World War II Veteran Alyce Dixon, affectionately known as “Queen Bee” by those who know her and care for her at the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center, is now 108-years young.
Cpl. Dixon has quite a story and quite a personality. Rocking a tiara on top of her head for the occasion, she was queen for the day at the D.C. VAMC. Fellow Veterans, volunteers, staff and family members celebrated her life at a special ceremony held Sept.11.
“God has been so good,” Dixon said. “He left me here with all these lovely people and all these nice things they’re saying. I hope they mean it.”
Dixon is now the oldest living female World War II veteran according to VA records. She joined the military in 1943 and was stationed in both England and France with the postal services. She was one of the first African-American women in the Army as part of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion – the only unit of African-American women in the WAC to serve overseas during WWII.
“This has been a marvelous day. I feel real special,” Dixon said regarding the celebration that included flowers and gifts from family and friends.
Often dubbed the “Second Pearl Harbor,” the West Loch disaster in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, saw six large landing ships explode, burn, and sink on May 21, 1944, after their cargoes of ammunition and fuel caught fire. The LSTs were moored in a large formation of 34 ships preparing to take part in the invasion of Saipan in the Marianas Islands. LSTs were designed to deliver 10 fully combat-ready tanks onto beaches during amphibious landings and could carry hundreds of tons of supplies.
At Pearl Harbor, the ships were carrying mostly fuel and ammunition, including mortar rounds from a failed test to employ LSTs and their smaller cousins, landing craft tanks, as mortar platforms to support beach assaults.
Soldiers were unloading mortar shells from LCT-963 and onto trucks on LST-353 on May 21 when a fireball suddenly erupted from LST-353.
The Navy was never able to identify a definite cause, but an accident with a cigarette or a mortar round going off and igniting the gasoline fumes have been advanced as probable causes.
Regardless of how the first fire started, its progress through LST-353 was fierce, and the rising heat triggered a second, larger explosion that filled nearby ships with hot shrapnel and spread flaming debris through the docking area.
The other ships, also filled with fuel, ammunition, and other supplies, began trying to get clear while rescue vehicles rushed in to try to save sailors, Marines, and soldiers and put out the flames.
The military also lost three LCTs, 17 tracked vehicles, and eight artillery pieces.
The Navy rallied after the incident, finding new ships and men to take over the mission. The LST fleet for the invasion of Saipan launched only one day late and made it to the Marianas quickly enough to invade on schedule on June 15, 1944.
A media blackout kept most of America from hearing about the incident until it was declassified in 1960. Even today, it remains relatively unknown.
At outposts in Afghanistan and Iraq, on all the ships at sea, and wherever troops serve worldwide, flags are being flown at half-staff to honor the passing of former First Lady and military spouse Barbara Bush.
President Donald Trump called Mrs. Bush a “woman of character” in issuing the order that flags be flown at half-staff at all military installations.
“On this solemn day, we mourn the loss of Barbara Bush, an outstanding and memorable woman of character,” Trump said. “As a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, military spouse, and former First Lady, Mrs. Bush was an advocate of the American family.”
Bush, wife of the former President George H.W. Bush and mother of former President George W. Bush, died April 17, 2018, at age 92 at the family home in Houston, Texas. She was a Navy wife in World War II as her husband served in the Pacific.
Mrs. Bush was only the second woman in American history to have a son follow his father to the White House. Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams, was the first.
In his statement, Trump said he was ordering flags flown at half-staff “at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations,” and “throughout the United States and its territories and possessions until sunset, on the day of interment.”
“I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations,” he said.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) works on some very outlandish projects. One of its stated mission goals is to cause “technological surprise” for America’s enemies. Basically, they want enemy fighters to get to the battlefield, look at what they’re facing off against, and go, “What the hell?”
These are the DARPA projects that make that a reality.
1. Airships that can haul 2 million pounds of gear
Yeah, they’re back. DARPA’s attempt at new airships was scrapped in 2006 due to technology shortcomings, but the project was revived in 2013. The goal is for a craft that can carry up to two million pounds halfway around the world in five days. This would allow units to quickly deploy with all of their gear. Tank units would be left out though, unless they suddenly had a …
2. A super-fast lightweight vehicle that drives itself
The Ground X-Vehicle looks like a spider mated with a four-wheeler. Troops could directly control it or simply select a destination and focus on the intel the vehicle provides. Either way, the vehicle would decide how to deal with incoming attacks, ducking, sidestepping, or absorbing them as necessary.
