You may know that most veterans can be buried in state and national veterans cemeteries for little or no money, but what about their spouses and other dependents?
Your spouse may be eligible to be buried with you in a veterans cemetery at little or no cost. However, if you and your spouse have divorced and they have remarried, they probably aren’t eligible. Dependent children may also be eligible. Some parents of those killed on active duty may also be eligible.
As always, only veterans with an other-than-dishonorable discharge (and their dependents) qualify for this burial benefit. There are also other restrictions against those found guilty of certain crimes.
Returning to civilian life after years of service is bittersweet. Having more time with family is a blessing, but after getting used to an intense job that comes with lots of rules and regulations, it’s unnerving for some to suddenly have the freedom to do, well, anything! Starting a new career can be intimidating, especially for those who joined the military straight out of high school.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of employers who go out of their way to hire veterans and current service members! These are just a few of the awesome jobs that put your military expertise to good use.
1. Customer Service Representative
Median Annual Salary: ,300*
The Forecast: The BLS projects 5-9% job growth through 2026.
What They Do: Customer service reps chat with customers and potential new ones to explain available products and services. They also often help troubleshoot products and solve problems, all while calming down frustrated customers. Military-grade problem solving is a big help for this one!
What You’ll Need: High school diploma plus training on the job and basic computer skills. Communication skills are a must, too! Entry-level positions don’t pay much, but many veterans climb the ladder quickly into more lucrative leading roles.
2. CDL Driver/Operator
Median Annual Salary: ,340*
The Forecast: The BLS projects 6% job growth through 2026.
What They Do: Always a popular choice for veterans, truck driving is a no-brainer if you need a job fast. Companies are almost always hiring, and it’s an ideal job for someone strong who’s used to working long hours.
What You’ll Need: High school diploma or GED and a commercial driver’s license, or CDL. For a boost in pay, consider getting a Class A CDL to allow you to drive big rigs.
3. Sales Account Representative
Median Annual Salary:
Technical/Scientific Products: ,980
Wholesale and Manufacturing: ,140
The Forecast: The BLS projects 5-14% job growth through 2026.
What They Do: Sales reps convince new customers to purchase products or sign up for services. Sometimes this is on the consumer level, but it can also be between businesses and to large organizations. Highly motivated, performance-driven individuals will thrive in this field.
What You’ll Need: High school diploma or GED, sales experience a plus. Some employers train new sales associates, but the most successful reps are naturally persuasive and charismatic.
4. Automotive Technician/Mechanic
Median Annual Salary: ,470*
The Forecast: The BLS projects 6% job growth through 2026.
What They Do: Technicians and mechanics examine the inner workings of automobiles and make any necessary repairs. You don’t have to be an engineer, but you do need to be good at problem-solving and decoding repair manuals.
What You’ll Need: Formal training and industry certification is usually required. In some cases, relevant military training is enough.
5. Security Systems Technician
Median Annual Salary: ,330*
The Forecast: The BLS projects 10-14% growth through 2026.
What They Do: If repairing, programing, and installing important security and fire alarm equipment sounds like your cup of tea, becoming a security systems tech is a great choice. They keep these systems running smoothly and make sure they comply with codes to keep everyone in the building safe.
What You’ll Need: Relevant military training or on-the-job experience may already have you covered. If not, vocational school will get the job done.
6. Construction Technician
Median Annual Salary: ,480
The Forecast: The BLS projects 18% growth through 2026.
What They Do: In between a construction manager and civil engineer, construction techs wear many hats. Job responsibilities may include managing projects, scheduling inspections, and estimating build expenses.
What You’ll Need: Construction technicians can often learn on the job and work their way up, but you can also get an associate’s degree in construction technology.
The Forecast: The BLS projects 5-9% job growth through 2026.
What They Do: It’s a long title, but this type of first-line supervisor is really just an expert mechanic in charge of other mechanics.
What You’ll Need: A high school diploma or GED, plus relevant experience. In many cases, military training will already make you a strong candidate.
1. Operations Manager
Median Annual Salary: ,310*
The Forecast: The BLS projects 5-9% job growth through 2026.
What They Do: The specifics vary widely by industry, but operations managers are in charge of keeping large-scale business operations running smoothly. Their goal is to coordinate between multiple departments to maximize efficiency.
What You’ll Need: A bachelor’s degree and experience in management is usually required, but military leadership roles will give you a big leg up.
2. Computer Information Systems Manager
Median Annual Salary: 5,800
The Forecast: The BLS projects 10-14% job growth through 2026
What They Do: For the computer geeks out there, computer information systems management is an excellent option. These managers are responsible for assessing the digital activity of an entire company and deciding what technological improvements could help them meet their goals.
What You’ll Need: A bachelor’s degree or graduate degree in computer or information science. It’s also critical to be up to date on all the latest technology.
The Forecast: The BLS projects 2-4% job growth through 2026.
What They Do: This type of first-line supervisor manages offices. Companies that have many employees or departments need someone to manage the office, which is where the supervisor comes in to oversee administrative and clerical workers.
What You’ll Need: While it’s possible to work your way up to this position, it commonly requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
Median Annual Salary: ,720*
The Forecast: The BLS projects 9% job growth through 2026.
What They Do: Electricians handle anything electrical. Installing wiring, repairing fixtures and outlets, troubleshooting outages, and making sure electrical systems are up to code are just a few of the responsibilities of an electrician.
What You’ll Need: If you don’t have military training as an electrician, a vocational school is the way to go. You’ll also need to be licensed in your state before you start job searching.
5. Aircraft/Aviation Technician
Median Annual Salary: ,270
The Forecast: The BLS projects 5% job growth through 2026.
What They Do: Aviation techs are the people who keep airplanes from falling out of the sky. They maintain aircraft, diagnose and repair mechanical problems, and assess numerous complicated pieces of machinery.
