The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

According to press reports and official reports, two drones armed with explosives detonated near Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Aug. 4, 2018, in an apparent assassination attempt that took place while he was delivering a speech to hundreds of soldiers, live on television.


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The assailants flew two commercial drones each packed with 1 kilogram of C-4 plastic explosive toward Maduro: one of the drones was to explode above the president while the other was to detonate directly in front of him, said Interior Minister Nestor Reverol who also added the military managed to divert one of the drones off-course electronically whereas the other one crashed into apartment building two blocks away.

After a series of conflicting reports (the thruthfulness of the official claims is still debated), a video allegedly showing the detonation of the second of two commercial drones carrying explosive was published by Caracas News 24 media outlet:

Whilst some sources have contested the official line on the event saying the Venezuelan president might have staged the attack to purge disloyal officials and journalists, David Smilde of the Washington Office on Latin America said the amateurish attack doesn’t appear to be staged by Maduro’s government for political gain. This would confirm the one in Caracas on Aug. 4, was the first use of drone on a Head of State.

“The history of commercial drone incidents involving heads of state goes back to September 2013 when the German Chancelor Angela Merkel’s public appearance was disrupted by a drone, which was apparently a publicity stunt by a competing political party,” says Oleg Vornik, Chief Executive Officer at DroneShield, one of the companies that produce counterdrone systems, in an email. “Yesterday’s apparent drone assassination attempt on Venezuelan President Maduro is the first known drone attack on a head of state. An attempted drone assassination of a sitting sovereign leader demonstrates that, sadly, the era of drone terrorism has well and truly arrived”, Vornik comments.

Currently available counterdrone (C-UAS) systems provide early detection, analysis and identification, alerting and termination of the threatening drones by means of portable or highly mobile solutions (even though there are also C-UAS systems in fixed configuration). The drone is usually disabled by means of EW (Electronic Warfare), by disrupting multiple RF frequency bands simultaneously denying radio signals from the controller, making Live Video Feed and GPS signal unavailable to the remote operator.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

See these awesome photos of an F-35 over Lake Michigan

Crowds of spectators recently had a rare opportunity to see America’s advanced stealth fighter in action at the Chicago Air and Water Show, where the F-35 Heritage Flight Team put on an impressive show.

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, a fifth-generation stealth fighter developed by Lockheed Martin, is the most expensive weapons system ever built, but its superior capabilities supposedly make up for its soaring costs.


The supersonic, multi-mission fighter, according to the developer, features unmatched electronic warfare, air-to-surface, air-to-air, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), and stealth capabilities designed to enhance the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The F-35 program has, however, faced many setbacks.

During the recent airshow in Chicago, Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook captured several stunning photos of Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Heritage Flight Team pilot and commander, performing aerial maneuvers in an F-35A. The pictures were posted online by the 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office.

Check them out below…

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Heritage Flight Team pilot and commander, performs a high speed pass in an F-35A Lightning II over Lake Michigan.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

Vapor builds around the F-35 during a high-speed pass.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

F-35A at the Chicago Air and Water Show.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

Capt. Olson pulls a tactical pitch in an F-35A.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

Capt. Olson performs a high speed pass.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

An F-35A Lightning II and P-51 Mustang fly in formation.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)

As an added bonus, the show featured an F-35 flying in formation alongside a P-51 Mustang. The performance showcased past and present American airpower.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Celebrities and veterans teamed up to raise millions to fund mental healthcare for post-9/11 vets

On October 19, 2018, a crowd of over 700 guests gathered at Pier Sixty at Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers for one reason: to help provide mental healthcare to the men and women who fight for our freedoms. During their 6th annual gala, Headstrong, an organization that provides cost-free, stigma-free, and bureaucracy-free mental healthcare to post-9/11 military veterans, put on a fun-filled event — and raised over $2 million in the process.


Headstrong is making a huge impact on the veteran community.

“We have served over 750 veterans over 16,000 therapy sessions by 150 best-in-class clinicians in 23 cities across the country. All through private donations. Simply incredible,” said Army veteran and Headstrong Executive Director Joe Quinn.

During the event, three veterans seeking treatment through Headstrong, Amanda Burrill, Derek Coy and James Byler, opened up about their struggles and successes in finding effective mental healthcare. Their stories inspired the hundreds in attendance.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

Left to Right: Joe Quinn, Executive Director of the Headstrong Project; Derek Coy; Amanda Burrill; James Byler

Despite the seriousness of the organization’s goals, the night wasn’t without a good dose of levity — after all, it was more than a fundraiser, it was a celebration. World War II veteran and former POW, Ewing Miller, was celebrating his 95th birthday — and he did so by being served cake by actor Jake Gyllenhaal and late night host Seth Meyers.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

Left to Right: Seth Meyers, Host of ‘Late night with Seth Meyers’; Jake Gyllenhaal, Actor; Ewing Miller, WWII veteran; CNBC’s Kenny Polcari

Ewing Miller served from 1942 to 1945. On February 5, 1945, his aircraft was shot down — he was the sole survivor. He endured capture by the Germans until he was eventually freed by legendary military leader, General George S. Patton. Ewing earned several decorations during his time in service, including the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with two clusters, the POW Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign medal.

