Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

Just after completing the final flight of the Southern Hemisphere winter Antarctic season, the 304th Expeditionary Air Squadron was alerted there was a medical emergency at the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station Aug. 25, 2018.

In the face of rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, the 304th EAS was able to redirect a mission to respond to the medical evacuation and use a local Christchurch New Zealand Life Fleet medical team to save time.

“We were in alert position to leave for Guam, and when I woke up, there was a note under my door that read we were now going to do a medevac mission,” said Lt. Col. Bruce Cohn, 97th Airlift Squadron pilot.


Planners worked throughout the night to switch from a ‘go home’ mission to medevac mission in order to airlift two patients to medical facilities in Christchurch. During the flight to the Antarctic, aircrew were able to interact with the New Zealand Life Fleet medical team to orient them to the C-17 Globemaster III.

“The team was great to work with, and this was their first aeromedical evacuation mission and flight on a military aircraft,” Cohn said.

Upon landing, weather impacted the medevac mission.

“Weather was favorable for the arrival except temperatures at the time of landing were much colder than previously forecasted,” said Lt. Col. Trace Dotson, the 304th EAS commander.

The crew worked quickly in negative 65.2 Fahrenheit conditions to safely evacuate one critically ill patient and another patient needing medical care.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives


A Christchurch New Zealand Life Fleet medical team loads response equipment onto the C-17 Globemaster III for an emergency medevac from the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station.

“There was a lot of coordination with the New Zealand Life Fleet medical personnel as we usually work with Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation teams,” said Tech. Sgt. Seth Lewis, 7th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “The increased coordination helped us perform the medevac safely. It was so cold that we weren’t able to open up the back of the aircraft, so the patients were loaded through the crew door, which is located on the front left side of the aircraft.”

With a wind-chill of negative 94 Fahrenheit, crew minimized time on the ground due to the extreme cold and returned the patients to Christchurch within 24 hours from the time we were notified of the evacuation request, Dotson said.

“This mission was outside normal operations since it was an emergency situation,” Cohn said. “The rapidness of how we changed gear to respond really showed the teamwork of all who were involved.”

The rapid, life-saving response demonstrated the flexibility and capabilities of the Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica to respond quickly to emergency situations in the Antarctic. The patients were treated in New Zealand medical facilities.

“This was a complete different mission from what we typically do,” Lewis said. “It was really special to be part of something that you weren’t expecting. I was expecting to go home, but then I got to participate in a medical evacuation to help two people.”

The last dedicated medevac mission the 304th EAS supported was in 2013. The 304th is comprised of blended aircrews from the active duty 62nd Airlift Wing and the reserve 446th Airlift Wing.

The NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program. Operation Deep Freeze is the logistical support provided by the DoD to the U. S. Antarctic Program. This includes the coordination of strategic inter-theater airlift, tactical intra-theater airlift and airdrop, aeromedical evacuation support, search-and-rescue response, sealift, seaport access, bulk fuel supply, port cargo handling, and transportation requirements supporting the NSF.

This is a unique mission that demonstrates U.S. commitment to stability in the Pacific and research programs conducted for the betterment of all mankind.

Featured image: A C-17 Globemaster III sits on the runway at McMurdo Station in Antarctic.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

6 awesome items from ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ we want in real life

While Solo: A Star Wars Story may not exactly be crushing it in the box office, the film is an otherwise entertaining and world-building heist flick that hints to a bolder and bigger Star Wars Universe, one that includes characters who should be dead and intergalactic crime syndicates sparking the seeds of the resistance. Is it what hardcore fans wanted? No. Does it answer questions you never asked, such as why is Han’s last name Solo? Sure does. But you know what? It’s fun! It’s exciting! And, like every good Star Wars film, has its fair share of cool gadgets we want to see in real life. From Lando’s card-shooting wrist-holster and his many (many) cloaks to that amazing drink-pouring droid, here are six items from Solo: A Star Wars Story that we wish were real.


1. Lando’s Sabacc Bracelet

While Sabacc enthusiasts can buy card games “inspired” by the game of Sabacc online, perhaps the most fun part of watching the game unfold in Solo was the fact that Donald Glover’s Lando had a trick literally up his sleeve. He wears a bracelet in which he hides Sabacc trump card, so to speak, one that ensures he will always win the game, especially when laying his important property on the line, like, I don’t know, a certain spaceship. While he doesn’t get to use his trusted tool in the final game of Sabacc, it’s definitely a cool tool. It fits comfortably under the most flamboyant dress shirt. And, in typical Lando style, it’s also stylish. Let’s make this happen.

2. All of Lando’s Cloaks

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

One of the funnier gags in Solo is when Qi’ra steps away from the crew on the Millennium Falcon and finds herself in Lando’s closet, which is quite literally just full of cloaks. There are like at least 30 cloaks in there and Qi’ra plays dress up with all of them. There are royal blue cloaks. Deep red cloaks. Midnight black cloaks. Some of the cloaks are appropriate for battle. Qi’ra wears one on Kessel in anticipation of that battle, which comes in handy in a slightly-off screen moment where she dominates a security guard. She does a front-flip and looks super cool doing it! Also, the cloaks are flame retardants, as Qi’ra later ripped it off her body to put out a fire that started on the Falcon. Here, here, Disney: please make Lando’s many cloaks available. Halloween for kids, yes. But how about we get some adult versions from Atelier Lando?

