US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019 - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

When US Marines and sailors arrived in the Baltic region in June for 2019’s Baltic Operations exercise, they did so as national leaders came together in Western Europe for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

But the 47th iteration of BaltOps wasn’t tailored to that anniversary, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Rob Sellin and Marine Maj. Jeff Starr, two officers tasked with planning amphibious operations for BaltOps 2019, in a June 2019 interview.

When they started planning in February 2019, they were aware of the timing, but the schedule was shaped by more immediate concerns. “This is the best weather time to be in this area of the world,” Sellin said.


Sellin and Starr focused on big-picture planning and sought to get the most out of the exercises — “ensuring that we were able to include as many possible craft, as many … landing craft on the amphibious side as possible,” Starr said

“As we traveled and visited all these different countries and different landing locations,” Starr added, “we really had an eye for the specific capabilities and limitations of all the craft that were going to be involved, so that we could make sure to get the maximum inclusion for our NATO partners and allies.”

Below, you can see how the US and its partners trained for one of the most complex operations any military does, and how they did it in an increasingly tense part of the world.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

US Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Ty-Chon Montemoino briefs US and Spanish marines on boarding a landing craft utility while aboard the USS Fort McHenry.

(US Marine/Lance Cpl. Antonio Garcia)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

Spanish amphibious assault vehicles prepare to exit the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry, June 15, 2019.

(US Navy/Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Chris Roys)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

US and Spanish Marines exit the well deck of the USS Fort McHenry on a landing craft utility, June 12, 2019.

(US Navy/Mass Comm. Specialist 2nd Class Chris Roys)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

US and Romanian marines secure a beach after disembarking Polish mine layer/landing ship ORP Gnierzno, June 12, 2019.

(US Navy/Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class Jack D. Aistrup)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

US Marines and sailors and Romanian and Spanish Marines secure a beach after disembarking from a Polish using Soviet Tracked Amphibious Transports and from Landing Craft Utility ships using Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo Vehicles and Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements, June 12, 2019.

(US Navy/Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class Jack D. Aistrup)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

Members of the US Navy Fleet Survey Team conduct a hydrographic beach survey in Ravlunda, Sweden, ahead of BALTOPS 2019, May 8, 2019.

(Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command/Kaley Turfitt)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

US Marines disembark a landing craft utility during a tactics exercise in Sweden, June 19, 2019.

(US Marine/Lance Cpl. Antonio Garcia)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

US Marines exchange information with Spanish marines on the flight deck of the USS Fort McHenry, June 14, 2019.

(US Navy/Mass Comm Specialist 2nd Class Chris Roys)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

US Marines and Romanian marines secure a beach after disembarking from Polish mine layer/landing ship ORP Gniezno in Estonia, June 12, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Cpl. Abrey Liggins)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

Royal Marines exit a British navy Merlin MK 4 helicopter via fast rope as part of an amphibious assault in Lithuania, June 16, 2019.

(US Navy/Mass Comm Specialist 3rd Class Jack D. Aistrup)

11 countries joined the BaltOps amphibious task group, and personnel from four countries took part in the landings. “Contrary to popular belief, the language barriers typically don’t prove too concerning for these planning efforts,” Starr said. “What does prove a little bit challenging for us is various communications systems and how they work interoperably.”

Lithuania borders the Russian province of Kaliningrad along the Baltic Sea, placing some of the amphibious exercises close to Russia.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

Spanish amphibious assault vehicles exit the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry, June 16, 2019.

(US Navy/Mass Comm Specialist 2nd Class Chris Roys)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

A Polish PTS-M carries Romanian Marines ashore during an amphibious assault exercise at Baltic Operations 2019’s Distinguished Visitors Day in Palanga, Lithuania, June 15, 2019.

(US Marine/Lance Cpl. Antonio Garcia)

Like other officials involved in BaltOps, Sellin and Starr stressed that the exercise wasn’t directed at any other country. But tensions between Russia and NATO remain elevated after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea — particularly around the Baltic states and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are NATO members (and rely on NATO air forces to patrol their airspace) as is Norway.

Sweden and Finland are not in NATO but have responded to increasing tension in the region. Both have worked more closely with NATO in addition to bolstering their own militaries.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

US Marines march to the beach from a landing craft utility for an amphibious assault exercise in Klaipeda, Lithuania, June 15, 2019.

(US Navy/Mass Comm Specialist 3rd Class Jack D. Aistrup)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

A Royal Marine disembarks the USS Mount Whitney onto a landing craft vehicle attached to British Royal Navy ship HMS Albion in the Baltic Sea, June 16, 2019.

(US Navy/Mass Comm Specialist 2nd Class Scott Barnes)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

Landing craft utility vessels stand by at sea after transporting Marines during an amphibious landing demonstration in Lithuania, June 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Cpl. Tawanya Norwood)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

Romanian Marines in an amphibious assault vehicle exit a landing craft utility as a part of an amphibious landing demonstration in Lithuania, June 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Cpl. Tawanya Norwood)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

US Marines perform a simulated amphibious assault from a landing craft utility in Lithuania, June 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Cpl. Tawanya Norwood)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

A US Marine and Spanish Marines buddy rush across the beach following an amphibious landing demonstration during the final event of NATO exercise Baltic Operations 2019 in Lithuania, June 16, 2019, June 16, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Cpl. Tawanya Norwood)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

A US Navy landing craft offloads vehicles during an amphibious exercise at Kallaste Beach in Estonia, June 12, 2019.

