Here's what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret

For the first time in American history, a female Soldier has completed U.S. Army Special Forces training and has earned the right to don the legendary Green Beret.

Despite how often people get the moniker wrong, Special Forces is only a title that applies to the U.S. Army’s elite special operations Green Berets. SEALs, Rangers, Marine Raiders and others all fall under the broader term of “Special Operations,” but only the Green Berets are rightfully called Special Forces.


“Good for her! It was only a matter of time and I would guess it will become more and more common over the next few years, across USSOF.”
-Former Navy SEAL/CIA Officer Frumentarius
Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret

Special Forces Assessment and Selection (US Army)

In 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta removed the formal ban on women serving in combat roles, and in 2016 all military occupational specialties were opened up to female service members, including those in elite special operations fields.

“There will be no exceptions,” former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in 2015. “They’ll be allowed to drive tanks, fire mortars and lead infantry soldiers into combat. They’ll be able to serve as Army Rangers and Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps infantry, Air Force parajumpers and everything else that was previously open only to men.”

The identity of the woman that fought her way through all six phases of Special Forces training has not been revealed, citing privacy concerns for the Army’s newest Green Beret, but the impact of her accomplishment remains.

We don’t need to know her name or see her to be inspired by her, just knowing that there is a female green beret can motivate any Soldier to do better or to reach for their goals.”
-Specialist Hannah Johnson, Utah National Guard

What we do know about this history-making Soldier is that she was among only a handful of females that made it through the initial 24-day assessment that serves as a screening to eliminate those who may not have the mental or physical capacity to complete the training. Now, even with Special Forces training behind the America’s female Green Beret, her days of training are far from over. Once you earn a spot in a Special Operations unit, training is continuous to ensure special operators are well prepared for any challenges they may face.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret

Special Forces Green Beret soldiers from each of the Army’s seven Special Forces Groups stand silent watch during the wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of President John F. Kennedy (U.S. Army Photo)

Former Green Beret NCO and Warrant Officer Steve Balestrieri used to oversee portions of the selection process, and earlier this year wrote an article for Sandboxx News entitled, “Women Passing Special Forces Selection? Yes you can,” in which he outlines the challenges all aspiring Green Berets must face, as well as some that are specific to females serving in that capacity. We asked Balestrieri how he feels about seeing this historic event unfold.

“I think that (from what I heard from those who know), this woman had no corners cut for her, and not only met but exceeded the standards. For her, now the journey really begins. I truly wish her all the best.”
-Former Green Beret Steve Balestrieri

As Balestrieri writes in his piece, some members of the Special Operations community may well harbor some outdated beliefs when it comes to women serving in these elite roles, but as he points out (and our discussions with other Special Operations veterans seem to further prove), many of America’s elite warfighters are happy to see their female peers work their way into their elite company.

“I wish her all the best, I hope she crushes it. There are a lot of outside opinions that ultimately don’t matter so long as she does her job and does it well.”
“At the end of the day, SOF is a place where politics don’t really matter as long as you can do your job to standard.”
-Luke Ryan, Former Army Ranger
Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret

A U.S. Army Special Forces soldier with the National Guard shares best practices to U.S. and Chile counterparts. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Equite/Released)

Green Berets are tasked with a number of difficult mission sets in combat environments, from direct action operations to training foreign military forces to provide their own defense. Alongside their peers in the Special Operations community, Green Berets have served as part of the backbone of America’s presence in Global War on Terror operations the world over.

Earning the right to wear the Green Beret is an incredible feat for any Soldier, but becoming the first female to earn one is not only historic, it’s an important message to Soldiers of all types across the force: Being a man is not a prerequisite to becoming one of America’s most elite war fighters. Because the history-making Soldier serves in the National Guard, it also shines a valuable light on the opportunities service members of both genders have in both active and reserve capacities.