3. Dryden Vos’ Spears

Gangster Dryden Vos, played by Paul Bettany, carries some badass weaponry: two matching, double-sided spears that he wears like brass knuckles and which have a red laser running across the blade-edge. Up there with Darth Maul’s red, double-bladed lightsaber and Kylo Ren’s Crossguard lightsaber, the weapon is one of the more creative hand-to-hand combat tools in the Star Wars universe. A Nerf-ized version of this weapon would be pretty sweet.

4. Han’s Gold Dice

One of the most surprising Easter eggs of Solo was seeing the origins of the twin golden dice that gained massive significance in the Star Wars sequels and in The Last Jedi. The twin dice, attached by a golden chain, were actually a good luck trinket for Solo that he often passed to his former lover, Qi’ra. Before she left his life for good by joining, what is ostensibly the dark side, she passed them back to him as a final wish of good luck. Later, we see the trinket being used by Han, Luke, and Leia to the same ends. Although the Gold Dice wouldn’t be so much of a toy but a collectible, their significance in the universe as an arbiter of good luck over 30 years is pretty cool. We’d hang ’em on the rearview mirrors of our personal Millenium Falcons, which are just mid-sized sedans and minivans but, whatever.

5. A Dejarik table

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

Although not a new addition to the Star Wars Universe, the Dejarik table on the Millennium Falcon got a lot of screen-time in Solo when Woody Harrelson’s Tobias Beckett explains the game to Chewie for the first time. Although many replicas of the game have hit the market, there has yet to be a fully operational version of the table that plays the game as it really exists in the Universe, where the “chess” pieces are holograms. Every time I see that damn game I just want to play it. It’s like Wizarding chess meets AR games. It wouldn’t take much to make this a reality. Sure there’s Hologrid: Monster Battle. But can’t we get Bethesda or someone to release a legit version?

6. That Robot That Pours Lando’s Drink

When Han and Lando meet for the first time, they play Sabacc. As they are sizing each other up, Lando lazily grabs his cup and a flying droid comes to fill it up with what I assume is some sort of delicious boozy cocktail made with space Bourbon. Lando doesn’t even say anything. No verbal commands, nothing. First of all, dope. Second of all, how do I get a drink-filling-droid in my office and home? Every time I want a glass of water in the middle of the night, you’re telling me the world could have flying droids that just fill cups up with the liquid of our choice on command? Amazon’s using droids to send packages. So can’t someone build a drink-serving droid? Let’s get this going, Bezos.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Here’s how the Navy tests its new carrier launch system

If you’ve seen Top Gun or any footage of an American aircraft carrier doing its thing, you’ve probably seen catapults launch aircraft. These impressive devices can launch a fully-loaded plane, getting it up to speeds as high as 200 knots in a matter of seconds — if everything’s working right.

The same is true for the electromagnetic aircraft launch system, or EMALS, in use on the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).


But how does the Navy make sure everything’s working as intended? How can they verify that any repairs they’ve made have actually fixed the thing? There are 122 millions reasons why you wouldn’t want to test it out on a brand new F-35C Lightning II. So, because USAA doesn’t offer that magnitude of coverage, the US Navy needs a cheap, solid stand-in.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

When you fix the catapult, you want to make sure you got it right.

(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cole C. Pielop)

According to one Navy release, they use what are called “dead loads” to simulate the weight of planes. These are essentially wheeled sleds made of solid metal that can be launched in relatively shallow water (“relative” to the USS Gerald R. Ford’s maximum draft of 41 feet). That makes recovering the dead loads easy.

Since the dead loads aren’t outfitted with electronics — or even an engine — they are relatively easy to replace. Furthermore, if they are recovered, they can be reused. It’s a very cheap way to make sure that your aircraft launch system is working, be it a traditional catapult or the new EMALS.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

When you are trying to launch a 2 million F-35 Lightning from a carrier, you want to make sure the launching system works.

(U. S. Navy photo by Arnel Parker)

To watch the Navy test the EMALS on USS Gerald R. Ford, check out the video below. You even get a view from the perspective of the “dead load,” giving you a taste of the catapult’s power.

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Military Life

How to properly retire an American Flag

The American flag, also lovingly known as “the Stars and Stripes” and “Old Glory,” is one of the most famous patriotic symbols in the world. Over the years, it’s been modified to reflect our country’s growth and waves triumphantly across our great nation. We associate our nation’s emblem with the freedom and democracy the US champions.


The flag has been raised on various battlefields throughout the world and many Americans hoist it outside of their homes as a badge of loyalty. But nothing lasts forever and, eventually, flags need to be removed from operational service. When an American flag can no longer be used, the symbol must be removed from service in a dignified way.

So, how do you properly dispose of our nation’s flag?

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives
Members of the Dover Air Force Base Honor Guard prepare the American flag by properly folding during a retreat ceremony.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization, first, the flag should be folded up in the customary manner. This means holding the flag waist-high and folding the lower half of the stripe section lengthwise over the field of stars. Then, folded again, keeping the blue stars facing up.

Next, triangularly fold the striped corner of the already-folded edge to meet the open side of the flag. Continue making triangular folds until you’ve covered the entire length of the flag. Once the flag is prepared, it’s to be placed in a fire. Any individuals in attendance must stand at the position of attention, salute the flag, and state the Pledge of Allegiance, which is to be followed by a period of silence.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives
Lt. Earl Wilson, from the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) places an unserviceable American flag into the fire during an American flag retirement ceremony.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brandon Cyr)

Once the flag is consumed by the flames, its ashes are to be buried.

Note: Please check with local fire codes before choosing your fire and bury sites.

