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MIGHTY CULTURE

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

Service members often encounter physical, psychological, and emotional adversity when protecting the freedoms this country was founded on. The injuries sustained both on and off duty require recovery in many forms – including physical competitions, religious programs, community outreach opportunities, behavioral health, and more. Some may only need a surfboard and a wave to ride.

Veterans, recovering service members and their loved ones attended the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 17-19, 2018. Operation Amped is a non-profit organization that promotes surf therapy to aid in the recovery of wounded, ill and injured veterans, and active-duty service members.


According to Joseph Gabunilas, Operation Amped co-founder, this program exists to provide a positive change in a participant’s future. Operation Amped accomplishes this by providing surf training once a year to wounded warriors, family members and veterans.

“It’s a good way to keep that negative stuff out of your mind while catching a wave,” said retired U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. David Simons, participant at Operation Amped. “Surfing has given me a goal, something to work towards and keep my focus straight.”

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

Recovering service members, veterans, volunteers, and their loved ones surf during the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at San Onofre Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 18, 2018.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Noah Rudash)

The organization, which began in September 2006, had helped nearly 300 recovering service members, veterans, and their loved ones. Along with the support and attendance of family members and friends, that number has now reached the thousands, said Gabunilas, who served in the U.S. Army. Having both the recovering service members and their loved ones in attendance, can provide the therapy needed to overcome the trials and tribulations they may be experiencing.

“Ocean therapy is good for the mindset,” said Simons. “It’s good for those that have difficult issues they’re dealing with.”

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

Recovering service members, veterans, volunteers, and their loved ones prepare to surf during the 12th Annual Operation Amped Surf Camp at San Onofre Beach at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 18, 2018.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Noah Rudash)

Some of the adversity these warriors face include the loss of fellow service members in and out of combat, overcoming pain and physical injury. For three days each year, with the support of organizations such as this one, participants move closer to recovery one wave at a time.

Provisions come from volunteers and supporters who donate surfboards, wetsuits, food, tents, and tables. Most importantly, they donate their time.

“This is my way of giving back,” said Gabunilas. “I served 21 years and this is another way I can give back to the brave men and women fighting for our country.”

This annual event drives a passion for surfing for some and provides a recreational outlet for warriors and their family members to enjoy while physically and mentally challenging themselves in the water. The next clinic is scheduled for summer 2019.

This article originally appeared on the United States Marines. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Meet the Marine Corps’ first female F-35B fighter pilot

Twenty-four years after the Marine Corps got its first female aviator, another woman pilot is making history.

Capt. Anneliese Satz is the Marine Corps’ first-ever female F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter jet pilot. The 29-year-old from Boise, Idaho, has spent the past four years training as a naval aviator.

Now, she’s cleared to operate the cutting-edge fifth-generation stealth, supersonic fighter aircraft in combat. She’s the first woman to complete the F-35B Basic Course, designed specifically for the Marine Corps variant of the fighter jet. The F-35B can take off and land vertically from amphibious assault ship flight decks and austere locations with little runway space.


Satz is joining the “Green Knights” with the Japan-based Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121. VMFA-121 was the first F-35B squadron to complete an operational deployment with a Marine expeditionary unit aboard a Navy ship.

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

Capt. Anneliese Satz conducts pre-flight checks prior to a training flight aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ashley Phillips)

Satz recalled the first time she took off in the Joint Strike Fighter in a Marine Corps news release announcing her career milestone.

“The first flight in an F-35 is by yourself,” she said. “… It’s an exhilarating experience.”

Satz was licensed to fly the single-engine Robinson R44 light helicopter before joining the Marine Corps. Since switching to fixed wing, she’s flown the T-6 Texan II tandem-seat, turboprop trainer and the T-45C Goshawk carrier capable jet trainer, which prepares naval aviators for tactical missions.

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

Capt. Anneliese Satz puts on her flight helmet prior to a training flight aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ashley Phillips)

She then joined Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, where she trained to fly the military’s newest fighter jet. Showing up and working hard are what allowed her to succeed, she said in the release.

Satz also credited the instructors, maintainers and other members of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 for helping her complete the F-35B Basic Course.

