How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul


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“It was like walking onto the surface of the moon,” Graham Elwood says of his first experience walking off of a C-17 in Afghanistan.

His experience was not unlike many of our own first times deploying to a far-off edge of the world. We take a long, long C-17 (or god help you, C-130) ride for seemingly endless hours. There are no windows. The plane is packed. Forget about an in-flight movie or looking out the window. And when you walk off, it’s invariably the middle of the night and you and the hundred or so people you’re with walk off the flightline in a single file.

From there, who knows? There’s a good chance the “hurry up and wait” has just begun. For civilians visiting war zones for the first time, it’s no different – except they have no idea how to speak the acronym language.

“They said ‘When your bird hits the LZ, find your POC, they’ll take you to the MWR tent then you can go to the DFAC,'” he jokes. “It’s like… what are you saying to me right now, man?”

Elwood is a Los Angeles-based comedian with appearances in comedy clubs across America, on college campuses, and even CBS’ Late Late Show. He’s also a veteran podcaster with shows like Comedy Film Nerds, and The Political Vigilante, and he’s a co-creator of the Los Angeles Podcast Festival.

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

None of that prepared him for performing for U.S. troops deployed in combat zones. His first documentary, LaffghanistanComedy Down Range, is about his first time volunteering to go do just that. It’s amazing how fast you can go from playing the Hollywood Improv to playing Bagram Air Base.

Elwood’s film documents his personal journey from the sunny beaches of Southern California to the sun-baked moonscape of Afghanistan, where the military’s Department of Morale, Welfare and Recreation enlisted him to entertain the troops. Elwood’s psychedelic travels through a war zone are simultaneously hilarious, harrowing, and heartbreaking. His journey becomes unpredictably personal, creating a documentary that no one expected, least of all Graham.

For someone who admits he’s pretty far removed from the Global War on Terror, it all came home to him when went around the small firebases of Afghanistan. It was his first time in helicopters, driving in unarmored vehicles on the ground in Afghanistan, and seeing minefields. It got real for him for him real fast.

“What was said to me and what I’ve said to other comedians,” he says. “Well don’t go over there if you don’t want to be changed. It will change you. You have no idea. This is no joke.”

Now that Elwood has done a number of these shows and tours around deployed military bases, he looks back at his first experience in this episode of Mandatory Fun.

Nothing could adequately prepare him for performing a comedy act in Afghanistan. All the dive bars and sh*t holes he played as a young comedian is the best thing he could do to prepare. He was still freaking out but couldn’t help but put himself in the shoes of young troops.

“I’m here for two weeks,” Elwood says, “and MY family is freaking out. Imagine them and  their families and how much they’re freaking out.”

But they quickly realized that they need to be the comics. They were there for a reason: to give American troops fighting overseas a few laughs, a taste of a normal night, and a show to help ease their tension, even if it was only for a short time.

Mandatory Fun guest: Graham Elwood has been a stand-up comic for over 20 years working comedy clubs, colleges, TV shows, Holiday Inn Lounges, war zones, dive bars, and one time on the top of a double-decker tour bus in Chicago (not joking)

. You’ve probably seen him on the TV as the host of the socially relevant game shows “Cram” (GSN) and “Strip Poker” (USA), along with making the world a better place by appearing on shows like “Best Bodies Ever” on VH1. Don’t forget the time when he told jokes on “The Late Late Show” (CBS). He has also starred in the theatrical plays Speed the Plow, Light Sensitive, and Cash Flow, and co-wrote the one act play Brothers. Learn more about Elwood:

Mandatory Fun is hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (aka O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Catch the show on Twitter at: @MandoFun and on our Facebook group.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram

Dozens of Nigerian state governors on Dec. 14 approved the transfer of $1 billion to aid the federal government’s fight against the deadly Boko Haram insurgency, signaling that previous announcements of victory over the Islamic extremists had come too soon.


Attacks have increased in recent weeks as Boko Haram turns to using women and children, often abducted and indoctrinated, as suicide bombers to target cities and towns in the country’s vast northeast.

