A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

Every badass commando needs their own fighting knife. When the battle gets up-close and personal, all the rules are thrown out and it’s anything goes. When a suitable blade doesn’t exist, you get one made. On Nov. 4, 1940, John “Jack” Wilkinson-Latham, Charlie Rose, Lieutenant Colonel William Ewart “Dan” Fairbairn, and Major Eric Anthony “Bill” Sykes met at Wilkinson Sword Co. Ltd. to discuss the prospect of engineering a new combat fighting knife.


Each man brought desirable knowledge in practical concepts to the drawing board. Taking three decades of past experience as a peace officer and firearms instructor for the Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP) in China, then the most violent cop-beat in the world, Fairbairn had the required intangibles to show up for a conversation. He was one of the original members of the world’s first Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) teams and had expertise in forensic ballistics. These bullet points in Fairbairn’s life were what allied clandestine units eyeballed. “I was in police work in the Orient for 30 years [1907-1940],” he said. “We had a tough crowd to deal with there so you had to be prepared to beat every trick in the book.”

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

Dermot O’Neill teaches combatives learned from his days as an SMP officer.

Photo courtesy of Special Forces Roll of Honour.

A bloody fight in an alleyway hospitalized Fairbairn after he was ambushed by goons from a Chinese separatist gang. Covered in bandages after being stabbed over a dozen times and left for dead, he awoke to notice a plaque on the wall that read: “Professor Okada, Jiu-Jitsu and Bone-setting.” He had an epiphany to use Jiu-Jitsu and combine it with other martial arts such as boxing, judo, and wrestling. He called it Defendu and used it to better protect his officers in these types of melees.

Sykes, a special sergeant attached to the sniper unit, was highly respected by Fairbairn. Together they tussled with street thugs in riots and patrolled among the political unrest across the red light districts. In just 12.5 years, they were present during more than 2,000 riots and fights, 666 of which were shootings. They deescalated 200 of them, a remarkable record considering that a mob can turn into a violent riot fairly quickly. This anomaly exposed them to real-world tactics shaped from classroom theory to results-driven practices. The skill to incapacitate called for a specific level of training because killing was the last resort.

From 1927 to 1940, Fairbairn made connections with the 4th Marine Regiment stationed in China; those from the “China Marines” were exposed to his methods in how to kill with a blade. These connections would prove to be effective down the road in his role with the implementation of unarmed combat within the U.S. military and select special operations units.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

A commando concealing his F-S knife in a sheath on his calf.

(photo courtesy of the Commando Museum.)

After retiring from the SMP, the pair returned to the United Kingdom in 1940 and were approached by the Secret Intelligence Service’s (SIS) “Section D” (for destruction) to set up a combatives program for the newly formed Commandos and Special Operations Executive (SOE). Since their November 1940 meeting, it took Rose, the top development engineer at Wilkinson Sword Co. Ltd. Experimental Workshop, 10 days to work out the kinks in the “First Pattern” of the F-S knives. The expedited process ensured a batch of 1,500 daggers would reach schoolhouses across England.

“In modern warfare, the job is more drastic,” said Fairbairn. “You’re interested only in disabling or killing your enemy. That’s why I teach what I call ‘Gutter Fighting.’ There’s no fair play; no rules except one; kill or be killed.” Their nimble design had a long, thin 6.5- to 7-inch blade; the grip was made from solid brass, and the grip handguard was nickel-plated.

Designed for combat applications, the double-edged stiletto could be worn and concealed on the calf of a commando. Its usage was common in the ETO (European Theater of Operations) but saw action among members of SOE’s Force 136, including James Alexander E. MacPherson, who carried it in the Far East.

Gutter Fighting training by OSS at Catoctin

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This lightweight model was then introduced to Lieutenant Colonel Rex Applegate, a counterintelligence officer assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) instructor cadre. Known for his instruction on “Point Shooting” with handguns and a visionary in combat application, he traveled to the U.K. to witness the commandos training firsthand. He and Fairbairn inspected the field reports of the dagger’s effectiveness on body armor, conducted additional training, and met up with Fairbairn’s then-compatriot Sykes. While Sykes remained in the U.K. instructing his “Silent Killing” course, Fairbairn and him had a disagreement that is rumored to have hurt their relationship.

Applegate and Fairbairn returned to the West to introduce their methods to the Americans at Camp Ritchie, then later at the 275-acre farmland training grounds called STS-3 (Special Training School), or Camp X, in Oshawa, Canada. Camp X opened on Dec. 6, 1941, a day before the attacks on Pearl Harbor. It became an instrumental link between British and American special operations forces who cross-trained before going to war. They eventually made a knife of their own called the Applegate-Fairbairn fighting knife.

The Shanghai connection didn’t stop there. Irishman Dermot “Pat” O’Neill served amongst the SMP, following in his father’s footsteps. As he rose through the ranks, O’Neill earned a fourth dan black belt. His influence was feared — a SWAT cop mingling in the same gyms as Judo students who were trained as spies for the Kempeitai, the Japanese version of the Gestapo. Adding to the heat already upon him was rampant corruption in the SMP, including the chief of detective squad, Lu Liankui. He was a Green Gang boss and disciple of the Ji Yunquing, one of the eight leaders of the Big Eight Mob. O’Neill expected retribution and bailed onto a fishing boat for Sydney; he soon received a telegram from Fairbairn requesting his presence in the United States.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

The Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife is present on many modern-day unit insignias, including the U.S. Army Special Forces.

(Open source graphic.)

O’Neill weaved his way to Camp X, where Fairbairn utilized his expertise teaching OSS officers. Here he taught students how to sneak up on sentries and eliminate them. He ran the students through real-world scenarios because shooting paper targets on a range and performing hand-to-hand combat drills on dummies wasn’t going to cut it in war. Fairbairn put students through “indoor mystery ranges” (the “shoot houses” or “kill houses” today’s special operations soldiers are familiar with).

“Under varying degrees of light, darkness, and shadows, plus the introduction of sound effects, moving objects, and various alarming surprises,” Fairbairn explained, “an opportunity is afforded to test the moral fiber of the student and to develop his courage and capacity for self control.” The students referred to these tests as the “House of Horrors” for its authenticity.

Fairbairn’s web of connections brought helped spread the Fairbairn-Sykes combat fighting knife around the world, and it has a lineage in many different historical units. When O’Neill left the OSS, he later joined Lt. Col. Robert Frederick’s First Special Service Force (FSSF), commonly referred to as the Devil’s Brigade. The joint U.S.-Canada team learned quickly that O’Neill wasn’t there to teach them how to incapacitate an enemy — he was there to teach them how to kill.

Frederick developed his own knife called the V-42 stiletto. Inspired by the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife, Frederick issued his “Cross Dagger” to his commandos. Today, the lineage can be seen in the insignia of the British Special Air Service (SAS), Royal Marines, U.S. Army Special Forces, U.S. Army Rangers, Dutch Commando Corps, and the Australian 2nd Commando Regiment.