What You’ll Need: Military vocational training will do the trick, but if you trained in a different area don’t sweat it. You’ll need to earn a mechanic’s certificate with an airframe rating, power plant rating, or both.
In the 1970s, BP oil pipeline workers came across a curious item about 12 miles southwest of Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire sitting about 86 meters under the surface- an old German U-Boat. In fact, one of the last U-Boats ever sunk in WWII. Unlike so many of its fellow subs, however, this one’s demise came about owing to a sequence of events all stemming from someone flushing the toilet incorrectly… So what exactly happened here?
U-1206, a Type VIIC submarine, was officially ordered on April 2, 1942 and ultimately launched on December 30, 1943. About a year and a half later, On April 6, 1945, the shiny new craft with its crew of 50 men departed from Kristiansand, Norway on its first non-training patrol machine.
Pertinent to the topic at hand is that while most submarines at the time used a storage tank to stow the product of flushing on board toilets and other waste water, with stereotypical German engineering efficiency, U-boat designers went the other way and decided to eject the waste directly into the ocean.
On the plus side, this saved valuable space within the submarine while also reducing weight. The downside, of course, was that ejecting anything into the ocean required greater pressure inside than out. As a result, U-boats had long required that, in order to use the toilets, the ship would have to be near the surface
Of course, being so close to or on the surface is generally to be avoided when on patrol if a sub captain wants to see his ship not blown up. This resulted in crewmen who needed to purge their orifices while submerged needing to do so in containers, which would then be stored appropriately until the sub needed to surface and the offending substances could be ditched over board.
As you can imagine, this didn’t exactly improve the already less than ideal smell of the air within the sub while it was plodding away down under. But there was nothing much that could be done about this…
That is, until some unknown German engineers designed a high pressure evacuation system. As to how this system worked, in a nutshell, the contents of the toilet were piped into an airlock of sorts. Once the offending matter found its way into said airlock, this would be sealed and subsequently pressurized, at which point a valve could be opened which would eject the fecal matter and fluids into the sea.
This all brings us to eight days into the patrol mission, on April 14, 1945.
Now, before we get into this, it should be noted that there are two versions of the story of what happened next- one version is stated by literally every single source we could find discussing this event on the interwebs, as well as repeated on the show QI and found in countless books on the subject. As for the other version, if you dig a little deeper, thanks to the good people at the Deutsches U-Boot Museum Archive, you can actually find the official account from 27 year old Captain Karl-Adolf Schlitt, who, minus a couple letters in his last name, couldn’t have been more aptly named for what was about to occur.
All this said, in both cases, the root cause of the sub’s sinking were the same- improper use of the toilet’s flushing mechanism.
That caveat out of the way, as the vessel was cruising along at around 70 meters below the surface and about eight miles from Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the popular version states that Captain Schlitt had need of evacuating his bowels and so, no doubt with dignity befitting a man of his stature and rank, did his business in the toilet. That done, he was now left to try to flush the thing.
Unable to figure out the complicated contraption, Captain Schlitt called in help from the “W.C. Waste Disposal Unit Manager”- literally the only guy on board officially trained in how to flush the toilet, apparently also known among the crew as (translated), “the shit-man”.
Unfortunately for the men that would soon die as a result, for whatever reason the crewman who was supposed to know how to flush the toilet made a mistake and turned the wrong valve…
That’s the popular version to which we could not find any primary document to support it, despite it being widely parroted. As for the official version, Captain Schlitt himself claimed, “In April 1945 U-1206 was in the North Sea off Britain. On board the diesel engines were faulty. We could not charge our batteries by the snorkel any more. In order to get the diesels working again we had put down about 8-10 miles from the British coast at 70mts, unseen by British patrols… I was in the engine room, when at the front of the boat there was a water leak. What I have learned is that a mechanic had tried to repair the forward WC’s outboard vent. I would say – although I do not have any proof – that the outer vent indicator either gave false readings or none at all.”
As to why said mechanic was attempting to work on the toilet’s outboard vent while deeply submerged, that’s every bit as much of a mystery as to why an engineer trained in how to properly flush the toilet would have screwed it up so badly in the Captain Schlitt pooping version of the story.
Of course, it is always possible that the good Captain made up his version of things to avoid personal embarrassment and perhaps the other version came from crew members giving a very different account, but we could not locate any crew member’s version of events to verify that.
Whichever story is true, the result in either case was the contents of the toilet, if any, and the ocean outside shooting like a jet stream into the submarine.
Things were about to get a whole lot worse.
You see, as alluded to in Captain Schlitt’s account, the U-1206 was a diesel electric sub, featuring twin Germaniawerft F46 four-stroke engines, which charged a bank of batteries which, in turn, powered two electric motors capable of producing 750 horsepower combined. The problem was that the batteries were directly below the toilet area. According to Captain Schlitt, when the water rushed in, “…the batteries were covered with seawater. Chlorine gas started to fill the boat.”
As this was all happening, Captain Schlitt ordered the vessel to be surfaced. He then states, “The engineer who was in the control room at the time managed to make the boat buoyant and surfaced, despite severe flooding.”
So here they were, diesel engines down for maintenance, batteries soaking in seawater, having taken on a significant amount of said water, chlorine gas filling the ship, and on the surface just off the coast of enemy territory.
The nightmare for Captain Schlitt was about to get worse. As he noted in his account of events, “We were then incapable of diving or moving. At this point, British planes and patrols discovered us…”
With few options available, Captain Schlitt ordered various valves on the U-1206 be opened in order for it to fill with water, after which the crew abandoned the sub, with it shortly thereafter sinking.
The crew made their way to the Scottish coast on rubber rafts, but things didn’t go well here either. Schlitt states, “In the attempt to negotiate the steep coast in heavy seas, three crew members tragically died. Several men were taken onboard a British sloop. The dead were Hans Berkhauer, Karl Koren, and Emil Kupper.”
Ultimately 10 crewmen did make it shore, but just like their surviving compatriots at sea, were promptly captured.
