'Ask a Marine': The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

When I frequented my Marine Corps recruiting office from 1999 until I enlisted in 2003, Staff Sgt. Molina used to welcome me with a familiar, “Ey devil,” and Staff Sgt. Ciccarreli would echo with “Eyyyyyyy.” Vintage recruiting posters were sprinkled among more modern propaganda. The message they consistently reinforced was that the Corps’ values—especially service above self—are timeless.

In one of the old posters, a strong, black Marine standing tall in his dress blue uniform with gold jump wings stared back at me. I couldn’t tell whether he was grinning or scowling—welcoming a potential recruit or warning me. Scrawled in bold typeface across the bottom third of the poster were the words “Ask a Marine.” My reaction was visceral. Where do I sign?


‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

The iconic Marine recruitment ad campaign featuring Capers. He was the first black man to be featured in such a campaign.

The man in the poster was James Capers Jr., a now retired major whose 23-year career was defined by breaking barriers and blazing a path of excellence in the Marine Corps special operations community. Capers recently published “Faith Through the Storm: Memoirs of James Capers, Jr.,” and the book is a powerful portrait of an extraordinary life.

As the son of a sharecropper in South Carolina, Capers had to flee the Jim Crow South for Baltimore after his father committed some petty offense, which he feared might get him lynched. Capers describes his flight in the back of an old pickup driven by a white person as a sort of “Underground Railroad.” His trip to Baltimore is reminiscent of Frederick Douglass’ escape north because not much had changed for black people in the South since 1830.

We get a vivid picture of Capers’ early years and family life in Baltimore before he joins the Marine Corps. In the Marines, Capers finds an organization where men are judged by their actions, and he excels. He polishes his boots, cleans his weapons and learns what he can from the old salts, who mostly respect his effort. Early on, Capers commits himself to a standard of excellence that distinguishes him above his peers. That struggle is a consistent theme throughout his career.

When applying for special operations swim qualification, an instructor cites pseudo-science to explain that black people can’t swim. Capers has to beg to be let into the class. When a white student fails the test required to graduate, Capers pleads with the cadre to allow the student to swim it again. Then he swims with the Marine, motivating him to muster up the fortitude and faith in himself to pass.

At one point, Capers can’t find an apartment in Baltimore even though the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had recently passed and was promoted to end housing discrimination based on race. While assigned the temporary lowly duty of a barracks NCO, a white Marine flicks a cigarette butt at Capers—already trained as an elite Force Reconnaissance Marine—and tells him to pick it up. The slight weighs heavily on Capers until he tracks the Marine down and does something about it.

As Vietnam approaches, Capers is eager to get in the fight. A seasoned veteran of more than 10 years, he volunteers to return to special operations, and in the spring of 1966, he deploys with 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

Capers (bottom right) with his Marine Corps 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company in Vietnam.

The section about Capers’ Vietnam tour is harrowing and crushing. He survives and thrives as a warrior and leader through several months of brutal combat in the jungle. Eventually, he receives a battlefield commission to 2nd Lieutenant and becomes the first black officer in Marine special operations. By the heart-pounding final mission in Vietnam, I couldn’t help but feel like the book is a 400-page summary of action for a Medal of Honor.

Heart is the book’s central theme. Its most moving parts focus on overcoming adversity and heartbreak. In one chapter, Capers leads his men through two minefields to avoid the enemy. His inspiring leadership carries them through alive against all odds.

Characters frequently appear only briefly enough to become attached to before they die. Capers recalls fondly an old black first sergeant who had fought on Iwo Jima in World War II and saved Capers from some trouble. He dies in Vietnam.

In another scene, a Marine hollers a cadence on a medevac transport out of Vietnam to raise the spirits of wounded Marines who join the sing-song before the Marine dies somewhere along the way.

These wrenching memories reminded me of returning to the recruiting office after my first combat deployment and asking Staff Sgt. Alvarado whatever happened to Staff Sgt. Molina, whose son had fallen under my supervision when I was an assistant karate instructor before I enlisted. Alvarado’s eyes looked to the ground, “You didn’t hear?” I’d seen enough death on my deployment to suddenly know without having to be told, and a mental image of his cherub-faced child still tugs my heart because that kid had an especially wonderful dad.

The death surrounding Capers takes its toll on him, and though he is a hard charger and maybe the best Marine in Vietnam, he is not a machine. His pain is complicated. The book’s strength is in Capers’ brutal honesty about his emotional state, which deteriorates as the death toll mounts and the misuse of his recon team by new out-of-touch officers costs more than he can bear.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

Retired Marine Corps Maj. James Capers II.

(Photo by Ethan E. Rocke)

This memoir may not break into the mainstream like a Matterhorn or Jarhead because it’s steeped in Marine culture that may not translate to readers outside of those bounds. It deserves a mini-series due to its dramatic story arc and relevance regarding the unique historical experience of a black U.S. Marine who is able to achieve in the Marine Corps what most likely would not have been accessible to him in the society of his time.

“Faith Through the Storm” should be required reading for Marine infantry officers. It’s the perfect book for The Commandant’s Professional Reading List. This book ultimately adds another dimension to one of the Corps’ most famous recruiting posters.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Meet the pilots who fly SEALs and Delta Force to their most dangerous operations

The Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Airborne, (SOAR-A), has earned the nickname “The Night Stalkers.”

Operating under the cover of night or the shadows of dawn, these elite pilots are responsible for getting special operators into and out of some of their most secret and dangerous operations.