3. Aerial platforms that allow drones to land and refuel
Flying platforms for landing and fueling drones would keep the U.S. drone program well ahead of its enemies, especially combined with the project to have drones fight as a pack. Hopefully these will be more successful than the last airborne carriers the military made.
4. Robots that gather intel and eat plants for fuel
The unmanned ground vehicle programs at DARPA want a UGV that could conduct reconnaissance indefinitely without needing to be refueled. The Energy Autonomous Tactical Robot will do that by eating plants and converting them to energy. It would also be able to steal enemy fuel when necessary.
5. Remote-controlled bugs that spy on the bad guys
Basically, remote control bugs that provide power to sensor backpacks. DARPA has already implanted control devices into pupae (insects transitioning into adults) and created electrical generators that use the insects movements for power. Now, they just have to couple those technologies with tiny sensors and find a way to make them communicate with each other and an operator who would collect intelligence from the insects.
6. Cameras that can see from every angle
DARPA isn’t sure yet how this would work, but they’re looking for ways to use the plenoptic function to create a sensor that can see an area from every angle. Though it would work differently, this would give capabilities like Jack Black has in “Enemy of the State.”
7. Nuclear-powered GPS trackers
Don’t worry, the nuclear material is for determining velocity, not powering anything or exploding. The military has trouble directing vehicles and missiles in areas where GPS signals might be blocked or scrambled, like when submarines are underwater. Chip-Scale Combinatorial Atomic Navigator (C-SCAN) is very technical, but it would allow precise navigation without a GPS signal by precisely measuring atoms from nuclear decay.
8. Brain implants that could hold the key to defeating post-traumatic stress.
Strictly for therapy, DARPA promises. The idea may be a little unsettling, but SUBNETS (Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies) would allow electrical currents in the brain to be mapped and then altered. This could be a major breakthrough for PTSD and traumatic brain injury sufferers.
9. Pathogens that fight back against enemy biological weapons.
One of the emerging threats to U.S. operations is biological weapons using antibiotic resistant bacteria. DARPA wants to nip it in the bud before an enemy can cause massive infections to American forces or civilians. To do so, they’re investigating pathogens that could be cultured and deployed in victims of attacks. These killers would seek out the bacteria wreaking havoc and murder it on a microscopic level.
A female Marine graduated from the Corps’ grueling Infantry Officer Course Monday, marking a historic feat as the first woman to earn the 0302 infantry officer military occupational specialty.
The woman, who has asked to keep her identity private, will now be assigned to the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, the service said in a release.
“I am proud of this officer and those in her class who have earned the infantry officer MOS,” Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said in a statement.
Infantry Officer Course is one of the Corps’ toughest schools, where officers learn combat skills, patrolling, and leadership over 13 weeks of training. Just 88 Marines graduated from the latest class, which started with 131 students.
IOC was first opened to women in 2012 so that Marine leaders could research the feasibility of integrating all-male infantry units. Eventually, the Pentagon removed all restrictions on women in 2015.
Since the course opened up, more than 30 female officers have attempted it and failed. Meanwhile, a handful of enlisted female Marines have been able to graduate from the Corps’ Infantry Training Battalion.
“This is such a huge deal,” Kate Germano, a retired lieutenant colonel who previously commanded the all-female 4th Recruit Training Battalion, wrote on Twitter.
The Corps released a short video with clips of the female lieutenant during the course:
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
Tech. Sgt. Wayne Cowen, an 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, loads ammunition into a .50 caliber machine gun on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 4, 2017. As a special missions aviator, Cowen is a jack-of-all-trades; he conducts pre-flight inspections, maintains the aircraft systems while airborne and employs the aircraft weapons systems in the event of an attack.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Will Andreotta, F-35 Heritage Flight Team Pilot, performs during the New York Air Show at Stewart International Airport, N.Y., July 2, 2017. Andreotta and his team perform at approximately 16 air shows a year, showcasing the Air Force’s newest fifth-generation aircraft to millions of spectators.
U.S. Army veteran Jhoonar Barrera wins gold medal in cycling event for the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Chicago, Ill., July 6, 2017. The DOD Warrior Games are an annual event allowing wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans in Paralympic-style sports including archery, cycling, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and wheelchair basketball.
