The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

In 1949, six men gathered in Indianapolis for the last meeting of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War veterans organization. At its peak, it boasted 400,000 members with thousands of posts nationwide. By 1949, however, only 16 remained. And only six were able to make the trek to Indianapolis. One of those was 108-year-old James Hard, a veteran of the battles of First Bull Run, Antietam, and Chancellorsville.

In the next four years, all but one of those would have died, and with them, the firsthand memory of Civil War combat.


The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

The battle standard of James Hard’s Civil War infantry unit.

The only one of the six to outlive Hard would be Albert Woolson, the last known member of the Union Army and the last undisputed surviving member on any side of the Civil War. But Woolson never saw action as a member of a heavy artillery unit from Minnesota. Hard was the last surviving Union combat veteran of the Civil War.

Between 1900 and into World War II, the surviving number of American Civil War veterans began to dwindle at an exponential rate, much like what the U.S. is seeing with its World War II veterans today. The Grand Army of the Republic held marches, and a yearly meeting called the Encampment to celebrate those veterans who served and to make sure they held on to their hard-won rights.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

A 1912 Grand Army of the Republic parade marching through downtown Los Angeles.

James Hard was born in Rochester, New York around 1843. He lied about his age in 1861 to be able to join the Union Army. He joined the 37th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, also known as the Irish Rifles, in May 1861 and his service record verified his claim.

His unit was stationed around Washington, DC until Gen. Irvin McDowell used the 37th as a reserve unit in the battle of First Bull Run. McDowell had never led troops in combat and was soundly beaten. Its biggest loss came at Chancellorsville in 1863 when it lost more than 200 men to night fighting and a surprise attack during a flawed, unorganized retreat. A young James Hard was present for all of it.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

The last of America’s Union Army, gathered in an Indianapolis ballroom in 1949.

By the time the First World War came around GAR membership was still very strong, its encampment still bringing in numbers just shy of a half a million or so. By the time the United States entered World War II, however, the Civil War veterans time had passed, and with their memory went so many of their numbers. In 1942, just over 500 Civil War veterans were on the rolls of the Grand Army of the Republic.

At the outset of the Cold War and the Atomic Age, only 16 remained. They were too frail to walk in any parades and had to be accompanied to Indianapolis by their Veterans Administration nurses. They drove through the parade route in vehicles, machines that were a very new invention to them.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Navy ship leads the way for more powerful laser weapons

A Navy warship is getting a laser five times stronger than the one the service has tested in the past, and officials say it could lead the way for more vessels to head to sea with similar weapons.

The amphibious transport dock ship Portland is being outfitted with a 150-kilowatt laser system. That’s a big power leap from the 30-kilowatt Laser Weapon System, or LaWS, that the service field-tested on the amphibious transport dock ship Ponce about five years ago.

“Big things” are expected from the Portland’s new laser, Thomas Rivers, program manager for the amphibious warfare program office, said here at the Modern Day Marine 2019 expo.


“They’re just putting it on the ship now,” he said. “… And this may be the beginning of seeing a lot more lasers coming onto different ships.”

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

The amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland.

The laser will give the Portland the firepower to take out drones and small boats, Rivers said. It’s also equipped with a camera that brings new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, he added.

When the LaWS was tested in 2012, a Navy video showed how it could target small aircraft or boats without using bullets.

A video of a demonstration of the 30-kilowatt system being tested on the guided-missile destroyer Dewey showed the laser closing in on an unmanned aircraft off the coast of San Diego. That drone quickly caught fire and slammed into the ocean.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf.

(U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams)

Sailors and Marines could find themselves needing to fight their way to shore in the Pacific and other theaters. Crews aboard amphibious ships that carry Marines could also need to fight as they sustain forces on the ground and as they head back out to sea, said Frank DiGiovanni, deputy director of expeditionary warfare.

That’s what has some Navy officials talking about arming amphibious ships with offensive capabilities, Rivers said. Typically, the focus has been on defensive capabilities and survivability.

But looking at ways to arm them in the future “is not off the table,” he added.

