'Gold Ancient Mariner' is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

Cmdr. Stephen Matadobra holds the distinction of being one of the Coast Guard’s first officers in the service to have earned the permanent cutterman status (earned in 1987), and he will soon hold the title of the Coast Guard’s 15th Gold Ancient Mariner in May 2018.

The Gold Ancient Mariner title dates back to 1978 in which the Coast Guard recognizes the officer with the most sea time, an honorary position that serves as a reminder of the call to duty on the high seas.


In September 2018, Matadobra will celebrate 41 years of Coast Guard service, in which time he climbed the enlisted ranks from a seaman to a boatswain’s mate before becoming a chief warrant officer. From there he climbed the officer ranks to captain.

Hailing from the seaside Brooklyn neighborhood of Coney Island, New York, Matadobra joined the Coast Guard at 17 because of his interest in marine biology. Once assigned to his first cutter however, he struck boatswain’s mate and never looked back.

“Every cutter was unique,” said Matadobra.

As a junior enlisted member, Matadobra was involved in law enforcement and search and rescue operations during the mass migrations of the Cuban Mariel Boatlift of 1980. Later assigned to an 82-foot patrol boat out of Florida, Matadobra took part in the salvage operation immediately following the collision and sinking of the Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn in 1980 in Tampa Bay. Twenty-three Coast Guard members perished that day – the service’s worst peacetime loss of life.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
The U.S. Coast Guard buoy tender USCGC Blackthorn.

In his 41 years of service, Matadobra has experienced peaks and valleys of our organization that have helped shape his leadership style.

When asked about mentors throughout his career, Matadobra wistfully recalled a few master chief petty officers and chief warrant officers who gave him “swift kicks in the butt,” but ultimately pointed to his peers as the trusted pillars upon which he leans, specifically citing Capt. Doug Fears, with whom he served on the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton.

Having advanced from seaman to commander, Matadobra has embodied each station’s specific operational responsibilities and perspectives. When asked about his biggest impressions from having transitioned from enlisted member to officer, he described a concept that he’s coined as “Big Coast Guard” – that is, the big picture frameworks in which the commissioned among us must navigate. If the enlisted world has more to do with the: who, what, when and where aspects, then the officer’s world is more dominated by the why’s.

Matadobra recalled a story Master Chief Petty Officer Kevin Isherwood once told him about a new fireman aboard a cutter who was instructed by his supervisor to go down below at a certain time every afternoon to open a particular valve. The fireman did as he was told, albeit without understanding why. As such, it was easy for him to do it begrudgingly – seen as a chore, primarily. Only after months of this repetitive chore did his supervisor tell him that the valve he opened every night was one that allowed the cooks to prepare dinner with hot water, as well as route hot water to the showers for the rest of the crew. In this new-found understanding of “why” the fireman’s entire perspective shifted and he operated under a renewed sense of duty and purpose.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
The USCGC Hamilton.

“Leaders help their middle and junior folks understand ‘why,’ and understand their role in ‘Big Coast Guard,'” said Matadobra.

Professionalism and proficiency is also at the forefront of his agenda.

“As an advocate for the cutterman community, and the Coast Guard at large, I continue to preach the obligations of professionalism and proficiency,” said Matadobra. “Our platforms are so much more technically complex than they used to be, and it takes smart people to run them and to maintain proficiency.”

In fact, Matadobra will appropriately be assuming responsibilities at the Enlisted Personnel Management division in his next assignment, helping to further shape the future of our enlisted workforce.

This article originally appeared on the United States Coast Guard. Follow @USCG on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the Pentagon will move its data to the cloud

The Pentagon is accelerating an acquisition plan to migrate its defense networks to the cloud as part of a sweeping effort to modernize and streamline its data systems and better defend against cyberattacks, a DoD announcement said.


The initiative, launched last Fall by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, is now grounded in a specific, fast-paced acquisition plan to keep pace with fast-moving technological change.

“DoD is using a tailored acquisition process to acquire a modern enterprise cloud services solution that can support Unclassified, Secret, and Top Secret requirements. Known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) Cloud, the planned contracting action will be a full and open competition,” a Pentagon statement said.

The Pentagon has released a Request for Information to industry and is planning an industry day March 2018 as a precursor to the planned contract awards.

Led by a recently established Cloud Executive Steering Group, cloud migration program leaders are now in the analysis and fact-finding phase of this process to determine how many contracts will best meet DoD’s needs, officials said.

The acquisition effort is broken up into two distinct phases, according to DoD developers; phase one includes cloud acquisition and phase two “will work with offices throughout the department to build cloud strategies for requirements related to military operations and intelligence support,” a Pentagon statement said.

Read more: Pentagon will aggressively implement new Electronic Warfare strategy

“Technologies in areas like data infrastructure and management, cybersecurity and machine learning are changing the character of war. Commercial companies are pioneering technologies in these areas and the pace of innovation is extremely rapid,” Shanahan writes in the memo, released last Fall.

Cloud migration has received much attention in recent years, and this new effort strives to accelerate cloud development and add a specific, measurable structure to an otherwise broad-sweeping or more loosely configured effort. For instance, the Pentagon has emphasized a move toward broader use of Windows 10 in a move to quickly embrace more commercial systems and cloud systems.

