Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music

The mission of Operation Song is to promote and support healing for veterans and military families by telling their stories through songwriting. These stories and songs are vitally important for the holiday season, too. 

Bob Regan is the President and original founder of Operation Song. He was a songwriter who was inspired while touring overseas in the early 2000s, seeing the transformative power music could have on America’s troops. As more and more injured service members returned home, he knew music could be a vital tool for healing hurt. The program itself started with weekly sessions at his local VA Medical Center in Tennessee, with the support of a music therapist. 

Since its official founding in 2012, he and other gifted songwriters have written hundreds of songs. Some of the most profound were even written about the holidays, one in particular was written that first year of operating. “A group of maybe five veterans, none with any musical experience, met at the Alvin C York VA when it was getting close to Christmas. The conversation turned to being deployed over the holidays,” Regan shared. That conversation turned into an unforgettable songwriting session later on that created Peace on Earth

The haunting words offer a deep look at what it’s like to be deployed during the holiday season. “This time of year I hear the hymn, ‘peace on earth, goodwill towards men’. But getting in the spirit is kinda hard; when you are in a tent in Kandahar.” The song goes on to talk about how the servicemember wished they could be home with their family but will keep doing what they have to and pray that one day all wars will end. It’s a stark reminder to those experiencing the quarantines that our troops have spent far more time away from their own families long before COVID-19.

The songwriting session was filled with raw and personal stories. “There were maybe six veterans of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. They began sharing stories of what it was like to be deployed over the holidays. Several stories were shared but we based the song around one veteran’s experience in Kandahar, Afghanistan since there were still a large number of troops serving there in 2012,” Regan explained. Less than an hour later, the song was complete. 

Words like “I stand guard on this silent night” continue to bring home the reminder that not everyone can be home for Christmas. Peace on Earth was important for Regan and the team at Operation Song to get out, he said. “To remind people that there are those serving far from home during this and every holiday season. Also that we can always hope, pray, and work for peace on earth, no matter where we are or how remote a possibility it may seem,” he shared. 

operation song

For many veterans, the memories of missed holidays are hard to process. It’s time and moments they can never get back. Operation Song opened the door for these veterans to share their deeply personal feelings about missing home, creating the space for healing. But despite the heartache of being deployed or standing duty during the holidays, it’s something most veterans will never truly regret. 

The mission of Operation Song is to bring veterans back, one song at a time. Through the powerful impact of telling their stories through music the burden and weight of heartache tends to dissipate. This Christmas, remember your veterans and active service members. Some are standing guard right now for your freedoms while others are still remembering things they’d rather not. Never forget.

To learn more about Operation Song and what they do, click here.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These Guardian Angels have pulled off over 1,105 rescues

When a teenager became seriously ill on a cruise ship hundreds of miles off the California coast, the call arrived at the 129th Rescue Wing in Silicon Valley. Within hours, the California Air National Guard unit would tally its 1,105th rescue.


Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music
Sailors assigned to the frigate USS Vandegrift (FFG48) help rescue a family with a sick infant in the ship’s small boat as part of a joint U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and California Air National Guard effort in the Pacific Ocean, April 6, 2014. The family and four Air National Guard pararescuemen were safely moved from the sailboat to Vandegrift, which then transited to San Diego. (U.S. Navy photo)

From their Moffett Federal Airfield home in Mountain View, Calif., the 129th’s rescue squadrons operate the MC-130P Combat Shadow airplane and the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter. When paired with airmen highly-skilled in medical trauma and airborne ops — pararescuemen (fondly referred to as PJs) and combat rescue officers — these squadrons form “Guardian Angel” teams for peacetime or combat rescue at sea or on land.

Peacetime rescues, such as in remote mountainous terrain or vessels in treacherous sea conditions, can be just as high-risk as those in combat zones. Guardian Angel teams can venture 1,000 miles or more into the Pacific, rescues that require multiple aerial refuelings for helicopters and over-the-water parachute jumps into the Pacific to reach victims or stricken vessels.

That was the case in 2014, when Guardian Angels with the 129th were dispatched to rescue a 1-year-old toddler ill at sea; the child was on a 36-foot family sailboat that was sinking 900 miles west of the coast of Mexico due to damaged steering controls. PJs parachuted from an MC-130p turboprop with a raft they used to reach the sailboat.

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music
A Guardian Angel pararescueman from the 131st Rescue Squadron, prepare a litter carrying a civilian patient to be hoisted onto an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter during an over water rescue mission, Jan. 17, 2017. California Air National guardsmen from the 129th Rescue Wing performed a personnel recovery mission of the seriously ill 14-year-old boy on board a cruise liner, the STAR PRINCESS, approximately 450 miles off the coast of San Diego, California. (Courtesy photo by Lt. Col Kathryn Hodge)

The Navy joined in the mission, sending the USS Vandegrift to intercept the team, bring the toddler and her family to its medical department, and tow the sailboat to San Diego. The PJs got a ride back to shore, too.

The latest mission this week also was a rescue on the high seas. A 14-year-old passenger on the cruise ship Star Princess reportedly suffered seizures and required immediate but higher-level medical care. The ship was 450 miles off the coast.

The Coast Guard and the Air Force coordinated the rescue, sending two of the wing’s Pave Hawk helicopters — each with a two-person Guardian Angel team — to the cruise ship. But the long distance required those helicopters get refueled en route. A KC-130J Hercules refueler with the San Diego-based Marine Aerial Refueling Transport Squadron 352 launched from Miramar Marine Corps Air Station.

