8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

Citizens of the United States of America tend go mildly wild when they celebrate the fourth of July. It was on that day, in 1776, when the Continental Congress adopted the Deceleration of Independence, severing our nation from the British Empire.

Most people commemorate this fateful moment with a nice, wholesome family gathering. Dads work the barbecue while telling awful puns and moms try to make sure the kids don’t hurt each other with sparklers. The evening’s merriment is capped off by watching the fireworks explode over the nearby lake.

Now, we’re not here to tell you that you’re doing things wrong — if you’re into that mundane, picturesque lifestyle, more power to you — but we are here to tell you that veterans like to go big. Real big.

Independence Day is what binds the veteran community. We may argue and bicker over little things, but each and every one of us loves this country and its people. In demonstrating that love, we tend to go a little overboard when partying on what is, essentially, America’s birthday.


8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

Just like the good ol’ days!

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Miguel A. Rosales)

Going to the range

Veterans and firearms go together like alcohol and bad decisions. When veterans get a free day off work, they might visit the firing range. When they get a day off for the 4th, they’ll be there for sure — you know, for America.

In this case, “firing range” is a pretty vague term. It could mean a closed-off, handgun-only range, a range out in the middle of nowhere that allows you to legally fire off a fully automatic, or, if you happen to be in the middle of bumf*ck nowhere, your backyard. Regardless of how we do it, it’s our little way of supporting the Constitution — through celebrating the 2nd Amendment.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

Who doesn’t love watching 50 cannons go off?

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kevin Coulter)

Visiting military installations for the “Salute to the Union”

Every year, on the fourth of July, military installations hold a ceremony at noon where they fire off one gun for every state in the Union. Some of the veterans who once participated in those ceremonies come back many years down the road to see it again.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

“You can eat all of that, right?”

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Kelcey Seymour)

Hosting massive barbecues

Burgers sizzling on the grill is the unofficial smell of the holiday. You can’t go anywhere in America without sniffing out some hot dogs, steaks, and whatever else the veteran is cooking.

The only downside is that veterans tend to go a little overboard on what they think is the “right amount of food” for everyone. Veterans prepare for the event that everyone’s going to eat a dozen burgers. Deep down, we know that’s not going to happen, but what if…

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

There are no safety briefs in the civilian world, but there probably should be…

(U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Kareem Abiose)

Drinking enough alcohol to relive barracks life

Sobriety is entirely optional on Independence Day. From the moment they wake up until they eventually pass out from taking too many shots in the hot summer sun, veterans spend the entire day drinking .

Of course, they should always err on the side of responsibility and remember all of the safety briefs they got when they were in. They’ve got the basics down, like “don’t drink and drive,” but they might forget some of the niche briefs, like “don’t get drunk and decide to shoot bottle rockets out of a metal pipe like a friggin’ rocket launcher” — so that’s probably still game.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

But, you know, any of the veteran-owned t-shirt company shirts are open game!

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jack A. E. Rigsby)

Wearing unapologetically American clothes

It’s America’s birthday, so dress for the occasion. American flag hats, tank tops, underwear, you name it. Today, everything is red, white, and blue.

Technically, such articles of clothing are discouraged by the Flag Code, but it’s an expression of patriotism — and the First Amendment allows you to express yourself like that.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

No 4th of July is complete without driving 110 down the freeway blasting “Free Bird.”

(Photo by Jon Callas)

Blasting American musicians

As much as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Iron Maiden all kick ass, let’s reserve this day for America and American rock stars, baby!

Any party celebrating American independence should have a playlist featuring plenty of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Aerosmith.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

If you’re doing it right, the neighbors should confuse your backyard for the show put on by the city.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Conroy)

So many fireworks…

Veterans refuse to be outdone by the neighbors down the road who think their puny little display of patriotism is the best way to celebrate America. If that veteran also happens to be an old-school artilleryman or mortarman, you’re about to see something special…

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

If you see one of our brothers or sisters with one of these signs, you can just ask them and let them know when you’re doing the fireworks. Just don’t be an asshole about it.

(WLKY News Louisville)

Chosing to avoid fireworks

Every year on social media, we see photos of signs placed in front of veterans’ homes politely asking neighbors to not set off fireworks get picked apart by the veteran community. You know what? A veteran choosing to spend America’s birthday exactly how they want to is veteran as f*ck, too.

Can’t stand large crowds of people and the traffic? Stay in. That’s veteran as f*ck.

Don’t want to be in a public place when loud explosions go off? You don’t have to be.

This is a day to celebrate America’s freedom. If you’ve raised your hand, there’s no way anyone can take your veteran status from you. Independence Day is about celebrating freedom. You celebrate it however you feel necessary.

Articles

In spite of Obama’s previous stance, it looks like boots are hitting the ground against ISIS

As 2015 wanes, calls among Washington’s politicos are on the rise. Those calls are increasingly in favor or are demands for ground troops to engage ISIS leadership in direct combat.