In the aftermath, thankfully for just about everyone, just 16 days later, on April 30, 1945, Hitler bravely, and with no regard for his own personal safety, infiltrated the Führerbunker and single handedly managed to rid the world of one of the most notorious individuals of all time by putting a bullet through his own brain. About a week after that, Germany finally surrendered.
As for what happened to Captain Schlitt after, this isn’t clear, other than he appears to have lived to the ripe old age of 90, dying on April 7, 2009.
The practice of calling the toilet the “head” was originally a maritime euphemism. This came from the fact that, classically, the toilet on a marine vessel, or at least where everyone would relieve themselves, was at the front of the ship (the head). This was so that water from the sea that splashed up on the front of the boat would wash the waste away. The first known documented occurrence of the term used to describe a toilet area was from 1708 by Woodes Rogers, Governor of the Bahamas, in his work “Cruising Voyage Around the World.”
Despite toilet paper having been around since at least the 6th century AD (initially in China), it wouldn’t be until the late 19th century when toilet paper would first be introduced in America and England and it wasn’t until the 1900s, around the same time the indoor toilet became common, that toilet paper would catch on with the masses. So what did people use for wiping before toilet paper? This depended greatly on region, personal preference, and wealth. Rich people often used hemp, lace, or wool. The 16th century French writer Francois Rabelais, in his work Gargantua and Pantagruel, recommended using “the neck of a goose, that is well downed”.
The goose is kind of getting the crappy end of that deal. *crickets* Poor people would poop in rivers and clean off with water, rags, wood shavings, leaves, hay, rocks, sand, moss, sea weed, apple husks, seashells, ferns, and pretty much whatever else was at hand and cheap/free. For seaman, the common thing was to use old frayed anchor cables. The Inuit’s and other peoples living in frigid regions tended to go with clumps of snow to wipe with, which, other than the coldness factor, is actually one of the better options it seems compared to many other of the aforementioned methods.Going back a ways in history, we know the Ancient Roman’s favorite wiping item, including in public restrooms, was a sponge on a stick that would sit in salt water and be placed back in the salt water when done… waiting for the next person…
Back to America, one extremely popular wiping item for a time was corn cobs and, later, Sears and Roebucks, Farmers Almanac, and other catalogs became popular. The Farmers Almanac even came with a hole in it so it could be easily hung in bathrooms for just this purpose… reading and wiping material in one, and no doubt boosting their sales when said magazine needed replaced!Around 1857, Joseph Gayetty came up with the first commercially available toilet paper in the United States. His paper “The greatest necessity of the age! Gayetty’s medicated paper for the water-closet” was sold in packages of flat sheets that were moistened and soaked with aloe. Gayetty’s toilet paper sold for about 50 cents a pack ( today), with 500 sheets in that package. Despite its comfort and superiority at cleaning, this wasn’t terribly popular, presumably because up to this point most people got their wiping materials for free from whatever was at hand, and humans hate change and newfangled innovations.
Around 1867, brothers Edward, Clarence, and Thomas Scott, who sold products from a push cart, started making and selling toilet paper as well. They did a bit better than Gayetty; their original toilet paper was much cheaper as it was not coated with aloe and moistened, but was just rolls of somewhat soft paper (often with splinters).As the indoor flushable toilet started to become popular, so did toilet paper. This is not surprising considering there was nothing really to grab in an indoor bathroom to wipe with, unlike outdoors where nature is at your disposal. The age old Farmers Almanac and similar such catalogs also were not well suited for this purpose because their pages tended to clog up the pipes in indoor plumbing.Even once it became popular, wiping with toilet paper still doesn’t appear to have been painless until surprisingly recently.
The aforementioned splinter problem seems to have been somewhat common until a few decades into the 20th century. In the 1930s, this changed with such companies as Northern Tissue boasting a “splinter free” toilet tissue.As for today, toilet paper is still extremely popular, though wet wipes, similar to Gayetty’s, have made a major come back in recent years, much to the chagrin of sewer workers the world over.Much like our forebears who shunned Gayetty’s innovation, vastly superior toilet seat add-on bidet systems that take 10 minutes to install and cost only around , literally paying for themselves in drastic reduction of toilet paper usage relatively quickly and providing significantly better cleaning, are still largely shunned for some reason.
This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.
In their 75 years building, fighting and serving on every continent – even Antarctica – only one Navy Seabee has been bestowed with the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor in combat.
Marvin G. Shields was a third-class construction mechanic with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 and assigned to a nine-member Seabee team at a small camp near Dong Xoai, Vietnam. The camp housed Army Green Berets with 5th Special Forces Group, who were advising a force of Vietnamese soldiers including 400 local Montagnards.
Shields, then 25, who enlisted in 1962, was killed in an intense 1965 battle in Vietnam. His actions under fire led to the posthumous medal, awarded in 1966, “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”
On June 10, 1965, Dong Xoai came under heavy fire from a regimental-sized Viet Cong force, who pummeled the camp with machine guns and heavy weapons. The initial attack wounded Shields but didn’t stop him.
“Shields continued to resupply his fellow Americans who needed ammunition and to return the enemy fire for a period of approximately three hours, at which time the Viet Cong launched a massive attack at close range with flame-throwers, hand grenades and small-arms fire,” his award citation states. “Wounded a second time during this attack, Shields nevertheless assisted in carrying a more critically wounded man to safety, and then resumed firing at the enemy for four more hours.”
Still, Shields kept fighting.
“When the commander asked for a volunteer to accompany him in an attempt to knock out an enemy machinegun emplacement which was endangering the lives of all personnel in the compound because of the accuracy of its fire, Shields unhesitatingly volunteered for this extremely hazardous mission,” reads the citation. “Proceeding toward their objective with a 3.5-inch rocket launcher, they succeeded in destroying the enemy machinegun emplacement, thus undoubtedly saving the lives of many of their fellow servicemen in the compound.”
