, he made sure his drink packed the punch of a Brown Bess. Not only did Washington keep a healthy supply of imported Madeira, he also distilled his own distinctive rye whiskey and the Commander-In-Chief always made sure his troops were well-lubricated when on the march. The most powerful weapon in his cellar came only once a year, however, the General’s egg nog made its presence felt.
“I cannot tell a lie, I’m totally wrecked. Merry Christmas to all, including the Mahometans.”
In the years since historians have rifle through all of our first president’s personal papers and diaries, a number of interesting recipes have been found, including Washington’s small beer recipe. Though his personal egg nog recipe has never been found written in his own hand, it is at least a good representation of what such a recipe in the days of yore would have been like – at least for a wealthy man such as General Washington. It is, unlike most recipes found online nowadays, remarkably blunt. No intros, just straight to the business of catching a buzz.
Maybe colonials weren’t the biggest fans of family get-togethers.
“One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, ½ pint rye whiskey, ½ pint Jamaica rum, ¼ pint sherry—mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of 12 eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.”
“Taste frequently” being the operative command from the first Commander-In-Chief. Be careful, this drink packs a wallop.
William Henry Harrison was a wuss.
While even the Farmer’s Almanac lists the recipe as General Washington’s, there is no evidence he ever wrote it, made it, or drank it. The earliest mention found of the recipe was in a 1948 book called Christmas With The Washingtons by Olive Bailey. While this recipe can’t really be found in earlier papers or other works, the book is in the catalogue at the Mount Vernon Archives and there is definitive proof that George and Martha Washington entertained Christmas guests with some kind of egg nog.
So why not this one?
The egg nog is a strong but delicious concoction that takes some work, like separating eggs and beating the whites until fluffy, then folding the whites into the mixture, but it is well worth the effort. Take heed, though: General Washington would not care much for soldiers in his army in a constant state of inebriation.
Maciejewski is also a 1st Lt in the Army Reserves and serves as the Executive Officer of the 303rd Military Police Company, Jackson, MI. We Are The Mighty interviewed Maciejewski following his heroic actions.
WATM: How did you feel when you arrived on the scene?
Maciejewski: I’m human just like everyone else. I have those same human emotions and feelings that everyone else has, yet, I need to set that aside. Even though I’m nervous responding to these types of calls, I can’t let the family see that. They need to have the trust in me that I’m going to make things better, that I am a professional, and I will fix the problem. If I respond in a frantic, excited manner, that creates even more chaos on the scene. Maintaining a steady calm nerve was paramount to everyone’s safety.
WATM: What was your thought process at the scene?
Maciejewski: I have many different thoughts running through my head just trying to respond to the scene, for example, what is the fastest route to the call, listening for dispatch information over the radio, operating my patrol car safely with emergency lights activated, reading dispatch notes on my computer, how am I going to handle the call when I arrive, basically creating a game plan of priorities of work in my head, are just some things I am running through my head going to high intensity calls like these.
Once on scene, however, as I saw the family rushing to my vehicle, training immediately kicked in. I recognized the baby not breathing and went through steps to clear that airway as fast as possible. In the video you can see the family all frantic, moving around me, mom grabbing my arms, however, I can’t acknowledge that commotion. I need to fix the problem at hand but simultaneously trying to console the family that everything will be ok.
WATM: What happened after you handed the baby over to the firefighters?
Maciejewski: At that point, I had already recognized the baby was crying and breathing on her own. I felt a sense of joy in me when the firefighters wrapped her in a blanket, checked her vitals in the ambulance and returned outside the ambulance with the infant in much better condition. I could see her face was no longer purple, she was gaining the color in her face back and almost appeared as if nothing happened. She was so relaxed.
After the news from the firefighters came back the baby was much better, mom collapsed to the ground again requiring us to then tend to her aid. She eventually regained consciousness and was reunited with her baby in the ambulance to both be transported to the local hospital for further evaluation. I spoke with dad who was very distraught. He just wanted to see his wife and baby in the ambulance and be with his family before going to the hospital. Once he saw they were both going to be ok, he thanked all the firefighters and police officers on scene for taking the best care of his family.
WATM: How are you feeling now? What sort of responses have you been getting from the community and beyond?
Maciejewski: I still feel a great sense of joy that everything worked out in the end. I’m being hailed as a hero across the nation, however, in my humble opinion, I was placed on that scene for a reason: to preserve life. Simply put, I was just doing my job as I was trained to do. Being in the spotlight and having so much outpouring of love and support from people across the world is something indescribable. There are Chiefs of Police from various jurisdictions across the country reaching out to thank me for a job well done.
WATM: Is there anything else you would like readers to know?
Maciejewski: Stories like this happen every day. Police officers across the world deal with these intense, life-altering situations every day, but they’re not always caught on camera. We don’t do the job for fame or seeking recognition. We take the oath, we wear the badge, to protect the citizens of our great nation.
Army Veteran Kenneth Augustus loved adventure. He loved to rock climb, and scuba dive, and always had a longing for falling hundreds of feet per second from an airplane.
VA Salt Lake City Recreation Therapist Lili Sotolong knew skydiving was a lofty goal considering his condition, but she was determined to make that dream come true.
“I got a call out of the blue to come work with this Veteran,” Lili said. “I was told he only had a few months to live but when I got there he was beyond positive, and so easy to work with. He had made peace with what was happening to him and was really preparing himself for the inevitable; he just had some things he wanted to experience first.”