“This is a war.” – House Speaker Paul Ryan
I’m going to introduce an authorization to use Military Force against ISIL that is not limited by Time, Geography or Means. – Sen. Lindsay Graham
“The United States should not delay in leading a global coalition to take out ISIS with overwhelming force.” – Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush
“Air power is extremely important. It can do a lot but it can’t do everything.” – Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James

The Pentagon believes Congress should issue a new authorization of military force (AMF) for use against ISIS in Iraq and Syria while President Obama wants the flexibility to use Special Operations forces against the terror group’s leadership. Obama rejected long-term, large scale ground combat operations in favor of an incremental, air strike-based plan which relies on support for forces already fighting on the ground. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine just who the U.S. should back and the plan to back U.S.-trained rebels fell apart.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day
Coffee-fueled mayhem (Photo: Voice of America)

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is in favor of a new AMF, but for some in Congress, the President’s proposal isn’t enough. As Germany, France, China, and Russia ramp up their own operations against ISIS, a few in the U.S. want to take their participation a step further. Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain are calling for 20,000 ground troops to counter ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

“The aerial campaign is not turning the tide of battle,” Senator Graham told The Guardian. Part of the McCain-Graham proposal includes the U.S. handling logistics for a 100,000 strong Sunni Arab army from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. There are a number of problems with this plan, however.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

The first is that it props up the terrorist organizations recruiting claims that they are the bulwark of true Islam, fighting Western apostates. It also backs up the Sunni Jihadi myth of the “Grand Battle” to be fought for Islam. Most troubling is that the Senators’ plan explicitly supports the Sunni side of what is now widely believed to be a greater religious-political civil war throughout the region (and maybe beyond). As of right now, the U.S. has taken great pains to avoid the perception of taking sides.

The McCain-Graham plan also risks antagonizing the already tense situation relationships between all players. The Russia-U.S. rivalry is well documented, as are Iranian-U.S. issues. The missions of Russia, Iran, and the Iranian-backed Shia militias in Syria and Iraq is to ensure the survival of the Asad regime, a mission antithetical to the policies of the United States and its NATO allies.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day
The last one to touch Putin wins . . . (Kremlin Photo)

In Iraq, a similar situation exists. Iraq is a Shia-dominated country where the locals come to increasingly believe the U.S. is supporting the Islamic State, rather than fighting it, and the Iraqis would be able to win if not for U.S. intervention against them.The Iranian-backed militias are seen as the primary bulwark against ISIS aggression despite, the 3,500 ground troops in Iraq, training and advising the Iraqi forces. The call for an increased presence from Congress is a strange idea, considering the Iraqi government has specifically asked the U.S. not to increase its presence in the country.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

Is it in the United States’ best interest to re-enter the conflicts of the Middle East? The Iraqis already are starting to think the U.S. is on the wrong side. It’s a well known fact the lineage of ISIS traces back to al-Qaeda in Iraq, who helped publish The Management of Savagery, a how-to guide for committing atrocities to trap the West in unwinnable ground wars in the Middle East, which was Osama bin Laden’s long-game strategy, first against the Soviet Union and now the United States. If Putin and Russia want to jump back into the Middle East fray, maybe we should consider letting him.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

MIGHTY HISTORY

5 great military cadences you haven’t thought about in years

For hundreds of years, military cadences have been used as an iconic tool to keep service members upright during formation runs and marches.


Structurally designed to keep each man or woman properly covered and aligned, a cadence helps a formation of troops in PT land each step at the exact same time as everyone else, preventing a massive falling domino effect.

Related: 6 military cadences you will never forget

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day
Members of the 99th Security Forces Group perform cadence while running in the formation (Photo by Air Force Senior Airman Stephanie Rubi)

Military cadence is a preparatory song performed by the leader of the formation during the marches or organized runs.  Many parts of these running songs are so catchy, they will be forever embedded into our heavy left feet.

Read More: 5 epic military movie mistakes

Take a listen and let yourself be transported back to the good ol’ days of the little yellow bird and the days of sitting in the back of your truck with Josephine.

1. “Down By The River”

2. “Pin My Medals Upon My Chest”
3. “C-130 Rolling Down The Strip”
4. “Hey, Hey Whiskey Jack”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwUeuB0MTGs
5. “How’d Ya Earn Your Living?”
Cadences tend to cross-breed through the different branches and change words to make them service-specific. We salute everyone for their originality.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

MIGHTY HISTORY

This great Viking was killed by his dead enemy’s skull

Think of the most metal way that a Viking could go out. Leading a burning ship on a raid into an enemy hold? Sounds cool. Simultaneous ax swings to the skull with his nemesis? That’s good for an album cover. But what about cheating another warrior leader in a battle, decapitating that dude, and then dying because his infected tooth rubbed against an open sore in your leg? Slightly less metal, right?


But that’s what happened to Sigurd the Mighty, a man born as a commoner who went on to be a great military leader under Olaf the White, a Viking sea king.

It all started when Sigurd’s older brother, Earl Rognvald of Moeri, lost a son while serving King Harald in the invasion of islands of Shetland, Orkney, and Hebrides. Harald expanded Rognvald’s holdings by granting him the Orkney and Shetland islands, but Rognvald wasn’t interested in ruling those islands. So he returned to Norway and passed the title and lands of the Earl of Orkney to his brother, Sigurd, in 875.

