Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

The veterans currently living in the Lebanon Veterans Home in Lebanon, Oregon have walked through tough times. The majority of them are over 70 years old and around one third of them over 90. Many of them saw combat in the Korean War, Vietnam War and even World War II. They made it home from those wars only to have another show up at their doorstep at what should be a quiet time in their lives: COVID-19.

Trying to survive a global pandemic is their new war.


The Lebanon Veterans Home houses more than 145 veterans and some of their spouses. There have been 14 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the home, which has been wreaking havoc on the world. On Sunday March 22, 2020, a veteran of the home died from the disease. He was in his 90s and served this country with honor.

While the residents of the home continue to reel from the death of one of their friends and neighbors, the fight for their well-being is just beginning. The entire facility is now in complete lockdown with no visitors allowed. The residents are also now barred from doing group activities or even eating together anymore. In a sense, they are quarantined to their rooms. This is a traumatic change for these veterans and is causing a negative impact to their mental health.

The intensity of the response to combating COVID-19 for these veterans is due to all of them being considered high risk with their age and medical conditions. Although warranted to prevent the spread of this disease, the veterans are suffering in their isolation.

But the public can help change this.

IMG_2010

vimeo.com

Tyler Francke, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs spoke with We Are The Mighty to ask our readers for their help by submitting messages of hope, encouragement and gratitude via homemade videos. The veterans home has a closed-circuit TV that they can showcase the videos on. These videos would go a long way to let these veterans know they aren’t alone and they can make it through this tough season.

“The Lebanon Veterans’ Home is an amazing place,” Francke said, “and it’s all because of the dedicated and hard-working staff, and the incredible residents who live there. The men and women there are unbelievable. They’re our nation’s heroes, and yet, they ask for nothing. Instead, they do what they can to brighten your day. Around the Home, I know it’s become something of a rallying cry: ‘They fought for us, now we fight for them.’ I know there are a lot of people all around the community, the state and even the country who are pulling for them, and we just thought this would be one really cool way for everyone to show it.

Francke asked that people send 30-45 seconds of positive videos with big smiles and clear voices offering messages of support, encouragement and hope. These can easily be done on a cell phone and do not require any production.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

Residents smile for a photo. Picture via Facebook.

These videos would take but a moment out of your day to make a veteran smile and bring hope to their hearts. This is a great project for kids to do while they’re in virtual learning. Many of the veterans have grandchildren and great-grandchildren they’re unable to see, and it’s a great way to teach your kids about history, service and selflessness.

These veterans sacrificed so much for America, help show them they haven’t been forgotten and that they can make it through this.

Videos should be submitted to: odvainformation@odva.state.or.us

Podcast

How to stay fit and not get fat after you get out of the military


In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Tim, and O.V. speak with Army veteran and fitness expert Jennifer Campbell on what veterans can do during their busy day to stay in shape — especially when going to morning PT isn’t an option.

“Veterans have a 70 percent higher chance of developing obesity than the general public,” Jennifer Campbell says.

The reason for this statistic is due to the dramatic change in a veteran’s daily habit. The majority of the veteran community have been known to cease fire on their work out plans, which creates a negativity jolt the body’s system.

In this episode, we talk on a wide-range of topics including:

  • [2:00] The daily regiment of a fitness instructor to maintain a healthy lifestyle while still staying “loose.”
  • [2:40] Information about “Merging Vets & Players,” the growing fitness organization that connects troops and professional athletes.
  • [4:50] Some positive traits of working out versus taking certain medications.
  • [6:20] What “Overtraining Syndrome” consists of and how to avoid it.
  • [10:00] How structured dieting and workouts are necessary for those looking to get into the fitness industry.
  • [11:40] How to properly test your genetic makeup.
  • [13:25] If you want to cheat on your diet — a.k.a. cheat days — here’s how to do it the right way.
  • [18:20] What you can learn about yourself from your genetic markers.
  • [19:20] Important tips how to stay in shape while working in an office space setting.
  • [23:20] Some dietary buzz words that freak everyone out.
  • [30:25] How we can stay looking young using our new health and fitness tools.
  • [34:45] What type of alcohol we should be drinking if you’re trying to stay in shape.

Hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran

Orvelin Valle (AKA O.V.): Navy veteran

This episode originally ran in November 2017.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is how the Titanic was discovered on an unrelated top-secret mission

The RMS Titanic was billed as “unsinkable.” Many conflicting reasons have been proposed as to why but, nonetheless, they were proven wrong. When the RMS Titanic sank to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean, she took with her over 1,500 of her 2,224 estimated passengers and crew.

Countless expeditions were sent to go salvage the wreckage, but it wasn’t until 1985 when it was “suddenly” located. For many years, there was a shroud of mystery surrounding exactly how it was found. The truth was later declassified by the Department of the Navy. As it turns out, finding the Titanic was a complete accident on the part of U.S. Navy Commander Robert Ballard, who was searching for the wreckage of two Navy nuclear submarines.


Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

A simple task, but it was far from what Robert Ballard wanted to do.

(U.S. Navy)

Ballard had served as an intelligence officer in the Army Reserves before commissioning into the active duty Navy two years later. While there, he served as a liaison between the Office of Naval Research and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

He spent many years of his life dedicated to the field of oceanography. Even before enlisting, he had been working on his own submersible, called Alvin, with the Woods Hole Institute. He’d continue designing submersibles and technologies until he finished his famous craft, the Argo. The Argo was equipped with high-tech sonar and cameras and had a detachable robot called Jason.