(US Navy/Mass Comm Specialist 3rd Class Jack D. Aistrup)

BaltOps 2019 took place just after the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and while that still colors popular perceptions of amphibious operations, Starr and Sellin said they don’t plan for the kind of massive landing that put hundreds of thousands of Allied troops ashore in Normandy in 1944.

On June 6, 1944, more than 130,000 Allied troops rushed ashore on Normandy’s beaches as part of Operation Overlord, the beginning of the assault known as D-Day.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

Romanian Marines storm the beach during an amphibious assault exercise for Baltic Operations 2019’s Distinguished Visitors Day in Palanga, Lithuania, June 15, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Antonio Garcia)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

US Marine Cpl. Timothy Moffitt runs ashore during an amphibious assault exercise for Baltic Operations 2019 in Palanga, Lithuania, June 15, 2019.

(US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Antonio Garcia)

“The reality is as amphibious planners, our job is to give our commanders a variety of options … for ways to accomplish the mission, and it’s very much not limited to putting a huge force ashore,” Sellin said.

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

Articles

Teddy Roosevelt’s prize pistol was stolen and returned 16 years later

When you go to Sagamore Hill — the home (and now museum) that President and Medal of Honor recipient Teddy Roosevelt had on Long Island — you may see a .38-caliber Model 1892 Army and Navy revolver. This was a six-shot revolver chambered in .38 Long Colt.


As a standard revolver, many were produced, but Teddy’s gun was important to him. It had been recovered from the wrecked battleship USS Maine (ACR 1). He famously used the revolver to rally the troops (as seen in artwork about the charge up San Juan Hill), but he also pulled the trigger, taking out the enemy with it at least once during that charge.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
Photo: U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Roosevelt kept the gun, and after his death in 1919, his house became a museum; the revolver remained in the home for display. It was stolen in 1963 and recovered, but according to a 1990 New York Times article, it was swiped again. Valued at $500,000 at the time, it had not been insured.

Oddly enough, for a revolver that was clearly inscribed “From the Sunken Battle Ship Maine” and “July 1st, 1898, San Juan, Carried and Used by Col. Theodore Roosevelt,” it was missing for 16 years until it was turned in to the FBI’s Art Crime Team.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
Teddy Roosevelt’s M1892 revolver. (FBI photo)

The pistol is now back in the Dagamore Hill museum — presumably well-protected against theft. The thief who took the gun in 1990, though, is still at large.

Below is a video by Brad Meltzer about the gun’s history — and its 1990 theft.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Brian Chontosh on The Resilient Life Podcast: What you should be listening to

If you sometimes struggle with strength and optimism in difficult situations, keep reading.

I recently discovered motivational speaker and all-around role model Ryan Manion through her podcast, titled The Resilient Life. Honestly, I was hooked on Ryan’s story after learning about the foundation she started in her brother’s honor and name, following his death in Iraq. The Travis Manion Foundation strives to “unite and strengthen communities by training, developing and highlighting the role models that lead them.” Ryan has pledged to inspire others to improve themselves through service, and has done so through her work in TMF and, more recently, through her podcast.

In The Resilient Life, Ryan discusses how struggles shape people and the different ways we can face them. In her words, “Every human will struggle in this life. Our challenge is to struggle well.”


I think Ryan’s podcast is so impressive to me because I, too, am constantly struggling (and, subsequently, am always learning). It’s common for me to find myself thinking about the best ways to deal with pain and handle conflict. Listening to Manion’s podcast felt like hearing my own personal thoughts put into words that made sense, were inspiring, and additionally were directly applicable to my life. Through Ryan’s personal stories, dialogue with guest speakers and practical advice, aspects of my life that had previously seemed utterly cryptic are starting to make sense.

Something good happening during 2020!?

Manion dives further into the deeper topics discussed in the podcast in her book, The Knock at the Door.

The foundation of TMF in itself is the product of Ryan’s own productive struggling. Travis was killed in combat with other members of his battalion in the Al Anbar province of Iraq during his deployment in 2007. While many people use a life altering tragedy such as this one as a reason for pity and squander opportunities to learn from their own suffering, Ryan took the opportunity, or “knock at the door,” to grow and to improve herself. Her podcast and her book demonstrate her growth and put her wisdom into words.

In fact, The Resilient Life has a new episode airing today. In the second ever episode of the podcast, Manion and Brian “Tosh” Chontosh, a well-known force in the Marine Corps, discuss failure, discipline and more. Tosh is a retired Marine Corps officer who was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism and patriotism during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The most encouraging thing about the podcast is the reassurance that even successful, strong people such as Manion and Tosh can struggle and fail. Listen to the podcast to hear the details of Tosh’s struggles with the “ultra” marathon, taking place in Minnesota during wild blizzards.

Personally, I feel good about myself after running a 5K. We all have different definitions of success. And that may be why Tosh and Manion’s joint work is so amazing.

Manion’s podcast, work with and foundation of the TMF, and book are all examples of how we can use pain for productivity; suffering for efficiency. In a time where it’s so natural to be passive and let time pass us by as the world is shut down around us, it’s very easy to lose our sense of urgency in the doldrums of quarantine. However, with Manion’s inspiration, it’s a little easier to get up and get shit done.