“I mean it’s a major win for females everywhere, it’s bigger than just the Army, especially the National Guard. It’s proof that women are capable and that institutions are capable of change. She’ll be able to bring her own strengths and capabilities to that community, which will make it better. “
-Specialist Hannah Johnson, Utah National Guard

In 1981, a female Soldier named Capt. Kathleen Wilder was failed as she very nearly completed Special Forces training. After an investigation into her dismissal, it was found that she had “been wrongly denied graduation.” Now, nearly four decades later, significant challenges remain for women in military service, but this momentous occasion is a step in the right direction.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-22 Raptors intercept two Russian bombers in Alaska

Two U.S. fighter jets intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace off the coast of Alaska on May 11, 2018.

The two Russian TU-95 Bear bombers flew into a so-called Air Defense Identification Zone located about 300 kilometers off Alaska’s west coast, according to a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command in a statement to CNN on May 12, 2018.


Two F-22 fighter jets intercepted and visually identified the Russian bombers until they left the zone. The Russian aircraft never entered U.S. airspace, CNN reported, citing the statement.

Russian bombers were escorted by two F-22 fighter jets in international airspace for 40 minutes, the RIA Novosti news agency cited the Russian Defense Ministry as saying on May 12, 2018.

The U.S. fighter jets did not get closer than 100 meters to the Russian bombers, the Russian military was quoted as saying.

Encounters between Russian and U.S. as well as NATO warplanes have increased as Moscow has demonstrated its resurgent military might.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
F-22 Raptor
(Photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock)

Russia also has increased its naval presence in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, and other areas.

In January 2018, a Russian Su-27 came within 1.5 meters of a U.S. Navy surveillance plane while it was flying in international airspace over the Black Sea.

Russia has increased its military presence in the area since it annexed Crimea in 2014.

There have also been interactions between the United States and Russia in the skies above Syria, where the nations support differing sides in the ongoing civil war.

In December 2017, two U.S. F-33 Stealth fighter jets fired warning flares after Russian Su-25 jets entered an agreed deconfliction area in Syrian airspace.

Such incidents have added tension to Russia’s relationship with the West, which has been severely strained by Moscow’s takeover of Crimea, its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, and its alleged meddling in the U.S. election in 2016, among other things.

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

Articles

Russian bombers buzz international airspace close to Alaska

The U.S. military has intercepted a pair of Russian bombers flying off the coast of Alaska, a Pentagon official says amid escalating tension between Moscow and Washington over a recent U.S. strike on Syria.


Pentagon spokesman Commander Gary Ross made the announcement on April 18, saying that two US Air Force F-22 Raptor aircraft had intercepted the Russian TU-95 Bear bombers within 160 kilometers of Alaska’s Kodiak Island a day earlier.

The American stealth fighters escorted the Russian long-range bombers for 12 minutes before they reversed course and headed back to their base in eastern Russia, according to the official.

Ross said the intercept was “safe and professional,” and there was no violation of U.S. airspace and any international norms.

The Pentagon spokesman noted that Russia’s TU-95s are capable of carrying nuclear weapons, but there was no indication that the planes were armed.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
F-22 Raptors from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, fly over Alaska May 26, 2010. | U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson

The provocative move comes at a time when the U.S. and Russia are at odds over a six-year conflict in Syria and Russia’s engagement in fight against the Daesh terrorist group (ISIL) in the Arab country.

In a recent development on April 7, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered two U.S. Navy destroyers to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea at Syria’s al-Shayrat airfield, in retaliation for a deadly chemical incident in Khan Shaykhun, which American authorities have blamed on the Syrian air force without providing any evidence.

Damascus and Moscow argue that the incident was a result of an air strike hitting a chemical depot belonging to militants fighting the Syrian government. At least 87 people were killed in the town on that day.

This is while the Syrian government turned over its entire chemical stockpile under a deal negotiated by Russia and the U.S. back in 2013.

Military Life

5 reasons you should have enlisted as a ‘Fister’

If you’re considering joining the Army or you’re sick of your current MOS and thinking of reclassing, there are so many options to chose from that it’s a headache to decide.


Maybe you’re picking your MOS based entirely off what you can get, maybe you’re picking it off what would be best suited for your eventual transition back to the civilian world, or maybe you’re following in the footsteps of someone you admire. For those that choose their MOS by counting “cool points,” there’s one MOS that towers them all: (13F) Fire Support Specialist, or ‘Fister.’

