5 investing apps to help you retire because no one in the military gets a real pension anymore - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MONEY

5 investing apps to help you retire because no one in the military gets a real pension anymore

Military retirement used to be simple: After 20 years, your pension would be 2.5 percent multiplied by the number of years served and the average of your highest 36 months of pay. Everyone would get to tack on an adjustment for inflation. Some of the old timers would get a readjustment at age 62. Times have changed.


Troops coming in now get the new “blended system,” which has some significant differences. The pension is only half of the service member’s base pay. The other half goes into a 401(k)-style fund, which is now susceptible to the stock market. I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to the market the last couple of years, but that’s not exactly guaranteed money.

The biggest deal is that everyone can get a piece of retirement pie no matter how long they’re in. And I’m not going to tell you whether you should opt-in if you have the choice. But if you do opt-in, make sure you make the most of the DoD’s matching funds.

If you want to take a stab at future planning for yourself, it’s worth the investment to take matters into your own hands. The downside is that you might have less in your paycheck for drinking at the barracks every other week. Your co-workers may harass you for being broke all the time. They might even call you a wuss for doing something sensible with your money — but would they say that to Tony Robbins?

Tony Robbins eats small people like your co-workers for breakfast. Then dips into an ice-cold pool. That’s how millionaires start their day.

Luckily, technology brings us the ability to take the mystery out of buying stocks, trading stocks, setting up an IRA, and more.

Even though these apps make it easy to invest from your smartphone, the old adages are still in effect: start saving as soon as possible. Be aggressive early in life, take risks. As you get older, move your investments toward safer, more stable bonds. Reinvest your dividends. Take advantage of compound interest.

Just make sure you do your research before investing in anything, anywhere, anytime.

1. Wealthfront

Wealthfront is a more traditional-style way to invest. It gives you standard financial products while giving you the ability to set up automatic deposits from your smartphone. Traditional retirement accounts, IRAs, and Roth IRAs are just a few services it offers. Everything is delivered to your account electronically and you can even see what your financial future could look like based on how much you’re adding every month.

It automatically performs regular tax-loss harvesting, dividend reinvestment, and account rebalancing to keep you on track.

The difference between Wealthfront and a normal broker is that the ton of hidden fees you pay to a broker aren’t paid to Wealthfront. The app is a heavily-regulated fiduciary, and manages your portfolio for .25 percent of its overall value. Also, your first ,000 is managed for free.

2. Robinhood

When you’re buying stocks through a broker (and most brokerage apps), they charge you a number of fees, including transaction fees and broker fees. Not Robinhood. Every time you put 0 into Robinhood, you get 0 to buy stock.

Putting back a few bucks every month to play around on the stock market will help introduce you to learning the market and getting a feel for buying and selling stocks. Best of all, after a while, the numbers add up and you can go from trading high-volatility companies to buying Coke and Starbucks in a matter of months with some simple investments and patience.

You can even get small piece of cryptocurrencies on Robinhood without having to shell out ,000-plus for a full bitcoin. If you can find the stock symbol, chances are you can buy it on Robinhood.

3. Acorns

This is a simple app that every young person should probably have. All you do when you sign up is set the level of risk you’re willing to take (a very traditional decision for retirement investing) and the app does the rest. You attach your bank account and Acorns rounds up every transaction and invests it for you.

That id=”listicle-2556537307″.75 Coca-Cola you bought just put a quarter toward retirement. The 75-cent Pabst Blue Ribbon you got at the bar? There’s another quarter. It doesn’t sound like a lot at once, but imagine every purchase over your pre-retirement lifetime throwing a few quarters in.

You can even throw some additional money in every week or so to boost your potential.

4. Stash

Stash started as an app that gave small-time investors access to big-money Exchange-Traded Funds, like Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway investing. No one in the military is going to be able to afford a regular buy of 0 of Buffett, but with Stash, you can buy a small piece of Berkshire-Hathaway and “Roll with Buffett,” as they say.

Using simple descriptors, like “Global Citizen,” which is actually the Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (ticker: VT – .90/share) or “Delicious Dividends,” actually the Schwab US Dividend Equity ETF (ticker: SCHD – .35), smaller investors can get access to these expensive funds that are traded like stocks. It’s a great introduction to ETFs.

5. Stockpile

Stockpile is another brokerage app, but this one is for the small-time or new day trader. It does charge fees for transactions, unlike Robinhood, but Stockpile’s brilliance is that you can buy stock in blue-chip companies without having to buy a whole share.

When you see a stock like United Airlines take a tumble for its latest snafu, you can be reasonably sure the stock will likely recover. You can take advantage of that pattern by “buying the dip.” You can purchase a larger part of the stock for your weekly investment when the price tumbles to after they kill someone’s dog, beat up another passenger, or lord knows what else they could come up with.

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Vincent Viola picked as next Secretary of the Army

Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola, a former Army infantry officer and West Point graduate (class of 1977) was announced as President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to serve as Secretary of the Army.


VIncent Viola (far left) presents the National Italian American Foundation's first Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Award for Distinguished Military Service to Gen. Ray Odierno and his son, Capt. Anthony Odierno. (Photo U.S. Army) VIncent Viola (far left) presents the National Italian American Foundation’s first Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Award for Distinguished Military Service to Gen. Ray Odierno and his son, Capt. Anthony Odierno. (Photo U.S. Army)

According to a report by the Washington Examiner, Viola, who served with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), is the executive chairman of Virtu Financial. Viola also chaired the New York Mercantile Stock Exchange at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

After 9/11, he founded the West Point Combating Terrorism Center.

“Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge,” the Trump transition office said in a statement. “The American people, whether civilian or military, should have great confidence that Vinnie Viola has what it takes to keep America safe and oversee issues of concern to our troops in the Army.”

In a statement, Viola said he looked forward to serving.

“I will work tirelessly to provide our president with the land force he will need to accomplish any mission in support of his National Defense Strategy,” Viola said. “A primary focus of my leadership will be ensuring that America’s soldiers have the ways and means to fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict.”

Retired Army Col. James Hickey, commander of the brigade that captured deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, had been reported to be a front-runner for the position, along with Van Hipp, the long-time chairman of American Defense International, Inc.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Generals visit Arctic to prepare for future climate battles

A contingent of senior Air Force leaders and other high-ranking officials are visiting multiple locations across the Arctic April 27-May 3, 2019, in an attempt to better understand operational challenges and refine approaches for meeting the changing security dynamics in the region.

“The Arctic has always been a vital, indispensable part of any strategy to ensure the security and prosperity of the United States, our allies and our partners,” said Maj. Gen. Brian S. Robinson.

“While that has not changed, there are new activities and concerns in the Arctic, and our allies and partners are on the front lines of those changes. This trip provides important, firsthand insight on how our partners are preparing for a shifting landscape and how we can best adapt our policies, activities, and partnerships to successfully meet the emerging challenges in the region,” Robinson said.

The group includes Robinson along with Air Force Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, Brig. Gen. Michael G. Koscheski as well as senior Air Force officials Kenneth E. Bray and John M. Trumpfheller. All of them are touring facilities in Norway, Finland, and Sweden to see how Arctic allies and partners of the U.S. view security and operate in the region’s harsh conditions. The trip also offers opportunities for representatives of the countries to discuss joint operations and other activities that contribute to the shared interests and priorities of each country.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Paul McKenna, the NORAD and USNORTHCOM Command Senior Enlisted Leader, visit units and tour facilities at Thule AB, Greenland, April 24, 2019. The Arctic is strategic terrain in the defense of our northern approaches and is critical to our national security.

(Photo by Preston Schlachter)

The visit is especially important given changes in the Arctic’s climate and environment, which have increased activity in the area from nations and commercial interests. Also notable is its timing, since the Department of Defense is required to deliver to Congress a detailed strategy for the region by June 1, 2019.

The visit is just the latest effort on the part of the Air Force to develop an Arctic strategy nested within DoD objectives. In broad terms, the DoD’s objectives are to prevent and deter conflict in the Arctic and prepare to respond to a wide range of challenges and contingencies, with the ultimate goal of a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded and nations work together to address challenges.

As an Arctic nation, the U.S. has long been active in the region. Key allies and partners in the Arctic include: Canada, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, all NATO allies and NATO’s Enhanced Opportunity Partners, Sweden and Finland. These nations work together in numerous fora to address shared regional concerns (e.g., fisheries management, shipping safety, scientific research).

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @USAF on Twitter.

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3 reasons things could still get worse because Turkey shot down that Russian jet


First the good news: Despite Internet memes about Putin having Turkey for dinner last week, the chances are low that Armageddon will be on the menu any time soon.

In other words, the chances that World War III will erupt this holiday season are mighty slim because a Turkish F-16 fighter shot down a Russian Federation Su-24 Fencer M bomber last Tuesday after it apparently violated Turkey’s airspace.

Outraged Russian officials are already talking about economic sanctions. During a news conference, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the shoot-down a “planned provocation” but said the two countries would not go to war over the incident.

But does that mean Russia will forgive and forget? Hardly. Comments by Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin indicate he is not only infuriated by events, he’s also willing to escalate Russian military presence in Syria as well defend Russian national pride.

Here are three reasons why things could still get out of hand very quickly in one of the world’s most volatile places:

1. In Putin’s world, nobody shoots down a Russian plane and gets away with it

Russian aircraft routinely test the limits of different nation’s sovereign airspace – including the U.S. and Britain. Those missions are absolutely designed and principally intended to appeal to Russian pride and national identity, as well as show the world that Russia military power is a force worthy of respect.

As recently as July 4, multiple nuclear-capable Tu-95 Bear bombers flew into U.S. air defense identification zones off California and Alaska. In fact, some of the Bears flew within 40 miles off the California coastline.

But even though we scramble fighters to intercept the bombers, the U.S. and other NATO nations don’t shoot them down. Turkey did, principally because in recent weeks Russian warplanes bombed Syrian rebels who are also Turkmen, an ethnic group considered kinsmen of the Turkish people.

What’s more, the rebels killed one of the Russian plane’s crew members as well as a Russian Marine who was part of the search-and-rescue operation.

To put it bluntly, Putin is pissed off by the shoot-down and what he considers a war crime committed against Russian fighting men.  In addition, he describes what happened a provocative act on the part of Turkey, hence his “stab in the back” comment.

As far as the Russian government is concerned, their men are heroes. Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov, the dead Fencer pilot, posthumously received the Hero of the Russian Federation award “for heroism, courage and valor in the performance of military duty,” the Kremlin announced today. Both Alexander Pozynich, the Russian Marine killed during SAR operations, and the surviving Fencer co-pilot Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin both received the Order of Courage, the Kremlin said.

Yes, Lavrov says there will be no war between Russia and Turkey. However, the Russian president is also well-known for practicing the old maxim about revenge being a dish best served cold – and Putin has already amply proved he has no concern about civilian casualties when Russians fight their wars.