It was then that the U.S. Navy secretly got in touch with Ballard about finding the USS Thresher and the USS Scorpion in 1982. Both nuclear submarines had mysteriously sank at some point in the 1960s, but the U.S. government was never clear on what exactly happened.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

Of course, discovering the Titanic was an historic moment, but the Scorpion and the Thresher could be leaking nuclear radiation…

(U.S. Navy)

The approximate locations of the submarines were known, but exactly how well the nuclear reactors were holding up after 20 years on the ocean’s floor was a mystery. They sent Ballard and his team to go find out. To cover their tracks, they said they were embarking on a regular expedition to search for the lost Titanic (which, despite the outcome, wasn’t the objective at the time).

The mission was to take four one-month-long expeditions — two months per lost submarine. Ballard asked if he’d ever get the chance to look for the Titanic while he was out there, a chance to fulfill his childhood dream. The Navy struck a bargain. They said that he could look for the sunken behemoth after he found the two subs, if time and funding permitted.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

His theory about the ship splitting in two was also proven.

(NOAA)

He received his funding and set off with the French research ship Le Suroit. Ballard kept most of the crew in the dark, opting instead to stick with his cover story of searching for the Titanic. He’d personally go down in a submersible and check on the status of each nuclear reactor and their warheads. He had a rough idea where to look, but he followed debris trails on the relatively smooth ocean floor to get to each destination.

Once he finished checking on the USS Scorpion and USS Thresher, he had twelve days remaining. Between the two wrecks was a large debris field that littered the ocean floor. This was far from where many experts claimed the Titanic would be.

Just like the two submarines, Ballard believed that the Titanic imploded, leaving behind a massive trail of debris as it drifted to its final resting place. He used what he learned from the submarines and applied the same theory to the Titanic.

First he found the ship’s boiler, and then, eventually, the entirety of the hull.

He knew that his remaining time was short and a storm was quickly approaching, so he marked his exact location on the map and returned to the wreckage the following year. For a year, he didn’t tell a soul, for fear of others showing up and trying to remove artifacts from the ship. He eventually returned on July 12th, 1986, and made the first detailed study of the wreckage.

Ballard would later investigate the wreckages of the Bismarck, the RMS Lusitania, the USS Yorktown, John F. Kennedy’s PT-109, and many more. The story of the Titanic, of course, would later be turned into a film that won 11 Academy Awards — which conveniently left out the fact that the ship’s wreckage was actually discovered due to a top-secret government operation.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is why old armies used to fight in lines

I just discovered The Armchair Historian, a rather endearing YouTuber who created an animated history lesson about why armies used to stand in lines and kill each other. It seems counterintuitive now that we have weapons designed to kill large quantities of people and traditional wars between nations have given way to asymmetrical conflicts.

According to our friendly historian here, there were three main reasons armies used this battlefield formation up until the 20th century:


www.youtube.com

Griffin Johnsen (The Armchair Historian himself) narrates the video and summarizes the effectiveness of line formations succinctly. They were influenced by cavalry, order and communication, and the tactics of the enemy. As warfare technology advanced, so, too, did battlefield tactics. One example Johnson gives is how horses influenced warfighting.

Cavalry was effective against infantry, so the line formation was adopted to defend against cavalry. Once munitions became more accurate and lethal, cavalry became less effective… and the evolution continued.

Line formation warfare was developed during antiquity and used most notably in the Middle Ages, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Battle of the Bastards Battle of Cannae. It was seen as late as the First World War before giving way to trench warfare and specialized units with increased firepower and weaponry.

“Despite the prolific casualties suffered by units in close order formations during the start of the First World War, it should still be understood how effective line formations were in their heyday,” narrates Johnsen.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToOIvD5mlow

www.youtube.com

But seriously, can we talk about the Battle of the Bastards? Geek Sundry broke down the tactics displayed (omitting the tactics not displayed — SERPENTINE, RICKON, SERPENTINE!!!) in what is arguably one of the most riveting Game of Thrones episodes created.

The Boltons’ tactic of using Romanesque scutums to surround the Stark forces was unnerving and would have delivered a crushing victory without the intervention of the Knights of the Vale.

The probable Bolton trap of allowing the appearance of an escape path (in this case…a mountain of bodies — talk about PSYOPS) effectively tempted their enemy to break formation.

Even commanding archers to volley their arrows into the fray of the battle was a gangster move; it killed Bolton’s own men, but for a man who believes in the ends justifying the means… it was a very lethal means to an end.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Fl0Iybm2KuKnsulVaU.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=167&h=07c916ce832a15f14d8e286973d31f448e8e5405f30743322b3f60fb35b2b1b7&size=980x&c=3336561657 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Fl0Iybm2KuKnsulVaU.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D167%26h%3D07c916ce832a15f14d8e286973d31f448e8e5405f30743322b3f60fb35b2b1b7%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3336561657%22%7D” expand=1]

Anyway, I got distracted there for a second. Check out Johnson’s video above to learn more about why armies fought in lines. Shout-out to his segue into sponsor promotion at 6:38. Enjoy.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This Nazi officer risked his life to save an American soldier

It may surprise amateur historians to discover that wars can take a humanitarian turn. There are many, many recorded instances of exceptional displays of humanity, even during the most brutal fighting. Considering the Nazis’ monstrous reputation, it would surprise many others to discover that kind of kindness among the German officers in World War II.

Even in the Wehrmacht’s most desperate days, there were some among them who retained their humanity in the middle of one of the world’s deadliest conflicts. In the Hürtgen War Cemetery in Hürtgen, Germany, you’ll find a small monument to one of these brave souls.


Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

“No man hath greater love than he who layeth down his life for his enemy.”

As the Allies pressed their post-Normandy advantage against the Nazis in Europe, they began to outrun their supply lines. Unfortunately, the men and materiel required to bring down the Nazi regime weren’t as fast at replacing the men and materiel who were actively taking down the regime. The Allies were forced to slow down and, in some places, pause as their supplies caught up to their breakneck drive toward Germany.

This lull gave the Germans time to regroup and rest.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

The worst was yet to come.