“This is a phenomenal program made possible by all of their hard work,” she said in a Marine Corps news release. “I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from all of them. I am incredibly excited to get to VMFA-121 and look forward to the opportunity to serve in the Fleet Marine Forces.”

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

Capt. Anneliese Satz conducts pre-flight checks prior to a training flight aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ashley Phillips)

Earlier this week, another female Marine aviator made history when she became the first woman selected to fly the Corps’ other Joint Strike Fighter variant — the F-35C.

First Lt. Catherine Stark will join the Navy’s fleet replacement squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron 125, where she’ll fly the F-35 variant designed for carrier operations.

Female Marines have been able to fly only since 1993 when the service opened pilot positions to women. Then-2nd Lt. Sarah Deal, a CH-53E heavy-lift helicopter pilot, became the Marine Corps’ first female aviator in 1995. And Capt. Vernice Armour, an AH-1W Cobra pilot, became the service’s first black female pilot in 2001.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Airman receives medal for saving family from fiery crash

In January 2018, on the side of U.S. 287, Maj. Justin Warner placed his well-being on the line to save two strangers whose vehicle had just flipped and caught on fire.

Warner was heading toward Dallas when he witnessed an SUV go off the road and flip, coming to a stop on its side.

“I was the first one to see it,” Warner said. “I stopped and started running toward their car, calling 911 as I made my way to them, but then the vehicle’s engine bay caught on fire so my mindset shifted.”

Forgetting about the emergency call and his own safety, Warner immediately took action.


“I saw that there were two people in the vehicle that would need some help getting out since the car was on its side,” he said. “I climbed up on top of the vehicle and basically pulled them through the driver’s side window.”

Warner mentioned that he was worried the fire would spread and cause the vehicle to explode.

“I had the same mindset from the second I saw the fire,” he said. “I knew I had to get them away from the fire.”

Warner carried the driver’s daughter, who had sustained an ankle injury during the crash, while the father was able to walk to safety. Soon after, the vehicle exploded in flames.

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

Maj. Justin Warner, 97th Flying Training Squadron IFF instructor, stands next to retired Air Force Lt. Col. Stephen Wolfe and his daughter after being awarded the Airman’s Medal Nov. 27, 2018, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

By this point, other motorists had stopped and called emergency services.

“When the emergency vehicles got there, they pretty much took them away quickly and I didn’t get to talk to them afterward,” Warner said. “All I knew was their first names and I tried looking them up later on to see if they were ok, but I couldn’t find them.”

What Warner didn’t know was that the driver of the vehicle was retired Air Force Lt. Col. Stephen Wolfe.

Wolfe reached out to Sheppard Air Force Base to let them know of Warner’s heroic actions.

Warner was awarded the Air Force’s highest noncombat award, the Airman’s Medal Nov. 27, 2018, in front of his family, friends and coworkers.

Maj. Gen. Craig La Fave, 22nd Air Force commander, presented the medal to Warner. He spoke about Warner’s many achievements.

“He is a distinguished graduate from several programs, so it wasn’t really a surprise in my mind when I saw it was him who saved those lives,” La Fave said. “He didn’t see it happen and say, ‘Hey, there is an Airman’s Medal in it for me if I do this.’ He did it because that’s the type of person he is.”

Warner is a 97th Flying Training Squadron introduction to fighter fundamentals instructor and has more than 400 combat flying hours in the F-15 Eagle.

Wolfe and his family were also in attendance for the medal presentation.

“God put him in place on that particular day,” Wolfe said. “He saved my life and my daughter’s life.”

The Airman’s Medal was established on July 6, 1960, and is awarded to those who distinguish themselves by a heroic act, usually at the voluntary risk of their life but not involving combat.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Korean leader rides personal train to China for birthday

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traveled on his personal armored train to China to spend his birthday with President Xi Jinping.

Kim arrived in Beijing on Jan 8, 2019, which is his 35th birthday.

North Korean state media aired footage of Kim walking along a long red carpet to board his family’s train, which is is bulletproof, and has white conference rooms and pink leather chairs.

He waved to the dozens of government officials and army officers who had lined up to send him off.


He was accompanied by his wife, former singer Ri Sol Ju, and at least eight other officials.