These are the 5 reasons why you should enlist as a Fister:

5. The name is perfectly acceptable for use in polite company.

Derived from “Fire Support Team” or FiST, this MOS’s name is the source of innumerable low-brow jokes in field artillery.

While everyone else watches their tongue, taking care not to offend, you get a free pass to say something that could be confused for a violent sex act every time you talk about work.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Finally! A hoodie for every occasion! (Image via CafePress)

4. It’s actually like Call of Duty, except you constantly get kill streak bonuses.

It happens at every recruitment station. There’s always that one kid who comes in thinking he’ll be living his favorite video game before he’s struck with the harsh reality that life isn’t a video game.

While other MOSs are less fun in real life — you can’t just to wait behind a rock to heal and stealing enemy weapons is generally frowned upon — fisters have it better. They don’t get told “sorry, you need to kill a few more bad guys before you can rain hell on your enemies.” They just do it. It’s their job.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Just like Call of Duty, kid. Don’t worry about the imminent stress of getting the exact coordinates right using a crappy laser finder that barely works. You’ll get a sixth sense for those things sooner or later. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

3. You get paid to watch things go boom from a good, safe distance.

Speaking of raining hell on your enemies, that’s what you’ll be doing.

You’ll be attached to whatever unit needs a guy to say, “that thing right there? I don’t like it. Let’s get rid of it with enough firepower to remove an entire grid-square off the map!” This means you’ll be working with damn near everyone from Armor to Aviation to Infantry to Cavalry, all while being left alone to do your badassery.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Safe is a relative term. (Image via Reddit)

2. All the benefits of being a grunt with less of the downsides.

There’s a constant rivalry within the Army between grunt MOSs and the soft ones. Grunts mock others for being weak and POGs mock grunts for being idiots with relatively low promotion point standards.

Some MOSs are just handed the title of “grunt” and no one will ever question it, like infantry. Some have to earn the respect of other grunts to get it, like a hard-ass commo or medic. Then there’s the fister. No one ever questions the balls it takes to be a fister.

They’re out there kicking it with the infantry, while also having the brains to do advanced math on the fly to get the birds blowing up the right spot. Oh — and their promotion points are a lot lower, so you’ll pick up rank faster than a POG.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Pro: You’re a badass. Con: You have to do math. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Joseph Robinson, Company Fire Support Officer)

1. SFC Jared C. Monti and SSG Ryan M. Pitts are some Bad. Mother. F*ckers.

In Afghanistan alone, two fisters have made their brothers proud by being awarded the Medal of Honor: Sergeant First Class Monti and Staff Sergeant Pitts.

Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti received his Medal of Honor posthumously on Sept. 17, 2009 after his patrol was ambushed by around 60 Taliban fighters. He radioed in for artillery and close air support on their position, but it would take time for the heat to arrive. In the ensuing firefight, several of his men were struck by enemy fire. He was successful in getting recovering one of his men, but was gravely wounded in the process. When the artillery finally arrived, it took out 22 insurgents and dispersed the rest.

Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts received his Medal of Honor when well over 200 Taliban forces swarmed his base at the Battle of Wanat in July, 2008. Though critically wounded by shrapnel, he continued to lay down suppressive fire until a two-man reinforcement team arrived. This bought him the time he needed to crawl to a radio, with no regard for his own life, so he could describe the attack to Command and call for indirect fire.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Left: Paul and Janet Monti presented the Medal of Honor for their son’s, SFC Jared Monti, actions. Right: SSG Pitts is presented the Medal of Honor (Images via NPR and People)

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Marines hold rifle and pistol competition on Okinawa

The competition allowed Marines stationed in Japan to test and enhance their shooting abilities.

“The concept of every Marine a rifleman goes back to our basics,” said Sgt. Christian Lee Burdette, an ordinance maintenance chief with Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “We learn basic infantry skills before we learn our military occupational specialty. Every Marine in general has the capabilities to engage any threat with a weapon. With this training, it provides that confidence for a Marine to engage effectively.”