Night Stalker pilots go through rigorous training to become mission-ready to fly in the most challenging conditions, including bad weather and enemy fire, all while relying on infrared and night-vision equipment to navigate through the darkness.

While many of the 160th SOAR’s operations are secret, it’s widely understood that they were involved in the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Read on to learn more about the elite aviators that “would rather die than quit.”


‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

A US Army MH-60M Blackhawk from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), June 19, 2019.

(US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Pena)

The Night Stalkers fly a few different helicopters, including the MH-60 Black Hawk.

The 160th has over 3,200 personnel and 192 aircraft.

The Night Stalkers operate different versions of the Black Hawk, outfitted for dangerous and covert operations. In fact, all the aircraft the 160th uses are “highly modified and designed to meet the unit’s unique mission requirements,” according to the Army.

All the MH-60s the Night Stalkers use have in-air refueling capability, extending the aircraft’s ability to operate over long distances.

The Night Stalkers’s MH-60 Direct Action Penetrator (DAP) is a Black Hawk specially outfitted with an M230 30 mm automatic cannon. When the aircraft is modified to the DAP, it can move only small numbers of troops, according to US Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

All of the Black Hawks the 160th flies have a cruising speed of 140 mph and a top speed of 200 mph, The Washington Post reported in 2014, when the aircraft were used in a failed attempt to rescue American civilians in Syria.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

A Navy aviation boatswain’s mate guides an Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment during deck landing qualifications aboard amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu, April 28, 2014.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dustin Knight)

The Night Stalkers also fly the MH-47 Chinook.

The 160th operates two variants of the MH-47 Chinook, a special-operations variant of the Army’s CH-47 Chinook.

The MH-47E is a heavy assault helicopter with aerial refueling capability, as well as advanced integrated avionics, an external rescue hoist, and two L714 turbine engines with Full Authority Digital Electronic Control that enables the MH-47E to operate in high-altitude or very hot environments, according to SOCOM.

The Night Stalkers fly the MH-47G Chinook as well, which has a multi-mode radar to help pilots navigate challenging conditions, as well as two M-134 “minigun” machine guns and one M-60D machine gun for defensive fire.

The MH-47 is used for a variety of operations, including infiltration and exfiltration of troops, assault operations, resupply, parachuting, and combat search and rescue.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Dave Currier, left, an MH-60M Black Hawk pilot, and Spc. Joseph Turnage, a UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief, with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) in Yuma, Arizona, Sept. 23, 2017.

(US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brennon A. Taylor)

The 160th was born out of tragedy.

The Night Stalkers were formed after the botched attempt to rescue hostages from the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, known as Operation Eagle Claw.

During that operation, eight US service members were killed, and the need for a specialized group of aviators became apparent.

The 160th was formed in 1981, composed of soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, and was officially designated the 160th Special Operations Aviation Group (Airborne) in 1986.

What we know as the modern 160th was officially activated in 1990.

The Night Stalkers have been active in every military operation since Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada in 1983. The unit lost pilot Michael Durant during the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

Two MH-47G Chinooks from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment prepare for aerial refueling over California, Jan. 19, 2019.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Snider)

The tempo of operations increased significantly after the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.

“At the height of Iraq, those guys were doing two to three missions a night,” a 10-year veteran of the unit with multiple tours to Afghanistan and Iraq told Insider.

“Once the mission has been accomplished, the only reward is another mission,” he said.

Once Night Stalkers are finished with a mission, “they’re not going to Disney World. They’re going back to wherever they came from. They’re going to train again.”

Night Stalker training simulates the challenging environments they’re going into, as well.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

US soldiers, assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), practice loading and unloading on a 160th SOAR MH-47 Chinook during sniper training at Ft. Carson, Colorado, June 22, 2017.

(US Army photo by Sgt. Connor Mendez)

Women in the 160th see combat too.

“It’s just not all guys. At least the 160th has female pilots. They’re rowing the boat. They’re in the battle,” the Night Stalker veteran told Insider.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

A 10th Special Forces Group soldier and his military working dog jump off a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the 160th SOAR during water training over the Gulf of Mexico, March 1, 2011.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez)

The 160th’s motto — “Night Stalker’s Don’t Quit!” is attributed to Capt. Keith Lucas, the first Night Stalker killed in action.

“The purpose of that organization is to serve the most elite special forces in the United States,” a veteran of the unit told Insider.

“That unit’s gonna be on time, and it’s gonna fly like hell to serve the ground forces,” he said.

The Night Stalkers have a reputation of being on time within 30 seconds of every operation and say they’d rather die than quit.

The Night Stalkers’ motto — often shortened to “NSDQ!” — is vitally important to the team.

“It binds people that have been serving in that organization till now,” the veteran said. Lucas was killed in 1983, during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

The MH-6 Little Bird is a helicopter unique to special operations that was developed in close collaboration with special operators and combat developers.

MH-6 and AH-6 Little Birds are also part of the 160th’s fleet.

These aircraft are small and maneuverable — perfect for use in urban combat zones where pilots must fly low to the ground among buildings and city streets.

The MH-6M and AH-6M are both variants of the McDonnell Douglas 530 commercial helicopter.

The MH-6M is the utility version that can also be used for reconnaissance missions. The AH-6M is the attack version and is equipped with Foward Looking Infrared, or FLIR, which shows crewmembers an infrared video of the terrain and airspace.

Here’s an AH-6M training for a combat mission

Go160thSOAR USASOAC Night Stalkers AH-6

www.youtube.com

And an MH-6M extracting a soldier from the water.