Before the Allies could enter Germany, there were a few things they had to consider. They had to cross the Rhine, the city Aachen was under siege and refused to surrender, and the Allies were afraid the Germans would destroy the Ruhr Dam. To avoid this, the Allies needed to enter the dense woods that lay between the city and the dam and do it before the Germans thought to blow the dam.

During the relatively brief lull in the fighting, the Germans made good use of the Hürtgen Forest. Its hills and ravines were loaded with minefields, booby traps, barbed wire, and anything else they could think of that might halt the Allied advance or end it entirely. What’s more, deep inside the woods were the overgrown and abandoned remains of the concrete Siegfried Line. The advantage in numbers and air superiority the Allied troops enjoyed would be completely negated by the forest. The dark woods were now almost impenetrable, and the Allies were walking into it.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

This is not the place you want to assault.

For four months, the Allies sent men into the German-held meat grinder trying to dislodge the Nazis. Among the Germans trying to keep the Americans out was a Lt. Friedrich Lengfeld. Lengfeld was a young officer who had just taken command of his unit in November 1944, after his commander was killed in combat. He and his men were holed up in a lodge of some kind, sheltering themselves from the elements and trying to stave off their hunger. Next to their shelter was a minefield known as the Wilde Sau.

An American attack pushed Lengfeld’s Germans from their shelter, but his men quickly counterattacked and retook it the day after. The U.S. troops scrambled out so fast that one of them walked right into the Wilde Sau and immediately stepped on a mine. The man survived and began calling for help.

None came. And to this day, no one knows who the wounded American was.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

This road once bisected the Wilde Sau minefield.

Lieutenant Lengfeld ordered his troops that no one was to fire at any Americans who would come for the man. Hours passed, the man begged anyone within earshot to help him. But no one came. The man cried for his compatriots the entire time, but still, no one came to his aid. Lengfeld decided he would help, and took a team of his medics along a road that led to the minefield. He was determined to help the man, but while his team had placed anti-tank mines along the road, he did not know the location of anti-personnel mines. Lengfeld stepped on one immediately, shredding his back. He would die later that night.

In 1994, a monument was erected at the Hürtgen Forest Cemetery, bearing the name and wartime deeds of Lt. Friedrich Lengfeld. It read:

Here in Huertgen Forest on November 12, 1944,
Lt. Lengfeld, a German officer, gave his life
while trying to save the life of an American
soldier lying severely wounded in the “Wilde
Sau” minefield and appealing for medical aid.

The monument was placed there by the American members of the 22nd Infantry Regiment to honor Lt. Lengfeld.

MIGHTY TRENDING

FBI moves to seize painting stolen by Nazis

U.S. authorities have moved to seize a French painting that was taken by Nazi forces from a Ukrainian museum near the end of World War II.

Manhattan federal prosecutors said in a statement on March 21, 2019, that the painting — called An Amorous Couple, by Pierre Louis Goudreaux — was stolen from the Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko National Museum of the Arts in Kyiv around 1943.

U.S. officials said the painting had been missing for years, held by a London private collector and then in Massachusetts. It resurfaced in 2013 when it was listed on a website for an unnamed New York auction house.


The FBI determined it was bought from a Missouri auction house in 1993 by a New York dealer who had consigned it to the auction house.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

The Bohdan and Varvara Khanenko National Museum of the Arts in Kyiv.

The prosecutors said they were seeking a court order to seize the painting and return it to the Kyiv museum.

In recent years, U.S. officials have stepped up efforts to locate art seized from Ukraine by Nazi forces and return it to Ukraine.

In December 2018, U.S. authorities moved to claim a 107-year-old painting of Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible that was stolen from a Ukrainian art museum during World War II.

That painting by Mikhail Panin, called The Secret Departure Of Ivan The Terrible Before The Oprichnina, was part of the permanent collection of a museum in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro before the war.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

Humor

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of March 9th

This week was a good week for memes. And by “a good week,” I mean I’ve seen more than 1,000 variations of the same SpongeBob meme.


Don’t worry, everybody, we’ll try not to use one… No promises.

13. We all know that one platoon sergeant that just loves watching their Joes complain.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
…or every platoon sergeant ever. (Meme via Army as F*ck)

12. Don’t worry, Airmen. We all totally believe that it was hard for you to get through Basic Military Training.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
For Marines, that’s normal. (Meme via Air Force Nation)

11. “Cellphone training” is actually just teaching young boots what they’ll be doing for 95% of their time as a Lance Corporal.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
Totally. (Meme via Navy Memes)

10. Remember, that blue disk means free hugs are available.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
Why else would it be baby blue? (Meme via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Says)

9. Everything sounds more impressive if you use the proper nomenclature instead of explaining what it is.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
Not to kill the joke, but it’s the radio antenna…  (Meme via Do You Even Comm, Bro?)

8. Why would someone who’s spent their entire adult life in the military lie about what it’s like in the real world?

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
It’s a retention conspiracy. Stay woke. (Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

7. Plot twist: Submariners have been repainting it every month.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

6. Troops walk into the retention office with Christmas lists and walk out with, “Sure! I’ll just take Korea and a $20 cup.”

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
100 years of Rick and Morty memes! (Meme via Military Memes)

5. What it feels like being an RTO and you prove the drop test works.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
WOOOOOOOO!!!!! (Meme via Private News Network)

4. There are only three types on-post: the married, the coworkers, and the daughter of someone who outranks you. All three are trouble.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
Just drive thirty minutes away to somewhere chicks actually dig the uniform. (Meme via Pop Smoke)

3. If you think about it, cats are perfect troops. They attack their enemies on sight, they don’t need attention, and they’re adept at sh*tting in holes.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
10/10. Would give cat treats. (Meme via Pop Smoke)

2. I would have thought they just sent them to 7th Fleet…

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
But that’s none of my concern… *sips tea* (Comic via Scuttlebutt)

1. It’s funny because of all the meanings.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
‘Wasted’ as in drunk, right, censors? (Meme via Sh*t My LPO Says)

*Bonus* I lied!