“What it takes to coordinate something like this is a massive undertaking, and it has to be done safely. Literally hundreds of people are involved,” Lt. Col. Kathryn Hodge, the mission medical director and flight surgeon, who flew on the mission, said in the news story.

When the Pave Hawks reached the cruise ship, the Guardian Angel PJs hoisted down to the deck, stabilized the teen, and hauled themselves back into the helicopter, along with the teen’s father. With refueling support from an MC-130P for the return flight, the rescue helicopter and team took the patient to Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego.

“It’s always good and you feel really rewarded at the end of the day. But that’s not why we do it. We do it so that others may live and to save lives however we can,” Master Sgt. Sean Kirsch, a PJ, said in the statement. “When you bring a 14-year-old American boy home to receive better medical care and he makes it there and he’s in stable shape or better than we you pick him up, is pretty rewarding.”

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music
An HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter from the 129th Rescue Wing hovers over the Chinese fishing vessel Fu Yuan Yu #871, March 12, 2012. Guardian Angel Pararescuemen from the wing rescued two fishermen who were burned in a diesel fire onboard the vessel more than 700 miles off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico. (Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class John Pharr)

The 129th Rescue Wing took on the rescue mission in 1975. In September 2008, the 129th Wing was credited with rescuing 34 people (and 11 dogs) after Hurricane Ike struck the Gulf Coast. The following year, during a combat deployment to southern Afghanistan, the wing tallied more than 180 lives saved.

While its location, aircraft, and higher commands changed over the years, the 129th has maintained its role in rescue and personnel recovery for both state and federal missions.

MIGHTY TRENDING

These are the weapons the US would use in war with North Korea

The United States has substantial air, land, and sea forces stationed in South Korea


As well as several units based in Japan and the western Pacific earmarked for a Korean contingency. Together, these forces far exceed the firepower of North Korea’s armed forces and represent a powerful deterrent not just against Pyongyang but any potential adversary in the region.

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music
A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. (Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)

The first U.S. forces that would be involved in a North-South Korean conflict are those currently based in South Korea. On the ground, the U.S. Army rotates a new armored brigade into South Korea every nine months — currently the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Each brigade is manned by 3,500 soldiers and consists of three combined arms battalions, one cavalry (reconnaissance) battalion, one artillery battalion, one engineer and one brigade support battalion. Armored brigade combat teams typically consist of approximately 100 M1A2 Abrams tanks, 100 M2A3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and eighteen M109-series self-propelled howitzers.

Also Read: North and South Korea just took an enormous step back from war

The army in South Korea also maintains the 2nd Infantry Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade, equipped with approximately sixty Apache attack helicopters, Blackhawk, and Chinook transports. The 210th Artillery Brigade, equipped with M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems provides long-range artillery fire, while the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade provide Patriot missile coverage of Osan and Suwon Air Force Bases. The 35th Brigade also operates the AN/TPY-2 missile defense radar and six Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launch vehicles recently sent to the country to beef up anti-missile defenses.

The other major component of American power in Korea is U.S. tactical aviation. The U.S. Air Force maintains the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base, consisting of the 25th Fighter Squadron at equipped with A-10C Thunderbolt II ground attack jets and the 36th Fighter Squadron with F-16C/D Fighting Falcon fighters (about forty-eight aircraft in all). The 8th (“Wolfpack”) Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base consists of the 35th and 80th Fighter Squadrons, which fly a total of forty-five F-16C/Ds. The A-10Cs have the mission of close air support, while the F-16C/Ds are responsible for air interdiction, close air support, and counter-air.

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music
The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, including the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), operate with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group including, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), CVW-5, USS Shiloh (CG 67), USS Barry (DDG 52), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS Mustin (DDG 89), and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships (JS) Hyuga (DDH 181) and JS Ashigara (DDG 178) in the western Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Z.A. Landers)

Beyond the Korean Peninsula, the United States maintains an array of forces ready to intervene. U.S. military forces in Japan include the forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, two guided missile cruisers and seven guided missile destroyers. Many of the cruisers and destroyers have ballistic missile defense capability although two of the destroyers, Fitzgerald and McCain, are out of action due to collisions with civilian merchantmen. The Reagan and surface warships are all based at Yokosuka, Japan.

Further south, Sasebo, Japan is the home of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard and the ships of its amphibious task force. Together, this amphibious force can lift a marine infantry battalion reinforced with armor, artillery and aviation assets collectively known as Marine Expeditionary Unit. Sasebo is also the home of the 7th Fleet’s four minesweepers. The result is a well-balanced force that can execute a wide variety of missions, from ballistic missile defense to an amphibious assault.

Farther north in Japan, the U.S. Air Force’s 35th Fighter Wing is located at Misawa, Japan. The 35th Wing specializes in suppressing enemy air defenses (SEAD) and is trained to destroy enemy radars, missile systems, and guns to allow other friendly aircraft a freer hand in flying over the battlefield. The wing flies approximately forty-eight F-16C/Ds split among the 13th and 14th Fight Squadrons. Near Tokyo, the USAF’s 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base flies C-130 Hercules, C-130J Super Hercules, UH-1N Huey and C-12J Huron aircraft.

