Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs - We Are The Mighty
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Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Some vets with a tendency toward showmanship like to take their talents to YouTube or Hollywood when they hit the post-service world.


Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
These guys sang a couple songs that pissed their CO off (bravo!). (Photo: Amazon.com)

But the former F-16 fighter pilots behind Operation Encore took the old-school approach and are working to shatter some of the caricatures of veterans through music. The result is a blend of music genres from a variety of military-affiliated artists that range from folksy bluegrass to present-day pop rock — all of it relating to experiences of war that poke fun at life in the service and lament the tragedy of war.

Chris Kurek is the co-founder and partner with Viper Driver Productions. He’s better known as “Snooze,” one of the two founding members of the band Dos Gringos, a pair of F-16 pilots who released four satirical albums full of songs with titles like “I Wish I Had a Gun Just Like the A-10” to the NSFW drinking song “Jeremiah Weed” to the Willie Nelson-esque “TDY Again.”

The band kicked off when Kurek and his fellow jet jock Robert “Trip” Raymond were deployed to Kuwait for Operation Southern Watch and later Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“We were out there for six months, there was nothing else to do,” Kurek said. He and Raymond wrote some songs and performed for the rest of their squadron.

Their songs drew what Kurek described as “wonky eyes” from some, but their squadron commander was very supportive, encouraging them to record the songs on CD, even offering to put up the money.

“We were kind of writing on stuff that pointed out things that drive you crazy in the military,” he said.

After the band’s return stateside, they went to Texas to record their first CD, “Live at the Sand Trap.”

Turns out Dos Gringos’ wing commander was less than pleased with their extracurricular enterprise and barred them from performing at the Cannon Air Force Base Officer’s Club.

But the band went viral in a 2003 sorta way via the enlisted maintenance personnel who particularly dug the song, “I’m a Pilot,” Kurek said. The semi-satirical ditty about a self-centered fighter jock — which evokes a sound similar to some songs from the 80s band Warrant — was passed around the flightline.

Eventually, Dos Gringos would put out three more albums —”2,” “Live at Tommy Rockers,” and “El Cuatro” — before the band had to go on hiatus due to pressure from higher ups as Raymond rose through the ranks.

They were not done with music, though. Both felt some frustration with how some caricatured vets and with what they perceived as an effort by Nashville to cash in on the veteran experience.

Kurek recounted that the war wasn’t always patriotism or sadness, pointing out there was a lot of “goofing off and laughter” because of “boredom.”

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Stephen Covell, a former Army medic who contributes to Operation Encore. (From OperationEncoreMusic.com)

“Vets can write about anything,” Kurek said. Eventually, in a conversation with Erik Brine, a C-17 pilot who was a later addition to Dos Gringos, Kurek recounted someone asking, “I wonder if there are any other people who did what we did on deployment – bring a guitar and write songs.”

They began a search, and it was a pair of submissions from Stephen Covell, an Army medic who served with the 82nd Airborne Division, that prompted them to create Operation Encore.

“Those two alone were the best I ever heard,” Kurek said. “They conveyed a combat vet’s experience.”

Covell’s submissions pushed Kurek and Raymond to launch a Kickstarter campaign to pay for airfare, studio time, mixing and mastering.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Rachel Harvey Hill, a military spouse who has contributed to Operation Encore. (From OperationEncoreMusic.com)

While two albums, “Volume 1” and “Monuments,” have so far been released, Kurek notes the process has been a challenge, largely due to the way the music industry has changed. Kurek recounted that when the first Dos Gringos album came out, CDs were still king. The rise of iTunes and digital downloads were one shift which evened out – the volume increased, even as they got less per song.

With Operation Encore, though, the big challenge has been the fact that the music industry has shifted once again to streaming services, and it takes hundreds of thousands of streams to get real money. Furthermore, Kurek pointed out that Dos Gringos was a niche market, and their audience knew what they would get.

Operation Encore is different.

“Operation Encore is a compilation, not one band, sound, or genre,” he explained, pointing out some of the songs were pop rock, others country or bluegrass. Furthermore, the singers who appear are scattered all over the world. Just getting the performers together for a concert would entail airfare, hotel rooms, and equipment rental. Not to mention all the stuff that is in the riders for the artists.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Kurek, though, is still hot on his Iraq War-era band.

“I wish we could do one more Dos Gringos album,” he said.

Operation Encore’s CDs can be purchased at CDBaby.com, or bought as digital downloads from iTunes, Amazon.com, and Google Play. Dos Gringos CDs are also available at CDBaby.com, and can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon.com, and Google Play.

Articles

‘The Red Ball Express’ kept the Allies supplied and armed after the D-Day breakout

After storming the beaches of Normandy and fighting through the hedgerows of the French countryside, the Allied forces invading Nazi-occupied Europe came across one problem they hadn’t anticipated: outrunning their own supply lines. 

By July 1944, the Allied advance nearly ground to a halt. Every operation was decided by one major factor, which was how much supply it required versus how much could be delivered. It would be almost three months before French railways could be repaired and portable gas pipelines could be installed. 

To move the necessary supplies and keep the pressure on the German army, Allied war planners created a massive, truck-based supply convoy run primarily by Black soldiers. It became known as the “Red Ball Express.”