When the lights finally dimmed on the evening’s celebrations, Headstrong had raised over million, which will be used to directly improve the lives of many post-9/11 veterans that are struggling with mental health — and it’s a cause worth championing. Marine veteran and Founder of Headstrong, Zach Iscol, said,

“When you put goal-oriented veterans together with top mental healthcare providers, they get better. The panic attacks go away, the anxiety goes away, the anger goes away, the self-medicating goes away…they blossom,”

To learn more about Headstrong, their initiatives, and what you can do to support veteran mental healthcare, visit their website.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Navy authorizes two-piece swimsuits and other clothing items

The Navy has authorized a range of new clothing items, including two-piece swimsuits for male and female sailors, special pins to designate survivors and next-of-kin of fallen troops, and a thermal neck scarf for cold weather.

In a Navy administrative message Monday, officials announced that sailors have the option of wearing two pieces for their semi-annual physical readiness test, or PRT. But don’t show up in a bikini; Navy officials made clear that this regulation change is for sailors who want more coverage, not less.

Full torso coverage is still required for all swimsuits worn. The new guidance makes it possible for sailors to add a pair of swim shorts to a one-piece, or a rash-guard top to swim shorts based on preference or religious conviction. Also authorized is full-body swimwear, like the “burkini” wetsuit-style option popular with Muslim women.


Robert Carroll, the head of the Navy’s Uniform Matters Office, told Military.com that the change is the result of feedback from the fleet, coupled with the fact that existing swimwear guidance was ambiguous.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Benjamin Kittleson)

“We have sailors who have religious convictions, or religious concerns or beliefs,” he said. “Then you have people who just prefer a different level of modesty.”

The change will also help those, he said, who just want a greater level of warmth in the water.

Swimming is an optional alternative to running in the Navy’s current PRT.

Also newly authorized are special lapel pins, approved by Congress, as official designation for surviving family members of service members. The Gold Star Lapel Button, designed and created in 1947, is awarded by the government to surviving families of service members who were killed in action. The closely related Next of Kin Deceased Personnel Lapel Button was approved in 1973, specifically for family members of fallen service members from the Army Reserve or Army National Guard. The small round pins feature a gold star at the center.

Navy guidance specifies that these pins are approved only for optional wear with the service’s most formal uniforms: service dress and full dress.

Carroll said the decision to authorize the buttons followed a number of requests from the fleet.

Also approved for wear is a black neck gaiter, authorized during “extreme cold weather conditions,” according to Navy guidance. Sailors must procure their own all-black gaiters, and the item is authorized only with the cold-weather parka, Navy working uniform type II/III parka, pea coat, reefer and all-weather coat. The guidance comes out just ahead of the Army-Navy game this weekend. However, conditions at the U.S. Naval Academy are expected to be relatively balmy, at a rainy 53 degrees Fahrenheit, and likely do not merit the gaiter.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

Sailors swim in the Gulf of Aden during a swim call aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dominique Pineiro)

When to wear the gaiter is a decision reserved for Navy regional commanders, Carroll said, who will promulgate the policy for their region.

Finally, the Navy is authorizing a new chief warrant officer insignia for acoustic technicians, which is approved for wear by all warrants with a 728X designator. The service redesignated submarine electronics technicians as acoustic technicians in 2017, reopening the field, which had been closed since 2011. The electronics technician insignia had depicted a helium atom.

Carroll said the new insignia will be a throwback to earlier Navy acoustic ratings, and feature a globe with a sea horse in the center and a trident emerging from it.

“They’re pretty excited about it,” Carroll said of the acoustic technician community.

In addition to new uniform items, the Navy announced it is redesigning two current items to improve the design. The summer white/service dress white maternity shirt will undergo redesign “to enhance appearance and functionality when worn,” officials said.

The new shirt, once complete, will include princess seams for fit, adjustable side tabs with three buttons, epaulettes and two hidden pockets in the side seams. The new shirt will also look more like the Navy’s service khaki and service uniform maternity shirts, with chest pockets removed. Additional details, including a timeline for the shirt’s release, will be announced in a future message, officials said.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

Sailors from the Royal New Zealand navy and U.S. Navy dive into the pool to start a 200-meter freestyle relay during a Rim of the Pacific Exercise international swim meet.

(Department of Defense photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

Also being redesigned is the black fleece liner for the Navy Working Uniform and cold-weather parka. Updates will include outer fabric that is resistant to rain and wind, an attached rank tab and side pockets with zip closures.

Officials continue to test the I-Boot 5, a next-generation work boot that improves on previous designs.

“The evaluation will continue through the end of calendar year 2019 to facilitate wear during cold weather conditions,” officials said in a release. “The completion of the I-Boot 5 evaluation, participant survey and final report to Navy leadership with recommendation is expected to occur by the first quarter of calendar year 2020.”

As for other recently rolled-out uniform items, Navy officials say previously announced mandatory uniform possession and wear dates have not changed.