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

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My husband’s mistress is an F-16

Rachel is an Air Force spouse and Texas native whose husband flies as an F-16 pilot in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.

It was October 2015 and Hurricane Joaquin was headed right for us. I stared out the back patio at the darkening skies as my husband, an F-16 pilot, packed his bags.


To say I am the mistress in my own marriage is to admit that there are times my wishes and well-being have come second to that of the Fighting Falcon, and it bruises my pride to say it. I’d like to think I’m the #1 lady in his life, but there have been times that just wasn’t the case. Some people have the gall to say, “Well, that’s what you signed up for.” To hell with them.

All the same, he will always take the call. Apparently, I missed the part of my wedding vows that included “to honor, love and protect each other (*once the safety of the F-16 is ensured) from this day and for the rest of your life.”

We were stationed in South Carolina at Shaw AFB, in the path of a storm which the state would come to call a “1-in-1,000 year event.” News of the destruction from Hurricane Joaquin traveled north from the Bahamas as the Southeast prepared for the worst. Sandbags were laid out, generators were gassed up for the inevitable power loss, and grocery stores were cleared out of bread, water, and beer. Pro tip: beer keeps, bread goes bad.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

Before the storm of the century, I had imagined a romantic evening of boarding up the house by candlelight together, but the Air Force had a different idea. Turns out fighter jets don’t float too good.

Two days before the hurricane was projected to hit, Shaw called in its pilots and maintainers to move the jets inland to a base a few states away. This was what’s known as a HUREVAC. That’s short for HURricane EVACuation. Get it? The Department of Acronyms was working overtime that day. Civilians of South Carolina planned and prayed as Hurricane Joaquin drew closer, while families of the F-16 said goodbye to their airmen. We watched them fly away to safety, staying behind to literally weather the storm alone.

I’m from Texas. If you told me a tornado was coming, I’d throw some blankets in the bathtub and get ready to hunker down with our cat, Bonanza. However, a hurricane was a different beast altogether. We did not have drills for that in Dallas ISD. The buzz around Columbia, SC grew to a clamor as people asked each other in a mild panic what they were going to do. Some folks left town. Me? I spent the day converting my beer cooler into a kitty life raft and beer cooler.

Hurricane Joaquin never traveled directly over the States, but it created a storm that wreaked havoc on South Carolina for days. Nineteen deaths were attributed to the flooding in the state. First responders found one of those bodies at a corner near our neighborhood.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War
The aftermath of the storm. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Napolitano)

 

I watched the brown water creep up, over the retaining wall, consuming our backyard and getting closer to the house. I couldn’t help but wonder at what point it would be too late to pipe Bonanza aboard the S.S. Miller Lite, abandon the house to its fate, and head for higher ground. Didn’t matter. Turns out all the roads in the neighborhood were flooded anyway.

Meanwhile, the jets landed safely in… Louisiana? Immediately after landing the pilots checked in in accordance with Tech Orders: on Facetime, beer in hand. Is it the first or fifth? Only the Flight Doc can say, and he looks pretty buzzed.

Eventually, the raining stopped. Everyone came back safely, though in the midst of the storm many families suffered damage to their property. One couple lost their home and everything in it. Thankfully the water never came into our house, but irreparable damage had been done to the city and my ego.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love watches on as your husband leaves you behind in a hurricane to take off with that minxy fighter jet to Louisiana. Welcome to the life of the pilot spouse.

MIGHTY TRENDING

New details emerge of Medal of Honor recipient’s heroism

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

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


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

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

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

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

Tech. Sgt. John Chapman.

(U.S. Air Force photo)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

John Chapman holding a child in Afghanistan.

The evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

Tech. Sgt. John Chapman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The final fight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How this 20th century Viking fought in 13 wars

The Vikings of old traveled far and wide. Their settlements ranged from Scandinavia to Italy to Canada and everyone, from the Byzantines to the Kievan Rus to the Iberians, feared them. Their blood runs deep inside Ivor Thord-Gray. Within the span of 31 years, he would wear nine different uniforms to fight in thirteen wars across five continents.