The Allies need a continuous supply of necessary fuel, ammunition, ordnance and food to keep running to the front. After breaking out of the Normandy area, the infrastructure the Allies damaged to hamper the German response needed repair to be used for the German defeat. 

Soldiers from the 4185th Quartermaster Service Company (left to right), Pvt. Harold Hendricks, Staff Sgt. Carl Haines, Sgt. Theodore Cutright, Pvt. Lawrence Buckhalter, Pfc. Horace Deahl, and Pvt. David N. Hatcher, load trucks with rations bound for frontline troops September 1944 in Liege, Belgium. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army)

There had to be a way to move 750 tons of supplies from the port of Antwerp to multiple locations across the front every day. Just one armored division alone required 350 tons of gasoline.

 After brainstorming for 36 hours straight, planners came up with a solution: a convoy of thousands and thousands of trucks, constantly streaming to and from the front lines. 

No truck could travel alone, they had to travel in a convoy of at least five total trucks and each was marked with a number indicating its position in the line of trucks. To mitigate the risks of high speed driving or of a truck pile up in an accident, trucks were ordered to drive just 35 miles per hour and maintain a specific clear distance from each other. The order to drive slower was rarely followed, many drove at twice that speed. 

When they implemented the plan, there weren’t enough trucks and there weren’t enough drivers. The Army began vulturing trucks from units who weren’t using them and began taking people with non-combat functions and training them to be truck drivers. The vast majority of these men were Black soldiers. 

red ball express
(National Archives)

Without these soldiers at the wheel, World War II in Europe might have dragged on for another full year. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower saw the Red Ball Express as the most critical lifeline to the advancing armies, just as important as the combat units themselves. 

Of course, these early trucks got stuck in traffic, both civilian and military. So the Allies created two priority roads just for the supply trucks, which became known as the Red Ball Line, named for the red spots marking the trucks and the routes that were closed to civilians.

At its height, the Red Ball Express was operating almost 6,000 trucks per day to move 12,500 tons of various supplies, fuel, and ammunition. Since the German Luftwaffe was almost nonexistent by this point in the war, the biggest problems facing the convoys were maintenance of the trucks and the overworked drivers.

Eventually, the rail lines were repaired and the Red Ball Express was no longer necessary. After more than 80 days of continuous operation, the convoy drivers had delivered more than 400,000 tons of supplies to the Allies in combat. 

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘The Mandalorian’ recap: Episode 2 is fun, if slow

After that delightful reveal in Chapter One, the second episode of The Mandalorian takes its time and remains on-planet, following just Mando our Mandalorian, Nick Nolte aka the Ugnaught aka Kuiil, and the cutest little bounty in the galaxy. Let’s get right to it.

Here’s your spoiler warning.


Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

MELINDA SUE GORDON/LUCASFILM LTD

It seems that when we open, our Mandalorian is still intent on returning “The Asset” to “The Client” (see what creator Jon Favreau is doing there? The Mandalorian…The Client…The Bounty…The Asset….it’s a cute naming device for the series).

Side note: we already know he’s not actually going to give the Yoda Baby to The Client, right? I guess unless he pulls some a Lando Calrissian and turns in the bounty but then goes and rescues the bounty?

Anyway, our Mandalorian is attacked by a team of Trandoshans with a tracking fob, which gives a nice sense of urgency for our hero: other bounty hunters are looking for this asset and more will be on their way.

Also read: ‘The Mandalorian’ episode 1 is everything you hoped it would be

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Honestly how has Mando not pinched the crap out of those little cheeks?

The Mandalorian, Disney+

That night, we get the first inkling that the Yoda Baby is Force-sensitive when (I don’t want to make any gender assumptions here…so I’m just going to continue to adamantly avoid third-person pronouns) the child attempts to help mend our Mandalorian’s armor. The child climbs out of it’s floating bassinet a number of times, reaching the cutest little hand ever out to summon the Force, only to be interrupted by the impatient Mandalorian.

When they do finally return to his ship the next day, our Mandalorian catches Jawas scavenging the Razer Crest for parts. He blasts a number of them (like, he’s not even trying to limit the amount of violence he exposes the baby to?) and pursues the rest as they flee in their Sandcrawler. Surprisingly, they get the best of him, zapping him off the top and leaving him unconscious in their dust.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

That’s totally going to leave a stain.

The Mandalorian, Disney+

Reuniting with his buddy Kuiil, our Mandalorian seeks a trade with the Jawas. Also, the Yoda Baby ate a space frog alive and I guess I’ll just repress that information and work through it on my own time.

The Jawas are interested in our Mandalorian’s armor, but he refuses to trade, as it is part of his “religion.” A bit of nerdy context here for you: the Mandalorians are a warrior culture who were once devoted to a god of war and destruction. As time passed, they abandoned the fanatic worship of war in favor of a philosophical pursuit of the manda, a collective consciousness that can be reached in the afterlife by those who follow the tenets of Mandalorian culture.

Instead, the Jawas demand “the egg” and set our Mandalorian on a quest.