Enlisted women in ranks E-1 to E-6 must adopt the “Crackerjacks” jumper-style service dress blue with white “Dixie cup” hat by Jan. 31, 2020; female officers and chief petty officers must own the choker-style service dress white coat by the same date; enlisted sailors E-1 through E-6 must have the service dress white with blue piping by Oct. 31, 2021; and all sailors must own the new Navy fitness suit by Sept. 30, 2021. The black cold-weather parka is also designated for mandatory possession by April 30, 2021, officials said.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

This trainee just earned a perfect ACFT score

Spc. Benjamin Ritchie came to Fort Jackson with the same hope as many others — to start his Army career on the right path by excelling at Basic Combat Training.

On Oct. 21, 2019, he became the first Basic Combat Training trainee to record a perfect score of 600 points on the Army’s new physical fitness test.

Ritchie maxed all six events on Army Combat Fitness Test, making him the third soldier in the Army to earn a perfect score. The San Antonio native, is assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, the “River Raiders.”


The battalion is one of two on Fort Jackson participating in the Army’s ‘field test’ where trainees take the ACFT during the ninth week of training.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

Spc. Benjamin Ritchie, a trainee with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment conducts the sprint drag event as Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Cabrera watches.

(US Army photo)

Ritchie, an 09S — Officer Candidate, said what ultimately brought him success was his personal dedication to physical fitness and the consistent guidance and support of his unit leadership.

“We didn’t do anything special,” Ritchie said about his preparations. “I trusted my drill sergeants and did my best.”

Ritchie was unable to max his initial diagnostic Army Physical Fitness Test, the soon to be legacy fitness test. For the following nine weeks, he performed regularly scheduled physical readiness training according to the BCT program of instruction and ate the regular meals provided by the dining facility and by the end of basic training, he was able to max both the APFT and ACFT.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Delgado, a senior drill sergeant in Ritchie’s company, said the training was the same as every other cycle.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Cabrera with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, observes Spc. Benjamin Ritchie conduct an Army Combat Fitness Test event.

(US Army photo)

“There were no special fitness coaches, diets, or focused ACFT workouts,” Delgado said. “Hard work and motivation — that’s our ‘special sauce.’ Once you get the trainees to buy-in to what you’re doing, they will achieve whatever you put in front of them.”

The company and battalion focused on creating an environment for the trainees to excel. They placed pull-up bars in easily accessible locations; encouraged trainees to conduct physical training in their free time; planned time to familiarize trainees with the ACFT in the evenings; and encouraged friendly, peer-to-peer competition.

The results speak for themselves as Ritchie maxed the test while two other trainees in the battalion scored above 590.

Lt. Col. Randall Wenner, 3-60th commander, said he is excited about the new direction of the ACFT and the work the battalion has put into its implementation.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

Brig. Gen. Milford H. ‘Beags’ Beagle Jr., Fort Jackson commander and Post Command Sgt. Maj. Jerimiah C. Gan, pose with Spc. Benjamin Ritchie from 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment after his graduation.

(US Army photo)

“There are naysayers out there about the new test, specifically due to injury,” he said. “We have tested over 2,800 trainees with zero injuries. Ritchie’s performance along with the performance of other trainees also sends a message — excellence in the ACFT is attainable for everyone. The Army needs adaptable soldiers. A fit soldier is an adaptable soldier.”

“We proved that when we asked trainees, who have been focusing on the APFT for graduation, to take the ACFT in week nine,” he added. “Focusing on fitness gives soldiers the tools to excel, regardless of the test.”

Ritchie, Co. A., 3rd Battalion 60th Infantry Regiment, and Fort Jackson have shown proper training and motivation produce outstanding results.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Ponytails, highlights and more changes coming to the Army grooming standard

Despite Demi Moore’s depiction in G.I. Jane, many people may be surprised to learn that buzz cuts are not authorized for female soldiers under AR 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia. However, more akin to Moore’s appearance, female soldiers like Captains Shaye Lynne Haver and Kristen Griest were required to sport buzz cuts to attend Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia. “When female soldiers go through training, such as Special Forces or Ranger, they shave their heads…and when they come out of the course, they’re out of regulation,” said Sgt. Maj. Brian Sanders. “As of right now, the current standard does not allow female soldiers to have their hair lower than a quarter of an inch.” However, new changes are slated to be implemented in AR 670-1 including allowing female soldiers to shave their heads outside of specialized training.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela
1st Lt. Shaye Haver at the graduation of Ranger School Class 08-15 (U.S. Army)

Conversely, women will also be allowed to wear long ponytails during training. The tight buns currently required can make it more difficult for women to properly wear the Army Combat Helmet and can damage the scalp. Regardless of gender, soldiers will be authorized to sport highlights that blend with uniform colors. Men will be authorized to wear clear nail polish and terminology in the regulation that may be offensive like Mohawk, Fu Manchu and dreadlocks, will be replaced with alternative words to make for more inclusive standards.

The changes are the result of a 17-soldier panel that was brought together from different commands to promote diversity and inclusion in the Army. Suggestions were made from across the service and voted on by panel members. According to the Army, the panel consisted of 10 Black women, four white women, one Hispanic woman, one Hispanic man and one Black man.

“Some people don’t like change but that’s just how the world is,” said Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston during a call with the press. “It changes over time and we need to change with it. I’m not going to go into who voted and who said what, but this panel represented our force from all walks of life, and we brought in experts.” In addition to the panel of soldiers, the Army consulted with dermatologists and psychologists to generate the new standard changes. “These things are always going to be hard, and that’s why it was really important for me to get the panel right and trust that they would represent the Army to look at things appropriately, and I think they did,” Grinston added.