He was born Thord Ivar Hallstrom in the Sodermalm district of Stockholm, Sweden in 1878. Unlike much of his family, his Viking heritage inspired his entire future. While his older brother became an artist and his younger brother an archaeologist, Thord set off to become an adventurer. He first joined the Merchant Marines at age 15 where he first settled in Cape Town, South Africa.

This led him to join the Cape Mounted Rifles in 1897, just before the Second Boer War. After a British victory over South Africa, he enlisted in the South African Constabulary and was back to the Armed Forces within the Transvaal Regiment, where he first became an officer. He was transferred to the Royston’s Horse and fought in the Bambatha Rebellion. After the rebellion, he moved up to Kenya to join the Nairobi Mounted Police.

 

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War
South Africa is where he started growing his majestic mustache.

 

Then, he traveled to Germany where he wanted to fight in the First Moroccan Crisis but was told they didn’t need him. So, he went to the Philippines to join the U.S. Foreign Legion under the Philippine Constabulary.

He took a quick break from his life as a badass to become a rubber planter in Malaya (modern-day Malaysia), but true to his Viking nature, he couldn’t stay away from battle for long.  He took up arms again during the Chinese Revolution and rediscovered his love of fighting by joining the French Foreign Legion in Tonkin (Modern-day Vietnam).

He hopped between the Italian Army in the Italian-Turkish War and then again to China directly under Sun Yat Sen, founding father of the Republic of China (also known as Taiwan). This lead him to his first high command position during the Mexican Revolution, where he served as the Commander of the Artillery and, eventually, the Chief of Staff of the First Mexican Army for Pancho Villa.

 

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

He wrote about his time in Mexico in his autobiography, Gringo Rebel. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Then, the Great War broke out. He rejoined the British Army as a Major, commanding the 11th Northumberland Fusiliers until his battalion was disbanded. After his mercenary status forced his resignation, he joined the American Expeditionary Forces and became the Commander of the Theodore Roosevelt Division. After that unit was also disbanded, he moved to the Canadian Expeditionary Forces to finish World War I.

Thord-Gray, still with the Canadians this time, was sent as part of the Allied Expeditionary Corps to assist and was eventually transferred to the Russian White Army (anti-Communist forces). He finally attained the rank of General, commanding the 1st Siberian Assault Division. He was selected as the Representative to the Provisional Siberian Government until the Bolsheviks seized complete control of Russia. 

 

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War
He would also wear all of his badges from his long military and mercenary career. Because, well, he can. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

 

His last official act of military service was as a Lieutenant-General in the Revolutionary Army of Venezuela in 1928. After all this, he finally returned to Sweden to write about his travels and archeological discoveries. Ivar Thord-Gray finally settled down in America until his passing at age 86. Like the Viking he was, he spent the majority of his adult life taking on his enemies. 

For more information on Ivar Throd-Gray, be sure to check out Peter E. Hodgkinson’s British Infantry Battalion Commander in the First World War and Thord-Gray’s own, Gringo Rebel.

MIGHTY MONEY

Designer of the F-15 & AH-64 is responsible for 30% rise in Dow this year

A single company, Boeing, has accounted for nearly 30% of the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s year-to-date gain of 11.5%, according to Bespoke Investment Group.

Boeing shares have soared 34% this year, contributing 812 points of the index’s 2,807-point gain so far this year. Without Boeing’s contribution, the index would be up about 8% YTD.


The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

(Bespoke Investment Group)

The index’s outsized gain is driven by Boeing having the heaviest weighting, 11.4%, among the Dow’s 30 stocks. The Dow is a price-weighted index, meaning the company with the highest share price, Boeing, has the heaviest weighting. Boeing’s stock price is the highest in the index and the only one over 0.

Unlike the Dow, the SP 500 is weighted by market cap, meaning Microsoft has the heaviest weighting. By comparison, Boeing commands the 15th biggest weighting of SP 500 names.

Such effects cut both ways and a 10% move in Boeing’s stock would move the DJIA index by over 250 points. The second-highest contributor to the Dow is Goldman Sachs, responsible for about 8% of the YTD gain.