However, many of the various acquisition efforts have been stovepiped or, by some estimations, in need of greater integration and interoperability. DOD’s ongoing Joint Information Environment (JIE) and Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) efforts are emerging as efforts to address these challenges.

The Pentagon’s Joint Regional Security Stacks will increasingly use cloud technology and move to more off-the-shelf technology, such as Windows 10, according to senior Pentagon IT officials.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, taken from an airplane in January 2008 (Image by David Gleason via Wikipedia)

JRSS is on track to reduce the physical footprint of servers and — that it will support cloud technology structures.

JRSS is also engineered to increase security and intrusion detection technologies. The security of the network is centralized into regional architectures instead of locally distributed systems at each military base, post, or camp, according to a previous statement from the Defense Information Systems Agency.

“Deploying JRSS enables the department to inspect data, retrieve threat and malware data on the network and troubleshoot, patch, protect and defend the network,” a DISA statement said.

Shanahan’s new program could bring nearer-term achievable metrics to the ongoing JIE initiative. At the same time, there is a chance it could also help accelerate the ongoing movement toward greater domestic and international data consolidation efforts already underway with JRSS.

A key element to cloud migration, considering that it involves movement toward more virtualization and a decreased hardware footprint, is that emerging software upgrades and programs can quite naturally have a faster and more ubiquitous impact across a range of data systems.

When it comes to data security and resilience against intruders and cyberattacks, the cloud could be described as consisting of a two-fold dynamic. In one sense, data consolidation through cloud architecture can potentially increase risk by lowering the number of entry points for intruders – yet it also affords an occasion to identify patterns across a wide swath of interconnected systems.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

Furthermore, cloud technologies can facilitate standardized security protocols so that attempted breaches can be more quickly detected. Along similar lines, JIE proponents explain that although greater interoperability could increase vulnerabilities, various networks can be engineered so they can both share data while also leveraging routers, switches and IP protocol specifics to separate and secure networks as well.

An often-discussed phenomenon seems to inform Shanahan’s push for faster cloud migration, namely that multi-year government developmental programs are, in many instances, generating technical systems which are potentially obsolete by the time they are completed. Commercial innovation, therefore, coupled with an open architecture framework, is intended to allow faster, wide-sweeping upgrades more consistent with the most current and impactful innovations.

“I am directing aggressive steps to establish a culture of experimentation, adaptation, and risk-taking,” Shanahan’s memo states.

The integrated DoD effort is closely aligned with various US fast-moving cloud efforts among the US military services.

Army cloud migration

DISA and the Army are working with industry to extend commercial cloud technology to mobile devices as part of a broad effort to both improve access to data and provide security for forces on the move.

Drawing upon hardened commercial cloud networking technology, soldiers, sailors or airmen using smartphones and tablets will have secure access to classified networks. By extension, a commercial cloud can enable secure networking such that smartphone applications themselves can be better protected, DISA leaders have explained.

As part of this broadly-scoped DOD effort, industry giants like Microsoft are working with the services to extend cloud-based security and connectivity to mobile devices.

The Army’s Unified Capabilities (UC) program, for example, is an example of how this strategy can be implemented.

More reading: This vet group says the Pentagon is disclosing private data on millions of troops

The UC effort is based on an Army-ATT collaborative effort to leverage the commercial cloud to improve networking interoperability using voice, video, screen sharing and chat functions for one million service business leaders on both classified and unclassified networks.

“Unified Capabilities is one of the first commercial cloud-based solutions that will be delivered across the Army Enterprise,” Sergio Alvarez, product lead, Enterprise Content Collaboration and Messaging, told Warrior Maven in an interview last Fall.

By using a commercial cloud, users will be able to draw upon software to access voice services from any Army-approved end user device — desktops, laptops, tablet computers, and smartphones.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
(US Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy L. Wood)

Forward-deployed or dismounted soldiers will have an ability to connect and share combat-relevant data from farther distances, potentially beyond an otherwise limited network.

“There are many benefits to COTS — including saving money on initial investment, meeting IT requirements while avoiding costs, lowering maintenance investments and enabling cost-effective new upgrades,” an Army statement said.

The service will also provide video conferences and desktop sharing services, as well as multi-user chat functions.

As is the case with desktop systems, the strategy for this kind of cloud execution is often described in terms of centralized control – decentralized execution.

When it comes to more traditional fixed locations, increased cloud networking and security at a central server location brings the added benefit of helping implementation and security for the ongoing Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) effort.

Navy analytics strategy

Fall 2017, the Navy unveiled a data analytics strategy document designed to accelerate IT modernization, consolidation of information, innovation and efforts to keep pace with commercial technological progress.

The “Navy Strategy for Data and Analytics Optimization,” which incorporates faster network cloud migration, calls for cloud migration and rapid transformation of training, concepts, and policies designed to make data analytics faster and more efficient.

Recognizing that the pace of technological change is often faster within industry and commercial enterprises, the strategy is woven around the premise that new solutions, software updates or improvements in operating systems and data analysis often emerge quickly.

Continued reading: Inside the Department of Defense’s Fire School

With this in mind, the strategy also heavily emphasizes a growing need to look for open source solutions for expediting IT acquisition.

When embracing commercial innovation might not make sense for a government developmental IT effort, the strategy calls for increased collaboration with academia and industry.

“It is paramount that we become able to adapt faster to data-driven innovations, create new innovations and deploy those innovations,” the strategy states.

