Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs - We Are The Mighty
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Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
(Photo: KCEN)


“You can’t wrap love in a box, but you can wrap a person in a hug.” – Anonymous

US Air Force Veteran Elizabeth Laird, better known as the “Hug Lady” of Fort Hood, recently passed away at 83 years old. Over the years she wrapped her arms around more than 500,000 soldiers, according to the estimates of Army officials.

Initially, Laird volunteered to shake soldier’s hands. According to an interview with NBC’s Today Show, one soldier offered to give her a hug after she shook his hand. She went from handshakes to hugs from that moment on.

In 2003, she and Command Sgt. Maj. William “Joe” Gainey signed a memorandum of understanding formalizing her mission: Laird was now officially authorized to hug every Fort Hood soldier departing or arriving. She was there with open arms – no matter the time, weather, how large or small of a group, family circumstances, or her own cancer diagnosis.

“[She] wanted to make sure someone here at home is interested and waiting for them to come home again,” Laird’s son Richard Dewee said.

Col. Christopher C. Garver, a military spokesman, released a the following statement on Laird’s passing:

On behalf of the Soldiers, Airmen, Civilians, and Families of III Corps and Fort Hood, I want to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Mrs. Elizabeth Laird, known throughout Central Texas as “The Hug Lady.” She has long been associated with Fort Hood for her dedication, support, and genuine care for our Soldiers, Families and Civilian employees. For more than a decade, she has been personally saying farewell to our troops as they deploy and greeting them as they return. It is with heavy hearts that we express our gratitude for Elizabeth, not only for her service with the U.S. Air Force, but also in recognition of her tireless efforts to show her appreciation for our Soldiers and her recognition of their many sacrifices. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones; she will be deeply missed.

Laird’s niece Becky Triplett posted the following on her Facebook page:

“When I talked to her the last time, she had been invited to the Rachel Ray show. When I asked if she was going she said ‘No I don’t think so, it wouldn’t be fair to the soldier coming or going. They deserve that hug more.’ She left a very good legacy. RIP Aunt Betty.”

An online petition to name the Fort Hood Deployment Center in Elizabeth Laird’s honor can be found here.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Oldest World War II veteran buried at historic cemetery

Richard Overton, a 112-year-old World War II veteran who lived to be the oldest American man, was laid to rest Jan. 12, 2019, at a historic cemetery in his hometown of Austin following days of tributes.

The grandson of slaves, Overton volunteered to join the Army in his 30s and served in the 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion, an all-African American unit. He deployed to the Pacific Theater from 1942-45 with stops in Guam, Palau, and Iwo Jima.


Overton left the Army in 1945 at the rank of corporal. He went on to work in furniture sales and later in the state treasurer’s office when future Texas Gov. Ann Richards headed the agency, according to a Stars and Stripes article.

He will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery, the final resting place for many notable Texans, including Richards.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

Richard Overton, a World War II veteran who lived to be the oldest American man, presents the game ball before the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 9, 2016.

(Photo by Sgt. Bethany L. Huff)

Before his death on Dec. 27, 2018, Overton was believed to be the second oldest living man in the world at 112 years and 280 days old, according to data by the Gerontology Research Group.

On Jan. 9, 2019, both U.S. senators from Texas introduced a Senate resolution to honor Overton.

In it, the resolution called Overton “an American hero that exemplified strength, sacrifice, and service to the United States of America.”

In recent years, the supercentenarian was honored at several ceremonies and sporting events.

He visited the White House multiple times and, in 2013, then-President Barack Obama spoke of him during a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

“When [WWII] ended, Richard headed home to Texas, to a nation bitterly divided by race,” Obama said in his speech. “And his service on the battlefield was not always matched by the respect that he deserved at home. But this veteran held his head high.”

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

Richard Overton, a World War II veteran who lived to be the oldest American man, meets with President Barack Obama before a Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11, 2013.

(White House photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Earlier that year, Obama said the veteran visited Washington, D.C., for the first time as part of an honor flight. During the trip, he paid his respects at the WWII Memorial. He also saw the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

“As Richard sat in a wheelchair beneath that great marble statue, he wept,” Obama said. “The crowd that gathered around him wept, too — to see one of the oldest living veterans of World War II bear witness to a day, to the progress of a nation he thought might never come.”

On Jan. 3, 2015, Overton represented the Greatest Generation at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, where he presented the game ball before the annual high school football all-star game.

Then on March 23, 2017, the San Antonio Spurs brought a 110-year-old Overton down to the basketball court during one of its NBA games and gave him a personalized jersey with “110” on it.

In 2017, the City of Austin also officially renamed the street where Overton lived to “Richard Overton Avenue.”

While in his 100s, Overton was still known to drive his own car and mow his lawn. In a 2013 interview with CNN, he credited God for living such a long life that included a few vices.