The first day of the competition included a brief morning class to brush the competitors up on their marksmanship knowledge followed by competitors zeroing their rifles. Zeroing is the process of calibrating the rifle combat optic, so the weapon is accurate to where the shooter is aiming. The shooters’ zero is essential, as a faulty zero can disrupt a shooters’ ability to hit their target.

The following week allowed the shooters to practice the various courses of fire. To complete certain courses, the shooters were forced to shoot with their off-hand and eye.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret

U.S. Marines competing in the Far East Marksmanship Competition engage targets at Range 18 on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan Dec. 13, 2018.

(Photo by Pfc. Brennan Beauton)

“It puts you into unknown situations, instead of just shooting on a flat range and known distances,” said Sgt. Shane Holum, an emergency service crew chief with MCIPAC. “You have multiple targets and you are shooting and moving. You have to work through problems and malfunctions.”

The final week was for score. All of the shooters’ shots were marked and recorded. Marines were able to compete as an individual, a team, or both. Each shooter had to complete the standard Marine Corps rifle and pistol qualification course along with other courses. The additional courses required shooters to fire and maneuver obstacles, and switch weapons while engaging targets at different distances.

Sixteen teams competed on Dec. 13, 2018, in a rifle and pistol competition. To enter and compete as a team, each team must include four shooters. A team must have an officer and a first time shooter. The first time shooter must be at least a noncommissioned officer.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret

A U.S. Marine shooter and spotters assess the target in the Team Pistol Match finals at Range 1 on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan Dec. 13, 2018.

(Photo by Pfc. Brennan Beauton)

“Any command that is stationed on Okinawa or mainland Japan can come out to the competition,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Ferguson, an instructor and competitor for the Marine Corps Shooting Team. “You can bring as large as a team as you want, or bring a single shooter. Either way, you can come out and compete.”

The Marine Corps Base Camp Butler’s team won the team rifle competition. The Communication Strategy and Operations Company on Camp Hansen won the team pistol competition, the same day the unit became officially activated. On Dec. 14, 2018, the MCB rifle team was presented with the Calvin A. Lloyd Memorial Trophy, and the CommStrat pistol team was presented with the Shively Trophy.

“Annual qualification is once a year,” said Sgt. Cameron Patrick, an instructor and competitor for the Marine Corps Shooting Team. “Shooting is a very perishable skill so we want you to not just do the qualification, but to try and get out and practice on your own time. Actually refine your skills by yourself. Don’t wait for that one year to come around.”

The top 10 percent of shooters are invited to participate in the United States Marine Corps Marksmanship Championship Competition in Quantico, Virginia, in April 2019. From there they will be evaluated to see if the individual has the qualities of becoming a member of the Marine Corps Shooting Team, according to Patrick.

The Far East Competition is held annually on Okinawa. Marines that want to participate are encouraged to sign up early as slots fill up quickly.

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Teen honors her fallen father with senior photos

Julia Yllescas was just seven years old when her father, Army Capt. Robert Yllescas, succumbed to injuries sustained in an improvised explosive device blast in Afghanistan in 2008, according to the Omaha World Herald. Now a high school senior, Julia honored her father’s memory by taking “angel photos” for her senior portrait, as reported by the KOLN TV station in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Susanne Beckman, owner of Snapshots by Suz, created the photos as a special gift for the family, she said on Facebook.


“I have been taking pictures of Julia since she was about 9 and I thought it would be a great idea to do these angel pictures for her as a special gift for her big milestone and to her family,” Beckman wrote. “I am an active-duty National Guard wife, which is what inspired the idea and the vision. I take a lot of pictures of military families and their special memories.

“I was very emotional when I edited the photos because my husband is active-duty National Guard and has been put in the same exact situations as Rob was, but I was lucky enough for him to come home. A lot of military spouses and kids such as Julia are not, and I am so thankful I was able to do something to honor her and her dad!” she continued.

In response to the photos, Yllescas told KOLN, “It almost felt when I saw those pictures that he truly was there. And to have a piece of him with me throughout my senior year. Because sometimes it feels like, ‘Where are you, why did you have to go?’ Just to have that on my wall and be like, ‘No, he is with me, even though I can’t physically see him.'”