The text of the strategy articulates a few goals, such as an ability to “predict and inventory the right data analytics to meet the demands of DON (Department of the Navy) data consumers and decision makers — and — deploy and operate innovative solutions with minimal time to market.”

As a way to accelerate the key aims of the new strategic effort, the Navy’s Chief Information Officer is establishing a new Data and Analytics Consortium to define emerging policies, share lessons learned and help establish best practices.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Japan’s first woman fighter pilot was inspired by ‘Top Gun’

When Misa Matsushima joined the Japan Air Self Defense Force, she was one of 13,707 women service members who made up just 6.1% of all Japanese troops.

Four years later, now 1st Lt. Matsushima is in even more rarified air: The 26-year-old was named as Japan’s first female fighter pilot on Aug 24, 2018.


For Matsushima, the achievement was inspired by the movie that made the fighter jock a mainstream figure.

“Ever since I saw the movie ‘Top Gun’ when I was in primary school, I have always admired fighter jet pilots,” Matsushima told reporters on Aug 23, 2018.

“As the first female (fighter) pilot, I will open the way. I would like work hard to meet people’s expectations and show my gratitude to people who have been supporting me,” she added. “I want to become a full-fledged pilot, no different from men, as soon as possible.”

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

1st. Lt. Misashi Matsushima, the first woman fighter pilot in Japan’s Air Self Defense Force.

(Japan Air Self Defense Force / Twitter)

Originally from Yokohama in eastern Japan, Matsushima graduated from the National Defense Academy in 2014. After that she got her pilot’s license and moved to fighter-pilot training with the JASDF.

Matsushima completed the fighter-pilot course alongside five men and is expected to start flying F-15s in six months to a year. The F-15J that the JASDF flies is a twin-engine fighter designed for air-to-air combat. It can hit a top speed of Mach 2.5 — nearly 2,000 mph.

She has to undergo further training to qualify to scramble the jet to intercept aircraft that enter Japanese airspace. She will be stationed at Nyutabaru air base on the eastern coast of Kyushu, the southern most of Japan’s four main islands.

Her appointment comes amid a broader move toward gender equality in Japan’s armed forces, which are also trying to grow their ranks.

Japan’s Air Self Defense Force opened many of its positions to women in 1993, but they were still barred from fighter and reconnaissance aircraft until 2015, when the prohibition was lifted as part of an effort to increase the number of women in the service. Matsushima had planned to fly transport planes before the restriction was lifted.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

1st. Lt. Misashi Matsushima, the first woman fighter pilot in Japan’s Air Self Defense Force.

(Japan Air Self Defense Force / Twitter)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged in 2013 to empower more women to join the workforce, a landmark move for a leader in a society that has long been male-dominated.

Spring 2018, Japan’s Defense Ministry began several initiatives to boost the number of women in the military from the current 6.1% of the 228,000-strong force to 9% by 2030. Women are 16% of the US’s military’s roughly 1.29 million enlisted personnel.

Other women have achieved similar feats. Ryoko Azuma became the first woman to command a warship squadron in early 2018, a decade after Tokyo lifted a ban on women serving on warships. Women are still barred from submarines.

But Japan remains profoundly unequal for women. The country slid three spots in the World Economic Forum’s global gender-equality rankings for 2017, falling from 111 to 114 out of 144 countries. That drop was driven largely by the low proportion of women lawmakers and Cabinet ministers.

Matsushima’s accomplishment comes amid a broader push by the hawkish Abe government to grow the military. The Defense Ministry said in early August 2018 that it would raise the maximum age for military recruits form 26 to 32 to expand the pool of potential soldiers that has shrunk due to the country’s low birth rates and aging population.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

The original ‘Philadelphia Experiment’ was about a US Navy cloaking device

The story goes that in October 1943, the U.S. Navy destroyer Eldridge completely disappeared in a flash of green light while at anchor in Philadelphia. Just minutes later, it was supposedly spotted 500 kilometers away near Norfolk, Virginia, when it disappeared once more. After another flash of green light, the ship is said to have reappeared in Philadelphia harbor. 

Did the super-secret experiment with cloaking technology and teleportation really happen? Conspiracy theorists often cite secret, World War II-era government and military experimentation that will never be revealed to the public. The truth is more likely that it’s a case of a rumor mill gone horribly awry. 

The story of “The Philadelphia Experiment” began in 1955, when the Office of Naval Research received a package containing annotated science fiction novels, a series of correspondence in the form of letters and other “research materials” in the mail from a sender who claimed to have been present in Philadelphia the night the Eldridge made its fantastic voyage. 

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
The U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS Eldridge (DE-173) underway at sea, circa in 1944. (Wikimedia Commons)

Whoever sent the original packages not only claimed the details of the cloaking/teleportation experiment, but also claimed the Eldridge was fully crewed at the time. The crew was said to have suffered insanity from the fallout of the experiment and some even seemed frozen in time. 

Naval officers from the Office of Naval Research invited the author of the sci-fi novel to their offices. The author, Morris K. Jessup, recognized some of the handwriting as being from a similar series of letters he’d also received in the mail. The writer of his letter claimed to have been very close to unlocking the secret of the alien technology Jessup wrote about in his book, “The Case for the UFO: Unidentified Flying Objects.”