Featured

New video shows Kim Jong Un in South Dakota

In this brand new video created by the very talented and quarantined folks here at We Are The Mighty, we showcase our exclusive footage of North Korea’s Supreme Leader all over the world. From atop the Taj Mahal to smooching the Big Buddha, we’re wondering if he was just on a vacation this whole time, not dead like this senior executive in China stated for her 15 million fans to hear. After making an appearance on Monday, no one really knows where Kim has been.


Where is Kim Jong Un? It’s kind of like a game of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Or Where’s Waldo? Except it’s not fiction. Or a suitable game for children. Also, why doesn’t anyone know?

The only thing we really ever know about North Korea is that we can’t ever be sure about what’s happening there, but rumors about Kim’s grave health and possible passing were circulating for weeks before he allegedly made an appearance at a ribbon cutting on Monday.

When Kim failed to make an appearance on April 15 for the country’s most important holiday which honors the founder of the country (Kim’s late grandfather Kim II Sung), suspicion started building that Kim was sick. April 25 was another major holiday – the 88th anniversary of their armed forces, the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army and again, Kim was noticeably absent. People across the world started saying he was, indeed, dead.

But then, plot twist: According to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Mr Kim was accompanied by several senior North Korean officials, including his sister Kim Yo-jong at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday.

The North Korean leader cut a ribbon at a ceremony at the plant, in a region north of Pyongyang, and people who were attending the event “burst into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah!’ for the Supreme Leader who is commanding the all-people general march for accomplishing the great cause of prosperity,” KCNA said.

In the absence of any information about where Kim’s been the last month, we drew our own conclusions. And made our own video.

Where in the World is Kim Jong Un?

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Where in the World is Kim Jong Un?

New video surfaces showing that Kim Jong Un was just on a worldwide vacation this entire time.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 ways to strengthen your military marriage this year

A healthy and strong military marriage is at the top of many people’s priority list, but accomplishing this takes effort.

Typically, tasks that aide this goal are not included on our to-do list. We do not think we need to add, “Daily say I love you”, but maybe we should. Reaching big goals, such as a successful relationship, is about taking little steps to get there. So, along with your task of weight-lifting Wednesdays for your hot bod, consider adding the following to-dos for your relationship.


1. Go for a walk.

There are numerous benefits to walking, but the point here is spending intentional time together away from the distractions of home. Walking is an extremely easy and effective way to get out of a communication rut. Change the scenery and see how the extra oxygen to your brain fuels creative conversations.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

(Photo by Ben Rosett)

2. Make a bucket list.

This is not another list of tasks, but a fun way to dream together. Think big and dream crazy dreams. Have fun imagining what you can accomplish/see/experience together. (Just keep your dates flexible!!)

3. Arm wrestle.

This was my husband’s response to things we could do to strengthen our relationship. Anyone who compared our size would know how ridiculous this is, but I’ve added it to my list. I’m not saying determining who has the most arm strength will improve your relationship, but adding something your significant other is interested in (or something just plain funny) is a good start! Find your version of arm wrestling!

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

(Photo by Sandy Millar)

4. See a counselor.

There is a common misconception that going to marriage counseling is only for those in trouble. It is not. If you owned a business, you would evaluate its performance; if you want to stay healthy you do a yearly physical; if you want your car to run well, you have a maintenance check. Marriage is no different. Taking time to talk with a counselor, a mentor couple, or a real friend who will encourage and help you to grow together is an important part of keeping your relationship strong.

5. Build your calendar together.

It is extremely easy to get into a habit of living two completely separate lives. Even if you digitally share your calendar, take at least 15 minutes each week to do a rundown of what is happening each day. Verbally reviewing each other’s calendar allows you to be connected with each other’s events even when you are apart. It also provides background knowledge to ask questions more specific than, “How was your day?”

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

(Photo by Will O)

6. Cheer each other on.

Words matter, and at some point in our military marriages, they are all we have to stay connected.Find ways to talk highly about your significant other when he/she is not around. Make a specific reminder to write encouraging notes, send messages listing their strengths or rent a billboard to highlight their accomplishments (to include choosing you). Your words count for something, make them count for your relationship’s good.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

FBI reportedly investigating whether Mar-a-Lago invader is Chinese spy

The arrest of a woman who hoodwinked her way into President Donald Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, with a thumb drive containing “malicious malware” has exposed flaws in the club’s security system, as the FBI reportedly launches an investigation into whether she is a Chinese spy.

The woman, identified as 32-year-old Yujing Zhang, entered the resort on March 30, 2019, after showing two Taiwanese passports to Secret Service agents and telling them she was a club member trying to use the pool, Secret Service Agent Samuel Ivanovich said in a March 30, 2019 court filing.

Upon passing Secret Service checks, Zhang went through separate checks with Mar-a-Lago staff. They initially failed to verify that Zhang was on the guest list, but eventually let her in, thinking she was the daughter of a member also named Zhang, Ivanovich said. Zhang is a common Chinese surname.


According to Ivanovich, Zhang changed her story upon entering the property, saying she was there for an event organized by the United Nations Chinese American Association — which didn’t exist.

Upon being alerted, Secret Service agents found that Zhang had no swimsuit, and was instead carrying four cellphones, a laptop computer, a hard drive, and a thumb drive containing “malicious malware,” Ivanovich said.

Federal prosecutors in Florida have since charged her with making false statements and entering a restricted area. She is due to appear in court next week.

Woman accused of lying her way into Mar-a-Lago

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FBI is reportedly investigating

The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division in South Florida is now trying to figure out who Zhang is and whether she is linked to Chinese intelligence services, the Miami Herald reported. Zhang had not been known to US intelligence before March 30, 2019, the Herald said.