The Travis Manion Foundation is inspiring people every day. Let yourself be one of them by listening to The Resilient Life.

Articles

9 lies soldiers tell their loved ones while in combat

Sure, in theory it would be nice to tell loved ones the truth, but there are plenty of times when it’s probably a bad idea. Or maybe the truth doesn’t live up to loved ones’ expectations. Either way, here are 9 lies that usually do the trick:


1. “No, we never go outside the wire.” (or “We go on tons of missions.”)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

Everyone knows the grunts go out constantly, but for support soldiers it’s a crapshoot. Some will go out constantly; some rarely. Oddly, both groups lie about it. Support soldiers who are with infantry their whole deployment will tell their parents they’re staying safely inside the wire. Guys who never leave the wire will tell outlandish stories about combat.

2. “It’s boring here.”

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
Photo: US Army Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

This is the combat arms soldier’s version of, “We never go outside the wire.” They can’t convince the family that they’re never going on mission, so instead they tell them that nothing is happening.

3. “They feed us pretty well.”

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
Photo: US Army Vaughn R. Larson

If the soldier is deployed to a large base like an airfield, this may be true. But if they are further away from large logistics hubs, the food choices become repetitive and aren’t always healthy. The worst is for the guys in the field or living in tiny outposts. They’ll get most of their calories from MREs and the occasional delivery of Girl Scout cookies and maybe fruit. Care packages are valuable on deployment, so send good stuff.

4. “I eat healthy snacks.”

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

Nope. The foods soldiers pick for themselves are worse than the ones in the MREs. Half the time, it’s just tobacco and caffeine. Again, send care packages. Maybe drop some vitamins next to the chips and dip they’re asking for.

5. “I’m learning a lot.”

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

Everyone has their plan for a deployment, especially cherries on their first trip. Some plan to practice guitar, learn another language, or work on a degree. For most soldiers though, those ideas go out the window when they realize they’ll be working 13 hours or more per day. Still, when they call home, they’ll bring a German phrasebook with them, just to keep up appearances.

6. “I couldn’t call because of all the work.”

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Taylor

Though there is a lot of work, it’s not really enough to make phone calls impossible. Sometimes, troops just don’t feel like walking all the way to the morale, welfare, and recreation tent. Other times it’s because the lines for the phones were long and, for once, the lines for video games were short. The phones could have been cut off because of bandwidth issues or a communications blackout. Don’t worry, they’ll hit you up on Facebook when they’re able.

7. “Our rooms aren’t too bad.”

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

Like the food, this depends on the base. Some people on big airfields have real rooms they share or a really nice tent. On forward operating bases, the tents get pretty crappy fast. Beyond the FOBs it’s even worse. Soldiers in the most forward positions dig holes in the sand and spread camouflage nets over them.

8. “That’s not machine-gun fire; it’s a jackhammer.”

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
Photo: US Army Pfc. Adrian Muehe

There are variations of this. “That helicopter pilots are just doing some training,” or, “The engineers are just detonating some old munitions.” Anytime a compromising noise makes it through the phone, the soldier will try to explain it away. The soldier knows they aren’t in immediate danger, but they still don’t want their wife to know the base takes a rocket attack every 72 hours. So, they lie about what the noise was and get off the phone before any base alarms go off.

9. “I’m going to pay off my cards and put some money away for retirement.”

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

In their defense, most soldiers are lying to themselves here. They think they’re going to be responsible, but they come home with tens of thousands of dollars saved and realize they could buy a really nice car. The barracks parking lots fill with Challengers and BMWs in the months after a unit comes home.

Articles

The Navy plans to buy this new Super Hornet with a deadlier sting

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet has been the backbone of the US Navy’s carrier air wings for just over a decade, following the retirement of the legendary F-14 Tomcat. Reliable, versatile and thoroughly adaptable, the Super Hornet is everything the Navy hoped for in a multirole fighter and more.


But its age is starting to show quickly, especially thanks to increasing deployment rates due to a need to fill in for unavailable older “legacy” Hornets being put through service life extension programs. This has resulted in more wear and tear on these big fighters than the Navy originally projected.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Gaines

So to keep its fighter fleet relevant and as sharp as ever, the Navy has finally decided to give the go-ahead on picking up brand new Super Hornets from Boeing’s St. Louis, MO plant, while simultaneously upgrading older Super Hornets currently serving. However, these new fighters will come with a few new features that their predecessors don’t have, making them even more potent than ever before in the hands of the Navy’s best and brightest.

While Boeing previously pushed the Navy to consider buying a smaller amount of F-35C Lightning II stealth strike fighters in favor of more F/A-18E/Fs, the aviation manufacturer’s new plan is to develop a Super Hornet that’s capable of seamlessly integrating with the F-35C, making the combination extremely deadly and a huge asset in the hands of any Navy task force commander while underway.

Though the Super Hornet was originally designed in the 1990s to be able to fly against comparable 4th generation fighters, this new update, known as the Advanced Super Hornet or the Block III upgrade, will keep this aircraft relevant against even modern foreign 5th generation fighters today.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

Boeing has hinted at the Block III upgrade for the past few years, pitching it constantly with mixed results. Earlier this week, Navy brass confirmed that a plan to buy 80 more Super Hornets was in the works, fleshed out over the next five years.