Two naval officers, Capt. Sidney Sherby and Cmdr. George Hoover decided to investigate the allegations of the Philadelphia Experiment, as well as the writer making those claims. It didn’t take long to realize what really happened. 

Allegedly the crew of a civilian merchant mariner called the SS Andrew Furuseth were witnesses to the flashes of green light and the mysterious appearance and subsequent disappearance of the Eldridge at Norfolk. The ship was in Norfolk harbor that night, but the master of the ship denies seeing anything described in the letters. Which is consistent with the position of the USS Eldridge.

In October 1943, the USS Eldridge wasn’t even in Philadelphia. Nor was it in Norfolk. It was in New York City, according to the destroyer’s war diary. The ship had just returned from a convoy mission to Bermuda, where it underwent its sea trials. It was in Norfolk by November 2, 1943, to join a convoy bound for Casablanca, Morocco.

The entire Philadelphia Experiment claim turned out to be a massive hoax. Investigators traced it back to a merchant seaman named Carl Allen, who sent the fantastical story to the science fiction writer, Jessup. The letters and book notations were made by Allen and Jessup before being sent to the ONR. Allen had made the whole thing up and spread the word before getting with Jessup to mail the documents to the Navy.

Other details of the story claimed that famous physicist Albert Einstein and inventor Nikola Tesla were creating technology to contribute to the experiment. Allen claimed the entire thing was classified as “Project Rainbow,” which investigators found didn’t exist as a teleportation project, but was instead the code name of the plan to defeat the Axis powers before the U.S. entered World War II.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Navy SEAL shares how to get faster with ‘goal-pace’ running

When you see running workouts, you may see terms like “sprints,” “easy jog,” “fartleks,” “intervals,” “gassers,” and even “goal-pace running.” They all are references to different types of pace workouts, and they are all different — some more different than others.

It is easy to get confused as to how you should train for timed runs, especially if you are new to running, have recently lost weight, still have weight to lose, or need to pass a fitness test.

Here is an email from a young man who has made tremendous progress with both running and weight loss:


Stew, I need to pass a 1.5-mile fitness test run and get my time below 12 minutes (11:58 is the slowest I can go). I am currently at 13 minutes but have dropped from 16 minutes as well as 25 lbs at the same time. I still have some weight to lose but within the standard. Any recommendations? Still trying.
‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(Photo by Jenny Hill)

Great job with dropping mile pace and weight! Those are great accomplishments and show you have been really working hard. The good news is you do not need to change much of your current effort, but you do need to start training to run at a faster pace in order to achieve the next set of goals. And maybe you can lose some more weight too (which will make you faster).

Here is how I would do it:

Evaluate how much you are running per week now, and keep it at that mileage, but do it at a faster pace. You can run every other day with non-impact cardio activities like bike, swim, elliptical in place of running if you feel your joints, shins and feet need a break from the impact. But if you are feeling fine, try the following:

Your new goal pace is to be able to run a quarter mile in less than 2 minutes. You do not need to run it in 1:30 or even 1:45; instead, learn how to run each lap of the following workout at 1:55-1:58. This will give you a few seconds of “gravy time” in case you slow down on the last few laps, but is not so fast that you blow all of your energy out in the first lap as many people do. You have to think GOAL PACE strategy.

Here is the workout:

Run 1/4 mile warmup — any pace/stretch

Repeat 8-10 times:

  • Run 1/4 mile at goal mile pace (1:55)
  • Walk 100m

Optional: Rest with another quick exercise for 1 minute (situps, pushups, squats, lunges) Alternate above “rest exercises” every other set if needed, or skip altogether.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(Photo by Gesina Kunkel)

I recommend the above workout 3 days a week, every other day. On the days in between, you can opt to do more running or non-impact cardio. However, the goal is different. Push yourself on these shorter/faster runs to help build your overall cardiovascular conditioning and speed. Mix in sprints, intervals, shuttle runs and fast/slow fartleks however you prefer. If you run, limit the distance to maybe a mile but you do a series of 50m, 100m, 200m and 300m, and 400m sprints.

For instance:

Warm up with a fast 400m or 2-minute bike/light stretch.

Increase speed each set and avoid full sprints if you are getting older, have had some issues with tight hamstrings/calves, or previously had pulled hamstrings. But you can still run faster than your goal pace above. That is the goal of the days in-between. Get winded each set and rest by walking back to the starting line.

Repeat 5 times

  • 50m fast runs — build up to full speed by set 4 or 5 (close to full speed)
  • Walk back to starting line

Repeat 4 times

  • 100m fast runs — build up to full speed (after a few sets)
  • Walk back to starting line

Repeat 3 times

  • 200m fast runs — fast — much faster than 1 minute (half lap)
  • Rest with 200m walk

Repeat 2 times

  • 300m fast runs — fast as you can
  • Rest with 1 minute walk
  • Grand finale — 400m fast as you can.
  • Stretch/cool-down jog or bike.

If you prefer non-impact activity, try bike pyramids, Tabata intervals, and fast/slow intervals on the bike, elliptical, or rowing machine. If you are intoswimming — push hard with the swim and work at 15-20 minute workouts in the pool.