The Best Ranger Competition

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This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 of the best tank scenes, ranked

Hollywood filmmakers go to extreme lengths to produce bouts of nail-biting hand-to-hand combat and on-screen firefights. These sequences are exceptionally thrilling and, with the right choreography and camera movements, can be lifelike and intense.

Now, add in a monstrous armored vehicle, like a tank or two, and you’ve officially kicked your movie up a notch. Sure, some films do a great job of showing a tank destroying everything in its path, but few are able to tell a story in a way that makes the well-protected vehicle into its own unique character.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy-MKdRwhHs

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When James Bond takes the controls in ‘GoldenEye’

In 1995, James Bond teamed up with a survivor of a destroyed Russian research center to stop a former agent from taking over a nuclear space station. To rescue one of the notable Bond girls (this time, Natalya Simonova), 007 tactically acquires a Russian tank.

Next, our favorite British spy makes smashing a Russian tank through a brick wall and steering it down the streets of St. Petersburg look easy. If you can suspend your disbelief a little, this is an awesome scene.

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Speedster cars versus a beast of a tank in ‘Fast & Furious 6’

The Fast and the Furious franchise isn’t known for its military authenticity. That being said, moviegoers expect over-the-top action and director Justin Lin provided: this time, in the form of a cool tank scene that literally popped out of nowhere. Suddenly, the film’s heroes must improvise a way to take down a well-armed tank using their clever wit and outstanding driving skills.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9bymLD8yvQ

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Sticky bombs against a couple of tanks ‘Saving Private Ryan’

There’s probably nothing scarier than being out-manned, under-supplied, and having to fight a tremendous force of German soldiers headed your way. But, in 1998, a squad of Army Rangers took on that near-impossible task head-on in Saving Private Ryan.

During the film’s memorable final battle, the young squad had to defeat not one, but four tanks before they broke through their defenses using what they called “sticky bombs.” It’s an incredible scene.

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Indy takes on a Nazi tank while on horseback in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’

If any Hollywood director appreciates a solid tank battle, it’s the legendary Steven Spielberg (it’s no coincidence that he’s made this list twice). In this scene, Hollywood’s most exciting archaeologist must battle a group of Nazis riding in tanks while on horseback.

We know, those odds aren’t exactly fair, but Indiana Jones (somehow) pulls through and wins this epic duel, rescuing his father in the process.

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The parachuting tank in the ‘A-Team’

While trying to clear their names, four brave Soldiers, better known as The A-Team, take over a massive cargo plane that happens to have a fully loaded tank in the back. Now, before the plane gets blown up, the crew deploys the tank and attempts to direct it toward a safe landings via a few parachutes .

This original idea makes for a great cinematic experience for the audience, and it’s for that reason (not military authenticity) that it successfully touched down on our list.

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The tanks battles in ‘Fury’

If you set out to make a modern day film dedicated to the brave tankers of World War II, you’ll need to include some epic battle scenes to truly do the story justice. In 2014, director David Ayer did exactly that in Fury.

If you want a taste of the intensity, check out the scene below.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This may be the origin of the ‘Dear John’ letter

No two innocent-sounding words can crush a troop’s morale quite like “Dear John.” In the military lexicon, a “Dear John” letter is a cute letter sent by a troop’s lady back home that lets him know she’s gone. These letters typical start with incoherent ramblings about how they miss their “John” before ultimately saying they’re moving on.


A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
Seriously, didn’t they read the poster? (Image via Smithsonian)

To the deployed John, time stands still, but the Earth still rotates. Even if a troop finds a good one that’s willing to wait, everyone knows someone who got a “Dear John.”

Despite the fact that these heartbreaking letters were undoubtedly sent with the near-12 million letters delivered per week during WWI, the phrase wasn’t popularized until WWII, when American GIs sent and received over one billion pieces of mail throughout the war.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
This is just one day’s worth of mail for reference. (Image via Australian War Memorial)

When, exactly, troops started using it to refer to an actual letter is lost to time, but it’s been used as a popular saying as far back as 1944 in the St. Petersburg Times. However, the phrase originated many years prior, and was used extensively in Anthony Trollope’s 1864 novel, Can You Forgive Her? The immensely popular Victorian English novel that, honestly, does not hold up to the modern standards of bearable.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
You can seriously skip this book. Even Stephen King mocked it in his memoir. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

A CliffsNotes of the CliffsNotes is that the story centers around a woman named Alice who has two suitors. One is wild and exciting, but evil: George. The other is honest and a war hero, but boring: John. As it turns out, George is a psychopathic politician who tries to murder everyone and Alice’s cousin. Just throwing that out there. But, in the end, John finds out Alice is leaving him through a letter that starts with a phase repeated throughout the novel, “Dear John.”

Although we don’t know the exact origins of the phrase, as John was the most popular boys name of the time (see: John Doe), this our best guess. Either way, the phrase has had an undeniable impact — it’s since been referenced by Hank Williams Sr., Taylor Swift, a Nicholas Sparks novel that became a film, and television.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Tampa Bay Buccaneers name General H Norman Schwarzkopf Army Family of the Year

On Monday December 14, 2020, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers surprised an unsuspecting Army family.

Staff Sergeant Ulisses Bautista and his wife, Marla, were having a quiet afternoon when their doorbell rang and they heard loud banging. Ulisses went to the door first to see what was going on, naturally concerned. But there was no need – he was met with a smiling team member from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who asked him to get his entire family outside as quickly as possible for a surprise.

“There were about 10 people including two Tampa baby Buccaneers Cheerleaders in our driveway, cheering, clapping and congratulating us,” Marla said. It was then that they realized they had been selected as the General H Norman Schwarzkopf Army Family of the Year. “I was speechless! I think I said ‘Oh my gosh’ 50 times while they were outside my home. We were blown away!”

The Central Florida USO along with the Buccaneers were proud to recognize and honor this Army family. Each year, one family from every branch of service is recognized for their contribution to the military community. They are chosen based on their integrity, courage, commitment and service before self. The awardees selected for 2020 were extraordinary. Stories of life-saving missions, launching non-profit organizations to support the homeless and military family mentorship were just a few of the reasons this year’s families were chosen.

Normally the celebration is held as a large event but with COVID-19, adjustments had to be made. This year it was coordinated through socially-distanced home visits with the Buccaneers Street Team RV, cheerleaders and the mascot to make the presentation. While outside the family received a special message from the co-owner of the Buccaneers and the wife and daughter of the late General H Norman Schwarzkopf.