Go160thSOAR USASOAC Night Stalkers MH-6 Series

www.youtube.com

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

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6 ways the infantry prepares you to be in special ops

Special ops have earned their prestige. There is no denying that these men are absolute badasses; relentless warriors with no room for quit.


SOF teams are often described as surgical tools for the Department of Defense to use when a less overt maneuver is required. Conversely, America’s infantry is used when the U.S. wants to figuratively and literally kick down the enemies’ front door and punch them in the face.

But I digress. Here’s how infantry and special operations teams are alike.

Related: 7 tips on how to get selected by MARSOC instructors

1. Being physically fit

Special operations are known for being extremely fit — the reputation is well deserved. However, the military, in general, is expected to maintain a high level of fitness and the infantry holds their personnel to an exceptional standard.

 

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
Buddy push-ups as far as the eye can see… (Photo by Sgt. Jamean Berry)

2. Attending advanced training

Infantry units are trained to excel in the most austere environments. All units send their troops to advanced schools and, depending on their upcoming area of operations, soldiers and Marines will receive advanced, specialized training to expand the capabilities of the unit as a whole.

3. Showcasing tactical prowess in combat

Locate, close with, and destroy the enemy using fire and maneuver.

No matter your status, the tactics for room clearing, close-quarters combat, fire, and maneuver are all about mastering the basics. There is no shortage of expertise among the U.S. infantry who are winning America’s battles.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
Amphibious landings en masse? No problem.  (Photo by Phan Shannon Garcia)

4. Utilizing inter-service augmentation

A major component of SOF’s arsenal comes from calling in accurate fire from Army/Marine artillery, Navy guns, and Air Force strikes.

Coincidentally, forward observers within infantry units possess the same radios and they use them for communicating with the artisans of mass destruction from all branches.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
JTACs all around. (Photo by Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway)

5. Possessing the ability to f*ck sh*t up

SOF surely kicks the enemy’s ass. Infantry does as well — with way more guys, munitions, and, when Congress allows it, they don’t leave until all enemies are either dead or have surrendered.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
Knock, knock, knocking — soon you’ll be at heaven’s door. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall)

Also read: 7 ways ‘Starship Troopers’ is the most outstanding moto film ever

6. Prioritizing mission accomplishment

The mission is number one for everyone in the military, regardless of job. It’s the reason we are here.

Infantry, just like SOF, has cultivated a culture dedicated to defending America’s interests, the country itself, and, most importantly, its people. Regardless of how they do it, all servicemen and women understand the priority: doing the hard job that needs to be done.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is the fighter that was flown by the first US president to go supersonic

A number of U.S. presidents have served in the military. One, though, flew jets and went supersonic. That was George W. Bush, who served as a fighter pilot in the Texas Air National Guard- the first President to break Mach 1.


Though his Air National Guard service was heavily criticized during his runs for the White House, it’s beyond dispute that Bush flew the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger when he was in the ANG.

This plane had a top speed of Mach 1.25, a maximum range of 1,350 miles, and could carry six AIM-4 Falcon air-to-air missiles and 24 unguided rockets.

 

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
F-102As over South Vietnam. (USAF photo)

In a 2004 report, NationalReview.com noted that Bush sought to get into the Palace Alert program, which involved F-102s being deployed to Vietnam. He was passed over due to a lack of experience. The F-102 provided air defense and served as a bomber escort during the Vietnam War, and 15 were lost to hostile action, including one shot down by a MiG-21.

The F-102 was a replacement for the F-89 Scorpion and other first-generation interceptors like the F-86D and the F-94, according to aviation historian Joe Baugher. Development was troubled, and while in service, the F-102 had a Class A mishap rate of 13.69 per 100,000 flight hours.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
A F-102A Delta Dagger with the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, the unit George W. Bush flew with. (USAF photo)

 

The F-102 served from 1956 to the 1970s with the Air Force, and was with Air National Guard units until 1976. The plane also saw service with Greece and Turkey – helping protect NATO’s southern flank. A refined version of this plane became the F-106 Delta Dart.

If you’d like to see the fighter in action, you can catch a video on the supersonic F-102 below.

Articles

Pentagon to relieve debt of most Guardsmen

Defense Department officials told lawmakers Wednesday they hope to forgive about 90 percent of cases involving thousands of California National Guard members that auditors say received improper bonuses during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


“It is my hope that by the end of the year, we will have something between 1,000 and 2,000 cases total out of the universe of 17,000 that are subject to review,” Peter Levine, undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, told members of the House Armed Services Committee.

Also read: National Guard chief says ‘tie goes to the soldier’ in California re-enlistment bonus scandal

Levine was among Pentagon and Army National Guard officials who testified at the Dec. 7 hearing to tell lawmakers how the Pentagon plans to resolve what some are calling a betrayal of the troops by next summer and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
Maj. Gen. William H. Wade, the adjutant general for the California National Guard administers the oath of enlistment to Soldiers of Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 143rd Field Artillery during a recent visit Victory Base Complex, Iraq in 2007.

“Compensation, whether it is a bonus for a service agreement or regular pay, is an obligation to our service members and their families that they should not have to worry about,” said Rep. Joseph Heck, a Republican from Nevada and chairman of the panel’s Military Personnel Subcommittee.

“I find it unacceptable that we would place the additional burden of years of concern about the legitimacy of a bonus payment or a student loan repayment on those who volunteer to serve,” he added.

Lawmakers have come up with a compromise as part of the National Defense Authorization Act that calls on the Pentagon to forgive the enlistment bonuses and student loan benefits unless the soldier who received the money “knew or reasonably should have known” that he or she was ineligible for it.

The Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington Bureau reported last month that the Pentagon was demanding repayment of enlistment bonuses given to California Guard soldiers to help fill enlistment quotas for the wars. Many of the soldiers served in combat, and some returned with severe injuries.

Many of soldiers were told to repay bonuses of $15,000 or more years after they had completed their military service. Student loan repayments, which were also given out improperly to soldiers with educational loans, sometimes totaled as much as $50,000.

“Many reasons these cases are particularly troublesome,” Levine said. “Many of them are based on a technical deficiency.

“Particularly in cases like this, where we have a service member who made a commitment on the basis of a bonus and served out that commitment, so when we come in later after someone has fulfilled their commitment and then question on a technical ground why they received a bonus in the first place — that is a particular hardship,” he said.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
Soldiers of the California National Guard’s 40th Infantry Division rehearsing an air assault mission at Fort Hunter Liggett Feb. 8. | Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Cossel

There are two basic categories of cases, Levine said. One type involves about 1,400 cases already ordered to pay back bonuses. The second category of 16,000 cases involves soldiers who were put under suspicion or threat of recoupment of bonuses they received.

“For those cases that are in recoupment, we have the question of, ‘Are we going to dismiss the case? Are we going to forgive the debt? Are we going to repay the soldier if we decide it was improper?’ ” Levine said.

Through detailed screenings, “It’s my hope we can get from about 1,400 down to about 700 … that’s a goal; I don’t know what exact numbers we can get to.”

As for the larger category of about 16,000 cases, “We have greater discretion because we haven’t yet established the debt yet,” Levine said.

Several “rules of thumb” will be established in an attempt to:

— Screen out cases that are more than 10 years old.

— Screen out cases with a debt of $10,000 or less.

— Screen out most of the cases that involve enlisted members and lower ranking members without prior service on the basis that it’s unlikely they would be able to understand their contract fully without assistance.

“As we go through those screens from that second universe of 16,000 or so cases, I expect to reduce that by about 90 percent, so we get down to about 10 percent,” Levine said. “We will then put that universe through the kinds of substantive screens, and I hope to get that down further.

“The objective is to find that easy ones first, get rid of those, tell people ‘we are not pursuing you … we are telling you, you are off the hook; we are done with you,’ so we can focus our resources on the cases that are the most significant.”

Many lawmakers said they felt the California Guard scandal severely damaged the trust of current Guard members across the country.

“In some of these cases, there have been troops — through no fault of their own — that are suffering the consequences,” said Rep. Paul Cook, a Republican from California. “It’s our fault, and I use that word collectively on behalf of all officers that are in positions of authority. We betrayed the trust of the troops, and there is no excuse for that.”

Rep. Susan Davis, a Democrat from the state, said it’s “critically important that we do not forget service members and their families that have been deeply affected by this.”

“Once these families have encountered financial hardships, we know it can be truly difficult to recover. Even if we return their bonus, we have already upended their lives by creating unnecessary emotional stress and financial instability.”

Army Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe, the California Guard’s incentive manager, pleaded guilty in 2011 to filing false claims of $15.2 million and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

But National Guard officials told lawmakers that many others were held accountable, including leaders who failed to provide proper oversight, said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, adjutant general for the California National Guard.

“We punished, within the California National Guard, 61 people — including firing four general officers and two full colonels,” Baldwin said.

The Department of Justice prosecuted 44 soldiers. Of those, 26 were found guilty and convicted, Baldwin said. Another 15 cases are pending, and the remainder were either dismissed or acquitted, Baldwin said.

Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, director of the Army National Guard, told lawmakers that the National Guard Bureau has taken steps to prevent this from happening again.

In 2010, the bureau conducted a review of all incentive programs across all states territories and the District of Columbia and found “no systemic fraud,” Kadavy said.

In 2012, the National Guard stood up the Guard Incentive Management System, or GIMS, which now provides “a centralized oversight program for bonus and incentive payments,” he said.

In 2016, the Army Audit Agency conducted an “external review” of GIMS and validated its effectiveness, Kadavy said. Auditors found that the system “substantially improved the controls of eligibility monitoring and payment phases of the incentive process.”

Despite the steps being taken to resolve the problem, officials admitted that they should have known about this a lot sooner.

“We have oversight on the California National Guard, the Army has oversight, the National Guard Bureau has oversight,” Levine said. “We were not aware of this until we read it in the newspaper, and that is on us; we missed this.”

Articles

6 special benefits that Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to

On the morning of Jul 18, Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles became the newest recipient of the Medal of Honor, America’s highest honor for military valor.


Receiving the Medal of Honor confers a great deal of prestige on the recipient as well as an acknowledgement that the recipient and their unit members went through an especially dire and dangerous experience or gave a heavy sacrifice for the American people. The celebrity that goes with the medal allows recipients to cast light on issues that affect veterans and active duty troops.

But in addition to the intangible benefits like honor and stature, there are some tangible benefits that the military and the U.S. government give to medal recipients to acknowledge their sacrifice. Here are 6 special benefits that serve as an enduring “thank you” from the American people:

1. Preferred access to military academies for their dependents

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
(Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Fincham)

Every American senator can nominate up to 10 candidates from their state for each of an allotted number of seats in the next freshman class at the Army, Navy and Air Force military academies. The number of slots changes from year to year, but the total number of names that state senators can put forward represents an annual “quota.”

But as a recognition of the sacrifice that MoH recipients have made for their country, recipients’ children can bypass this part of the selection process and put their name in for consideration regardless of whether there are open slots in that state’s  academy quota.

