Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet's life - We Are The Mighty
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Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life

Sailing saved Ronnie Simpson’s life. He was an 18 year old high school senior in Atlanta, Georgia when the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in March 2003. Drawn to service by the events of September 11, Ronnie joined the Marine Corps Infantry the day after the war started.


Less than a year later in March 2004, he deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines.

“I was a .50 cal gunner on top of a Humvee,” he recalls. “Four months into my deployment, we were ambushed during a night-time convoy, and an RPG hit the ground near my Humvee. The rocket bounced up and exploded in the air one meter from me. I had broken ribs, detached retinas, a bleeding brain which created sub-retinal fluid, a traumatic brain injury (TBI), a blown-out left lung and my tongue was blown into my airway. I was temporarily knocked unconscious. Because I wasn’t breathing and was unresponsive, Marines in my truck thought I was dead. It was actually a textbook blast injury. The Corpsman in my Humvee, Doc David Segundo, was injured too but he got up, cleared my airway, and saved my life.”

Simpson, now 30 years old, spent a lot of time recovering both physically and mentally. Most of his TBI symptoms weren’t permanent (he credits the helmet technology for that). Despite having burns over 10 percent of his body, many of those scars aren’t visible.

“It fucked me up pretty good,” he says. “Unless you knew me though, you’d never know I’m hurt. I have no visible scars unless I take my shirt off. Then I have many.”

Simpson is legally blind and can’t obtain a driver’s license. Though his body healed, his mental state took much longer. He reevaluated his life and experiences through a 9,000-mile bike trek across Europe and Asia in 2009 and more than 50,000 miles at sea, both healing counterpoints to his experiences in Iraq.

“My time in theater and my travels have shaped my perspective,” Simpson says. “There’s a lot of good and beauty in this world, and I want to add to that. Our program is about helping the men and women that are coming back – the veterans – the people we should be looking out for. We in the veteran community have these experiences and while we may interpret them differently, this shared experience can bring us together. We can come together to create profound and impactful programs to help the veterans from these two wars as well as something permanent and sustainable for veterans of future conflicts.”

Sailing is the catalyst for Simpson’s initiative. Not only his love for sailing but how he changed his life and how he aims to change the lives of others.

“I joined the Marines at 18, was injured in combat at 19, my dad died four months after I got hurt, and by 20 I was medically retired,” Simpson says. “By 22 I was a lost soul. I had reached my deepest, darkest point. I’m fearful of what would have happened if I hadn’t flipped the script. I broke off an engagement, sold my house, and moved from Texas to California. That move was my re-birth as a new person.”

On the California coast, he found his calling. After living so recklessly, he became completely focused on becoming a racing sailor and making the most of his life. Seven years later, Simpson now travels the world as a professional sailor and sailing writer.

“It helped me heal,” Simpson says. “These adventures help you positively adrenalize yourself in a sustainable manner. Guys who come back from places like Fallujah have experienced adrenaline like most will never know, and again need to achieve that heightened state of existence. But where will they find it? Drugs, alcohol, or doping the pain away with pills? I can put you on the helm of a racing sailboat in the middle of the night and it will rock your world. This is a healthy way to get that fix.”

It’s not just about giving people the fix of adrenaline they were accustomed to while in combat. For Simpson and his sailing nonprofit – Coastal and Offshore Recalibration Experience, or CORE (www.medicinalmissions.com/CORE), that community of veterans is the most important result.

“Because that’s what it is: a Community,” he says. “On a sailboat you can put anyone into a job they can do, regardless of their injury. It’s a sport that doesn’t care if you have arms or legs. That’s a big part of it. Everyone has an assigned, defined role. There’s a chain of command, a defined mission, teamwork is critical and constant risk management is all part of the game. The parallels between racing sailboats and combat are incredible. When you combine that with the peacefulness and serenity of heading to sea with your brothers and sisters, it’s a powerful experience.”

Simpson and his best friend Army veteran Walter Kotecki, created a sailing program within an existing wounded-veteran nonprofit, raised $50,000 through yacht clubs and private donors, and gave a sailing experience to 30 veterans over the course of four clinics in 2012 and 2013.

“There’s always a steep learning curve when you start your own thing. We flew vets to San Francisco,” he says. “They had the whole range of injuries from PTSD to multiple amputees to blindness. We used sailing, surfing, yoga, nature walks, kayaking, art and more to help these guys look past their injuries and realize that anything is possible, no matter their injury, while re-establishing that sense of camaraderie and community that so many have lost since leaving the service.”

It was so successful and the veterans so responsive Simpson and Kotecki decided to strike out on their own earlier this year, forming CORE.

“I had a Vietnam vet hook me up with a racing sailboat and an opportunity,” says Simpson. “He passed that torch to me and told me to pay it forward. Here’s my chance to hook somebody else up. Let’s re-build that community and keep that torch going.”

CORE is seeking veterans of the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to participate in more sailing clinics throughout California, with the first being in San Francisco in October of this year. They will be accepting applications until August 31. For 2016, CORE is planning six to eight clinics up and down the California coast.

The most ambitious plan for CORE is participating in the 2017 Transpacific Yacht Race – where they will train a full crew of combat-wounded veterans to sail from Los Angeles to Honolulu, the first time ever that such a crew would be assembled.

“Our goal is to help reduce the rate of veteran suicide in this country. Sailing is one of the tools that we use,” he says.

Simpson is now featured in a series of short films produced by Craftsman, We Are The Mighty, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), showing how IAVA empowers veterans as they transition back to civilian life.