Boeing shares were trading near all-time highs thanks to strong fundamentals and solid earnings growth based on the planned launch and development of the 777X, the largest and most-efficient twin-engine plane.

On Jan. 30, 2019, Boeing reporting strong quarterly results, with annual revenues topping 0 billion for the first time. The company forecast full-year 2019 earnings of between .90 and .10 a share, well ahead of Wall Street expectations.

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

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The Russian military’s new assault rifle has passed its field tests

The AK-12 assault rifle has passed military field tests and meets all of the Russian armed forces’ design and operational standards, gunmaker Kalashnikov Concern says, according to Jane’s 360.


The AK-12’s success in military trials sets it up to become the standard weapon for soldiers in Russia’s Ratnik — or ‘Warrior’ — future weapon system.

Work on the AK-12 began in 2011 with the AK-200 as a base model. Kalashnikov Concern presented prototypes in early 2012, and the first generation of the weapon was also successful in military tests.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War
The AK-400 prototype, off of which the AK-12 was based. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

However, according to Jane’s, the Russian military requested design alterations and wanted the new weapon to be cheaper to make. The company then produced the second-generation version of the weapon, using a 5.45 mm round with the AK-400 as its base model. The second-generation model also addressed issues regarding full-automatic fire.

The 5.45 mm AK-12 is being developed with the 7.62 mm AK-15 — both of which are to be teamed with the 5.45 mm RPK-16 light support weapon. The Russian military has also been testing A545 and A762 assault rifles — 5.45 mm and 7.62 mm, respectively — made by Kovrov Mechanical Works.

Both the AK-12 and the AK-15 keep some traditional Kalashnikov features and are compatible with magazines used by earlier versions of the AK-74 and the AKM rifles, according to Modern Firearms. The new weapons are designed to offer better accuracy in all conditions, can be fitted with add-ons like sighting equipment and bayonets, and can carry a 40 mm grenade launcher under the barrel.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War
A right-side view of the final production model of the AK-12, which is based on the AK-400 prototype. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Arms experts have said the AK-12 is not a grand departure from the AK-74, which is the current standard weapon for the Russian military.

“There are improvements but very modest on the background of excessive expectations triggered by a media campaign,” Mikhail Degtyarev, editor-in-chief of Kalashnikov magazine, told Army Recognition in May, making specific mention of ergonomic improvements.

Nor do observers see the wholesale replacement of the AK-74 on the horizon, as that weapon is “a very successful design but … needs modernization,” military expert Viktor Murakhovsky told Army Recognition. “It is necessary to considerably improve combat engagement convenience, including ergonomics, and provide a possibility to mount additional devices.”

Alongside the AK-12/AK-15 package, Kalashnikov Concern has been working on an AK-74 upgrade that includes a folding and telescoping stock, rails for add-ons, and a more ergonomic fire selector and handgrip.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War
The Russian military’s AK-74M in the field. Photo from Russian Defense Ministry.

The Russian military has been designing and testing a variety of futuristic gear for the Ratnik program over the past year.

That includes modernized body armor, bulletproof shields, tactical computers, and a helmet equipped with night vision and thermal-imaging devices.

According to Russian state-owned outlet RT, the country’s military has also debuted a combat suit with a “powered exoskeleton” that purportedly gives the wearer more strength and endurance, as well as high-tech body armor and a helmet and visor covering the entire face.

The suit, however, remains a few years from production, and it’s “unclear whether these type of suits will eventually make it to the battlefield,” Stratfor analyst Sim Tack told Business Insider in June.

The US military is also looking to make broad changes to parts of its arsenal as well. Congress appears to be on board with those moves.

Articles

The 82nd Airborne deploys more troops to ‘brutal’ ISIS fight

Several small groups of soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division have deployed in early 2017, bound for the Middle East and the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.


That fight, according to U.S. officials, includes the “most significant urban combat to take place since World War II.”

“It is tough and brutal,” Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend said from Baghdad late March, describing the ongoing operation to liberate Mosul, Iraq, from ISIS.