“I drink whiskey in my coffee. Sometimes I drink it straight,” he said at the age of 107. “I smoke my cigars; blow the smoke out. I don’t swallow it.”

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

Articles

Video shows Chinese and Indian troops throwing rocks at each other on the border

Indian and Chinese troops clashed in a melee high in the western Himalayas on Aug. 15, adding to simmering tensions along the two countries’ shared border.


Chinese troops reportedly tried to enter Indian territory twice that day, according to an Indian defense official.

They were pushed back both times but threw stones at Indian troops during the exchange, which took place near Pangong Lake, a tourist attraction in the mountain region of Ladakh.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Pangong Lake. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

“There was a minor incident. There was some stone pelting from the Chinese side but the situation was quickly brought under control,” the official told AFP.

The early-morning confrontation lasted about 30 minutes and was resolved after both sides conducted banner drills and retreated to their respective outposts.

Indian media outlet The Print obtained footage of the incident, which took place just yards from the shoreline. Both sides reported injuries.

 

 

The lake — of which India claims about one-third and China the rest — is more than 13,000 feet high on the Tibetan plateau and lies in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, at the eastern extent of China and India’s 2,175-mile mountain border.

A police official in the state said that confrontations along the de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control, were relatively common.

“These things happen every summer, but this one was slightly prolonged and more serious but no weapons were used,” a police source in the state capital, Srinagar, told AFP.

 

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Image courtesy of Google Maps

The clash took place on India’s independence day, and an early assessment by Indian intelligence sources called the encounter “not at all unusual” due to the “non-delineation” of the border in the area. Indian and Chinese patrols have crossed into areas claimed by the other in the past; more than 300 such crossings have been reported through mid-August this year.

But the confrontation comes two months into a dispute between China and India near their shared border with Bhutan in the eastern Himalayas, and, the assessment added, the “use of force appears to be part of a considered design.”

“Use of stones unprecedented and unusual. Appears to be deliberate attempt to provoke and heighten tension without use of lethal weapons,” the assessment said. Steel bars and rifle butts were also used during the tussle.

On August 16, a previously scheduled border-personnel meeting was held between brigadier-rank officers from the Indian and Chinese armies. (Such meetings are usually held between colonel-rank officers).

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Soldiers with the People’s Liberation Army at Shenyang training base in China, March 24, 2007. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, US Air Force.

But China’s People’s Liberation Army also declined an invitation to take part in ceremonial meetings on the border to mark India’s independence day this year — the first time the joint meetings haven’t been held since 2005, according to The Express. Another meeting usually held on the Chinese side of the border on August 1 was not held this year.

The contentious but nonviolent confrontation in the Doklam territory — known as Donglang in Chinese — near the two countries’ border with Bhutan started in mid-June, when New Delhi dispatched troops to stop Chinese construction of a road in the area, which is claimed by both China and Bhutan.

India viewed the construction as a threat because it brought Chinese personnel close to the “chicken’s neck” that connects India’s northeast territory to the rest of the country.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Indian Army’s Para Special Forces. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

An Indian official said New Delhi had no choice but to act, as Chinese activity had come too close for comfort. New Delhi has also said both sides should withdraw their forces before any proper negotiation.

Beijing — which has said India is massing troops and building roads in its territory east of Doklam — has said India has no role to play in the region and that Indian personnel illegally crossed into Chinese territory. It has repeatedly asked for their unilateral withdrawal.

Chinese state media has warned India of a fate worse than its decisive defeat during a month-long border war in 1962 in India’s northeast Arunachal Pradesh state.

Chinese officials later admitted the war was launched to teach a lesson to India, which had granted asylum to the Dalai Lama and criticized China’s occupation of Tibet.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Marines of the People’s Liberation Army. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The 1962 war was brief in duration, but the political concerns that sparked it remain.

The Indian intelligence assessment issued in the hours after the August 15 incident said the skirmish at Pangong Lake could be related to the standoff in the eastern Himalayas.

“Both nations recognize that there are big differences in perception about the Line of Actual Control, but these have been managed well and troops have quickly gone back to the respective positions,” Ashok K. Kantha, former Indian ambassador to China, wrote for The Print, noting that calm along the border has endured despite past incidents.

“Ensuring that these old modalities hold is extremely important,” he added. “The alternative is not good.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Coast Guard finally getting back-pay after shutdown

Some Coast Guard families began receiving back pay Jan. 28, 2019, while bracing for the possibility that another government shutdown on Feb. 15, 2019, could again leave them scrambling to cover bills and put food on the table.

In Oregon, Stacey Benson, whose husband has served 19 years in the service, said back pay from the 35-day government shutdown was in her family’s account Jan. 28, 2019.

Coast Guard officials said they are working to deliver back pay by Jan. 30, 2019, to all of the more than 42,000 Coast Guard members affected by the longest government shutdown in history.