2. The Russian people are angry – really angry

In Moscow, crowds of protesters gathered outside of the Turkish embassy, carrying signs calling the Turks “murderers,” pelting the building with eggs, and even smashing windows with rocks. (As an aside, it’s interesting to note that the Russian economy has improved enough that the middle-class can spare the eggs for protest purposes.)

True, the protest could have been a good old-fashioned exercise in agitprop – as far back as the Soviet era Kremlin employees were often organized into groups for “spontaneous protest.”

But Russian social media is white-hot with comments like “f**k the Turks” and calls for revenge. There is even a parody of the Eiffel Tower peace symbol that went viral after the Paris attacks by Daesh – except the Russian version has the silhouette of a Su-24 with its fuselage and wings where the lines of the peace symbol should be, superimposed on the Russian flag.

So, Russians fury toward Turkey is also linked to fierce Russian nationalism. Consequently, the shoot-down is an incident that will not just blow over with the Russian people – and Putin knows that.

3. Syria is getting pretty damned crowded with belligerents

The area is rapidly filling up with the aircraft and missile systems of many nations. Turkey, Russia, France, Canada, Australia, and the United States all have planes in the air either over Syria or near Syrian airspace.

In response to the shoot-down, Russia is deploying its S-400 “Triumf” air defense missile systems (NATO name: “Growler”) to its Hmeymim air base near Latakia, Syria. Using three different missiles with varying ranges and an upgraded radar system, it can strike airborne targets up to 400 miles away.

Russian television also said that Russian bombers will now fly with fighter escorts.

All this hardware and manpower milling around in a very small place could cause things to get out of hand very, very quickly. The result could be old-fashioned nation-on-nation warfare. All it could take would be one more downed warplane.

One other thing to note: Past is not always prologue, but it’s interesting to consider that Russia and Turkey (in the guise of the Ottoman Empire) fought one of the longest conflicts in European history.

The Russo-Turkish Wars from the 16th century until the early 20th century included none other than Ivan the Terrible sending the so-called Astrakhan Expedition in 1569 to pound on 70,000 Turkish and Tatar soldiers, Peter the Great and his army capturing Azov in 1696, and Tsar Alexander II sending Russian troops into Ottoman territory in 1877 to protect Christians from Muslim subjugation.

Russian forces overwhelmingly prevailed over the Ottoman Turks during those wars.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This B-17 survived one of the most infamous mid-air collisions of WW2

There are many versions of All American’s journey — in some, the crew used “parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses” to keep the B-17 Flying Fortress together. In others, she hobbles home to England from battle in Africa.

The legends circulate but the truth is just as mind-blowing — as the pictures can well attest.

The story begins, as all good war stories do, in the shit…


B17 All American ~ (Rev. 2a) (720p HD)

www.youtube.com

On Feb. 1, 1943, Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg and his crew from the 414th Bomb Squadron, 97th Bomb Group received orders to attack German-controlled seaports at Bizerte and Tunis, Tunisia from Biskra, Algeria. After a successful bombing run in spite of enemy flak, they proceeded to return to base when they were attacked by German Messerschmitt Me 109 fighters.

One of the fighters attacked the lead bomber while the other went for All American. Her crew fought off both attacks, firing at their own Me 109 with their nose turret and supporting the lead bomber with shots from the right side nose gun. The dual attack against the lead fighter took the enemy bird down, while the fighter attacking All American began evasive maneuvers.

According to the crew, they must have killed or incapacitated the pilot before he could complete his movement. The Messerschmitt tore through All American, ripping a jagged gash in the rear fuselage and tearing off the left horizontal stabilizer.

“I rammed the controls forward in a violent attempt to avoid collision… I flinched as the fighter passed inches over my head and then I felt a slight thud like a coughing engine. I checked the engines and controls. The trim tabs were not working. I tried to level All American but she insisted on climbing. It was only by the pressure from knees and hands that I was able to hold her in anything like a straight line,” recalled Bragg.

Miraculously, All American was still airborne.

Her wingmen remained aloft, slowing to escort the injured bird through enemy territory.

“As we neared the field we fired three emergency flares, then we circled at 2000 feet while the other planes in our formation made their landings and cleared the runways… I lowered the landing gear and flaps to test the reaction of All American. They seemed to go reasonably well, considering,” Bragg recounted. “I made a long, careful approach to the strip with partial power until the front wheels touched the leveled earth and I could feel the grating as she dragged without a tail wheel along the desert sands. She came to a stop and I ordered the co-pilot to cut the engines. We were home.”

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This is what it’s like inside the world’s largest submarine

Russia is (by land mass), the largest country in the world. At one point in its history, it was home to the largest army in the world, the largest stockpile of nuclear warheads, and… the largest submarines ever built.


Known to the West as the Typhoon class, and to Russians as “Akula” (shark), these black and red beasts were created as a counter to the American Ohio class, carrying dozens of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles as a deterrent during the Cold War.

At 574 feet long and 75 feet in breadth, these these 25,000 ton monsters were actually larger and wider than the American vessels they were created to compete with.

Essentially tasked with inflicting a nuclear apocalypse upon the West if the Cold War got hot, the Typhoons were given a fairly unique design to keep the boats rugged and survivable — should either an accident or an anti-submarine attack occur — so that they could still carry out their incredibly destructive mission.

An unidentified Typhoon transiting through Northern Russia (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

Inside the Typhoon’s hulking mass existed a pair of longer pressure hulls from older Delta-class ballistic missile submarines and three more smaller hulls placed around the boat to protect other critical points like engineering spaces and the torpedo rooms. Should a breach occur — whether by collision or attack — the crew inside the other pressure hulls would be safe and the sub would still be operational.