“House by house, block by block fights. Despite that, the Iraqi Security Forces continue to press ISIS on multiple axes, presenting them with multiple dilemmas. We know the enemy cannot respond to this. Tough fighting in one sector provides the opportunity for other elements to advance in other areas, and that’s what the Iraqi Security Forces have been doing.”

Townsend is the commander of the anti-ISIS coalition, known as Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve. He’s also the commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Branden Quintana and Sgt. Cory Ballentine, both 82nd Airborne Division, pull security with M4 carbines on the roof of an Iraqi police station in Habaniyah, Anbar province, Iraq, July 13, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kissta Feldner/Released)

The coalition he leads includes dozens of countries making varied contributions to the fight. The 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team is a key contributor among U.S. forces, with more than 1,800 paratroopers deployed in support of an advise-and-assist mission, training and equipping Iraqi forces before battle and providing intelligence, artillery support and advice during combat.

The latest 82nd Airborne troops to deploy in support of the fight are also from the unit, known as Falcon Brigade. Although they are not expected to remain in country for the entirety of what’s left of the nine-month deployment.

Army leaders first discussed the additional deployments last month, when a three-star general told members of Congress up to 2,500 soldiers from the brigade could join the rest of their unit on the deployment.

But officials have said more recently that it’s unclear if that number will be called forward. Instead, smaller groups — such as the two companies of about 200 soldiers who left Fort Bragg last Tuesday — have been deployed.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon via telephone last week, Townsend said ISIS was causing massive human suffering and would continue to do so if the Iraqi forces and their coalition partners do not prevail.

“Our enemy, ISIS, are evil and murderous butchers, engaged in purposeful and mass slaughter,” he said. “There are countless mass graves surrounding Mosul. ISIS put those bodies in there…the savages that are ISIS deliberately target, terrorize, and kill innocent civilians every day. The best and fastest way to end this human suffering is to quickly liberate these cities and Iraq and Syria from ISIS.”

Townsend said officials have observed civilians fleeing ISIS-held buildings. They’ve heard reports that ISIS was shooting civilians trying to leave Mosul. Iraqi forces have reported houses filled with hostages and rigged to explode.

“This is a difficult and brutal fight on multiple fronts,” he said. “…it is the toughest and most brutal phase of this war and…the toughest and most brutal close quarters combat that I have experienced in my 34 year of service.”

“ISIS is slaughtering Iraqis and Syrians on a daily basis,” Townsend added. “ISIS is cutting off heads. ISIS is shooting people, throwing people from buildings, burning them alive in cases, and they’re making a video record to prove it. This has got to stop. This evil has got to be stamped out.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

How Jimmy Doolittle nearly revealed the biggest American secret of WWII

He’s famous for leading the nighttime aerial bombing raid on Tokyo in the opening days of World War II, a feat that earned him the Medal of Honor. He commanded the Eighth Air Force and broke the back of the Luftwaffe.


But James H. Doolittle also nearly blew the biggest intelligence advantage the Allies had – ULTRA.

So, how in the world did this hero manage to do that? The big problem was that Doolittle had a habit of leading from the front. In fact, an obituary in the Los Angeles Times revealed how he lead the Tokyo Raid.

Though General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, the Army Air Corps Chief of Staff, wanted Doolittle to hang back and act as his chief aide, Doolittle made a run around the Army Air Corps staff and got the spot to lead the raid.

Doolittle survived the Tokyo Raid and escaping China ahead of Japanese forces. But he wasn’t quite done going too far forward.

While commanding the 12th Air Force in Africa, he drew the wrath of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. According to Dik Daso’s biography “Doolittle,” Eisenhower had called Doolittle’s HQ to talk with the general. Doolittle wasn’t in the HQ, he was in a Spitfire taking it for a test flight. Eisenhower expressed his displeasure with his subordinate.