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music
Four U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando IIs from the 17th Special Operations Squadron break out of a formation June 22, 2017 off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, during a mass launch training mission. Airmen from the 17th SOS conduct training operations often to ensure they are always ready to perform a variety of high-priority, low-visibility missions throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific-Region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

Marine Corps units are spread out across Japan, with Marine fixed-wing aviation, including a squadron of F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, tankers, and logistics aircraft stationed at MCAS Iwakuni, the only Marine Corps air station on mainland Japan. Three squadrons of Marine helicopter units are stationed at MCAS Futenma on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Marine ground forces include the 4th Marines, a marine infantry regiment with three battalions, and the 12th Marines, an artillery regiment with two battalions of artillery.

Also on Okinawa is the sprawling Kadena Air Base, home of the 44th and 67th fighter squadrons, both of which fly the F-15C/D Eagle fighter. Kadena is also home to a squadron of K-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft, a squadron of E-3 Sentry airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft, and two rescue squadrons. Farther from a potential Korean battlefield (but still in missile range) Kadena would act as a regional support hub for American airpower, with AWACS aircraft monitoring the skies and controlling aircraft missions while tankers refueled bombers, transports, and aircraft on long-range missions.

The next major American outpost in the Pacific, Guam, is home to Submarine Squadron 15, four forward-deployed nuclear attack submarines supported by the permanently moored submarine tender USS Frank Cable. Naval special warfare units are also based on the island. An army THAAD unit was deployed to the island in 2013 to protect against North Korean intermediate range ballistic missiles.

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music
Four B-1B Lancers assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, arrive Feb. 6, 2017, at Andersen AFB, Guam. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger)

Guam is also home to Andersen Air Force Base. Andersen typically hosts a variety of heavy aircraft, including B-1B Lancer strategic bombers from Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence Mission, KC-135 tankers and RQ-4 Global Hawk drones. Andersen served as a jumping off point for bomber raids against North Vietnam and today would see a surge of B-1B, B-2A and B-52H bombers from the continental United States in the event of a flare-up in Korea.

U.S. forces in the northwest Pacific are considerable, amounting to two ground combat brigades, approximately seven wings of fighters and attack aircraft, a handful of strategic bombers, an aircraft carrier, submarines, hundreds of cruise missiles and an amphibious assault task force. That already formidable force can be swiftly augmented by even more combat forces from Hawaii, Alaska, and the continental United States, including F-22A Raptors, airborne troops, and more aircraft carriers, submarines, and bombers. It is a robust, formidable, adaptable force capable of taking on a variety of tasks, from disaster relief to war.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The US Army wants a cannon that can hit targets in the South China Sea

The US Army wants a cannon that can fire a round over 1,000 miles, with the aim to blow a hole in Chinese warships in the South China Sea should a conflict occur, according to Army senior leadership.

“You can imagine a scenario where the Navy feels that it cannot get into the South China Sea because of Chinese naval vessels, or whatever,” Secretary of the Army Mark Esper revealed Jan. 23, 2019, “We can — from a fixed location, on an island or some other place — engage enemy targets, naval targets, at great distances and maintain our standoff and yet open the door, if you will, for naval assets or Marine assets.”


The Army, relying heavily on the newly-established Army Futures Command, is undergoing its largest modernization program in decades, and it is doing so with a renewed focus on China and Russia, the foremost threats to US power in the National Defense Strategy.

A key priority for the new four-star command is Long-Range Precision Fires, a team which aims to develop artillery that can outrange top adversaries like Russia and China.

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music

Soldiers fire 155 mm rounds using an M777 Howitzer weapons system.

(U.S. Army photo by Evan D. Marcy)

“Our purpose is to penetrate and disintegrate enemy anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) systems, which will enable us to maintain freedom of maneuverability as we exploit windows of opportunity,” Col. John Rafferty, head of the LRPF cross-functional team, explained to reporters in October 2018.

The Chinese and Russians have made significant advancements in the development of effective stand-off capabilities. Now, the Army is trying to turn the tables on them.

“You want to be outside the range that they can hit you,” Esper told Task Purpose Jan. 23, 2019.

“Why was the spear developed? Because the other guy had a sword. A spear gives you range. Why was the sling developed? Because the spear closed off the range of the sword,” he explained. “You want to always have standoff where you can strike without being struck back. That’s what extended-range cannon artillery gives us.”

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music

An M777A2 155 mm howitzer.

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Katelyn Hunter)

The ERCA is an ongoing project that may eventually create opportunities for the development of a supergun with the ability to fire a round over 1,000 miles. The extended-range cannon artillery currently has a range of 62 miles, which is already double the range of the older 155 mm guns.

The Army is also looking at adapting current artillery for anti-ship warfare.

During the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises in 2018, Army soldiers fired multiple rockets from High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) at the ex-USS Racine during a combined arms sinking exercise. The drill highlighted what a war with China in the Pacific might look like.

China has one of the world’s largest navies, and there is significant evidence that it intends to use its growing military might to drive the US out of the region.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Best Sniper competition held at Fort Benning

Last week was Infantry Week at Fort Benning, GA, an entire week dedicated to celebrating some of the most sought-after awards and training events. This year’s schedule included Best Sniper and Best Ranger. 

First up was Best Sniper, where teams of two soldiers competed in a three-day event through an array of tests and obstacles, including close-up shots with pistols, to those where they must hit targets 600+ meters away with a rifle, as well as shotgun events. The entire competition is built off of individual and collective tasks focused around key Army Sniper Course basic teachings, like increasing validity and survivability through reconnaissance.