The egg, it turns out, is protected by a space-rhinoceros, who kicks our Mandalorian’s ass and nearly finishes him…until the Yoda Baby summons the Force and restrains the beast, levitating her in the air and finally dropping her, allowing our Mandalorian to finish her off with his dagger.

This use of the Force summons all of the energy of the Yoda Baby, who falls unconscious after the incident.

Our Mandalorian returns to the muddy cave, uncovers the disgusting hairy egg, and delivers it to the Jawas.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

I think I’m going to be sick.

The Mandalorian, Disney+

Satisfied with their thick space yolk (shudder), the Jawas return the Razer Crest parts to our Mandalorian, allowing him and Kuiil to repair the ship. Our Mandalorian offers Kuiil money and a job aboard his ship, but the Ugnaught is content to have peace in his valley and he bids the bounty hunter adieu.

Our Mandalorian sets off into the stars, presumably to deliver his bounty.

Or will he?

I’ma getchu.https://twitter.com/kylospadawan/status/1194295798328168451 …

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Articles

3 systems America scrapped after its mid-range nuke agreement with the USSR

The 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union eliminated an entire class of ground-launched missiles.


The treaty states: “…each Party shall eliminate its intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles, not have such systems thereafter, and carry out the other obligations set forth in this Treaty.”

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
The 3M-14 land attack missile, which may be the basis of the INF Treaty-busting SSC-8. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to a report by the New York Times, Russia has operationally deployed one battalion equipped with the SSC-8 cruise missile. A 2015 Washington Free Beacon report noted that American intelligence officials assessed the missile’s range as falling within the scope of weapons prohibited by the INF Treaty (any ground-launched system with a range between 300 and 3,400 miles).

The blog ArmsControlWonk has estimated the SSC-8’s range to be between 2,000 and 2,500 kilometers (1,242 and 1,553 miles) based on the assumption it is a version of the SS-N-30A “Sizzler” cruise missile.

While it looks like the Russians could be holding onto some banned systems, the U.S. scrapped three systems falling under the INF Treaty.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
A BGM-109G Gryphon is launched. (DOD photo)

1. The BGM-109G Gryphon cruise missile

Forget the name, this was really a ground-launched Tomahawk that was deployed by the Air Force. According to the website of the USAF Police Alumni Association, six wings of this missile were deployed to NATO in the 1980s. Designation-Systems.net noted that the BGM-109G had a range of 1,553 miles and carried a 200-kiloton W84 warhead.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Pershing missile ARTY/ORD round 32 roars skyward, T-time 815 hours at Hueco Range, Ft. Bliss, Texas. (US Army photo)

2. The MGM-31A Pershing I and MGM-31B Pershing Ia ballistic missiles

The Pershing I packed one of the biggest punches of any American nuclear delivery system and could hit targets 740 miles away. With a W50 warhead and a yield of 400 kilotons (about 20 times that of the bomb used on Nagasaki), the Pershing Ia actually was too much bang for a tactical role, according to Designation-Systems.net.

The West Germans operated 72 Pershing 1a missiles, according to a 1987 New York Times report.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
The US Army launches a Pershing II battlefield support missile on a long-range flight down the Eastern Test Range at 10:06 a.m. EST on Feb. 9, 1983. This was the fourth test flight in the Pershing II engineering and development program and the third flight from Cape Canaveral. (DOD photo)

3. The MGM-31C Pershing II

According to GlobalSecurity.org, this missile had longer range (1,100 miles), and had a W85 warhead that had a yield of up to 50 kilotons. While only one-eighth as powerful as the warhead on the Pershing I and Pershing Ia, the Pershing II was quite accurate – and could ruin anyone’s day.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
A Soviet inspector stands beside the mangled remnants of two Pershing II missile stages. Several missiles are being destroyed in the presence of Soviet inspectors in accordance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. (DOD photo)

According to the State Department’s web site, all three of these systems were destroyed (with the exception of museum pieces) by the end of May, 1991.

Articles

Surreal photos of Marine night ops that look straight out of a video game

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Pfc. Sebastian Rodriguez, machine gunner, Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, fires an M240 machine gun during a night squad-attack exercise, here, May 22. MRF-D Marines used machine gunners, snipers and rifleman to suppress a simulated squad-sized enemy attack. | Photo by Sgt. Sarah Fiocco/U.S. Marine Corps


It’s no surprise that America’s Marines have some of the coolest gear in the world.

And that gear makes for some of the most amazing night photography imaginable. Below, we have selected some of our favorite photos of the Corps at night that look like they could have been plucked straight from a video game.