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki said 36 state leaders approved the transfer of $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account, which is used to hold revenues from oil production and protect planned budgets from shortfalls due to volatile crude prices.

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul
Boko Haram captives.

The transfer makes up nearly half of the $2.3 billion held in the account. The $1 billion will be spent on purchasing security equipment, procuring intelligence, and logistics. The decision was made during a meeting of the National Economic Council.

Weapons procurement for the fight against Boko Haram has been marred by a massive corruption scandal in a country where graft is widespread. Nigeria’s former national security adviser faces criminal charges alleging that $2.1 billion meant to buy arms was diverted.

President Muhammadu Buhari a year ago announced that Boko Haram had been “crushed” after the military flushed the extremists from forest strongholds. A series of high-profile attacks this year, however, led to a military shuffle.

Read More: This Nigerian woman stopped hunting antelope to shoot terrorists

Boko Haram’s eight-year insurgency has proven to be one of Africa’s more persistent threats, killing more than 20,000 people, spilling over into neighboring countries and displacing millions in a vast humanitarian crisis. Nigeria was part of a massive aid appeal by the U.N. secretary-general early this year for four countries, including Somalia, Yemen, and South Sudan, where mass hunger is fueled by conflict.

Aid groups have despaired that such appeals for Nigeria’s crisis remain underfunded.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Preserving the legacy of Veterans buried in unmarked graves

Toni Craig, Larisa Roderick and Paul LaRue. These are the names of people who cared enough to preserve the legacy of Veterans interred in unmarked graves by obtaining headstones or markers from VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA).

An unmarked gravesite has no permanent headstone or any way to identify the decedent buried in the grave.


How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

Toni Craig visits her cousin Harry Martin’s grave.

For Craig, a special education world history teacher in Martinsville, Va., her quest was to obtain a marker for her cousin, Pfc. Harry Pemberton Martin, a Marine and Purple Heart recipient from the Vietnam War. He laid in an unmarked grave for 52-years.

Craig started her research in November 2019 with an obituary that her mother gave her. That search included working the Virginia Department of Veterans Affairs in Danville, which allowed her to obtain all the necessary documentation to receive a flat marker. Martin now lays at Meadow Christian Church Cemetery in Martinsville.

“Harry is a hero to my family because he did not have to go to Vietnam. He served his time in the Navy, but decided to join the Marines after,” she said. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his service, but to us his heart was and still is golden.”

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

LaRue’s students laying a headstone.

This action (of preserving the legacy of Veterans who lay in unmarked gravesites) happens all across the country. A June 2019 story on clickorlando.com shows how concerned resident Larisa Roderick secured 61 headstones for Union Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II Veterans buried at Mt. Peace Cemetery in St. Cloud, Fla.

Retired Ohio high school teacher, Paul LaRue, involved his students to secure and install more than 70 headstones in five cemeteries since 2002. More than half were for African American Civil War Veterans. Those include Beach Grove, the historic African American cemetery, in Cincinnati, for World War I Veterans. The other is Washington City Cemetery in Washington Court House, Ohio, where African American Civil War Veterans lay.

“This unique preservation project began in our local city cemetery after a student asked, ‘Don’t these men deserve better?'” LaRue said.

The researchers only needed proper documentation to prove a Veteran’s service in order to obtain a headstone or marker through NCA. Each of them worked with local officials, the National Archives and Records Administration, and state and federal Veterans departments.

Requesting a headstone or marker

Anyone can request a burial headstone or marker if the service of the Veteran ended prior to April 6, 1917. Veterans who died prior to November 1, 1990, and whose graves are marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker in a private cemetery are not eligible to receive a second headstone or marker from NCA. However, a medallion is available to all decedents in this category who served on or after April 6, 1917. The medallion can be affixed to the existing headstone to show the Veteran’s branch of service.

In 2019, NCA furnished 161,939 headstones and markers, and 13,168 medallions, to Veterans interred in private cemeteries worldwide. For more information about the NCA headstone, marker and medallion program, visit https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/memorial-items/headstones-markers-medallions/.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.