Watch clips of his departure below, as published by BBC Monitoring:

CNN reporter Matt Rivers on Jan. 8, 2019, also published video of Kim’s motorcade — at least four black cars and at least 16 motorbikes — traveling along Chang’An Avenue, a busy boulevard in central Beijing that appeared to have been cleared for Kim’s visit.

Kim and Xi are due to meet on Jan. 8, Jan. 9, and Jan. 10, 2019, Rivers said.

Kim’s trip to China — his fourth in less than a year — comes amid rumors of a second summit with US President Donald Trump.

China is North Korea’s most important trading partner, and a buffer against pressure from the US.

Trump said In early January 2019 that he is “negotiating a location” for his next meeting with Kim. White House officials have been considering Bangkok, Hanoi, and Hawaii, according to CNN.

Trump and Kim last met in Singapore in June 2018, where they agreed to work toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. However, they did not mention a timeline or provide further details on how they would work toward it.

There has also been little real progress in terms of nuclear disarmament, which is the stated aim of US engagement with North Korea.

The US wants North Korea to provide detailed accounts of its nuclear arsenal, while Pyongyang says it has done enough and now wants Washington to ease economic sanctions.

The US president said in early January 2019 that his administration has “a very good dialogue” with its North Korean counterparts, but said that sanctions will remain until they see “very positive” results.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Mark Zuckerberg’s obsession with Augustus Caesar might explain his haircut

While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was testifying about Libra cryptocurrency before the House Financial Services Committee on Oct. 23, 2019, some viewers were focused on policy — but some were focused on his hair.

One congresswoman, Rep. Katie Porter, even brought up his hair during the hearing.

One person on Twitter pointed out that the short haircut might have something to do with Zuckerberg’s fascination with first century BCE Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar.


In a 2018 New Yorker profile, Zuckerberg revealed his admiration for the emperor — he and his wife even went to Rome for their honeymoon. He told the New Yorker, “My wife was making fun of me, saying she thought there were three people on the honeymoon: me, her, and Augustus. All the photos were different sculptures of Augustus.”

Zuckerberg and his wife even named one of their daughters August, reportedly after Caesar.

All of that admiration may be why Zuckerberg’s hairdo closely resembles “The Caesar” haircut (though the style is actually named after Emperor Julius Caesar, below).

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

(Hilverd Reker/Flickr)

But Augustus, Julius Caesar’s great-nephew and adopted son, has similar hair in most statues.

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

Augustus

(Wikimedia Commons)

Facebook did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on where Zuckerberg drew inspiration for his ‘do, so while we don’t know for sure, it’s possible the Caesars’ iconic cuts were the source.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Coast Guard busts another cocaine-carrying ‘narco sub’

Coast Guard crew members aboard the cutter Valiant intercepted a self-propelled semi-submersible carrying 12,000 pounds of cocaine in the eastern Pacific Ocean, arresting four suspected smugglers in the process.

The 40-foot vessel, of a type often called a “narco sub” (though most are not fully submersible), was first detected and tracked by a maritime patrol aircraft. The Joint Interagency Task Force South, a multinational body that coordinates law-enforcement efforts in the waters around Central and South America, directed the Valiant to intercept it.


A Coast Guard release didn’t give an exact date for the seizure, saying only that it took place in September 2019 and the Valiant arrived on the scene after sunset.

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

Coast Guard crew members aboard a “narco sub” in the Pacific Ocean with a suspected smuggler, September 2019.

(US Coast Guard)

The cutter launched two small boats carrying members of its crew and two members of the Coast Guard Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team. They caught up with the narco sub in the early morning hours and boarded it with the help of the Colombian navy, which arrived a short time later.

The crew members transferred more than 1,100 pounds of cocaine from the sub to the Valiant but were unable to get the rest because of concerns about the sub’s stability. (The total value of the drugs was estimated at more than 5 million.)

“This interdiction was an all-hands-on-deck evolution, and each crew member performed above and beyond the call of duty,” Cmdr. Matthew Waldron, commanding officer of the Valiant, said in the release.

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

Members of a US Coast Guard cutter Valiant boarding team transfer narcotics between an interceptor boat and a suspected smuggling vessel in September.