2. A monthly stipend

Every Medal of Honor recipient is entitled to a monthly stipend on top of all other pay or retirement benefits. This stipend was originally $10 a month in 1916 but has climbed to $1,299 per month.

The recipient’s base retirement pay is also raised by 10 percent.

3. Free, priority Space-A travel

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
(Photo: US Air Force Master Sgt. Joseph Swafford)

Medal recipients are granted lifelong access to the military’s “Space A” travel, which allows active duty military members, some veterans and their dependents to hitch rides in empty seats on military planes. MoH recipients get preferred access, meaning they can jump the line.

4. Special parking spots at on-base amenities

Service members with an MoH also get lifelong access to other military benefits like the commissary, on-post gyms and pools and recreational facilities. Many of these facilities have reserved spaces for MoH recipients.

5. Special status in the exchange of salutes

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
Medal of Honor recipient Col. Lewis Millett salutes the flag during a memorial ceremony commemorating the bravery of his men during the Korean War. (Photo: US Army Al Chang)

While military members aren’t required to salute Medal of Honor recipients, they are encouraged to do so as long as the recipient is physically wearing the medal, even when the recipient is in civilian clothes.

Also, while military salutes in other situations are always up the the rank structure — meaning the junior soldier salutes the senior one — anyone may render a salute to a MoH recipient first. There have even been cases of American presidents saluting MoH recipients.

6. Headstones with gold lettering and full burial honors

Medal of Honor recipients are guaranteed a burial with full military honors — an honor otherwise only guaranteed to retirees and active duty service members. This includes a nine-member team of six pallbearers, a chaplain, an officer-in-charge or noncommissioned-officer-in-charge and a bugler.

At the gravesite, the MoH recipient is also entitled to a special headstone with gold lettering.

Author’s Note: An earlier version of this story referred to Medal of Honor Recipient and Lt. Col. Charles Kettles as an Army major. He was a major at the time of the actions for which he received the award, but he retired and received the award as a lieutenant colonel. The author regrets this error.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This former president just called Trump a ‘blowhard’

The White House on Nov. 4 hit back after former President George H.W. Bush gave his most candid assessment yet of President Donald Trump.


“I don’t like him,” Bush said. His comments were included in a new book by historian Mark Updegrove, called “The Last Republicans,” which focuses on the lives of George H.W. Bush and his son, former President George W. Bush.

“I don’t know much about him, but I know he’s a blowhard,” the elder Bush continued. “And I’m not too excited about him being a leader.”

George W. Bush threw in his own two cents as well.

“This guy doesn’t know what it means to be president,” he said.

A White House official told CNN, in response to the Bushes’ comments, “If one presidential candidate can disassemble a political party, it speaks volumes about how strong a legacy its past two presidents really had.”

“And that begins with the Iraq war, one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in American history,” the official said.

Trump repeatedly blasted the second Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq during the 2016 primaries, as he was running against George W.’s younger brother, and George H.W.’s son, Jeb.

“I was totally against the Iraq war,” Trump said at a national-security forum at the height of the presidential race. “You can look at Esquire magazine from ’04. You can look at before that.”

Also Read: These photos show what our veteran presidents looked like in uniform

But in a 2002 interview during which shock-jock Howard Stern asked Trump if he supported the invasion, Trump replied, “Yeah, I guess so.”

The White House official added on Nov. 4 that Trump “remains focused on keeping his promises to the American people by bringing back jobs, promoting an ‘America First’ foreign policy and standing up for the forgotten men and women of our great country.”

The George H.W. confirmed in the new book that he voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, while George W. says he left his ballot blank.

Articles

North Korea says new missile can carry heavy nuke

North Korea has boasted of a successful weekend launch of a new type of “medium long-range” ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.


Outsiders also see a significant technological jump, with Sunday’s test-fire apparently flying higher and for a longer time period than any other such previous missile.

Amid condemnation in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington, a jubilant leader Kim Jong Un promised more nuclear and missile tests and warned that North Korean weapons could strike the U.S. mainland and Pacific holdings.

North Korean propaganda must be considered with wariness, but Monday’s claim, if confirmed, would mark another big advance toward the North’s goal of fielding a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Tehran says missing former FBI agent left Iran ‘long ago’

Tehran says that Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent, left the country “long ago” and doesn’t know where he is, rejecting a claim by his family saying he died in Iranian custody.

“Based on credible evidence, [Levinson] left Iran years ago for an unknown destination,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi said in a statement on March 26.


He added that officials had done everything possible to find out what happened after Levinson left Iran but had found “no evidence of him being alive.”

“Iran has always maintained that its officials have no knowledge of Mr. Levinson’s whereabouts, and that he is not in Iranian custody. Those facts have not changed,” added Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for the Iranian mission at the United Nations.

The Iranian comments come in response to a White House statement saying that the U.S. administration believed Bob Levinson may have passed away “some time ago.”

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

“Iran must provide a complete accounting of what occurred with Bob Levinson before the United States can fully accept what happened in this case,” White House national-security adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement about the American, who disappeared in Iran 13 years ago, when he was 58.

Before that statement, Levinson’s family posted on social media that it had received word about his likely fate from the U.S. government.

“We recently received information from U.S. officials that has led both them and us to conclude that our wonderful husband and father died while in Iranian custody,” the Levinson family said in a statement.

“We don’t know when or how he died, only that it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” it added.

Following the family’s announcement and before O’Brien’s comments, President Donald Trump told reporters that “I won’t accept that he’s dead.”