MIGHTY CULTURE

These veterans in ‘adult entertainment’ want to put a smile on your face

Transitioning into civilian life can be tough. Veterans are often advised to look for a job in a field they’re passionate about and excited to join. Remember the old career day adage, Do what you love and you’ll never work a day?

One USMC veteran took that advice to heart and, being a Marine, decided not to do it halfway. As a result, the entertainer known as “Will Pounder” was recently honored as “Best Newcomer” at the AVN Awards. The Adult Video News Awards.

(Do we have to spell it out? He’s in X-rated films, people. You know, the kind you watch in your barracks alone. Not with your mom.)


Reached for comment for this story, Pounder said, “Best Male Newcomer to me means that I’m doing my job well.” He continued, saying, “I like to provide a safe experience that allows my scene partners to explore themselves sexually and to overall have a fun day so that everyone leaves with a smile on their face.”

His award got us wondering, how many other veterans have decided to earn their keep in the adult film industry?

Spoiler: A lot.

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

We can speculate on the reasons why, beyond the really obvious reason: sex. Maybe it’s because veterans are already used to frequent, random medical tests and they’re already comfortable with being naked in front of people? Maybe they just miss having close camaraderie with their co-workers? For the record, Pounder said he thinks the percentage of veterans to non-veterans working in the adult industry is probably about the same as in any other industry.

Regardless of their reasons, Pounder is far from the first to trade fatigues for his birthday suit. He wasn’t even the first vet to score that Best Newcomer award. Brad Knight—a Navy veteran—brought it home in 2016. That’s right. A sailor got it done before a Marine.

But we don’t even have to speculate on why some veterans are drawn to this particular industry. Brick Yates, a Navy veteran who runs a company that produces adult films about and starring military service members and veterans, agreed to answer the why question for us, at least as it applies to his films, in which service members and veterans perform.

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

“Active service members are always being told not to fraternize, but we all fantasize about good-looking people we work with,” Yates said. “So, it’s natural for a Marine or sailor or soldier to want to have sex with another service member because the military makes sure that is a very taboo subject still.”

Yates said that, though he understands that some people might find adult films featuring uniformed service members offensive, his company has the exact opposite intent. “We respect the uniforms these people don to the fullest,” he said, noting that he believes a military fetish is no different than a fetish for police officers or, that plot-staple, the pizza delivery guy. “People can disagree with me and that’s okay. I know not everyone is pleased with my work, but it is truly not meant to be degrading or disrespectful in any manner. We aren’t out here to make the service look bad in any way.”

Though typing your MOS into a job translator isn’t likely to yield a result of “X-rated movie star,” there does seem to be something of a …pipeline. (Sorry.) And while adult entertainment recruiters probably won’t have a table at any on-base hiring fairs, there are active efforts to recruit vets into the industry, ensuring that the supply of veterans-turned-adult-entertainers never dwindles.

Besides, military veterans have been starring in adult entertainment for decades, since even before X-rated film legend Johnnie Keyes took off his Army uniform in the early 1970s. Again, we’re not going to post links here, but the by-no-means complete list of vets who’ve gone on to adult entertainment fame includes, Johnni Black (Army), Dia Zerva (USMC), Chayse Evans (USMC), Julie Rage (Army), Nicole Marciano (USMC), Fiona Cheeks (USMC), Amber Michaels (Air Force), Kymberley Kyle (Army), Viper (USMC), Amanda Addams (Army), Misti Love (Army), Loni Punani (Air Force), Sheena Ryder (Army), Sheena Shaw (Army), Alura Jenson (Navy Army), Kim Kennedy (USMC), Alexis Fawx (Air Force), Lisa Bickels (Army) and Tiffany Lane (Army). Cory Chase (Army), is a vet even non-adult film viewers know as the female film star Ted Cruz got caught peeping.

And Diamond Foxx’s name might also be recognizable to those who aren’t familiar with her work. She was discharged from the Navy for “sexual misconduct” but entered military news again earlier this year when a West Point cadet tried to raise money online so that he could bring her to the Yearling Winter Weekend Banquet as his date.