Typhoons carry their missiles in front of their gigantic (and almost comically oversized) sail instead of behind it, as Delta-class and American Ohio-class boats do.

Two nuclear reactors give these warships the power they need to operate, allowing for a maximum speed of around 27 knots underwater (31 mph).

Instead of constantly traversing the world’s oceans, Typhoons were built to sit under the Arctic Circle for months at a time, waiting to punch through the ice in order to launch their deadly payloads of nuclear-tipped missiles.

Because of their designated operating locations, these subs could often escape harassment by American and British hunter/killer submarines constantly prowling around the Atlantic Ocean looking for Soviet warships to mess with.

A Typhoon running on the surface in the North Atlantic Ocean (Photo Wikimedia Commons)

Because of the length and duration of their missions, Typhoons were designed with crew comfort in mind. In fact, the accommodations aboard a Typhoon were so luxurious that sailors in the Soviet (and later, Russian) navy nicknamed these gargantuan vessels “floating Hiltons.”

Instead of utilitarian steel furniture with minimal padding, a Typhoon’s interior features wooden-paneled walls, comfortable padded chairs, raised ceilings and full-sized doorways, and a fully-stocked gym. Unlike any other submarine ever built, each Typhoon also came with a unique and somewhat enviable feature – a lounge for sailors, including a swimming pool and a sauna.

You didn’t misread that – Typhoons were actually built with small two-foot-deep swimming pools to improve crew morale on long deployments, along with saunas and a lounge area with plush rocking chairs. Televisions (a luxury in the Soviet Navy) were also set up throughout the boat, playing Soviet movies, television shows and propaganda for the crew’s entertainment.

But just as these behemoth war machines entered service with the Soviet Navy, their time rapidly began to wind down. Of the seven planned Typhoons, six were built throughout the 1980s and retired less than 10 years later in the 1990s.

The Russian government simply couldn’t afford to keep fielding the largest missile submarines they (or any other country in the world) had ever built.

In the 1990s, the US and Canadian governments began offering financial incentives to Russia, after the fall of the Soviet Union, to retire a number of their nuclear deterrent warships. Among the many sent to the wreckers were three of the six Typhoons, with the other three staying in service.

Today, only one Typhoon remains active while two others have been placed in reserve. The sole active sub, the Dmitriy Donskoy, serves as a test platform for Russia’s newest submarine-launched cruise missiles, though its days are also numbered with the advent of newer Russian Borei-class ballistic missile subs.

The other two Typhoons currently held in reserve — the Arkhangelsk and the Severstal — will likely be scrapped between 2018 and 2019, with the Donskoy following not too long after, ending the story of the largest nuclear ballistic missile submarines ever built.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Bergdahl receives dishonorable discharge – but no prison time

Bowe Bergdahl, the Army sergeant who walked off his post in Afghanistan and triggered a search that wounded some of his comrades, will serve no prison time, a military judge ruled Nov. 3 at the end of the politically divisive case that stirred debate during the president campaign.


The charges centered on a decision by one soldier that affected many other lives. Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and held for five years, until President Barack Obama traded Taliban prisoners to bring him back. As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump called for Bergdahl to face stiff punishment. He could have received up to life in prison.

The judge also gave Bergdahl a dishonorable discharge, reduced his rank to private and ordered him to forfeit pay equal to $1,000 per month for 10 months. The judge made no other comments.

In court, Bergdahl appeared tense, grimaced and clenched his jaw. His attorneys put their arms around him and one patted him on the back.

He pleaded guilty last month to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The judge had wide leeway in deciding the sentence because Bergdahl made no deal with prosecutors to limit his punishment.

Prosecutors had sought a stiff penalty because of wounds suffered by service members who searched for Bergdahl after he disappeared in 2009.

The defense sought to counter that evidence with testimony about Bergdahl’s suffering as a captive, his contributions to military intelligence and survival training and his mental health problems. The argument for leniency also cited harsh campaign-trail criticism by Trump.

The White House said it had no comment on the sentence and referred back to a statement from several weeks ago that said Trump expects everyone in the military justice system “to exercise their independent professional judgment, consistent with applicable laws and regulations.”

A punitive discharge deprives Bergdahl of most or all his veterans’ benefits.

Capt. Nina Banks, a defense attorney, said it would not be justice to rescue Bergdahl from the Taliban “only to place him in a cell” now.

During the multi-day sentencing hearing, Bergdahl testified that he was sorry for the wounds suffered by searchers. He also described brutal beatings by his captors, illness brought on by squalid conditions and maddening periods of isolation.

Bowe Bergdahl watches as one of his captors displays his identity tag in this still from a Taliban-released video.

A psychiatrist testified that his decision to leave his post was influenced by a schizophrenia-like condition called schizotypal personality disorder that made it hard to understand the consequences of his actions, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder brought on partly by a difficult childhood.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 14 years in prison.

Bergdahl “does not have a monopoly on suffering as a result of his choices,” Maj. Justin Oshana said.

The sergeant already has a job offer from an animal sanctuary, and a military official who helps design survival training said he would like to use Bergdahl as a part of lectures to service members on how to survive captivity.

The 31-year-old soldier from Hailey, Idaho, was brought home by Obama in 2014 in a swap for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. He has been stationed at a military installation in San Antonio.