Members of 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment fire from their howitzers to represent each of the 50 states during the Fourth of July Spectacular, July 4, 2017. The event was open to the public, included games, rides, entertainment and food.
Sailors provide security as family and friends prepare to watch a 4th of July fireworks show over San Diego from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt is pierside in its homeport of San Diego.
Lt. Miranda Krasselt and Lt. Chris Williams signal for the launch of an F/A-18F Super Hornet, from the Diamondbacks of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, on the flight deck of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
U.S. Marine Sgt. Zane Ashby assigned to Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (BLT 3/6) uses a M40A6 sniper rifle to shoot at a simulated target during an integrated team exercise aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) July 1, 2017. The ship is deployed with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet and U.S. 5th Fleet areas of operations.
A Marine with 3rd Battalion 6th Marine Regiment fires the M4-A4 rifle on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) during a deck shoot July 3, 2017. Marines with the 24th MEU conduct annual training while deployed with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group to stay mission ready and maintain Marine Corps standards. Bataan and its ARG are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.
A rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco is on display at the inaugural Coast Guard Festival in Alameda, California July 4, 2017
Crewmembers from Coast Guard Cutter Katherine Walker watch the fireworks in New York City during the Macy’s Day Fireworks show on July 4, 2017. The Katherine Walker is a 175-foot Buoy Tender based in Bayonne, New Jersey.
This week’s Borne the Battle episode features Navy Veteran and New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr. He discusses his dreams of becoming a Navy SEAL and author. Through his enthusiasm for reading and on military-science novels, Carr’s dreams became a reality.
Carr’s two career goals were inspired by two people. The first person was his grandfather, a Marine who fought and died during World War II. The second person was his mother, a librarian who instilled in him a love of reading. It was this love that helped him on his path to reading about and eventually joining Navy SEAL teams.
During his Navy SEAL career, Carr led special operations teams as a team leader, platoon commander, troop commander, task unit commander, operations officer and executive officer. In the interview, he shares how his military experience and travels allowed him to develop and share realistic stories for his novels.
Additionally, he shares his mindset about his military transition, tips for entering the publishing world and how combining all his previous experiences led him to publish three political thrillers. His fourth novel is scheduled to be released in April.
In addition, he supports Veterans through his own unique merchandise, where 100% of the profits go to Veteran-related charities. He is also an ambassador for theRescue 22 Foundation. A SEAL teammate who trained a service dog for Jack’s special needs child introduced him to the foundation.
Finally, he shared the story and business behind Chris Pratt optioning his book for an upcoming series on Amazon Prime.
The Air Force has made a number of moves to reduce its shortage of active-duty pilots, including bringing on more retired pilots to administrative roles in order to keep qualified fliers in the air.
Now the service is looking to expand the number of pilots it draws in from the Air National Guard and Reserve to fill vacancies across the active-duty force.
On Oct. 1, the Total Force Aircrew Management — Assignment Augmentation Process grew from 10 positions to 30, in an effort to bring active reserve-component fighter pilots who are available and interested into the active-duty force for two to three years, according to an Air Force release.
“This is a growing total-force program,” said Maj. Walt Ehman, head of the TFAM-AAP. “It enables all air components to help fill pilot-assignment positions around the world.” (Positions are only open to fighter pilots and fighter-combat-systems officers, however.)
The TFAM-AAP, started in 2014, brings together the management of active-duty, Air Guard, and Reserve aircrew resources, whereas previously each component had its own office overseeing officers and career enlisted airmen.
“TFAM enables the use of a single agreed-upon model, in one office, to make training and resource decisions, provide policy guidance, and make integrated recommendations to solving problems like aircrew shortfalls,” Ehman said.
Boosting TFAM-AAP openings is one of many initiatives the Air Force is pursuing to improve retention, production, and absorption.
On the retention side, a number of quality-of-life improvements have been implemented, including reducing administrative duties for pilots and increasing pay and bonuses.
To boost production, the Air Force is considering outsourcing some aspects of training, like adversary-pilot duties, as well as partnering with external organizations to augment the training process.
The Air Force’s Voluntary Rated Return to Active Duty, or VRRAD, program is also open to up to 25 retired fliers from any pilot specialty code who elect to return to fill “critical-rated staff positions,” allowing active-duty pilots to stay with units where they are needed to meet mission requirements.