With all we’ve said about vets in adult entertainment, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention retired LTC David Conners, aka “Dave Cummings”. After 25 years of service to the U.S. Army, he went on to service… sorry, sorry… he started his career in the adult entertainment industry at age 55, appearing in hundreds of adult films, and being inducted into both the AVN and XRCO (X-rated Critics Association) Halls of Fame, before his death last fall. Which, we suppose means that while Will Pounder and Brad Knight are USMC and Navy veteran adult film stars who certainly started their second careers strong, it was the old Army guy who really had the staying power. Hooah!

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

Loni Punani, Air Force veteran and adult entertainer.

Though adult films are totally legal for veterans to film, it’s a UCMJ violation for active duty service members to have a side job—any side job— without obtaining prior permission from their command. And commands have a long history of punishing, and even discharging, service members who engage in activities that prejudice “good order and discipline or that is service discrediting,” risk potential “press or public relations coverage” or “create an improper appearance.”

Yates said the “is this allowed” question can be tricky. “I have spoken with a few officers about their Marines being in my films and it really depends. It’s more the details of the film than it is the general fact of them doing (adult entertainment). Military brass are people, too, and some don’t care if their personnel do (adult entertainment), but some do. As long as they are safe, not reflecting poorly on their branch of service and not in their own uniform, they are usually fine.”

Still, in 2017 an active duty-but-almost-retired, long-time happily married, SEAL known as “Jay Voom” got caught starring in an X-rated film with his wife, and a few others, and nearly lost his retirement pension because of it.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Michelle Manhart received a formal reprimand, was removed from her position as a training instructor and was demoted after she posed nude in a 2007 Playboy magazine spread.

And in 2006, seven paratroopers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division were court martialed on charges of sodomy, pandering and engaging in sex acts for money. According to reporters who covered the case, the soldiers were not gay but, because they engaged in homosexual acts on screen at a time when the military was still under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, they were punished for the activity.

Yates also warned that service members and veterans who are interested in entering the adult industry should be savvy and a little suspicious. He said that while there are some really great people in the industry, there are also some bad ones. Potential adult film stars should verify that the companies that recruiters claim to represent are real and should ask to see references and examples of previous work before engaging in any onscreen work themselves.

All to say, if it’s your dream to turn your night passion into your day job, it might be safest to wait until you’ve got that DD-214.

Until then, feel free to enjoy the talents and attributes of your brothers and sisters in arms who’ve found their futures in a whole different kind of service.

Articles

Cyber-attack wreaks havoc on US Internet traffic

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul
A large scale cyber-attack was launched yesterday in waves against Dyn, an infrastructor company who monitors 150 companies, 77 of which were impacted


The Department of Homeland Security as well as the FBI are investigating what is being called possibly the largest scale cyber-attack ever, according to Aljazeera.

On the morning of Oct. 21 the first wave of the cyber-attack began on infrastructure company Dyn, based in New Hampshire. The company is responsible for connecting individual internet users to websites by routing them through a series of unique Internet Protocol numbers. CNN reported that the company monitors more than 150 websites.

Friday’s cyber-attack used botnets — or devices connected to the internet that have been infected with malware — to launch a distributed denial of service attack that impacted companies like CNN, the New York Times, Twitter, PayPal, and others, Aljazeera reported.

USA Today explained that denial of service attacks turn unsuspecting devices into weapons by downloading malware to unprotected devices that allows them to be controlled by hackers. Hackers then use these weaponized botnets to overload the traffic to websites by sending hundreds of thousands of requests through the IP address, giving a false signal that the website is too busy to accept normal requests for access to the site.

While the cyber-attack was mostly annoying for internet users, it ultimately impacted the U.S. on a much larger scale, denying the 77 companies affected by the attack up to $110 million in revenue, according to Dyn CEO John Van Siclen.

The greater security concern is the access to individual devices that is granted because the devices were left with their default password intact, according to The Guardian. The devices used in Friday’s cyber-attack were all traced back to one company, the Chinese tech company XiongMai Technologies, which makes, ironically, security cameras.

The cyber-attack was felt as far away as Europe, and across the U.S. Wikileaks suggested in a tweet late Oct. 21 that its supporters were responsible for the breach, sending out a picture of the most affected areas in the U.S.