Benson, who helped start up “Be The Light” food banks for struggling Coast Guard families during the shutdown, said the food banks essentially closed Jan. 27, 2019, after President Donald Trump signed a bill Jan. 25, 2019, opening the government for three weeks while Congress and the White House seek agreement on funding for a border wall.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
(Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew S. Masaschi)

However, Benson said that volunteers are “making arrangements” to restart the food banks “just in case” the government shuts down again Feb. 15, 2019.

“If it happens, we’re prepared for the worst,” she said.

At the food bank in Astoria, Oregon, Benson estimated that 50,000 to 70,000 pounds of goods had been collected for distribution, including “pounds and pounds and pounds of ground beef and huge bags of dog and cat food.”

The shutdown strained donors’ resources to the point they’re asking for donations themselves.

Brett Reistad, national commander of the American Legion, said efforts by the group to assist Coast Guard families had essentially drained the veterans organization’s Temporary Assistance Fund.

“I’ve been in the Legion 38 years,” he said in a phone interview, “and I’ve not experienced an instance like this.”

Reistad added that the Legion was reaching out to supporters to replenish the fund.

During the shutdown, the Legion distributed more than id=”listicle-2627427178″ million from the fund in the form of grants of 0 to id=”listicle-2627427178″,500 to needy Coast Guard families, Reistad said. Since Jan. 15, 2019, the organization had approved about 1,500 grants to a total of 1,713 families — specifically targeted at the 3,170 children in those families, he added.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

Coast Guard Cutter Resolute.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse)

“We try to stay out of politics” as a veterans service organization, Reistad said, but “we have to recognize the possibility of this happening again.”

“These are our brothers and sisters,” he said of Coast Guard members. “They were out there risking their lives, saving lives” during the shutdown without pay.

He asked anyone interested in replenishing the Temporary Assistance Fund to visit Legion.org for more information.

The White House was standing firm Jan. 28, 2019, on the president’s demand for .7 billion to fund an extension of the southern border wall. Trump said over the weekend that he would allow the government to shut down again or declare a national emergency to take money from the military budget if Congress doesn’t agree to fund the wall.

At a White House briefing Jan. 28, 2019, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the solution is to “call your Democratic member of Congress and ask them to fix the problem. This is a simple fix.”

She said Trump “is going to do what it takes” to provide border security.

He would prefer to do that through legislation, Sanders said but, if Congress balks, “the president will be forced to take a different path.”

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

Articles

Air Force grounds F-35s after reports of serious oxygen deprivation

The Air Force has grounded 55 F-35s after several pilots reported serious oxygen deprivation during flights.


Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff released a statement Friday noting that in five cases pilots “reported physiological incidents while flying.” Luckily, a backup oxygen system on the F-35 kicked, which allowed pilots to land without further trouble, Defense One reports.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw

The incidents occurred at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, marking the second time Air Force F-35s have been grounded in a year.

According to Graff, the fighter jets at Luke Air Force Base will likely be cleared to fly again Monday.

“Wing officials will educate U.S. and international pilots today on the situation and increase their awareness of hypoxia symptoms,” Graff said in a statement. “Pilots will also be briefed on all the incidents that have occurred and the successful actions taken by the pilots to safely recover their aircraft.”

In late March, Bloomberg reported that Navy pilots have suffered bouts of hypoxia because of a loss of cabin pressure, leading to oxygen deprivation. These issues have steadily increased every year since 2010 on all F-18 models, which includes the Super Hornet. Navy officials are still trying to get to the bottom of what they’re referring to as “physiological episodes.”

The Navy has also recently ground its T-45 Goshawk planes after pilots complained of headaches and oxygen deprivation. The problem was so dire that 100 instructor pilots flat-out refused to fly the planes, forcing the Navy to ground all 195 planes in the T-45 fleet.

Air Force F-35s on other bases like Hill Air Force Base and Eglin Air Force Base are still cleared for flying, and next week, a group of F-35s will fly to France for the Paris Air Show. Those F-35s will come from the Hill base.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Texas-born ISIS recruit exposes changing terrorist stereotypes

The man from Sugar Land, Texas with a passion for travel and teaching children doesn’t seem like a stereotypical ISIS recruit.

Warren Christopher Clark, a black, Texas native who sent a cover letter and resume to ISIS as early as 2015, the New York Times revealed, was captured in Syria by US allies. His goal was not to become a militant or fighter, he later told NBC News. He just wanted to teach English.

Clark, who was charged Jan. 25, 2019, for material support to ISIS, may not be the type of person who comes to mind at the mention of ISIS. But a study published by the RAND Corporation, which analyzed US-based jihadist terrorism activities in the post-9/11 era, shows that the Texan represents aspects of the new reality of terrorism.