Before he died, Robert Yllescas was presented with a Purple Heart by President George W. Bush. He was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, at Fort Hood, Texas.

His memory lives on through his family, and especially in these photos.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Britain tested its plan to blackout Russia in case of war

British military forces reportedly practiced a cyberattack on Russia on Oct. 6, 2018, to send Moscow into total darkness if Vladimir Putin’s forces attack the West.

Military sources told the Sunday Times that the only other way of hitting Russia back would be to use nuclear weapons.

But cyber weapons reportedly give Britain the best chance of deterring Russia because the West no longer has small battlefield nuclear weapons.


The Sunday Times reported that the test to “turn out the lights” in Moscow – which will give Britain more time to act in the event of war – happened during the UK’s biggest military exercise for a decade.

5,500 British troops took part in the desert exercise in Oman, where troops also practiced other war games to combat Russia’s ground forces.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret

British troops practice section attack drills in Oman, 2001.

The £100m (0.5 million) exercise in the Omani desert reportedly involved 200 armoured vehicles, six naval ships, and eight Typhoon warplanes.

Sources told the Sunday Times that in a series of mock battles, the Household Cavalry played the role of an enemy using Russian T-72 tanks.

Britain-Russia tensions are being tested at the moment over the fate of two Russian military intelligence (GRU) agents who Britain accused of poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March 2018, and over accusations that Russia is behind a host of global cyberattacks.

On Oct. 4, 2018, British and Dutch intelligence exposed an operation by the GRU to hijack the investigation into the assassination plot against the Skripals.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

In 1866, 80 men went to war — this is why 81 came home

Today, Liechtenstein is a small country – the fourth smallest state in Europe and sixth smallest in the world. It rests on the banks of the Rhine between Switzerland and Austria. It was named after the Princes of Lichtenstein, who united the County of Vaduz and the lands of Schellenberg in 1719, forming their small but charming Principality of Liechtenstein.

They managed to remain neutral (and thus largely avoid) both world wars. In 1943, the principality went so far as to ban the Nazi party. By this time, indeed, they didn’t even have an army, having disbanded it completely in 1868.

And yet their final deployment in 1866 remains notorious for two reasons: first, they lost no battles and suffered zero casualties (having avoided all fighting). Second, they left with a force of 80 men — and returned home with 81.

Or so the legend goes…


Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret

During the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Liechtenstein sent an army of 80 strong to guard the Brenner Pass between Austria and Italy while a reserve of 20 men stayed behind. While the deployed force was there to defend the territory against any attack from the Prussian-allied Italians, according to War History Online, “there was really nothing to do but sit in the beautiful mountains, drink wine and beer, smoke a pipe and take it easy.”

In the main theater of the war, the Battle of Königgrätz would earn Prussia a victory, decisively ending the war.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret

The Battle of Königgrätz by Georg Bleibtreu

So the men of Liechtenstein marched home. When they returned, however, their numbers had grown to 81.

But who was the extra man?

According to The World at War, an Austrian liaison officer joined them. Lonely Planet seems to share a version naming the newcomer an “Italian friend” — other sources have suggested that he was a defector.

None of the stories seem to be substantiated — but no one has debunked them either.

Meanwhile, Liechtenstein remains a thriving and successful country — that still has no army to this day.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 10 stupidest (yet true!) things civilians have said to the military community…in memes

People say dumb things all the time, it’s a fact of life. But there are certain gems that we’ve all heard civilians say in reference to military life that we just can’t make up. Many of those questionable comments will elect a chuckle or two while others cause dramatic eye rolls and lip biting (and not the sexy kind). WATM decided to capture some of the most memorable (and stupidest) comments. Buckle up!

  1. Civilian: “Do you know my friend? He’s in Bravo company.”

Sure, because there’s only around a half a million soldiers in the Army. I’ll text him right now.

2. Civilian: “Have you ever waterboarded anybody?”

Why is this question a real thing? And did you actually think they’d be honest with you either way? Yeah, Karen. Every Tuesday we round up some people and have our own little “ice bucket challenge” on base. Bye.