Military members can help protect their devices from being used as weapons by following their training on cyber awareness. Consistently changing passwords, logging out of accounts when on public computers, and protecting personally identifying information are recommended.

 

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul
Wikileaks tweeted this photo along with a plea for supporters to stop the cyber-attack

MIGHTY TRENDING

Two German Air Force Typhoons crash after midair collision

Luftwaffe (German Air Force) has confirmed that two GAF Typhoons crashed after colliding midair in northeastern Germany shortly before 14.00LT (12.00 GMT) on June 24, 2019. Both pilots managed to eject from the aircraft even though their health status is not clear at the time of writing. (Update 15.00GMT: one pilot was recovered, one is reported as killed in the accident).

Both Eurofighters were from TLG73 “Steinhoff” squadron based in Laage and were flying an Air Combat Mission along with a third Typhoon. The pilot of the third Eurofighter observed the collision and reported two parachutes descending to the ground.


The aircraft crashed near Lake Mueritz some 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Berlin, according to EHA News, that also posted a video filmed just after the crash shows two plumes of smoke rising from the ground.

Here’s what could be gathered by means of ADS-B/Mode-S transponders:

In 2014, a Lear Jet with two people on board crashed after colliding mid-air with a German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon over Olsberg, in Germany. The “Lear” was a target plane operated by the “Gesellschaft für Flugzieldarstellung” (GFD), a civilian company cooperating with the German Air Force for air targeting exercises, while the Eurofighter was part of flight of two Typhoons involved in a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) training mission, in which the Eurofighters intercepted the Learjet. The military jet safely landed at Nörvenich air base whereas the private owned plane crashed in an unpopulated area, killing both pilots on board.

This is what I wrote about midair collisions between fighter jets some years ago, responding to the questions of readers who wanted to know how two F-16s might collide:

There is always the risk of a midair collision when two (or more) aircraft fly close to each other. Even if some collisions in the past took place because of failures or during engaments, air-to-air combat maneuvering, many (more) have occurred as perfectly working aircraft were rejoining the formation.
That phase of the flight can be extremely dangerous, especially at night: the two pilots, flying in a tactical spread formation, have to tighten the formation. The lead aircraft is reached by the wingman, with the latter initially forced to keep a higher speed (otherwise it would not reach the leader) and then to suddenly reduce his speed to match the leading plane’s airspeed. A distraction can be fatal.
And don’t forget how close the aircraft fly from the moment until landing: once again, a sudden move, a distraction, hence a human error could cause the midair.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US to establish its first permanent military base in Israel

Israel and the U.S. inaugurated the first American military base on Israeli soil on September 18th, which will serve dozens of soldiers operating a missile defense system.


The move comes at a time of growing Israeli concerns about archenemy Iran’s development of long-range missiles. Together with the U.S., Israel has developed a multilayered system of defenses against everything from long-range guided missile attacks from Iran to crude rockets fired from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

The base’s opening is largely symbolic and isn’t expected to bring operational changes. But the Israeli military says that along with other measures, it sends a message of readiness to Israel’s enemies.

“It’s a message that says Israel is better prepared. It’s a message that says Israel is improving the response to threats,” said Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, the commander of Israel’s aerial defense.

The base is located within an existing Israeli air force base and will operate under Israeli military directives.

Israeli and U.S. military officials cut a ribbon at the base Monday, where the American and Israeli flags flew side by side and soldiers from both countries commingled.

Israel’s multi-tier missile defense system includes the Arrow, designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles in the stratosphere with an eye on Iran, and Iron Dome, which defends against short-range rockets from the Gaza Strip. David’s Sling is meant to counter the type of medium-range missiles possessed by Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants.

Israel considers Iran to be its greatest threat, citing the country’s nuclear ambitions, its development of long-term missiles, hostile anti-Israel rhetoric and support for anti-Israel militant groups. Israel has grown increasingly concerned about Iran’s involvement in the civil war in neighboring Syria, where its troops are supporting President Bashar Assad.

Israel is worried that Iran and its proxy Hezbollah will establish a long-term presence in Syria near the Israeli border.