But hostile fire ultimately got Shields, mortally wounding him as he was taking cover.
“His heroic initiative and great personal valor in the face of intense enemy fire sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service,” the citation states.
The five-day Battle of Dong Xoai also garnered a Medal of Honor for a junior Green Beret officer, 2nd Lt. Charles Q. Williams, who was wounded several times in the battle and survived the war.
Shields’ unit – Seabee Team 1104 – had come together just four months before the attack on their Dong Xoai camp, Frank Peterlin, the team’s officer-in-charge, recalled in a 2015 Navy news article about the Navy’s 50th commemoration of the battle and Shields’ award.
“In the evening, he [Shields] would have his guitar at his side and would love to sing and dance, especially with the Cambodian troops at our first camp,” said Peterlin, who attended the ceremony. “Marvin was always upbeat. At Dong Xoai, he was joking and encouraging his teammates throughout the battle.” Peterlin, a lieutenant junior-grade at the time, was wounded amid the fight and earned the Silver Star medal for his actions leading the men.
Shields, who was survived by his wife and young daughter, has been long remembered by Port Townsend, Washington, his hometown.
At the time of his death, the Port Townsend Leader newspaper wrote of him and his service: “A 1958 graduate of Port Townsend High School, Shields was one of the first employees on the Mineral Basin in Mining Development at Hyder, Alaska, when the locally organized project was initiated there by Walt Moa of Discovery Bay. He worked at Mineral Basin during the summer before graduating from school and returned there as a full time construction worker in 1958. He was called into the Navy early in 1962, and was due to be discharged in January.”
The Navy honored his memory with a frigate in his name (retired in 1992). The official U.S. Navy Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme, California, has a large display about him its Hall of Heroes. Navy Seabees have never forgotten Shields, who is buried in Gardiner, Washington. Inscribed on his black-granite headstone is this: “He died as he lived, for his friends.”
“I learned about the Semper Fi Fund through a class I was in at Camp Pendleton, California, to learn more about traumatic brain injuries and how they affect you,” says Sergeant Nora Mund, who was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months in 2010. “After being in that group for over a month, the Fund gave us iPads to help us organize our medical appointments and daily activities, and also to have apps to help improve memory.”
Nora, a Colorado native, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006 – “mainly because I wanted to explore the world and knew that I needed more discipline in my life.” She deployed in March 2010 to Afghanistan, where she remained until October of that year.
“I was a squad and team leader in the Female Engagement Team (FET) assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marines and 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines,” she explains. “The FET team was designed specifically to interact with the local populace of Afghanistan and to assist the area commander on missions and community outreach.”
Her job also put her in a position to witness firsthand the types of combat realities that can lead to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and, in her specific case, TBI (traumatic brain injury).
“I remember walking alongside a road heading to our destination,” she recalls, “and the next thing I know an explosion happens to my left and the dust that surrounded me is so thick I couldn’t see more than a foot ahead of me.
“It wasn’t until about six or seven months after my return home that I had a medical appointment and they told me I have a traumatic brain injury,” Nora continues.”They also discovered that I had herniated disks in my neck that causes a lot of pain in my back and numbness in my left arm. I had occupational therapy for almost a year working on my memory, plus physical therapy for my back and neck.”
Today, Nora is a full-time student at the University of Colorado, where she is working to get her Bachelor’s degree in psychology. “I’m also a research assistant for the Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors (C-PAWW) initiative, where we study the interaction between humans and their animals,”she says. “We hope to influence policy makers with hard science showing how service and companion animals help veterans and other vulnerable populations.”
On May 21, 2014, Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter recognized Nora on the floor of the House of Representatives, saying (in part): “Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and honor Sergeant Nora Mund for her service to our country. She was the first female assigned to serve as the senior armor / small arms repair technician for the Marine Corps Infantry Officer’s Course, Quantico, Virginia. Sergeant Mund volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan with Operation Enduring Freedom and was selected to serve on the Marine Corps’ first Female Engagement Team. Through her courageous service, Sergeant Mund charted the path for future generations of women to serve in the military. I extend my deepest appreciation to Sergeant Nora Mund for her dedication, integrity and outstanding service to the United States of America.”
“I’m excited to take life on,” says Nora. “When you’re injured, you have a tendency to view the oncoming days in such a negative light, so when you learn that there are good days in your future, you have energy and excitement for the future.”
“I think it’s important to let this generation of veterans know that they may not know it now, but they have great futures ahead of them–if they only just believe in it.”
We Are The Mighty is teaming up with Semper Fi Fund and comedian Rob Riggle to present the Rob Riggle InVETational Golf Classic. The veteran-celebrity golf tournament will raise money and awareness for Semper Fi Fund, one of our nation’s most respected veteran nonprofit organizations, in support of wounded, critically ill and injured service members and their families. Learn more at InVETational.com.
Negron enlisted in the Marine Corps on December 4, 2000, and his personal decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device, Joint Service Commendation Medal, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and three Combat Action Ribbons.
Here is the exclusive interview.
What led you to join the Marine Corps and then later Recon and MARSOC?
Well, I have family members that have prior military service, but it all started with my grandfather who served and fought in WWII. Like most during that time he answered the call and joined the US Army who then deployed him to Africa. After the German forces were defeated, the Allied forces advanced, and my grandfather moved with his unit into Italy to continue fighting until their surrender in 1943. Not long afterwards, my grandfather met my grandmother in Italy. That’s how my whole story even became possible.
However, the biggest contributing factor to why I wanted to join the military is largely because of my father who joined the Marine Corps in ’57, fought in the Dominican Republic in ’65, and got out in ’68. Shortly after, I believe, he served in the Army National Guard from ’70-’90. During that same timeframe he was a full-time police officer in California. My father was always extremely patriotic and loved serving his country. I admired my father so much growing up that I knew my calling in life would eventually guide me down a similar path. All his police buddies had military backgrounds, predominantly from the Vietnam timeframe which resonated with me. All this ultimately directed my path to a very early preparation to join the Marine Corps Infantry, with the ambition of pursuing a more specialized background.