Competitors traveled from across the nation and from various branches of the military; Marines and members of the Coast Guard were present in this year’s event. 

Last year’s competition was canceled due to COVID-19, and the event hasn’t fulfilled its international status since 2018. 

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music
This years winners, the team from the Special Forces Sniper Course took first place in the U.S. Army Best Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Georgia, April 15, 2021. Sgts. 1st Class Daniel Posey and William Greytak scored the most points in the multi-day competition that involved two-person teams from across the Army. (U.S. army photos by Markeith Horace, Fort Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence Public Affairs)

Best Sniper competitors for 2021 gathered for a chance to win different titles, including: Field Craft Award, which encompasses land navigation, target detection, and night range estimation; Top Pistol; Coach’s Award; and Iron Man, for the team with the fastest time; and the coveted title of Best Sniper. 

SFC Zachary Small, NCOIC for the Best Sniper Competition 2021, said, “I think the community needed this, i think the competitors needed this, and I know the coaches absolutely needed this.” 

On describing the design, he said: “The competition was based on creating realism with some of the events. It’s kind of difficult to replicate combat scenarios, but trying to make it as realistic as humanly possible was primarily the goal here.” 

The teams participated in an event called Flavortown where users gave away their position at the top of a building, then had to remove targets and exfil from the top of the structure. Other events included night range estimation, with some items in an urban setting and others in a woodland point of view. Physical tests were also brought in, such as the standard two-mile run, Small said, but with teams wearing uniforms and boots. 

Certain technologies were also banned to test soldiers’ abilities without certain equipment, he said. Land navigation was done with SUAs (small unmanned aircraft system) and UAVs (unmanned air vehicles) trying to find the competitors in the woods. 

Because different units have their own weapon systems, which tend to vary, SFC Small said competitors were restricted to using certain calibers. For their primary weapon they shot a .300 Win Mag and for their secondary, 7.62 mm.

“It’s an overall problem solving competition, he said. “It’s cool because you get to see how different services handle the problems mentally and their solution to the problem physically.”

As for the competition being held at Benning, Small said they had overwhelming support from leadership, ForceCom, Special Operation Forces, and sister services. 

“The benefit of having other sister services is increasing the interoperability. We’re branching out and get to talk to other subject matter experts.” 

A team consisting of First Sergeant Guillermo Roman and Staff Sergeant William Orr, former Sniper instructors and current hunting buddies, joined forces in their first sniper competition. Previously, they had worked and coached shooting events. 

“It’s a different kind of stress, it’s more fun than I thought it would be,” Orr said. “It’s much more mentally stressful to see your time tick away, as opposed to seeing your target get away while you’re going through the process.” 

As previous Sniper instructors, Roman agreed that they know the process, but the time pressure is the most difficult aspect to get used to. 

“We’ve taught kids, take your time, check twice, take your shot. But when you’re under pressure, all that stuff almost goes out the window for a split second. You have to check yourself, remember to slow down and remember what we were taught and then engage.” 

Winners of the event included: 

  • Ironman Award: USMC School of Infantry West
  • Field Craft: UT ARNG (19th Special Forces Group)
  • Top Pistol: Special Forces Sniper Course
  • Top Coach: SFC Daniel Horner CA ARNG
  • 1st Place:  Special Forces Sniper Course
  • 2nd Place: 3/75 Ranger Regiment
  • 3rd Place: UT ARNG (19th SFG)
  • 6th Place: CO ARNG
  • 8th Place: CA ARNG
  • 9th Place: IA ARNG
  • Overall, an OUTSTANDING performance and representation for the Army National Guard.
MIGHTY TRENDING

How North Korea will spark a global arms race

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Jan. 23 that North Korea is moving “ever closer” to putting Americans at risk and that he believes leader Kim Jong Un won’t rest until he’s able to threaten multiple nuclear attacks against the U.S. at the same time.


“North Korea is ever closer to being able to hold America at risk,” Pompeo said at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank in Washington. “I want everyone to understand that we are working diligently to make sure that, a year from now, I can still tell you that they are several months away from having that capacity.”

Speaking after one year on the job, Pompeo also said the CIA believes Kim would not only use nuclear weapons to stay in power, but to threaten to reunify the divided Korean Peninsula under his totalitarian regime. The quest for reunification is disputed by some North Korean experts who see Kim’s nuclear program as primarily a means of retaining power and don’t think he would threaten or forcibly try to take over South Korea.

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Pompeo said North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has developed at a “very rapid clip,” but that Kim is hoping for an arsenal of nuclear weapons — “not one, not a showpiece, not something to drive on a parade route.”

He wants the ability to deliver nuclear weapons from multiple missiles fired simultaneously. “That increases the risk to America,” Pompeo said. It’s unclear how well the United States could defend against multiple missiles fired from North Korea at the same time.

Pompeo also warned that North Korea could sell nuclear-weapon and ballistic-missile technology and research to other countries, including Iran, which could set off a nuclear arms race.

Asked whether Iran could use its existing agreements with Pyongyang to advance its own nuclear-weapons program, Pompeo called it “a real risk” and admitted that the CIA could miss such transfers of information. “So if someone asks me as the senior intelligence leader of the CIA, can you guarantee this [would be uncovered], I would say absolutely not.”