Articles

The Pentagon can’t seem to explain why the cost of moving military families is going up

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul
Airman Michael Butler, 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron receiving technician, uses a forklift to retrieve a crate at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.


Permanent Change of Station has gotten more expensive, and the Department of Defense doesn’t know why. That’s the general findings of a report released by the Government Accountability Office last year.

Military.com reported earlier this week that the Defense Department would begin a review of the system that oversees military moves as a result of the report.

Accounting for inflation, the cost of a PCS was up by 28 percent between 2001 and 2014, capping at around $4 billion that year, or 3.7 percent of the overall military personnel budget.

The study found that “the services have not reported complete and consistent PCS data, thereby limiting the extent to which DoD can identify and evaluate” the current PCS system. It went on to explain that the Pentagon had not maintained required data nor required the services to independently maintain data that would help the DoD in determining how to reduce the cost of PCS.

PCS moves ranged on average from $2,289 to $13,336, with the Air Force spending the most on average per move and the Marine Corps spending the least.

In a review between services, the Marine Corps was most likely to accurately and consistently report PCS data outside of the direct cost of moving, i.e. the cost of temporary storage, lodging expenses, and tour extension incentive payments. The Air Force and the Army were least likely to report the data.

Because of the lack of proper reporting by the services and the DoD, the report found, it is impossible to determine exactly how to address the rising costs of PCS.

In addition to a lack of complete data on the cost of PCS, the report found that the DoD was not able to explain why personnel were not meeting “time-on-station requirements” because it had not required any of the services to maintain that data themselves.

Of the services who could provide any data on time-on-station requirements, the Air Force was most likely to have some data, and the Marine Corps was least likely to have any data.

The Government Accountability Office described four recommendations to improve the issue of rising PCS costs:

  • Improve the completeness and consistency of PCS data
  • Complete periodic evaluations of whether the PCS program is efficiently supporting DoD’s requirements for assigning military personnel… [and] identify changes in PCS per-move costs
  • Improve the completeness and consistency of data on exceptions
  • Improve the completeness and consistency of data on waivers

The Pentagon agreed most of the recommendations in the report, writing in its response, “We recognize the importance of improving the availability of information needed for effective management of the PCS program.”

MIGHTY MOVIES

Is Charlize Theron the next James Bond?

There is nothing that the internet loves more than baseless speculation and there are few things the internet loves to baselessly speculate about than who will be taking Daniel Craig’s place as the next James Bond. Countless actors have been tied to the role, most famously Idris Elba, but the newest name being tossed around as Craig’s replacement is none other than Charlize Theron.


Support for Theron first developed during the Oscars, where she and Craig presented Best Supporting Actor and while their time onstage was brief, the interaction was enough to make us wonder what it would be like if the South African actress was chosen as the next James Bond. And it wasn’t just us who were enticed by the idea of Theron carrying on the Bond legacy, as Twitter immediately began campaigning for the Oscar-winning actress.

A few people even had a creative way to keep Craig in the franchise.

While Theron has not been officially connected to the 007 films in any tangible way, she does seem like she would be a good fit for the role. She already proved her action star potential as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road and also demonstrated a little more ass-kicking ability in a Budweiser commercial that aired during the ceremony.

Craig even admitted during their on-stage banter that he was intimidated by his co-presenter.

“Seriously, Charlize Theron could kick my ass,” Craig remarked.

If that’s not an endorsement, we don’t know what is.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

3 Marines receive Purple Hearts for actions in Syria

Three U.S. Marines received the Purple Heart for wounds sustained during fighting in Syria in support of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response-Central Command, during ceremonies in Twentynine Palms, California, on October 22, 2018, and in an undisclosed location in U.S. Central Command on November 7, 2018.


How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Nathan Rousseau, a mortar Marine with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response-Central Command, receives the Purple Heart, October 21, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Gabino Perez)

The awardees were Cpl. Tyler A. Frazier, a mortar Marine with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines; Cpl. Nathan Rousseau, a mortar Marine with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment; and Cpl. Brendon Hendrickson, an anti-tank missile Marine with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.