(US Coast Guard)

2 ‘momentous events’

Narco subs have appeared in the waters between the US and South America for years and have only gotten more sophisticated. But they are still homemade vessels, often built in jungles in Colombia, and can be unsteady on the open ocean, particularly when law enforcement stop them to board.

Narco subs typically cost id=”listicle-2640583643″ million to million to built, but their multimillion-dollar drug cargoes more than make up for the expense.

“Colombian traffickers like to use the semi-submersibles because they are hard to detect” and cheaper than full-fledged submarines, Mike Vigil, former director of international operations at the US Drug Enforcement Administration, told Business Insider in 2018.

The vessels are typically made of fiberglass and the most expensive component is the engine. Some even have lead linings to reduce their infrared signature, Vigil said.

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf

Bales of cocaine seized from a suspected smuggling vessel on the deck of the US Coast Guard cutter Valiant in September.

(US Coast Guard)

The Coast Guard in late 2017 said it had seen a “resurgence” of low-profile smuggling vessels like narco subs.

“We’re seeing more of these low-profile vessels — 40-plus feet long … it rides on the surface, multiple outboard engines, moves 18, 22 knots … and they can carry large loads of contraband,” Coast Guard commandant Adm. Karl Schultz told Business Insider in an October 2018 interview.

Schultz and other Coast Guard officials pointed to narco subs as a sign of smugglers’ ability to adapt to pressure. The service has pursued what Schultz called a “push-out-the-border strategy,” sending ships into the Pacific to bust drugs at the point in the smuggling process when the loads are the largest.

For the Valiant, that meant this particular bust coincided with a mariner’s milestone: crossing the equator.

“There are no words to describe the feeling Valiant crew is experiencing right now,” Waldron said. “In a 24-hour period, the crew both crossed the equator and intercepted a drug-laden self-propelled semi-submersible vessel.”

Both are “momentous events in any cutterman’s career,” Waldron added. “Taken together, however, it is truly remarkably unprecedented.”

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

MIGHTY MOVIES

Ellen surprised this vet and even Robert Downey Jr. cried

Look. Surprising veterans never gets old.

And the holidays just makes it even more impactful and meaningful, which is why celebrities and talk shows often reach out and give back to troops during this time of year. Ellen is no different — but this “Greatest Night of Giveaways” just got better and better.

I watched the whole thing. With the sound on. I recommend you do the same:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIbE0TN8D6k
Robert Downey Jr. and Ellen DeGeneres Give USMC’s Roy Gill and His Mom a New Car and House! (Part 2)

www.youtube.com

Marine reservist Lance Cpl. Roy Webster and his mother were guests on the show, which already started out strong.

Since Iron Man is Webster’s favorite movie, Ellen pretended like she was going to give him a DVD of Avengers: Endgame but instead, Robert Downey Jr. popped out of a box.

This would have been enough.

But that wasn’t the surprise.

No. RDJ was just there to be an elf who help dole out more surprises.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCt89wuGlj0
USMC Lance Corporal Roy Gill’s Story: Third-Grade Teacher Helped Him Triumph Over Adversity (Part 1)

www.youtube.com

USMC Lance Corporal Roy Gill’s Story: Third-Grade Teacher Helped Him Triumph Over Adversity

The nineteen year-old Marine didn’t have an easy time growing up, but he credits his mother and his third-grade teacher for helping him learn about how to take care of others.

So Ellen decided to bring out his teacher.

THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH.

But Ellen wasn’t done. She gave the teacher and her husband an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii.

THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH!!!

But Ellen still wasn’t done. Grab some tissues and watch the first video above to see what she did next.

Happy Holidays, everybody. Take care of each other out there.

Articles

These kids volunteered to fight in the trenches in WWI

In this day and age, allowing a minor to enlist in the military and be sent off to war is practically impossible — especially with our modern tracking systems.


But at the start of the 20th century, an accurate method of recording individual troop movement hadn’t been invented; thousands of soldiers would eventually go missing through the course of the war, many of whom were actually children.