LAV-25 Light Armored Vehicles from Charlie Company fire on fixed targets as part of a combined arms engagement range during sustainment training in D’Arta Plage, Djibouti.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Photo by Cpl. Jonathan R. Waldman/U.S. Marine Corps

An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron 311 lands on the USS Essex.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Photo by Cpl. Garry J. Welch/U.S. Marine Corps

A Marine from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, provides cover fire during a platoon assault exercise at Arta Range, Djibouti.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Photo by Staff Sgt. Erik Cardenas/U.S. Air Force

Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit prepare to collect simulated enemy casualties and weapons during a mechanized raid at Shoalwater Bay Training Area, Queensland, Australia.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Photo by Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera/U.S. Air Force

An MV-22 Osprey prepares for take off for night low-altitude training at Antonio Bautista Air Base in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Republic of the Philippines.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Photo by 1st Lt. Jeanscott Dodd/U.S. Marine Corps

US Marines assigned to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One break down a rapid ground refueling during the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course (WTI) near 29 Palms, California.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Photo by Sgt. Daniel D. Kujanpaa/U.S. Marine Corps

A Marine Special Operations Team member fires an AK-47 during night fire sustainment training in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/U.S. Marine Corps

An MV-22B Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron prepares to takeoff during flight operations aboard the USS Kearsarge.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Photo by Cpl. Christopher Q. Stone/U.S. Marine Corps

Cpl. Rashawn Poitevien engages targets downrange with an M40A5 during the Talon Exercise at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher A. Mendoza/U.S. Marine Corps

A Marine Special Operations Team member fires a M240B machine gun during night fire sustainment training in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Photo by Sgt. Pete Thibodeau/U.S. Marine Corps

US Marines perform maintenance checks on an AH-1Z Viper aboard the USS Anchorage.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Photo by Sgt. Jamean Berry/U.S. Marine Corps

 

MIGHTY MOVIES

The next ‘Star Wars’ show on Disney+ isn’t the one you expected

Just a few months after the final episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars hit Disney+, the streaming service announced that a spin-off series would premiere next year.

The Bad Batch seems primed to follow a structure that’s worked well in plenty of TV shows and movies, in everything from The Great Escape to Captain Planet to the Avengers films. It will revolve around “the unique and experimental clones” of Clone Force 99, a group of clone soldiers genetically distinct from the rest of the Clone Army. Basically, this isn’t the Ewan McGregor Obi-Wan show you were promised, but instead a spin-off from the existing (and complicated) animated Star Wars shows that have been running for over a decade.


All four members of the Bad Batch have a “desirable mutation” that makes them formidable soldiers. Crosshair has enhanced eyesight, Wrecker is strong, Tech is intelligent, and Clone Sergeant Hunter, the leader of the crew, has enhanced sensory abilities.

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The Bad Batch was first introduced in the final season of The Clone Wars, so it’s appropriate that Dave Filoni — a director, writer, animator, and producer on that series — will executive produce the spin-off. Filoni is a key figure in Disney’s Star Wars plans, doing animation for The Force Awakens and four other animated Star Wars series. He also directed, wrote, and executive produced episodes of The Mandalorian.

All in all, this is good news for parents whose kids are still mourning the loss of The Clone Wars, as the creative talent and choice of subject matter for The Bad Batch makes it seem as though the new series will preserve what made the old one great. That said, it is kind of bad news for parents who wanted a little bit more of a strong female lead, Ahsoka Tano, or, you know, a new Star Wars show that wasn’t a cartoon.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch will come to Disney+ in 2021.

And, luckily, The Mandalorian Season 2 will still hit Disney+ sometime in late 2020.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Spouses urge others to honor Ginsburg by ‘keeping the door open behind them’

May her memory be a blessing.

Military spouses are sharing the impact Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had on their professional ambitions and personal lives.

Ginsburg’s husband, Martin, served in the Army Reserve, leading the couple to be stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in the 1950s. Her military affiliation and courtroom dissents made her a natural icon to military spouses who say they can relate to the justice’s history of facing — and fighting — barriers.


Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband Martin at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Source: Supreme Court.

Libby Jamison, a Navy spouse of 17 years, currently works in an attorney role for the Department of Veterans Affairs. She enrolled in law school in 2004, shortly after getting married and encountering roadblocks to employment in California.

“I think like a lot of us [military spouses], I had no professional network in San Diego. I didn’t know a single person, so I was just throwing out my resume and hoping someone would bite. … Law school had always been in the back of my mind but I wasn’t sure I could ever pull it off. Since I wasn’t having success getting a job, I decided to take the LSAT and apply to law school,” she said.

Jamison says in law school everyone “knew who the justices were,” but she didn’t make the connection between Ginsburg and the military until a special event that included members, like Jamison, from Military Spouse JD Network (MSJDN) — an organization that advocates for licensing accommodations for military spouses, including bar membership without additional examination, according to its website.

“MSJDN does a Supreme Court swearing in — a lot of groups do that — where you can take 12 folks and be admitted to the Supreme Court as an attorney. It’s more symbolic because most of us aren’t ever going to argue in front of the Supreme Court,” she explained. “I did that in 2013, and so as part of that I started reading more about the court and the justices, and that’s when I stumbled across the military spouse connection [with Ginsburg].”

That network of “lady lawyers” immediately leaned on each other in the hours after learning the 87-year-old justice had passed away on Sept. 18.

“I think I just yelled out ‘no’ in my apartment and was immediately really sad. And then text messages started pouring in from all my fellow lady lawyers and everyone was just collectively mourning, especially because we have claimed RBG as a military spouse attorney,” Jamison said.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Jamison joins friends at the Supreme Court to pay respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Courtesy photo.

In 1956, Ginsburg was one of only nine women at Harvard Law School. She then tied for top of her class at Columbia Law School three years later. Despite those accomplishments, she was rejected for a clerkship at the Supreme Court because of her gender, according to the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.