These new fighters will likely be the first to carry the Block III upgrade, while older Super Hornets will enter overhaul depots between 2019 and 2022, returning to the fleet upon completion of their updating.

Among the most drastic changes these new Super Hornets will come with, as compared to the ones the Navy currently flies, is a completely revamped cockpit, similar to the one used in the F-35. Instead of smaller screens, a jumble of buttons, switches and instrument clusters, Advanced Super Hornets will have a “large-area display” which pulls up every bit of critical information each pilot needs to successfully operate the aircraft onto one big screen, reducing workload and strain.

Additionally, a new networking system will allow Advanced Super Hornets to communicate data more efficiently with Lightning IIs, EA-18 Growler electronic attack jets, and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
It’s likely that the Advanced Super Hornet will include some kind of stealth coating, painted on the surfaces of the aircraft to absorb or deflect radar waves. (Photo from Boeing)

Block III will also include new infrared search and track (IRST) sensors that’ll allow Super Hornets to detect and engage low-observable threats from longer distances. Given that stealth has become an important factor in modern fighter design, it’s likely that the Block III update will also include some kind of stealth coating, painted on the surfaces of the aircraft to absorb or deflect radar waves. The US Air Force and Marine Corps already use similar coatings on F-22 Raptors, F-35s, and select groups of F-16 Fighting Falcons.

The upgrade will also give Super Hornets the ability to fly with Conformal Fuel  Tanks (CFT) for the very first time, providing an extension in operating range without sacrificing space on weapons pylons beneath the aircraft’s wings. With more flexibility in terms of weapons carriage, the Navy hopes that Super Hornets will not only be able to fly air superiority missions, but will also function as a flying arsenal for F-35s, which (through data links) could launch and deploy munitions from F/A-18E/Fs while on mission.

The program cost for upgrading currently-active Super Hornets will be around $265.9 million, between 2018 and 2022, while the cost of the 80-strong order for new Super Hornets will come to around $7.1 billion. This massive upgrade also signals the Navy’s interest in investing more into assets it currently fields over developing brand new next-generation fighters as broader replacements, generally to save costs while still maintaining the ability to deal with a variety of potential threats America’s enemies pose today.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Endgame’ writers say only one of the X-Men would’ve lived to fight Thanos

“Avengers: Endgame” is officially the biggest movie of all time but if the Russo brothers had their way, it would have been even more epic. In a recent interview, the “Endgame” director duo spoke about what the movie would have looked like if the X-Men existed in the MCU and which of the mutant crew would have survived Thanos’ snap at the end of “Infinity War.”

The Russo Brothers said that all of the X-Men would have been wiped away when Thanos snapped the Infinity Gauntlet except for one: Wolverine.

“I’d love to see a fiercely motivated Wolverine going up against Thanos,” Joe Russo told IGN.


This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as Wolverine has long been the most beloved member of the X-Men and it would have been truly amazing to get to watch him team up with the Avengers to take down Thanos.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

“It’s not our job to give the people what they want, it’s to give them what they need,” Joe added.

Of course, this was only able to exist in the Russo’s minds, as the X-Men were under the umbrella of 21st Century Fox. But with Disney acquiring Fox earlier this year, it seems that the door is now open for Wolverine, Professor X, and the rest of the X-Men crew joining the MCU. And while it may be too late for Wolverine and Thanos to face-off for the fate of the universe, we would still be excited to see what the Russo Brothers can do with these legendary characters.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

One surviving veteran of the ‘Mighty 8th’ remembers WWII

Sitting in his favorite chair at home in Edgewater, Maryland, only a shadow box of medals and patches on the wall offer a glimpse into Staff Sgt. Louis R. Perrone’s eventful past.


US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
A shadow box belonging to Luis Perrone, a B-17 ball turret gunner with the 533rd Bomb Squadron during World War II, at his home in Edgewater, Maryland. He completed 32 bombing missions over western Europe, represented by the five bronze oak leaf clusters on the blue and orange Air Medal for meritorious achievement in aerial flight. (Photo courtesy of Bennie J. Davis III) 

At 19, he went to war, and now at 94, he’s the only living member of his 10-man bomber crew who flew missions over Germany during World War II as part of the Eighth Air Force.

Also read: These are Britain’s most controversial World War II vets

He wanted to sit in the cockpit as a pilot, but a failed depth perception test found him sitting underneath the plane as a ball turret gunner on the B-17 Flying Fortress.

But while his view of the ground may have changed, his view of the bomber never waivered.

“The B-17 was the best airplane ever built, ’cause it brought you home,'” he said. “We’ve come home on a wing and a prayer, sometimes you come in on two engines, sometimes two engines and a half of a wing, but you got home.”

Many never did, however, as between 1942 and 1945 flying bombing missions for the “Mighty 8th” proved to be the most dangerous occupation in the U.S. Army Air Forces. Airmen were asked to complete a 25-mission quota at a time when the life expectancy of a crew didn’t surpass six missions. Casualty rates for heavy bomber crews also reached as high as 89 percent.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
A B-17 Flying Fortress of the Army Air Forces during a bombing mission over western Europe.

During his time at RAF Ridgewell, England from 1943 – 1945 Perrone flew 32 missions with the 533rd Bomb Squadron at the height of the aerial campaigns against the Third Reich. He is credited with 3.5 kills from the ball turret.