After WWI reared its ugly head, military recruiters were paid bonuses for every man they enlisted. Countless young men, many of them orphans or just seeking adventure, would simply lie about their ages to join up.

The recruiters saw dollars signs and looked past any age issues as they wrote the coercible young boy’s names down, signing them up on the spot. Many feared the thought of going off to war but thought they would look weak if they didn’t take part with their friends — the ultimate peer pressure.

Related: Here are the five finalists competing to design the World War I Memorial

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These young boys swear in to join the fight. (Source: The Great War/ YouTube/ Screenshot)

The idea was extremely controversial at the time, but it didn’t stop the boys from volunteering as they showed up to the local recruiting offices in droves. It’s estimated that 250,000 boys under the age of 18 served in the British Army alone.

Once they signed up, they were sent through some basic infantry training then whisked off the front lines.

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf
This young boy mans his post. (Source: The Great War /YouTube /Screenshot)

Most famously was John Condon, an Irishman who is believed to have been the youngest combatant killed; at the age of 14, he died during a mustard gas attack in Belgium while serving in the third battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment.

Also Read: Here’s proof that every group of military buddies mirrors the kids from the movie ‘The Sandlot’

Typically, when a soldier was “confirmed” killed in the war, his family would receive word by telegram of the passing — if the proper forms were filled out, which in too many cases they weren’t.

The military has improved in this aspect. Today, an officer and a chaplain would show up on the families’ doorstep to deliver the dreadful news.

Fun fact: The word infantry derives from Italian word “infanteria” which means “youth, foot soldier.” That is all.

MIGHTY TRENDING

American hero & aviation legend Chuck Yeager passed away at 97

On the evening of December 7, 2020, Gen. Chuck Yeager passed away in Los Angeles, California. Gen. Yeager is best known as the first person to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947. In addition to this feat, Yeager was a WWII fighter ace and accomplished test pilot.

Born on February 13, 1923 in Myra, West Virginia, Yeager enlisted as an aircraft mechanic in the U.S. Army Air Forces on September 12, 1941. Although he was not initially eligible for flight training due to his age and educational background, these standards were quickly relaxed following America’s entry into WWII. On March 10, 1943, Yeager earned his wings and was promoted to flight officer at Luke Field, Arizona. Initially trained on the Bell P-39 Aircobra, Yeager would fly the North American P-51 Mustang in combat.

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf
Lt. Chuck Yeager during WWII (U.S. Air Force)

Yeager was stationed at RAF Leiston in the UK and assigned to the 363d Fighter Squadron. He named his aircraft Glamorous Glen after his girlfriend, Glennis Faye Dickhouse, whom he married in February 1945. During the war, he flew 64 missions and is credited with at least 11 aerial kills. He scored five of these kills in one mission, making him the first pilot in his group to become an “ace in a day.” Yeager also scored one of the first kills on a jet fighter when he shot down a Messerschmitt Me 262 in his P-51. He finished out the war as a Captain.

Following the war, Yeager was assigned as a test pilot at Muroc Army Air Field, now Edwards Air Force Base, in Southern California. In 1947, he was selected to pilot the rocket-powered Bell X-1 aircraft in a bid to break the sound barrier. Two days before the flight was scheduled, Yeager broke two ribs when he fell off of a horse. Fearful that a military doctor would pull him from the flight, he sought treatment from a civilian doctor who taped his ribs up. To keep his secret, Yeager told only his wife and friend and fellow test pilot, Jack Ridley. On the day of the flight, Yeager was in so much pain that he couldn’t shut the X-1’s hatch by himself. Ridley rigged a device using a broom handle to give Yeager extra leverage and shut the hatch on his own.

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf
Yeager with Glamorous Glennis, the Bell X-1 that he piloted past the speed of sound (U.S. Air Force)

On October 14, 1947, Yeager flew the Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis at Mach 1.05 over Rogers Dry Lake in the Mojave Desert and became the first person to break the sound barrier. Following this achievement, Yeager went on to break more speed and altitude records. He was also one of the first American pilots to fly the MiG-15 jet fighter. In addition to his career as a test pilot, Yeager continued to fly as a fighter pilot. He held several squadron and wing commands in Europe and Asia during his military career. Yeager retired from the Air Force on March 1, 1975 as a Brigadier General.