“The portrait that emerges from our analysis suggests that the historic stereotype of a Muslim, Arab, immigrant male as the most vulnerable to extremism is not representative of many terrorist recruits today,” the report says.

The changing face of terrorism

That US citizens pose the greatest terrorism-related threat within the US is not a recent development.

In 2015, the George Washington University Program on Extremism reported that of 71 people arrested for ISIS-related activities in the US in that year, 58 of them were US-born citizens.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

The GWU study for the most part matches a trend reported by RAND, which independently found that as ISIS gained influence in the post-9/11 era, the number of US-born recruits drawn to jihadist terrorism started to grow.

Of the 152 US persons with known affiliations with ISIS, RAND found that 106 were citizens born in the US.

Comparatively, only 59 of 131 al-Qaeda affiliates were US-born citizens.

In another revelation, RAND showed US-based ISIS recruits have become more racially and ethnically diverse as the group gained influence, and are notably more diverse than those with known al-Qaeda affiliations.

About 65% of US-born ISIS recruits since 2013 are either African-American/black or Caucasian/white. This is a shift from the group’s earlier years, and an even more radical shift from those persons drawn to al-Qaeda.

ISIS has a broader appeal

Aided by the internet, terror organizations began targeting more vulnerable populations over time, specifically young and socially alienated people who find a sense of belonging in a far-away group.

While ISIS has a far more sophisticated understanding and usage of social media, al-Qaeda has shown an ability to tap into the vortex of the internet — RAND reports that the number of “terrorist-related websites exploded from 100 in 1998 … to approximately 4,300 by 2005.”

In that year, ISIS was still in its infancy.

Even so, al-Qaeda’s marketing typically appealed to a narrower field of recruits in terms of religion, race, and nationalism. ISIS, on the other hand, appealed to a wider range of people. Heather Williams, the lead author for the RAND study, told Business Insider that Clark represents an increasingly common type of recruit who is not necessarily drawn to violence, but some other component of terrorist organizations.

“There were people who fit that before, but they are more frequently fitting that profile now,” Williams said.

Terrorism may be changing, but experts caution against reliance on stereotypes

Clark, the 34-year-old teacher from Texas who was recently captured in Northern Syria, doesn’t quite fit into any stereotypical “terrorist” category.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

Warren Christopher Clark, who was captured in Syria in early January 2019, sat down with NBC News.

(NBC News)

Clark is a US-born American citizen. According to an interview with NBC News, he did not initially leave the US with intentions of joining ISIS, but sought travel opportunities that ultimately drew him to Turkey, Iraq, and then Syria.

He told NBC that he never took up arms for ISIS and was even detained by the terrorist organization after trying to defect, maintaining that he was drawn to ISIS out of curiosity, not a desire to become a militant.

“The take-away is that the ties [people drawn to ISIS] have to the terrorist organization can be very loose,” Williams said.

The RAND report was published in December 2018, nearly a month before Clark’s capture. But Williams said his background is a good example of the range of individuals answering ISIS’ call.

“A great number of the individuals studied were lured to the call of jihad in Muslim lands abroad rather than domestically; whether adventure seekers or inspired by misguided senses of religious duty, they were not necessarily aggrieved with the US homeland,” the report states.

Still, Williams cautioned against stereotyping a particular profile, especially one based on nationality.

“I don’t think that’s a productive diagnostic tool, and can also lead to bias,” she told Business Insider.

The Trump administration’s travel ban, which targets many Muslim-majority countries, is not necessarily a helpful counterterrorism policy, Williams said, and may even be a distraction.

“If [law enforcement agency] perceptions are based on history, there is validity but they should recognize the shift.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

One missing after Russian dry dock sinks around only carrier

Four people were injured and one remains missing after Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, suffered damage when a floating dry dock sank while the vessel was leaving it, officials say.

The waterborne repair station’s sinking at an Arctic shipyard early on Oct. 30, 2018, was the latest in a series of mishaps involving the Admiral Kuznetsov, which lost two military jets in accidents off the coast of war-torn Syria in 2017.


The PD-50 dry dock had “fully sank” by 3:30 a.m. local time at the 82nd Repair Shipyard in the village of Roslyakovo near the port city of Murmansk, regional Governor Marina Kovtun said on Twitter.

“Unfortunately, one person has not yet been found,” Kovtun said.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

The Admiral Kuznetsov.

She said that two injured workers were hospitalized and two were treated without hospitalization.

One of the injured was in very serious condition, said Viktor Rogalyov, the head of the local Disaster Medicine Center.

She said that rescue divers from the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet were working at the site and that it was “hard to say” what caused the sinking.

Authorities said at least one crane fell when the dry dock sank, damaging the aircraft carrier.

Aleksei Rakhmanov, head of the state-run United Shipbuilding Corporation, said experts are assessing the damage but that “the vitally important parts of the aircraft carrier were not affected.”