All three Marines have fully recovered from their injuries, according to a press release from the Marine Corps. U.S. troops have been deployed to Syria since at least 2015, but the exact details of the deployments have often been kept quiet due to security concerns and the tense political situation as Russian, Iranian, U.S., and other forces operate so close to one another.

So, it’s not much of a surprise that the Marine Corps hasn’t offered details of the incident that resulted in the Purple Hearts being awarded to the Marines.

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Brendon Hendrickson, an anti-tank missile Marine with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response-Central Command, stands by during a Purple Heart ceremony, October 22, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Gabino Perez)

But while the U.S. has taken relatively few losses despite having an estimated 2,000 troops deployed to Syria, that largely speaks to the professionalism of the troops and leaders deployed there as warfighters have found themselves in sticky situations repeatedly.

Five service members have been killed fighting there. And dozens of special operators were forced to kill approximately 100 Russian mercenaries attacking them en masse in a February, 2018, attack.

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

Cpl. Tyler A. Frazier, a mortar Marine with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, is awarded the Purple Heart Medal by Lt. Col. Steven M. Ford, commanding officer, 3/7 at Victory Field aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., November 7, 2018.

(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Preston L. Morris)

The U.S. deployment was originally focused on wrenching as much territory as possible back from the Islamic State, the terror organization that swept Iraq and Syria and made inroads in nearby countries, and has stuck around to help eradicate remnants of the group.

The U.S. deployments to Syria are typically of special operations units like the Army Rangers and Special Forces and U.S. Navy SEALs, but conventional Marines have also been part of the mix, especially infantrymen who employ mortars or missiles and artillerymen.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is the Navy’s public statement about the homicide charges

Below is a statement released Jan. 16, by U.S. Navy Chief of Information (Acting), Capt. Greg Hicks on Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) charges preferred against individual service members in relation to the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) collisions:


On 30 October 2017, Admiral William Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, designated Admiral Frank Caldwell as the Consolidated Disposition Authority to review the accountability actions taken to date in relation to USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) collisions and to take additional administrative or disciplinary actions as appropriate.

After careful deliberation, today Admiral Frank Caldwell announced that Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) charges are being preferred against individual service members in relation to the collisions.

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) sits in Dry Dock 4 at Fleet Activities Yokosuka to continue repairs and assess damage sustained from its June 17 collision with a merchant vessel. This view shows damage above the waterline to the outside skin of the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christian Senyk)

USS Fitzgerald: Courts-martial proceedings/Article 32 hearings are being convened to review evidence supporting possible criminal charges against Fitzgerald members. The members’ ranks include one Commander (the Commanding Officer), two Lieutenants, and one Lieutenant Junior Grade. The charges include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide.

USS John S. McCain: Additionally, for John S. McCain, one court-martial proceeding/Article 32 hearing is being convened to review evidence supporting possible criminal charges against one Commander (the Commanding Officer). The charges include dereliction of duty, hazarding a vessel, and negligent homicide. Also, one charge of dereliction of duty was preferred and is pending referral to a forum for a Chief Petty Officer.

The announcement of an Article 32 hearing and referral to a court-martial is not intended to and does not reflect a determination of guilt or innocence related to any offenses. All individuals alleged to have committed misconduct are entitled to a presumption of innocence.

Additional administrative actions are being conducted for members of both crews including non-judicial punishment for four Fitzgerald and four John S. McCain crewmembers.

Information regarding further actions, if warranted, will be discussed at the appropriate time.

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. Official: New START Treaty should cover Russian weapon systems under development

An extension of the last remaining nuclear arms treaty between the United States and Russia should include new weapons systems that Moscow is developing, a U.S. State Department official said in a briefing on March 9.


The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is scheduled to expire on February 2021 and Washington has said a new accord should encompass “slightly exotic new systems such as the nuclear-powered, underwater, nuclear-armed drone called Poseidon; the nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile, air-launched ballistic missile, and that sort of thing,” the official said.

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obamawhitehouse.archives.gov

The Trump administration has said it wants an extension of New START to also include China. The United States and Russia are the two signatories of treaty that went into effect in 2011.