The family runs The Bautista Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving homeless veterans and displaced youth. The work they do is personal for both of them. “I’m a soldier and servicing my country is something I’ve done for 17 years,” Ulisses explained. “Traveling around the world, I’ve been exposed to different ways of life and unfortunately, different views of poverty. First and foremost, I do what I do because I enjoy doing it but also, I believe what we do will give people in need a sense of self-worth.”

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

‘When I heard we were selected as the General H Norman Schwarzkopf Army Family of the year I was in shock. I mean there are so many amazing Army families doing great things. However, my family is truly honored to receive this distinguished recognition,” Ulisses said. The award also includes a fun two-night stay for each military family at Tradewinds Island Grand Resort and gift cards courtesy of Lowe’s and PDQ. 

Marla herself was homeless as a teenager and it’s an experience that’s never left her. “I promised myself If I were to ever overcome homelessness, I too would give just as those who came before me. I have kept my promise and will continue to work toward ending homelessness in America.  It is an achievable goal,” she said. 

On their family receiving this award, Marla shared, “This award means we are doing something right. It means we are inspiring communities to do great work and to us, that’s the goal. Each one of us plays a part in making the world a better place and together we can do just that.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Texas military community rallies to saves turtles

Amid the historic snowstorms and frigid temperatures that battered the Lone Star state earlier this year, members of one Texas military community gathered to save hundreds of green sea turtles left cold-stunned along the shore. 

According to Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Corpus Christi (DDCT), the water in Corpus Christi Bay dipped to 31 degrees, which is significantly colder than the turtles can tolerate. As a result, the animals went into a “cold-stunned” state, a condition similar to hypothermia. Some perished, others bobbed listlessly in the water, while many others still washed up on shore, where they caught the attention of the military community.

“We knew with the weather changing that the turtles would be in danger,” Cheryl Jason, a Navy spouse, said. She, along with her husband, Capt. Christopher Jason, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Corpus Christi (NASCC), monitored the animals along base beaches. Once they realized the turtles were suffering, Christopher rescued several in his kayak. 

Cheryl posted a photo of their efforts on social media and the mission quickly went viral. “Volunteers from all ranks, dependents, retirees came into action,” she said.

Marine spouse Shannon Slocum saw the post and decided to head to the beach to see the situation for herself.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
Emma and Ellie Slocum pose with rescued turtles. Their family helped transport more than 150 animals.

“We arrived down there with our kids in tow and were devastated to find at least 50 cold-stunned sea turtles who were washed up along a very small beach area on the base,” Slocum said, adding that they had no idea nearly 800 more turtles would drift to the shore in the days after. 

Slocum worked as fast as she could but was soon overwhelmed by the sheer volume of animals washing ashore. She too turned to social media for help. 

“I took a quick video of what we were doing and posted it to the Corpus Christi Spouses Facebook page, and people responded to help in droves.”

Helpers got to work with quick and creative thinking and assisted in any way they could, Slocum said, noting that people used everything at their disposal including kayaks, paddleboards, and rescue diving gear. Her husband, 2nd Lt. Mark Slocum, and a friend created an impromptu pulley system made of a laundry basket and ropes.

Read: Army veteran feeds 1,000 in Texas storm. 

“From that small effort alone, I think they pulled up 12 turtles that otherwise had no way of being rescued.”

Over the next three days, Slocum and her family, with the help of the Padre Island National Seashore, transported more than 150 cold-stunned sea turtles to rescue facilities.

Navy spouse Emily Kalbach, a GS employee who works at NASCC, and her daughter joined the effort, offering support, towels, and gloves to the volunteers. In the days that followed, she used her minivan to transport hundreds of turtles from the beach to the DDCT facility.   

“I can’t quite put words to the heaviness of the situation,” Kalbach said. “The anxiety we felt, fear, the awe, all those feelings that drive people to react and take action when a need arises.”

When buildings at NASCC proved too cold, base leadership connected with a variety of agencies, including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, to find appropriate facilities and ensure the turtles were being cared for properly. 

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

DDCT’s employees spent the night wrangling turtles that tried to scurry away, keeping the animals’ eyes moist, and having a squadron of pilots take “turtle watch.” Their efforts helped to save 750 turtles. 

Biji Pandisseril, NASCC’s environmental director, said that it was a group effort, as everyone from officers and enlisted, retirees, Coast Guardsmen, DOD civilians, and on- and off-base individuals took part.

“This was not only a good example of the military helping the environment, but also a great example of diverse people coming together for a common good,” said Pandisseril. 

The Texas State Aquarium says it admitted and cared for more than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles at its Wildlife Rescue Center, nursing them back to health in a large, heated rehabilitation saltwater pool. Since the rescue, it has released approximately 950 of the animals back into their habitats.

“We greatly appreciate the ongoing partnership with NAS Corpus Christi,” Texas State Aquarium Senior Vice President and Chief Operation Officer Jesse Gilbert, said.  

According to Gilbert, the rapid response of the community is the reason so many animals stand a chance of surviving rehabilitation and ultimately being released back into the wild.

Looking back on the experience, Slocum says tight-knit communities such as Corpus are built to field these types of situations. 

“I have to say, as a military spouse/family, especially a seasoned one, you learn very quickly what it means to adapt and overcome difficult situations. We made do with what we could, and at the end of the day, we were just really proud of our efforts.”

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

Articles

This is what makes SWCC crews so lethal

Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman, the “Boat Guys” in all those Navy SEALs photos, are a small and elite bunch of warriors who don’t get nearly enough credit for their contribution to American security.


Here’s what makes the “SEALs Taxi Service” so lethal.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen from Special Boat Team 22 conduct live-fire immediate action drills at the riverine training range at Ft. Knox. (Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger)

First, yes, they have SEALs on the boats. When your payload is Navy SEALs, that’s a pretty big plus in the lethality department.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
U.S. Navy SEALs splash into the water from a combat rubber raiding craft attached to an 11-meter rigid hull infalatble boat, during a capabilities exercise, at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek – Fort Story. (Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Gary L. Johnson III.)