The Army is also implementing smaller changes to the standards. Women will be authorized to wear earrings in the Army Combat Uniform, except in field environments where hygiene levels are lower compared to in garrison. Additionally, women will be authorized to wear lipsticks that aren’t “extreme” shades (such as blue, gold or hot pink). “We have soldiers from all walks of life, all 50 states plus the territories, and we have to represent them,” said Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel Issues. “Inclusive grooming standards help to foster our ability to recruit and retain the best talent, whether that’s a new private or an officer coming in.”

In addition to revising potentially offensive wording, the Army is clarifying the standards. Subjective phrases like “at the discretion of the commander” and “professional appearance” were deemed too subjective. They will be replaced with more specific wording like “visual representations, color swatches, and familiarity of hair styles and textures.” The revised version of AR 670-1 will come into effect on February 26, 2021.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela
The new grooming standard is part of the Army’s push for diversity and inclusion (U.S. Army)

What do you think of the new standards? As long as your haircut doesn’t look like these, you’ll probably be fine.

Articles

Top brass wants women to register for the draft

Now that women are cleared to join men in all U.S. military combat roles, the service chiefs of the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps think the rules for Selective Service registration should be changed to include women.


The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela
Gen. Robert Neller (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Shawn Valosin)

Current selective service rules say all male citizens of the United States and male immigrants (and bizarrely, illegal immigrants) have to register for the Selective Service System within 30 days of their 18th birthday. This is not joining the military but registering with the government to be available in a time where conscription would be necessary.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley believe the provisions of Military Selective Service should reflect the new policies of the Department of Defense.

“Every American who’s physically qualified should register for the draft,” Neller told the Senate Armed Services Committee .

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela
Gen. Mark Milley

The Supreme Court’s 1981 decision in Rostker v. Goldberg upheld Congress’ decision to exempt women from the draft, saying “training would be needlessly burdened by women recruits who could not be used in combat.”

In order for women to be drafted, Congress would have to update the provisions of the Selective Service Act of 1948.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

If you’re an American male age 18 or older and forgot to register for Selective Service, there’s no time like the present.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what happens after a deadly friendly fire incident

It’s a reality no one likes to face: accidents happen in wartime, and sometimes the wrong people get killed. Once the fog of war is lifted, someone has to sort out what happened and why, no matter how much the truth hurts. There are many infamous, tragic examples of the U.S. military losing good people to friendly fire, the most well-known perhaps, being the story of ex-NFL star and Army Ranger Pat Tillman.


Friendly fire incidents are not unique to the United States military. Notable examples of casualties inflicted by friendly forces can be found all the way back to the ancient Greeks. An Austrian army even fought a full-on battle against itself on one occasion. The fog of war can be thick and pervasive.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

Tillman was killed in Afghanistan while attempting to support his own unit.

In the wake of a friendly fire incident, especially a public one, even if it’s not as well-known as the Tillman incident, there must still be accountability. Friendly fire, it should be noted, is a distinctly different event from a fragging, as far as the Army and the Uniform Code of Military Justice are concerned. A friendly fire incident involves the killing or wounding of friendly forces while engaging with what is thought to be a hostile force. “Fragging” is simply premeditated murder. An investigation of the incident will reveal who is at fault for which potential offenses. When a troop or unit is found to have committed a friendly fire incident, depending on the severity, the investigators will first look into the type of error committed.

The two offenses most likely to be charged in such an incidence are involuntary manslaughter or the lesser charge of negligent homicide. For the involuntary manslaughter charge to stick, investigators have to prove “a negligent act or failure to act accompanied by a gross, reckless, wanton, or deliberate disregard for the foreseeable results to others.” Pointing a pistol believing it to be unloaded and firing it accidentally killing someone is an example of involuntary manslaughter. For a negligent homicide charge, all the prosecution has to prove is negligence, even a simple failure to act that resulted in the death of another.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

During Desert Storm, 77 percent of American vehicle losses were attributed to friendly fire.

Dereliction of duty is another charge that could be levied in a friendly fire investigation. This would mean the accused knew he or she had a duty to perform and willfully neglect to perform them or knowingly underperform them without a reasonable excuse – though ineptitude is a defense against this charge.

While these are the most common charges for those accused of friendly fire incidents, in the U.S. military, few of these -charges ever go to a court-martial and those that do usually result in an acquittal. The reason for this is not a failure to respond to the issue of friendly fire, friendly fire incidents have been around since the beginning of war and will continue to occur in wartime. It is simply difficult to prove that negligence or wanton disregard was at play for troops who had to make split decisions in combat situations. Even the best troops can make bad decisions with tragic consequences when bullets start to fly.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela

During World War II, the US accidentally bombed neutral Switzerland more than once.

Even when charges aren’t pursued by courts-martial, troops are still able to be punished through non-judicial punishment. Career-ending letters of disapproval can be written, troops can be put behind desks, pilots can be grounded. The difference is in proving negligence.