An amended executive order signed by President Donald Trump earlier this month also allows the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 pilots to active duty for up to three years. However, Brig. Gen. Mike Koscheski, director of the Air Force’s aircrew crisis task force, has said the service doesn’t intended to force anyone back into active duty.
Rather, he told Military.com, the executive order is an addendum to the VRRAD, giving the Air Force “more access to more retirees” for a longer period of time. Koscheski said the order opened the VRRAD program to personnel who could act as instructors.
The Air Force’s component forces are about 1,500 pilots short of the 20,300 they are required to have. According to Koscheski, 1,300 of those absent are fighter pilots.
Like any other desperate marketing campaign, ISIS terrorists are looking to go viral using #JustinBieber in their tweets. The reason is simple enough: Bieber has more Twitter followers than anyone else in the world.
Bieber’s fans, known as “Beliebers,” skew young, between 10-15 years old, making them a prime target for the terror organization in a way that would earn them a visit from Chris Hansen, host of “To Catch a Predator.”
So, instead of seeing a music video featuring the young singer, when readers click the link they get a fat man going off about how terrible the West is (while wearing U.S. Marine Corps uniforms, an irony that seems lost on him).
ISIS currently is tweeting up to 90,000 times a day for various accounts, many times targeting disaffected youth from the West and worldwide, urging them to travel to Syria to become fighters and brides.
Mortars used to be considered artillery weapons because they lob hot metal shells, sometimes filled with explosives, down on the enemy’s heads.
But the mortar migrated to the infantry branch, and the frontline soldiers who crew the weapon maneuver into close ranges with the enemy and then rain hell down upon them. Here’s what makes the mortarman so lethal:
1. Mortarmen can emplace their system and fire it quickly
2. Mortars can maintain a relatively high rate of fire
3. The mortar crew is located near the front, so it can observe and direct its own fire
4. Mortars are often in direct communication with battlefield leaders, allowing them to quickly react to changes in the combat situation
5. Mortars can be equipped with different fuzes, allowing the weapon’s effects to be tailored to different situations
A 120mm mortar shell airbursts. Mortars can be set to detonate a certain distance from the ground, after a certain time of flight, upon hitting the surface, or a certain amount of time after hitting the surface. It all depends on what fuzes are equipped and how they are set. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Gustavo Olgiati)
6. Most mortars are relatively light, allowing them to be jumped, driven, or even rucked into combat
7. This mobility allows them to “shoot and scoot” and to stay at the front as the battle lines shift
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Timothy Valero)
8. Mortarmen are still infantry, and they can put their rifles into operation at any point
Speaking shortly after the encounter, Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell, the commander of the USS George HW Bush carrier strike group, described Iran’s behaviour as “unprofessional” and “harassment”.
On Saturday, the spokesman of the Iranian armed forces, Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, responded, saying: “News disseminated by the US sources concerning unprofessional behaviour of Iranian vessels is not true”.
“We warn again that the US armed forces should change their behaviour,” Brig Gen Jazayeri was quoted as saying by Iran’s official IRNA news agency.
He blamed the United States for any kind of unrest in the Arabian Gulf.
Following Tuesday’s incident – in which one of the carrier’s helicopters was also threatened by an Iranian vessel, according to the US navy – Captain Pennington said he saw the main security threat in the Gulf as the “instability and a lack of predictability we currently see from Iran”.
He said this lack of predictability had been growing over the last three or four months.
Last year, there were 527 interactions between US and Iranian naval forces, 35 of which included Iranian activity deemed to be unsafe or unprofessional by US Naval Forces Central Command (Navcent).
Navcent has deemed Iran’s behaviour to be unsafe or unprofessional on six occasions so far this year, including on March 4 when a group of Revolutionary Guard vessels came within 550 metres of a US navy surveillance ship, the USNS Invincible. One of the vessels came to a standstill in the path of the ship and the USNS Invincible was forced to change course to avoid collision, Navcent said.
Revolutionary Guard navy commander Admiral Mehdi Hashemi claimed the US ship had acted unprofessionally, IRNA reported on Saturday.
It “exited from international route and changed its way toward [Revolutionary Guard] navy vessels present in the region and got as close as 550 metres to Iranian vessels”, Admiral Hashemi said.