But Doolittle just didn’t take the hint. Even when he commanded the Eighth Air Force, he kept flying missions. Retired Navy Capt. G. H. Spaulding noted that Doolittle would continue to fly even after he was briefed on ULTRA – the Allied codebreaking effort that targeted Germany’s Enigma machine.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War
A U.S. Army Air Forces Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress flying through flak over a target. A hit by flak lead to the capture of Brigadier General Arthur Vanaman, placing ULTRA at risk. (USAF photo)

On June 27, 1944, Doolittle allowed his new intelligence officer, Brig. Gen. Arthur Vanaman — who also had been briefed in on ULTRA — to fly what was supposed to be a “milk run” over Germany. Doolittle had flown a number of times, and made it back, but Vanaman would not be so lucky.

German flak scored a hit on Vanaman’s plane. The pilot ordered the crew to bail out. About half did before control of the plane was restored. The plane returned to base, with news that Vanaman had bailed out over enemy territory.

In his 2007 book Masters of the Air, Donald L. Miller needed only one word to describe Eisenhower’s reaction to Doolittle’s decision to let Vanaman fly that mission: Furious. Luckily, the Germans didn’t ask Vanaman any questions at all. They kept him as a POW until the end of the war. Vanaman would retire from the Air Force as a major general in 1954, according to the Air Force’s official biography of him.

According to an official biography on the Air Force web site, Doolittle would retire from the Air Force as a lieutenant general in 1959. In 1985, he would receive a fourth star from President Reagan. A very lengthy and remarkable career for a man who almost blew the biggest secret of the war.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How this Marine special operator became the Corps’ top ‘tactical’ athlete — twice

Sergeant Ethan Mawhinney, a Pittsburgh native and a Marine Air Ground Task Force planner with US Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, successfully defended his championship title at the Marine Corps’ third annual HITT Tactical Athlete Competition at Camp Pendleton, CA, Aug. 28th through 31st, 2017.


The competition brings together the top male and female Marines from each Marine Corps installation in a demanding competition of military functional fitness and to promote the advanced dynamics found in the High Intensity Tactical Training program. The HITT program is comprised of seven foundational movements: squat, press, lunge, plank, rotate, pull and push for a full-body, functional workout.

Mawhinney participated in the first competition in 2015, only a few months after completing the HITT Level 1 Instructor Course. He was still new to the HITT program and didn’t know what to expect when arriving at the competition. He attributed his sixth place finish to his lack of knowledge and proper preparation.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War
USMC Sgt. Ethan Mawhinney, a Marine Air Ground Task Force planner with US Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, powers through a Tactical Water Challenge. Photo credit to MCCS Camp Pendleton.

“I wasn’t really prepared for what the competition consisted of,” said Mawhinney. “I was still pretty new and didn’t have the knowledge to really succeed in the competition yet.”

Unsatisfied with the results, Mawhinney used his knowledge of the competition and HITT program to overhaul his workout routine and prepare for the 2016 competition. He did three-a-day workouts consisting of sprints and distance running along with HITT workouts, seeking to break himself down before building his body back up.

While some competitors only start preparing a few months prior to the event, Mawhinney starts preparing after a short break of one to two weeks following the previous competition. Around June, Mawhinney said he ramped up his workout routine and focused on workouts meant to get ready for the competition.

He took first place in 2016, proving his hard work had paid off. Despite the win, Mawhinney felt the pressure of a narrow point gap between his final standing and that of the second place finisher.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War
USMC Sgt. Michael Eckert, quality control chief of motor transport company, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, flips a tire during physical training. UMSC photo by Sgt. Jessica Quezada.

After the 2016 competition, Mawhinney checked into MARSOC where he leaned on the physical trainers at the MARSOC Performance and Resiliency program to help fine tune his workout program. The PERRES trainers helped him adjust his training to consist of more explosive workouts, emphasizing heavy lifting versus faster, light-weight lifting, and calisthenics.

“I worked a lot on explosiveness – little things like short, 15-yard sprints, for training take-off speed,” said Mawhinney.

His workouts also consisted of drills involving box jumps, modified explosive push-ups, and Olympic-style lifting. Mawhinney significantly trained his anaerobic threshold to increase his stamina for events. He stated that the typical human threshold tends to be around two minutes, but the events at the competition are around four to six minutes.