Levinson had been “sick for a long time” before he was detained, Trump said, adding that he felt “terribly” for the family but still had some hope that Levinson was alive.

“It’s not looking great, but I won’t accept that he” dead. They haven’t told us that he’s dead, but a lot of people are thinking that that’s the case,” he said.

Levinson disappeared when he traveled to the Iranian resort of Kish Island in March 2007. He was working for the CIA as a contractor at the time.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

The United States has repeatedly called on Iran to help locate Levinson and bring him home, but Iranian officials said they had no information about his fate.

However, when he disappeared, an Iranian government-linked media outlet broadcast a story saying he was “in the hands of Iranian security forces.”

The Levinson family said he would be alive today “if not for the cruel, heartless actions of the Iranian regime.”

“How those responsible in Iran could do this to a human being, while repeatedly lying to the world all this time, is incomprehensible to us. They kidnapped a foreign citizen and denied him any basic human rights, and his blood is on their hands,” the statement added.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Why we need to check on our veterans during social distancing

Content warning: the following article features an open and frank discussion about suicide. If you or someone you love is struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation, don’t hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255.) There’s not a damn thing wrong with asking for a helping hand when you need it most.

Times are rough right now. We’re at the brink of a global pandemic, schools and places of work are closing and people are panic buying things that aren’t usually in short demand. But the factor that is hitting the closest to home for most folks is, well, everyone staying home.


This is what is known at social distancing. It’s an important step in ensuring that the most vulnerable of our population stays away from anyone who may have contracted the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. It’s a drastic measure that’s annoying to most, but it’s going to save lives in the long term. And that’s not something that should ever be understated.

Yet, there’s also an unseen side effect that could potentially harm another group if it’s not handled properly. The disruption of a daily rhythm, potential loss of work and social isolation could impact a vast number of people already fighting through depression and that ever present thought of suicide: veterans.

The Centre for Clinical Interventions lists two determining categories for depression – biological and psychological. Genetics, hormones and neurotransmitters all play their part in making someone more likely to be genetically predisposed to depression but loss, stress and a sense of unfulfillment can hit anyone. At this moment, there’s plenty of that going around.

Even going back a few months before COVID-19 took the world stage, finding a steady paying job wasn’t that easy. Bills can pile up and somehow it feels we’re always just one paycheck above water. But at least some of us had a handful of buddies we could go out to drink with or to see a movie with. Now, it feels like all of that was swept away and we also have to worry if we’ll have enough toilet paper to get through the week.

Right now, many people have lost their jobs or had their hours cut drastically. Even if you haven’t, you’re probably working from home without seeing anyone but the ones you live with. You might be kicking yourself in the butt because you didn’t go to the grocery store before it turned into a scene from The Walking Dead. Thankfully, this isn’t the end times and the internet can still connect us while we’re standing more than six feet from anyone.[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FJZP-ebOe0UsmSOlFfx-ZfSK_kjHJYNlYtsKgqF9pcHBDg-KTQd6WrP7GrC6yOOEmkEOZgfG7-23RF-6K-55opWeLwa3lLvpZjENRl93zQRfL6dyNpY4lkV71IyGukrJg2nKxFxeSCDcXW9fmPQ&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=298&h=e86267c4c48c91b3d540173ed586769b65668149f0538cb5eebc136b98f92f20&size=980x&c=744452975 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FJZP-ebOe0UsmSOlFfx-ZfSK_kjHJYNlYtsKgqF9pcHBDg-KTQd6WrP7GrC6yOOEmkEOZgfG7-23RF-6K-55opWeLwa3lLvpZjENRl93zQRfL6dyNpY4lkV71IyGukrJg2nKxFxeSCDcXW9fmPQ%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D298%26h%3De86267c4c48c91b3d540173ed586769b65668149f0538cb5eebc136b98f92f20%26size%3D980x%26c%3D744452975%22%7D” expand=1]

Quick sidenote: toilet paper is something that is typically used at a set rate. Unless you’re planning on hiding for months or TPing your neighbor’s place, you don’t need to stockpile TP.

(Photo by Ingrid Cold)

I urge you, please keep in regular touch with anyone you love who’s been hit hard by this social isolation. Chances are they’re not doing so well. Check up on them. Call to see how they’re doing.

Depression is a real disease and the final symptom could be suicide.

This advice goes for everyone but us in the veteran community already had compounding factors before the outbreak. The “22 a day” is still thrown around, albeit those often-cited numbers come from a 2012 study and they’re more accurately at around 17 a day after a much needed cultural shift within our community. That’s still not great; it’s still far above the national average. Often, we’ve been able to find the one ember that kept our flame burning. But for a lot of veterans, that fire could be extinguished with social distancing.

Don’t take this out of its intended context. Social distancing is crucial at this moment. We just need to adjust to the shift in how things are done. Hotlines are still open. The VA Mental Health facilities are still open. And if you’re concerned and feel symptoms of the coronavirus, there are always video conference calls available to connect you with a mental health specialist or doctors.

You are never truly alone.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F3r6dBgufJ_zpRzdO2fyoF-c6TShhtm3le17tQIJP6rdntjLCPTYfFSoZBKZKZ35MWmCLg3uKqXs9kateN2yDOu3ZPNmaTbdIPEBYS01w&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh3.googleusercontent.com&s=782&h=7cb41e19efcf70a62635a60985ecb9c680b177e27bd73da6def4a8d0dac91a0d&size=980x&c=1218084611 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F3r6dBgufJ_zpRzdO2fyoF-c6TShhtm3le17tQIJP6rdntjLCPTYfFSoZBKZKZ35MWmCLg3uKqXs9kateN2yDOu3ZPNmaTbdIPEBYS01w%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh3.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D782%26h%3D7cb41e19efcf70a62635a60985ecb9c680b177e27bd73da6def4a8d0dac91a0d%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1218084611%22%7D” expand=1]

For health and safety reasons, the hand sanitizer stations are everywhere. For good reason.