Tuesday’s incident involving the USS George HW Bush took place as the carrier was on its way to the northern Gulf to launch air strikes on ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Navcent said on Friday that strikes on the group had begun. The carrier also launched strikes on ISIL while in the eastern Mediterranean last month.
The Navy budget gives the service its long-sought-after F/A-18 Super Hornet increase by adding 14 fighters and more than $1 billion in procurement funds — all as part of a sweeping effort to increase the F-18 fleet size, meet mission requirements, accommodate new technologies, and ultimately fly alongside the F-35C through the 2040s.
Given the recent war-driven op-tempo involving global deployments and air strikes on ISIS, most of the F/A-18 E/F fleet, on average, has already consumed more half of its 6,000-flight hour expected service life. As a result, there has been a long-standing, multi-year Navy effort to acquire new F/A-18s in larger numbers to address urgent needs from combatant commanders.
When the F/A-18A and F/A-18C reach 8,000 flight hours, they are sent to the depot for service life extension upgrades with the hope of getting the airframes to 10,000 hours. However, many of the older aircraft are in need of substantial repairs and, in recent years, a large percentage of the Navy’s fleet of older Hornets have not been in service.
“Extension of legacy Hornet life requires additional inspections and deep maintenance that were not originally envisioned for the aircraft. Average repair time has significantly increased because of required engineering of unanticipated repairs, material lead times, and increased corrosion of airframes,” the Navy budget document writes.
As part of a specific effort to address this scenario, the Navy’s new budget request increases fund for civilian maintenance personnel hiring, depot-level maintenance work, and sustainment initiatives. The goal of this, according to Navy budget documents, is to “decrease the time to complete depot level maintenance caused by the number of high flight hours.”
Navy officials have told Warrior Maven that modifications include replacing the center barrel (section) and ensuring the airframe structures achieve 100% service life. Additional modifications increase the total landing limit and modifications to catapult attachment components can be incorporated to extend total catapults, service developers have described.
A carrier air wing consists of about 44 strike aircraft made up of two 10-aircraft squadrons and two 12-plane squadrons complemented by several electrical jamming aircraft.
The current composition of most carrier-based air wings includes 24 Super Hornets and 20 Hornets, however the Navy plans to replace some of its existing Hornets with F-35Cs. Although the budget does increase F-35C acquisition as well, the emergence of the carrier-launched stealth fighter will not remove combatant commanders need for the F-18.
The Navy had been planning for the Super Hornets to serve well into the 2030s, but now service leaders say that timeline will need to extend into the 2040s.
The Navy plans to acquire as many as 60 new F-35C aircraft over the next five years, according to the service budget request.
The Pentagon has announced plans to replace the Afghan air force’s inventory of Russian-built Mi-17 “Hip” utility helicopters with American ones, stating that the purchase has turned out to be a bad deal.
According to a report by the Washington Times, the Hips will be replaced by UH-60 Blackhawks. The Russian-built helicopters reportedly were maintenance nightmares, with the Afghan Air Force unable to keep up with the logistical supported needed to address constant breakdowns.
The Hips were initially chosen because defense planners thought Afghan pilots would be more familiar with the Russian-built helicopters. The Obama Administration had praised the Mi-17 in its last report on operations in Afghanistan, calling it the “workhorse” of the Afghan air force. The report noted that 56 Hips were authorized, and 47 were available.
According to Militaryfactory.com, the Mi-17 “Hip” has a crew of three and can carry a wide variety of offensive loads, including rocket pods, 23mm gun pods, and even anti-tank missiles. Army-Technology.com notes that the Russian-built helicopter can carry up to 30 troops.
Over 17,000 Mi-17s and the earlier version, the Mi-8, have been built since the Mi-8 first flew in 1961. The Hip has also been widely exported across the globe, being used by over 20 countries, including China, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Iraq.
By comparison, the UH-60 Blackhawk, which also has a crew of three, can only carry 11 troops, according to manufacturer Lockheed Martin. However, the 13th Edition of the Combat Leader’s Field Guide notes that with the seats removed, a Blackhawk can carry up to 22 troops.
The Blackhawk is limited to door guns as its armament. Militaryfactory.com notes that the Blackhawk is used by 26 countries, including Poland, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Argentina, Thailand, and Israel.
Some countries have both the UH-60 and Mi-17 in their inventories, notably Iraq, Argentina, China, Thailand, and Mexico.