The investigation into Zhang is also focusing on Li “Cindy” Yang, the Chinese founder of a Florida spa chain who is accused of selling businessmen access to Trump, his family, and Mar-a-Lago. The alleged event that Zhang said she was attending on March 30, 2019, had been advertised by Yang on Chinese social media, the Herald reported.

A spokeswoman for Yang told the Herald on April 3, 2019, that Yang “stated that she does not know the woman who was arrested at Mar-a-Lago this weekend.”

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

The FBI is looking into whether Yujing Zhang, the woman who bluffed her way into Mar-a-Lago, is connected to Li “Cindy” Yang, the Florida massage parlor founder accused of selling Chinese businessmen access to Trump.

(Facebook/Cindy Yang)

Mar-a-Lago could jeopardize US national security, senators warn

March 30, 2019’s episode has exposed glaring flaws in Mar-a-Lago’s security system.

It showed that although Secret Service agents carried out physical checks on Mar-a-Lago visitors, whether or not someone gains entry to the club is down to the resort’s own security system.

In a rare statement on April 2, 2019, the Secret Service said: “The Secret Service does not determine who is invited or welcome at Mar-a-Lago; this is the responsibility of the host entity. The Mar-a-Lago club management determines which members and guests are granted access to the property.”

Security measures within the club’s grounds have appeared lax in the past. In 2017, paying member Richard DeAgazio was able to freely snap photos of the moment Trump briefed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about a North Korean missile test over dinner.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

The now-deleted Facebook post of Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago in February 2017.

(Screenshot/Facebook)

Photos of the dinner — which DeAgazio posted on Facebook before subsequently deleting them — showed the meeting being conducted in the open, in front of club members, with cellphone lights pointing toward sensitive documents.

In an April 3, 2019 letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, and Mark Warner said: “The apparent ease with which Ms. Zhang gained access to the facility during the President’s weekend visit raises concerns about the system for screening visitors, including the reliance on determinations made by Mar-a- Lago employees.”

“As the White House Communications Agency and Secret Service coordinate to establish several secure areas at Mar-a-Lago for handling classified information when the President travels there, these potential vulnerabilities have serious national security implications,” they added.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the US House Oversight Committee, told Reuters: “I am not going to allow the president to be in jeopardy or his family,” adding that the Secret Service will brief him and his Republican co-chair Jim Jordan on the incident.

As Zhang wrestled her way into Mar-a-Lago on March 30, 2019, Trump had been golfing at a nearby resort. First Lady Melania Trump and other members of the Trump family were at the property at the time, but there is no indication that they crossed paths with Zhang.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

President Donald Trump and Melania Trump.

(Flickr / Carmen Rodriguez)

Trump dismissed the incident as a “fluke” and said he was “not concerned at all,” according to Reuters.

“We will see what happened, where she is from, who she is, but the end result is they were able to get her,” he told senior military leaders, Reuters reported.

John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security, told The New York Times that Trump’s frequent visits to the club are a “nightmare for the Secret Service.”

“A privately owned ranch where the president and his people use the location is much easier than protecting the president when he chooses to go to a private club that’s open to members that provides services to those people in exchange for a fee,” he said.

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

Articles

Marine receives Silver Star for thwarting assassination attempt

The Marine Corps will present the third-highest combat award to an Iraq War veteran on Thursday, following a review that upgraded his commendation.


Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Glenn M. Walters, is slated to present the Silver Star Medal to Capt. Andrew Kim, an officer serving with Marine Corps Logistics Operations Group, at the Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms on Thursday.

The ceremony stems from a Pentagon initiative to review all valor awards after Sept. 11, 2001. Kim initially received a Bronze Star Medal for valorous actions performed on Aug. 6, 2003, while serving as a counterintelligence specialist with Task Force Scorpion of the 1st Marine Marine Division in Iraq, according to a press release issued Monday by the Marine Corps.

An Iraqi man approached Kim, his team chief, a linguist and a source. He suddenly drew a pistol and shot Kim’s team chief in the neck.

A sergeant at the time, Kim immediately returned fire, killing the assassin. He was then hit repeatedly by small arms fire from the rear. Disregarding his own wounds, Kim ushered his fallen team chief into a vehicle and exited the ambush’s kill zone, pursued by five Iraqis in a white pickup truck.

His vehicle sprayed by volleys of enemy fire, Kim drove to a light armored reconnaissance security element and ordered a deadly counterattack on the enemy — “bold” actions theMarine Corps concluded showed “undaunted courage and complete dedication to duty,” plus “gallantry and effectiveness under fire” that “saved the lives of all those conducting the mission,” according to this award citation.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Once powerful al-Qaeda terrorists are losing in Syria

For the first time since its meteoric rise in 2012 amid the chaos of war, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria is in retreat, battling rival militant groups in the north and fighting for survival in a key foothold near the capital, Damascus.


Over the past three weeks, the extremist group has been driven from nearly all of the northern province of Aleppo, losing dozens of fighters in battles there and in nearby Idlib province.

Also read: US air attack appears to have killed a senior member of al-Qaeda in Syria

The fighting poses a major challenge to the militant group, already beset by infighting and a string of assassinations that have taken out some of its top leaders. Unlike previous battles in which al-Qaeda-linked fighters were able to quickly crush their opponents, the fighting has been particularly fierce, with the militants losing dozens of villages.

The al-Qaeda-linked coalition known as the Levant Liberation Committee is still one of Syria’s most powerful armed groups, with fighters numbering in the thousands.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives
The general commander of Ahrar al-Sham, Mohannad al-Masri, center, visiting fighters in rural western Aleppo, Syria. (Militant Photo)

While the U.S.-led coalition and Russian-backed Syrian troops have focused on driving the Islamic State group from the country’s east, the al-Qaeda-linked group has consolidated its control over Idlib, where it remains the strongest force despite its recent losses there.