Sigurd was pretty lucky to get an earldom all to himself, and he appears to have taken the responsibility seriously. He led troops during multiple campaigns and became known as Earl Sigurd the Powerful.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

(Peter Nicolai Arbo, Public domain)

But he had trouble controlling the lands he had captured for the king. He built a stronghold in the Moray area of Scotland to project power, but the Norse were not popular that deep into Scottish land. So a local leader, Maelbrigd, became a thorn in Sigurd’s side.

Sigurd sought to end his struggles with Maelbrigd once and for all. The men agreed to meet in honorable combat with 40 men each. But Sigurd didn’t trust Maelbrigd to fight honorably, so he did that classic thing where he cheated first. He brought 40 horses, but he put two men on each horse. Maelbrigd, on the other hand, did fight honorably.

The 80 men of Sigurd’s force won. Big surprise. And Sigurd told them to strap the heads of their enemies to the horses to celebrate. Sigurd, of course, strapped Maelbrigd’s head to his own horse.

But Sigurd had a sore on his leg. And Maelbrigd’s teeth rubbed against that sore and infected it. In one of the most unlikely kills in history, Maelbrigd killed his foe from beyond the grave with a mouth full of bacteria.

Sucks to be Sigurd.

By the way, you can learn more about the struggle between the Norse and Scottish for Orkney and the surrounding lands in The Orkeyinga Saga available here.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The curious case of the Ray-Ban wearing Monk of Koh Sumai

On the scenic Thai island of Koh Sumai, tucked away in the Wat Khunaram temple is the mummified body of one of Thailand’s most famous monks- Luang Pho Daeng. Remarkably well preserved, Luang Pho Daeng’s body was put on display sometime in the 1970s and is still there today, virtually unchanged from the day he passed away, with the notable exception of a giant pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses that were added later. So how does his body stay so naturally well preserved and why is he wearing Ray-Bans?


Born sometime in 1894 on Koh Sumai, Luang Pho Daeng first became ordained as a Buddhist monk in his twenties. However, he only remained a monk for a few months before he decided to abandon the pursuit to raise a family and live an otherwise normal life. That said, his brief time as a monk had a profound impact on Luang Pho Daeng’s life and guided his actions throughout the ensuing decades. For example, during WW2, Pho Daeng, who was a financially successful businessman during his adult life, donated large amounts of money as well as clothing and medicine to those in need and otherwise placed high value on all life.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

(Photo by Per Meistrup)

It was also around this time, in 1944 at the age of about 50 years old that he, apparently with the support of his wife and six now grown children, decided to once again become a monk.

After being ordained, Luang Pho Daeng threw himself into studying Buddhist texts and became fascinated with various meditation techniques, soon becoming a master meditator, in particular of Vipassana meditation, which literally translates to “seeing clearly”.

His skill at meditation was such that he could reportedly meditate for upwards of 15 days at a time, during which period he’d neither move nor consume food or drink. Although the man himself claimed that he needed no nourishment during his marathon meditation sessions, he was frequently warned by physicians that he was causing severe harm to his body through his regular extended bouts of no fluid or food intake.

As you might imagine, during these sessions, he lost a great deal of weight through muscle, fat, and fluid loss and was often so weakened by his meditation that he needed to nursed back to health via fluid resuscitation and the like, before ultimately he would once again resume meditating.

The true extent of the damage Luang Pho Daeng did to his body while meditating was largely lost on his followers thanks to the decidedly monk-like stoicism with which he was able to endure the withering effects of severe dehydration and hunger. As a result, Luang Pho Daeng became something of a celebrity amongst the residents of Koh Sumai and many travelled to Wat Khunaram temple to learn from him.

In addition to his impressive meditative abilities, Pho Daeng was known for his strict adherence to a simplistic lifestyle, on a normal day eating only one, simple meal and apparently always eating from the same bowl.

The Mummified Monk Thailand Koh Samui

www.youtube.com

According to the monks of Wat Khunaram where Luang Pho Daeng served as an abbot, shortly after his 79th birthday in 1973, Luang Pho Daeng foresaw his own death and made it known that he would mummify himself, which is totally possible if excruciating and an extremely time consuming process that, given the time of his eventual death, meant he must have started the process long before he made this announcement.

In preparation for his anticipated success at this, he requested that his disciples build him an “upright coffin” made of glass in which his body should be put on display if he was successful in his goal of achieving self-mummification. His ultimate aim being that his remains would serve as an eternal testament to the Buddhist belief in the transience of human existence if he was successful.

Unfortunately for those of us who like the details, exactly how he prepared himself for self-mummification was never recorded by the monks of his temple. That said, one known method used by certain types of Buddhist monks was a total of a nine year process, about six of which the monk would be alive for.

The monks would begin by ceasing eating any food except various nuts and seeds, with some accounts stating that they were also allowed to eat fruits and berries. They would also begin a regimented program of heavy physical exercise, which they would continue throughout this first period that lasted one thousand days.