Because the scoring system is based off the time it takes to complete an event, Mawhinney said he didn’t want to lose points by pacing himself throughout the events. Instead, he focused his energy into one daily workout after noticing an increase in injuries resulting from the intense frequency of workouts the previous year. His revamped program featured longer, more intense and harder workouts versus the shorter, easier ones from previous years. Mawhinney added in a second daily workout during the final stretch before the competition.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War
USMC Sgt. Ethan Mawhinney, a Marine Air Ground Task Force planner with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, competes in an 880-meter Tactical Hill Climb. Photo by MCCS Camp Pendleton.

“The biggest thing we changed with this year’s workouts was increasing his speed and power versus volume,” said Alli Clauss, a MARSOC PERRES strength and conditioning coach. “Every workout we did had a point behind it.”

Mawhinney came in 1st place again in this year’s competition, maintaining his title as Male Division Champion for the 2017 HITT Tactical Athlete Competition. Mawhinney represented Camp Lejeune against 16 male competitors; the female division featured 15 athletes.

“[Looking back at my performance] there wasn’t any one thing that I thought I really wanted to work on,” said Mawhinney after this year’s competition. “I just want to get better at everything for next year.”

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War
A Marine performs pushups with a pack during the 2nd Annual Tactical Athlete Championship. USMC photo by Pfc. Liah Kitchen.

Along with increasing physical fitness, Mawhinney said the competition and the discipline required to train for such an event really bring together some of the best and physically fit Marines. One of the biggest enjoyments for him was the atmosphere provided by those Marines. Mawhinney commented that for him it’s not about lifting and working out to look good, but to be the best Marine he can be- an opportunity provided by the Tactical Athlete Competition.

“I’ve heard it said that we should work out for two reasons: to make ourselves better at killing the enemy and to make ourselves harder for the enemy to kill,” said Mawhinney. “I think that really matches with what the HITT program does in having that tactical athlete mindset. You’re lifting and running or whatever workout you choose – to make yourself better and this competition gives you an opportunity to work towards that goal – being harder to kill and better at killing.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

From Nicaraguan refugee to Army NCO

Those who consider the military always have a reason for joining. Whether to continue a family tradition of service, or to see the world, the decision is life changing.

“I remember growing up and seeing Nicaraguans killed, or jailed for protesting against the government. At that time it wasn’t a safe place to be,” said Staff Sgt. Orlando Alvarez, a parachute rigger assigned to the Group Support Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). “Deciding to leave was the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my life.”

“I also knew what I was leaving behind, in the end, it would be so I could have something more in the end. The U.S. military provided me the opportunity my country could not. If I had to do it again, I would do it in a heartbeat,” said Alvarez.


“When I left Nicaragua and inquired about joining the military, people said it would be hard and near impossible,” said Alvarez. “But, I didn’t give up.”

In 2013, while speaking very little English, Alvarez moved with his wife, Lucila, to the United States, and joined the Army.

His main reason for joining was to eventually be in a position to give back to the country that took him in as a refugee, while affording him freedoms that he enjoys today.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Orlando Alvarez, attached to 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), poses for a portrait on Fort Bliss, Texas, Nov. 19, 2018.

After five years of service in the U.S. Army and since being assigned to 7th SFG(A), Alvarez was promoted several times and attended a variety of military schools, to include the Special Operations Combative Program.

Although he joined later in life, his goal is to serve 20 years in the military and retire.

“You cannot be afraid to follow your dreams,” said Alvarez. “If I had let what people said discourage me from joining the military and coming to America, I don’t know where I would be today. I don’t even know if I would be alive. But, I am thankful for what the Army has afforded me, and I will continue to serve my country proudly.”

Alvarez’s journey from Nicaraguan refugee to U.S. soldier is his American dream. He plans to continue his life of service while setting an example for his children.

“This country has provided my family with many opportunities,” said Alvarez. “I am grateful for that, and I am willing to fight and protect it. One day, I hope my children will do the same.”