But SWCCs don’t just drop off and pick up SEALs. They also conduct their own missions.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Combatant-craft crews can be sent against enemy shipping and other water traffic to shut down commerce or supply operations.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
(Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger)

The SWCC crews keep an eye out for enemy movements or other activity in their domain. If they identify a threat, they can prosecute it themselves or report it up to the deepwater guys for help.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
(Photo: U.S. Navy Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger)

The SWCCs do all of this from some of the world’s most advanced and dangerous small crafts.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matt Daniels)

Their boats are typically well-armed, and SWCCs train extensively on small craft tactics and strategies.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
(GIF: YouTube/America’s Navy)

The Navy prefers to deploy SWCC craft in groups so boats can provide fire support to one another.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathan Laird/Released)

But even a single boat brings a lot of firepower.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy M. Black)

Navy SWCCs can launch and recover their vehicles in the well decks of larger ships.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
(Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Darren M. Moore)

And some of the boats can even be airdropped into the water for operations. All SWCC operators are static-line parachute qualified so they can jump with their boats.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
(Photo: U.S. Navy)

Of course, jumping after a boat means the operators will land in the water. So they conduct open water swims, sometimes into near-freezing water, to prepare.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
Special Warfare Combatant-craft crewmen finish an open ocean swim, with water and air temperatures hovering below 40 degrees. (Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Tim Miller)

The Navy gets sailors ready for this grueling job by demanding constant and rigorous physical training.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
A Crewman Qualification Training candidate puts on his flippers before swimming in Coronado Bay during a Monster Mash training exercise. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Navy SWCC and SEAL candidates awaiting training are assigned to the Fleet Transition Program to ensure they remain physically capable of becoming elite maritime warriors.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Abe McNatt)

The SWCC training pipeline consists four phases, the two-month Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School, Naval Special Warfare Orientation, Basic Crewman Training, and Crewman Qualification Training.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
Crewman Qualification Training (CQT) candidates hustle to shore during a Monster Mash training exercise. (Photo: U.S Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Scorza).

And the Navy isn’t afraid to recruit potential candidates while they’re still young. Scout teams go into the community to seek out talented individuals who might be interested in a special operations career.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
Chief Petty Officer Joseph Schmidt, assigned to the Navy SEAL and SWCC Scout Team, speaks to San Diego Junior Lifeguard members before a physical training evolution. (Photo: U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Pyoung K. Yi)

The Navy has over 700 sailors trained and assigned as SWCCs at a time. This tiny force conducts dangerous and essential missions all over the world.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Richard Miller)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Veterans will get access to the most advanced clinical trials in cancer research

Veterans with cancer who receive treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will now have easier access to clinical trials of novel cancer treatments, thanks to an agreement between VA and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health.


The NCI and VA Interagency Group to Accelerate Trials Enrollment, or NAVIGATE, which is launching at 12 VA facilities across the country, will enhance the ability of veterans to participate in trials carried out through NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) and the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). As part of the agreement, NCI will provide infrastructure funding support needed for the VA facilities to participate in NCI-sponsored trials, enhancing the ability of veterans with cancer to receive promising treatments locally. In turn, VA will manage organizational and operational activities within its national healthcare system to establish a network to focus on NCI trial goals.

“NAVIGATE is an opportunity for VA and NCI to partner at the national level to make clinical trials more accessible to veterans,” said James H. Doroshow, M.D., deputy director for Clinical and Translational Research, NCI. “This agreement will not only provide veterans greater access to NCI clinical trials, it will enhance accrual to NCTN and NCORP trials, resulting in more timely completion of these studies. This interagency collaboration will also work to help veterans overcome barriers they’ve faced trying to access clinical trials as part of their cancer care.”

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

VA has a robust clinical research program that includes clinical trials in cancer and other diseases at approximately 100 sites nationwide. However, VA facilities often face challenges initiating and completing externally funded trials because of the need for partners to navigate the system. This program aims to overcome these challenges with dedicated staffing and a sustainable infrastructure, and to address existing barriers to trial enrollment that veterans, including minority patients, often experience. In addition, NAVIGATE will increase the participation of VA investigators in clinical cancer research, and provide opportunities for these researchers to identify studies that may be of particular importance to veterans with cancer.

After an application process, the 12 VA sites picked to participate in NAVIGATE are: Atlanta VA Health Care System; James J. Peters VA Medical Center in New York City; Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina; VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System in Denver; Durham VA Medical Center in North Carolina; Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois; Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center in Long Beach, California; Minneapolis VA Health Care System; VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California; Portland VA Medical Center in Portland, Oregon; Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital/South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio; and VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven.

The program will be jointly managed by VA and NCI for up to three years. It is expected that, during this time, the participating VA sites will establish long-term capabilities to continue participation in NCI trials after this program ends. The NAVIGATE program sites will also establish best practices and share insights to help VA sites nationwide to initiate new studies and enroll more veterans in cancer clinical trials.

“By increasing enrollment in cancer clinical trials, VA and veterans will be contributing to important oncology research,” said VA Chief Research and Development Officer Rachel Ramoni, D.M.D., Sc.D. “This will not only help our veterans, but also advance cancer care for all Americans, and people around the world.”

VA’s involvement in NAVIGATE is being managed through the Cooperative Studies Program, part of VA’s Office of Research and Development. NAVIGATE is overseen by an Executive Committee comprised of VA and NCI leadership responsible for ensuring effective coordination on key activities between the agencies and that program milestones are achieved.

About the National Cancer Institute (NCI): NCI leads the National Cancer Program and NIH’s efforts to dramatically reduce the prevalence of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI website at cancer.gov or call NCI’s Contact Center (formerly known as the Cancer Information Service) at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

This article originally appeared on the National Institutes of Health. Follow @NIH on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 less-than-helpful remedies troops use to avoid sick call

Going to sick call is seen as optional by many troops. I mean, who wants to waste a nice morning run when you can just treat whatever ails you on your own? After all, it worked that one time, so why wouldn’t it work again now?

There’s a tendency among troops to take it upon themselves to try and fix minor medical problems without bothering the doc and missing out on a super critical 6-mile ruck. You wouldn’t want to be accused of malingering, would you?

In the minds of troops, it’s often better to roll the dice and hope you can treat yourself — and, as you can imagine, this isn’t always the best answer.


The truth is that some of the common “treatments” employed by troops are either not all that helpful or they make matters worse. Here’s the best advice we can offer: Don’t be an friggin’ idiot. Use common sense. If the sickness or injury is bad enough, go see the doc. The only prize for “toughing it out” is a f*cked up body. And by skipping out on a visit to sick call, you miss out on putting your issue on your medical records, which can be a big problem down the road.

The following are the unofficial tools for avoiding sick call — and why you might want to reconsider:

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

If you don’t feel it immediately, you’ll sure as hell feel it in the morning…

(U.S. Air Force)

1. Alcohol

“It ain’t called “Grandpa’s cough syrup” for nothing! It’s like taking Benadryl — only more fun, right? After all, you can’t feel sick if you’re passed out!”

Ask anyone who’s ever tried drinking while sick and they’ll probably tell you it’s a terrible idea. Being sick dehydrates you — so does drinking. By consuming alcohol, you’re flushing the water your body needs to heal itself. In the end, this just prolongs your recovery.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

Beware the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide…

(U.S Army photo by Sgt. Leo Jenkins)

2. Guzzling down water

“If there’s one thing that the medic kept getting on your ass about, it was to keep drinking water. The surest way to detect how healthy your body is by comparing your pee to that chart that’s hanging in the latrine. It’s like a check-engine light for your body.”