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
The meme is too damn dank not to use… (Meme via Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Says)

MIGHTY TRENDING

NATO chief expects the nukes to stay where they are

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg says European members of the military alliance are unlikely to deploy new nuclear weapons on their soil in response to an alleged violation of a treaty between Washington and Moscow that bans medium-range missiles.

Speaking four days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Stoltenberg said on Octo. 24, 2018, that NATO is assessing the security implications of the alleged Russian breach.

“We will, of course, assess the implications for NATO allies for our security of the new Russian missiles and the Russian behavior,” Stoltenberg said. “But I don’t foresee that [NATO] allies will station more nuclear weapons in Europe as a response to the new Russian missile.”


The INF treaty prohibits the United States and Russia from possessing, producing, or deploying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers.

Nearly 2,700 missiles were eliminated by the Soviet Union and the United States — most of the latter in Europe — under the treaty.Trump said on Oct. 20, 2018, that the United States will pull out of the treaty.

He and White House national-security adviser John Bolton, who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top officials in Moscow on Oct. 22-23, 2018, cited U.S. concerns about what NATO allies say is a Russian missile that violates the pact and about weapons development by China, which is not a party to the treaty.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

White House national-security adviser John Bolton.

European governments including those of NATO members France and Germany have voiced concern about Trump’s stated intention to withdraw from the INF, as has the European Union. Bolton said in Moscow that the United States has not yet made any decision to deploy missiles in Europe targeting Moscow.

Stoltenberg said that the INF is “a landmark treaty, but the problem is that no treaty can be effective — can work — if it’s only respected by one party.”

“All [NATO] allies agree that the United States is in full compliance…. The problem is Russian behavior,” he said.

He also expressed hope that Russia and the United States will agree to extend New START, a treaty that restricts long-range nuclear weapons and is due to expire in 2021.

Russia, meanwhile, repeated its criticism of the U.S. plan to withdraw from the INF.

Trump has suggested that the United States will develop missiles that the treaty prohibited once it withdraws, saying when he first announced the planned pullout: “We’ll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say, ‘Let’s really get smart and let’s none of us develop those weapons.'”

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

President Donald J. Trump.

That is “an extremely dangerous intention,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on a conference call on Oct. 24, 2018.

Peskov also said that the Kremlin is “undoubtedly ready” to discuss the possibility of a summit in Washington in 2019 between Putin and Trump, but that there was “no concrete decision on this.”

Bolton has suggested that Trump and Putin, who held their first full-fledged summit in July 2018 in Helsinki, could have another such meeting in the foreseeable future.

In the meantime, Peskov said the Kremlin is preparing for a “possible meeting” between Trump and Putin at an event in Paris on Nov. 11, 2018, commemorating the centenary of the end of World War I.

At his talks with Bolton on Oct. 23, 2018, Putin mentioned the possibility of a Paris meeting on Nov. 11, 2018, and Bolton said that Trump would like to hold such a meeting.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is how much it costs to rent Air Force planes

The Air Force has planes for every mission, but those planes aren’t always doing missions for the Air Force.

In October 2018, the Defense Department comptroller released the latest reimbursement rates for each service branch’s planes and helicopters.

These costs are generally calculated based on fuel use, wear and tear, and personnel needs — the branch providing the aircraft also typically provides a pilot and crew, an Air Force spokeswoman told Business Insider.


The document lists four categories for reimbursement: other Defense Department components, other federal agencies, foreign-military sales, and “all other.”

“When determining the hourly rate, agencies should utilize the appropriate rate category,” the document said. “The ‘all other’ annual billable rate will be used to obtain reimbursement for services provided to organizations outside the Federal government.”

Below, you can see Air Force aircraft reimbursement rates for users that fall into the “all other” category — that’s you.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

The A-10C.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier)

A-10C Thunderbolt — ,454

The A-10C Thunderbolt, also known as the Warthog, is the US Air Force’s premier ground-attack aircraft and perhaps the best in the world, renowned by foot soldiers for its ability to absorb punishment and dish out even more with its 30 mm cannon.

The Air Force has a total of 281 A-10s in its inventory. As of mid-2018, 173 of them had gotten or were in the process of getting new wings.

The future of the roughly 100 that still need wings has been the subject of debate between Air Force officials, many of whom want to retire the Thunderbolt and move on to other platforms, and members of Congress, who want to see the fearsome gunship continue flying.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

The AC-130J Ghostrider.

(US Air Force photo)

AC-130J Ghostrider — ,541

The AC-130J is the latest variant of the AC-130 gunship, upgraded with enhanced avionics, as well as integrated navigation systems, defensive systems, and radar. It is also modified with the Precision Strike Package, which has a mission-management system that puts sensors, communications, and order-of-battle and threat information into a common picture.

The Ghostrider — a name officially designated in May 2012 — is still relatively new, having completed developmental tests and evaluation in June 2015. As of 2016, the Air Force planned to have 32 Ghostriders in the active-duty force by fiscal year 2021.

The aircraft has struggled, particularly with its 30 mm and 105 mm guns. But the commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing said last year the gunship would probably be “the most requested weapons system from ground forces in the history of warfare.”

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brian Ferguson)

B-1B Lancer — ,475

Of Air Force aircraft, the B-1B Lancer packs the largest payload — 75,000 pounds — of both guided and unguided weapons and is the “backbone” of the US long-range-bomber force.

It has a ceiling of 30,000 feet, which isn’t the highest of the Air Force’s bombers, but it is the fastest, capable of topping 900 mph, or a little over the speed of sound at sea level.

In order to comply with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, signed by the US and the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the Lancer was modified to make it incapable of carrying nuclear weapons, a conversion process completed in 2011.