At the time of Bergdahl’s release, Obama said the U.S. does not leave its service members on the battlefield. Republicans roundly criticized Obama, and Trump went further while campaigning for president, repeatedly calling Bergdahl a traitor who deserved serious punishment.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Advocate for missing troops learns that her own brother recovered

When Ann Mills-Griffiths sent out her regular National League of POW/MIA Families newsletter in September 2018, she included an announcement that Navy Cmdr. James B. Mills, missing in Vietnam since 1966, had been recovered, his remains positively identified by the Pentagon.

She did not mention that he was her own brother.

“DPAA [Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency] announced on 8/24/18 that CDR James B. Mills, USNR, CA, was accounted for on 8/20/18,” Mills-Griffiths’ simple announcement read.

The newsletter said that the accounting for Mills and another MIA from Vietnam, Air Force Col. Richard A. Kibbey, “brings the number still missing from the Vietnam War down to 1,594.”


So why did Mills-Griffiths withhold that the latest identification was that of Jimmy, her older brother by just 11 months?

“It would’ve been wildly inappropriate,” she told Military.com in an interview.

In her role as head of a POW/MIA advocacy group, “I’ve never mentioned my brother’s case in any official capacity,” she said.

Fighting for all families

Given her position, in which she works closely with the government on recoveries and policy, Mills-Griffiths said she didn’t like to draw special attention to her brother’s case.

“The other part is we never expected to get my brother accounted for — ever,” she said.

At age 77, Mills-Griffiths said she had no plans to retire from her position at the League, where she currently serves as chairman, just because her brother has been found.

Ann Mills-Griffiths, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the National League of POW/MIA Families.

She acknowledges that she has been combative, and at times controversial, in pressing various administrations and defense secretaries over the years for a full accounting on the missing.

She has also become a lightning rod for other advocacy groups and what she calls the “nut fringe.”

She has been outspoken in accusing some groups of raising false hopes among the families that their loved ones would come back alive, if only the so-described appeasers and bureaucrats in government would get out of the way.

Mills-Griffiths once had a staff of seven. She now has just one staffer, but she dismissed any suggestion of stepping down as head of the League.

“Why would I do that just because of my brother? I have to keep [DPAA] on the right track,” she said. “I’m still trying to make sure DPAA is informed and going in the right direction.”

Her longevity with the issue has proven invaluable to the government in getting more cooperation from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, according to DPAA officials.

Despite Mills-Griffiths’ reticence to give her brother special attention in her official role, he still got a hero’s welcome back home. At California’s Bakersfield High School, where Mills lettered in three sports for the “Drillers” and was active in student government before graduating in 1958, a welcome home event in his honor featured current students.

They paraded on California Avenue in front of the school, sang the national anthem, waved flags and chanted “Once a Driller, Always a Driller,” Bakersfield.com reported.

“This is a very teachable moment, and the kids are embracing it big time,” said history instructor Ken Hooper.

“If he was part of my family, I would want to welcome him home,” senior Kareli Medina said. “He’s a Driller. We are his family.”

“That was amazing,” Mills-Griffiths said of the rally at the school where her late father, E.C. Mills, was once vice principal. “It was really something that they took that up and had that nice patriotic demonstration. Nicely done, guys.”

A “miracle” discovery

For 52 years, the rib bone of an American had been at the bottom of the South China Sea in shallow waters off the North Vietnamese coastal village of Quynh Phuong.

The rib had been there since Sept. 21, 1966, when a Navy F-4B Phantom from Fighter Squadron 21, flying off the carrier Coral Sea on an armed reconnaissance mission to North Vietnam, disappeared from radar without a “Mayday” or contact with other aircraft. The reasons for the disappearance are still unknown.

A U.S. Navy McDonnell F-4B-21-MC Phantom II (BuNo 152218) of Fighter Squadron VF-21 “Free Lancers” flying in Vietnam.

From 1993-2003, Defense Department teams conducted a total of 15 investigations in a fruitless effort to determine what had happened to the aircraft and where it went down.

Everything changed in 2006, when a fisherman from the village snagged something in his net. He pulled up what turned out to be part of a cockpit canopy.

Joint field activities by DPAA’s forensics and scuba teams resumed, including five underwater investigations, the agency said in a release. More parts of the aircraft were pulled up.

In 2011, the Air Force Life Science Equipment Laboratory, now part of DPAA, concluded that the aircraft was the one flown by pilot Capt. James Bauder, then 35, of La Canada, California, and his radar intercept officer, Mills — who would have been 78 on Aug. 31.

In 2017, the recovery teams found bone material. And in June 2018, DPAA determined through DNA analysis that the remains were those of Capt. Bauder.

The teams had found not a trace of Mills’ remains. Mills-Griffiths said the family had long ago accepted that Mills’ remains would never be found, but were grateful that the F-4B had been located and Bauder’s family had been notified.

“None of us ever had any of what folks would call ‘false hopes,'” she said. “What are the chances? It’s not like we knew he was on the ground, it’s not like anybody last saw him alive … Our chances of ever knowing anything specific were not high and we knew that all along.”

Mills-Griffiths said she learned earlier this year that divers were about to go down on the site again.

“If you don’t get it, that’s still the last time I want you to go there,” Mills-Griffiths said she told DPAA.

In June 2018, another DPAA excavation turned up new remains.

“It turned out to be a rib bone, and they were able to get a cut and take a DNA match quickly,” Mills-Griffiths said. “It was a virtual miracle.”

New headstone at Arlington

Cmdr. James Mills, a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, joined the Navy through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. His eyesight wasn’t good enough to become a pilot under the standards of the time, and so he became a backseat Radar Intercept Officer on Phantoms, Mills-Griffiths said.