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

This ‘Jack Ryan’ and ‘The Office’ cut is the funniest thing you’ll see this weekend

Amazon Prime is pushing their new show, Jack Ryan, based on the Tom Clancy character that has saved Britain’s queen, hunted Russian subs, and interrupted terrorist plots across the world in both novels and movies from the ’80s to today.

The character is a mainstay of the the thriller world — an American James Bond — which is why it’s so great that Amazon cast comedy icon John Krasinski in the role.


Now, Funny or Die has done what we’ve all been thinking — they cut together the Jack Ryan commercial and scenes from The Office, pitting America’s top analyst-turned-spy against the criminal genius of Dwight Schrute, the socially awkward and pretentious beet farmer who’s always hatching some failed scheme to teach his office mates a moral lesson.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

Jim (left) feigns working at his desk as Dwight (center) looks at what he believes to be a gift-wrapped desk. Spoiler: The desk is actually gone completely. Jim made a fake frame for the wrapping and the whole thing collapses when Dwight tries to sit down.

(YouTube/The Office US)

Dwight is best known by his self-appointed job title: Assistant to the Regional Manager. Abbreviated, of course, as the Ass. Man.

He labors for years to outmaneuver Jim Halpert, now Jim Ryan, in a series of escalating pranks, from disappearing desks to fake spy taps to false faxes from the future. Apparently, Dwight is not putting up with it any longer.

Check out the hilarious video mashup below and get a look at more sinister Dwight Schrute.

www.youtube.com

Jack Ryan debuted August 31, but has already been been renewed for a second season. In the first season, Ryan notices irregularities in bank transactions and eventually finds evidence of a growing terrorist threat against the U.S., leading him across the world in a quest to hunt down the leaders and prevent the attack.

The show brings Michael Bay and John Krasinski back together. The men had previously worked together on 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, a dramatization of the horrible events at the U.S. embassy in Libya in 2012. 13 Hours was probably the most well-known example of Krasinski’s pivot from comedy to action.

After years of playing Jim Halpert in The Office and performing other comedic roles, Krasinski has been branching out, directing movies and focusing on action roles.

Articles

This battle between US Marines and ISIS was largely kept secret — until now

CAMP PENDLETON, California — Maj. David Palka had seen combat before in Iraq and Afghanistan, but roughly 90% of the Marines under his command — tasked with setting up a remote fire base in northern Iraq in 2016 — had only heard the stories.


Their trial by fire in March 2016 came just hours after they landed on Army CH-47 helicopters under cover of darkness in Makhmur, Iraq. Getting off the helicopters at around 2 a.m., the Marines were in what was essentially open farmland with a large protective berm of dirt around their small perimeter.

“By 0900, we received the first rocket attack,” Palka told Business Insider. As a captain, Palka had led the Marines of Echo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment when it was attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) from Oct. 2015 to June 2016.

On Monday, Palka was awarded the Bronze Star medal (with combat “V”), the fourth-highest combat award, for what his battalion commander called “sustained valorous leadership.” He’ll also receive the Leftwich Award later this week, a trophy presented annually to a Marine company or battery commander who displays outstanding leadership.

Also read: Everybody should read General John Kelly’s speech about two Marines in the path of a truck bomb

Palka and his unit’s foray into Iraq to set up an artillery support base was previously shrouded in secrecy. But new details have emerged from that mission, showing that they were under constant threat and directly attacked more than a dozen times during their two-and-a-half months there, according to interviews and documents reviewed by Business Insider.

“When they got the call, they were ready,” Lt. Col. Jim Lively, the commander of Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, and Palka’s battalion commander at the time, told Business Insider.

‘It was no surprise that we were rocketed’

When Palka and others among his advance party left their helicopter on March 12, they marked the first American boots on the ground in Iraq to set up a quasi-permanent base since US forces left in 2014.

At what would be named Fire Base Bell — in honor of Staff Sgt. Vincent Bell, a Marine who died in Afghanistan in 2011 — Palka and his Marines began to establish security and build bunkers to protect from enemy fire.

The base was initially protected by 60 infantry Marines from Echo Co. 2/6 armed with rifles, machine-guns, and mortars, along with an Army unit providing radar equipment that would detect and zero in on rockets fired from ISIS positions. Marine artillerymen brought four M777A2 Howitzers to the base just days later.

The base was small and had no creature comforts, and troops dug holes where they would man their guns, fight, and sleep.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
Courtesy of David Palka

“It was austere. There was the constant threat 24/7,” Palka said. “My other deployments, you’d come back to a [forward operating base]. Or we’d remain on a FOB and shoot fire support in support of maneuver. We didn’t have an adjacent unit to our left and our right. We were the only general purpose ground force forward. There was no wire.”

Though the Pentagon tried to keep the presence of Marines being back in Iraq quiet, those efforts were thwarted just one week after Palka arrived.

Related: 24 photos that show the honor and loyalty of the Marine Corps

On March 19, Bell was hit once again by rockets fired from ISIS positions located roughly 15 miles away.

“It was no surprise that we were rocketed,” Palka said, noting that military planners had determined that Russian-made 122mm Katyusha rockets were the weapon of choice for ISIS at the time.

“I had received indirect fire on previous deployments, but nothing that large,” he said.

Unfortunately, the first rocket impact that day was a direct hit on the 1st gun position on the line. “As soon as it impacted, it was obvious there were casualties,” he said.