After the defeat of IS, al-Qaeda is seen as the main jihadi group that rejects any peace talks to try to end Syria’s seven-year conflict. Its presence in northern Syria and in the Damascus suburbs of eastern Ghouta has provided a pretext for President Bashar Assad and his Russian backers to wage war against opposition-held territory, since various de-escalation and cease-fire agreements have excluded al-Qaeda.

More: Drone strike kills suspected al-Qaeda militant in Yemen

Several hundred al-Qaeda fighters holed up in eastern Ghouta have become a burden to the armed opposition battling government forces there, which has pressed the extremists to leave the area for their stronghold in Idlib in order to avoid the current crushing offensive.

The group’s presence has also raised concern in nations from Turkey to the United States that fear the global network founded by Osama bin Laden could use its presence in northern Syria to launch terrorist attacks around the world.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives
Ahrar al-Sham fighters holding positions in the countryside around the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Aleppo province, Syria.

The recent fighting appears to have been triggered by the February 2018 assassination of a senior al-Qaeda official, Abu Ayman al-Masri, who was riding in a car with his wife when members of a rival militant group, Nour el-Din el-Zinki, fired on their vehicle, killing al-Masri and wounding his wife.

The killing led to battles in Aleppo and Idlib that have raged for the past three weeks.

The shooting was preceded by the merger of Nour el-Din el-Zinki and the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham, both former al-Qaeda allies now turned enemies.

Related: Special operators just rescued a high-profile prisoner from al-Qaeda

Amid the recent battles, the new coalition, the Syria Liberation Front, has forced the al-Qaeda fighters to retreat west to Idlib.

The insurgents say that the war against al-Qaeda will not stop until the jihadi group is crushed in Syria — an ambitious goal. It is also a striking statement, considering the rival groups once turned to al-Qaeda’s experienced and battle-hardened fighters for support in the battle against Assad’s forces.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives
Militants of the al-Qaeda-linked coalition known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, gathering in a village in Idlib province, Syria. (Photo by Ibaa News Agency)

Yazan Mohammed, a media activist based in Idlib province, said that although al-Qaeda has lost some territory in the recent fighting, the group is far from being defeated.

The al-Qaeda fighters are “not scouts. They are an organized and powerful group,” Mohammed said.

In recent years, tens of thousands of rebels and civilians from around the country have fled to Idlib or been forced there by government troops, raising concerns that the presence of al-Qaeda will give the government a pretext to storm the province under the cover of Russian airstrikes as it has elsewhere, including in Aleppo in late 2016 and in the current offensive in the eastern suburbs of Damascus.

More reading: Al-Qaeda leader tells Iraqi Sunnis to prepare for long guerilla war

Brett McGurk, the top U.S. envoy for the coalition battling IS, said in 2017 that Idlib is the largest al-Qaeda haven since bin Laden’s days in Afghanistan.

“This war will not stop,” said Bassam Haji Mustafa, a senior official with the Nour el-Din el-Zinki group. “This is a real war against al-Qaeda, its extremist ideas and terrorism.”

After the recent battlefield losses, a senior al-Qaeda commander, Abu Yaqzan al-Masri, released an audio asserting the militant group will soon crush the offensive and the focus will again be “to fight infidels,” an apparent reference to the West.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives
A tank with markings of the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham militant group, that was captured by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, in Idlib province, Syria. (Photo by Ibaa News Agency)

The commander’s comments coincided with a counteroffensive in which the al-Qaeda affiliate regained some villages it had lost earlier, although its presence in Aleppo province has almost ceased to exist.

Local activists said the al-Qaeda counteroffensive was backed by members of the Turkistan Islamic Party, a powerful group consisting mostly of jihadis from China’s Turkic-speaking Uighur minority.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks Syria’s seven-year conflict, says the fighting that broke out on Feb. 20, 2018, has killed 223 fighters on both sides, including 132 from al-Qaeda’s affiliate.

More: The US military will stay in Syria without new authorization

Despite losing dozens of villages in the recent battles, it is unlikely that al-Qaeda will be defeated easily in Idlib, where the militants have crushed many of their opponents in recent years.

“They will not be able to defeat the Committee,” said Abu Dardaa al-Shami, who sometimes fights with the al-Qaeda affiliate but refused to take part in the current battles, saying he only fights against government forces.

“This is mission impossible,” he said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

ISIS-inspired terror suspect injures himself with pipe bomb in NYC

The New York City Police Department had one man in custody Dec. 11 after responding to a bombing in one of New York City’s busiest transit hubs.


An explosion rippled through a passageway connecting the Times Square and Port Authority subway stations at about 7:30 a.m. local time, the police said. Three people in addition to the suspect suffered minor injuries, the police said. By around 10:20 a.m., the NYPD declared Port Authority had reopened.

“This was an attempted terrorist attack,” Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said. “Thank God the perpetrator did not achieve his ultimate goals.”

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives
Bill de Blasio’s inauguration as NYC Public Advocate, 2010. (Photograph by William Alatriste)

The police identified the suspect as Akayed Ullah, whom they described as a 27-year-old Bangladeshi male. Bill Bratton, the former NYPD commissioner, told MSNBC’s Lisa Daftari the suspect was believed to have acted in the name of ISIS. The police did not confirm that information at a press conference later the morning of Dec. 11.