Despite his warning, Pompeo doesn’t think a North Korean attack on the United States is imminent. He said the Trump administration is “laser-focused” on achieving a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff.

Americans should know that it is working to prepare a series of options so the president has the “full range of possibilities” to address the threat.

Also Read: Russia thanks Trump for the CIA tip that foiled a terror attack

He wouldn’t address the question of whether there are military options available to the US that don’t risk an escalation into nuclear war with North Korea.

“There is much effort all across the U.S. government to ensure that Americans don’t have to feel at risk,” Pompeo said.

“We saw what happened in Hawaii. It is an imperative — an American, national imperative — that we as an intelligence agency deliver the information to our senior leaders such that they can resolve this issue in a way that works for the American people.”

Earlier this month, a false alarm that a ballistic missile was headed for Hawaii sent the islands into a panic, with people abandoning cars and preparing to flee their homes until officials said the cellphone alert was a mistake.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Las Vegas hotel is suing 2017 mass shooting victims

The owners of the Las Vegas hotel that was the scene of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history is counter-suing victims who are suing the hotel for negligence.

Fifty-eight people were killed and hundreds wounded when Stephen Paddock fired on a concert from his room at the Mandalay Bay hotel in October 2017. Paddock killed himself as police moved in.


Hundreds of victims have filed suit against MGM Resorts, which owns the Mandalay Bay, accusing the company of negligence for failing to monitor the hotel’s guests and for allowing Paddock to stockpile an arsenal of high-powered weapons and ammunition in his room in the days leading up to the massacre.

MGM Resorts, filed suit against the victims in July 2018, alleging those wounded or whose relatives were killed cannot sue the hotel.

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music

President Trump visits a Las Vegas shooting victim.

(Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

MGM cites a 2002 federal law that limits liabilities against businesses that take certain steps to “prevent and respond to mass violence.”

MGM says the security company it employed at the concert was certified by the Department of Homeland Security.

But Las Vegas lawyer Robert Eglet, who represents about 1000 of the victims, says the company providing security at the hotel, from where Paddock fired his shots, was not certified.

“MGM has done something that in over 30 years of practice is the most outrageous thing I have ever seen. They have sued the families of the victims while they’re still grieving over their loved ones,” Eglet said.

This article originally appeared on Voice of America News. Follow @VOANews on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Border troops will not receive hazard pay

More than 5,000 troops stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border will not receive additional compensation for working in a dangerous environment, known as “danger pay,” a Pentagon official said on Nov. 6, 2018.

Army Col. Robert Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said troops do not qualify for the special pay unless they are on duty “in foreign areas, designated as such because of wartime conditions, civil war, civil insurrection, or terrorism.”


“Members who are deployed in support of the Department of Homeland Security’s border mission are not eligible for imminent-danger pay,” he said in a statement on Nov. 5, 2018.

Nor will troops receive hostile-fire pay, which is given to service members in close proximity to a firefight or exposed to a barrage of fire from an enemy combatant. The border mission is considered non-combative, Manning said.

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music

(U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Alexandra Minor)

“Our military will not receive combat pay or hostile-fire pay as they are not deploying to a combat area, nor are they expected to be subject to hostile fire,” he said, adding that they will be eligible for a separation allowance.

“Members with dependents, including those in support of the border mission, who are deployed away from their dependents (and their permanent duty station) for more than 30 days, are eligible to receive family separation allowance retroactive back to the first day of the separation at the rate of 0 per month,” Manning continued.

President Donald Trump tweeted that the caravan of migrants traveling toward the U.S. border could be taken down by lethal force.

“The Caravans are made up of some very tough fighters and people,” he tweeted Oct. 31, 2018. “Fought back hard and viciously against Mexico at Northern Border before breaking through. Mexican soldiers hurt, were unable or unwilling to stop Caravan.”

The next day, he said troops should take action if the migrants threw rocks at them.

“We’re not going to put up with that,” Trump said during a White House press conference. “[If] they want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. We’re going to consider it — and I told them, ‘consider that a rifle.’ When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say ‘consider it a rifle.’ “

He revisited his remarks, saying he never said U.S. forces would shoot migrants.

Operation Song spreads Christmas message of love, hope and peace with music

(U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Alexandra Minor)

“What I don’t want is these people throwing rocks. … What they did to the Mexican military is a disgrace,” Trump said. “They hit them with rocks. Some were very seriously injured, and they were throwing rocks in their face. They do that with us, they’re going to be arrested, there are going to be problems. I didn’t say shoot.”

Air Force Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, head of U.S. Northern Command, reaffirmed that “everything that we are doing is in line with and adherence to Posse Comitatus,” a congressional act dating to 1878 prohibiting the military from participating in domestic law-enforcement activities.

Trump has said he could request a deployment of as many as 15,000 troops to the border in support of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Manning on Nov. 5, 2018, told reporters that troops would not patrol with CPB and are there in a mission-support role only.

“There is no plan for DoD personnel to interact with migrants or protesters,” he said, as reported by Military Times. “We are absolutely in support of [Customs and Border Patrol].”

The Pentagon in November 2018 announced it would deploy roughly 5,200 active-duty troops to support the mission in Texas, Arizona and California, dubbed Operation Faithful Patriot.

The units include military police, communications and logistics support, medical personnel, combat engineers, planners, an assault helicopter battalion, and public affairs specialists.