3. Civilian finds out member is deploying: “I hope you don’t die over there.

This is said wayyyyyy more than it ever should be – which is never. What else can the service member say to this one except “thanks” or “me too”?

4. Civilian: “I could never join the military, I couldn’t take people telling me what to do all the time.”

This one plays on repeat like the baby shark song you can’t get out of your head. Listen Todd, unless you are a dictator, there’s always someone telling you what to do. The police, your boss and little pesky things like laws. It’s a part of life, the military is just a little louder.

5. Civilian to military spouse: “Well, you know what you signed up for.”

No, we didn’t. When we marry our service member, we do it because we love them and want to spend our lives with them. We aren’t given a list of things that can go wrong (thank you Murphy) or a book on how to do actually military life. Hell, our spouses don’t even know how our own insurance works! We get it done.

6. Civilian: “Got any of those meals y’all eat in war?”

Yeah, Carol. I keep them in my trunk for snack time. No! Nobody carries around MRE’s or keeps them to eat on the regular; troops don’t even want to eat that crap when they are in the field training or overseas “in war” and have to.

7. Civilian: “I’m so tired, I only got 6 hours of sleep last night.”

Listening to civilians talk about how tired they are after sleeping in their soft beds is beyond annoying. All over the globe there are American service members working continuously to keep you safe, shut up.

8. Civilian: “Do you guys get any free time?”

Define the word “free”. When deployed or on mission, that would be a negative Nancy. Stateside service members are also still working and have very little time to hang out around the water cooler either. It is what it is. ‘Merica.

9. Civilian: “If I didn’t get injured I would have become Special Forces.”

Listen Frank, I am sure you reeeeally wanted to be Special Forces. It’s an admirable goal, seriously. Buttttt, we don’t believe you.

10. And finally…. our best one yet. Civilian: “2020 is the worst year of my life.”

We get it, 2020 sucks the big one. But as the civilians around us complain about “restrictions” and that the government is “controlling” their lives, we are rolling our eyes so hard it hurts. Shut. Up. No, we don’t wish ill on anyone, but this complaint is definitely sure to get a service member or milspouse riled up. Those in the military community have been experiencing setbacks, missed holidays and loneliness for some time now. When this pandemic is behind us, it is our hope that when you continue on with your regularly scheduled programming, you’ll be more grateful for what you do have.

Articles

Airman seeks to rejoin pararescue team despite loss of leg

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Staff Sgt. August O’Neil, Air Force Wounded Warrior, and fellow pararescueman and Wounded Warrior, Staff Sgt. Nick Robillard, prepare to deliver the Care Beyond Duty flag during the opening ceremony of the 2016 U.S. Air Force Trials at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 26, 2016. | U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taylor Curry


In July 2011, Air Force Staff Sgt. August O’Neill, a pararescueman, was sent to rescue a group of Marines pinned down in Afghanistan when enemy insurgents opened fire on his team’s helicopter.

A round bounced off the helicopter’s door, tearing through both of O’Neill’s lower legs and critically wounding his left, resulting in 20 surgeries over the next three-and-a-half years as doctors tried to save the limb.

O’Neill finally told doctors to remove his left leg last year, but he remains determined to continue his career as a pararescueman.

Determined to Resume Career

“I haven’t looked back since,” said O’Neill, who’s training with the 342nd Training Squadron here, as he prepares to requalify for assignment to a pararescue team.

“I knew I wasn’t done doing this job,” he added.

Pararescue isn’t an easy job for any airman, let alone one who’s had their leg amputated just above the knee, but O’Neill believes he’s still up to the task.

“There are going to be issues that come up here and there,” O’Neill said. “But I’m sure I’ll make it back on a team. Just like anybody who hasn’t been in their job for a long time … I basically need to make sure everybody else knows that I’m capable of doing the job, and … I need to make sure I haven’t lost anything that I need.”

Pararescumen serve in one of the most physically demanding fields in the armed forces, with the journey from basic training to joining an operational unit spanning almost two years, according to the technical training course guide.