(U.S. Navy photo by Diana Burleson)

I say all of this… because I found myself in that dark place. The part where I wrote about how people are feeling is mostly pulled from what’s going on with myself.

I recently attempted to end my own life. I’ve been fighting through my own depression for some time now and it reached its boiling point. It probably wouldn’t be wise to go into details, but I will share the thought that got my feet back on the ground. It was the thought that no one would ever be able to explain to my cat why I’m never coming home. Make of it what you will, but thoughts like that can help pull you out of an irrational moment.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FgwEPSSrF4w9G4pRrmNBSg3a7ckuLZWxCqEcgWogP08M7FvwoLNO3p56RKsUHxyG-ndIgrX5NudLMw3l_fX_hwLGgRou71D4AXZKzZ4oJHvc8aH8crbhIazUV_4vrIIAN4fzMCB2FkJOkTa7-4g&ho=https%3A%2F%2Flh4.googleusercontent.com&s=823&h=e2472f3fc89658bd13bf47b04f1cf74b58c6a71c9946254ae6c2d16a2c1c6e82&size=980x&c=1328651676 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FgwEPSSrF4w9G4pRrmNBSg3a7ckuLZWxCqEcgWogP08M7FvwoLNO3p56RKsUHxyG-ndIgrX5NudLMw3l_fX_hwLGgRou71D4AXZKzZ4oJHvc8aH8crbhIazUV_4vrIIAN4fzMCB2FkJOkTa7-4g%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Flh4.googleusercontent.com%26s%3D823%26h%3De2472f3fc89658bd13bf47b04f1cf74b58c6a71c9946254ae6c2d16a2c1c6e82%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1328651676%22%7D” expand=1]

I mean, I love my family and friends. But I wouldn’t ever want to hurt this good boy.

(Picture by Eric Milzarski)

It was through the help of my buddy from the Army and my loving wife that I was able to come back. I see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I’m still in that damn tunnel. I’m now seeing a mental health specialist at the VA regularly and I can honestly say that it was the right choice. No judgement. No negative consequences. And I feel silly for hesitating this long. Just open arms –metaphorically speaking, of course. I kept my six feet of distance and sanitized my hands, because the VA also houses elderly and immuno-vulnerable veterans. And if need be, they’re still doing video calls for anyone feeling any symptoms.

If you know anyone who’s in that dark place, reach out to them. Go in person if you have to, but there’s always the phone. There are always online video games. There’s always a meme you can tag them in. Anything will help. It may not feel like it while we’re self-isolating until things go back to normal, but we are never truly alone.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Airman goes viral for pumping breast milk during triathlon

When Jaime Sloan realized that she was on pace to set a personal record at the Ironman 70.3 in Tempe, Arizona in October 2018, she decided not to stop to pump breast milk as she had planned. Instead, the 34-year-old Air Force Staff Sergeant pumped while running, placing the milk in a CamelBak water bottle which she carried for the remainder of the race.


“I had brought my hand pump and I just decided to go for it. I was making good time and I just didn’t want to stop and lose the time on my race,” explained the mom of two, who gave birth to her second child back in March 2018. She admitted that she was “nervous at first that I would get some weird looks or even get disqualified due to nudity, but I did my best to cover up and make it work.”

Jaime Sloan Airman mom pumps breast milk while completing Ironman 70 3

www.youtube.com

At first, a couple of people were concerned, mistaking her breastfeeding cloth as bandages. But once they realized what she was doing, Sloan says the reactions were very positive, adding, “I did get some looks from women but they were just big smiles.”

And pumping certainly didn’t slow the active duty airman down. With her husband, Zachary, and daughter Henley, 2, cheering her on, Sloan finished the race (which includes swimming for 1.2 miles, biking for 56 miles and then running 13.1 miles) in six hours, 12 minutes and 44 seconds — a full 30 minutes faster than her previous best.

Sloan, who has also completed 2 full Ironman races in the past, wants other women to realize that if she can do it, they can, too: “I hope that [my story] can encourage other women and mothers and really anyone who has a lot going on in their lives. No matter what, if someone believes they can do something, they can make it happen because it is possible.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S., U.K. blame Russia for 2019 cyberattack on Georgian websites

TBILISI — The United States and Britain have joined Georgia in blaming Russia for a massive coordinated cyberattack last year that took thousands of Georgian websites offline and even disrupted TV broadcasts.

Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimer Konstantinidi told a news conference in Tbilisi on February 20 that the cyberattack was planned and carried out by Russia.


“The investigation conducted by the Georgian authorities, together with information gathered through cooperation with partners, concluded that this cyberattack was planned and carried out by the main division of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” Konstantinidi said.

Meanwhile, the United States and Britain said in separate statements that the attack was carried out by a unit of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency known as Unit 74455 and Sandworm.

Sandworm is known as a single group of hackers within the GRU and security experts have linked it to such cyber breaches as the theft of 9 gigabytes of e-mails from the French presidential campaign of Emmanuel Macron, a similar campaign against the Democratic National Committee in the United States in 2016, as well as the malware that hit Ukraine’s power grid in 2015 and spread globally.