The police said Ullah was wearing an improvised low-tech device, based on a pipe bomb, that was affixed to him via a combination of velcro and belt ties. He was transported to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan after the incident, the police said. Sources told the New York Post that he told investigators he made the explosive device at the electrical company where he works.

De Blasio said there were no other specific or credible threats against New York City. New York’s official emergency-notification channel earlier had reported police activity at Port Authority, the massive transit hub at 42nd Street and 8th Avenue in midtown Manhattan.

Shortly after reports of an explosion surfaced, photos emerged on social media apparently showing a police bomb-squad truck arriving at the scene. Videos from the area showed dozens of armed police officers and several ambulances rushing to the scene.

 

A photo of the suspect, injured.

“There was a stampede up the stairs to get out,” Diego Fernandez, a commuter at Port Authority, told Reuters. “Everybody was scared and running and shouting.”

New York City most recently suffered a terrorist attack on October 31, when a man drove a rented truck down a pedestrian trail on the Manhattan’s west side, killing eight and injuring nearly a dozen others.

Read More: This is what makes the NYC attacker a terrorist

On Monday, the Port Authority Bus Terminal was evacuated, the streets around the terminal were closed, and subway lines were rerouted around both Port Authority and the connecting Times Square stop. Find information about train delays and rerouting here.

In 2016, the terminal saw a more than quarter of a million daily trips at the terminal.

MIGHTY HISTORY

6 heroes who saved American lives on Heartbreak Ridge

The Battle of Heartbreak Ridge in 1951 was supposed to be a quick win by U.S. and U.N. forces in Korea. They had just pushed the North Koreans and Chinese off of the nearby “Bloody Ridge,” and they believed the communist forces could be pushed off the ridge quickly as they’d had a limited time to dig in, but it turned into a month-long slugfest that would leave almost 30,000 dead.

Here are six heroes who ensured most of those deaths came from North Korea and China:


Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

Pfc. Herbert K. Pililaau

(Military Sealift Command)

Pfc. Herbert K. Pililaau

Infantryman Pfc. Herbert K. Pililaau’s company was holding a key position at Pia-ri on the ridge when, after repeated attacks, the platoon was nearly out of ammo. They needed to withdraw temporarily, but the near-continuous attacks made that challenging. Pililaau volunteered to stay in position as the men near him withdrew.

Communist forces charged the lines as the rest of the company withdrew, and Pililaau fired through his automatic weapon ammo, threw hand grenades until he ran out, and then fought hand-to-hand with his fists and trench knife until he was overwhelmed. He is thought to have killed more than 40 before dying and later received a posthumous Medal of Honor.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

Sgt. 1st Class Tony K. Burris was part of the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea.

(Pfc. James Cox, U.S. Army)

Sgt. 1st Class Tony K. Burris

Sgt. 1st Class Tony K. Burris was part of a series of attacks near Mundung-Ri from October 8-9, 1951. They hit an entrenched force and the attack stalled, except for Burris. Burris charged forward and hurled grenade after grenade, killing 15 and creating an opening. The next day, he spearheaded an assault on the next position.

He was hit by machine gun fire, but pressed the attack anyway. He took a second hit, but remained forward, directing a 57mm recoilless rifle team to come up. He drew fire from the enemy machine gun, allowing the team to take it out. Then, he refused medical evacuation and attacked again, taking out more machine gun emplacements before taking a mortal wound. He received a posthumous Medal of Honor.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

Corpsmen assist wounded from the 7th Division at the Battle of Triangle Hill in 1952. May was from the 7th Division.

(U.S. Army)

Sgt. Homer I. May

On September 1, 1951, Sgt. Homer May helped lead an assault squad against enemy positions, but the attackers encountered withering machine gun fire. The sergeant sent his men into cover and maneuvered against the guns himself and got eyes on three bunkers, and took one out with grenades.

He doubled back for more grenades and made his way back forward, taking out the other bunkers. The attack was successful, and May received the Distinguished Service Cross for his efforts. He tragically died the next day while helping fend off an enemy counterattack against the hill.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

U.S. infantrymen from the 27th Infantry Regiment defend a position near Heartbreak Ridge in August, 1952.

(National Archives Records Administration)

Cpl. James E. Smith

Army Cpl. James E. Smith was manning a defensive position on September 17 as waves of enemy forces attacked. His company was able to repulse attack after attack, but ammunition dwindled and the attacking waves got closer and closer to the American lines. As it became clear that the unit would need to pull back, Smith stayed in position to cover the withdrawal.

He fired through all of his ammunition and then fought with bayonet and his bare fists until he was killed. He is thought to have downed 35 of the enemy before succumbing, earning him a posthumous Distinguished Service Cross.

French Sgt. Louis Misseri

French Army Sgt. Louis Misseri was part of an assault on September 29 against a hill that was part of Heartbreak Ridge. The French Battalion came under artillery and mortar attack but kept pressing forward. Misseri split his squad into two sections and led one of them against enemy bunkers on the hill, taking them out.

When the communist forces launched a counterattack, Misseri led the defense and, despite suffering a serious wound, hit 15 enemy soldiers with his rifle fire. He was able to reach the top of Heartbreak Ridge and remained in position until the rest of his force had withdrawn. He would later receive a Distinguished Service Cross from the U.S.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

Infantrymen move to the firing line in July 1950 during fighting in Korea.

(U.S. Army Signal Corps)

Sgt. George R. Deemer

On October 10, Company F of the 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, was attacking Hill 800 as mortar and artillery fire rained down. Sgt. George R. Deemer went into the battle carrying a 57mm recoilless rifle. A companion helped him load and he advanced with the skirmish line, knocking out one enemy emplacement after another.