Seeking a ‘New Normal’

O’Neill said he isn’t expecting any special treatment as he trains over the next few months to demonstrate his mission readiness.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Wounded warriors and Air Force pararescuemen Staff Sgt. August O’Neill, right, and Staff Sgt. Nick Robillard pose for a portrait with the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program flag at the 2016 U.S. Air Force Trials at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 26, 2016. | Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taylor Curry

“I wouldn’t want to do this job if I couldn’t meet the same qualifications as everybody else, because that would put the people on my team at risk,” he explained. “You’re only as strong as your weakest member, so if I can’t keep up with them, that means they’re carrying me and that’s not something that I want.”

Living with a prosthetic is a minor annoyance in terms of his daily routine, O’Neill said. He doesn’t sleep with the leg on, for example, so he has to hop to the bathroom or the refrigerator when he wakes in the middle of the night.

“It’s just finding a ‘new normal’ for all the things I was able to do with two legs before,” he explained. “I’ve just been finding ways to get everything done.”

That minor annoyance turns into a bigger challenge during pararescue training, where O’Neill will have to depend on his ingenuity and adaptability to meet the other demands to the job.

“Anything from picking up a patient — where I can’t just roll down on a knee and lift them up — I have to find a different way to brace myself to get people up and move out,” he noted. “Everything is challenging, but it’s just a matter of finding out how to do it.”

As if navigating this “new normal” wasn’t enough, O’Neill said his training has been grueling.

“It’s tough mentally and physically,” he said. “You aren’t pushed to your limit — you’re pushed beyond that — to the limits that the instructors know you can reach. There are so many qualifications that you need to keep up with that you … can’t do so without being mentally prepared.”

One thing, at least, hasn’t changed for O’Neill since returning from his injury.

“I don’t like running,” he chuckled. “I’ve never been a distance runner and after four years of not running … that’s still difficult, but I can still run. It’s not as pretty as it was before, but I’m able to at least get the job done.”

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

More funny memes scraped from the darkest corners of the internet – you know, Facebook. Got your own great memes? Bring them to our page and “Like” us while you’re there.


1. Even if he had a full magazine and you were standing still (Via Sh*t My LPO Says).

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Don’t stand in front of anything expensive though. No telling which direction he’ll miss.

2. Video game logic in the real world.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
The delay in air support would be fine if cheat codes worked.

SEE ALSO: These are the boats you didn’t know the Army had

3. This is why you’re supposed to use the metric system (Via Sh*t My LPO Says).

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Metric: The only way your superiors won’t confuse themselves with conversions.

4.  AAFES: One stop shop with ok prices and acceptable products.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Support the warfighter.

5. Some Marines still care about fashion (via Marine Corps Memes).

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Seriously though, soft shoe profiles would be less annoying if the guy still looked mostly right.

6. The Navy may be the most powerful maritime force in history …

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
… but the Coast Guard is the oldest! Wait, this doesn’t feel like a great slam.

7. The Air Force is always looking down at the other forces (Via Team Non-Rec)…

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
… feet. The other forces’ feet. It’s the only way they can find the beat.

8. Cadets: The “lease to buy” method of joining the military.

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
At least she doesn’t expect hot chocolate and marshmallows if it rains. She doesn’t, right?

9. Works great until you get in-country and can’t get signal (via Marine Corps Memes).

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Then you have to get assigned to a base with Wi-Fi.

10. When the speaker says, “Any questions,” he’s just checking the box (Via Air Force Memes and Humor).

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
You’re not supposed to actually ask questions.

11. When you’ve been looking for the platoon leader for hours (Via Team Non-Rec) …

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
… and finally find them trapped somewhere.

 12. It’s a trap, but you still have to open the door (Via Team Non-Rec).

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
But maybe find your own metal face mask before you open up.

13. Brace yourselves (Via Sh*t My LPO Says)!!

Here’s what Spec Ops vets and female soldiers think of the first female Green Beret
Administrative bullsh*t is coming!