The PD-50 was one of the world’s largest dry docks.

Russia sent the 305-meter Admiral Kuznetsov to the Eastern Mediterranean in 2016 as part of its ongoing military campaign in support of Syrian government forces in the Middle Eastern country’s devastating war.

An Su-33 military jet crashed while trying to land on the aircraft carrier there in December 2016, and a MiG-29 crashed a few kilometers from the vessel three weeks earlier.

A fire on board the carrier killed a sailor during a 2008-09 deployment, and an oil spill was spotted by the Irish Coast Guard near the vessel afterwards.

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

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The incredible, untold story of 75th Ranger Regiment’s search and rescue of the ‘Lone Survivor’

In 2013, Lone Survivor hit the big screen with Mark Wahlberg at the helm, earning just over $158 million. The story of the daring rescue mission for the Navy SEAL and his team, however, remained untold — until now. 

The 75th Ranger Regiment is America’s large-scale Special Operations Force (SOF) and is made up of the most elite soldiers in the world. Dr. Tony Brooks was one of them, but first, he was a college kid forever changed by the attacks on 9/11.

“I was actually on my way to the gym and was just getting warmed up and that’s when it was on the screen. I just saw this little speck flying down and had no clue what it was until they zoomed in. It was a person jumping from the towers,” he explained. 

Brooks shared he was ready to enlist immediately after the terrorist attacks but his father cautioned him to wait until after finishing school. Not long after, he saw Pat Tillman leave the NFL to become a Ranger, which sealed the deal for him, he said. He enlisted in 2003 and after a year of grueling training, he was a Ranger. Assigned to Fort Lewis in Washington, there was a casualty on his first day. He was sent to Afghanistan almost immediately.

“My first mission and deployment involved Operation Red Wings which was the Lone Survivor mission,” he explained. 

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Photo provided by Brooks

Through some laughter, he referenced being “thrown in the fire” and admitted it was absolutely the start of his military life. The mission took place in 2005 and Brooks left the Army when his enlistment was over. When asked why he decided to write a book now, he said it was for his children. 

“I looked at them and thought, am I ever going to tell them about my service or what happened? And I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t. That isn’t a conversation anyone wants to have,” Brooks shared. “I really felt like writing was the best way to explain it and allowed me to really take the time to tell the story.”

Not only did he want to write it for his children but also for the Rangers who completed the mission alongside him. “No one has told the story of the 75th Ranger Regiment’s role in this mission — all the guys I served with have been forgotten over the years. I felt like they were in the shadows,” he added. 

The response to the new book has been overwhelmingly positive. 

“Leave No Man Behind: The Untold Story of the Rangers’ Unrelenting Search for Marcus Luttrell, the Navy Seal Lone Survivor in Afghanistan” not only has rave reviews but the men he served with continually tell him how grateful they are for it. They, too, are giving the book to their family members to share their story.

“It’s a huge motivator for me to have people tell their stories. Veterans are struggling emotionally and physically also because we don’t talk about these things. A book gives people the opportunity to have conversations,” Brooks said. 

It also gives the civilian population a way to understand the true meaning of service, he said. “Everyone is a volunteer. It’s great for our nation, right? But it also makes it easy for the press to ignore it because people are volunteering to serve. If they had to pick people it would be news,” Brooks explained.    

During the summer of 2005, Operation Red Wings was launched by the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines utilizing their SOF units and assets. Three out of the four Navy SEAL operators were ambushed and killed hours after beginning their team recon mission. Two quick reaction force helicopters were sent in. 

One was shot down with an RPG-7.                   

The prologue and initial chapters of the book poignantly hit on the “Why?” behind the rescue and eventual recovery mission for the 75th Ranger Regiment team — and Brooks. 

… And from the moment I began training in Ft. Benning, Georgia, with hopes of being part of that elite group, it had been hammered into us with all the subtlety of a nail-gun. Every damn soldier comes home. Period.

Dead or alive, these sixteen weren’t just anybody. They were sons, husbands, fathers, boyfriends, fiance’s friends. Americans. And, whatever shape we found them in, we needed to take care of them.

Excerpts from “Leave No Man Behind”

The helicopter crash killed all eight Navy SEALs and the eight U.S. Army Special Operations aviators on board. As the sun rose the morning after his boots landed in Afghanistan, his team was informed of the losses. The new mission, dubbed Operation Red Wings II, was to recover the fallen heroes and the lone survivor — Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.   

   

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Photo provided by Brooks.

“Leave No Man Behind” begins with Brooks’ decision to enlist and his life as a young Ranger, the good and the bad. You’ll follow him through his rigorous training which was met with tragic loss and his eventual deployment to Afghanistan. He paints a heartbreaking picture of the 75th Ranger Regiment’s fight to reach their comrades. Through steep and treacherous mountain climbing, the team finally reached the crash site 36 hours after the helicopter had been shot down. They weren’t prepared for what waited for them.                    