But early on, I didn’t know if I was good enough to go Recon or Force Recon and MARSOC didn’t exist at the time. When you aspire for something like that, you know, sometimes the people who are in those fields almost look superhuman-like, and sometimes you wonder, “do I really have what it takes, go that route?”
My first unit I joined in the Marine Corps was LAR – a light armored mechanized infantry unit. I learned some valuable things there and met some great Marines, but I also ran into some terrible Marines too. In my first platoon I had really bad leadership, which later on taught me a valuable lesson: Exactly how not to be like as a leader!
And then right before I left LAR, I had excellent leadership. 1st Sergeant Loya who retired as a SgtMaj, was a big contributing factor to the reason why I got my opportunity to go over to Recon. He was a prior Force Recon Marine. The guy was built like a spark plug, and for somebody that was probably in his early 40’s, he could still practically outperform the large majority of the battalion in PT (physical training). Beyond all that, he genuinely loved the men that he led. His leadership style was more that of a father but also someone that was highly respected and that you did not want to disappoint or piss off.
He was very inspirational and helped motivate me to seek something further for myself in life – to seek out a higher challenge. So, I reset my sites back on Recon, and after making it I realized I had found my home. Six great years and three deployments later in Recon I looked to the next progression for my career. MARSOC was already up and operating with an aggressive training cycle in preparation for the next big fight in Afghanistan. A lot of my friends from Recon had already transferred over there. It looked like the next best thing, a new challenge, and one I gladly accepted.
What, if anything, do you miss about being in the Recon community versus being in MARSOC at this point?
There was just an atmosphere in Recon that, for that time, I don’t think you can really replicate or replace. There’s a real brotherhood there, and warfare bonded us closer together. Ultimately, I just miss the camaraderie with the Recon guys. There was always just a healthy, competitive spirit that everybody had about them. You were always competing against your brother, but there wasn’t any sort of animosity. It was all in a loving way. For lack of better words, you always challenged each other, especially in training, and even in combat. Every platoon was trying to outdo the other ones but we all mutually supported one another.
Everyone worked hand-in-hand together. Our SOP’s (standard operating procedures) were practically the same, and we also worked together inside the house with (close quarters battle) tactics which was all dynamic. Even though our platoons were separated, our tactics were the same. When we operated in the house, we would often times mix teams together with other platoons just because combat could call for that very same thing.
You may have to take on a large structure or multiple structures to where one platoon isn’t enough to cover all the ground, so we would incorporate another platoon for additional support. And the more familiar you guys are with each other the better. There was just a unique, I guess, working spirit that everyone had together and really in a way embodied the term “gung-ho”, which translates to “working together in spirit” or as my father would say “working together in harmony”. Recon Marines – and Marines in general – always look after their brothers, and you always looked after their best interests.
Do you have a favorite moment from your time in uniform – something that you’re particularly proud of?
All of my deployments with Recon were great. I mean, some of the workups weren’t necessarily fun at times and the actual deployments definitely had their own suck factor, but my overall favorite experiences of being in the military were the two times that I deployed as a Recon team leader. My first team and combat deployment was great, but as a point man I didn’t grow. I just did what I was told to do, as by design. Being thrown into a leadership position really forced me to take a deeper look into myself. Having seen firsthand great and terrible leaders I wanted to ensure that I did not repeat past mistakes from others as I re-evaluated my AAR (after action report) of life experiences. At that time, it was the next door for me to walk through, and for me, this one was very personal.
One of the greatest pieces of advice that I ever received was from a father figure of mine growing up named Dave Deluca, who was a Ranger that served as a 1st Lt. with the 82nd Airborne in Vietnam. Dave was a great friend of my fathers who I went to see just before I left on my first deployment. He said three things to me: first, “never tell your men to do something that you have never done yourself or don’t have the balls to do yourself”, “if it scares you to do something as a leader, you should not send one of your men to do it for you, do it yourself and your second in command should be ready to take over should anything happen to you”, and the last was “don’t ever think at any time point in time during combat that you’re not going to make it, no matter how bad it gets, always believe that you’ll live no matter what, even if wounded, and always take care of your men and do whatever you need to survive, nothing more”.
One of the biggest things that I wanted to do as a leader other than the obvious was to ensure that I actually listened to and mentored my men. Evaluating them was vital and something that I was intimately involved in. Any opportunity that presented itself turned into a quick on the spot lesson. At the same time, I encouraged them all to be free thinkers and to partake in mission planning. Like any leader I believe that I’m tactically sound and proficient, but I’m not the smartest, nor can I think of everything. So, I made it clear to my men that at any point in time If I ever made a mistake or need correction, by all means do so regardless of rank but please do it professionally. I’m not above reproach and if I’m making decisions in combat that can affect whether or not we make it back alive, then everyone needs to have trust in me and my ability if I’m truly going to lead. If I’m messed up in anyway, or if there’s a better way to get the job done, I want to know. Their voices were equally as important as my own, as there’s always a risk when you step outside the wire and the enemy always gets to vote. In combat, life and death is weighted and measured by seconds and inches, and anything can get you killed – including doing nothing. My team needed to know that I would always look after them no matter what and they could approach me at any time about anything. I did not know how to put it into words at the time, but I was encouraging and strengthening trust within my team.
You have to sharpen both sides of the sword. On one side, you learn and improve yourself. On the other, you teach your guys so that they grow in the direction that they’re supposed to.
– GySgt Joshua Negron
Aside from war, I wanted my men to grow professionally and become great leaders themselves. By the time I was a team leader with my second team, it wasn’t uncommon for a Recon Marine to be promoted to Sergeant within his first two years. It happened very quickly and was normal. Afterwards though, it can take four to five years to get Staff Sergeant or more (laughs). By this time, I had eight years in as a newly promoted Staff Sergeant. My main goal was to train my men to be better by the end of that deployment, as Sergeants with three and a half years in the Marine Corps, than I was as a Sergeant when I was at my seven-year mark.