“You’re by yourself and it’s an odd feeling (shooting someone down). It’s been so long ago, I can’t think of all the ins and outs. I prayed a lot, I can tell you that,” said Perrone. “War, it’s a young man’s game.”

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
Airmen of the 381st Bomber Group at Royal Air Force Ridgewell in Essex, England, during World War II.

“War, it’s a young man’s game.”

According to Perrone, the amount of bombers in the air during missions was mind-boggling. Most missions involved hundreds of B-17 and B-24 Liberator bombers targeting ball-bearing plants, rail yards, oil production facilities and aircraft manufacturing factories.

Nighttime area bombing attacks by the RAF complimented the daytime precision bombing raids by the U.S. Army Air Force. The bombers wreaked havoc on the German war machine, but allied casualties began to mount due to German 88mm anti-aircraft gun shells, commonly described as “flak,” and the vulnerability of the bombers to be attacked head-on by the Luftwaffe or German air force.

Bomber losses rapidly increased to a rate the Eighth could not withstand.

On Sept. 6, 1943, Perrone’s crew joined a raid on a German ball bearing production plant. Of the 400 Flying Fortresses launched for the mission, 60 were shot down and 600 Airmen were lost.

“The flak was so thick you could walk on it,” said Perrone. “During the ins and outs of the cities, through flak, was the only time I was scared. I always wanted to see those puffs of flak clouds below me, way below me.”

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 381st Bomb Group make their way through exploding 88mm anti-aircraft gun shells, commonly called flak, during a bombing mission over western Europe during World War II. (Courtesy photo)

“When the Germans look up to see all our bombers, better them than us, believe me when I tell you, it had to be tough on them, and as the war went along, we became stronger and stronger and stronger,” said Perrone. “There were some towns and cities in Germany we leveled. We broke the Germans’ backs. The British softened them and then we really gave it to them.”

The strength was provided by the long-range escort of P-38 Lightning and P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft outfitted with extra fuel drop tanks. Eventually, the employment of the P-51 Mustang allowed fighter escorts to reach Berlin.

The bombers and fighters together destroyed the Luftwaffe and air supremacy was gained over western Germany.

Also Read: This is what you need to know about the B-17 Flying Fortress

“My favorite memory; my last mission. I knew I was done and everything was okay,” said Perrone. “I was more scared on my last mission than my first.”

Perrone considers himself lucky, only one in five aircrew members of the 8th AF made the quota to end their tour of duty.

At the end of the war in Europe USAAF shifted focus to Japan with the deployment of the most technologically advanced aircraft, and the last bomber of World War II, the B-29 Superfortress.

The B-29 was designed as a high-altitude strategic bomber, but it was primarily used as a low-altitude night bomber in the Pacific theater. It was equipped with a pressurized cabin and had a central fire system of remotely controlled gun turrets each armed with .50 caliber machine guns.

The Superfortress also became the first nuclear capable aircraft.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
Boeing B-29 “Enola Gay” on Tinian in the Marianas Islands. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On Aug. 6, 1945, a B-29 named the “Enola Gay” deployed the world’s first atomic weapon on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later a second B-29, “Bockscar,” dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Six days later Japan surrendered, the war was over and the era of nuclear deterrence began.

With the advent of the nuclear weapon, bombers became the first vehicle to deliver apocalyptic devastation. Today’s strategic bombers provide one of the three delivery components of the nuclear triad along with land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, which make up our nation’s nuclear deterrence strategy.

“The capabilities of our nuclear deterrence are the bedrock of everything we do as a military,” said Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. “It’s the thing that keeps our adversaries from taking a step too far. Nuclear deterrence keeps the great power conflicts down and the horrible death and destruction, like what was seen during World War II, away from the world.”

In its infancy, the Air Force, then dubbed the Army Air Corps, lacked strategic bombing support while under Army control. The Army wasn’t convinced airplanes should be used for strategic bombing, but advocates like Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell argued bombers could replace traditional land and naval tactics as a dominant form by striking an enemy nation’s industrial complex and crippling its economic ability to fight. The Army’s prevailing view of the airplane, however, was as a reconnaissance and tactical bombing vehicle supporting ground troops on the front lines.

Despite the debate, the American bomber was born in 1934 and shepherded in a new era of aerial combat.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
1st Lt. Andy Alexander, weapons systems officer on the B-52H Stratofortress with the 2d Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, is a second-generation Òbomber crew dogÓ of the Eighth Air Force. His grandfather, Bill Alexander, was a co-pilot on a B-24 for the 489th Bombardment group out of Royal Air Force Halesworth, England.

 “World War II set the groundwork on how we employ, taking in collateral damage and validating how air power in so influential,” said 1st Lt. Andy Alexander, B-52H Stratofortress weapons systems officer at the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. “Strategic bombing doctrine of World War II continues today in terms showing how decisive air power is to the campaign picture. The wars we fight today cannot be fought without bomber airpower.”

Alexander is a second-generation “bomber crew dog” of the Eighth Air Force. His grandfather, Bill Alexander was a co-pilot on a B-24 for the 489th Bombardment Group out of RAF Halesworth, England.

“I can’t imagine what he and his crew went through,” said Alexander of his grandfather. “You are basically in a flying unpressurized beer can with a couple engines strapped onto it, a few guns and about 8,000 pounds of bombs. There’s no GPS, no inertial navigation system, it’s charts and a protractor getting you across the English Channel through clouds of German flak. It’s noisy and freezing 20 degrees below zero. Oh, and there’s like a 0.06 percent chance of survival over the course of 25 missions.”