That number could reach 7,000 in weeks to come, The Associated Press reported.

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

Articles

This aging Russian plane was the Tomahawk strike’s target

The strike on Shayrat Air Base was intended to take out a number of targets, but one plane in particular was top of the list: The Su-22 Fitter.


According to Scramble.nl, two squadrons of this plane were based at the Shayrat air base that absorbed 59 T-LAMs. But why was this plane the primary target, as opposed to the squadron of MiG-23 Floggers? The answer is that the versions of the MiG-23 that were reportedly based there were primarily in the air-to-air role. The MiG-23MLD is known as the “Flogger K” by NATO. The two squadrons of Su-22 Fitters, though, specialized in the ground attack mission.

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A pair of Su-22M4 Fitters, similar to those based at Shayrat Air Base in Syria. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

According to militaryfactory.com, the Su-22 is one of two export versions of the Su-17, which first entered service in 1969. Since then, it has received progressive improvements, and was widely exported to not only Warsaw Pact countries but to Soviet allies in the Middle East and to Peru. The Russians and French teamed up to modernize many of the Fitters still in service – and over 2,600 of these planes were built.

According to the Encyclopaedia of Modern Aircraft Armament, the Su-17/Su-20/Su-22 Fitter has eight hardpoints capable of carrying up to 11,000 pounds of munitions. It also has a pair of MR-30 30mm cannon. It is capable of a top speed of 624 knots, according to militaryfactory.com.

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A Libyan Su-22 Fitter – two of these were shot down by Navy F-14s in 1981. (US Navy photo)

The Fitter has seen a fair bit of combat action, including during the Iran-Iraq War, the Yom Kippur War, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and the Russian wars in Chechnya.

Recently, it saw action in the Libyan Civil War as well as the Syrian Civil War.

While it has performed well in ground-attack missions, it was famously misused by then-Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi to challenge U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcats over the Gulf of Sidra in 1981. Both Fitters were shot down after an ineffectual attack on the Tomcats.

During Desert Storm, the Iraqi Air Force lost two Su-22s, then two more during Operation Provide Comfort.

The Fitter did get one moment in the cinematic sun, though. In the Vin Diesel action movie “XXX,” two Czech air force Fitters made a cameo during the climactic sequence.

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Photographer Michael Stokes brings sexy vets back with ‘Invictus’ photo book

The photographer behind the ultra-sexy “Always Loyal” coffee table book has created a sequel project featuring wounded and amputee veterans, and it’s even steamier than the original.


Michael Stokes’ newest work, “Invictus,” showcases 15 recent veterans baring (almost) all — flaunting prosthetics and rock-hard abs in a bold celebration of their post-war bodies.

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The photo book includes five British veterans and American vet-turned-comedian Bobby Henline, who was severely burned during a tour in Iraq.

Stokes said he chose to include Henline alongside amputee vets in response to Facebook comments he received about his earlier work, “Always Loyal.”

“One comment I got was ‘Hey, you’re hand-picking these gorgeous men [for the photos], why don’t you feature someone who’s burned?’ ” Stokes said. “Bobby and I had already been talking for six months at that point, so I thought it was a great opportunity to follow up and … do something a bit different.”

Check out Henline’s pose below:

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“Bobby is very popular and is able to stand alongside any of these guys and pull off the photo shoot,” Stokes said. “He pulls off sexy. He looks great.”

Stokes said that the goal of projects like “Invictus” is to give veterans a platform that could jumpstart modeling careers and lead to mainstream campaigns. 

This dream came true for double-amputee veteran and “Always Loyal” alum Chris Van Etten, who recently landed a Jockey underwear campaign after a Stokes photo shoot.

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“When the Jockey campaign launched, I had all of these people tagging me on Facebook saying ‘You made this possible, you led the way on this, you broke the ice on this.,’ ” Stokes said. “And all of these people were giving me credit for making it not taboo for a corporation to do a campaign and photo shoots like this.”

“This is evidence that people are happy that these guys are getting exposure and getting mainstream gigs,” he added.

Despite enthusiasm from both within and outside of the military community, Stokes said there are still those who are uncomfortable with his “cheeky” shots of wounded vets.

“When you have a photo that goes viral, that’s when you hear negative comments,” Stokes said. “Some people have said things like ‘This is not respectful to the uniform; this is not dignified.’ … [But] they’re definitely the minority voice.”

Stokes said he doesn’t focus on his critics, but on the experience of his models in front of the camera.

The photo shoot “is different with each model,” Stokes said.

“One of the models is a double amputee — and way high up. And during the shoot he said ‘I didn’t know I looked like that from behind,’ ” Stokes explained. “He’s missing part of his hip … and he didn’t know he had such a nice butt.”

Stokes hopes “Invictus” will continue to change public perceptions and normalize glamour shots of amputee models.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Army’s new sidearm has a few issues to address

The Army began issuing the M17 handgun, the newest addition to its soldiers’ gear, in late November 2017, distributing them among members of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.


The new sidearm is only the third handgun the Army has fielded widely in the past century. It will replace the M9 pistol and will be distributed to a broader segment of the force than previous sidearms, which were mainly carried by officers and soldiers in special roles.

Wider distribution of the sidearm comes after 16 years of combat operations in which U.S. troops often found themselves in close-quarters engagements, and it’s the Defense Department’s first step toward better preparing and training soldiers for the demands of combat operations in the future — whether that means fighting in dangerous, close-in situations or meeting with local leaders.