This was possible because I was giving them information willingly and freely. I wasn’t withholding anything from them, but at the same time, I’m also not fire hosing them with information. As simple as this is, it was not very common from what I previously saw in the infantry. What I saw were a lot of keepers of the badge. At the time when I was a junior Marine there wasn’t a whole lot of mentoring going on, and if there was, it was very little. It was only,” I’m going to give you just enough information to where you learn something, but I’m also going to purposely withhold information from you because I don’t want you to grow beyond and possibly outshine me.”
You have to sharpen both sides of the sword. On one side, you learn and improve yourself. On the other, you teach your guys so that they grow in the direction that they’re supposed to. This rarely happens as everything in the military is performance driven. The byproduct of freely teaching and giving all information by default forces that leader to take a deeper look into themselves and identify what they’re deficient in and find ways to improve. Otherwise, if this step is missed as a leader who freely mentors their personnel without withholding, eventually their men and woman are going to grow past them – resulting in promotions above them. If I’m going to keep up with them, I’ve got to continue to look deeper into myself and see what I can make better.
This is the way of giving back to the community.
A true leader doesn’t make more subordinates, they make more leaders. They’re humble in nature and they take responsibility over things that aren’t even their fault in regard to those within their command. They’re stern when needed but also compassionate towards those they lead. Members of any command are not just numbers to do your bidding as a leader, they are family – the lifeline and heartbeat of the community. If this is lost, you lose trust, and if that’s lost, you have nothing as a leader. You will use your men and woman as tools to build and promote yourself instead of using your position and instruments to further develop, and hone those that you are blessed to lead. This is Esprit de Corps, this is Gung Ho!
What special operations skillset came most naturally to you?
The things that came most naturally to me was shooting and really just being and operating in the bush – your basic infantry concepts and tactics. And really anything related to R&S (reconnaissance and surveillance) and SR (special reconnaissance).
I kind of had a knack for it even though I have a love-hate relationship with R&S because it always involved carrying a pack that was over 100 pounds, deuce gear that was like another 50 pounds, and then my weapon. I practically carried myself in body weight every single time we stepped out (laughs). I kind of hated that aspect of it, but I loved once we got on site and we started our reporting, started collecting information on our target site. I just love that aspect of it.
At the end of the day, you’ve got to treat your training like it’s real. You never know when it will be. Plus, during training you’re always competing against your counterparts that are inserting into the bush as well – oftentimes with you – but they’re just taking another piece of the objective. And so, you have that friendly competition going, but at the same time, you’re both performing exceptionally well and doing a great job on target site. So, you’re adhering to the Recon creed of honoring those who came before.
Which skillset took the most work to master in spite of not being very good at it initially?
Things that I wasn’t that great at? Well, I was never really that fast in the water and I’m still not that fast in the water.
Diving (school) sucked for me, especially going into it with an injured ankle, but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t do. I just wasn’t fast in the water. Actually, one of my good buddies that I joined Recon with – he was a big dude at 6’4, 220-240lbs – he was slow on land but fast on the water, and I was slow in the water but fast on land. So, when we were getting thrashed in pre-BRC (Basic Reconnaissance Course), I was the one smiling on the runs because he was typically the last dude coming in. Then when we got to the pool, it reversed. I was like the last guy to finish while he was one of the first ones out. He just sat on the pool side and laughed at me.
In a way, it motivated us to not quit. We both suffered in silence and suffered uniquely together, and that camaraderie bonded us. We both saw each other in some of our worst moments and our best moments as we fought to solidify our place within the Recon community.
Do you have a favorite place that you’ve visited?
Deployment-wise, I would have loved to have seen more of Australia, but unfortunately didn’t get to see too much during one quick stop in Darwin.
Dubai was cool and that area was really nice.
I really like anything with history, especially anything that has long history. So, when I went to Jordan, I got an opportunity to take a trip over to Petra. If you’ve ever seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, it’s the city that’s carved into the rock. That’s Petra. The movie only shows one spot actually, but there are multiple places like that and it’s a massive city that’s carved into other rocks all around. It’s got a bunch of what seemed to me like hundreds or possibly thousands of little homes in between some of those larger dedicated sites.
What is something unique about you that most people don’t know?
As most men involved with self-defense, I was inspired by Bruce Lee.
My favorite film he did was “Enter the Dragon”. That was definitely one of the best ones for me, but I really enjoyed more of his documentaries and reading books on him – he is just very inspirational.
He obviously had this amazing physical ability that dazzled the world, but people who had the opportunity to meet him were oftentimes more impressed by his spoken words.
He wasn’t just a martial artist; he was poet, a father, a husband, who lived and embodied a warrior spirit that is very uncommon. At the end of it all Bruce did not embrace the illusion of fame, he wanted to be remembered as a real human being who was fully alive. In his own words, “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
It was 1945, and the world was at war. Charles Hessemer was just 17 years old when he took a drive to Detroit, Michigan with a friend to enlist in the United States Navy. Hessemer’s older brother had already joined and was in Europe fighting. Hessemer gave a wry grin when he admitted that there may have been some fibbing in regard to his age. But he felt called to go. Hessemer had watched so many men that he knew die during that war. He wanted his chance to fight for his country — and those who lost their lives.
Hessemer could never have imagined that joining the Navy would change the course of his entire life. “You are born to do a particular thing and you will do it whether you want to, I firmly believe this. We are guided in what we do,” he shared.
Hessemer dreamed of getting stationed on an aircraft carrier. Everyone he went to boot camp with was being sent to San Diego, which meant action. He had visions of being on a dive bomber and sailing the high seas. As he watched his friends leaving, he was told to go down to the personnel office. Upon arrival, he was told that he had passed a second, more abstract test that all recruits were given. The test didn’t have any wrong answers, but his responses were deeply creative due to his way of thinking. It was those answers that would earmark him for “special” duty, something only five other graduating recruits were chosen for.