Britain has also linked the group to two attacks against Ukraine in 2017, including NotPetya and BadRabbit, which affected the nation’s financial and energy sectors as well as the Kyiv Metro and Odesa’s airport.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

“The United States calls on Russia to cease this behavior in Georgia and elsewhere,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, adding that Washington would provide assistance to Georgia to help improve the country’s ability to fend off such attacks.

“We also pledge our support to Georgia and its people in enhancing their cybersecurity and countering malicious cyber actors,” Pompeo added.

Russia denied involvement in penetrating Georgian government websites.

“Russia did not plan and is not planning to interfere in Georgia’s internal affairs in any way,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko told Russian news agencies.

static.kremlin.ru

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately comment.

More than 2,000 state, private, and media websites as well as two private television stations — Imedi and Maestro — were knocked out on October 28. The targeted websites included those of the president’s office and local municipality offices.

In many cases, website home pages were replaced with an image of former President Mikheil Saakashvili, and the caption “I’ll be back.”

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters

With the rise of cyberattacks, Navy ships are now equipped with defense from hackers.

Russia has fraught relations with its southern neighbor, which is seeking to join Western organizations, including the European Union and NATO, moves that Moscow opposes.

Russia fought a five-day war with Georgia in 2008 after which Russia recognized the independence claim of two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which comprise 20 percent of its territory.

Russia is one of only a few countries that recognizes the two regions’ independence.

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

Articles

These athletes are gearing up for the Warrior Games

Sergeant Ryan Major’s life changed forever in a flash and a bang in November 2006.


While deployed in Iraq, the infantry soldier from Baltimore stepped on an improvised explosive device. He lost both of his legs and several fingers on both hands.

Major, now retired, was one of about 70 wounded soldiers and veterans from across the Army who gathered at Fort Bliss the first week of April to compete in the Army Trials.

The event, which was held at Fort Bliss for the third straight year, is used to determine the Army’s team at the upcoming Warrior Games, an Olympic-style event for wounded, injured and ill service members of all branches. This year, the Warrior Games will be held in Chicago June 30 to July 8.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
Army Trials for 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games. (Dept. of Defense News photo by EJ Hersom)

Participating in adaptive sports helped to get Major out of a serious depression he had fallen into after being severely wounded, he said. Adaptive sports are designed or modified for disabled athletes to compete against others with similar disabilities or injuries.

“Before I got injured I loved competition, sports, and getting into shape,” said Major, who represented the Baltimore Veterans Affairs at the Army Trials.

Participating in adaptive sports “changed my life,” he said.

“It made me more sociable with other veterans who have similar injuries and stories,” Major said.

Sports also helped him to have a more positive attitude about his injuries, he added.

During the Army Trials, Army athletes in wheelchairs, with prosthetic limbs, and some with injuries that weren’t apparent at first glance competed in a variety of events.

They came from more than a dozen installations and participated in track and field, cycling, archery, shooting, wheelchair basketball, and seated volleyball.

Most had compelling stories, like Major, about how participating in sports got them out of a dark place and thrust them into a new chapter in their lives.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games Bicycling. (Dept. of Defense photo by EJ Hersom)

Lt. Col. Luis Fregoso was one of the organizers of the Army Trials with the Warrior Care and Transition Program in Arlington, Va. This Army organization oversees the most critical cases of wounded, injured, and ill soldiers and helps them transition back to active duty or to civilian life.

Sports can play a huge role in the healing process, said Fregoso, who is from Los Angeles.

“A lot of soldiers, when they have this life-changing event happen to them, they will get into a dark place,” Fregoso said. “The common theme is they just don’t feel their normal self and start spiraling into a bad area, especially in their mind.”

Sports help them to adapt to their “new normal” and can give them the confidence to tackle other areas in their lives, Fregoso added.

Retired Master Sgt. Shawn “Bubba” Vosburg still has the look of a soldier out on a mission. But he suffers from post-traumatic stress, a traumatic brain injury, and a slew of other injuries up and down his body.

Competing in sports helps to “tie you back to the military,” said Vosburg, who is originally from Colorado Springs, Colo., but now calls El Paso home. He represented Fort Bliss during the recent competition.

“You do so much time in the military, and you lose that when you retire,” Vosburg said. “But (adaptive sports) introduces you to new people whom you consider friends and family, and that family is growing.”

Vosburg credits sports for saving his life and he wants to return the favor to his fellow veterans.

He is working on a master’s degree in social work at the University of Texas at El Paso and wants to help “bring more soldiers out of the dark, like I came out of,” he said.

Also read: Here’s what happens when a wounded warrior uses his arm for the first time in 10 years

Retired Staff Sgt. Isaac Rios was shot multiple times and was hit by a mortar round during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

For many veterans, leaving the service and going back to civilian life is a culture shock and even downright scary, Rios said.

‘Ask a Marine’: The inspiring story of the first black man on recruitment posters
A member of Special Operations Command throws the shot put during field competition for the 2015 Warrior Games. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt Ezekiel R. Kitandwe)

Sports, however, helped to give him a new way of looking at life, said the Brooklyn, N.Y., native who represented Fort Bragg, N.C.

“You can’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it,” Rios said.

Sgt. 1st Class Julio Cesar Rodriguez, of Worcester, Mass, battles depression and an arthritic hip.

Participating in sports, like archery, gives you something to do and something else to focus on besides the darkness clouding your mind, said Rodriguez, who represented Fort Gordon, Ga.

“It taught me to remove those negative, dark items out of my mind and focus on the present and my way forward in the future,” he said.
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