This is a fantastic idea. Drinking water is a perfectly healthy thing to do. But if you quickly go from consuming barely any water at all to chugging gallons of it, you can actually become overhydrated. Your kidneys can’t process that much water and you’ll lose it all — along with some other needed stuff, like sodium. If you really want to use the pee chart, know that “pale lemonade yellow” is the healthy medium.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

At least get a sick call slip. It’s an official order from a medical officer that says you can be lazy for a few days.

(U.S. Army)

3. Ignoring it

“Sometimes, all you need is a good night’s rest and you’ll be right as rain. If that doesn’t work, ignore whatever’s going on until things get better. If it still hurts, well, just toughen up and stop complaining.”

If it’s a cold or a sore muscle, roger — get some rest and carry on. This mentality becomes a problem when whatever’s ailing you doesn’t show signs of improving. Say you tear some kinda muscle — if your body is given the proper time to heal and you take it easy, it could heal on its own. If you try to shrug it off and continue to push yourself, things are only going to get worse with each passing day.

If it remains a problem, get some help.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

If you are going to pop the blister, at least use extreme care to keep it clean. Bandage it and use moleskin.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour)

4. Popping blisters

“It’s only natural to poke at something when it hurts. See that blister? Screw waiting around! Pop that sucker with a needle so it can start healing and let’s get a move on.”

It doesn’t take a medical degree to know that popping blisters on your feet is a terrible idea. For starters, blisters are your body’s way of repairing itself. Popping blisters only prolongs the healing process and leaves the wound open for infection. And since it’s oftentimes on your nasty-ass feet, it’s definitely going to get infected.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

If you don’t want to be literally sh*tting out blood, don’t exceed 800mg per 6 hours.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dennis Spain)

5. Lots of ibuprofen

“Why bother the corpsmen when you already know what they’re going to give you? No matter what you tell them, the solution is always the same: Motrin and a bottle of water. Skip the line and just pick some up at the local grocery store and pop a few. Besides, it’s totally funny to watch peoples’ reactions as you down three 800mg pills of ibuprofen and wash it down with an energy drink.”

Ibuprofen is not a super drug that can cure everything. First of all, it’s really only used to treat fevers and soothe pains and inflammations. Secondly, despite what you might think, there’ is such a thing as too much ibuprofen — quit popping 800mg pills whenever you start feeling a cramp. Finally, don’t be taking the huge-ass ones without food or water unless you feel like ripping your stomach and intestines up.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Disabled vets and retirees will get the biggest raise in 7 years

Military retirees, those who receive disability or other benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, federal retirees, and social security recipients will see a 2.8 percent pay raise in their monthly checks in 2019.

It is the biggest Cost Of Living Allowance (COLA) increase in seven years, equaling as much as $369 a month for those at the top of the retirement pay charts.


Each year military retirement pay, Survivor Benefit Plan Annuities, VA Compensation and Pensions, and Social Security benefits are adjusted for the rate of inflation.

Retirement pay increase

Thanks to the increase, the average military retirement check for an E-7 with 20 years of service will go up by a month, while an O-5 with the same time in uniform will see a 6 monthly increase.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather L. Rodgers)

Retirees who entered military service on or after Aug. 1, 1986 and opted in for the Career Status Bonus (CSB/Redux retirement plan), have any COLA increases reduced by 1 percent, so they will see a 2019 increase of 1.8 percent or monthly for an E-7 with 20 years of service, or each month for an O-5 with 20 years of service.

VA disability increase

Disabled veterans will also get a bump. The average VA disability check will go up about per month for those with a 10 percent rating, and for those rated at 100 percent.

Other federal retirees and beneficiaries

Military retirees and VA beneficiaries aren’t the only ones who benefit from the COLA increase. Civil Service retirees, and Social Security recipients will also see the 2.8 percent jump in their monthly checks as well.

For Social Security recipients, the monthly increase will mean an extra per month for the average beneficiary.

Largest COLA bump in years

This annual COLA is determined by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a measurement of a broad sampling of the cost of consumer goods and expenses. The CPI is compared to the previous year, if there is an increase there is a COLA. If there is no increase, there is no COLA.

The COLA affects about one in every five Americans, including Social Security recipients, disabled veterans, federal retirees, and retired military members.

In 2017, the COLA increase was 2.0 percent; in 2017, retirees saw a 0.3 percent increase.

Keep up with military pay updates

Military pay benefits are changing all the time — make sure you’re up to date with everything you’ve earned. Join Military.com for free to receive updates on all your military benefits, delivered directly to your inbox.

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

Articles

MACV-SOG: The covert special operations unit you’ve never heard of

If a conflict in U.S. history ever came with baggage, it has to be the Vietnam War. Although the service and actions of the millions of Americans who fought in Southeast Asia have been slowly recognized, the unpopularity of the war at the time, and for many years after, left a scar in American society. This unpopularity also meant that extraordinary men and units, such as the Military Assistance Command Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), have fallen through the cracks of America’s consciousness, and are only known to a few old comrades, their families, and a handful of military history enthusiasts.

The innocuous-sounding MACV-SOG is such an organization, although its obscurity also has to do with its highly secretive nature.

SOG operators pulled off some of the most impressive special operations of the entire war; including some that seemed to defy logic itself. As successive U.S. administrations claimed that no American troops were outside South Vietnam, several hundreds of special operations troops fought against all odds, and against an enemy who always enjoyed a numerical advantage that sometimes exceeded a ratio of 1:1000.  

The most secret unit you’ve never heard of

Activated in 1964, MACV-SOG was a covert joint special operations organization that conducted cross-border operations in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and North Vietnam.

Composed of Army Special Forces operators, Navy SEALs, Recon Marines, and Air Commandos, SOG also worked closely with the Intelligence Community, often running missions at the request of the CIA.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
The unofficial logo of MACV-SOG (USASOC).

During its eight-year secret war (1964-1972), SOG conducted some of the most daring special operations in U.S. history and planted the seed for the creation of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).

Related: ST IDAHO: THE SPECIAL FORCES TEAM THAT VANISHED IN THE JUNGLE

SOG’s main battleground and focus was the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail, a complex stretching for hundreds of miles above and below ground, from North Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia into South Vietnam, which the North Vietnamese and Vietcong used to fuel their fight in the south.

What was peculiar about SOG operations was the fact that they happened where U.S. troops weren’t supposed to be. Successive U.S. administrations had insisted that no American troops were operating outside South Vietnam.

SOG commandos, thus, wore no name tags, rank, or any other insignia that might identify them as Americans. Even their weapons had no serial numbers.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
The Ho Chi Minh Trail slithered throughout Indochina and supplied the insurgency in South Vietnam (USASOC).

Duty in SOG was voluntary and strictly confidential. SOG troops weren’t allowed to disclose their location, missions, or any other details surrounding their covert outfit and they couldn’t take photographs—like all good commandos. However, SOG broke that rule frequently, as the numerous pictures from the time suggest. But as far as the general public was concerned, they were each just another American soldier fighting Communism in Vietnam.