Jamison says Ginsburg’s ultimate success with an unconventional path is something spouses can relate to and should embrace.

“I have been thinking about her legacy a lot the last couple of days. At the time, the process was you graduate law school, you become an associate, you work your way up to partner. That was a normal legal career and that’s not what she had. And she talked about that being a strength and how she probably would not have made it to the Supreme Court if she had gone that traditional route. … I think there’s a really big lesson there, especially for military spouses because we all have that non-conventional career path, no matter how hard we try. Maybe you end up on a different path than your peers, but maybe it ends up being a better path,” Jamison said.

The Brooklyn-born justice served more than 27 years on the Supreme Court, leaving a legacy as “a tireless and resolute champion of justice,” Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. stated in a press release.

Josie Beets, Army spouse and former president of MSJDN, says she will remember Ginsburg for positioning herself “not just for equality but for a structural change in the way we take on roles in society.”

“She always said … it’s not about women’s liberation, but it’s about men and women’s liberation and this idea that in some ways men are just as locked into their roles that we as a society frame for them, as women are,” Beets said. “Can we be a society that allows men to be more compassionate and to have more of a role in their family, in their day-to-day lives and also be a society that allows women to excel at work without being the de facto caregiver?”

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Beets and her daughter visit a makeshift memorial to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Courtesy photo.

Beets was inspired by her mom to pursue law school and remembers watching Supreme Court hearings as a child.

“My mom went to law school when I was seven and my sister was three. And I remember waking up in the middle of the night and going into the dining room of my grandmother’s house and my mom typing away. … the other piece is I remember watching as a little girl the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings and just feeling like they were being so mean to her and that that was unfair. I learned early on the Supreme Court is important, in ways that I can’t fully understand as a 10- or 11-year-old, and that women didn’t always get a fair shake — and I carried that with me,” she said.

Beets describes feeling grief stricken when she learned of Ginsburg’s passing.

“She [Ginsburg] has opened so many doors that were just painted shut. It’s always been our job to walk through them, but we just have to do it with real vigor and intentionality now. And if we don’t take advantage of the lifetime of opportunities that her work gave to us, we’ve missed our chance,” Beets said.

She adds the best way for military spouses to honor Ginsburg’s life is to “bring someone with you.”

“Particularly in the spouse world, whether your primary role is as the at-home caregiver for family or you’re in the working world, bring someone with you. We are in new situations all the time and we are so challenged all the time, make someone’s challenge a little less burdensome and bring them with you — whether that’s to a networking event or just to lunch with a neighbor to introduce a new spouse to a community. Justice Ginsburg never closed the door behind her. She always brought others up with her and we all have the power to do that every day,” Beets said.

Ginsburg’s journey to the highest court isn’t the only thing she is being remembered for. Her decisions from the bench had a profound impact on the lives of spouses like Brian Alvarado, husband of a now-retired sailor.

Alvarado says he began paying attention to Ginsburg as the fight for marriage equality was taking shape.

“Really 2011, 2012 those years when Prop 8 was really affecting our lives — whether or not our marriage was going to be recognized — that’s when I really started to study who’s who,” he said.

Proposition 8, known as Prop 8, was a California ballot proposition and a state constitutional amendment passed in the 2008 California state election that opposed same-sex marriage, according to Georgetown Law Library. The Alvarados lived in the state at the time.

“When you are in a relationship and you’re not allowed to go about the normal process of growing the relationship, getting engaged, getting married and that whole process — when you have a law in place that dictates that for you, it is a constant thought. It is a constant part of your daily thought process. Imagine that a million times more intense being in a relationship with somebody in the military where there’s already this huge discrimination and generations-long policy and environment where that just wasn’t allowed or wanted in the community,” he said.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Matthew and Brian Alvarado visit the Supreme Court in the days after Ginsburg’s passing. Courtesy photo.

Alvarado described it as feeling like he had no control over his life. Military spouses from same-sex relationships were prevented from moving with their partners, attending command functions or participating in normal volunteer roles.

“Then all of a sudden there is a beacon of hope in a lawsuit or a potential bill or whatever it is that is being presented, you know it’s going to be a long fight but that beacon of hope makes all of that constant anxiety and fear turn right into aggressive positivity,” he said.

The beacon of hope was called Obergefell v. Hodges and it came on June 26, 2015.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. Our phone started going off and the first thing I did was look up the actual written verbiage [of the decision]. I felt like it wasn’t real and I remember in that moment reading and crying and it was like all of those years of weight of being scared of upsetting my husband’s career, afraid of even going onto a military installation … it felt like that light at the end of the tunnel was sitting in my living room,” Alvarado said.

“Nine people sitting in a room hearing opposition and hearing from Jim Obergefell — and then those nine people make a decision, a 5-4 decision, those five people in that moment gave me the right and privilege to live the life that I get to live now. That’s a powerful thing. She [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] changed my life forever.”

Alvarado added that the most effective way that he and others can “continue to bless this country with the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is for everybody to fight and believe in equality for all human beings.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be buried during a private interment service at Arlington National Cemetery, according to a Supreme Court press release.