NOW: The 7 people you meet in basic training

AND: The 18 funniest moments from ‘Generation Kill’

Military Life

Why Royal Marines don’t wear undies to bed will make you think twice

In America, when you go without wearing any underwear, we jokingly call it “going commando.” If you’ve ever deployed to a joint military base and you’ve worked alongside Royal Marines, then you understand the term better than most — you’ve probably received an uncalled-for eyeful when these troops wake up for the work day. That’s because they tend to sleep in just their birthday suits.

But it’s not for comfort’s sake — it’s hygienically sound.

It’s no secret that, when the mission calls for it, military personnel sometimes have to live in tight berthing areas. Because of this close-quarter living, illnesses and bacteria can quickly spread from person to person.


Most service members are taught to shower before they go to bed. After all, you want to remain as clean as possible throughout the night. But when we sleep, we naturally sweat from our pores. Meanwhile, our microscopic skin cells die and flake off. You might not know it, but you leave behind an imprint of skin and sweat wherever you lay — it’s actually pretty nasty.

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Royal Marines tend to sleep naked so they don’t hold all the juices and skin flakes emitted from their bodies in the clothes they’ll later wear.

U.S. troops are taught to sleep in a t-shirt and undies or some type of pajamas. Sure, this might contribute to the ever-growing pile of dirty laundry, but at least it’s easier to go to the restroom at 0300 — which is located on the other side of the FOB.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F7kn27lnYSAE9O.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=837&h=5c611a5ec988ff32954a522e72a295e8347e0fa3e648b77f0eb510f48c122bd3&size=980x&c=2888038155 image-library=”0″ pin_description=”” caption=”I have to pee!” crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F7kn27lnYSAE9O.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D837%26h%3D5c611a5ec988ff32954a522e72a295e8347e0fa3e648b77f0eb510f48c122bd3%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2888038155%22%7D” expand=1 photo_credit=””]

Sleeping naked may work for our Royal Marine allies, but U.S. military culture hasn’t accepted the idea — yet.

If you still don’t believe us, check out the very censored video below to see Royal Marines put the “commando” in “going commando.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jMYOzOQL1U

popular

This Marine veteran is a rising star in the outlaw country scene

It’s important for veterans to follow their dreams after they leave the service. Uncle Sam instilled in us veterans the drive we need to stand on top in this dog-eat-dog world, and it’d be a damned shame to skip out on putting that drive to work. After all, we weren’t told to knock politely on opportunity’s door — we were taught to breach it.

If you want a prime example of what hard work, talent, and dedication gets you, look no further than Gethen Jenkins, a Marine Corps veteran and one of the best damn musicians to break into the outlaw country music scene.


Born to a military family in West Virginia and raised in a rural Indian village in Alaska, Jenkins enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served honorably for eight years, including a 2003 deployment to Iraq. When he finally left the service, he stayed around Twentynine Palms, California, and began pursuing his dream of playing country music.

Jenkins grew up around country. Ever since he was a kid, he’s been playing the guitar and writing his own music. So, becoming a professional musician was the natural next step for him. And so, he set to be like the great outlaw country stars of the past.

He met the guys that would later join in him becoming The Freightshakers at a bar in Long Beach. As coincidence would have it, they were looking for a singer to complete their outfit. Jenkins got the gig the very next day. Where the Honkytonk Belongs, a song from the album of the same name, was their first hit.

Take a listen.

His style is a unique blend of his inspirations, from bluegrass to honkytonk to outlaw. Since their formation, Jenkins and the Freightshakers have played over 1,000 gigs and have earned a number of accolades, including the 2015 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Outlaw Group, the 2017 California Country Awards for Best Male Vocalist and Best Album, and LA Weekly even named Jenkins “2018’s Best Outlaw Country Artist.”

And they’re just getting started. Their next album, produced by the legendary Vance Powell, will be called Western Gold. Jenkins wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. It is set to drop sometime next year.

The song, Bottle In My Hand, was released last summer and is the first single off the upcoming album.

And, while we’re at it, go ahead and listen to this cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Simple Man because it’s just too good not to.

The cover works so well because it’s a natural fit. Longtime drummer and songwriter for Skynyrd, Artimus Pyle, also served in the Marines in the late 60s before entering the world of professional musicianship.

That same foundation is what’s going to propels Jenkins’ career, we’re sure of it.

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