27-year-old Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin was killed, and eight other Marines on Gun One were wounded. Immediately, the other Marines began running toward the rocketed position to render medical care, despite a second rocket landing just a few hundred meters away.

“It was amazing to see them,” Palka said. “The manifestation of all of our training coming to fruition.”

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
Courtesy of David Palka

Meanwhile, the Army counter-battery radar site honed in on where the rockets had come from. And Palka, according to a military document summarizing his performance, calmly assessed casualties, called for medical evacuations, and executed an artillery counter-fire mission of seven rounds back at ISIS’ firing point. The document noted that the enemy’s rocket position was “effectively” suppressed.

“Dave kept the team focused while they did the evacuation of casualties,” Lively said. “They ran the counter battery mission [as] the fire base was attacked.”

‘This was as kinetic as anything that I had experienced before’

Echo Battery’s mission in Iraq was to set up a small outpost that could provide indirect fire support to Iraqi troops on the front lines. Artillerymen kept busy doing just that. Over the course of slightly more than 60 days at the site, the unit fired more than 2,000 rounds, including high-explosive, illumination, and smoke.

Those efforts made them a big target, as ISIS shot more than 34 rounds at their positions during that time. All told, the unit was attacked on 13 different occasions, which included rockets, small arms, and suicide attacks.

“This was as kinetic as anything that I had experienced before,” Palka said.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
Courtesy of David Palka

On two occasions, the base was attacked in a coordinated fashion by about a dozen or so ISIS fighters armed with suicide vests, small arms, machine-guns, and grenades.

The first, which came just two days after Cardin’s death, began with an ISIS fighter detonating his suicide vest against an obstacle of concertina wire.

The Marines fought back over a period of three hours on the night of March 21, eventually killing all of the ISIS fighters with no American casualties. The artillerymen, just over 2,000 feet from the enemy positions, fired illumination rounds as the grunts on the perimeter engaged with their rifles and machine guns.

“I’d say that ISIS and the enemy that we encountered in Iraq this past time… they were more bold. The fact that they would infiltrate the forward line of troops and attempt to engage a Marine element with foreign fighters,” Palka said. “Their weaponry, and their tactics were more advanced. They were more well-trained than any other force that my Marines had directly engaged on previous deployments.”

While Echo Battery fired its guns almost “daily,” it expended much of its ammunition in support of Iraqi forces gearing up to assault the city of Mosul later that year. Ahead of the October offensive to take back Iraq’s second-largest city from the Islamic State, the unit fired off more than 1,300 rounds in support of Iraqi troops attempting to take back villages on the outskirts of the city.

“Our mission was to provide force protection fire support to Iraqi security forces, which we did,” Palka said.

The unit also had a number of “firsts” besides its presence back in Iraq, to include the Corps’ first combat use of precision-guided fuses — which make artillery rounds hit with pinpoint accuracy — and the successful employment of the Army’s TPQ-53 Radar system alongside Marines, which helped them quickly identify where rockets were coming from so they could be taken out.

“There’s nothing I can put into words about how I feel about the Marines in that unit,” Palka said. “Words don’t do it justice. There’s something that you feel and sense when you walk into a room with them.”

Humor

The 13 funniest memes for the week of May 11th

Things are starting to look up! The sun is shining, relations in Korea are mending; nothing could ruin this fantastic — dammit… Thanks a lot, Iran. Can’t you guys take a hint from Kim Jong-un and chill the F out?


I assume that, by now, we’ve all seen Avengers: Infinity War, right? We don’t have to look over our shoulders before talking about it? Cool. Well, here’s an obligatory spoiler warning for all three of you who haven’t yet seen one of the highest grossing films of all time and might get upset over the use of an out-of-context meme that’s been making the rounds.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(The Salty Soldier)

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

This isn’t the spoiler. This one’s from the trailers. That spoilers come at the end.

(Decelerate Your Life)

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(Pop Smoke)

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(Air Force Nation)

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(WATM)

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(Army as F*ck)

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(The Salty Soldier)

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(Pop Smoke)

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(Sh*t My LPO Says)

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(Pop Smoke)

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(WATM)

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(Lost in the Sauce)

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

(WATM)


MIGHTY TRENDING

At least 30 Afghan troops killed in new Taliban attacks

Officials in four provinces of Afghanistan say a series of Taliban attacks on security checkpoints have killed at least 32 members of the Afghan security forces and pro-government militias.

The attacks took place in the northern provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, and Takhar, and in the western province of Badghis on Jan. 10, 2019.

In Kunduz, Qala-e Zal district chief Ahmad Fahim Qarluq said attacks by a large number of Taliban fighters in the early morning hours killed 10 soldiers and police and wounded 11.


Qarluq said 25 Taliban fighters were killed in those clashes.

In neighboring Baghlan and Takhar provinces, local Afghan officials said the Taliban killed 16 members of pro-government militias.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time

They said the militants also suffered heavy casualties.

Jamshid Shahabi, a spokesman for the governor of Badghis Province, said six members of the security forces were killed and 10 wounded in clashes at checkpoints and other security outposts.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attacks.

He said in a statement that Taliban fighters killed dozens of Afghan troops and had seized a large amount of ammunition and weapons.

The Taliban has ramped up attacks on security forces and government facilities in recent months, while Afghan and U.S. troops have increased operations against the militants’ field commanders.