In the case of Pat Tillman, his fellow Rangers saw movement and muzzle flashes from Tillman’s position while they were being attacked from the surrounding areas. Since they reasonably believed they were firing at the enemy, it did not meet the charges of negligent homicide or involuntary manslaughter. While none of the soldiers involved were criminally liable, seven received non-judicial punishments for various offenses, including dereliction of duty.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This castaway airman helped map the entire world

A sandy white beach. Swaying palm trees. Cocktails made from coconut juice.


As frigid air and snowstorms whip across most of the U.S., service members may dream of trading their current duty station for an exotic Pacific paradise.

But they might want to think again, according to Bob Cunningham, a former Air Force radar operator whose first duty station was a tiny, oblong blister of land in the South China Sea. He knows it as North Danger Island.

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela
Airman 2nd Class Bob ‘Red’ Cunningham, 1374th Mapping and Charting Squadron, sits near his footlocker and reads a magazine during his six-month assignment on North Danger Island in 1956. The 22-year old radar operator and his three teammates lived in a tent and shared the tiny island in the South China Sea with a six-man Air Force radio relay station team. (Courtesy photo Bob Cunningham)

For six months in 1956, Cunningham lived on a remote knob approximately 2,000 feet long and 850 feet wide in the Spratly Islands group located midway between the Philippine Islands and Vietnam. His home was a canvas tent and he manned radio and radar equipment for a secret Air Force project mapping the earth.

The mission was an aerial electronic geodetic survey. Specially equipped aircraft flew grid patterns and triangulated electromagnetic pulses sent between temporary ground stations hundreds of miles apart. The data, computed into highly accurate coordinates, would eventually provide targeting information for intercontinental ballistic missile development.

It was a ‘million dollar experience’ that he wouldn’t give two cents to repeat, Cunningham jokes today.

Not that it wasn’t an adventure, he admits.

Cunningham’s four-man team and all its equipment was helicoptered to the island from the deck of a Landing Ship, Tank (LST), along with the drinking water, fuel and rations the men would need to survive. Resupply occurred every 4-6 weeks by helicopter, supplemented by occasional parachute drops. A radio relay team of six Airmen had already established itself on the island and shared the same copse of trees.

“I was 22 years old. I was the kid on the island so it was a real experience,” Cunningham remembers. “I didn’t have a lot of sophistication psychologically, and that was a real psychological test for human beings, to be going like that.”

Also Read: Green Beret writes about secret Cold War mission

He was an Airman 2nd Class, a two-striper, with just over a year of service in the Air Force and some college education. His sergeants had seen combat during World War II and were wise to what the isolated team would endure. Their ingenuity, humor and direct leadership kept young Cunningham and the others on the island from mentally cracking.

To keep a low profile, the Airmen were ordered to stow their uniforms and wear civilian shorts and sneakers, sandals and cowboy hats instead.

The men also kept their pistols and M-1 Garand rifles ready, knowing that pirates and other possible threats roamed the waters surrounding them.

“The Chinese nationalists came by with a gun boat. A big, long vessel. Military. Chinese Navy,” Cunningham said. “And they had this big three-inch cannon on the front on a turret, and they swung that baby in toward our island, and they had some machine gun turrets, and pretty soon we saw boats come over the edge and some officers got on that and they came in to see who we were and what we were doing.”

The Airmen placed palm fronds along the beach to spell out U-S-A-F. The gunboat crew was satisfied and the standoff ended.

On another occasion, Okinawan fishermen came ashore to trade their fish for drinking water.

“They saw our 50-foot antenna that we put up for our radar set, our pulse radio, and so they were curious,” Cunningham said. “They came onboard and they were quite friendly.”

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela
Cunningham pumps water from an old well on North Danger Island in 1956. The Airmen only used this for laundry and washing. Drinking water was delivered in 55-gallon barrels. (Courtesy photo Bob Cunningham)

But visitors were the exception. Day after day, interaction was limited to within the tiny community of Airmen.

A feud between two staff sergeants took a bad turn when one threatened to kill the other.

Cunningham’s technical sergeant knew he had to step in and confront the enraged man. But first he warned Cunningham and the other radar operator that the situation could explode and that they might have to use their weapons.

“He said, ‘I’m calling him in here, I’m going to present this to him, our concern,'” Cunningham recalled. “‘If he gets up and breaks like I’ve seen a guy do it, he’ll run right over to the ground power tent where those guys live and he’ll just start shooting people.'”

Fortunately, there was no violence and the conflict was resolved.

“We had to stay up around the clock for a day or so to see what would happen in case we had to call for an SA-16 (amphibious flying boat) to come out with Air Police and come in and capture this guy, and we’re going to have to tie him up to a palm tree or something,” Cunningham said. “We didn’t know what was going to go on.”

The veteran sergeants kept up morale in other ways.

Read Also: That time Americans demanded the Coast Guard rescue the cast of Gilligan’s Island

They improved the camp with funny signs, hand-made furniture and a wind-driven water pump. They cooked sea turtles for the men. And they improvised a way to make alcohol from coconut juice and cake mix.

Cunningham remembers the technical sergeant busy at his distillery ‘making moonshine.’ When the sergeant was asked why he was wearing his pistol, he replied that revenuers might come through and he couldn’t be interrupted.