During the next one thousand days, the monks would further restrict their diet by only eating bark and various roots, again with some accounts stating that they were also allowed to eat a limited amount of fruits and berries. Near the end of this period, they would drink a concoction made from the sap of the Urushi tree. This tree’s sap is mildly poisonous and is normally used as a natural lacquer. Ingesting the drink caused the person consuming it to vomit frequently, further restricting the body’s ability to obtain nutrients from the sparse diet they ate. They would also rapidly lose bodily fluids due to vomiting. As a side effect, this sap also worked as a preservative in their bodies.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

Urushi tree.

In the final stage of self-mummification, the monk’s body would be little more than skin and bones. If the monk survived to this point, he would lock himself into a stone tomb that was just large enough for him to fit in, sitting in the lotus position, which is a position he would not move from until he died. The tomb itself contained an air tube, so that the monk could live for a time after being entombed. It also contained a bell, which the monk would ring on a daily basis to let those outside the tomb know he was still alive.

While in the tomb, the monk would sit in the lotus position and meditate until death. Once the monk died and, thus, no longer rang the bell each day, the breathing tube would be removed and the tomb sealed for the final thousand day period of the ritual. At the end of this period, the tomb would be opened to see if the monk was successful in mummifying himself. If he was, the preserved body would be put on display in the temple. Having successfully demonstrated mastery over the physical, the priest would also then be declared a Buddha.

Whether some semblance of this was what Pho Daeng did or not isn’t known. Whatever the case, after his preparations were complete on an unknown date in 1973, he sat down and meditated for the final time of that particular life.

When his followers discovered that he’d passed away while meditating, they hastily constructed the upright coffin he’d requested and placed his body inside to wait and see if it would decompose or not. If it did decompose, he left instructions that his remains were to be cremated. If it didn’t, as mentioned, he requested they be put it on display.

In keeping with his final wishes, when his body failed to decompose normally, he was then put on display in Wat Khunaram.

8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

Wat Khunaram.

Nearly three decades later, in 2002, his remains were still externally in remarkably good shape, spurring researchers at the Bioanthropology Research Institute to study the corpse. In the process, among other things, they performed a radiographic analyses on it.

The results?

Amazingly his organs, including brain, are all still remarkably well preserved, more or less having shrunk from dehydration, but otherwise still there and intact. In fact, one of the only parts of Luang Pho Daeng’s body that actually rotted away were his eyes, which sunk into his skull shortly after his death.

This became something of an issue for the monks of the temple wanting to display Luang Pho Daeng’s corpse as per his final wishes, because children who visited the temple were understandably terrified of his eyeless visage, rather than in awe of his self-mummification.

After contemplating the issue for some time, the monks of the temple came up with the rather novel solution of simply covering Luang Pho Daeng’s eye sockets with a pair of Ray-Bans, which would not just mask the eye sockets, but also make him look rather stylish.

Luang Pho Daeng has rocked this look ever since. And as a result of both his startlingly well-preserved state and timeless fashion sense, his former body has become the temple’s most famous attraction.

Incidentally, one other interesting thing the study by the Bioanthropology Research Institute discovered in examining the body was that at some point a Gecko or Geckos managed to lay eggs in his eye sockets and skull, as well as in his mouth and throat…

Moving swiftly on, the monks of Wat Khunaram don’t mind visitors taking pictures or even recording videos of Luang Pho Daeng body (so long as they do so in a respectful manner) and the temple is free to the public, meaning images of this fashion conscious mummy are plentiful for those who can’t make the trip.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

Also read:

  • How the Dalai Lama is Chosen
  • Why Japan is Called the Land of the Rising Sun
  • From Sorcerer to Clergyman to Pirate to Admiral, the Remarkable Life of Eustace The Monk
  • Bonsai!
  • The Mystery of the Forest Swastika and the Origin of the Symbol
  • popular

    7 things you didn’t know about the Marine Jungle Warfare Training Center

    Okinawa’s Camp Gonsalves, named after the World War II-era Medal of Honor recipient, Pfc. Harold Gonsalves, is home to the Marine Corps’ Jungle Warfare Training Center.


    JWTC is 17,500 acres of dense tropical jungle. The instructors here have established a curriculum and training environment that none forget.

    Here’s what you didn’t know.

    Related: The origin of the ‘best’ rank in the Marines (Lance Corporal)

    1. JWTC is not in America.

    You and your unit will travel to lovely Okinawa, Japan where you will proceed to avoid all of its gorgeous beaches, coral reefs, and beautiful culture by traveling 25 kilometers to the Northern Training areas. Then, you’ll move through a crowd of protestors blocking the gate to arrive at a replica of the inner island from the show, Lost.

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day
    So much beauty… but you aren’t going here.

     

    2. You will not be training in vehicles.

    Once you arrive, you will dismount because the roads are very few and most of the locations you will be bivouacking are in the middle of nowhere and can only be reached by foot. To get to camp may require some terrain rope suspension techniques.