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

popular

7 of the best action hero shootouts

Every gun fanatic loves a great Hollywood shootout. Bullets flying, cars exploding, magazines never emptying — all the essential elements combine to make for some high-octane movie magic.

We’ve seen some fantastic portrayals of firefights in classics like Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan, but not everybody can call for backup. Sometimes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. The guys on this list not only get the job done, they go above and beyond, dazzling audiences and tying off the finished product with a pretty bow.

Round up the body bags and let the bullets fly, these are the 7 most ridiculous, unrealistic, fantastic shootouts in film.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGPOdftbN6U

www.youtube.com

John Rambo in ‘Rambo 4’

You can’t have a list of shootouts without mentioning the veteran who was just minding his own business. Rambo has been lighting up the screen for decades with his relentless, guerrilla-warfare style, crushing the opposition.

John Rambo will never be the first to start a fight, but he damned sure will finish one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2v4j_BKSqk

www.youtube.com

El Mariachi in ‘Desperado’

Revenge is a dish best served cold, or, as is the case with El Mariachi in Desperado, with a fresh beer. This shooter carries a guitar case filled brim with weaponry and isn’t going to let anyone out of his sights — that’s a promise.

As long as he has his mobile arsenal in hand, there’s nothing that can stop this musician from playing his tune.

www.youtube.com

Wesley in ‘Wanted’

If someone gave you the option of working in a cubicle or becoming a hitman, which would you choose?

Wesley in Wanted makes it look he never had a choice — he was born for this.

www.youtube.com

Galahad in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’

Rarely do sophistication and badassery mix, but none do it better than Harry Hart, a.k.a Galahad, in Kingsman: The Secret Service.

This suit-wearing, sharp-tongued secret agent isn’t someone you want to mess with.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-HSoOFdJ3s

www.youtube.com

John Wick in ‘John Wick’

Now we all know those fanatic dog lovers. You know, the ones who color their dog’s hair and paint their nails? I’d like to see just how far they would go for revenge if harmed their dog — our guess is not quite as far as John Wick.

Once this sharpshooter smells blood, just close your eyes because the boogeyman always gets his mark.

www.youtube.com

Tony Montana in ‘Scarface’

Tony Montana’s machismo in Scarface is anything but little, especially when he takes on an onslaught of Colombian hitmen sent to his very doorstep.

This famous scene is a fantastic display of what happens when you have nothing to lose and your only (little) friend is an AR15 with a grenade launcher attachment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JQy_H-2G9o

www.youtube.com

Neo in ‘The Matrix’

Taking the number one spot on this list is The One as he unleashes a hail of bullets with his lady by his side.

This shootout shows just how unstoppable humanity’s hero, Neo, becomes as he dismantles a marble lobby with an avalanche of firepower in The Matrix.

Articles

One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

For five years, Muqtada al-Sadr’s personal insurgent army fought American troops during the Iraq War and commited heinous crimes against Iraq Sunni minorities. Now, a decade later, the Shia cleric’s Sairoon Alliance is leading Iraq’s parliamentary elections. His populist candidacy upset the U.S. favorite, incumbent Haider al-Abadi, and al-Sadr is set to be the kingmaker in Iraq.


In the years following his two uprisings against American forces, the “radical cleric” (as he was often called in Western media) continued his fight against the Baghdad government and against Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq. He eventually withdrew from public life until 2012, when he made a comeback, rebranding himself as a leader intent on bringing Sunnis and Shia together.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
For most of the Iraq War, however, he was intent on blowing Sunnis apart.

With the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq, al-Sadr also rebranded his Mahdi Army, forming the “Peace Companies,” intended to protect Shia believers from the strict form of Sunni Islam and personal violence inflicted upon Iraqis by ISIS. He continued his rebranding to become an anti-poverty, anti-corruption populist who rejects the outside influence of both Iran and the United States.

Al-Sadr’s stated purpose for Sairoon was clearing corruption, rejecting the sectarian quotas, and putting skilled thought leaders (aka technocrats) in key ministerial positions.

“The ascendancy of the list sponsored by al-Sadr shows that anti-establishment sentiment and anti-corruption have driven the choice of most voters,” said Rend al-Rahim, a former Iraqi ambassador to the United States. “None of the lists had an electoral program that outlined priorities and a plan of action. All used vague terms to lure voters. Many of the lists also used populist and demagogic tactics that played on the emotions of voters.”

Some American veterans of the 2003-2011 Iraq War are not happy with his 53-seat win.

Understandably, no one who fought the Mahdi Army or lost a friend in Sadr City wants him to wield legitimate political power in Iraq. But Al-Sadr didn’t launch a revolt in Iraq. He didn’t put a gun to Haider al-Abadi’s head to force him to step down. The cleric’s bloc was elected in a legitimate Iraqi election by the people of Iraq, none of whom were punished for not voting for Sairoon. The democracy we fought to establish in Iraq is functioning.

Sometimes the candidate you want to win doesn’t win, no matter who they might be running against.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
Ask Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Al Gore, Bob Dole, Etc.

The peaceful transfer of power is another hallmark of democracy, and we should credit Prime Minister al-Abadi when he implored the people of Iraq to accept this change.

“I call on Iraqis to respect the results of the elections,” he said.