Yeager remained connected to aviation during his retirement. He flew for both the Air Force and NASA as a test pilot. He also made a cameo appearance in the 1983 film The Right Stuff. In 1986, President Reagan appointed Yeager as part of the investigation into Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he set numerous light aircraft records for speed, range, and endurance.

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf
Brig. Gen. Yeager following his final flight in 2012 (U.S. Air Force)

Yeager fully retired from military test flying in 1997 after he flew past Mach 1 in an F-15D Eagle named Glamorous Glennis III on the 50th anniversary of his breaking of the sound barrier. Although the flight was meant to be his last, he continued flying with the Air Force until 2012 when he flew as a co-pilot in another F-15 past Mach 1 on the 65th anniversary of his record-breaking flight. In total, Gen. Yeager flew 201 different types of aircraft and accumulated over 14,000 flight hours.

For his achievements and valor, Yeager earned a Bronze Star with “V” Device, a Distinguished Flying Cross with two bronze oak leaf clusters, a Silver Star with bronze oak leaf cluster, the Congressional Silver Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has also been inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame, the International Space Hall of Fame, the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and the California Hall of Fame. Gen. Yeager’s decades of service and commitment to excellence in aviation will inspire future aviators for generations to come.

Awesome nonprofit helps wounded service members surf
(U.S. Air Force)
Articles

‘Timbuktu’ Is One Of The Most Important Movies Ever Made About Terrorism

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Photo: Youtube/screenshot


Violent jihadism as a governing ideology has been a significant feature of the global scene for nearly two decades.

There are certainly differences between say, the nature Al Shabaab’s control over Somalia in the early 2010s, the Taliban state’s governance of Afghanistan from 1996 until the US-led invasion in 2001, and ISIS’s “caliphate” in the present day.

But militant groups spurred by a combination of religious radicalism, violent disenchantment with the existing state system, revisionist philosophies of Islamic history, and a rejection of secularism and Enlightenment value systems have morphed into territorial political units with alarming frequency in recent years.

One such instance was in Mali in early 2012, when jihadists piggybacked on a long-simmering Tuareg autonomy movement — itself empowered by the collapse of Mali’s government in the wake of a shocking military coup — in order to take control of several population centers in Mali’s desert north. Among them was Timbuktu, a legendary center of trade and Islamic scholarship.

The jihadist occupation of Timbuktu was brutal but thankfully brief: In early 2013, a French-led coalition liberated the city after 10 months of militant control. Now, the rule of Al Qaeda-allied militants over the city is the topic of what might be the important movie of the past year.

The hypnotic and visually overwhelming “Timbuktu,” the work of Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako and an Oscar nominee for best foreign language film, is an intimate and terrifying inquiry into one of the defining authoritarian ideologies of the 21st century, as told from the perspective of the people who are actually suffering under its yoke. (The film is currently playing in New York and LA and will open in various other US cities in February and March.)

US movie audiences have usually met jihadists through the lenses of American sniper rifles, or lying prone in front of CIA interrogators. “Timbuktu” is hardly the only movie that’s portrayed them as political and social actors. “Osama,” a multi-national production about a girl living in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan that won the 2004 Golden Globe award for best foreign-language film, and Iranian director Moshen Makhmalbaf’s highly regarded “Kandahar,” about a Afghan woman who sneaks into Taliban Afghanistan to try to stop her sister from committing suicide, succeed in giving viewers a first-hand look at the societies that jihadists create and the horrors this visits upon the people trapped in them.

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Photo: Youtube/screenshot

In the wake of ISIS’s takeover of a Belgium-sized slice of the Middle East, “Timbuktu” has more immediate resonance than either of those films. The movie opens with a pickup truck of fighters flying a black flag nearly identical to ISIS’s. As the opening credits roll, the fighters eviscerate a row of traditional figurines in a hail of machine-gun fire.

But the firmest sign that jihadist rule is something external, alien, and deeply unwanted comes in the next scene, when gun-toting fighters enter a mud-brick mosque without taking their shoes off. They tell the imam that they have come to wage jihad. The imam replies that in Timbuktu, people wage jihad (which has the double meaning of spiritual reflection and self-purification, in addition to earthly holy war) with their minds and not with guns.