SOG was commanded by an Army colonel, called “Chief SOG,” reflecting the predominance of Green Berets in the organization, and divided into three geographical sections: Command and Control North (CCN), Command and Control Central (CCC), and Command and Control South (CCS).

Service in the unit was highly selective. Not only did it recruit solely from special operations units, but the inherent risk required that everyone had to be a volunteer. Approximately 3.2 million Americans served in Vietnam. Of that number, about 20,000 were Green Berets, of those, only 2,000 served in SOG, with just 400 to 600 running recon and direct action operations.

Service at SOG came with an unspoken agreement that you’d receive either a Purple Heart or body bag. SOG had a casualty rate of 100 percent—everyone who served in SOG was either wounded, most multiple times, or killed.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
In Laos, a MACV-SOG team reconnoiters the Ho Chi Minh Trail for installations and pipelines (Wikimedia.org).

Our “Little People

What enabled SOG operations was a steady supply of loyal and fierce local fighters who passionately hated the North Vietnamese—and sometimes each other. These local warfighters worked with the American commandos as mercenaries. The “Little People,” as the Americans affectionally called them, proved their worth on the field, against impossible odds time and again.

These local partner forces included Montagnards, South Vietnamese, and Chinese Nungs, among other tribes and ethnicities. Indeed, local mercenaries made up most of SOG recon teams and Hatchet Forces (more on them later). For example, most recon teams would run cross-border operations with between two and four Americans and four to nine local mercenaries. Locals had an uncanny ability—some SOG operators would say a sixth sense—to detect danger. This ability made them perfect point men during recon operations.  

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
An American commando surrounded by local mercenaries (USASOC).

Usually, when launching a cross-border recon operation, SOG teams would enter a pre-mission “quarantine,” much like modern-day Army Special Forces operational detachments do before deploying. During this quarantine period, they would eat the same food as the North Vietnamese, that is mostly rice and fish, so they—and their human waste—could smell like the enemy while in the jungle.

Related: COWBOY, A LEGANDARY COMMANDO

Today, where pre-workout and energy drinks are borderline mandatory, even on active operations, such measures might sound extravagant. But in a moonless night, in the middle of the Cambodian jungle, surrounded by thousands of North Vietnamese trackers and troops, something as trivial-seeming as your smell could mean the difference between a SOG team getting wiped out or making it home.

The local troops, having a great understanding of the operational environment, were crucial in the survival of many SOG recon teams. When the war ended, some of them, such as the legendary “Cowboy,” managed to escape to the West and come to the U.S.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
MACV-SOG Recon Team Alabama, including legendary local commando Cowboy. Notice the extended magazines for the CAR-15 rifle (Courtesy picture).

Death-defying special operations

SOG specialized mainly in strategic reconnaissance, direct-action, sabotage, and combat search-and-rescue.

Although SOG’s primary mission-set was strategic reconnaissance through its recon teams, it also specialized in direct-action operations, such as raids and ambushes. For these larger operations, there were different outfits within SOG.

The “Hatchet Forces” specialized in raids and ambushes, but also acted as a quick-reaction force for recon teams. Usually, Hatchet Forces were platoon-size and composed of five Americans and 30 indigenous troops. Sometimes, several Hatchet Forces would combine to create a company-size element, called either “Havoc” or “Hornet,” that could be very effective against known enemy logistical hubs or headquarters.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
MACV-SOG operators Lynne Black Jr. (left) and John Stryker Meyer (left) on the range (Courtesy Picture).

In addition to the Hatchet Forces, there were also the “SLAM” companies, standing for Search, Locate, Annihilate, Monitor/Mission, which were full-sized SOG companies with a few dozen Americans in leadership roles and a few hundred indigenous mercenaries who SOG had recruited.  

The first SOG recon teams were called “Spike Teams” (ST), for example, ST Idaho, with the term “Recon Teams” (RT), for instance, RT Ohio, becoming more popular later in the war. Usually, SOG commandos named teams after U.S. States, but they also used other titles, such as “Bushmaster,” “Adder,” and “Viper.” The number of active recon teams fluctuated throughout the war, reflecting casualties and increasing demand. For example, at one point, CCC ran almost 30 recon teams.

Related: ELDON BARGEWELL, AN AMERICAN SPECIAL OPERATIONS LEGEND

Some notable SOG missions include Operation Tailwind, a Hatchet Force operation in Thailand and one of the most successful missions in SOG’s history; the Thanksgiving operation, when SOG operator John Stryker Meyer’s six-man team encountered and evaded 30,000 North Vietnamese; the Christmas mission, when Meyer’s team went into Laos to destroy a fuel pipeline but almost got burned alive by North Vietnamese trackers who lit the jungle on fire; Operation Thundercloud, in which SOG recruited and trained captured North Vietnamese troops and sent them to recon operations across the border dressed like their former comrades; and Recon Team Alabama’s October 1968 mission that accounted fora whopping 9,000 North Vietnamese killed or wounded in action.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
MACV-SOG commandos training on the obstacle course. Fitness meant survival (USASOC).

What stands out about SOG is how much responsibility was placed on its young operators. Legendary SOG operator John Stryker Meyer, for example, was running recon as a One-Zero (team leader) at the age of 22 and just an E-4. And rules of engagement were quite different, with less bureaucracy impeding the guys on the ground.

“The Bright Light missions [combat search-and-rescue] would seldom be deployed under today’s Rules of Engagement,” Meyer told Sandboxx News.

“And, today, they call can’t believe lowly E-4s were directing air strikes, total control on the ground, and experienced troops had final say on teams, regardless of rank. Experience over rank.”

Meyer has written extensively about SOG and his hair-raising experiences in the unit.

Although techniques, tactics, and procedures were generally the same among the three SOG subcommands, SOG teams adjusted their approaches according to their geographical area. Laos, for example, has more mountains and jungle than Cambodia, which is flatter and more open.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
A MACV-SOG Hatchet Force boards a CH-53 Sea Stallion during Operation Tailwind (Wikimedia.org).

Saviors from above: SOG’s Air Commandos

Pivotal to the success and effectiveness of MACV-SOG operations across the border were several aircraft squadrons from across the services and also South Vietnam.

The Air Force’s 20th Special Operations Squadron was dubbed the “Green Hornets.” They flew the Sikorsky CH-3C and CH-3E and Bell UH-1F/P Huey. First Lieutenant James P. Fleming, a Green Hornet pilot, earned the Medal of Honor for saving a SOG recon team from certain death in 1968.

The Green Hornets’ Hueys came packed with an assortment of weapons, including M-60 machine guns, GAU-2B/A miniguns, and 2.75-inch rocket pods. If ammo ran out, door gunners would lob grenades or shoot their individual rifles.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
Alfonso Rivero, a Green Hornet gunner, on his work desk (Courtesy Picture).