Iraq has bigger things to worry about than the United States’ opinion on their domestic politics. This was the first election held since ISIS was pushed out of Iraq — after decimating Iraqi infrastructure. The country also faces rampant unemployment, one of the main triggers of domestic terrorism in the region.

American veterans of the Iraq War should see this as a major victory. In the first post-Saddam election of 2005, with the start of the Mahdi Army’s rise to power, did we ever believe we would see the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr with purple ink on his finger?

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
And yet, here we are.

The biggest issue for the anti-Iran cleric will be integrating Iraq’s militia’s into its official armed forces and security structure — especially since most of those are backed by Iran. Iran has publicly stated it will not allow al-Sadr’s coalition to lead the government. Al-Sadr has made moves to align himself with the king of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional adversary, to push back against the Islamic Republic.

Al-Sadr’s fight for power is far from over. Despite having ties to Iran, the Islamic Republic is no fan of the cleric, who has resisted Iranian influence in Iraq since the days of the Iraq War. And al-Sadr will no longer be able to criticize the government from the sidelines. Instead, it will be on him and his Sairoon bloc to guide Iraq to the future he promised to desperate Iraqi voters.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

NASA wants to build a ‘quieter’ supersonic aircraft

NASA has taken another step toward re-introducing supersonic flight with the award of a contract for the design, building, and testing of a supersonic aircraft that reduces a sonic boom to a gentle thump.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Palmdale, California, was selected for the Low-Boom Flight Demonstration contract, a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract valued at $247.5 million. Work under the contract began April 2, 2018, and runs through Dec. 31, 2021.


Under this contract, Lockheed Martin will complete the design and fabrication of an experimental aircraft, known as an X-plane, which will cruise at 55,000 feet at a speed of about 940 mph and create a sound about as loud as a car door closing, 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB), instead of a sonic boom.

Once NASA accepts the aircraft from the contractor in late 2021, the agency will perform additional flight tests to prove the quiet supersonic technology works as designed, aircraft performance is robust, and it’s safe to operate in the National Airspace System.

Beginning in mid-2022, NASA will fly the X-plane over select U.S. cities and collect data about community responses to the flights. This data set will be provided to U.S. and international regulators for their use in considering new sound-based rules regarding supersonic flight over land, which could enable new commercial cargo and passenger markets in faster-than-sound air travel.

MIGHTY TRENDING

General says Army needs to rethink readiness for war

The Army’s senior logistician told National Guard leaders to ensure their units are ready for the next war, because wherever and whenever it is, it will take the total force to fight and win.


“Place yourself on the battlefield and work left,” Army Materiel Command’s Gen. Gus Perna said via teleconference to more than 400 leaders gathered in Little Rock, Arkansas, for the Army National Guard’s Green Tab Commanders Conference Friday, Jan. 5.

Perna encouraged leaders to rethink the term “readiness.”

“If you get a call tonight, can you drive equipment from your motor pool to a train where it then goes to a port?” Perna asked. “Your equipment arrives at another port, where you offload it and drive into combat.”

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
Gen. Dennis L. Via (left), Army Materiel Command commanding general, presents Maj. Gen. Gustave Perna, AMC deputy chief of staff for operations and logistics, G3/4, the Gen. Brehon B. Somervell Coin-Medallion of Excellence following two years of service to the command in a ceremony at AMC Headquarters, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, July 11. (Photo by Mr. Doug Brewster)

Perna told leaders it was their responsibility to ensure their units’ Soldiers, equipment, maintenance, supply and administrative activities were in order.

Rather than focusing on reports and metrics, Perna urged leaders to think of their own organization in terms of its contribution to the total picture.

“I’m asking you to process readiness in a three dimensional way, beyond reporting and statistics. We must understand ourselves, know what our mission is, and understand our training, maintenance, supply and administration,” Perna said.

Related: Storm clouds are gathering over the Korean Peninsula

At the Army Materiel Command, Perna noted he is focusing more on maintenance trends than fleet readiness metrics, warning that fleet readiness reports could be misleading.

“If we have 10 steps to make coffee and accomplish nine, that’s 90 percent,” Perna said. “But are we drinking coffee? The obvious answer is no.”

Perna urged National Guard leaders to do what he is challenging his own leaders to do. “We have to see ourselves, look at things differently and challenge the status quo,” he said.

As the Army Materiel Command builds breadth and depth into the global supply chain, Perna asked for the National Guard leaders’ help as the organization is moving 1.2 million pieces of equipment to better equip units.

‘Gold Ancient Mariner’ is the Coast Guard officer with the most sea time
A U.S. Army Soldier assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, performs systems checks on a UH60 Blackhawk during Decisive Action Rotation 18-02 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., Nov. 24, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Dana Clarke, Operations Group, National Training Center)

Perna acknowledged that the field is experiencing a shortage of equipment on hand. He noted that by shifting 800,000 pieces of equipment, all units across the total Army would be better than 90 percent equipped within the next two years.

When called to do so, Perna urged leaders to send their best equipment, keeping in mind the impact to the Army at large. The lateral transfers, he said, would mitigate shortages of equipment on hand across the force.

When it comes to divesting, Perna also encouraged leaders not to hang on to equipment they don’t need.

“We’re going to aggressively work this,” Perna said. “Don’t hold on to your excess — it’s not for ‘just in case.’ Think of what’s best for the whole Army.”

Do Not Sell My Personal Information