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Sgt. 1st Class Rocky Butler, a signal support systems specialist from Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, lays in the prone position with the new M17 Modular Handgun System for the first time during the troop’s weapons qualification range Jan. 19, 2018 at Fort Hood, Texas. The 3rd Cavalry Regiment received the new weapons system at the beginning of January, making it the first unit on Fort Hood to receive the Army’s upgraded pistol.

The decision to arm the 101st’s team leaders with sidearms in addition to their main weapons stemmed directly from feedback from soldiers’ battlefield experiences, an Army official told Army Times, and commanders will have the option to put the pistol in the hands of soldiers at even lower levels.

“It just improves our lethality as a force to have more soldiers armed with this weapon,” 2nd. Lt. Connor Maloney told Army Times. Maloney’s company in the 101st Airborne Division now has 46 M17s, rather than just nine M9s.

But a review of Pentagon programs in fiscal year 2017 conducted by the Office of the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation found that the M17, and its counterpart, the more compact M18, both exhibited persistent problems during testing.

The DOTE report was compiled from April through September 2017, but the problems it documented were not revealed until the report was issued in January 2018.

Also Read: Here’s a detailed look at the Army’s new M17 and M18 handgun — and how it shoots

During drop-testing the weapons accidentally discharged — a problem that appeared in the another version of the Sig Sauer-made pistol. The manufacturer introduced safety upgrades for the problem, though the fix may have contributed to the splintering of two triggers during testing, the DOTE report states.

Both versions of the pistol also “experienced double-ejections where an unspent ball round was ejected along with a spent round,” the report found. The Army established a root-cause analysis team to find the reason for double ejections, but, the report notes, “As of this report, this analysis is still ongoing.”

Both the M17 and M18 experienced a higher number of stoppages — a deficiency that keeps the pistol from operating as intended, but can be fixed through immediate action — when firing with ball ammunition than they did when firing special-purpose ammunition. Both failed the mean rounds between stoppage reliability requirement when firing with ball ammunition.

Officials from the Army’s Program Executive Office Soldier, which oversees the programs that provide most of a soldier’s gear and weapons, and from Sig Sauer, which won the 10-year, $580 million Modular Handgun System contract to provid M17s and M18s in January 2017, have both downplayed the concerns raised in the DOTE report.

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A Soldier with C Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) fires the new M17 or Modular Handgun System at the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) indoor range, Nov. 28.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Samantha Stoffregen, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Public Affairs)

A Sig Sauer spokesman said many of the problems outlined by the report were from the weapon’s early testing period and that the company stood by the thousands of M17 and M18s it has shipped so far.

Army PEO Soldier spokeswoman Debra Dawson told Army Times that all of the MHS weapons currently field meet all safety and operation requirements. Even though the weapon fell short of reliability requirements for ball ammunition, it was still safe to use with that type of round, the spokeswoman said.

The drop-test problems had been publicly addressed, Dawson said, noting that the weapon had passed the Army’s drop test. She added that the trigger-splintering incidents only happened to two of some 10,000 purchased weapons and were not related to design flaws or manufacturing issues.

While it doesn’t appear the root cause of double-ejection issue has been found, Dawson said it may be related to the magazine and could potentially be resolved with minor adjustments.

Also Read: This is a first look at soldiers firing their new M17 handgun

Slide stoppages led to 50% of the M17 stoppages and 75% of the M18 stoppages, the DOET report said.

The predominant cause of such stoppages was the slide failing to lock after firing the last round in a magazine, which is meant to tell the shooter when to reload.

The report noted that the stoppages appeared to stem largely from the use of a high pistol grip and cited Army marksmanship experts who called it an “insignificant problem” that could be resolved with more training and experience with the weapon.

PEO-Soldier officials told Army Times the “anomaly” would be addressed by modifying marksmanship training.

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Officers and senior noncommissioned officers from Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Troop and the Regimental Support Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, qualify with the M17 Modular Handgun System for the first time during a weapons qualification range Jan. 19, 2018 at Fort Hood, Texas.

Despite the issues raised by the DOTE report, the M17 had been well received by the troops who have gotten it.

“It is easier to fire and simpler to operate,” Sgt. Matthew J. Marsh, a member of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, said at the end of November 2017. “The pistol felt very natural in my hand. I am excited to take my experience back to my unit and share it with my soldiers.”

“It handled really well, very reliable,” Cpl. Jory Herrman, a team leader in the 101st Airborne, told Military.com at the time. “We slung a lot of rounds down range today had little to no problems out of them… I think it is going to be a great sidearm.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

Oklahoma resident opens heart and home to guardsmen

Two weeks ago, a man named Bob and the soldiers of Headquarters Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment had never met. They would have never met. They would have continued being perfect strangers and never knowing of the other’s existence. But due to torrential rainfall and catastrophic natural disasters occurring across Oklahoma and the surrounding states, Bob and these guardsmen were soon to meet.

On Friday, May 24, 2019, members of the 279th were sent to a site along a levee in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. There was severe flooding and the looming threat of homes being affected. The mission of these soldiers was to monitor and maintain the pumps that were placed on the property to move the water and put it into the creek on the other side of the levee.


When events like flooding, tornados, or other disaster hit the state, the Oklahoma National Guard activates for state active duty upon the request of the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management and with approval from the governor of Oklahoma.