China, the third-largest nuclear power, is on track to double its nuclear arsenal over the next decade, Christopher Ford, assistant secretary for international security and nonproliferation, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing on December 2, 2019.

However, China’s arsenal would still be less than half of that of the United States and Russia.

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The nonproliferation agreement limits deployed strategic nuclear warheads and bombs held by the United States and Russia to 1,550, a reduction of nearly 75 percent from the 6,000 cap set by START 1, according to the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based, nongovernmental organization.

The treaty also allows for the verification of warheads held by each side.

It can be renewed for up to five years if both sides agree. Moscow has already offered to extend the treaty.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

7 pieces of gear vets will still use in the civilian world

The Central Issuing Facility loans plenty of great and not-so-great items to the troops. Many pieces of gear, like the load-bearing vest and the elbow pads, were tossed back with no remorse, but others are just too damn useful to part with.


Whether they’re listed as expendable, given to the troops with no intention of reclamation, or they’re swapped with a second one bought at the surplus store off-installation, troops just can’t part with these things.

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

The MOLLE straps let you know that it’s legit — not some imitation.

(Photo by Sgt. Patrick Eakin)

Assault pack

Go to any college campus in America and within ten seconds, you’ll identify who’s using the GI Bill to pay for tuition. Rarely will a vet switch back to a civilian backpack after using the assault pack.

It’s much sturdier than anything you can find in the back-to-school section and it’s free, so… why not?

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Even if vets have the options, they’ll only use the multi-tool.

(Photo by Pedro Vera)

Multi-tool

Most civilians will stockpile an entire drawer full of miscellaneous tools. Veterans who were issued a multi-tool will just use the one.

Sure, civilians can get their own versions, but there’s just something badass about fixing stuff around the house with a Gerber that has a front sight post adjuster.

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

Basically what every veteran’s closet looks like.

(Photo by Mike Kaplan)

Duffel bags

Throughout a troop’s career, they sign off a lot of junk that’s never going to be touched again — even after they clear CIF for the last time. This leads to every veteran owning their very own “duffel bag full of crap.”

The bag may get re-purposed for storing other things, but nine times out of ten, it’s still full of the same crap that was stuffed in there years ago.

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

I’m totally not talking about myself… Totally.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Taylor Newman)

E-tool

Standard shovels are far too bulky to keep around. Collapsing an entrenching tool and tossing it in the trunk is kind of necessary if you live in a state that gets terrible snowfall.

Even if you’re not using it to get your car out of a snowbank because you’re too damn proud to call someone for help and you want to prove to yourself that you’re still a competent survivor and driver, it still makes for a great way to dig holes at a moment’s notice.

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Just sayin’. After people stop mocking you for wearing snivel gear, your resistance to the weather goes down — fast.

(Photo by Airman Areca T. Bell)

Thermals

Troops don’t often get the chance to wear their thermals while in the military without enduring ridicule from their peers. The moment they get out, they finally have the opporunity.

The same thermals can be spotted on both veterans who are out hunting and veterans that just don’t feel like wearing civilian pajamas.

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

Doesn’t matter if our older brothers hate it. We don’t mind be hated and comfortable.

(Photo by Spc. Michael Sharp)

Poncho liner

After veterans get out, they’ll be cuddling on the couch with their significant other, watching TV while draped in some regular old throw blanket. But it just isn’t the same. It’s not their poncho liner or, as it’s more affectionately known, their woobie.

That throw blanket from Bed, Bath, and Beyond didn’t deploy with them. That throw blanket wasn’t their only companion in the bizarrely cold desert nights. That throw blanket wasn’t the only piece of military gear that was fielded with the express intention of being used for comfort.

No, only the woobie holds that special place in the hearts of younger veterans.

How a comedian can go from Hollywood to Kabul

The greatest ten-cent beer opener ever!

(Courtesy photo)

P-38 can openers

These items aren’t really ranked in any particular order. But if they were, the can opener would certainly top the list. Many troops swear that their beloved woobie is the most cherished, but older generations of veterans will confess a deep love for their can opener.

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