That sense of humor was “what you really needed on a place like that to keep from cracking up,” Cunningham said.

For recreation, Cunningham would walk around the island and photograph the thousands of birds it attracted. He also tried diving off the reef once and became terrified by the absolute darkness.

“I opened up my eyes and it scared the bejeepers out of me,” he said. “It was total black. I couldn’t see anything. I got so danged scared, I came up and I got off and I got back to that reef and I never went back again.”

The first assassination attempt with a drone happened in Venezuela
Cunningham points to the camp on ‘North Danger Island’ where he lived and worked as a radar operator for six months in 1956 during an Air Force project mapping the earth. (Air Force photo by Josh Turner)

In the final month, he and the sergeant were the only humans left on the island. Two members of his team were evacuated. The radio relay team was relocated, taking their noisy generator with them. For the two men remaining, the silence at night was now ‘spooky’ – a lone coconut dropping from a tree was enough to send them scrambling for their weapons.

Cunningham’s experience on the reef forever changed how he relates to other people.

“I have an expression,” he said. “‘This guy sounds like a North Danger kind of guy,’ meaning somebody compatible, smart, you can get along with him, he’s got a good temper. Or this guy, I would not want to be with him on North Danger.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Only 4% of the ocean floor has been mapped; here’s how to fix that

Whenever you look through a substance, whether it’s the water in a pool or a pane of old, rippled glass, the objects you see look distorted. For centuries, astronomers have been mapping the sky through the distortions caused by our atmosphere, however, in recent years, they’ve developed techniques to counter these effects, clearing our view of the stars. If we turn to look at the Earth instead of the skies, distorted visuals are a challenge too: Earth scientists who want to map the oceans or study underwater features struggle to see through the distortions caused by waves at the surface.

Researchers at NASA’s Ames Research Center, in California’s Silicon Valley, are focused on solving this problem with fluid lensing, a technique for imaging through the ocean’s surface. While we’ve mapped the surfaces of the Moon and Mars in great detail, only 4% of the ocean floor is currently mapped. Getting accurate depth measurements and clear images is difficult in part, due to how light is absorbed and intensified by the water and distorted by its surface. By running complex calculations, the algorithm at the heart of fluid lensing technology is largely able to correct for these troublesome effects.


You’ve probably noticed these distortions between light and water before. When you look down at your body in a swimming pool, it appears at odd angles and different sizes because you’re looking at it through the water’s surface. When light passes through that surface, it also creates bright bands of light, in an almost web-like structure that you see at the bottom of the pool called caustics. When caustics, are combined with the other distortions caused by water, they make imaging the ocean floor a difficult process. Caustics on the ocean floor are so bright that sometimes they are even brighter than sunlight at the surface!

Researchers at the Laboratory for Advanced Sensing at NASA Ames are developing two technologies to image through the ocean surface using fluid lensing: FluidCam and MiDAR, the Multispectral Imaging, Detection, and Active Reflectance instrument.

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A researcher testing the FluidCam instrument while on deployment in Puerto Rico.

(NASA)

A lens to the sea

The FluidCam instrument is essentially a high-performance digital camera. It’s small and sturdy enough to collect images while mounted on a drone flying above a body of water. Eventually, this technology will be mounted on a small satellite, or CubeSat, and sent into orbit around the Earth. Once images of the sea floor are captured, the fluid lensing software takes that imagery and undoes the distortion created by the ocean surface. This includes accounting for the way an object can look magnified or appear smaller than usual, depending on the shape of the wave passing over it, and for the increased brightness caused by caustics.

While FluidCam is passive, meaning it takes in light like a traditional camera and then processes those images, MiDAR will be active, collecting data by transmitting light that gets bounced back to the instrument, similar to how radar functions. It also operates in a wider spectrum of light, meaning it can detect features invisible to the human eye, and even collect data in darkness. It’s also able to see deeper into the ocean, using the magnification caused by the water’s surface to its advantage, leading to higher resolution images. MiDAR could even make it possible for a satellite in orbit to explore a coral reef on the centimeter scale.

Both technologies bring us closer to mapping the ocean floor with a level of detail previously only possible when teams of divers were sent under water to take photographs. By using fluid lensing on satellites in orbit, the oceans can be observed at the same level of detail across the globe.

Citizen science to help save coral

But why does mapping the ocean matter? Besides being the Earth’s largest ecosystem, it’s also home to one of the planet’s most unique organisms: coral. Coral is one of the oldest life forms on the planet, and one of the few that is visible from space. This irreplaceable member of the ocean world is dying at an unprecedented rate and, without proper tracking, it’s unclear exactly how fast or how best to stop its deterioration. With fluid lensing technology, the ability to track changes to coral reefs around the world is within reach.

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A screenshot from the NeMO-Net game.

(NASA)

A program called NeMO-Net aims to do just this, with some help from machine learning technologies and the general public. A citizen science game by the same name, soon to be released to the public, allows users to interact with real NASA data of the ocean floor, and highlight coral found in these images. This will train an algorithm to look through the rest of the data for more coral, creating a system that can accurately identify coral in any imagery that it processes.