In addition to the Green Hornets, the South Vietnamese Air Force 219th Squadron, which flew H-34 Kingbees, was a dedicated supporter of SOG operations. These South Vietnamese pilots and crews were truly fearless, always coming to the rescue of compromised recon teams regardless of the danger. Captain Nguyen Van Tuong, a legendary pilot, stands out for his coolness and steady hand under fire.

Related: THE GHOST FIGHTER ACE OF THE VIETNAM WAR

Other notable rotary-wing units that supported SOG missions were the USMC Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, which flew the AH-1 Viper attack and the UH-1 Venom transport helicopters; the 189th Assault Helicopter Company “Ghost Riders,” which flew assault and transport variants of the UH-1 Huey helicopter.  

SOG commandos on the ground could also rely on fixed-wing close air support, with the turboprop A-1 Skyraider being a favorite platform for close air support and the F-4 Phantom a good choice on any given day.

“Military politics always interfered, and our leadership had to fight from close air support assets, such as the A-1 Skyraider squadrons,” Meyer told Sandboxx News.

“For example, SOG brass had to fight to keep the 56th Special Operations Wing, operating from Location Alpha in Da Nang.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
Captain Nguyen Van Tuong of the 219th South Vietnamese Special Operations Squadron in his H-34 Kingbee supporting MACV-SOG operations (Courtesy Picture).

“That unit’s SPADs [A-1 Skyraiders] were consistent and fearless and were considered the backbone of CAS during Operation Tailwind. On day 4, for example, the NVA were about to overrun the HF [Hatchet Force] when Tom Stump made devastating gun runs that broke the back of those frontal attacks, giving McCarley time to get them off the LZ and out of the target as weather closed in.”

Close air support was vital and probably the most important factor in the survival of numerous SOG teams. However, although SOG commandos enjoyed air superiority and North Vietnamese aircraft never posed a danger, the Air Commandos supporting SOG had to face the extremely potent anti-aircraft capabilities of the North Vietnamese, which included anything from light machine guns to heavy anti-aircraft cannons to surface-to-air missiles. Every hot extraction forced a penalty of downed helicopters and fighters/ or bombers, or at least a few riddled with bullets.

SOG commandos called in close air support themselves, usually by using a compass and smoke canisters. Forward air controllers, nicknamed “Covey,” flew overhead and assisted in coordinating with the team on the ground and controlling all air assets and close air support. In CCS, Covey usually flew solo, doing both tasks while also flying his plane. In CCN, however, Covey was a two-man affair, usually entailing an experienced SOG operator joining the pilot and helping out with his unique experience, having been on the receiving end of close air support numerous teams.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
Some never made it back, dead or alive. MACV-SOG operator Master Sergeant Jerry “Mad dog” Shriver, still missing in action (Courtesy picture).

Years after the Vietnam War ended, it was discovered that there was a mole at the SOG headquarters in Saigon who had been passing information on team missions and locations to the enemy.

SOG operators, including special operations legends like Colonel Robert Howard and Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez, earned 12 Medals of Honor throughout the conflict.

Although service at SOG came with the unspoken agreement of a perilous life full of danger and risk, it also came with an unbreakable sense of loyalty and trust between the men who served there. A sense of loyalty and trust that time and again SOG operators proved through their commitment to leave no man behind, dead or alive. That effort, that commitment, continues to this day.


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

Articles

This Army vet is about to make his professional MMA debut

Army infantry veteran Joshua D. Hardwick will make his professional MMA debut Sat., May 14 in Bellator 154 in San Jose, California. The 160-pound striker is facing off against Staff Sgt. Jorge Acosta, a California Army National Guardsman.


Interested in going to Bellator 154 in San Jose? Get half off your tickets by entering the promo code “MIGHTY” at checkout.

Acosta is 1-1 on the professional circuit. Hardwick is 5-2 on the amateur circuit (including three international fights in Thailand).

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
J.D. Hardwick, in the orange shorts, steps into a fight with Ben Lugo in Spartan Combat League 46. Screenshot: YouTube/Sparta Combat League

Hardwick served predominantly as a sniper in reconnaissance platoons. The future MMA fighter had relatively tame ambitions when he transitioned from the military.

“When I got out of the Army, I went back to Washington and started logging and working in a mill with the intent of going back to school,” he told WATM. “Then when my girlfriend and I broke up, I decided to move to Denver and chase my dream. It’s worked out really well for me.”

Hardwick said that he’s excited to face off against another veteran chasing his dreams in MMA. While Acosta has more experience on the professional stage, Hardwick said he was sure that he can still control the fight and come out on top.

“I’m very confident in what I’m able to do and in my ability to defend from what he’s going to do and establish my game plan and my style in the fight,” he said.

“I’ve been training for my pro debut since I first started,” he said. “Every camp, every day that I’ve been training it’s been for this opportunity. I lived in Thailand for 6 months, I train on the best team in the world with Elevation Fight Team, world-class fighters. I couldn’t be more prepared for this fight than I am.”

While Hardwick prefers to fight a striking battle, he’s comfortable heading to the floor if the situation calls for it.

“I think I’m pretty decent everywhere,” he said. “I like to strike but I have three first-round submission finishes.”

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
JD Hardwick checks on Ben Lugo after obtaining a first-round submission from Lugo. Screenshot: YouTube/Sparta Combat League

Hardwick has been out of the military for a few years but stays close with his former brothers-in-arms. Their support is part of why he fights.

“So many of them are like family,” he said. “But even ones that I’ve lost touch with, they reach out and tell me that they’re inspired by what I’m doing and how hard I’m working.”

Inspiring other vets to go after the life they really want is important to Hardwick.

We all fought so hard for freedom, and when we get done fighting for it, we need to fight for our own dreams. Stop doing what society says we need to do and do the things that we think will make us happy.

He hopes that his own story will remind vets that they don’t have to come home to desk jobs if they don’t want to.

“Like me, I got out of the Army and I worked some jobs that made good money and I was going to go to school because I thought that was what I was supposed to do but that stuff didn’t really make me happy,” Hardwick said. “And, when I got the opportunity to give that all up and make zero money and move back in with my mom and start chasing me dream, and now it’s kind of all coming together.

“This is just the beginning and there’s a long, long road ahead but I couldn’t be any happier than I am today being a poor MMA fighter.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Stan Lee’s great legacy is his anti-bullying stance

On Nov. 12, 2018, at 95-years-old, Stan Lee — the publisher and longtime editor of Marvel comics — died. And what he left behind for parents and children is a legacy of standing up to bullies. Yes, Lee gave the world some of the most dazzling superpowers any comic book fan could dream of, but the motivations and personalities of the heroes he created are more enduring. And that’s because Lee’s best work focused on underdog heroes who were willing to go up against cruel villains in control of the status quo.