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


Articles

Here’s the technique Navy SEALs use to swim for miles without getting tired

With the beginning of summer, pools all over the US are opening for recreational swimming — but in the Navy, recruits are getting ready for the brutal Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, or BUD/S, that will turn some of them into Navy SEALs.

In the SEALs, where recruits of the elite special operations unit are pushed to their limits, there is no room for inefficiency. So it developed a more efficient swimming stroke: the combat swimmer stroke.

The stroke combines the best elements of breaststroke and freestyle to streamline a motion that not only reduces resistance on a swimmer’s body, but makes the swimmer harder to spot underwater.

Here’s a sample of the stroke:

Unlike freestyle, the combat sidestroke calls for the swimmer to stay submerged for most of it.

To do the combat swimmer stroke, dive in or kick off as you would in freestyle, but at the end of your glide, do a large, horizontal scissor kick instead.

Now comes the unique part — as the horizontal scissor kick tilts your body so that one arm is slightly higher than the other, pull that arm back while leaving the other outstretched.

Turn your face up toward the surface as you pull that arm down, take a breath, and begin to pull down your other arm. Another scissor kick, then reset your arms. You should not switch your orientation or the order in which you pull back your arms.

Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

A deployed carrier has a coronavirus outbreak. Her husband is on board.

Imagine your spouse or family member is deployed on a carrier. Now, imagine it’s during a global pandemic, which has notoriously infiltrated cruise ships, rendering hundreds of passengers ill. Finally, imagine you learn that your loved one’s ship is impacted by scrolling through Facebook and reading a headline.


Unfortunately, this imagined scenario is one military spouse’s reality.

Elizabeth (whose last name we won’t use for personal security reasons) was looking at Facebook, taking a much-needed break from quarantine with her four kids, when she saw a friend (whose husband is deployed with hers) had posted an article by Business Insider that immediately stopped her scroll: “There has been a coronavirus outbreak aboard a deployed US Navy aircraft carrier.” The article states that there have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the USS Theodore Roosevelt – Elizabeth’s husband’s ship.

Her heart sank. “We haven’t heard from them in awhile,” she said in an interview with WATM. “Anytime anything noteworthy happens, communication goes down whether on purpose or by coincidence,” she shared. She immediately got on the phone with other spouses to see if anyone had heard through official or personal channels what was going on.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Communication varied. One spouse got a voicemail from her sailor that he was fine. Another received a quick email saying there were only two cases on the ship, while one other had heard 15 sailors had it. This rumor mill is exactly why comms are shut down, to prevent misinformation for families desperate for an update.

When asked if she was upset she hadn’t heard from her husband, Elizabeth laughed. “Oh, I’m not surprised,” she said. “He’s a team player. I know he would make sure all of his people had a chance to use the phone or email if there was an opportunity to do so before he did. He’s been in for 14 years and he’s been deployed a lot — he’s had almost six years of sea time. Really, this is not even the worst communication he’s had on a deployment. I’ve gotten used to that — nobody has all of the information; you just hope for the best and wait for your family member to contact you.”

But in the meantime, Elizabeth feels the weight of the gravity of the situation.

“I’m trying not to go into panic mode yet,” she said. “It’s the military, you just don’t know, but I hope if my husband was sick, someone would tell me.” Elizabeth also wants to know what protective and preventive measures are being taken. “It sounds like from the article that the sick sailors were medevaced and now it’s just business as usual. But in my mind, the likelihood of it being isolated is very small. They’re on top of each other in close quarters and there are 5,000 of them. They use the same phones, touch the same doors, eat together, share work space. It’s a floating petri dish. I want to know what they’re doing to sanitize. How closely they’re monitoring things. Is someone asking them every day? Are they taking temperatures? Are they really doing everything they can to keep our sailors safe?”

While Elizabeth is worried about her husband, she also has a healthy dose of perspective and a great sense of humor. She’s thankful to be surrounded by family and a community that continues to support her. “I don’t know what I’d do without them,” she said. Elizabeth and her husband have a five year old, three year old and twins who are just one and a half. “We had a lot of time on shore duty,” she laughed. “We got cocky thinking we would have one more and then boom: twins.”

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

When asked how she’s really coping with four kids in quarantine and a spouse deployed on a “floating petri dish,” Elizabeth took a long sigh but said, “Honestly, I feel like military spouses are better prepared for this than anyone. With military life, we spend a decent amount of time figuring it out on our own. I wouldn’t say this is even the most isolated I’ve ever been. The ‘not knowing what’s going to happen,’ not knowing what the schedule is going to be in a few weeks or months, it’s par for the course for us. I’ve been through the ringer enough times with the Navy, but for a lot of our friends, this is their first deployment. Mostly my heart has been with the ones who haven’t been through this before because I remember how it felt when all of this was new.”

Elizabeth shared the importance of reaching out. “Military community is so, so important. I love that the word encourage literally means to impart courage … that’s who the military spouse community is for me — it’s courage by proxy. The news is full of stories of women who are worrying they might be forced to give birth alone due to coronavirus restrictions, but military spouses have been giving birth to babies without family or husbands there, often overseas, for as long as time. They’ve moved alone, pursued careers alone, overcome all of these obstacles. One of the things you deal with is that feeling of isolation, which is so perfectly themed for where we are in the world right now. But you’re never really alone.”