“It’s admirable for companies like Craftsman to reach out to veterans groups to benefit the guys and girls that are coming back,” Simpson says. “I see a positive shift in awareness about issues that affect veterans, how we can improve the care of veterans, and how we can achieve a more holistic healing approach instead of pumping them full of drugs.”

Craftsman is donating $250,000 to IAVA and from May 25 – July 4, for every new follower of @Craftsman on Instagram, Craftsman will donate an additional $1 to IAVA (with a minimum donation of $5,000).

“I am honored to be part of this and stoked that a big corporation is out to make a difference of stemming the tide of 22 veterans a day,” Simpson says. “I’m excited that they believe in what we’re doing, and to work on this next mission of saving lives by reaching out to the veteran community.”

Now: Artist takes his craft to war and back again

Articles

7 unrealistic Navy SEAL characters in the movies

Since the halcyon days of World War II frogmen, Navy SEALs have completed some of the most dangerous missions ever largely in the shadows — until the book comes out, that is.


When done correctly, Hollywood has produced a few films that give those brave men credit where it’s due. However, some films try to capitalize on the respected SEAL image by creating characters that are so far-fetched, many veterans call bullsh*t on it right way.

Related: This is why some sailors wear gold stripes, and some wear red

So check out our list of unrealistic Navy SEAL characters we’d love to forget.

7. Lt. Dale Hawkins

Played by Charlie Sheen, the action film “Navy SEALs” showcased Hawkins as being the “wild child” within the SEAL team. The movie decided to show his recklessness by having the character leap out of a moving car and into a river — it worked.

Seriously? (Images via Giphy)

6. Chief Casey Ryback

Steven Seagal plays Chief Casey Ryback, a decorated Navy SEAL who specializes in explosives, weapons, and counter-terrorism turned culinary specialist, spending his remaining years in the Navy as a cook.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
An epic hand salute. (Source: WB/Screenshot)

5. John “Bullfrog” Burke

OJ “The Juice” Simpson, played a Navy SEAL in 1994’s TV movie “Frogmen,” but unfortunately it never saw action. The show focused on Simpson’s character “Bullfrog” who conducted secret operations out of a dive shop in Malibu.

Unfortunately, 1994 was a big year for Simpson but not in a good way.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
We wouldn’t follow him into battle (Source: WB)

4. Lawrence Hammer

Rob Lowe plays a young rebel navigating through life as an elite member of the Navy SEALs as he’s sent off to fight in Desert Storm in 1992’s “The Finest Hour.”

Check out the trailer below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOjk0qHKTJU
(GloopTrekker, YouTube)

Also Read: 5 heroic movie acts a military officer would never do

3. Darius Stone

Talented musician Ice Cube plays Stone in “XXX: State of the Union,” where the character’s backstory just happens to include being a Navy SEAL — imagine that. Stone is released from jail and given the mission to stop a coup attempt against the President and save the day.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
It looks like they mean business. (Source: Sony)

2. The whole cast of “Seal Team Eight: Behind Enemy Lines”

Starring Tom Sizemore, the mission is to locate a secret mining operation in the Congo and stop international terrorists from selling uranium.

Check out the trailer below.

(YouTube Movies, YouTube)

1. Jordan O’Neill

Demi Moore plays the motivated Navy SEAL candidate in 1997’s “G.I. Jane” directed by Ridley Scott. Although the film doesn’t show her earning her trident, the implication that she will soon enough is there.

We’re not saying women aren’t tough enough to be a Navy SEAL, it just hasn’t happened yet.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life

Can you think of any others? Comment below

MIGHTY HISTORY

Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps highlights black D-Day hero denied Medal of Honor

The Army element known as “America’s Contingency Corps” marked the 76th anniversary of D-Day by telling the story of a black veteran of that battle who died without ever receiving the full hero’s recognition he deserved.

The Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based XVIII Army Corps published a series of tweets Saturday night telling the story of Cpl. Waverly Woodson, who sustained “grievous” wounds at Omaha Beach in Normandy, but still managed to save the lives of 80 other soldiers.


The XVIII Corps is the same unit from which some 1,600 soldiers were ordered to the Washington, D.C. region this week to stand on alert for protest control. They ultimately returned home without entering the district.

Woodson was one of roughly 2,000 black American soldiers who landed at Normandy on June 6, 1944. A member of the all-black 320th Anti-Aircraft Barrage Balloon Battalion, he worked for 30 hours to triage the wounded after getting hit by a German shell himself, according to the tweet thread. In all, he treated more than 200 soldiers.

“He was transferred to a hospital ship but refused to remain there, returning to the fight to treat more Allied Soldiers. He was hailed as a hero in his hometown of [Philadelphia],” the thread stated. “Yet when he returned to the US, he had to fight Jim Crow, facing discrimination at every turn.”

Woodson was nominated by his commander for the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest combat award. Instead, he was awarded the Bronze Star and a Purple heart.

The tweets noted that Woodson had departed Lincoln University, where he was a pre-med student, to serve his nation after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Despite passing the Army’s officer candidate school exam, his race meant he could only serve as an enlisted soldier.

“Waverly Woodson never truly received the recognition he deserved for his selfless heroism on this day 76 years ago,” the thread concluded. “Today, let’s acknowledge him and the [largely overlooked] African American troops who landed on Normandy on D Day.”

Though Woodson died in 2005 at the age of 83, his widow, Joann, is still fighting to get him the Medal of Honor he was denied. In July 2019, a group of 52 lawmakers largely from the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy asking him to initiate a formal review into upgrading Woodson’s Bronze Star.