In the 2011 Captain America film, Steve Rogers famously says “I don’t like bullies,” and though Lee didn’t create Captain America, he did begin his career writing comics with Steve Rogers. The third issue of Captain America Comic in 1941 was co-written by a young man named Stanley Lieber, writing under the pen name of “Stan Lee.” The rest is history. Lee was made an interim editor at Marvel at just 19-years-old, and pretty much stayed there for the rest of his life. But, the fact that the first hero he wrote for was Captain America is significant. Famously, Captain America fought the Nazis in Marvel comic books before the United States was involved in WWII. Even before it was politically fashionable to stand-up to the worst kind of bullies, Stan Lee knew this kind of bravery as imperative.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife

Cover of Captain America 109.

And part of what made Lee’s writing fantastic was his belief that young people were people, too. In other words, Lee found teenage sidekicks to be unrealistic, which is part of why the backstory for Cap’s best friend Bucky Barnes was changed by Lee. He didn’t want Bucky to be subordinate to Captain America, he wanted them to be equals. And so, when he turned Bucky into Steve’s old war buddy, that fact became part of the character’s origin story. Essentially, Lee believed having a teenage sidekick for Captain America created a built-in system where Bucky would be bullied. And so, he made the story more realistic, and much smarter.

But, the true brilliance of Stan Lee’s heroes really flourished in the sixties, when he matured and noticed the changing world around him. This was the decade of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and the X-Men. With Spider-Man, Lee created (along with Steve Ditko) an unforgettable avatar for geeky teenage kids who loved science and reading more than they loved sports. With the Hulk, he allowed brain and brawn to be wrapped into one man, seemingly all at once, a potent metaphor we’re still reeling from to this day. And with the X-Men, Lee tenderly created a family of outcasts, people who needed the kindness of strangers to survive.

Every Stan Lee Cameo Ever (1989-2018)

www.youtube.com

While it’s fairly common knowledge that Lee used the concept of X-Men as an allegory for civil rights, some of his progressive and big-hearted political beliefs came directly out of his own mouth, too in a reoccurring column in Marvel comics called “Stan’s Soapbox.” In these brief essays, Lee would speak directly to his readers — often very young children — and let them know exactly how he felt about bigotry, injustice and a whole host of other issues. In short, he was against that stuff. And would often end his lessons with the phrase “nuff said!” as though it was just common sense that everyone should be a good person. Of racists and bullies, Lee once said: “The only way to destroy them is to expose them — to reveal from the insidious evil they really are.”

And despite having cameos in nearly every single one of the popular movies based on Marvel comic book characters, Lee was exceedingly humble. “I never thought of myself as much of a success,” he said, a funny sentiment because it a sense it was true. Lee knew that in the minds of his young readers, the successful people were Spider-Man and Wolverine. Even though he had Stan’s Soapbox, Lee generally let his work speak for itself. The result? The pop culture world we live in today.

When Lee said “I guess one person can make a difference,” he may have been speaking of Black Panther or Captain America, but today, it seems like he was certainly speaking of himself. He will be missed, but thanks to his tireless work, his everyday heroics will never be forgotten.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy is decommissioning the USS Bonhomme Richard

On November 30, 2020, the Navy announced the decision to decommission the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6). The Wasp-class amphibious ship suffered extensive damage during a fire while in port in July. The decision follows an extensive assessment of the ship after the fire.

As a landing helicopter deck amphibious assault ship, the Bonhomme Richard was an integral part of the Navy-Marine Corps team. She was capable of supporting a wide range of aircraft including the SH-60F/HH-60H Seahawk, UH-1Y Venom, CH-53E Super Stallion, AH-1Z Viper, AV-8B Harrier, MV-22B Osprey, and the new F-35B Lightning II. Her well deck also allowed her to support landing craft like LCACs, LCUs and LCMs.

The Bonhomme Richard was commissioned on August 15, 1998. From January 24 to July 24, 2000, she made the first WESTPAC deployment of any U.S. Navy vessel in the new millennium. The next year, she began her participation in the War on Terror with a deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) conducts air operations off the coast of Australia (U.S. Navy)

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Bonhomme Richard provided critical support to Marine Corps operations. She offloaded Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines in Kuwait and went on to launch 547 combat sorties. Marine Attack Squadrons VMA-211 and VMA-311 delivered more than 175,000 pounds of ordnance launching from Bonhomme Richard‘s deck.

Additionally, the ship assisted in humanitarian operations. Following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, the Bonhomme Richard was detached from Operation Iraqi Freedom and sailed for Sri Lanka. The ship helped to airlift relief supplies to Sumatra, Indonesia. Following a port visit to Guam, the ship returned to the Indian Ocean. Helicopters from the Bonhomme Richard flew medical supplies and personnel into Indonesia and evacuated the wounded.

Tragically, a fire broke out on board the ship while in her homeport at San Diego during maintenance. At around 8:50 am, an explosion occurred on the ship. “It is a Class Alpha fire,” said Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, Expeditionary Strike Group 3 commander, “meaning it was fueled by paper, cloth, rags or other materials in a standard fire.” Despite not being accelerated by fuel or munitions, the fire was extensive. Firefighting effort were delayed because fire-suppression systems had been disabled due to the maintenance.

Finally, on July 16, the Navy announced that all fires on board had been extinguished. A total of 40 sailors and 23 civilians received minor injuries as a result of the fire. The fire was a “very, very serious incident,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday. 11 of the 14 decks sustained fire and water damage. Many sections of deck were warped or bulging and the ship’s island had been gutted by the flames. On July 31, nine sailors assigned to the Bonhomme Richard were meritoriously promoted for their actions in fighting the fire.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
Sailors fought the fire fore five days to save the ship (U.S. Navy)

Although NCIS and the ATF questioned sailors following the fire, no charges were made and the cause of the fire remains under investigation. The Navy is also conducting investigations into safety standards to prevent future fires.

On November 30, the Navy announced that the Bonhomme Richard would be decommissioned. “We did not come to this decision lightly,” said Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite. “Following an extensive material assessment in which various courses of action were considered and evaluated, we came to the conclusion that it is not fiscally responsible to restore her.” In fact, the assessment concluded that it would cost the Navy over $3 billion and take five to seven years to restore the ship. The Navy also considered repurposing the ship. However, the associated costs were estimated to exceed $1 billion, as much or more than the cost of a new purpose-built ship.

At this time, the timeline for towing and dismantling is still being finalized. “Although it saddens me that it is not cost effective to bring her back, I know this ship’s legacy will continue to live on through the brave men and women who fought so hard to save her, as well as the Sailors and Marines who served aboard her during her 22-year history,” Braithwaite said.

A brief history of the Fairbairn-Sykes commando knife
USS Bonhomme Richard on fire at Naval Base San Diego on July 12, 2020 (U.S. Navy)
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