         

Out walked two of our own, heading slowly toward my unit. PJs. Guys from Air Force Special Warfare, Pararescue specialists who’d been on the crash scene first. Obviously, they came bearing news. My stomach roiled. One of the PJs scanned us, looked down, then grimaced a tad. “Nobody,” he said, “is alive.”

Excerpt from “Leave No Man Behind”

Brooks and his team began the horrible task of recovering the 16 lost heroes. Readers won’t be able to avoid the pain and hardship of the mission etched in the chapter or the rush of emotions when they find Luttrell. Brooks deployed again after Operation Red Wings, this time to Iraq. There were more of those emotions when it finished. The wear and tear of the service left its mark. He made the decision to separate from the Army in 2007, enrolling in school with the goal of becoming a chiropractor.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Brooks and teammates after Operation Red Wings. Photo provided by Brooks.

And he did. 

There are zero regrets for enlisting and if anything, he said he figured out who he was when he became a Ranger.

“Looking back, I’ve always sometimes questioned the decision to leave but even now I am still helping people, just in different ways. It’s powerful and I take it very seriously because I can change someone’s life by getting them out of pain,” he said. 

His final message to readers and war commentators was simple and very direct. 

“Love the warriors and hate the war. A lot of time we have trouble separating the two…it wasn’t our choice to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s political,” Brooks said adamantly. “People need to understand that the reason we go to war is for the person to our right, to our left and the people back home we love.”

“Leave No Man Behind” is a powerful reminder of the cost of war and the importance of acknowledging it every single day. 

To learn more about the book or snag your copy, click here.

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The 13 funniest military memes this week — MRE edition

This week’s meme roundup is dedicated to fine military cuisine. You know, the nutrient rich, cardboard textured, grownup Lunchables the military feeds you out in the field. Yes, that’s right, MREs.


Some troops like MREs, but most will probably identify with this meme:

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Recruiters are known for leaving out a thing or two.

MREs look so innocent, but there’s a world of hurt waiting for you.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
This little box packs a punch.

Getting the goodies always begins with a struggle.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

When you finally open the box, you realize that the goodies aren’t always so yummy, so you enhance them with flavor.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Tapatio and Texas Pete are also good choices.

Some MREs could serve as a weapon in the field.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
The military got rid of flamethrowers because they were considered too cruel.

Just add “chemical X” to upgrade to the next level.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
The upgrade is similar to a grenade launcher.

Ejecting an MRE from the body could feel like an impossible task.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

Some people describe it as giving birth to a knotted rope.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
And you thought the knotted rope was only a boot camp thing.

Nope, MRE’s aren’t innocent.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Yup, looks can be deceiving.

On the bright side, you could use MREs for other things, like getting yourself squared away.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

Or, getting the comforts of home out in the field.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Grunts can sleep anywhere.

You’ll grow to love them, at least until your next hot meal.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

They make a great gift.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Soon, she’ll be as deadly as you.

NOW: The Best Military Meals Ready -To-Eat, Ranked

OR: 9 Military Movie Scenes Where Hollywood Got It Totally Wrong

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This is why the JLTV is to the Humvee what the Humvee was to the Jeep

The Humvee (High-Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle) is a classic icon of today’s military, often seen wherever there is a war or a disaster. However, just as the Jeep proved to be not quite what would be needed for World War II, the Humvee proved to have some shortfalls during the War on Terror.


The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle from Oshkosh is intended to at least partially replace the Humvee. The Humvee will be sticking around – possibly until 2050 – in many of the support units, as opposed to fighting in front-line combat situations.

 

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Oshkosh Defense

 

The big difference will be in the level of protection. Humvees, even when up-armored, couldn’t completely protect troops from the effects of roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices. The JLTV addresses that through providing MRAP-level protection in a lightweight package that can be hoisted by a helicopter like the CH-47F Chinook or a CH-53K King Stallion.

The first of the JLTVs will be delivered to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, followed by the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy. Both units are expected to receive their vehicles in 2019.

 

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
A Joint Light Tactical Vehicle production model is displayed by Oshkosh on the floor of the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exhibition in the Washington Convention Center Oct. 4, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Gary Sheftick)

The JLTV has four variants in service, the M1278 Heavy Gun Carrier, the M1279 Utility vehicle, the M1280 General Purpose, and the M1281 Close Combat Weapons Vehicle.

Check the video below to see how the JLTV and the Humvee stack up against each other.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy seizes 2,521 assault rifles from illegal traffickers

The guided missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham seized an illicit weapons shipment containing 2,521 AK-47 rifles Aug. 28, 2018, U.S. 5th Fleet officials announced Sept. 6, 2018.

The weapons were found aboard a stateless skiff in international waters in the Gulf of Aden.