“They were truly our greatest generation”

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
The crew of Jack Goldstein’s B-17 Flying Fortress, the “Miasses Dragon.” From the back row, (L-R): Nelson Campagnano, radio operator; Robert McCluskey, top turret gunner; Troy Swope, ball turret gunner; Harry Sibila, tail gunner; Jack Goldstein, waist gunner. Front (L-R): Paul Stratton, co-pilot; Gordon Stickles, bombardier; Larry Smith, pilot; and Clifford Winslette, navigator.

“They were truly our greatest generation,” he added.

Alexander said the basics of bombing doctrine were established in World War II, but with a myriad of sensors helping deploy munitions with absolute precision, landing within inches from the target, the B-52, B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit have certainly come a long way.

Alexander explained what happened in the skies of Europe was absolutely instrumental. The losses were catastrophic, but at the time the USAAF had to launch 70 aircraft to take out a facility in the hopes one got lucky to peer through the clouds and strike a target. Nowadays one B-52 can take out that same facility, but from 1,000 miles away.

“They laid down the absolute fundamentals of what air power brings to the picture in terms of complete destruction of enemy objectives,” said Alexander. “We provide the same thing today in a much more non-contested environment.”

Alexander said the 8th AF is in demand by combatant commanders around the world. The strategic importance of bombers is even more important today than ever in terms of our posturing, projecting power, nuclear deterrence and assuring our allies.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

GRAPHIC BY CHRIS DESROCHER // ANIMATION BY MAUREEN STEWART

“Strategic bombers are also incredibly important to the nuclear triad. You have your intercontinental ballistic missiles and they stay in the ground all day. You have submarines, but it’s their job for you to not see them. The difference with the nuclear bomber is the visibility,” said Alexander. “If there’s a nuclear bomber in your yard, you know it’s there. It’s the most visible part of the triad.”

Alexander stated another importance of the bombers is their recall ability. The president has the ability to recall the aircraft before weapons are launched. It’s the flexibility the bomber brings to the triad.

“Strategic posturing sometimes is a greater deterrence,” said Alexander of what the nuclear bombers bring to the fight. “You can have the B-1s in Guam, but when the B-52 shows up it’s a different message … it’s the big stick. When that happens the tone does change. No one wants to go to war. Deterrence, that’s what we will be focusing on.”

Also Read: The B-17 Flying Fortress debuted exactly 80 years ago — here’s its legacy

Alexander said when he walks the halls of the Mighty 8th AF and sees the black and white photos of the bomber crews of World War II, he sees the pride and spirit of our crews today, a bond and dependence of each other knowing the guy or gal on the left or right of you would die for you to protect our freedoms.

“There is a great sense of camaraderie with bomber crews, because we have to work more as a team,” said Alexander. “Thanks to the Army Air Corps we have the most powerful and devastating Air Force the world has ever seen.”

Perrone isn’t too sure about all that. All he does know is he made his mission quota and did what he was asked to do.

Now he meets every Wednesday for lunch with a fellow World War II and Mighty 8th veteran Jack Goldstein. The two were stationed on the same base in England, but never met.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
Jack Goldstein, 93, a World War II veteran, at his home in Annapolis, Maryland. Goldstein was a waist gunner for the 535th Bomb Squadron on a B-17 Flying Fortress with the Army Air Forces from 1943 to 1945. He completed 25 bombing missions over western Europe. (Photo courtesy of Bennie J. Davis III) 

 Goldstein also completed his 25 missions as waist gunner on the B-17. He too is the last of his crew from the 535th Bomb Squadron.

“I was only there for the last six months of the war, but I completed my missions and we all went home together in 1945,” said Goldstein.

It took 40 years for Goldstein to open up and talk about the war. He now shares these stories with fellow veterans, but his family is unaware.

The pictures and documents stuffed away for decades in the back of his closet are now proudly displayed in his home.

“I now feel proud now when people come and thank us for our service,” said Goldstein. “There’s not too many of us kids left.”

Each of them outlived their crews, and most World War II veterans are the last remaining of a dying breed … a breed that helped shape the importance of aerial warfare and set the stage for the bomber crews of today.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How troops can take care of their pets while deployed

Deployments suck for everyone in the family. There are countless resources out there to help military dependents, but not too many troops know what to do with their beloved pets. Our pets are just a much a part of our family as anyone else and deployments can be just as rough on them as they are on people.

The hardest part is that there’s no way to sit down with your pet and explain to them that you’re going away. One day you’re giving them plenty of love and the next you’re gone for a while.

If you have a pet and are about to deploy, there are several things you need to do to make sure they’re given the best care until you can come home to make one of those adorable reunion videos.


I’m not crying. Just someone cutting onions, I swear.

The best thing you can do is to keep their routine as unchanged as possible. Keep them with people you know will love them as much as you and, if you can, keep them in the same place that they’re used to. In their furry minds, they don’t really grasp the concept of time so it’s just like you’re taking a really long time coming home.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
It won’t hurt to give them all of the loving they’ll be missing out on in one day.
(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Not everyone you know is willing to take in your buddy at a moment’s notice. Thankfully, there are many great organizations that can assist you if you can’t find boarding for your pet. Dogs on Deployment and Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet are two fantastic organizations that will foster your pets with loving homes.