Elizabeth continued, “It was so hard to hear the news of coronavirus on the ship, but it was so great to be surrounded by so many people who exactly know what we’re going through. There is strength in numbers. We’re not the only family going through this. We’ll be okay.”

MIGHTY SPORTS

This is why cadets have shouted “Go Army! Beat Navy!” for over a century

The annual Army-Navy football game is intense. And though the players will be doing their best to out-maneuver and out-muscle the opposition, the competition extends well beyond the field. The fanbase of each service academy, which includes the troops and veterans of their respective branches, rally loudly behind their team with a single, unifying phrase: “Go Army! Beat Navy!” Or, for the sailors and Marines, “Go Navy! Beat Army!

As creative and ambitious as the smacktalk has become in recent years, the phrase never changes. And that’s because these rallying cries are nearly as old as the Army-Navy game itself.


Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Which I can only assume would cause confusion (and maybe a bit of jealousy) from the players of Notre Dame.

(Photo by Mike Strasser, West Point Public Affairs)

The tradition of military academy fans shouting out, “Go [us]! Beat [them]!” can be traced back to some of the earliest Army-Navy Games. It’s unclear which side started the tradition, but both teams were shouting their own versions of the simple phrase as early as second game, long before the sport of football became the mainstream cultural staple it is today.

Over the years, the phrase remained unchanged. The only variations come when a West Point or Naval Academy team faces off against the Air Force Academy or the Royal Military College of Canada. It doesn’t even matter if the team is facing off against a university unaffiliated with the Armed Forces — they’ll still add the “Beat Navy!” or “Beat Army!” to the end of their fight song.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Plebes who don’t follow this would presumably do push-ups and add “Beat Navy!” after each one.

(Photo by Mike Strasser, West Point Public Affairs)

The plebes (or freshmen) of each academy are also expected to be fiercely loyal to their football team at every possible occasion. At the drop of a hat, a plebe is expected to know how many days are left until the next Army-Navy Game. They’re also only allowed to say a handful of accepted phrases: “Yes, sir/ma’am,” “No, sir/ma’am,” and, of course, “Beat Navy/Army.”

Plebes are also expected to finish every sentence or greeting with a “Beat Navy” in the same way that an Army private adds “Hooah” to pretty much everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s an in-person meeting, e-mail, phone call, or text message. They better add “Beat Navy” to the end of whatever point they’re trying to make.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Go team! Beat the other team!

(West Point)

In the end, it’s still a friendly game between the two academies. They’re only truly rivals for the 60 minutes of game time. The phrase is all about mutual respect and should never get twisted. Years down the line, when the cadets become full-fledged officers, they’ll meet shoulder-to-shoulder on the battlefield and joke about the games later.

The rivalry is tough — but isn’t it always that way between two siblings?

MIGHTY TRENDING

USAA invites Army-Navy game fans to celebrate virtually at Army-Navy House

SAN ANTONIO – USAA, the presenting-sponsor of the 121st Army-Navy Game on Dec. 12, is launching the “Army-Navy House” sweepstakes ahead of this year’s game to help fans continue to celebrate the game’s rivalry and traditions despite COVID-19 restrictions.

One of college football’s most revered and storied rivalries will continue as the Army Black Knights take on the Navy Midshipmen at Michie Stadium on the campus at West Point, NY. However, only the Brigade of Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets, the students at each academy, will be allowed in the stands. No outside fans will be able to attend in person.

USAA has planned the Army-Navy House sweepstakes to allow fans to carry on the rivalry from the comfort of their home. Fans can visit www.ArmyNavyHouse.com and upload a photo that shows off their fandom to be entered into the sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to the 2021 Army-Navy Game in New York City. One winner from each fandom will be chosen. Fans can also share their uploaded photos to social media using the hashtag #ArmyNavyHouse.

“There is no other rivalry that matches the passion, tradition and patriotism of the Army-Navy Game,” said USAA Chief Brand Officer Tony Wells, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. “Brothers and sisters in arms all year, this is the one afternoon when they are rivals. While we share fans’ disappointment that we cannot celebrate these future leaders in person, we can still share our support through Army-Navy House and come together virtually as we have learned to do during this pandemic.”

In addition to the two grand prize winners, 1,000 fans from each Academy who upload a photo will be eligible to win a commemorative ticket from this year’s game. Many Army-Navy fans have ticket stubs from games they have attended for the past 10, 20 or 30 years in a row. The commemorative ticket is a chance for fans to keep their streak alive even though they can’t be there in person.

This year’s playing of “America’s Game” marks the first time the Army-Navy Game will be played at a home site since World War II when Annapolis hosted the 1942 game and West Point the 1943 game.

The 121st playing of the Army-Navy Game presented by USAA will air on CBS at 3:00 pm ET on Saturday, Dec. 12. The annual Army-Navy Game is normally the last regular season matchup in college football, and Navy leads the series 61-52-7, having snapped a three-game Army winning streak last year .