The full count follows an initial estimate of more than 1,000 rifles. The skiff was determined to be stateless following a flag-verification boarding conducted in accordance with international law. The origin and intended destination of the skiff have not yet been determined.


Searching for illegal weapons

“As a part of our countertrafficking mission, we are actively involved in searching for illegal weapons shipments of all kinds,” said Navy Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, and the Combined Maritime Forces.

“Ensuring the free flow of commerce for legitimate traffic and countering malign actors at sea continue to be paramount to the U.S. Navy and its regional partners and allies,” Stearney added.

The seizure comes after four weapons seizures in 2015 and 2016 accomplished by Combined Maritime Forces and U.S. 5th Fleet assets.

The first seizure was by the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Melbourne, Sept. 27, 2015, when it intercepted a dhow containing 75 anti-tank guided munitions, four tripods with associated equipment, four launch tubes, two launcher assembly units, and three missile guidance sets.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

U.S. sailors stack AK-47 automatic rifles aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham in the Gulf of Aden, Aug. 30, 2018. The ship’s visit, board, search and seizure team seized the weapons from a skiff during a flag verification boarding as part of maritime security operations.

(Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Clay)

The second seizure was by the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Darwin, which intercepted a dhow Feb. 27, 2016, and confiscated nearly 2,000 AK-47 rifles, 81 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 49 PKM general purpose machine guns, 39 spare PKM barrels and 20 60 mm mortar tubes.

The third seizure was by the French navy destroyer FS Provence March 20, 2016, and yielded again almost 2,000 AK-47 rifles, 64 Dragunov sniper rifles, nine anti-tank missiles and six PK machine guns with bipods.

The fourth seizure was by U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship USS Sirocco, which was operating as part of U.S. 5th Fleet, March 28, 2016, when it intercepted a dhow containing 1,500 AK-47s, 200 RPG launchers and 21 .50-caliber machine guns.

The United Kingdom-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research studied and linked three of the caches to weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles.

Based on an analysis of all available information, including crew interviews, a review of onboard records and an examination of the arms aboard the vessel, the United States concluded that the arms from the four interdictions in 2015 and 2016 originated in Iran and were intended to be delivered to the Houthis in Yemen in contravention of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216.

The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses nearly 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The region is comprised of 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab-al-Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US just tested a new missile 16 days after scrapping an arms treaty

From St. Nicolas Island, Calif., the United States fired its latest gift for Vladimir Putin’s Russian Army – a new medium-range missile that would have been banned under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed in 1987. The accord, also known as the INF Treaty, bans nuclear-capable weapons with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.

The United States left that treaty earlier in August 2019, after blaming Russia for violating the agreement first. The Russians aren’t happy about it at all.


Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

Russia’s 9M729 missile, the one that broke the 1987 INF Treaty.

The Aug. 18, 2019 missile test saw the projectile deliberately fly beyond the 500-kilometer range that would have seen it banned by the INF Treaty. Newly-minted Secretary of Defense Mark Esper wants missiles like this new one deployed throughout the Asia-Pacific region, but that effort was hampered under the old agreement. Now the U.S. is free to pursue the relevant technology.

“Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities,” the Defense Department said.

Meanwhile, the Russians were openly upset about the Americans pulling out of the treaty and then having a new weapon within the same month.

“All this elicits regret, the United States has obviously taken the course of escalating military tensions. We will not succumb to provocations,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “We won’t allow ourselves to be pulled into a costly arms race.”

Bold words from a government who has, according to the United States government, already violated the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty on several occasions, most notably after it developed and deployed a prohibited missile, known by its apparent Russian designation Novator 9M729, a land-based cruise missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers.

“Russia has violated the agreement; they have been violating it for many years,” Trump said after a Oct. 20 campaign rally in Elko, Nevada. “And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.” But it’s not just the President who is denouncing the Russian military. The State Department came to the same conclusion.

“The United States has determined that in 2016, the Russian Federation (Russia) continued to be in violation of its obligations under the INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles,” according to the State Department’s April 2017 Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments report.

The new U.S. missile isn’t nuclear-equipped (at least, not for this particular test) and resembles the more common Tomahawk missile in looks and the once-banned intermediate-range Tomahawk missile last seen in 1987. But the Russians weren’t the only ones upset about the looming new Cold War.

“This measure from the U.S. will trigger a new round of an arms race, leading to an escalation of military confrontation, which will have a serious negative impact on the international and regional security situation,” Chinese Foreign Minister Geng Shuang said, adding that the U.S. should ditch its Cold War mentality.

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These 4 aircraft were the ancestors of the powerful SR-71 Blackbird

The SR-71 Blackbird is the arguably the most popular and easily recognizable airframe ever used by the U.S. Air Force. It maintains the speed record it set back in 1976 (even with a broken engine). The Blackbird’s missile evasion technique is legendary; it simply flew faster than the whatever was chasing it.