Both groups provide free boarding for your pet until you come home. They work by connecting troops with boarders in their area who will give them plenty of love.

(By the way, if you’re just reading this because you love animals, these pets need foster homes and they’d love to let you help.)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
What better way can you think of to support the troops than by literally taking care of their puppy for them?
(photo by Senior Airman Keenan Berry)

While you’re deployed, you can still send your pet some love. They won’t recognize a chew toy you ordered on-line as being a gift from you but they will immediately recognize your scent if you send back home a blanket you’ve been sleeping with. Most pets are intelligent enough to recognize your face and voice over a video call, but it’s not the same.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
They can’t really count down but they’re definitely ready for you to come back.
(Photo by Sgt. Valerie Eppler)

When the time finally comes for you to reunite with your fur-baby, don’t freak out if they freak out. They’ll be jumping with joy and probably knock something over with their tail in excitement. It kind of goes without saying but you should give them the same amount of love that they’re giving you.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Borne the Battle: Marine veteran Todd Boeding, Carry the Load

On this week’s episode of Borne the Battle, Tanner Iskra interviews guest Todd Boeding, who shares his past, present and future as a Marine Corps veteran, as well as his involvement honoring veterans through Carry the Load.

Born and raised in Texas, Boeding was always known to take unorthodox paths in life. He dabbled in college, left for the Marine Corps seeking structure and discipline, and eventually returned to finish up his degree at The University of Texas at Dallas.


Since leaving the Marine Corps in 2003, Boeding discussed the hardest part of the transition back to civilian life: finding a sense of belonging. Boeding was able to find his purpose of being part of something bigger through Carry the Load.

September 11th Volunteer Opportunity with Carry The Load

www.youtube.com

Carry the Load offers opportunities to learn how to care again and to do it in a way that meaningfully impacts the families who lost their loved ones. Currently, Carry the Load is partnering with the National Cemetery Association on Sep. 11, 2019, to help maintain the dignity of cemeteries.

If you would like to learn more or want to help in this movement, click on this link: www.carrytheload.org/NCA.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is why its important for troops to go through the CS chamber

Corson-Stoughton Gas, commonly known as “CS gas” or tear gas, has been a part of military culture since it was first mass produced in the 50s. Technically, it’s less-than-lethal — death from inhaling CS gas is rare, but it still hurts like hell to breathe in. You’re going to cry and all of the mucus in your body will try to escape at once. It’s not pretty.

So, why not subject troops to it regularly, on a every-six-months basis? What could possibly go wrong?

No really, I’m not being sarcastic. There are actually many good reasons to subject troops to a bi-annual deep cleanse in the CS chamber — and it’s a much more valid reasoning than the standard “it builds character” excuse that first sergeants use.


The very first moment troops are exposed to CS gas is the most important one — during initial training. This serves many different functions.

For starters, it builds confidence in your equipment. All of the “lowest bidder” jokes tend to go away when you realize that the mask you were assigned is perfectly capable of stopping the painful gas from entering your lungs.

It also serves as a way of teaching troops that pain is temporary. Troops have nothing to fear from temporary discomfort. Yeah, it’s going to hurt like hell, but you shouldn’t cower from it — just accept it and move on. Think of it like the scene in Dune when Paul Atreides faces the pain box.

“Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.”
US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

This is one of those moments where the phrase “suck it up, buttercup” is completely applicable because it will get easier the more you do it.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Caleb Barrieau)

Troops will walk in with their mask on, knowing that they’re to take it off in the middle of the chamber. And before you start coming up with a plan, no, you can’t just hold your breath to escape the pain. The drill sergeant will likely ask you to recite the Soldier’s Creed, sing the Marines’ Hymn — whatever gets you to open your mouth and take in a breath. And then you can leave.

Feeling the pain of CS gas is universal experience throughout the U.S. Armed Forces — but it doesn’t last long. Twenty or thirty minutes later and you’re back on your feet — until the exercise is put back on the training calendar.

Heading into the CS chamber twice a year can actually help you build up a tolerance to the gas that lasts a lifetime. The first time hurts like a motherf*cker. The second time just hurts like hell. The third time is a little better than that, and so on, until it just makes you slightly uncomfortable. It’s not a complete immunity, but it’s a strong tolerance.

Your eyes will still water but you’re not vomiting in the corner at the very least — so that’s good.

MIGHTY TRENDING

What happens when lightning tears a giant hole in the tail of a B-52

On Dec. 19, 2017, B-52 Stratorfortress (60-0051), with the 93rd Bomb Squadron/307th BW AFRC was about to land at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, when the crew heard something that sounded like a thud coming from the outside of the bomber. The aircraft landed safely, but once on the ground the crew discovered that the sound they heard was actually a lightning strike that tore a person-sized gash completely through the tail of the aircraft.


“Close encounters” between civil and military aircraft and lightnings occur every now and then around the globe.

In the 1980s, some F-16 Fighting Falcon jets were lost after being struck by lightinings. In one case, the lightning ignited the vapors in the empty centerline tank, which exploded causing extended damage to the aircraft’s hydraulic system.

Since lightning strikes are quite rare (1 event each year on average) these are seldom a real risk to military or civil aviation.

Also read: How the 65-year old B-52 Stratofortress just keeps getting better with age

Furthermore, planes are shielded by a so-called Faraday Cage made by a conducting material, that blocks out external static electrical fields: charges redistribute on the conducting material and don’t affect the cage’s interior.