    3. You will be doing some unique movements.

    All of the instructors at JWTC are TRST masters and, before you graduate from the course, you will learn to repel off the side of cliffs, hasty repel into and across a dangerous slope, and safely cross a gorge with the aid of a makeshift cable bridge.

    4. The ‘E’ course is intense.

    The last major evolution after all your classes, supervised evolutions, field craft, and various other skillset development instructions is basically a roided-up mud run through the jungle with your very own JWTC guide. It’s named the ‘E’-course, it involves a lot of endurance, but it can be a lot of fun.

    5. You don’t want to be a heat casualty.

    On top of the health concern is movement. If you can’t get out of this environment under your own power, you are in for the worst ride of your life. Cas-evac (casualty evacuation), party of ten!

    6. Don’t bring your good cammies.

    They will be destroyed. That is all.

    Also Read: 7 tips on how to get selected by MARSOC instructors

    7. The wildlife is deadly.

    From poisonous snakes and spiders to eels and unsteady terrain with steep falls onto jagged rocks, Okinawa is not for the faint of heart.

     

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day
    Do not pet. (Photo by Shawn Miller)

    MIGHTY MOVIES

    This astronaut says ‘The Right Stuff’ turned his life around

    Scott Kelly didn’t always know that he was going to be an astronaut. In fact, he wasn’t even a particularly good student.

    “As a student, it’s just really hard, especially at first, when you don’t have the habit-patterns to study and pay attention,” Kelly told Business Insider for the podcast “Success! How I Did It.” “But once I got over that, I was able to go from a kid at 18 years old that was always like a very average, underperforming student and then fast forward almost to the day 18 years later, I flew in space for the first time. It was a pretty remarkable comeback, I think.”


    Kelly remained an average student until he went to college, where he stumbled across Tom Wolfe’s book, “The Right Stuff.”

    “I read this book, and I could relate to a lot of the characteristics these guys had, with regards to their personalities, their risk-taking, their leadership abilities, ability to work as a team. That made me think,” Kelly said.

    “I related to a lot of those characteristics with one exception, and that is I wasn’t a good student, especially in science and math,” he continued. Kelly said he then thought, “Wow, you know, if I could fix just that thing, then I could maybe be like these guys.”

    “At the time I was thinking you’ve got to be really smart to be an engineer or scientist. What I realized is really what it takes is just hard work, and it’s not any particular gift you might have.”

    He continued: “It was the spark I needed to motivate me to do more with my life than I was currently doing.”

    You can subscribe to the podcast and listen to the episode below:


    “The Right Stuff” inspired Kelly, but it was a phone call from his brother that showed him what hard work really looks like.

    According to Kelly, his twin brother Mark, who also became a NASA astronaut, was also a mediocre students — but Mark turned things around in high school, while Scott kept skating by. Mark pinpoints his turnaround to an event Scott doesn’t remember.

    “I was this kid that could not pay attention. Was not a good student,” Kelly said. “Always wondering how in the ninth grade my brother went from being like me to getting straight A’s — I never knew how that happened.”

    “But apparently, what [Mark] tells me, is that our dad sat us down in like the eighth grade, and said, ‘Hey, guys. You know, you’re not good students, not college material. We’re going to start thinking about a vocational education for you.'” Kelly said. “And my brother thought, ‘Whoa! I want to go to college and do something more.”I, on the other hand, had no recollection whatsoever of this conversation,” Kelly said. “Probably only because there was like a squirrel running outside the window and I was like, ‘Squirrel!’ Otherwise, I probably would have been a straight-A student, too.”

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day
    Kelly, left, and his identical twin brother and fellow former astronaut Mark.
    (Nasa photo)

    In his memoir “Endurance,” Kelly wrote that his mind began to wander and he lost focus as a student at the State University of New York Maritime College.

    His grades had risen above average and he was studying for his first calculus exam. Having decided to take a break, Kelly planned to attend a big party at Rutgers. When Mark found out about his brother’s attempt to forgo more studying for a party, he scolded Kelly over the phone.

    “Are you out of your goddamn mind?” Kelly remembered Mark telling him. “You’re in school. You need to absolutely ace this exam, and everything else, if you want to get caught up.”

    Scott Kelly buckled down, became a NASA astronaut, and has been to space four times.

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

    MIGHTY HISTORY

    This is the history of US military haircuts

    When America was founded in 1776, the officers in charge wore powdered wigs. As time marched on, so did the evolution of regulation hairstyles — including facial hair. For most, facial hair isn’t an option anymore, but the military haircut was still in a world of its own.

    From the buzzcut to the flattop to the high and tight, these are the definitive trends we can’t forget.


    We Are The Mighty is proud to partner with Wahl, the brand used by professionals.

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

    Not a wig.

    Revolutionary War

    In the late 18th century, large, curled hairdos were totally in for men, who normally achieved this look by wearing wigs (called ‘periwigs’ or even ‘perukes,’ if you want to be fancy about it). However, this coif just wasn’t practical for soldiers; they were hot, expensive, and susceptible to infestation.