Not one SR-71 was ever shot down.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs

It could take a full photo of the entire country of North Korea in seven minutes and fly across the entire United States, lengthwise, in just over an hour.

Not bad, but that capability didn’t happen overnight. The Air Force actually developed more than one supersonic plane for its reconnaissance and strike missions.

1. XB-70 Valkyrie

Only 2 of North American Aviation’s B-70 bombers were ever built, and the program only lasted for the five years between 1964 and 1969. The Valkyrie was a six-engine bomber, capable of flying Mach 3, designed to outrun enemy interceptor aircraft with speed and altitude. At the time, interception was the only defense against bombers.

Surface-to-air missiles changed the game.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
The XB-70 is shown climbing out during take-off. Most flights were scheduled during the morning hours to take advantage of the cooler ambient air temperatures for improved propulsion efficiencies. The wing tips are extended straight out to provide a maximum lifting wing surface. The XB-70A, capable of flying three times the speed of sound, was the world’s largest experimental aircraft in the 1960s. (NASA photo, 1965)

The XB-70 was still fast enough to fool radar, but its limited range and expense made the B-52 a more economically efficient choice for production. Though short-lived, the Valkyrie did blaze a trail for the structural dynamics that would be so crucial to the SR-71.

The last XB-70 is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

2. Lockheed A-12 “Archangel” or “Oxcart”

Not to be confused with the later naval stealth fighter proposal dubbed the A-12 Avenger II, the A-12 Archangel was a recon aircraft developed by Lockheed for the CIA between 1962 and 1967. The defense giant’s “Skunk Works,” the nickname given to its Advanced Development Programs department, developed the A-12 for the CIA’s Oxcart Operation.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
An A-12 in flight. This aircraft was lost over the South China Sea on June 6, 1968.

Oxcart was the agency’s effort to replace the U-2 spy plane after it became increasingly susceptible to Soviet SAMs. They were wildly successful – the planes boasted a host of new technologies designed just for the program. They were built with titanium to handle hypersonic speeds (strangely obtained from the Soviet Union).

Though designed to fly over Cuba and the USSR, the Lockheed A-12 never executed that mission. It flew over North Vietnam and North Korea during the Pueblo Crisis.

The North Vietnamese were able to track the A-12 via radar, and routinely launched missiles at it. It never took a direct hit from a SAM but did get debris from an exploding missile lodged in its fuselage.

Since the A-12 was never going to fly over the Soviet Union and the use of satellite photography was on the rise, the program was scrapped almost as soon as it had begun. The A-12s were either stored in Palmdale, California, or sent to museums.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
A-12s in storage in Southern California. (CIA photo)

The A-12 could fly higher and faster than the SR-71, but the Blackbird’s side-looking radar and cameras could see enemy territory without penetrating their airspace.

3. M-21 Drone Carrier

The M-21 variant of the A-12 was designed to carry the Lockheed D-12 Drone. This variation had a cockpit for the drone’s launch control officer who released the autonomous drone which was mounted on the back of the M-21 airframe.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
Modified A-12 (codename M-21) carrying D-21 drone (Project Tagboard – CIA photo)

The D-21 was launched from the back of the A-12. Once its mission was complete, the drone would eject the data it collected at a preprogrammed point and then self-destruct. The ejected data was caught in mid-air by a C-130.

This program was canceled in 1966 when a drone collided in midair with its launcher. The M-21 crew all bailed out, except for the LCO. From then on, the D-21 would be launched from under the wing of a B-52.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
A B-52 carrying a D-21 reconnaissance drone and rocket booster. This photo was taken by a crewman in the tail of a tanker aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo)

4. Lockheed YF-12

The YF-12 was a twin-seat version of the A-12. Designed to be an interceptor, the YF-12 set the speed records that would only be surpassed by the legendary SR-71. It also has the distinction of being a publicly announced aircraft, which had benefits of keeping the A-12 a secret because the public couldn’t tell the difference.

Ft. Hood-area woman leaves behind a legacy of 500,000 hugs
The YF-12 (U.S. Air Force photo)

The cost of the Vietnam War kept the YF-12 from the Air Force inventory. And by the time the funds were available, the YF-12 wasn’t necessary to defend the mainland U.S., so the program was scrapped.

The aircraft did successfully test the AIM-47 Falcon missile, which was the predecessor to the Phoenix missiles. The YF-12 also tested how AWACS could command bombers in a tactical environment, which later helped the development of the B-1 Bomber.

The YF-12 also tested how engine inlet performance affected airframe for NASA, as well as issues related to propulsion interaction, boundary layer noise, heat transfer under high-mach conditions, and altitude hold at supersonic speeds – all necessary to develop the SR-71, not to mention the Space Shuttle program.

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