Tracking coral allows scientists to better pinpoint the causes of its deterioration and come up with solutions to limit damaging human impact on this life form that hosts more biodiversity than the Amazon rainforest.

By using techniques originally designed to study the stars, fluid lensing will allow us to learn more about one of the greatest mysteries right here on our own planet: the ocean and all the multitudes of life within it. That alien world holds just as many mysteries as the cosmos, and with technologies like fluid lensing, discovering those enigmas is within our grasp.

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Researchers flying the FluidCam instrument during a field deployment in Puerto Rico.

(NASA)

Milestones:

  • March 2019: In collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico, a research crew from NASA Ames will be deploying FluidCam and MiDAR to study the shallow reefs of Puerto Rico. Field sites include the La Gata and Caracoles Reefs, Enrique Reef, San Cristobal Reef, and Media Luna Reef.
  • May 2019: Another deployment of the MiDAR instrument will take place in Guam, with the goal of testing while diving and in the air.
  • Fall 2019: Fluid Lensing instruments will be deployed to the Great Barrier Reef.

Partners:

The Laboratory for Advanced Sensing is supported by the NASA Biological Diversity Program, Advanced Information Systems Technology Program and Earth Science Technology Office.

Learn more:

For researchers:

For news media:

Members of the news media interested in covering this topic should get in touch with the science media contact at NASA’s Ames Research Center, listed here.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This was the first pilot to launch off a Navy warship

On Nov. 14, 1910, the U.S. military took its first step toward linking flight and naval operations when Eugene Ely made the first carrier takeoff, guiding a Pusher biplane off the deck of the light cruiser USS Birmingham in the waters of Norfolk, Virginia.


The Navy tapped Capt. Washington Irving Chambers — who has been called “the father of naval aviation” — earlier that year “to observe everything that will be of use in the study of aviation and its influence upon the problems of naval warfare,” according to the Smithsonian.

 

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On board USS Roe (Destroyer # 24) on Nov. 14, 1910, shortly after his flight off the deck of USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2). This was the first airplane takeoff from a warship. (Image US Naval Historical Center)

Chambers recognized the utility of shipborne landings and takeoffs. At a flying event in Belmont Park, New York, in October 1914, Chambers asked planemaker Glenn Curtiss and Ely if they would attempt to land on a ship if he supplied one. (Another account has Curtiss and Ely making the offer, and Chambers saying he had no money to finance the experiment but would provide a ship.)

On November 14 — a Monday soiled by fog and intermittent rain — a Curtiss Pusher biplane with floats mounted under the wings was loaded aboard the Birmingham. The US Naval Institute identifies the aircraft as a Hudson Fulton Flyer.

The cruiser was equipped with an 83-foot runway on its deck, but that length meant Ely only had 57 feet to take off.

Also in History: The first aerial refueling was straight-up nuts

Though the original plan was to steam into the Chesapeake Bay and launch the plane while underway, which would provide extra lift, it was foiled by the weather. That afternoon, Ely launched his biplane from Birmingham’s deck while the ship was as anchor.

After his wheels left the deck, Ely guided the plane toward the water to build up speed. But he miscalculated, and witnesses watched as the plane smacked into the water and bounced back into the air. The collision damaged the propeller and sprayed Ely’s goggles with saltwater.

After less than five minutes in the air, Ely set the plane down on a nearby beach. He had flown less than 3 miles.

‘The most important landing of a bird since the dove flew back to the ark’

A reporter for the Indianapolis Star noted afterward that, “Aerial navigation proved today that it is a factor which must be dealt with in the naval tactics of the world’s future.”

Ely and the Curtiss team had plans to fly on the West Coast in January 1911, and Chambers made arrangements to follow up their feat in Norfolk by landing on a ship.

The armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania, anchored in San Francisco Bay, was outfitted with a 120-foot platform. Ely, wearing a padded football helmet and bicycle inner tubes around his body for protection, took off from a nearby race track on the morning of January 18, 1911, flying a Curtiss Pusher with hooks on the landing gear.

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Eugene B. Ely lands his Curtiss pusher biplane on USS Pennsylvania (Armored Cruiser # 4), anchored in San Francisco Bay, California, 18 January 1911. (Image US Navy)

Thousands of spectators watched as Ely made a safe landing on the Pennsylvania, with the plane’s hooks catching ropes stretched across the ship’s deck. After lunch with the captain, Ely took off from the Pennsylvania, landing safely at the race track.

Capt. C. F. Pond, commander of the Pennsylvania, called Ely’s feat “the most important landing of a bird since the dove flew back to the ark.”

Ely continued flying at sites around the country, earning acclaim. But his life was cut short by a crash at the Georgia State Fair on October 19, 1911. Though he was a civilian flier, Ely was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by the Navy in 1933.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Some of the best jokes the CIA wrote for President H.W. Bush

President George H.W. Bush occupied the White House during tumultuous times, conducting military operations in Panama and the Persian Gulf and grappling with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in just four years.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun, he told the CIA officers tasked with briefing him each day.

As vice president and president, Bush took special interest in the intelligence he was provided and in the personnel who provided it, according to a remembrance in the most recent edition of the CIA’s Studies in Intelligence journal, written by its managing editor, Andres Vaart, a 30-year CIA veteran.