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

    That hair tho…

    (Mel Gibson in “The Patriot” by Columbia Pictures)

    Officers may have worn a looser, pigtail wig, that could have been made from their own hair or that of horses, goats, or yaks. Common soldiers, however, did not wear wigs. They either styled their long hair into the pigtail (called a queue) or, if their hair was too short, they styled a queue out of leather and attached a tuft of hair to the end.

    Early Republic

    The queue, however, would find an enemy in Maj. Gen. James Wilkinson, the commanding general of the newly-established United States Army. He abolished the queue, much to soldiers’ dismay.

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

    Did he do it because the “pigtail was an aristocratic affectation that had no place in an egalitarian republic” or because he couldn’t grow his own? You decide…

    The U.S. Army even court-martialed a guy who refused to cut his hair in accordance with the new standards. Lt. Col. Thomas Butler was found guilty, but he died before his sentence could be carried out — braid intact.

    Civil War

    By the time the Civil War broke out in 1861, long hair was out and facial hair was in.

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

    You do you, Ambrose.

    Though there were regulations about dress and appearance, beard and facial hair fashion tended to default to “the pleasure of the individual.” The variety of styles therefore ranged from short, refined looks (the famous Civil War-era Admiral David Farragut sported a stately combover with no beard, for example) to the… well… not so refined.

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

    How does your beard flow, on a scale of 1 to General Alpheus Williams?

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

    U.S. Marine Pfc. James B. Johnson was killed in action in the Pacific during WWII.

    The World Wars

    World War I was the first time when shaving became mandatory — not only was it a good sanitary practice, but it was necessary to get a seal on the gas mask. The face was to be clean-shaven and the hair no more than one inch long. By World War II, fingernails were also mentioned in the regs (they were to be clean).

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

    This is actually a decent depiction of the military haircuts during Vietnam.

    (Photo by Ted Wicorek)

    Vietnam War

    Long hair was fashionable for civilians during the 1970s but, for the most part, the military sported the opposite look — they also had Article 15 to contend with for non-compliance.

    On Naval ships, however, rules were a little more relaxed. For years, it wasn’t uncommon for ships to have beard-growing contests while at sea.

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

    Beard-growing contest aboard the USS Staten Island.

    In 1970, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt began issuing “Z-grams” to help boost recruitment and retention. He used these communications to allow longer hair, beards, and sideburns. This policy lasted until the mid-1980s.

    The 80s also saw the rise in the mustache.

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

    Due 100% to the standards set by Robin Olds, am I right?

    Today, the mustache is still allowed, though there are now strict guidelines about how to wear it. Even a legendary triple ace from two wars like Col. Olds had to shave his as soon as he left Vietnam.

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

    Medal of Honor recipient Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward C. Byers Jr. sports what is probably the perfect modern military haircut: still in regs, but pushing it *just enough* to make you think.

    Desert Storm and Post-9/11

    Today, each branch of the military favors strict hair regulations for both men and women. There are medical exemptions extended as needed, and certain missions allow for relaxed hair standards (and even full beards), but overall, the “high and tight” reigns.

    We Are The Mighty is proud to partner with Wahl, the brand used by professionals.

    MIGHTY MOVIES

    Check out the new ‘Joker’ trailer – and join in on the speculation

    The first footage of Todd Phillips’ origin story tale of DC Comics villain the Joker is finally here.

    Warner Bros. released a teaser of the movie on April 3, 2019, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the man before becoming the Clown Prince of Crime. This follows the footage being shown April 2, 2019, at CinemaCon, the annual convention for theater owners in Las Vegas, which Business Insider is attending this week. As part of Warner Bros. showing off its 2019 slate, Phillips came out and introduced the teaser to a packed house of exhibitors and press.

    He said the movie was still “taking shape,” and that most of the chatter about the movie online “hasn’t been very accurate.” He added: “I guess that’s what happens when you set out to do an origin story about a character that doesn’t have a definitive origin.”


    But he did give a little hint about the movie’s tone, saying “it’s a tragedy.”

    The teaser certainly has that feel. Phoenix plays the character Arthur as a sad clown. He’s someone who seems very attached to his mother and finds love at home but outside, in a very grimy and dangerous Gotham City, is often picked on and violently attacked. Then it seems something finally snaps in Arthur, or maybe it was always there and circumstances lead the other side of him to finally come out.

    But his descent into madness has a very Travis-Bickle-in-“Taxi-Driver” feel. The only difference is Travis wanted to wipe the scum off the streets of New York, and it seems in “Joker” Arthur wants to be the leader of the scum of Gotham.

    We’ll find out what happens when “Joker” hits theaters Oct. 4, 2019.

    In the meantime, here’s the first teaser:

    JOKER – Teaser Trailer – In Theaters October 4

    www.youtube.com

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

    MIGHTY HISTORY

    A 60-year-old D-Day veteran beat Special Forces climbing Pointe du Hoc

    “They hug the cliff too much,” Herman Stein said as he approached a waiting crowd on an overcast day in June 1984. Stein was a former Army Ranger with Dog Company who landed at Pointe du Hoc during World War II. He was slightly older than 60, but he had just beaten a dozen Special Forces soldiers up the cliffside.