He was a lieutenant junior grade when his plane went missing on his second tour off Vietnam.

Navy Cmdr. James B. Mills.

He flew off the carrier Midway on his first tour. He did not have a spouse or children.

Mills-Griffiths said her brother had volunteered to return “so that other radar officers who had wives and kids wouldn’t have to go back.”

“He was not an optimist” about the war, as were so many others who served at the time, she said. “He believed in what he was doing, even though he didn’t believe in the way the war was being run.”

Mills-Griffiths said she can’t remember how many times she’s been to Vietnam and the region.

“I stopped counting at 32,” she said.

In that time, the Vietnamese officials she first knew as junior officers and diplomats have come into leadership positions, she said.

Her brother already has a place at Arlington National Cemetery. The headstone over an empty grave for James B. Mills simply reads “In Memory.”

DPAA officials said that Mills’ name also is listed on the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for,” DPAA said.

Mills-Griffiths said a ceremony for the burial of her brother’s remains will be held at Arlington on June 24 2019. The headstone will be replaced with a traditional one listing his name, rank, date of birth and date of death on Sept. 21, 1966.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day will be observed on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This was Nazi Germany’s answer to the Jeep

Prior to World War II, the rising chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler, announced plans to make Germany into a motorized nation. This led to the adoption of the Volkswagen Beetle. But Hitler also ordered military versions of the vehicle developed, and these vehicles would go on to fill the same niche for the Reich that the Jeep served in America.


American Jeep Vs German Kubelwagen: Truck Face-Off | Combat Dealers

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The road to the Kubelwagen began in the 1933 Berlin Auto Show. That was when Hitler called for a motorized Germany and then heard the plans for Ferdinand Porsche’s 25-horsepower vehicle with an air-cooled engine. Hitler demanded that it seat four and get good gas mileage, and they were off to the races.

It took a few years for Porsche to finalize the design and begin mass production under the newly formed Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Volkswagens company, soon shortened to Volkswagen.

But Hitler quickly rose from chancellor to Fuhrer, and his SS officers asked this new Volkswagen company if it could make a militarized version of its KdF Volkswagen in January 1938. The company fast-tracked the project, and the first prototypes came off the line in November.

A Type 82 Volkswagen Kubelwagen

(AlfvanBeem, CC0)

The initial prototypes had some shortcomings in testing. They could not run at walking speed due to their gearing, and they had insufficient ground clearance as well as a less-than-robust suspension. All of these problems were quickly ironed out, though. By the time the Type 82 version, the vehicle’s second iteration, went into production in 1940, it was a capable machine well-liked by the troops.

It was fuel efficient for the time, reliable, and could carry four soldiers and the lion’s share of their gear. It was not, by default, armored or armed, though. So it rarely acted as a front line troop carrier. Instead, it served in a logistics and support role, ferrying spare parts or other key supplies to where they were needed or getting key leaders into position to observe the enemy or their own troops.

So, you know, similar to the Jeep. But there were a number of traits that separated the two vehicles.

A Volkswagen Kubelwagen

(Staffan Vilcans, CC BY-SA 2.0)

For instance, the Kubelwagen had a 22.5 hp engine, much weaker than the Jeep’s 60 hp or even the civilian Volkswagen’s 25-hp engine. But the engine was air-cooled, which did make it a little less prone to breakdowns. And it had a wider and longer wheelbase than the Jeep as well as more storage space.

But the Kubelwagen wasn’t the only military version of the Volkswagen. A command vehicle, the Type 87 Kommandeurwagen, had 4-wheel drive and looked more like a Beetle. And the Type 166 Schwimmwagen was the most-produced amphibious car in history.

In all, there were 36 variants of the Kubelwagen as well as numerous versions of the Kommandeurwagen and Schwimmwagen. In all, about 50,500 Kubelwagens were built during the war, and thousands survived as museum and collector’s pieces. And, luckily for the owners, the vehicles shared many parts with the Beetle, and so owners could keep repairing them for decades.

When Allied troops got their hands on any of these variants, the vehicles were generally met with grudging respect. So much so that Americans put together an English-language version of the manual to help other troops maintain their captured vehicles.

MIGHTY TRENDING

In a world of vet-owned coffee, Rakkasan Tea has a mission of its own

Brandon Friedman wants you to know that just because coffee has the reputation of being the military’s beverage of choice, tea isn’t reserved for Brits in silly hats enjoying crumpets. For Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, their wars have centered mostly around having tea. After all, foreign fighters and tribal leaders hold court over tea, not coffee. Friedman thought it was strange that tea isn’t more associated with the military experience. He founded Rakkasan Tea Company with that in mind.

Friedman was commissioned as an Army infantry officer in 2000 and was assigned to the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division — known as the “Rakkasans,” the old Japanese word for “parachute.” By March, 2002, he and his unit were in an air assault into Afghanistan’s Shah-e-Kot Valley as part of Operation Anaconda. In 2003, he was part of the initial invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and eventually became part of the force that held Tal Afar and Mosul.


By 2004, he was out of the Army and taking his career in a different direction. His now-business partner in Rakkasan Tea was then-Pfc. Terrence “TK” Kamauf, whom Friedman met in his unit. Kamauf was a machine gunner then, but stayed in long after Friedman left. Kamauf went on to become a Green Beret and was in another six or seven years. Now, the two import tea together.

Friedman’s partner in Rakkasan Tea, Terrence “TK” Kamauf (left), in Iraq.