All commercial and mil planes have to meet several safety lightining-related requirements to get the airworthiness certifications required in the U.S. and Europe. For instance, they must be able to withstand a lightning strike without suffering significant airframe damage, without any possibility of accidental fuel ignition in the tanks and preserving the avionics and systems failures induced by the electromagnetic field created by the electrical charges of the lightning.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
The old tail from aircraft 60-051, a B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 307th Bomb Wing, bears a gaping hole from lightning damage incurred at the end of a routine training mission. The tail could not be repaired and had to be replaced. Changing an entire tail on the B-52 is an uncommon and difficult task, but maintainers from the 307th Maintenance Squadron were able to accomplish the feat in about 10 hours of work time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

After assessing the damage, it was determined that the tail was damaged beyond repair and would have to be replaced: a large-scale, and uncommon, repair.

The B-52 is equipped with a lightning arrester designed to mitigate damage from lightning strikes, but this one was too strong even for the jet’s safeguards. “We see a handful of strikes every year, but out of all the maintainers we have, no one had seen lightning damage that bad,” said Lt. Col. George P. Cole, III, 307th Maintenance Squadron commander in a public release.

“I’ve been with the unit for fifteen years and this is the first time we have had to change a tail,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Nelson, 307th MXS flight maintenance superintendent. “We only had one other maintainer on our team that has ever changed one.”

Related: This is how the B-52 rained fire in Vietnam

According to the U.S. Air Force, Master Sgt. Eric Allison, 307th MXS B-52 aircraft mechanic, was the only maintainer on the eight person team with experience replacing a tail prior to the lighting strike. “It’s challenging because you have to position the tail just right and it is a two-thousand pound piece of metal,” he said. “It is like lining up the hinges when replacing a door,” said Tech. Sgt. David Emberton, 307th MXS B-52 aircraft mechanic. “You have to line it up correctly and the whole time it is twisting and flexing.”

Another possible obstacle was finding a replacement but instead of ordering it from the 309th AMARG (Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group), the maintainers from the 307th Maintenance Squadron found that one tail was available from a retired jet.

More: Wing commander praises crew of wrecked B-52 for averting a larger catastrophe

“Having that tail on hand saved us a great deal of time because ordering it from AMARG would have taken months,” Nelson said.

So, the 307th MXS completed the works and made the B-52 available for flight operations in just a couple of weeks. Sporting a different tail reclaimed from another decommissioned B-52, still able to take to air again.

By the way, the Stratofortress has already proved it can fly with damages to the tail: actually, even with a detached vertical stabilizer, as happened 54 years ago, when a B-52H involved in a test flight lost its tail at about 14,000 feet over New Mexico. Six hours later, the civilian test pilot Chuck Fisher and his three-man crew managed to perform the first and only Stratofortress’s tailless landing.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of August 23

According to a recent study by the Better Business Bureau, it seems like troops are more likely than civilians to fall for predatory lending schemes and lemon car frauds. In other news, water is wet.

Okay. In all seriousness. I get it. These are serious scams that have been around since long before I was a young, dumb private. As long as there have been troops leaving their parent’s financial safety net and given a taste of real money with little recourse for wasteful spending (i.e. all-inclusive barracks and dining halls,) troops are always going to be troops. And from the bottom of my heart, these f*ckheads who realize this and prey on them regardless are the lowest form of scum.

But can we all stop acting like this is some new discovery? Either let’s educate the troops against these sh*tty spots just off post, have the BBB investigate these clowns to the fullest extent, or do something about it. We’ve all heard the jokes. Sitting around, agreeing that it’s f*cked up isn’t going to change anything.


Anyways, didn’t mean for that to go that serious. Here are some memes to get your weekend started.

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

(Meme via On The Minute memes)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

(Meme via Call for Fire)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

(Meme via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

(Meme via Victor Alpha Clothing)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

(Meme via Not CID)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

​(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

Articles

This recreational drug could be used to treat post-traumatic stress

Thirty percent of the current veteran population is suffering from some level of post traumatic stress, according to VA statistics. Treatments vary, but researchers and doctors are aggressively responding to the crisis.


As marijuana begins to gain traction in treating veteran PTS (the Veterans Administration maintains its position that marijuana has only an “anecdotal effect” on veteran post-traumatic stress) researchers are examining other recreational drugs to treating the unseen wounds of war. And the newest drug under scrutiny is methylene-dioxy-meth-amphetamine, better known as “MDMA,” “Molly,” or “ecstasy.”

US Navy and Marines train for sea invasions at BaltOps 2019
Pure MDMA in crystal form (wikimedia commons)

Pure MDMA is of interest to neuroscientists because of its effect on human empathy, fear, and defensiveness. In a recent Popular Science article, psychiatrist Dr. Michael Mithoefer said that 83 percent of his treatment resistant patients not only responded positively to MDMA treatment, they soon showed no symptoms at all.

Other reports show the drug works in treating end-of-life anxiety and alcoholism. Rick Doblin, who runs the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, thinks the FDA could allow the use of MDMA as a viable treatment option as early as 2021.

In studies published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, MDMA was found to be addictive in “rare cases.” One being a veteran self-medicating with MDMA to treat his own post-traumatic stress. Clearly, more study is needed.