When the company took the Hill, he used the weapon to aid in the defense until he ammunition ran out. Then, he organized two machine gun teams and made three trips under fire to keep them supplied with ammunition. During the third trip, he was mortally wounded by mortar fire. He received a posthumous Distinguished Service Cross.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch Spetsnaz operators train by drop-kicking windshields

Russia state-owned media outlet RT tweeted an odd video on Dec. 8, 2018, of Russia’s elite Spetsnaz operators drop-kicking the windshields of cars.

The video starts with Spetsnaz military police operators riding on and jumping off the top of an armored personnel carrier with text on screen reading “ROUTINE TRAINING OF RUSSIA’S SPETSNAZ” before it cuts to one operator doing a martial arts kip up and then kicking another operator in the chest.


It then shows Spetsnaz operators storming a car as another operator jumps over the hood, drop-kicking the windshield.

More acrobatic maneuvers are displayed in the video before another Spetsnaz operator again jumps over the hood of a car and drop-kicks the windshield before firing his side arm into the car.

It’s rather unclear what sort of tactical advantage is achieved by drop kicking a car windshield.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Top 10 superheroes who were military veterans

The hero has been the most popular archetype of human-storytelling for as long as stories have been told. From the Epic of Gilgamesh to the Odyssey to comic books to the epic film franchises that bring in billions of dollars in revenue, superhero stories are here to stay.

Superheroes all have origin stories, which tell how they gained their powers and chose to fight against evil.

But some heroes felt the call to serve before being recruited by special agencies — some even before having heightened abilities.

Get ready because this is your SPOILER WARNING: we’ll be discussing plots from comics and films — both released and upcoming — from the DC and Marvel universes.


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Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

“You might remember that ‘annoyed’ is my natural state.”

10. Logan aka James Howlett (Wolverine)

Wolverine’s mutations — accelerated healing powers and longevity; heightened senses, speed, and stamina; and retractable bone claws which were later plated with nearly indestructible adamantium — render him a powerful fighting machine.

According to the film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Logan was born in the 1800s. He fled his childhood home and fought as a soldier in the American Civil War, both World Wars, and the Vietnam War. That’s a century of combat, by the way.

When he was discovered by Maj. William Stryker — a military scientist biased against mutants and intent on destroying them — Wolverine’s military career came to an end, leading him on a path towards the X-Men.

In the comics, Wolverine has many storylines, including a journey to hell, but we’ll stick with the cinematic telling of his life. He can never fully escape his painful past, and even when he’s fighting for the good guys, he’s got a bad attitude. He’s like the Senior NCO who doesn’t have any more f*cks to give but is so great at his job that everyone just lets him do his thing.

Nonetheless, his moral compass remains true until the end.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

“I’m more of a soldier than a spy.”

9. Sam Wilson (Falcon)

Sam Wilson is a former Air Force Pararescue Jumper, which made him a great candidate for the superhero with a tendency to jump into the middle of a combat situation to ice evildoers and save lives.

Wilson is important for many reasons. Created in 1969 by Stan Lee and artist Gene Colan, he was the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics, making his mark on the civil rights movement of the 60s.

In the comics, Wilson has a telepathic link to his bird, Redwing, which allows him to see through the bird’s eyes. He’s also skilled in hand-to-hand combat and operating the Falcon Flight Harness.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the powers are gone, but the harness remains. It was actually a secret military asset, which Wilson somehow stole… and, somehow, there were never consequences levied by the U.S. government for that, but okay…

Most importantly, Wilson counsels veterans with post-traumatic stress issues, embodying the ideal of service after service and the value of supporting our fellow brothers- and sisters-in-arms.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

“But being the best you can be…that’s doable. That’s possible for anybody if they put their mind to it.”

8. Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel)

Major Carol Danvers is a trained military intelligence officer and erstwhile spy. She’s one of the most distinguished officers in the superhero universe and a graduate of the Air Force Academy, where Nick Fury recruited her for the CIA.

In the comics, she retired from the Air Force as a Colonel to be Chief of Security at NASA before becoming half-Kree (a militaristic, alien race in the Marvel Universe). She became Captain Marvel after meeting a Kree alien named Mar-Vell, but she acquired superpowers after an explosion merged her DNA with the first Captain Marvel… well, it’s complicated.

Danvers is an author and feminist and her powers include flight, enhanced strength and durability, shooting energy bursts from her hands, and being able to verbally judo one Tony Stark.

Her upcoming film, set in the 90s, will be about Danvers’ origin story. It will also explain where the superhero has been since then but, most importantly, we know that Captain Marvel will play into Avengers 4, given her post-credit paging at the end of Infinity War.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

“The future of air combat… is it manned or unmanned? I’ll tell you, in my experience, no unmanned aerial vehicle will ever trump a pilot’s instinct.”

7. James Rhodes (War Machine)

There’s a bit of a discrepancy here. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, James Rhodes is an airman. In the comic books, he’s always been a Marine. If I told you that a hero was named “War Machine” and had little understanding of ammo consumption, would you think he was an airman or a Marine?

Screw it — let’s dive into both!

First, the comics: A former pilot in the Marine Corps, Rhodes met Tony Stark aka Iron Man while he was still deployed in Vietnam. Rhodes was shot down behind enemy lines when he encountered Stark in the prototype Iron Man suit. The two teamed up and became best friends. Rhodes conducts himself according to military honor codes, which often contrasts with Tony Stark’s relativistic heroism, and even assumes the mantle of Iron Man when Stark struggles with alcohol addiction.