    “All these younger guys will be alright if they just stick with it,” Stein said.


    Stein was one of 225 Rangers of the 2d Ranger Battaltion who landed there on D-Day, Jun. 6, 1944, to scale the cliff face and take out the Nazi guns. Some 40 years later, the climb was re-enacted for onlookers celebrating the 40th anniversary of the operation, the largest amphibious landing ever performed, which led to the end of the war.

    The original recreation was supposed to consist of a dozen Ranger-qualified Green Berets, but Herman Stein wasn’t about to let them go alone. Stein, a roofer back in the United States, was still in top shape for the job. Despite the worries of his fellow veterans, he not only made the climb, but left the much-younger Special Forces in the dust.

    This event was recounted in Patrick K. O’Donnell’s book, “Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc.”

    The first time he went to scale the cliffs of Normandy, they were part of Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall,” and time was of the essence. Although the Nazis believed the Americans weren’t crazy enough to attempt a landing at the cliff face, They were wrong. Stein and Dog Company landed on the West side of Pointe du Hoc and scaled the 90-foot cliff under heavy fire.

    As President Ronald Reagan would remark at the 40th Anniversary event:

    “The American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms.”

    The Rangers were successful in neutralizing the guns and other Nazi positions at the top of the cliffs but they face stiff resistance and a harsh counterattack throughout the rest of the day and into the night. By the time a large relief column arrived for them, they had suffered a 70 percent casualty rate.

    Later, Stein would recall meeting President Reagan during the event. He said the President was visibly inspired by Stein’s performance in climbing the cliff face and outdoing the Special Forces.

    “Reagan was all over the moon about my climbing to the top of Pointe du Hoc,” Stein said. “I think he wished he could have done it with me.”

    MIGHTY CULTURE

    The Pentagon isn’t the only one with special operators. Here are the 5 most elite forces outside the military

    The military isn’t the only one with special-operations units.

    Numerous US government agencies and departments have specially selected, manned, and trained units with some unique mission sets. Because of the Posse Comitatus Act, which makes it almost impossible to use the active-duty military in a domestic scenario, some of these units are the last line of defense in their respective jurisdictions.

    Here are the top 5:

    Hostage Rescue Team (FBI)

    HRT operators conducting close-quarters battle training. FBI

    The HRT specializes on domestic counterterrorism and hostage rescue. It’s the law-enforcement equivalent of Delta Force and SEAL Team 6 and frequently trains with both units.

    To apply for HRT, an FBI special agent must have served two to three years in a field office. To become an operator, he or she then must pass a grueling two-week selection and then a 32-week operator training course similar to Delta Force’s.

    The HRT recruits heavily from the special-operations community. Former Navy SEALs, Delta Force operators, Rangers, and Pararescuemen are some of those recruited by the Bureau. Tom Norris, a Navy SEAL who won the Medal of Honor in Vietnam, was one of the first HRT operators despite missing an eye.

    The unit is composed of about 100 operators and is split into two teams (Gold and Blue) that contain assault and sniper teams.

    Aside from armored vehicles, the unit has its own helicopters and boats and frequently trains with the top military units, such as the Night Stalkers. HRT operators train in a variety of environments, including arctic, urban, and maritime and learn several infiltration methods such as free-fall parachuting and close-circuit diving.

    HRT operators have deployed to the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan alongside Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) forces.

    The HRT conducted successful hostage rescues in Alabama in 2013 and Atlanta in 2014. It also participated in the hunt for the Boston marathon bomber in 2013.

    Maritime Security Response Teams (Coast Guard)

    MSRT operators honing their marksmanship skills while underway. US Coast Guard

    The MSRTs are Coast Guard’s elite. They specialize in maritime counterterrorism and high-risk maritime law enforcement. Like Navy SEALs, they also excel at Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) operations and often deploy outside the US.

    The MSRT pipeline is almost 18 months and encompasses a variety of skills, including close-quarters battle, mission planning, fast-roping, and water survival.

    Operators can then specialize in additional skills such as sniping, dog handling, and Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High Yield Explosive (CBRNE) detection.

    There are two teams, MSRT-West in California and MSRT-East in Virginia, totaling 300 operators.

    The Coast Guard can be put under the control of the Department of the Navy during wartime, but in peacetime it is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

    But MSRTs often deploy on and use Navy ships as platforms for their operations. If they have to do an interdiction in US waters, the Navy crew must raise the Coast Guard’s ensign, putting the ship under Coast Guard control for the duration of the operation in order to comply with the Posse Comitatus Act.

    In the last six years, the MSRTs have deployed domestically and overseas in support of the military close to 200 times.

    Special Response Teams (DEA)

    DEA agents burning hashish seized in Operation Albatross, a joint Afghan, NATO, and DEA operation, in 2008. DEA

    The SRTs are DEA’s dedicated teams to execute high-risk searches and arrest warrants.

    DEA special agents who wish to join the SRTs have to pass a two-week training course that covers tactical entries, vehicle interdiction, emergency medical care, advanced weapons, defensive tactics, mission planning, and mechanical breaching.