(Courtesy of Brandon Friedman)

But Friedman’s love for the leaf began in Iraq. As many veterans can attest, all business was conducted over tea. It was an introduction to what Friedman calls the “social experience of tea.”

“It’s hard to find that in the U.S. because this is such a coffee country and coffee is really a solitary drink,” He says. “Tea brings people together and we think the U.S. is ready for that. I know we won’t convert everyone, but the veteran community should certainly give tea a serious look.”

Friedman with his platoon of Rakkasans in Iraq.

But where Rakkasan Tea Company gets its tea is central to its ongoing mission. The company imports solely from post-conflict countries as a way to promote peace and economic development.

“As a veteran-owned and veteran-staffed company, we understand what conflict does to communities,” Friedman says. “And we want to get as many veterans into this business as we can. So, we often describe our mission as being one that helps communities recover from war at home AND abroad.”

Rakkasan Tea comes from places like Nepal, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Laos. With the exception of Sri Lanka, these are difficult to find on American shelves. The tea imported from Laos is significant because it comes from one of the areas most devastated by American bombing during the Vietnam War — more ordnance was dropped on Laos than in the entirety of Europe during World War II.

One of Rakkasan Tea Company’s Vietnamese tea pickers.

(Courtesy of Brandon Friedman)

The latest effort in Laos centers on small farms in the mountainous Xiengkhouang Province and on the Bolaven Plateau in southern Champasak Province. The teas come from some of the oldest trees in the world and you won’t find this quality at Starbucks or Whole Foods.

To Friedman, tea is like wine: its character, flavor, and aroma are all greatly influenced by its environment. That might be why he sells tea both by the type of tea and its place of origin.

“Rainfall, altitude, soil content, processing techniques, and more all factor into the taste and quality,” Friedman says. “So when we say we have premium tea grown in Rwanda’s volcanic soil or tea grown on northern Vietnam’s 400-year-old tea trees, that’s of interest to tea enthusiasts. Because it’s really good.”

He wants you to know how good it is and he wants you to be a repeat customer. He obsesses over the returns from his customers. Their feedback really does have an influence on the direction of the company.

“First, I hope we’re living up to the Rakkasan ideal of honor, justice, and commitment,” he says. “But meeting people who enjoy our product is best part of doing this.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

That time an entire Italian regiment surrendered to one pilot

When Royal Air Force pilot Sydney Cohen crash landed on the Italian-controlled island of Lampedusa in 1943, he thought he would be in for the fight of his life. Lampedusa was the home of more than 4,000 Italian troops in garrison, and all Cohen had was his service weapon to fight them.

Instead, he was in for the surprise of his life, and was crowned King of Lampedusa shortly after.


A biplane similar to the one flown by Syd Cohen.

Cohen was supposed to be headed back to his home base on Malta in a Swordfish biplane but never quite made it. The pilot was flying with his two-man crew, Sgt. Peter Tait, the navigator, and Sgt. Les Wright, the wireless operator and gunner, on a search and rescue mission over the Mediterranean Sea. Their instruments failed mid-flight and they got turned around, only to run out of fuel before realizing the island below was not Malta.

The plane had a “fit of gremlins,” as Cohen later described it. The only place he could land was on the Axis-held island of Lampedusa.

Luckily for the RAF pilot, there were no Nazis on Lampedusa, only Italians. The island had a big runway and the crew saw no option but to go in and land on it, consequence be damned. They could never reach Malta in their condition and it was better than crashing into the ocean. They also didn’t know that the Allies ran heavy bombing missions on the island. So when he crash landed on the island, it made for incredible headlines back in London. Not because of a terrific battle – it was the mass surrender of 4,300 Italians.

“As we came down on a ropey landing ground we saw a burnt hangar and burnt aircraft around us,” Cohen said. “A crowd of Italians came out to meet us and we put our hands up to surrender but then we saw they were all waving white sheets shouting, `No, no. We surrender.’ The whole island was surrendering to us.”

It’s good to be the king.

Cohen got bold and asked to see the island’s commandant. As they moved toward the commandant’s villa, another Allied air raid began. The RAF pilot began to surmise the Italians were sick of getting bombed and really were ready to surrender.

“They asked me to return to Malta and inform the authorities of their offer to surrender,” he said. “They gave me a scrap of paper with a signature on it.”

So Cohen refueled and took off for the Allied base in Tunis to give the RAF the news. Upon hearing it, the RAF, the newspapers, London society, and even the British Jewish population raved about the new “King of Lampedusa.”

The play “The King of Lampedusa” performed in London’s East End.

Cohen’s story was immediately picked up and turned into a play and a musical. Hollywood even wanted to make a movie of the event as soon as possible. News of the debacle even reached the ears of Nazi propagandists in Berlin, who threatened to give the Jews in London’s East End “a visit from the Luftwaffe.”

The real life of Sydney Cohen doesn’t have a happy ending, no matter how the play, musical, and/or feature film turned out. Cohen disappeared while flying a mission near the Straits of Dover in August 1946. Neither his body nor the wreckage of his plane were ever located and no one knows exactly what happened to him.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Pentagon doesn’t actually know how many troops are at war

The Pentagon just can’t or won’t say how many troops are deployed to Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.


The long-running controversy over how many and where troops are in harm’s way came to a point Nov. 27th where Pentagon officials were disputing their own required quarterly report on deployments worldwide from the Defense Manpower Data Center.

“Those numbers are not meant to represent an accurate accounting,” Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said of the DMDC’s report. “They shouldn’t be relied upon.”