But the officer couldn’t tell him what it would be.
Hessemer decided to take it, feeling the pull towards something unique. Although he thought he would ship out soon after accepting the special assignment, he would end up waiting another five weeks. He found out later it was due to his last name – of German descent – which caused in-depth investigations.
For many years, Adolf Hitler’s number two man was Rudolf Hess. Hess would go on to edit Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, and become deputy leader of the Nazi party. Due to the closeness of Hessemer’s last name, the Navy wasn’t taking any chances.
The investigations would span all the way back to his time in grade school, but would finally come back with an approval. The six men selected for the special assignment were then put on a train and took a three day trip to Washington, D.C., still unaware of what they would be doing.
Hessemer and the others arrived in D.C. and reported to the temporary building the Navy was using as the brand-new Navy Department was being built. He shared the story of continually running into a heavily braided admiral in the hallways of that building. The second time Hessemer almost knocked him over, he remembers the admiral saying: “Young man, you and I seem to be having a problem.”
That man was Fleet Admiral Charles W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. From the moment he assumed command after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he brought the fight to the enemy and would eventually sign the Instrument of Surrender from Japan. As Hessemer walked away from him, his head was spinning.
Eventually the new building was ready. Hessemer remembers how heavily secured it was, as he had to show his identification three times before he made it into the office where he was assigned to work. The six men were brought to a room and told to pick a desk. He remembers looking around and seeing one by the window, so he chose that one. As he searched the drawers, he found the book that would change his life, “How to Draw the Figure.” Hessemer finally found out what his special assignment was at that desk. He was a secret code breaker.
Hessemer spent three years as a part of the communications annex, breaking codes, and he was sworn to secrecy for life. During this time, he read that book he found front to back and enrolled in art night classes. “That book was just waiting for me. I know it,” said Hessemer.
He began to win awards for his paintings. Hessemer eventually left D.C. after two years to work onboard the famous aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Randolph, anchored in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He left the Navy in 1948 with an honorable discharge and was accepted into the American Academy of Art in Chicago in 1950. Although passionate about painting, he felt like something was missing. By accident, he tried painting figures with a palette knife – something no one at the time was doing. From the moment he began, he knew he found what he was meant to do for the rest of his life. His favorite thing to say is that, “An artist’s life is a climb up an endless stairway which he must never stop climbing.”
Hessemer would go on to work as an art director for several successful art ad agencies while painting at night and on the weekends. He spent 10 years truly perfecting his palette knife work before he knew in his heart it was beyond good. It was breathtaking.
“Everything has its reason, it just comes to you and you say that’s it – and you do it,” he said. He believes every mistake you make is only a serious mistake if it makes you quit. When Hessemer was asked what he would tell today’s veterans as they leave the service, he implored them to find their passionate purpose and give it everything they have.
These days, Hessemer is retired from ad agency work and spends his days and nights painting alongside his furry rescue dog, Charlie. Hessemer is 92 years old and still living his purpose, every day.
Visit his website to see his incredible palette knife paintings.
Matt Perry wouldn’t be the first active-duty Sailor to make the jump to NASCAR, but he would be the first to make his debut by crowdfunding it.
The south Georgia native has been bombing around dirt and asphalt since the tender age of six. As a teen, he became an amateur drifter, making his way around the region while drag racing in the dirt of northern Florida. When he graduated from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, becoming a fourth-generation service member.
His passion for motorsports never went away, though. He competes in AutoCross while training for the big time at places like Willow Springs International Raceway and Irwindale Speedway.
Perry’s first stock car race came in September 2017, when he competed in the Whelen All-American Series at Meridian Speedway. He made history by becoming the first enlisted U.S. Navy Sailor to compete in NASCAR. He finished in the top ten as a NASCAR rookie.
Matt Perry is now looking to enter the 2018 season racing Super Late Models as well as Modifieds in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and he strives to make the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. But he needs helps — an enlisted sailor doesn’t make a lot of money.
“It has been an incredible journey to make it into NASCAR,” Perry says. “But sadly, the cost to race is too high for me to manage it by myself. I have a lifelong dream to make this a full career and won’t stop until we, as a team, have reached my goal.”
“This is … how you say… the worst trade deal in the history of trade deals, maybe ever.”
America’s chief negotiator with the Taliban is Zalmay Khalilzad, who got torn a new one in the global press by Afghanistan’s national security advisor, Hamdullah Mohib. Mohib accused Khalilzad of trying to usurp power in the country by installing himself as a viceroy of a caretaker government. This caused the United States to demand an apology that never came.
Now Mohib, the only member of the Afghan government involved in talks with the Taliban, is being “frozen out.” Now that a draft agreement is in place, we know it’s an agreement that no Afghan official helped negotiate. Members of the Afghan government won’t even be allowed to sit at the table until they finalize this draft agreement.
Afghanistan is adorable.
For the internationally-recognized government of Afghanistan, the removal of American troops would be a disaster if done today. The Government only controls just under two-thirds of the population and just over half of the country’s administrative districts, according to a January 2019 report from the military’s Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.
In reply, the Pentagon sent out a statement refuting its own report: “Measures of population control are not indicative of effectiveness of the South Asia strategy or of progress toward security and stability in Afghanistan.”
Afghanistan’s army is losing soldiers at a rate of some 3,000 or more per month, due to desertions and ending reenlistments. It is currently at 87 percent strength and falling fast – because they get killed at an alarming rate.
Maybe China will do it better.
In exchange for the United States agreeing to a timetable withdrawal, the Taliban has agreed not to let Afghanistan become a hub for international terrorism, as it was in the days before the September 11th attacks on the United States. But the Taliban’s promises are problematic from the start – every leader of al-Qaeda has declared the leader of the Taliban to be the “Emir of the Faithful,” the mujaheddin equivalent of Caliph.