In the MCU, Rhodes becomes War Machine and struggles to balance his loyalty to the Avengers with the legal obligations of the military and the Sokovia Accords. This tension eventually earns him a court-martial, when he’s forced to disobey the Accords to help Captain America travel to Wakanda.

But hey, is a military infraction even that big a deal when half of the universe is being wiped out?

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

“Three minutes and twenty seconds, really? If you were my agents, it wouldn’t be for long.”

6. Maria Hill

Maria Hill commissioned in the Marine Corps before joining S.H.I.E.L.D. She quickly rose through its ranks and was appointed Deputy Director under Nick Fury. She possesses normal human strength, which makes her participation in supernatural phenomenon even more impressive.

As a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, she is experienced in espionage, hand-to-hand combat, weapons expertise, and tactical vehicle operation.

In the comics, Hill served under Fury until after Marvel’s Civil War, when she assassinated Captain America. But that’s okay because she was only evil because she was controlled by Red Skull — and no one stays dead in comics anyway (except Uncle Ben).

In the MCU, Hill provides intel and support for the Avengers and remains the one person Nick Fury can trust.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

“Daddy needs to express some rage.”

5. Wade Wilson (Deadpool)

Deadpool is the guy in your unit that just won’t take anything seriously. That’s true for his character, both in the comics and on-screen, but it’s also true for the actual creators of Deadpool, who break convention in more ways than one. For example, he knows that he is a fictional character and he commonly breaks the fourth wall. Most antiheroes are dark and tortured, and Deadpool certainly is that… but he’s also… just… uncouth and rather undignified, which is what makes him so unique.

His origins are rather vague and are subject to change. Stories have been retconned, conveniently forgotten, or just ignored (like what we’re going to do with Deadpool’s appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Nonetheless, there seems to be a consensus that Wade Wilson (if that’s even his name) served in the U.S. Army Special Forces before he was dishonorably discharged.

In the film, he is diagnosed with terminal cancer and undergoes an experiment where he is injected with a serum meant to activate his mutant genes. After prolonged stress and torture, the experiment works. Cancer continues to consume his body, but his superhuman healing allows him to cure it simultaneously, leaving him disfigured, but unkillable.

He becomes a mercenary who continues to fight the chaotic-good fight.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

“I’m all out of wiseass answers.”

4. Jonah Hex

Though he initially joined the United States Army as a cavalry scout, Jonah Hex‘s story really began during the Civil War. As a southerner, he fought for the Confederacy, but he found himself increasingly uncomfortable with slavery. Unwilling to betray his fellow soldiers, but loathe to fight for the South, Hex surrendered himself to the Union.

Tried for treason and exiled to the wild west, Hex would later be branded with the mark of the demon and be forced to walk the land as a supernatural bounty hunter. At some point, he’d also travel time (because comic logic) and fight alongside other superheroes.

He also fought alongside Yosemite Sam. Yeah, the Looney Toons’ Yosemite Sam.

Hex didn’t have supernatural abilities, but he was an outstanding marksman, a quick draw, and an expert fighter in the wild west.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

“I still believe in heroes.”

3. Nick Fury

As with many comic book heroes, whose stories continue for decades, Nick Fury has a sliding history that keeps him current in conflicts. His first appearance was in Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1, which took place during World War II.

Fury served as a colonel during the Cold War before becoming the director for S.H.I.E.L.D. (then known as “Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division”). His skills and experience with espionage were put to use against the Soviet Union and primed him for his position at S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers Initiative.

From leading his Howling Commandos to becoming the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. to transforming into the silent observer of Earth, Nick Fury has done it all without any actual abilities — and with only one eye. He obtained the Infinity Formula, which kept him from aging, but it was his mind and skill on the battlefield that allowed him to take down nearly every superhero in the Marvel universe.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

“I can do this all day.”

2. Steve Rogers (Captain America)

Steve Rogers is the ultimate example of patriotism, bravery, and sense of duty. In fact, that’s why he was chosen for the Super Soldier Serum project in the first place.

During World War II, Rogers made multiple attempts to enlist, but failed to meet the physical requirements. But his tenacity caught the eye of a scientist who recognized that Rogers’ attitude made him the perfect Project Rebirth candidate.

Rogers began his career doing propaganda to support the war effort, but he would eventually be unleashed in Europe in the fight against the Nazi faction, HYDRA.

His military service ended when he sacrificed himself to save the United States from a HYDRA-coordinated WMD attack. He was suspended in ice until he was revived by S.H.I.E.L.D. in the modern day.

Rogers later joined the Avengers, but his sense of duty and his compulsion to act in the face of injustice — no matter what the laws are — pitted him against other Avengers after creation of the Sokovia Accords, which established U.N. oversight of the team.

Emergency C-17 flight to Antarctic saves lives

“If you want peace, prepare for war.”

1. Frank Castle (Punisher)

The Punisher is a psychologically troubled antihero, which makes his story both unsettling and, in many ways, very familiar for combat-veterans. He is a vigilante who fights crime by any means necessary, no matter how brutal those means might be.

Frank Castle joined the Marines after dropping out of Priest school when he was asked if he could ever forgive a murderer. Because of Marvel’s sliding timeline, through which they avoid putting firm dates on characters, Castle’s story changes every now and then to reflect modern, real-world events.

Hands down, the most “Marine” story in The Punisher canon goes to Punisher: Born. Set in Vietnam, it is essentially the origin story of how Castle goes from being the gun-slinging badass that Marines think they are to actually being the gun-slinging badass Marines know they are.

Fan theories speculate the narrator of the story is actually Ares, the Greek God of War, who makes an unsuspecting Castle his avatar.

Editor’s Note: Parts of this article have appeared previously on We Are The Mighty.

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