    Special agents on SRTs serve part-time while also fulfilling their normal duties. There are 20 SRTs across the US.

    The unit has only been operational since January 2020, but it can trace its lineage to the Foreign-Deployed Advisory and Support Teams (FAST) that were deactivated a few years ago.

    DEA special agents assigned to FAST teams deployed regularly in Central and Latin America as part of the war on drugs but also to Afghanistan to counter the drug trade that fuels the Taliban war machine.

    While in Afghanistan, the FAST teams developed a close working relationship with the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) and 2nd Commando Regiment.

    Special Response Teams (Department of Energy)

    Security contractors at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site. Department of Energy

    These are the men who defend America’s nuclear sites. Only contractors serve in the SRTs, and to join one has to pass a tactical response certification course.

    The course teaches skills required to perform the high-risk recapture, recovery, and pursuit operations of nuclear material and to support interruption, interdiction, neutralization, containment, and denial strategies.

    Contractors also go through marksmanship training, team tactical urban movement, and breaching, fieldcraft, close-quarters combat, and night operations.

    The SRTs are also capable of dealing with active shooter or hostage situations involving Department of Energy sites and facilities.

    The unit was established in 1981 and historically has been manned by special-operations veterans. Former Delta Force operators, in particular, have been key to developing the unit’s training curriculum and standard operating procedures.

    There are about 400 contractors divided into seven SRTs that cover the department’s nuclear sites.

    Special Operations Group (CIA)

    SOG is the tactical arm of the CIA.

    Divided into three branches (Ground, Air, Maritime), SOG conducts covert special-operations on behalf of the CIA.

    Ground Branch specializes on unconventional warfare and is pretty similar to the Army’s Special Forces. Air Branch operates a fleet of aircraft in support of CIA operations. Maritime Branch operates ships and vessels and conducts maritime special-operations for the agency.

    SOG is mostly composed of former special-operations troops, with Delta Force well represented in its ranks.

    SOG is part of the Special Activities Center, which also includes the Covert Influence Group (CIG) that conducts psychological operations.

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

    MIGHTY TACTICAL

    This new unmanned fighter drone could be your next wingman

    Boeing Co. has unveiled a new concept for an unmanned fighter that would work autonomously alongside fourth- and fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

    Dubbed the Airpower Teaming System, the drone-jet hybrid would be a multi-mission craft using artificial intelligence to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions to supply pilots with more information during a conflict, according to the company.

    The aircraft, which Boeing is co-developing with the government of Australia for that country, was unveiled at the Avalon Airshow.


    The jet is 38 feet long and can fly more than 2,000 nautical miles, the company said. It uses A.I. “to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft,” according to its fact sheet.

    Boeing intends to hold its maiden flight sometime in 2020.

    The concept is similar to an ongoing U.S. military effort.

    8 veteran AF ways to celebrate Independence Day

    A full-scale model of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System air vehicle.

    (Boeing)

    The U.S. Air Force has been working to develop its own “Loyal Wingman” program, featuring unmanned fighters that could think autonomously sent out alongside F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, for example, to scout enemy territory ahead of a strike, or to gather intel for the aircraft formation.

    The concept is part of the service’s Air Superiority 2030 road map, which the Air Force debuted in 2016. The road map outlines next-generation air dominance, defined as advanced fighter aircraft, sensors or weapons — or all of the above — in a growing and unpredictable threat environment.

    Boeing CEO and chairman Dennis Muilenburg tweeted that the Airpower Teaming System will be the first unmanned aircraft designed and built by the company outside the U.S.

    It will be the first Australian-developed combat aircraft since World War II, Reuters said. The country is investing roughly million into the project.

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

    MIGHTY SURVIVAL

    Poland made an app that forces coronavirus patients to take regular selfies to prove they’re indoors or face a police visit

    The Polish government has introduced a new app that will require coronavirus patients to take selfies to prove they’re quarantining properly.


    Per France 24, the “Home Quarantine” app is intended for people quarantining for 14 days after returning from abroad.

    People who’ve downloaded the app register a selfie with the app, then periodically receive requests for geo-located selfies. If they fail to comply, the police will be alerted.

    “People in quarantine have a choice: either receive unexpected visits from the police, or download this app,” a spokesman for Poland’s Digital Ministry told the AFP. If a user fails to respond to a request within 20 minutes police will be notified.

    France 24 reported that police in Poland fined someone for breaking quarantine 500 zloty (6) on Friday.

    British journalist Jakub Krupa tweeted that accounts are being automatically created for suspected quarantine patients.

    Krupa tweeted that the purpose of the app isn’t solely to punish people breaking quarantine, saying it also “helps to connect with the social services or request help with urgent supplies.”

    According to Poland’s Digital Ministry the app is available to download on Google Play and the App Store.

    Although demanding selfies is unique, Poland is not the only country to introduce unusual and invasive measures using people’s phones to contain and control the spread of the coronavirus.

    Singapore has asked citizens to download an app which uses Bluetooth to track whether they’ve been near anyone diagnosed with the virus, and Taiwan has introduced “electronic fences” which alert police if suspected patients leave their homes.

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

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