As of late 2016, the Air Force had 64 Lancers — two for testing — all of which were in the active force.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

A B-2 Spirit.

(US Air Force photo)

B-2A Spirit — ,012

The B-2A stealth bomber arrived at the Air Force in 1993, six years after the first Lancer was delivered.

Unlike the Lancer, which is designed for high-speed, low-altitude strikes, the Spirit flies higher — up to 50,000 feet — and slower. It’s also capable of hauling nuclear weapons.

As of the end of 2015, there were 20 Spirits in the Air Force active-duty fleet, one of which was for testing. The only operational base for the B-2 is Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, so add that flying time into your budget.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

B-52.

(US Air Force photo)

B-52H Stratofortress — ,919

Pricewise, the B-52 is a bargain compared with its bomber counterparts, but the Stratofortress is well over a half-century old, reaching initial operating capacity in spring 1952.

Flying at 650 mph and up to 50,000 feet with a payload of 70,000 pounds of both conventional and nuclear weapons, it can conduct strategic strikes, close air support, and maritime operations.

Its unfueled range is more than 8,800 miles. With aerial refueling, its range is limited only by its crew’s endurance.

At the end of 2015, there were 58 B-52s in use by the Air Force’s active-duty force and another 18 being used by the Air Force Reserve. They’re all H models and are assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing at North Dakota’s Minot Air Force Base and to the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

A C-130J Hercules.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas Grimes)

C-130J Super Hercules — ,651

The C-130J is the latest addition to the C-130J family, replacing older C-130Es and some C-130Hs with more flying hours.

Technology on the C-130J reduces manpower needs and operational and maintenance costs. The J model also climbs higher and faster and can fly farther with a higher cruising speed, in addition to taking off and landing in a shorter distance.

As of June 2018, the Air Force had 145 C-130Js in active duty, with anther 181 being used by the Air National Guard and 102 by the reserve component.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

A C-17 Globemaster III.

(US Air Force photo)

C-17A Globemaster III — ,236

The C-17 is the most flexible member of the Air Force airlift fleet, able to deliver troops and cargo to main operating hubs or to forward bases.

“The C-17 was designed for multi-role functions,” Maj. Steve Hahn, an instructor pilot with the Air Force Reserve’s 301st Airlift Squadron, said in 2010. “Its strategic and tactical abilities join the missions of the C-5 (Galaxy) and C-130 (Hercules) into one aircraft. It does everything, and not many aircraft can do that.”

As of mid-2018, there were 157 C-17s in active service, 47 in use by the Air National Guard, and 18 being used by the Air Force reserve.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

A C-5M Super Galaxy.

C-5M Super Galaxy — ,742

The C-5M Super Galaxy — the modernized version of the legacy C-5 aircraft — is the largest aircraft in the Air Force inventory, tasked with transporting troops and cargo.

It can carry oversize cargo, including 50-foot-long submarines, over intercontinental distances, and doors at the front and back allow for it to be loaded and offloaded at the same time.

Its maximum cargo is 281,000 pounds, and the longest distance it can fly without refueling is just over 5,500 miles — the distance from its base at Dover Air Force Base to the Incirlik air base in Turkey.

In August 2018, Lockheed Martin delivered the last of 52 upgraded C-5s, bringing 49 C-5Bs, two C-5Cs, and one C-5A up to the M variant and wrapping up a 17-year overhaul effort. The work extends the C-5 fleet’s service life into the 2040s.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

An E-4B.

(US Air Force by Louis Briscese)

E-4B — ,123

The E-4B is an expensive aircraft with an invaluable mission.

It serves as the National Airborne Operations Center, providing a highly survivable command, control and communications center where the president, defense secretary, and joint chiefs of staff can direct US forces, execute emergency war orders, and coordinate actions by civil authorities if ground command centers are destroyed.

The Air Force has four E-4Bs in its active force, and at least one is on 24-hour alert. In addition to an advanced satellite-communications system and an electrical system to support it, the E4-B is hardened against electromagnetic pulses, if that’s something you’re worried about.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

An F-15E dropping a bomb.

(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)

F-15E Strike Eagle — ,936

The F-15 is an all-weather, highly maneuverable tactical fighterdesigned to gain and maintain air superiority. It became operational in 1975 and has been the Air Force’s primary fighter jet and interceptor for decades.

The F-15E is two-seat integrated fighter for all-weather, air-to-air, and deep-interdiction missions. The Air Force has 219 F-15Es in total.

The first F-15E was delivered in 1989, about a decade after the F-15C, a single-seat fighter, and the F-15D, another two-seater. The latter two are also available, but they’ll cost you a little be more — ,233 for the C model and ,045 for the D model.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

An F-16 Fighting Falcon.

(US Air Force photo)

F-16C and F-16D — ,000 and ,696, respectively

Despite the low price, the F-16 is considered one of the most capable fighter aircraft out there.

It arrived in 1979, built in partnership between the US, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway.

The F-16C/D started arriving in 1981 and are the single- and two-seat counterparts to the F-16A/B, bringing improved cockpit control and display technology.

As of late 2015, the Air Force had 1,017 F-16s across its active, reserve, and guard components.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

An F-22 Raptor.

(US Air Force Photo)

F-22A — ,005

Reaching initial operating capability in December 2005, the single-seat F-22 is considered the Air Force’s first fifth-generation fighter, incorporating low-observable technology that gives it an edge over air-to-air and surface-to-air threats.

Caught between low-intensity wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a crushing global recession in 2008, and the Pentagon’s move toward the F-35 in the late 2000s, the F-22 program was shut down in 2009. As of September 2015, there were 183 F-22s in use by the Air Force.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

F-35As.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer)

F-35A — ,501

The F-35A Lightning II is the Air Force’s second and newest fifth-generation fighter, reaching initial operational capability in August 2016.