The Pentagon. According to several studies, dating as far back at 1997, the Department of Defense has known about failures to report criminal records. (Photo by David B. Gleason)

He said that the DMDC’s quarterly reports were “routinely over and under” the actual count of troops on the ground and only gave a “snapshot” in time. There was a general reluctance to give out actual numbers for fear of “telegraphing or silhouetting to the enemy” U.S. troop strength, Manning said.

The DMDC numbers, first reported by Military Times, gave evidence of what has been widely known and occasionally confirmed by Pentagon officials for years — that the official counts, or Force Management Levels (FMLs), on the numbers of troops in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan are well below the actual numbers of service members in each country.

In August, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis acknowledged the discrepancies and pledged to give a fuller accounting for Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

Also Read: The Pentagon is considering sending 1,000 more troops to Syria

According to the DMDC’s quarterly report, there were a total of 25,910 U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan — more than 11,000 above the official number given by the Pentagon for the three countries of 14,765.

In Syria, there were 1,720 U.S. troops, more than three times the FML level the Pentagon repeated on Nov. 27 of 503.

The same report showed there were 8,992 American troops in Iraq, almost 3,500 more than the official Defense Department tally of 5,262.

In Afghanistan, DMDC said there were 15,298 troops, as opposed to the 14,000 figure given earlier this month by Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.

U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilots work to support U.S. Forces Afghanistan as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Resolute Support Mission. (U.S Army photo)

In addition to the 15,298 U.S. troops, there were also 1,202 DoD civilians in Afghanistan, for a total reported U.S. footprint in Afghanistan of 16,500.

The troop cap in Afghanistan under the Obama administration had been 8,500 but the Pentagon later acknowledged there were about 11,000 on the ground.

Two weeks ago, McKenzie said the 3,000 additional troops authorized for deployment in August by President Donald Trump had arrived in Afghanistan, boosting the troop strength to 14,000.

McKenzie and Dana White, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, have pledged to give a more accurate account of the numbers of troops in Iraq and Syria.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Exoskeleton engineers work to make their tech useful for soldiers

Several key organizations recently came together to advance exoskeleton technology for the soldier during an intensive three-day Operations and Maneuver and Technology Interchange meeting.

The User Technical Touch Point Exoskeleton event was a three-day living classroom, hands-on experience. It offered an interactive forum for operational and technology immersion on both infantry maneuvers and technology demonstrations. Groups of several Military Operational Specialties, or MOS’s, were represented, laying down their kits and equipment and walking observers through a day “in the field, on the job.”


Operational vignettes and subject interviews offered context on the physiological and cognitive demanding infantry tasks, before, during, and after operations. Vendors, requirement developers, and engineers discussed “what they are and what they aren’t” in the current exoskeleton marketplace, debunking the Hollywood “iron man” effect and focusing on real-time products: the Dephy Exo Boot and Lockheed Martin’s ONYX.

Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division show some of the equipment that they use during everyday tasks and learn how an exoskeleton can help.

(Photo by David Kamm, RDECOM Soldier Center)

Soldiers were encouraged by the endurance improvement, mobility, and lethality benefits of donning the systems. Those who wore the systems commented on how it felt to wear an exoskeleton and the relationship between a new user and the system. Their candid feedback regarding form, fit and function will help developers prioritize and make modifications to the systems in preparation for a Fall 2019 VIP demonstration.

Observers commented on the flexibility of use as the systems were adjusted with minimal effort from one user to the next over three days. User comments, such as those made by field artillery soldiers, emphasized the potential value of having an exoskeleton or exoskeleton-like system to provide enhanced endurance during operations, which means a positive impact on lethality and combat effectiveness.

“The importance of this User Touch Point event was two-fold: it gave those involved in developing this technology the ability to better understand the physical aspects of the tasks and duties of the soldiers and gain an understanding of the soldier’s perspective in how this capability can be of value,” said James Mingo, a senior military analyst at TRADOC. “They understand it.”

“It provided hand-on experience to the movement and maneuver soldiers of some of the top seven combat MOS’s,” said Raul Esteras-Palos, Robotics Requirements Division, Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate, or CDID, Maneuver Center of Excellence, or MCoE. “This event is an effective way to gain valuable feedback necessary for the advancement of the Army’s exoskeleton program.”

Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division show some of the equipment that they use during everyday tasks and learn how an exoskeleton can help.

(Photo by David Kamm, RDECOM Soldier Center)

Soldiers believe that endurance translates into improved lethality while preserving the body from the effects of what is already strenuous work. Comments included discussion on injuries (lower back, neck, shoulder and leg) directly related to both training and combat conditions, impacts that are well documented in the medical community.

The RDECOM Soldier Center is preparing soldier touch point events with 82nd and 101st Airborne, followed by meetings with requirement developers, stake holders and senior leadership. The data from these User Touch Point events will be made available to the Lethality Cross-Functional Teams.

“Major General Piatt, CG 10th MTN DIV’s support has allowed us to tap into the expert knowledge of some of the most experienced Army professionals of our Nation,” said David Audet, branch chief, Mission Equipment and Systems Branch at the RDECOM Soldier Center. “This was a unique opportunity for developers and engineers. We are indebted to the troops for their selfless service and owe them the opportunity to listen to their concerns and take action.”

Teams from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Soldier Center, Program Executive Office Soldier, the Maneuver, Aviation, and Soldier Division at ARCIC/TRADOC, requirement developers from the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, Army Research Labs, exoskeleton developers from Dephy Inc. (Massachusetts) and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (Florida), and other support contractors attended the event.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.