Osama bin Laden named Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar the Emir. When those two died, their successors, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mullah Aktar Mansour, recognized each other’s leadership. Mansour died in an airstrike in 2016 and his replacement, Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, was named Emir by Zawahiri. You can’t really have one without the other.
The Coast Guard‘s top officer said on Aug. 1, 2018, that the U.S. can’t afford to delay its presence in the Arctic. But lawmakers are eyeing the cash planned for a new icebreaker to fund the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
With the November 2018 primaries looming, some members of Congress are eager to show their constituents that they support President Donald Trump’s plans to build a wall along sections of the southwestern border. That left $750 million for a new heavy polar icebreaker out of a draft of the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act.
“I’m going to take a guardedly optimistic approach that … there’s still a lot of interest in getting an icebreaker to replace our 40-plus-year-old Polar Star, which is the only heavy icebreaker in the U.S. arsenal,” Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “… We need that ship now.”
A report released July 27, 2018, by the Congressional Research Service warns that Russia is increasing its military presence in the Arctic region. The Russians have more than 45 icebreakers, and they’re currently working on building a nuclear version, Schultz said.
China has also declared itself a near-Arctic nation and is working on building a new icebreaker. Diminishing ice levels could lead to an influx of traffic in the Arctic in coming years, and there’s “increasing mission demand for the Coast Guard up there,” Schultz said.
(Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener)
That’s as two of the Coast Guard’s three polar icebreakers — Polar Star and Polar Sea — have exceeded their 30-year services lives, the report states. The Polar Sea is no longer operational, and the need for search-and-rescue and other missions in the region will increase as traffic in the Arctic picks up.
“The reality of the Arctic is on us today,” Schultz said. “My thinking is a six-three-one strategy. We need six icebreakers — three of them need to be heavy icebreakers and we need one today. We need to get going there.”
He said Trump’s 2019 budget request, which includes plans for a new icebreaker, shows that the Coast Guard’s mission in the region is a priority for this administration. The Senate’s appropriations draft for DHS still includes the 0 million for a Coast Guard icebreaker, so it’s still possible that the service could get the funding in 2019.
Eight House Democrats sent a letter to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Kevin Yoder, Homeland Security subcommittee chairman, criticizing the plan to ditch the 0 million icebreaker funding request,Business Insider reported.
The bill wastes “a staggering .9 billion on a border wall and increasing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement budget by 8 million,” the letter states, while leaving U.S. national security at a disadvantage for years to come.
The Coast Guard is working with the Navy on plans to acquire three heavy icebreakers for about 0 million per ship.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
Whether you believe Okinawa is a real deployment or not, it’s a great place to get sent for six months. We get it; a lot of us infantry Marines who joined in the post-9/11 era did so for one thing — to see some action — and getting sent to Okinawa means we aren’t going to. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a Debbie Downer about it.
Okinawa, Japan, is a key piece of real estate for the United States Military, which is why we saw it necessary to fight over it back in 1945. It’s close to places like the Korean peninsula, and offers us an easy launching point if things ever get hot. But aside from the strategy, it’s actually a great place to spend six months of your life — if your command will allow you to enjoy it, that is.
But be cautious about how you act, since you’re essentially an ambassador. Put forward a positive image for the rest of us Americans.
(U.S. Marine Photo by Cpl. Natalie M. Rostran)
There’s a lot to do
The United States has had a military presence on the island for a long time now, which means one thing: plenty of tattoo parlors and local watering holes for one to enjoy on the weekends. Aside from that, you can go diving, fishing; hell, you can even play tourist for a day and check out some of the local attractions.
You might get to see where this photo was taken.
(U.S. Marine Corps)
Remember the battle that took place on the island back in 1945? Well, you might get the opportunity to tour some of the major points of friction and see where your Marine ancestors spilled some blood. If you’re into history, which you should be, this is an awesome thing to do.
These mess halls rival the ones stateside.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Kelcey Seymour)
The mess halls are awesome
If there’s one thing you’ll remember about Okinawa, it’ll probably be that the on-base dining facilities were fantastic. There are people who are stationed there long-term, and having great food available helps keep everyone happy.
It’s basically a business trip.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson)
You’re being paid to be there
Wait — you’re complaining that you’re on an all-expenses-paid trip to an island in Asia? Seriously? Your command straight-up told you that you’re going there because the DOD saw it fit to send you there. This means that tons of taxpayer money went into paying for your plane (or boat) ride, your lodging, and your food.
Oh, yeah, and you’re still getting paid while you’re there.
Would you rather be this guy?
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Nik S. Phongsisattanak)
You’re not stuck stateside
There are Marines in the Corps who spend their entire career without ever leaving the country. Who joins to do that? Would you rather be doing that? Probably not.
Sure, it’s not Afghanistan or Iraq, but it’s better than never getting out.
Charles Norman Shay was just a young private in the 1st Infantry Division when he landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 — D-Day. He was in the first wave, landing some time around 6:30 while the German defenses were still untouched, firing artillery and machine guns into the open holds of boats as American troops attempted to land.
Charles Shay – Returning to the Beaches of Normandy 74 Years Later
Shay and the other medics on the beaches had the option of sticking to cover or trying to survive in the water, floating with just their nostrils exposed to minimize the chance that German machine guns found them.
Today, Shay is a tribal elder of the Penobscot Tribe in Maine. There’s a memorial park on the bluffs overlooking Omaha Beach named for him that honors the sacrifices of American Indians who landed at Normandy.
The Allies landed 156,000 troops on D-Day across five beachheads. It was the fulfillment of a promise to the Soviet Union to open a new front against Nazi Germany as Soviet forces fought on the opposite side of Europe. Less than a year after D-Day, as the armies landed at Normandy crunched onward toward Berlin, Hitler killed himself in a bunker and German leaders sued for peace, ending the war in Europe.