Lili made several calls and finally arranged the jump through two very generous community partners: Skydive Utah and the Elks Lodge. It was go-time!
“He got to jump with his brother and his son, and they wanted me to do it with them! We had a group hug and were all fist-pumping in the plane prior to the jump. It really was an extraordinary experience.”
On Veterans Day 2017 Kenny Augustus fulfilled his dying wish. Attached to a highly-experienced instructor and with a big smile on his face, he dove out of a prop plane at 13,500 feet. Imagine a free fall at 120 miles per hour for 60 seconds. Moments later, the jolt of a chute opening was followed by a peaceful glide to the ground. Lili remembers Kenny’s smile and a big thumbs-up.
From one extreme to the next: scuba diving one last time (check)
Later that evening, Kenny went scuba diving with his son via virtual reality goggles at the Crater in Midvale, Utah. He was too sick to go in the water, but enjoyed the next best thing. Using a drone especially equipped for water, Kenny followed his son underwater and experienced everything his son was seeing. Kenny was hoping for the real thing, but just being there, surrounded by the love and support of his family, was thrill enough.
A week later, Kenny passed.
“I went to my supervisor and I just broke down,” Lili said. “I am touched and hurt all at the same time. I really got to know him and his family over a short time. I just never thought it would hurt this much.”
Lili agreed to tell this story because of this extraordinary Veteran she came to admire. His spirit and positivity in the face of such pain and uncertainty impacted her in ways she never imagined.
Fire up the BBQ, get your multi-pack of fireworks ready to light and put some beers on ice because the 4th of July is right around the corner. The 4th is an awesome holiday. No one fights over who you should thank or appreciate (clearly, the Founding Fathers…and Lin Manuel Miranda for teaching a large chunk of Americans who the founding fathers were) and the biggest disagreement is whether it should be called “Independence Day” or “4th of July.” Let’s be honest: Either one is fine and everyone wins.
In addition to the aforementioned beers and bottle rockets, the 4th of July is a fantastic time to watch some super-charged ‘Merica!” movies in appreciation for the independence we all enjoy today. But who wants to watch Yankee Doodle Dandy or 1776? Patriotic they may be, but they’re also kind of a yawn fest. So while they may be unconventional, here are the four (see what we did there?) movies you should be watching over the holiday:
Sometimes we need guys in a dysfunctional buddy-cop partnership to protect our FREEDOM! (Fox)
Well that is sort of a given, because…well…it’s named for the holiday. But great naming conventions aside, this movie has Bill Pullman being a non-nerd for once AND Will Smith beating up an alien. If you don’t shed even a tiny little tear when President Pullman makes his “this is our Independence Day!” speech before hopping in a fighter jet and trying to blow up some aliens…you are made of stone. Special bonus in the movie is the brilliant Jeff Goldblum as a perfect comic partner to Will Smith, especially when they’re trying to do something as serious as set off a nuclear bomb on an alien mothership while simultaneously piloting a spaceship neither has ever flown before. It’s good stuff, man.
Sometimes one man is all that stands between oppression and FREEDOM! (Fox)
Every holiday is a reason to watch “Die Hard.” That is all. It’s a testament to the brilliant and plucky little guy (or girl) who, with their American spirit and street smarts, take down the foreign villain who is stealing from them, oppressing them and threatening their freedom (*cough* revolutionary war undertones *cough*). See? I just made “Die Hard” into a 4th of July movie. You’re welcome.
True FREEDOM requires that its heroes to pay attention in classes (“Top Gun”/Paramount Pictures)
Nothing says “celebrate American freedom” like shirtless aviators playing volleyball in the sand….oh and super cool jets, and call signs like “Iceman” and “Maverick” all fueled by a guitar-heavy Kenny Loggins soundtrack. One of the most quotable of all military movies, this one stands the test of time and revs your inner patriot as you try and figure out why all the aviators are wearing polo shirts under their flight suits. Or if cocky flybys really do earn you the honor of flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog sh*t out of Hong Kong. Goose dies, Mav reengages and the world is ultimately right again after our heroes chase off those pesky MiG-28s.
What could be more patriotic than some of that old Razzle Dazzle? (Paramount Pictures)
I cannot do justice to this amazing piece of American cinematic perfection so I won’t really try. I’ll just point out that it might be the greatest celebration of American ingenuity and good old-fashioned Army fun. When I retire, I’m having an EM-50 custom made so I can travel the country like a boss. The humor is timeless. Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and John Candy are a trifecta of laughs and the graduation scene alone is worth watching on an endless loop. Who among those who have served hasn’t wanted to blurt out “razzle, dazzle!” during formation? I don’t know about you, but this 4th of July will include a viewing of “Stripes” and a HulkaBurger on the grill.
We can’t let a theoretical shark attack ruin our FREEDOM! (Universal Pictures)
BONUS MOVIE PICK: Jaws
Yes, “Jaws.” The movie is a tribute to summer, picnics, and the commercialization of the 4th of July…wait, what? Seriously, the whole movie centers on the Mayor’s reluctance to close the beach (despite body parts washing ashore and clear evidence there is a shark with a big appetite nearby) because 4th of July is a huge business weekend. Enter the hero and some friends who take matters into their own hands and save the day by doing the right thing. Kinda patriotic, don’t you think?