The US, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Australia were involved in the F-35’s development.

The F-35A is meant carry out air-to-air combat and ground-attack missions, replacing the F-16 and the A-10, while bringing next-generation stealth technology, enhanced awareness, and reduced vulnerability to the US and allies, several of whom have already received their versions of the fighter.

There is also a carrier variant — meant to replace the Navy’s F/A-18s — and a short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing variant, which is meant to replace the US Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18s, as well as the UK’s Harriers and Sea Harriers.

The F-35 has also become the most expensive weapons program in history, and hiccups during its development process have not improved its perception.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

The KC-46A Pegasus.

(Boeing/John D. Parker)

KC-46A Pegasus — ,740

The KC-46A aerial-refueling tanker is the newest addition to the Air Force, with officials accepting the first one from Boeing on January 10.

The program was delayed for years by technical problems, and Boeing has eaten more than .5 billion on the program, as the firm is responsible for any costs beyond the Air Force’s .9 billion fixed-price contract.

Six tankers have been accepted by the Air Force, but Boeing is not out of the woods. Deliveries were suspended earlier this month by the Air Force because of problems with foreign objects, tools and other debris, left aboard the aircraft.

Will Roper, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics, said it would likely be “some time” before the Air Force began accepting tankers again.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

An HC-130J Combat King II.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor T. McBride)

HC-130J Combat King II — ,001

The HC-130J — an extended-range version of the C-130J — replaces HC-130P/Ns as the only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force inventory. It’s tasked with rapidly deploying to recover downed aviators in enemy territory and with all-weather expeditionary personnel-recovery operations.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

An MC-130H Combat Talon II.

(US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

MC-130H Combat Talon II — ,166

The MC-130H Combat Talon II provides infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces and equipment in hostile or denied territory. Secondary missions include psychological operations and helicopter and vertical lift air refueling.

The Combat Talon II is based on the C-130, with structural changes that include a stronger tail to allow high-speed and low-signature airdrops. It also has terrain-following and terrain-avoidance radars that allow it to fly as low as 250 feet in poor weather.

The MC-130 first flew in 1966 and has operated around the world — an MC-130E landed in the Iranian desert in April 1980 to support Operation Eagle Claw, a failed attempt to rescue Americans being held by Iran.

MC-130Hs were also used to seize an airfield in southern Afghanistan for ground operations there in 2001, and in 2003, an MC-130H was the first US aircraft to land at Baghdad International Airport. As of the beginning of 2016, the Air Force has 18 MC-130Hs.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

An LC-130 Hercules.

(US Air Force photo)

LC-130H — ,774

The Air Force has a lot of cargo planes, so you have a lot of options. But what if you need to go to Antarctica? Well then you’ll need the LC-130H, the polar version of the C-130.

The US is the only operator of ski-equipped LC-130s, which the 109th Air Wing describes as the “backbone” of US transport within Antarctica, where it supports an array of scientific endeavors, and as a provider of transportation between McMurdo Station and New Zealand.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

An OC-135B.

(US Air Force photo by Josh Plueger)

OC-135B — ,435

Night or day, austere or hospitable, ice or solid ground, the Air Force’s airlift fleet can do it all.

But what if you need to conduct an unarmed observation flight over territory belonging to one of the signatories of the 1992 Open Skies Treaty? That’s where the OC-135B comes in.

A modified version of the WC-135B, its main mission is to take pictures, and it’s outfitted with equipment and systems to support its cameras and camera operators.

That includes one vertical and two oblique KS-87E framing cameras, which are used for low-altitude photography — about 3,000 feet above ground — and one KA-91C panoramic camera, which scans from side to side to give each photo a wide sweep. It’s used for high-altitude photography — roughly 35,000 feet.

As of spring 2014, there were two OC-135Bs in the Air Force inventory.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

A T-38 Talon.

(Department of Defense)

T-38C Talon and T-6A Texan — ,156 and 7, respectively

The T-38 Talon is a high-altitude supersonic jet trainer, used for a variety of operations because of its design, ease of maintenance, high performance, and safety record. Air Education and Training Command is its primary user of the T-38, employing it for specialized undergraduate pilot training, preparing pilots to fly F-15s, F-16s, F-22s, A-10s, and B-1Bs.

The T-38 first flew in 1959, and 1,000 of them were delivered between 1961 and 1972. The planes and their components have been modified and upgraded since then, and the Air Force had 546 in usewith the active force as of January 2014.

The T-6A Texan II is also a jet trainer, though it only has one engine and is also used by the Navy.

The first operational T-6A was delivered in May 2000. Joint Primary Pilot Training, the Texan’s main mission, began in October 2001. Production of the aircraft ended in 2010, and the Air Force has 446 of them in use by its active force.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

A U-2.

(Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kristin High)

U-2S Dragon Lady — ,496

Along with the B-52, the U-2 is one of the only Air Force aircraft introduced early in the Cold War that’s still in use.

Despite its age, its prowess is unquestioned. At 70,000 feet, the curvature of the earth gives it a field of vision of about 500 miles. In one mission, it can map all of Iraq.

Built in complete secrecy, the U-2A first flew in August 1955. The spy plane’s early history is marked with two high-profile blemishes — a 1960 shootdown over the USSR, which led to the capture of pilot Gary Francis Powers, and a 1962 shootdown over Cuba, which killed pilot Rudolf Anderson Jr. But it remains in use as one of the US’s premier surveillance aircraft.

All U-2s have been upgraded, adding a new engine that resulted in it being designated the U-2S. Pilots train on one of five two-seat aircraft designated as TU-2S. (The Air Force announced recently that it would change the training process.)