About USAA

Founded in 1922 by a group of military officers, USAA is among the leading providers of insurance, banking and investment and retirement solutions to 13 million members of the U.S. military, veterans who have honorably served and their families. Headquartered in San Antonio, Tex., USAA has offices in seven U.S. cities and three overseas locations and employs more than 35,000 people worldwide. Each year, the company contributes to national and local nonprofits in support of military families and communities where employees live and work. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit usaa.com

USAA 2020 Army Navy Game Sweepstakes

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S./D.C., 18+. Starts at 12:00:01 a.m. CT on 12/2/20 and ends at 11:59:59 p.m. CT on 12/17/20.  See Official rules at www.ArmyNavyHouse.com for details on how to enter, additional eligibility restrictions, prize descriptions/restrictions/ARVs and complete details. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: USAA, 9800 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio, TX 78288-0020. The trademarks, logos and names of other companies, products and services are the property of their respective owners. Membership eligibility and product restrictions apply and are subject to change. USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its affiliates. © 2020 USAA. 269007-0320

MIGHTY TRENDING

Bride divides internet when she asks Marine in uniform to leave

A bride has divided the internet after explaining how she kicked a guest out of her wedding for turning up in military uniform.

Writing on Reddit’s “Am I The A——” forum, the newlywed said she “felt kind of bad” for asking him to leave, “but it just didn’t feel right for him to be there like that.”

The man in question was the son of one of the groom’s family friends.

He arrived at the wedding in his Marines’ dress blues, complete with all his medals, and it did not go down well with the bride.


“Now, I have nothing against anyone in the military but this was a black tie optional wedding and frankly it felt very out of place and it seemed like he was just trying to show off,” the bride wrote.

“My wedding had over 300 guests and nobody else felt the need to wear something to make them stand out.”

The woman admits that he acted perfectly politely at the ceremony, and “graciously agreed” to have his photo taken with some of the female teenage guests who were excited to see him.

But the bride was not thrilled about how he was drawing attention.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

(Flickr photo by Thai Chu)

“Many people were thanking him for his service, and frankly it just felt like the only reason he wore that was to be in the spotlight and make it about him, which I don’t think you are supposed to do at someone else’s wedding,” she said.

“If he wants to wear that to his own wedding then fine, but the whole point of having a dress code at a wedding is so that no one guest will stand out too much.

“I felt that he should have known this, since the whole point of uniforms in the military is so that you don’t stand out from everyone else!”

People in the forum were divided over whose side to take.

Some people pointed out that the marines formal uniform “looks classy and black tie,” but others argued it was “extremely disrespectful.”

The majority agreed that both the bride and the guest behaved badly.

As a former army sergeant pointed out: “Wearing formal military wear at formal civilian events is allowed per regulations (Army is AR 670-1, no clue for marines), but you have to be a special kind of a—— to wear it to a non-military wedding without specific permission of the couple.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

Marines assigned to The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Patrick J. McMahon)

“The reason for this is the same as wearing white to a wedding — this puts you in competition with the bride. He should have dressed in civilian-wear, or at very least, checked with the couple getting married.”

As for the bride’s decision to ask him to leave, the former sergeant said that “kicking him out of the wedding was a bit much.”

“It’s your special day, but you shouldn’t forget that you play dual roles — you are both the host and the one fêted. Don’t forget that former role.

“You probably should have grimaced and just gone with it along with other faux pas such as Uncle Larry puking in the bushes and cousin Jenny making out with the DJ. With 300 guests, one person in uniform isn’t going to kill your day.”

This article originally appeared on INSIDER. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

Articles

The 13 funniest military memes of the week

These are the 13 funniest military memes that supply didn’t keep for themselves. Check them out below:


1. Seriously sir, just a peek (via Funker 530).

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

2. Lightweight, plenty of space, climate control.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
What’s the problem, Army? Marines would literally kill for this.

SEE ALSO: That time a Navy squadron bombed North Vietnam with a toilet

3. Operators gotta operate (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Not sure where that camouflage mix works. Maybe an underwater sandbar?

4. You could put them in your pockets (via The Salty Soldier).

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Well, if it weren’t for first sergeant.

5. Invisible tanks cause more crashes than texting while driving (via Sh-t my LPO says).

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs

6. Better hope you’re not doing partner assisted exercises (via The Salty Soldier).

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Good news is: that guy usually falls out of runs pretty quickly.

7. Air Force basic training is serious.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Don’t make it before lights out, don’t get a stuffed bear.

8. The Marines like stuffed bears* as well.

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
*Bears stuffed with cougars stuffed with wolves stuffed with coyotes stuffed with badgers.

9. This is a Navy corpsman acting like there are tests:

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
We all know the socks/Motrin dilemma is decided by how much Motrin you happen to have.

10. Stand real still and listen very closely …

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
… or run as fast as you can. It doesn’t matter much.

11. The process is slow, but will get you every time (via Enlisted Problems).

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Got ’em!

12. Coast Guard: Part military branch, part law enforcement agency …

(via Coast Guard Memes)

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
… part leisure activity.

13. Remember to dive at the end of the run (via Awesome Sh-t My Drill Sergeant Says).

Meet the F-16 pilots who turned their wartime experiences into hilarious songs
Otherwise, this still ends badly.

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