The next hour and a half is a grisly survey of what happened when this 1400-year-old precedent was inverted.

The jihadists ban music — one of the most celebrated aspects of Malian culture — and then whip violators in public. They ban soccer, and then break up a group of children miming a game in silent protest. The jihadists speak a smattering of local languages and broken Arabic; their leader bans smoking only to sneak cigarettes under the cover of the town’s surrounding sand dunes.

In one of the more illustrative scenes, a female fish seller is told by one jihadist that women can no longer appear in public without wearing gloves. She explains to him that she can’t work unless she’s barehanded and then dares the fighter to cut her hands off on the spot.

In “Timbuktu,” the jihadists are power-tripping, thuggish and hypocritical. They are in the city to create a totally new kind of society and revel in their own insensitivity to local concerns.

But crucially they are not entirely outsiders, and some of the film’s most affecting scenes involve a Tuareg who joins with the jihadists occupying the town, a reminder that there are local dynamics at play. Just as importantly, the film hints at the context of state collapse and social chaos that allowed the jihadists to take over in the first place.

The movie’s primary narrative follows a Tuareg herder who accidentally kills a fisherman from a different ethnic group during an argument over his cows’ access to drinking water along a disputed riverbank. The film’s central conflict encapsulates the unresolved questions of ethnicity and resources that kept northern Mali in a state of crisis that the jihadists later exploited.

The herder’s treatment at the hands of Timbuktu’s new overlords depicts the imposition of an an outside ideology. But the killing is itself is a pointed example of how social turmoil can feed into a violent, totalitarian mania seemingly without warning. It harkens back to ISIS’s swift takeover of Iraq this past summer, a national-level instance of the dynamics that “Timbuktu” manages to boil down to an intimate, dramatic scale.

“Timbuktu” has a happy ending. Even if it isn’t part of the movie, the city was eventually liberated from jihadist control. The film depicts a now-extinct regime.

But the nightmare of “Timbuktu” is far from over. The liberation of the areas that ISIS rules will come at some indeterminate future date, and parts of Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria are still under the control of extremists whose ideologies are not categorically different from what appears in the film.

“Timbuktu” is maybe the best cinematic depiction ever made of what millions of people around the world are suffering through.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Articles

‘Pin-ups for Vets’ creatively shows appreciation for veterans

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When we think about ways to give back to the veteran community and show our appreciation, we often turn to the standard monetary contributions and volunteer opportunities, but there are more creative ways to show our appreciation as well. One example of such an endeavor is the organization Pinups for Vets.

I recently had the founder of Pinups for Vets, Gina Elise, on the Military Veterans in Creative Careers podcast, and I was surprised and inspired by what she had to share. Gina started the organization in 2006 as a way to give back to the veteran community. After seeing images of veterans alone in hospital beds, and watching reports on the news of the severe injuries sustained by our troops fighting in Iraq, she became convinced that she had to do something to help raise funds to support our hospitalized veterans.

She had always been a fan of World War II nose art (on the nose of the plane), so decided to use this creative passion of hers to create calendars that could be donated to veterans and raise money for VA hospitals. Now it is a reality, and Gina not only produces the calendars, but brings a group together and goes to donate the calendars at VA hospitals, dressed as the pinups. The organization has donated over $50,000 worth of rehab equipment for VA hospitals nationwide, and has visited over 7,000 ill and injured veterans.

As you would imagine with a group that visits VA hospitals, the stories Gina had to share were touching. She mentioned a man who was in the hospital for a traumatic injury, and how they were talking with him and he responded. This wouldn’t have been a big deal, except for the fact that afterward they were told that this man had not spoken in over a month.

Navy veteran Jennifer Marshall is a return volunteer for these groups that go to VA hospitals, and shared with me the story of an elderly Navy veteran who cried because she was so happy to have this visit. The video of this touching moment is below:

Jennifer had the following to say about her volunteer experience with Pinups for Vets:

Volunteering with Pin-Ups for Vets means so much to me. On every visit, we see veterans that have not had visitors in days, weeks, or even months. Reconnecting with my brothers and sisters, regardless of era served or branch, is a unique and often beautiful experience. No veteran should ever feel lonely or go without visitors while hospitalized. I do it because not only do I value our veterans, but it makes me feel good as well. I love connecting with other vets and I think volunteer work is essential for anyone who would like to make the world a little brighter.