In a 1995 article in the journal, one of Bush’s briefers, Charles A. Peters, recounts how, on Jan. 21, 1989, the day after his inauguration, Bush injected levity into one of the more severe daily tasks the president takes on.

“When the President had finished reading, he turned to me and said with deadly seriousness, ‘I’m quite satisfied with the intelligence support, but there is one area in which you’ll just have to do better.’ The [director of Central Intelligence, William Webster] visibly stiffened,” Peters wrote, according to Vaart.

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Chief Justice William Rehnquist administering the oath of office to President George H. W. Bush during Inaugural ceremonies at the United States Capitol. Jan. 20, 1989.

(Library of Congress)

“‘The Office of Comic Relief,’ the new President went on, ‘will have to step up its output.’ With an equally straight face I promised the President we would give it our best shot,” Peters wrote. “As we were leaving the Oval Office, I wasted no time in reassuring the Director that this was a lighthearted exchange typical of President Bush, and that the DCI did not have to search out an Office of Comic Relief and authorize a major shakeup.”

The CIA staffers compiling the PDB included a “Sign of the Times” section, which included amusing or unusual anecdotes meant to lighten otherwise heavy reading.

“Libyan intelligence chief recently passed message via Belgians laying out case for better relations with US and expressing desire to cooperate against terrorism… even suggested he would like to contribute to your re-election campaign,” one January 1992 entry read, according to Peters.

“French company says it has won contract to export vodka to Russia… deal apparently stems from shortage of bottles and bottling equipment… no word on whether Paris taking Russian wine in return,” a July 1992 entry read.

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US President George H. W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

(George Bush Presidential Library and Museum)

Bush’s single term stretched over the final days of the Soviet Union, possibly giving CIA staffers the opportunity to draw on their cache of Soviet jokes to liven up the daily briefing.

Bush’s briefs also included updates about his counterparts. From time to time, Vaart writes, Bush would call one of those leaders to chat about something interesting they were doing.

For staffers working on the President’s Daily Brief between 1981 and 1993, during Bush’s time in office, “no labor was too intense to produce the needed story and no hours were too many or too late to make certain we … made it good and got it right,” Vaart writes.

“This may have been true with later presidents,” Vaart adds, “but what stood out with President Bush was that we … knew well that the effort was truly appreciated.”

“We also saw through those interactions, as though at first hand, the humor and personality of a man who deeply cared about the people who served him,” he writes.

Bush’s mirth was widely recounted in the days after his death on Nov. 30, 2018. Friends and colleagues remembered his enthusiasm for jokes — at his expense, like when he invited Dana Carvey to the White House to impersonate him after his 1992 electoral defeat, and at the expense of others, like the “award” he gave aides who fell asleep during meetings, named after national-security adviser and frequent dozer Brent Scowcroft.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army holds class on combat first aid for puppers

Veterinarians assigned to Camp Lemonnier and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa conducted Canine Tactical Combat Casualty Care training to joint-service medical and operational personnel deployed here Aug. 18, 2018.

The training, which included canine anatomy, primary assessments and CPR, is designed to provide handlers and nonveterinary providers the capability to provide basic first aid until definitive veterinary care is available.


Base veterinarian Army Capt. (Dr.) Richard Blair facilitated the training to personnel from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force medical and law enforcement fields. Blair said that while the focus of the training was aimed at medically trained personnel, people from other military occupations were welcome to attend.

“In a mass casualty situation where military working dogs may be injured, anyone with this kind of training in their back pocket would be extremely helpful.” Blair said. The training combined classroom and practical hands-on applications. Artificial dogs were used as training aids, and participants simulated CPR, intravenous catheter insertion and tracheal intubation.

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Veterinarians assigned to Camp Lemonnier and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa conduct Canine Tactical Combat Casualty Care training to joint-service medical and operational personnel deployed to Djibouti, Aug. 18, 2018. The training is designed to provide interoperability for medical personnel to provide first aid in a mass-casualty scenario involving military working dogs.

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Rullo)

Army Maj. (Dr.) Steven Pelham, veterinarian for Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa civil affairs, said military working dogs are an integral weapon for today’s fighting forces and that combat casualty care training is an important part of readiness.

“These dogs detect explosives that would go undetected. They save people from getting injured or killed,” Pelham said. “The number of lives one dog can save is worth the medical care we can give them to keep them in the fight.”

Valuable Partnership

Navy Cmdr. Mark Thomas, emergency medical facility officer in charge, attended the training and said that the cooperation between medical personnel and the veterinary units is a valuable partnership that can improve the level of care in an emergency.

“Having our people trained in canine combat care as well as utilizing the veterinarians in our facility gives us an interoperability that allows for better coverage for anyone [including military working dogs] who may be injured in a mass casualty situation,” Thomas said.

Camp Lemonnier is one of Navy Region Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia installations that conducts six lines of operations to support air operations, port operations, safety, security, quality of life, and what is called the core: the fuels, water and power that keep the bases operating. Camp Lemonnier’s mission includes enabling joint warfighters operating forward and to reinforce the U.S.-Djibouti relationship by providing exceptional services and facilities for the tenant commands, transient U.S. assets and service members.

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

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