“Based on extensive research on his service record, it is clear that Cpl. Woodson did not receive the Medal of Honor during WWII because of the color of his skin,” the lawmakers wrote. “We believe that the Army has sufficient evidence of the required recommendation to, at a minimum, permit a formal review by an award decision authority. Accordingly, we respectfully ask the Army to rectify this historic injustice and appropriately recognize this valorous Veteran with a posthumous recommendation for the Medal of Honor.”

It’s not clear if the XVIII Airborne’s public acknowledgement of Woodson and his heroism signals a larger interest on the part of the Army in revisiting his award.

Until the 1990s, no Medals of Honor had been awarded to black World War II veterans. Following a review commissioned by the Army in 1993, seven black veterans of the war received the nation’s highest combat honor, all but one posthumously.

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

Articles

Netflix won’t block movies and shows for deployed US troops

Not too long ago, We Are The Mighty listed the awesome movies and television U.S. troops would not be able to watch on Netflix while deployed due to the streaming company’s decision to actively enforce its ban on users who access the site via Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs.


Because of restrictions in licensing certain content to certain countries, Netflix has to block users who attempt to access its U.S. servers while overseas. Netflix would even ban users who attempt to circumvent its geographic restrictions. This included U.S. troops who deploy all over the world but still watch streaming content from the good old U.S. of A. Understandably, they were very upset, as Netflix can give troops the feeling of being at home (at least for 22 minutes an episode), but that’s not the end of the story.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
Yes, 10 seasons of Futurama are on Netflix. That’s also not the end of the story.

Netflix wants to remind U.S. troops that cheap, online, streaming content exists in the Land of the Free because of the brave. It exempts military bases from the geo-restriction policy and, according to Netflix, always has.

“Netflix always exempts U.S. military bases around the world,” Anne Marie Squeo, a spokeswoman for Netflix, told Stars and Stripes. “They will still be able to access the U.S. catalog.”

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
The Avengers is not available on Netflix.

Certainly good news for everyone on base, but many troops overseas live off-base. Those troops will have to suck it up and accept the catalog of the country in which they live. It is important to note that while Netflix has a catalog in 192 of Earth’s 196 countries, some catalogs are more diverse and expansive than others.

The service is not yet available in China, probably due to the Chinese government’s myriad restrictions on media. Syria, North Korea, and the Crimean Peninsula do not get Netflix service because they are currently facing U.S. government sanctions. That’s too bad because North Korean cinema is really, really something else.

The company says it will spend $5 billion in the next year in hopes that eventually all its content will be available to all its subscribers, regardless of location.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life

Articles

This former SEAL Team 6 officer just called the VA chief a ‘fellow veteran’ — which he’s not

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke incorrectly identified Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin as a “fellow veteran” in a photo Zinke tweeted from Air Force One.


Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, tweeted a photo of himself with Shulkin, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on the way to Youngstown, Ohio, July 25 with President Donald Trump.

 

Perry is an Air Force veteran. Shulkin, a medical doctor, was appointed by President Barack Obama as the VA’s undersecretary for health in 2015 and became secretary this year. He did not serve in the military. He’s the first VA secretary who is not a veteran.

Representatives for Zinke and Shulkin did not respond to requests for comment.

Articles

US to remain in Iraq for ‘years to come’

Top Pentagon leaders are warning that the long war is going to get even longer.


Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford told Senate leaders on Wednesday that even after ISIS is defeated in Syria and Iraq, U.S. troops will be stationed in the region for at least a few years afterward.

“I believe it’s in our national interest that we keep Iraqi security forces in a position to keep our mutual enemies on their back foot,” Mattis told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Defense.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
A cavalry scout assigned to the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, scans his sector during his guard shift near Makhmour, Iraq on Jan. 27, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ian Ryan)

“I don’t see any reason to pull out again and face the same lesson,” he added, referencing the removal of all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011.

Though President Barack Obama in 2008 campaigned on a promise to pull troops out of Iraq, the move has been criticized by conservatives in the years since as helping fuel the rise of ISIS.

In 2014, as ISIS militants seized vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, one senior military officer told Business Insider the rise of the terror group in the wake of U.S. troop departures was inevitable.

“We said we won some success but this is reversible,” the retired senior U.S. military officer said, on condition of anonymity. “So what we’re seeing now is exactly what we forecasted.”

So far, Mattis seems more comfortable placing troops closer to harm’s way than his predecessor.

Though the Pentagon has long downplayed the role of U.S. ground troops in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, recent deployments of many more “boots on the ground” suggest they may be front-and-center in the coming months.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
Green Berets flood a room while practicing close quarters combat techniques. (3rd Special Forces Group)

In addition to roughly 500 U.S. special operations forces, the military has sent conventional ground troops inside Syria, to include a contingent of Army Rangers, soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, and artillerymen from 1st Battalion, 4th Marines to provide fire support just 20-30 miles from Raqqa, the ISIS capital.

“The Iraqi security forces will need that kind of support for years to come,” Dunford told the Senate committee.

Articles

The Civil War’s Union Army is the reason beat cops wear blue

By the end of the Civil War, Los Angeles was still a relatively new U.S. city. It was ceded to the United States with the rest of California in 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War. In 1869, the population was up to 5,000, with more coming in all the time.


They had one City Marshal and a Sheriff to police them. Soon, the murder rate and public drunkenness demanded more police officers. Six men wore the badges and Winchester lever-action rifles of the new LAPD.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
LA in 1869. Somewhere a drunk cowboy is complaining about Mercury in retrograde while his buddy asks for gluten-free hummus.