The U-2 is based at Beale Air Force Base in California, but it rotates worldwide. As of September 2015, there were 33 U-2s in use by the active force, including the five trainers and 2 ER-2s in use by NASA.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

A WC-130J.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens)

WC-130J — ,472

Not every Air Force aircraft is for combat or transport. The WC-130 Hercules is used by the Air Force Reserve for weather missions, flying into tropical storms, hurricanes, and winter storms to gather data.

The WC-130J is a C-130J reconfigured with palletized weather instruments. At its optimum cruising speed of 300 mph it can stay aloft for almost 18 hours. A typical weather mission can last 11 hours and cover 3,500 miles.

As of mid-2014, only 10 WC-130Js were in use, all of them belonging to the Air Force Reserve. They operate out of Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, flown by the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron — the Hurricane Hunters.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

A US Air Force WC-135 Constant Phoenix.

WC-135C/WC-135W Constant Phoenix — ,173

Getting ahold of the Constant Phoenix may be tough. The Air Force has only two of them, and they have a highly specialized mission: collecting particles, gas, and debris in order to detect any nuclear or radioactive events.

Then-Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower commissioned the Constant Phoenix program in September 1947. Two years later, one of the program’s aircraft picked up evidence of the first Soviet nuclear test while flying between Alaska and Japan. Forty years later, the WC-135W helped track radioactive debris from the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the USSR.

The WC-135s are the only planes in the Air Force inventory conducting air-sampling operations, which are now done in support of the 1963 Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The treaty prohibits countries from testing nuclear weapons above ground.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

A Navy pilot who saved a fellow aviator from the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ recounts the week that made him a legend

Chuck Sweeney left the Navy as a commander in 1980, after a 22-year pilot career that included 200 combat missions, 4,334 flight hours, and 757 carrier landings.

In one week of that career, Sweeney earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses, awarded for “heroism or extraordinary achievement in aerial flight,” for his actions over Vietnam.


Sweeney, president of the national Distinguished Flying Cross Society, spoke with Insider about the unusual way he got his start as a carrier pilot, his time fighting in Vietnam, and the week he was awarded three DFCs in September 1972.

Despite his awards, “I’m no different than most other people,” Sweeney said in the 2017 documentary “Distinguished Wings over Vietnam.”

“I just happened to be at the right place at the wrong time.”

“I have a lot of friends who said they were interested in flying early on, and they always wanted to be a pilot,” Sweeney told Insider. “I really didn’t. I wasn’t against it. I just never thought about it.”

But after he was drafted in 1958, he decided to join the Navy “and see the world.”

His first assignment took him to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland as an aeronautical engineer — not exactly one of the exotic destinations Sweeney had in mind.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e528e20fee23d549c0d71a2%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=535&h=e0f79904361066c68f515556d3b7f556863b80d41c2b16e31224ea4c072350e2&size=980x&c=4206968331 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e528e20fee23d549c0d71a2%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D535%26h%3De0f79904361066c68f515556d3b7f556863b80d41c2b16e31224ea4c072350e2%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4206968331%22%7D” expand=1]

Jim Lovell’s formal portrait for the Apollo 13 mission in 1970.

NASA

While at Patuxent River, Sweeney got to know some of the test pilots, who took him up on flights.

One test pilot in particular convinced Sweeney that not only did he want to fly; he wanted to be the best of the best — an aircraft carrier pilot, or “tailhook.”

That test pilot was Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell, portrayed by Tom Hanks in “Apollo 13.”

“I bought it — hook, line, and sinker,” Sweeney said.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e529082fee23d570a20e1a2%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=519&h=d4fe6f0313f21ad618992e5ef0201e506ab2c1d7b557f2cf4f38e0e4ff809d4e&size=980x&c=3187124327 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e529082fee23d570a20e1a2%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D519%26h%3Dd4fe6f0313f21ad618992e5ef0201e506ab2c1d7b557f2cf4f38e0e4ff809d4e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3187124327%22%7D” expand=1]

US Navy aircraft carrier USS Hancock (CVA-19) in the Gulf of Tonkin, May 25, 1972.

PH3 Adrian/US Navy

Sweeney first flew the S-2E anti-submarine aircraft, then volunteered to be an attack pilot, flying the A-4 Skyhawk, while he was earning a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

“They were losing a lot of pilots,” in Vietnam, Sweeney told Insider. “They were being killed or captured.”

After combat missions in Vietnam and Laos, Sweeney trained pilots in Lemoore, California. But his shore duty didn’t last long.

In July 1972, he was sent to the USS Hancock to replace Cmdr. Frank Green, the executive officer of Attack Squadron 212, who was missing in action after his aircraft was shot down.

“The next morning, I was flying my first strike against North Vietnam,” Sweeney told Insider. “Back in those days, things were happening fast.”

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5e319e035bc79c20fb07afaa%3Fwidth%3D700%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=588&h=f2f40f1ccae411ca9ffd9ab48f88fce1627aeb6b755e56aa564758865132816e&size=980x&c=4016121030 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5e319e035bc79c20fb07afaa%253Fwidth%253D700%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D588%26h%3Df2f40f1ccae411ca9ffd9ab48f88fce1627aeb6b755e56aa564758865132816e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4016121030%22%7D” expand=1]

One of Sweeney’s Distinguished Flying Crosses, which now hangs in the I-Bar on Naval Station North Island in San Diego, Calif.

Kevin Dixon, Acting Naval Base Coronado Public Affairs Officer

Sweeney’s first DFC came after a high-stakes rescue in the waters just off North Vietnam.

Lt. William Pear’s aircraft was hit and landed in the treacherous territory, and Sweeney coordinated his rescue from the cockpit of his A-4, even as he himself was under anti-aircraft fire.

“Most of the time, if you landed over North Vietnam, 99 times out of 100, you’d be captured,” Sweeney said. “But we got him back and kept him out of the Hanoi Hilton.”