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

Humor

6 ways to look squared away but you’re actually skating

Nobody wants to do work. It’s just one of those boxes that need to be checked every single day.


Maybe you’re just not feeling like dealing with a handful of mundane tasks that day. Perhaps you see an avalanche of bullsh*t barreling downhill and you’d rather not get run over. You might just be trying to earn your initiation into the E-4 Mafia / Lance Corporal Underground.

Whatever your personal motivations, be sure to try a few of these tricks for getting through the day without raising suspicions.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

“Yep. That’s a thing. Better move onto that other thing over there.”

(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam K Thomas)

Walk around with a clipboard

There’s no skating method more tried and true than walking around with a clipboard and randomly stopping to look at things. For maximum effect, pretend like you’re checking for and marking off serial numbers.

As much as we all love this one — and believe me, it’s a classic — people catch on after a while.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

Just be sure to pick up a few things. Not a lot, though — remember, you’re still trying to be lazy.

(Photo by Cpl. Michael Dye)

Walk around with a trash bag

This one’s similar to the clipboard, but this time, you’re being “proactive” by helping clean up the place.

If you take your time and maybe even clean some things up, you can help prevent an actual police call of the company area.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

Why do you think so many NCOs volunteer to do this? You think most NCOs do it to keep unit integrity? Hell no.

(U.S. Army Courtesy Photo)

Help motivate the stragglers during PT

During every morning run, there’s always that one person who just barely keeps up with everyone’s pace. Eventually, they start slowing down. That’s your opportunity to slow down with them and help “bring them back.”

They may not be able to keep up and might fall out completely. But until then, you get a chance to catch your breath and look like you’re helping push your battle buddy along in the process.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

No one is immune to the lure of the gut truck!

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ben K. Navratil)

Call the gut truck but DON’T go to it

Need the perfect distraction for about ten to twenty minutes? Call the gut truck. People will think you’re doing them all a favor and that you’re taking ten seconds to call up the truck out of the kindness of your heart.

Immediately, everyone from the lowest private to the senior officers will drop what they’re doing to grab a quick bite to eat. That’s your cue to enjoy the silence until they get back.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

No one will notice that you’re secretly making everyone run slower.

(Photo by Sgt. Natalie Dillon)

Call cadence

No one ever questions or understands how vital the cadence caller is to morning PT.

Think about it: The entire platoon/company isn’t just running at the pace of the lead runner, it’s running at the pace of the person calling cadence. The unit moves to the rhythm of every beat. If you control that rhythm, things will move at your pace.

The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

Fake it ’til you make it.

(U.S. Army Courtesy photo)

Just look motivated

If there’s any common thread between skaters across all branches, it’s that they all need to pretend like they’re excited and happy to be there.

A fake smile will take you everywhere. If you look good, you are good, right?

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran’s navy is sending warships across the Atlantic

The Iranian Navy will send warships to the Atlantic Ocean, a top commander said.

Iran is looking to increase the operating range of its naval forces in the Atlantic, close to the waters of the United States, its arch enemy.

Tehran sees the presence of U.S. aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, along Iran’s coast, as a security concern and its navy has looked to counter that by showing its naval presence near U.S. waters.


The last Union combat veteran of the Civil War lived to see the Cold War

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

(U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Kenneth Abbate)

“The Atlantic Ocean is far and the operation of the Iranian naval flotilla might take five months,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Rear-Admiral Touraj Hassani, Iran’s naval deputy commander, as saying.

Hassani said the move was intended to “thwart Iranophobia plots” and “secure shipping routes.”

He said Sahand, a newly-built destroyer, would be one of the warships deployed.

Sahand has a flight deck for helicopters and Iran says it is equipped with antiaircraft and anti-ship guns, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, and also has electronic warfare capabilities.

The vessels are expected to dock in a friendly South American country such as Venezuela, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.

Hassani said in December 2018 that Iran would soon send two to three vessels on a mission to Venezuela, an ally.

Iran’s navy has extended its reach in recent years, launching vessels in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden to protect Iranian ships from Somali pirates.

Featured image: @Iran on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

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