Early LAPD Sheriffs had a short lifespan. The second-ever City Marshal was murdered in 1853. Sheriff James Barton was assassinated in 1857. The murder rate was as high as one every day, with many coming from LA’s 400 gambling halls and 110 saloons. Until these six men were deputized in 1869, mob rule and vigilantism were the usual method of justice.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
These days, flash mobs rule LA. (LA Film School photo)

This was when the American police department received its iconic dark blue uniforms. The Los Angeles Police Department’s first official uniforms were Army surplus — the dark blue of the Union Army of the American Civil War. And they looked exactly like Union soldiers too.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
All they need is a bayonet. Nothing inspires law and order like a bayonet.

Still, that didn’t ease much for the City Marshal, who was also the dog catcher and tax collector. Marshal William C. Warren didn’t even get along with his deputies, one of whom shot and killed him six years later.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
Go ahead. Try to take an Angeleno’s dog away from them. That’s probably what Marshal Warren did.

LA had 16 police chiefs between 1879 and the turn of the 20th century, averaging almost a new guy in the position every year. By 1893, the cowboy hat in the Union Army uniform was replaced with a stovepipe hat — the helmet in the style of British “Bobbies” — for the beat cops and flat tops for the sergeants and officers of the force.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
There should be more than six guys twenty years later, right?

Many cities like Los Angeles adopted the same practice of using Union Army surplus uniforms in the days following the Civil War. Similar photos of NYPD officers wearing the old uniforms and “Bobbie”-style helmets can be seen as early as 1893.

Leave it to Los Angeles to set the first vintage clothing trend.

Articles

Here are the best US military photos of 2016

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of 2016:


Air Force:

A U.S. Army crew chief assigned to 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, scans his sector as the sun sets near Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 21, 2016. Aircraft with the 16th CAB were supporting day and night air assault training.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Army photo by Capt. Brian H. Harris

U.S. Army paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division, prepare to jump from a C-130 Hercules assigned to the 934th Airlift Wing during the Central Accord exercise in Libreville, Gabon on June 22, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball

A member of the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron refuels a 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft during forward area refueling point training at Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Feb. 11, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke Kitterman

watm-best-photos-2016

A U.S. Air Force aircrew assigned to the 1st Helicopter Squadron prepares for take-off in a UH-1N Iroquois at Joint Base Andrews, Md., April 6, 2016. The flight was part of the Turkish Air Force Chief of Staff’s visit to the U.S.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan J. Sonnier

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 18th Aggressor Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, flies in support of Forceful Tiger Jan. 28, 2016, near Okinawa, Japan.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Maeson L. Elleman

U.S. Air Force members assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron conduct post-flight inspections on an HH-60G Pave Hawk during exercise Voijek Valour at Hullavington Airfield, England, March 4, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñez

A French Dassault Rafale receives fuel from a KC-10 near Iraq, Oct. 26, 2016. The Dassault Rafale is a twin-engine, multi-role fighter equipped with diverse weapons to ensure its success as a omnirole aircraft.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward

An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies over Aviano Air Base, Italy on Oct. 20, 2016. The 555th and 510th Fighter Squadrons deter aggression, defend U.S. and NATO interests, and develop Aviano through superior combat air power, support and training.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Krystal Ardrey

U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Machello, a paratrooper assigned to 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, places his weapon into operation during a joint forcible entry exercise at Malemute Drop Zone on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 23, 2016, as part of Exercise Spartan Agoge.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Javier Alvarez

An Afghan air force A-29 Super Tucano aircraft flies over Afghanistan during a training mission April 6, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Eydie Sakura

ARMY:

U.S. Army Pfc. Dylan Scott, a combat medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team out of Pendleton, Oregon, watches the night sky on top of an M113 Medical Evacuation Vehicle during Exercise Saber Guardian 16 at the Romanian Land Forces Combat Training Center in Cincu, Romania.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Timothy Jackson, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Oregon Army National Guard

U.S. Army paratroopers assigned to the 54th Engineer Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade, conduct an airborne operation from a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft at Frida Drop Zone in Pordenone, Italy, June 29, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Paolo Bovo

A U.S. Army jump master assigned to Special Operations Command South commands his chalk to “check equipment!” Jan. 12, 2016, during an Airborne Operation over Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Osvaldo Equite

U.S. Army Spc. Lucas Johnson, left, an infantryman with Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, stationed at Vilseck, Germany, suppresses a simulated enemy with an M240B machine gun during Exercise Spring Storm in Voru, Estonia, May 14, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Steven M. Colvin

U.S. Army Spc. Benjamin Kelley, infantryman, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade clears a BGM-71 Anti-Tank Tow Missile launch tube during a weapons range day at Mielno range (north), Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland, Oct. 22, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William A. Tanner

U.S. Soldiers assigned to Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division fire a M777 A2 Howitzer in support of Iraqi security forces at Platoon Assembly Area 14, Iraq, Dec. 7, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht

Ukrainian Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 80th Airmobile Brigade fire a ZU-23-2 towed antiaircraft weapon before conducting an air assault mission in conjunction with a situational training exercise led by Soldiers from 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Nov. 28, 2016 at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr

A South Carolina Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift cargo helicopter assigned to Detachment 1, Company B, 2-238th General Support Aviation Battalion and crew based in Greenville, South Carolina support the South Carolina Forestry Commission to contain a remote fire near the top of Pinnacle Mountain in Pickens County, South Carolina, Nov. 17, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine

U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, manuever their Stryker Combat Vehicle in the Yukon Training Area near Fort Wainwright, Alaska, during the Arctic Anvil 2016 exercise July 23, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher

FORT IRWIN, CALIF. – A vehicle from Killer Troop, 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, defends their position while firing a simulated Tube-launched, Optically Tracked, Wire Guided missile at a 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank in the distance at the National Training Center, Aug. 3, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Army Photo by Pvt. Austin Anyzeski, 11th ACR

NAVY:

A U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 participates in a Very Shallow Water (VSW) scenario during Exercise Tricrab on Naval Base Guam, May 17, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alfred A. Coffield

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Feb. 26, 2016) – Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Trevor Thompson, member of the U.S. Navy Parachute Team “The Leap Frogs,” presents the American flag during a training demonstration at Homestead Air Reserve Base. The Leap Frogs are in Florida preparing for the 2016 show season.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Navy photo by Jim Woods

PEARL HARBOR (Jan. 12, 2016) – Hospital Corpsman 1st Class James Aldridge, assigned to Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, installs a bracket to support a new cathodic protection system on a pile.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Navy photo by Construction Mechanic 3rd Class Ben McCallum

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Dec. 21, 2016) Distinguished visitors from Spain observe operations on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike).

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class (AW) Jimmy Louangsyyotha, from Seattle, uses a feeler gauge to measure disc-break clearance on the landing gear of an F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to the “Diamondbacks” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, in the hangar bay of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), during Exercise Invincible Spirit in the waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula, Oct. 13, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class (SW/AW) Nathan Burke

A U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) assigned to Assault Craft Unit 5 leaves shore during a loading exercise at Landing Zone Westfield aboard Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, July 12th, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson

The crew of USS Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001) pays respects to Monsoor in San Diego, Sept. 29, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Abe McNatt

Seaman Brice Scraper, top, from Dallas, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Alex Miller, from Monroe, Mich., verify the serial number of a Captive Air Training Missile (CATM) 9M, attached to an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the “Royal Maces” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 on the flight deck of the Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) in the Philippine Sea, Oct. 5, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke

U.S. Navy divers assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 swim with Sri Lankan navy divers during a joint diving exercise in the Apra Harbor off the coast of Guam, April 13, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alfred A. Coffield

NORFOLK (Dec. 24, 2016) A Sailor greets his daughter after returning home aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) as part of the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (WSP ARG) homecoming from a six-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in Europe and Middle East.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew Schneider

MARINE CORPS:

U.S. Marines work together with the Norwegian Army to conduct offensive and defensive operations at the battalion and brigade-level during Exercise Reindeer II in Blåtind, Norway, Nov. 22, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy J. Lutz

Marines, assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), depart the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) in combat rubber raiding crafts (CRRC) to participate in a boat raid during Valiant Shield 2016 in the Philippine Sea, Sept 19, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chris Williamson

Cpl. Ryan Dills communicates with other assault amphibious vehicles while traveling from amphibious assault ship USS San Diego to Royal Australian Navy Canberra class amphibious ship HMAS Canberra (L02) in the Pacific Ocean, July, 18 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Giannetti

U.S. Navy Corpsmen assigned to Field Medical Training Battalion East (FMTB-E), simulate a mass casualty scenario during a final exercise (FINEX) at Camp Johnson, N.C., March 2, 2016. FINEX is a culminating event at FMTB-E which transitions Sailors into the Fleet Marine Force.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. James R. Skelton

U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines Regiment prepare a newly developed system, the Multi Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT), for testing at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 8, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Julien Rodarte

Marines assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment (3/2) and Royal Cambodian Navy sailors rush to provide casualty care as part of a triage exercise in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Nov. 3, 2016, during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Cambodia 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin A. Lewis

A Sailor on the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) directs a landing craft air cushioned vehicle aboard the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) during a ship to shore for the Amphibious Ready Group Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise Dec. 3, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Adaecus G. Brooks

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Tanner Casares, a production specialist with the Combat Camera section, Marine Corps Combat Service Support Schools, navigates through a water obstacle while conducting an obstacle course on Camp Johnson, N.C., December 12, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andrew Kuppers

OKINAWA, Japan (Jan. 12, 2016) Construction Electrician Constructionman Jacob H. Raines, assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3, fights through knee-high mud and water while running a six-hour endurance course at the Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center (JWTC).

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Gomez

Lance Cpl. Nick J. Padia, a gunner, writes the words “War Pig” on a window of his humvee after reaching one of their objective points at Cultana Training Area, South Australia, Australia, July 1, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Osvaldo L. Ortega III

A Marine drinks from his canteen before participating in a mechanized raid drill on Landing Zone Swallow at Camp Davis Airfield, North Carolina, August 16, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Melanye E. Martinez

Lance Cpl. Ryley Sweet drives an assault amphibious vehicle onto amphibious assault ship USS San Diego, off the coast of Hawaii. The Marines are participating in the Rim of the Pacific 2016, a multinational military exercise, from June 29 to Aug. 8 in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Giannetti

Infantry squad leaders assigned to School of Infantry West, Detachment Hawaii, provide security during the Advanced Infantry Course aboard Kahuku Training Area, September 21, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson

MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft return after a long-range raid from Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji, Japan to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa as part of Blue Chromite 2017, Nov. 4, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Major Michael Cato

Marines and sailors with Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, participated in a Teufel Hunden, or Devil Dog, challenge August 12, 2016, on Camp Lejeune North Carolina.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Melanye Martinez