Pear was the last A-4 pilot to be rescued during the Vietnam War, Sweeney said in an interview for the Distinguished Flying Cross Society Oral History Collection in 2005.

Days later, Sweeney led aircraft from the Hancock in a strike and was awarded his second Distinguished Flying Cross.

“We had 35 aircraft going after a target in North Vietnam, and I was leading the whole strike,” he said.

“I had planned numerous strikes and led them in training, but this was the real thing,” Sweeney said in a 2005 oral interview in the book “On Heroic Wings.”

They successfully completed the strike but met frightening resistance. North Vietnamese MiGs took off and headed toward Sweeney’s strike group, although they eventually stood down, and the group was under heavy anti-aircraft fire.

“For doing the job that I was trained to do I was awarded my second DFC,” Sweeney said in “On Heroic Wings.”

Sweeney’s third DFC came the next day, when he led three other aircraft in an alpha strike on the outskirts of Hanoi.

On a strike that close to the North Vietnamese capital, “You knew the defenses were going to be heavier,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney and other pilots dodged North Vietnamese surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) as they headed to their target, a major railyard.

“The rule was, to avoid being hit, when [the SAM] looked like a flying telephone pole, you made this maneuver around it, kind of away from it,” Sweeney said.

“Lo and behold, this thing” — the SAM— “came up, and as it got closer, I thought ‘Oh, this has Chuck Sweeney’s name on it.'”

Sweeney managed to avoid the missile but got separated from the rest of his group and caught up just as they were preparing to attack their target.

Sweeney’s group hit a loaded train and avoided even more anti-aircraft fire as they headed back to the USS Hancock.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Navy’s USS Portland will test a prototype laser

With the decommissioning of the interim afloat staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15, ex-LPD 15), the Navy removed the prototype Laser Weapon System that had been on the ship which was built as an Austin-class amphibious transport. The Ponce’s replacement, USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), did not get the laser.


Now, according to a report by the Daily Star, we have found out the lucky vessel that did get the laser. That ship is the San Antonio-class amphibious transport USS Portland (LPD 27).

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

The Portland was commissioned in the middle of December, and is slated to be home-ported in San Diego. The vessel will not only test the Laser Weapon System, it will also serve as flagship for the upcoming RIMPAC exercise.

The United States sent the Laser Weapon System to the Middle East, where after a series of demonstrations, the captain of USS Ponce was authorized to use it as a defensive weapon. The Ponce was decommissioned last summer, and had been the subject of a rumored purchase by Argentina.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown
USS Ponce conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research-sponsored Laser Weapon System. Navy photo by John F. Williams.

The Portland displaces 25,000 tons, and has a top speed of 22 knots. According to the Sixteenth Edition of The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World, it can carry two LCAC (Landing Craft, Air Cushion), roughly 700 Marines, and up to four helicopters. It is armed with the Mk 31 launcher for the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile and two 30mm Bushmaster II chain guns.

Other laser programs have been in the works as well. One concept involved installing a pallet with a High-Energy Fiber Laser on a H-60 airframe, turning a Blackhawk or Seahawk into a Laserhawk. The Army also tested a laser weapon on the AH-64 Apache. Both the Blackhawk and Apache had the ability to guide missiles like the AGM-114 Hellfire and AGM-123 Skipper with lasers. Another laser known as ATHENA was used to shoot down drones in another recent test.

MIGHTY HISTORY

These cruisers were really a pair of mini-battleships

The Alaska-class cruisers are often seen as a waste of resources. At first glance, it is easy to see why. The United States only completed two out of the six planned vessels. One more was launched, but never finished. All three that managed to reach the water were quickly in reserve and then scrapped. But these ships were quite an achievement – a mini-battleship that gave good service during their brief careers.

Much of the issue was timing. According to data in Volume Fifteen of Samuel Eliot Morison’s History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, “Supplement and General Index,” the lead ship, USS Alaska (CB 1) was not commissioned until June 17, 1944, 11 days after the D-Day landings. The second ship, USS Guam (CB 2), was commissioned on Sept. 17, 1944. These ships didn’t have much left to fight by the time they got to the front lines.


Their primary purpose was to kill Japan’s heavy cruisers in a surface action. The Japanese had three classes of heavy cruiser intended for front-line service: The Myoko, Takao, and Mogami classes each packed ten eight-inch guns, and at least 12 610mm torpedo tubes for the Type 93 Long Lance torpedo.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

The large cruiser USS Alaska (CB 1) fighting off a Japanese air attack.

(US Navy photo)

According to Fleets of World War II, the Alaska-class cruisers were armed with nine 12-inch guns and 12 five-inch dual-purpose guns. NavWeaps.com notes that these guns, the 12″/50 Mark 8, had a maximum range of 38,573 yards. By comparison, the Long Lance torpedo had a maximum range of 32,800 yards.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

An Alaska-class large cruiser’s 12-inch guns could fire as many as three salvoes in a minute.

(US Navy photo)

That is a difference of three miles in favor of the Alaska-class cruisers. In essence, a Japanese heavy cruiser would be making a run of about three miles under fire before it could get within the maximum range of its torpedoes. In the roughly six minutes they would be making that run, an Alaska-class cruiser could get off anywhere from 15 to 18 salvoes.

Oregon Veterans Home pleads for video messages to bring hope to residents in lockdown

The incomplete large cruiser USS Hawaii (CB 3) being towed to the scrapyard.

(US Navy photo)

The Alaska-class cruisers ended up helping to defend the fleet against Japanese planes. Both vessels helped escort the stricken USS Franklin (CV 13) after she suffered horrific damage during the invasion of Okinawa, and later took part in Operation Magic Carpet, the return of American troops home after World War II. These ships were sold for scrap in the early 1960s, never carrying out their primary mission of killing enemy heavy cruisers, but these mini-battleships still did their share during the war.