She also had the following experience to share, which reminds us of the need of young veterans as well:

A visit that sticks out in my mind was when we walked into a room and there were two very young veterans in their late 20s to early 30s. At the hospital, they were surrounded by elderly vets and did not really have anyone to talk to. We spent a lot of time in that room just talking and reminiscing about the service. They were so happy to have company that was around their same age, and it was a really great bonding experience. We signed their calendars and took photos to remember the day by. I still think about that visit often.

Jennifer told me she feels that, through such visits, along with the organizations active social media presence, “people are able to see that there are still veterans who not only appreciate but need the companionship.”

The website for the organization includes thank you letters from the hospitals these volunteers have been able to visit, and reading these was an inspiration in itself. One line from these letters that helped me understand the importance of the visits said their visits make “every day Veterans Day” for their residents.

We don’t want anyone to end up alone in a hospital, especially anyone who dedicated themselves to serving our country. We are fortunate that Pinups for Vets is making an effort, and can see this first hand in the commitment these men and women make to showing these veterans that they care. An example below shows Gina dancing with a veteran, a touching moment that may not change the world, but certainly shows that veteran and the others who see this that people appreciate our service and are making an effort to ensure we are not alone.
MIGHTY TRENDING

43 years after heroism, Vietnam vet receives Navy Cross

It’s the summer of 1968 in Vietnam, a sergeant with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines was forced into a position he never could have imagined. He had to lead his entire company through a deadly enemy ambush after the company commander, platoon commander and senior enlisted leadership were wounded in the fight.

These were the circumstances of Retired Marine 1st Sgt. John J. Lord, over half a century ago, during the Vietnam War.


Lord was awarded the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award for combat bravery, during a ceremony at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball celebration in Vancouver, Washington on November 17. The Navy Cross award was an upgrade from a Bronze Star that Lord received in 1975, seven years after he put himself in the crosshairs of the North Vietnamese Army when rescuing his fellow Marines who were wounded.

Lord took over command of the entire company and located one of the only working radios and then started directing air support against the enemy.

Vietnam veteran receives Navy Cross at Marine Corps Ball

www.youtube.com

The day immediately following the battle, now Retired Lt. Col. Michael Sweeney began pushing for Lord to be awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism and valor during the fight. Even after the Bronze Star was awarded, Sweeney continued to push for the Navy Cross. Finally, forty-three years later, Sweeney’s efforts bore fruit.

According to his citation, Lord’s actions helped turned the tide of the battle. However, he always stayed true to his men and their efforts during the fight.

“Everything on that citation is true except one thing they left off,” Lord said. “They left off the Marines who served with me that day.”

Four of his fellow unit members were in attendance the night of the ceremony, and stood at Lord’s behest to receive a standing ovation from all who were in attendance just like they did for Lord just moments prior.
Lord proclaimed how honored he was to serve with these Marines and how important they are to the mission.

“I can only stand here and say how proud I am to have served with you Marines — and corpsman, I won’t forget you too,” Lord said. “I am honored to call you brothers in arms.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Marine Corps. Follow @USMC on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China drives massive nuclear missile through midday traffic

The Chinese government drove a massive, nuclear-capable inter-continental ballistic missile through the streets of a large city, much to the surprise of passersby.


The weapon is believed to be a DF-41, China’s latest ICBM still in the final stages of development. It was seen making its way through a traffic circle in Daqing, a city of over one million people in Heilongjiang province.

The missile is supposedly capable of carrying large thermonuclear weapons. That includes as many as 10 smaller warheads known as multiple independent reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, which allow it to hit multiple targets with one shot. It has an estimated maximum range of 9,300 miles, putting it in the range of most of the continental U.S. To put the weapon’s range in perspective, the distance from Daqing to Washington, D.C., is only approximately 6,400 miles.

Also read: Air Force defends nuclear cruise missile

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