COAST GUARD:

HAMPTON BAYS, NY – Airmen with 101st Rescue Squadron and 103rd Rescue Squadron conduct hoist training with United States Coastguardsmen from US Coast Guard Station Shinnecock December 22, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
US Air National Guard / Staff Sergeant Christopher S. Muncy

Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Tate, an aviation maintenance technician at Coast Guard Air Station Astoria, hooks up a net full of beach debris and trash to the bottom of an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter at a beach near Neah Bay, Wash.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg

A U.S. Coast Guardsman assigned to Air Station Houston looks out from an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter while conducting an overflight assessment and search for anyone in distress after recent flooding in Southeast Texas, April 19, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jennifer Nease

Passengers aboard the 561-foot Caribbean Fantasy ferry vessel use the marine escape system to awaiting lift rafts as they abandon the vessel a mile from San Juan Harbor, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team Los Angeles conducts vessel manuever training near Santa Barbara on Monday, October 24, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Public Affairs Specialist Third Class Andrea L. Anderson

Coast Guard crew members from Air Station Clearwater, Florida, prepare an HC-130 Hercules airplane Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, for an overflight.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse

Justin Daulman, a parking assistant, took this photo of CG-2301 painted in retro colors in celebration of 100 years in Coast Guard aviation. Photo taken at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh on July 30, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Coast Guard photo

A boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral, Florida, enforces a safety and security zone during a rocket launch off the coast of Cape Canaveral, June 24, 2016. The Coast Guard helps provide safety and security services for launches out of the Kennedy Space Center.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony L. Soto

Crewmembers from Coast Guard Station Honolulu transport members of the Honolulu Police Department Specialized Services Division aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium offshore of Honolulu, Sept. 26, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle

Coast Guardsmen, from units across the Pacific Northwest, carry a large American flag down Fourth Avenue during Seattle’s 67th Seafair Torchlight Parade, July 30, 2016.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi.

Articles

Here are 5 things the ‘Harlem Hellfighters’ did that cemented their place in history

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
Wikimedia commons


The 369th Infantry Regiment isn’t a fixture in history textbooks. It should be. Nicknamed the “Harlem Hellfighters” by the Germans, they were the first African-American infantry unit to fight in World War I. They were also one of the most decorated. Here are 5 reasons why the “Harlem Hellfighters” are the ultimate American heroes:

1. They were the first African-American infantry unit to fight in World War I

Approximately 380,000 African-Americans served in the U.S. Army during the Great War. Although there was no specific segregation policy outlined in the draft legislation, African-American volunteers were told to “tear off one corner of their registration cards so they could easily be identified and inducted separate.” Translation: The military was willing to accept black troops as long as they didn’t mix with the white population. Most of the African-American soldiers who volunteered were confined to labor battalions. Shipped to France in December 1917, the 369th Infantry Regiment was initially going to be kept on the sidelines. Their fortunes changed when Gen. John Pershing assigned them to the16th Division of the French Army. Unlike their American allies, the French were happy to accept any soldier willing to fight on the front lines, regardless of race.

2. The got their nickname from the Germans

The 369th soon became one of the most feared units in the Allied forces. Famous for never ceding an inch of ground, they were nicknamed the “Harlem Hellfighters” by the Germans. Since over 70 percent of the unit hailed from Harlem, the name stuck. That wasn’t the only nickname they earned during the war: The French were so impressed by their general badassery that they dubbed them the “Men of Bronze.”

3. They introduced the French to American Jazz

Bet you didn’t see this one coming. When they weren’t scaring the bejesus out of the Germans, the369th made some pretty boss music. Led by James Reese Europe, the 369th Infantry Jazz Band, also known as the “Hellfighters,” introduced the French to the sweet stylings of American ragtime. Largely forgotten now, Europe became an international sensation. After the war, the Hellfighters performed for more then a million people when they marched up Fifth Avenue during the World War I victory parade.

4. They saw more combat than any other American unit

The 369th spent 191 consecutive days on the front lines. Which means they saw more action than any other American regiment. They were also the first Allied unit to reach the Rhine.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
YouTube

5. They broke down racial barriers

The “Harlem Hellfighters” helped combat racial stereotypes at home and abroad. When they returned home, the soldiers were welcomed as heroes. Unfortunately for America, this new period of racial tolerance didn’t last. During the “Red Summer” of 1919, anti-black race riots erupted in twenty-six cities across America. Tragically, lynching increased from fifty-eight in 1918 to seventy-seven in 1919. At least ten of the victims were war veterans, and some were lynched while in uniform. The U.S. military remained segregated until 1948.

Interested in learning more about the “Harlem Hellfighters”? Make sure to watch William Miles’s Men of Bronze. Filmed in 1977, the eye-opening documentary features interviews with four veterans of the 369th.

Articles

A top US intelligence official ‘privately floated’ a potential deal to bring Snowden home

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
A top US intelligence official informally floated the idea of potentially offering Edward Snowden a specific plea bargain to return home, Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News reports.


Isikoff, citing three “sources familiar with informal discussions of Snowden’s case,” writes that the chief counsel to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Robert Litt, “recently privately floated the idea that the government might be open to” the former NSA contractor returning to the US, pleading guilty to one felony count, and receiving a prison sentence of three to five years “in exchange for full cooperation with the government.”

Snowden, who has lived in Russia since June 23, 2013, is charged with three felonies: Theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information, and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person.

ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner, one of Snowden’s legal advisers, told Yahoo that any deal involving a felony sentence and prison time would be rejected.

“Our position is he should not be reporting to prison as a felon and losing his civil rights as a result of his act of conscience,” Wizner said.

Snowden, 32, allegedly stole up to 1.77 million NSA documents while working at two consecutive jobs for US government contractors in Hawaii between March 2012 and May 2013.

The US government believes Snowden gave about 200,000 “tier 1 and 2” documents detailing the NSA’s global surveillance apparatus to American journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in early June 2013. Reports based on the disclosures have swayed courts in the US and influenced public opinion around the world.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life

Snowden also provided an unknown number of documents to the South China Morning Post, adding that he possessed more.

“If I have time to go through this information, I would like to make it available to journalists in each country to make their own assessment, independent of my bias, as to whether or not the knowledge of US network operations against their people should be published,” Snowden told Lana Lam of SCMP on June 12, 2013, 11 days before flying to Moscow.

The US intelligence community believes that Snowden also took up to 1.5 million “tier 3” documents, including 900,000 Department of Defense files and documents detailing NSA offensive cyber operations, the fate of which are unclear.

Snowden reportedly told James Risen of The New York Times over encrypted chat in October 2013 that the former CIA technician “gave all of the classified documents he had obtained to journalists he met in Hong Kong.” (Wizner subsequently told Business Insider that the report was inaccurate.)

Snowden would later tell NBC that he “destroyed” all documents in his possession before he spoke with the Russians in Hong Kong.

“The best way to make sure that for example the Russians can’t break my fingers and — and compromise information or — or hit me with a bag of money until I give them something was not to have it at all,” he told Brian Williams of NBC in Moscow in May 2014. “And the way to do that was by destroying the material that I was holding before I transited through Russia.”

In any case, some current and former officials are considering ways to bring the American home.

“I think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with,” Former Attorney General Eric Holder told Yahoo. “I think the possibility exists.”

Check out the full report at Yahoo News

More from Business Insider:

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

Articles

Navy grounds T-45 Goshawk fleet after pilot protests

The navy has instituted an “operational pause” for the entire fleet of one of it’s most important training jets due to problems with its environmental control systems feeding air to pilots.


The Navy announced the grounding April 5, saying it was “in response to concerns raised by T-45C pilots over the potential for physiological episodes.”

Multiple sources tell We Are The Mighty that the grounding was prompted by protests by Navy instructor pilots who were concerned over the effects of the malfunctioning oxygen system in the Goshawk. One source tells WATM that more than 100 instructors “I am safed” themselves — essentially telling the Navy they felt unsafe to fly — en masse at three air bases to force the service into coming up with a solution.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
Student pilots prepare to exit a T-45C Goshawk assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 2 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zach Sleeper)

According to the Navy statement, on March 31, 94 flights were cancelled between Naval Air Stations Kingsville, Meridian and Pensacola due to operational risk management concerns raised by T-45C instructor pilots. Their concerns are over recent physiological episodes experienced in the cockpit that were caused by contamination of the aircraft’s Onboard Oxygen Generation System. Chief of Naval Air Training immediately requested the engineering experts at NAVAIR conduct in-person briefs with the pilots.

The briefs were conducted in Kingsville Monday, then Meridian and Pensacola April 4, the Navy said.

The T-45C Goshawk is a two-seat, single-engine, carrier-capable jet trainer aircraft used by the Navy and Marine Corps for intermediate and advanced jet training. The T-45 is a derivative of the British Aerospace Hawk and has been in service since 1991. The Navy currently has 197 T-45s in its inventory.

“This issue is my number one safety priority and our team of NAVAIR program managers, engineers and maintenance experts in conjunction with Type Commanders, medical and physiological experts continue to be immersed in this effort working with a sense of urgency to determine all the root causes of [physiological episodes] along multiple lines of effort,” said Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces.

The Navy says it expects to resume flight operations for the Goshawks April 10.

Articles

The soldier who was conscripted to fight for the Soviets, the Japanese, and the Germans in World War II

A lot of things happened on D-Day- the largest seaborne invasion in history took place; James “Scotty” Doohan from Star Trek fame was shot six times by his fellow countrymen; and Mad Jack Churchill stormed the beach with a sword and a bow.


Another unusual thing that occurred was the capture of what initially was assumed to be a Japanese soldier in a German uniform by American paratroopers.

Sailing saved this Marine Corps vet’s life
Photo: Wikipedia

As it turns out, this soldier was neither Japanese nor German and was in fact a young Korean man who, through a bizarre series of incidents, had been conscripted to fight for the Soviets, the Japanese and the Germans during WW2. This is the story of Yang Kyoungjong.

Little is known about Yang’s life prior to his service in WW2 other than that he was a native Korean who happened to be living in Japanese controlled Manchuria at the start of WW2. Due to this, Yang found himself conscripted against his will in 1938 and forced to serve in the Kwantung Army at just 18 years old.

After basic training, Yang was sent to take part in what has since become known as the Battles of Khalkha Gol, along the borders of Manchuria.

These battles were mostly fought between the Kwantung Army and a combined force consisting of Mongolian and Soviet troops (the two countries were allies at the time) around the Khalkha River, which the Japanese insisted fell within the borders of Manchuria, despite claims to the contrary from Mongolia.

During one particularly heated battle, Yang was captured by the Soviets in 1939 and sent to a labor camp. If the Soviet Union hadn’t suffered intense casualties fighting Nazi Germany on the Eastern front in the latter half of the war, this is probably where Yang would have stayed for the duration of WW2.