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Oklahoma National Guardsmen are working alongside first responders and emergency personnel to provide disaster relief following record-breaking flooding of the Arkansas River in the Tulsa, Okla. area.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

“I got here last Friday,” said Sgt. Vince Humerickhouse, a Stillwater resident and an infantryman with HHC 1-279 Infantry Battalion, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “We didn’t know what we were getting into.”

For the first day or two, the soldiers remained in or around their vehicle during their shift monitoring the pumps. A kind man named Bob who owned the property would come out every now and then and check on them.

“He was always asking if we needed anything,” said Spc. Kailey Bellville, a unit supply specialist from Miami, Oklahoma with HHC 1-279. “He would bring us food and drinks, make sure we had enough water.”

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Spc. Kailey Bellville, a unit supply specialist in Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, hauls sandbags to the base of a tree in the yard of Sand Springs, Oklahoma resident Bob Casebold, May 30, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

He even offered them a more comfortable place to get out of the sun and maintain the pumps, under the shade of his hand-welded gazebo, adorned with classic decorations and lawn furniture. At first, the soldiers respectfully declined. At the persistence of Bob’s selfless and giving nature, the guardsmen graciously accepted his invitation.

Over the next several days, Bob and the soldiers developed a rapport and a working relationship. The soldiers would fulfill their mission while Bob kept them company and took them under his wing. He cooked food, let them use his gator, a side-by-side off-road vehicle, and simply offered them the care and support of a grateful and appreciative community member.

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Spc. Allison Smith, a combat medic specialist in Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, hauls sandbags to the base of a tree in the yard of Sand Springs, Oklahoma resident Bob Casebold, May 30, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

“Bob has been a really great blessing to us and thanking him just doesn’t cover it,” said Spc. Allison Smith, a combat medic specialist from Salina, Oklahoma with HHC 1-279. “This mission would have been a lot harder if we didn’t have the support from neighbors like Bob and other people in the community.”

The acts of kindness from Sand Springs residents fueled the Oklahoma guardsmen in a way that you rarely get to witness first-hand.

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Sgt. Vince Humerickhouse and Spc. Allison Smith of Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, move sandbags to the base of a tree in Sand Springs, Oklahoma resident Bob Casebold’s yard, May 30, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

“The unlimited energy these soldiers have, how do they keep going?” asked Bob Casebold, a Sand Springs resident and owner of the land that the soldiers were monitoring. “Carrying sandbags, wading through water, filling sand boils and things like that.”

It didn’t take long for Bob to gain notoriety through the ranks of the guardsmen responding to the floods across the Tulsa metro area. Miles away, at the main hub for flood operations, the name Bob was buzzing around the building. The stories of his selflessness and support were being told by people who hadn’t even met Bob. Everyone wanted to shake the hand of the man that had given back so much to the soldiers who were protecting his community.

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(Left to right) Sgt. Vince Humerickhouse, Spc. Allison Smith and Spc. Kailey Bellville works together to unload sandbags to protect the trees in the yard of Sand Springs, Oklahoma resident Bob Casebold, May 30, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

“We did not ask for these guys to come down here,” Bob said. “They volunteered and came down here to help us; to protect us. It was totally amazing and I appreciate it so much.”

Bob would be the last person to pat himself on the back for his support of these soldiers, but that certainly wasn’t lost on the soldiers that he helped.

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Spc. Kailey Bellville, a unit supply specialist in Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, hauls sandbags to the base of a tree in the yard of Sand Springs, Oklahoma resident Bob Casebold, May 30, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

“He’s one of the cornerstones to the support of this mission out here in the area,” Smith said. “It’s awesome knowing that they rely on us and we can depend on them if we have to.”

Now that conditions are improving, for the time being, soldiers and residents can take a deep breath and work on returning back to normal life. But the bonds that were made during this trying time are going to remain long after the guardsmen return to their homes and families.

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Sand Springs resident Bob Casebold gives Spc. Kailey Bellville, a unit supply specialist with Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard, an appreciative hand after she helped lay sandbags around trees at his Sand Springs home, May 30, 2019.

(Photo by Sgt. Bradley Cooney)

“I definitely believe that God put me out here to help these people,” Humerickhouse said. “And I believe coming out here and meeting Bob was meant to be.”

“It’s an experience I’ll never forget,” Bob said. “It comes from a bad deal, but I’ve made some great friends. I would consider them lifelong friends.”

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

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Watch the Hyundai Super Bowl commercial that connected vets and their families

Super Bowl commercials that honor military veterans aren’t new, and odds are they’re not going anywhere because dammit they’re effective.


The 2017 Hyundai Super Bowl commercial is no exception. Troops stationed in Poland were treated to a surprise when Hyundai gave them a special Super Bowl screening experience. What they didn’t know was that a few of their family members were also getting a treat.

While the service members watched the game in fully immersive, 360-degree live streaming pods, their families joined them via a Super Bowl LI box suite, complete with huggable high-tech teddy bears (wearing the uniform of the day) and cameras that allowed the family members to livestream with their heroes.

Hyundai teamed up with director Peter Berg (Deepwater Horizon, Lone Survivor) to shoot, edit, and broadcast the event.

“I’m honored to have worked on this project with the troops and [Hyundai] for the Super Bowl. Thank you for your service, and thank you for letting me be part of this,” Berg said.

Check out the video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7n-GxJBw1k
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