But as its pool of able bodied men had been severely depleted by extensive engagements against the Nazis, Soviet military officials made the decision in 1942 to replenish their fighting force by “drafting” thousands of POWs. Among the soldiers drafted was Yang who was once again forcibly made to join the fight in WW2- this time under the Soviet Flag.

Yang’s service with the Soviets lasted about a year, during which time he took place in numerous engagements along the Eastern Front, most notably the Third Battle of Kharkov. It was in this battle that he found himself once again a prisoner of war for yet another nation.

The Germans were apparently unconcerned with how a Korean had come to end up fighting in Ukraine for the Soviets and simply took him prisoner along with hundreds of other soldiers. Again, the interesting part about Yang’s story would likely have ended here if the Nazis weren’t in the habit of allowing prisoners they didn’t execute to “volunteer” to serve with the Wehrmacht following their capture.

As a result of this practise, Yang was conscripted to fight in a German Ostbataillone (literally: East Battalion) in the 709 Infanterie-Division of the Wehrmacht.

For the curious, Ostbataillones were small battalions of men comprised of “volunteers” from the numerous regions of Europe Nazi Germany controlled. These were folded into larger units of German soldiers to serve as shock troops and backup to more experienced Wehrmacht battalions.

After being conscripted to fight for the Third Reich, Yang was sent to help defend the Cotentin peninsula in France shortly before D-Day. When D-Day arrived and Allied troops successfully stormed the beaches, Yang was among a handful of soldiers captured by the United States’ 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Initially it was reported by Lieutenant Robert Brewer of the 506th that they’d captured “four Asians in German uniform”. While this was technically true, the 506th mistakenly believed the four men (Yang included) were Japanese. In reality, three of the men hailed from Turkestan while Yang, as already noted, was of Korean heritage.

Unable to communicate with Yang due to him not being fluent in either English or German, Yang was sent to yet another POW camp, this time in Britain, where he mercifully remained until the end of the war.

When WW2 ended, Yang chose not to return home, but instead immigrated to the United States where once again his story becomes hazy. The only thing we can find for sure about Yang’s life after WW2 is that he eventually ended up settling in Cook County, Illinois where he quietly passed away in 1992.

Very unfortunately for those of us who like all the little details of a story, such as Yang’s thoughts on his experiences in WW2 and how he got through it all, after the war, Yang never talked publicly about his WW2 misadventure. In fact, according to a December of 2002 article on Yang that appeared in Weekly Korea, he didn’t even discuss

it with his three children, leaving us to wonder.

Articles

Whether it’s used in space or in Afghanistan, the Makarov pistol is out of this world

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A Russian Makarov PM pistol with its 9×18 mm ammunition, a common sidearm anywhere in the world where the Soviet Union had influence. Public domain photo.


If you are a Russian cosmonaut, you’ve got more than a space suit to protect you.

The Russians have been packing heat in low Earth orbit for decades.

Along with fishing gear and a first aid kit, the Granat-6 survival kit in every Soyuz spacecraft has a Makarov PM semi-automatic pistol and plenty of ammunition.

Presumably available to hunt game or provide a self-defense option, the pistol is just one more tool for the space-faring Russian to use if things go wrong.

But the Makarov PM – for Пистолет Макарова, or pistolet Makarova in honor of its chief designer Nikolay Makarov – has plenty of down-to-Earth uses.

Concealable and compact, it fires the Russian 9 x 18mm Makarov round, which is slightly shorter and fatter than the 9-mm NATO pistol round used throughout the rest of the world. It has a double-action mechanism – if a round is already chambered the pistol can be fired by pulling the trigger without manually cocking the hammer.

Even though it is heavy for its size and has a stiff trigger pull, it’s a natural for police work and covert operations. The designer even copied features from the Walther PP (police pistol) designed in 1929, including its size and the shape of the pistol’s frame.

Not surprisingly, since its introduction in 1951 the Makarov was frequently the handgun brandished by state security agents in the U.S.S.R. or the old Eastern Bloc when they said, “Comrade, come with us.”

Even in the age of polymer-frame pistols, the Makarov has its adherents.

Spetsnaz (Russian special forces) team members often carried the Makarov as their sidearm, particularly team commanders, deputy commanders, and radiomen. They sometimes carried a suppressed version of the weapon for so-called “wet works” – kidnappings and assassinations where stealth, surprise, and silence were necessary for mission success as well as personal survival.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, many Makarovs flooded the market and eventually ended up in the hands of shooters in the United States.

“The Makarov is more reliable than most of the more expensive small pistols, is well made of good material, and is surprisingly accurate,” writes Matthew Campbell, author of 21st-Century Stopping Power: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why. “This makes the Makarov a superior choice to most of the double action first-shot .380 ACP pistols in this size and weight class.”

Despite the fact it was officially phased out in 2003 by the Russian Ministry of Defense, thousands of the pistols remain in service with police officers, soldiers, and intelligence personnel. It is frequently in the hands of combatants fighting the Russia-Ukraine War, serving as the sidearm for both sides.

And like many weapons, the Makarov has a “bad boy reputation.”

Noted terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez  (a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal) carried a Makarov. During the Vietnam War, many senior ranking North Vietnamese Army officers and Communist Party officials carried the pistol – special operators from the U.S. military or the CIA often found the weapon when they searched live prisoners or dead bodies.

To this day, Makarovs frequently appear on the battlefield in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria – a testament to the staying power of a rugged, Soviet-era pistol with few frills but incredible reliability.