Blooming together: Our salute to moms - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

May is a month to celebrate military spouses and mothers, so let’s give a salute to all the military spouse moms holding the family together and keeping things going on the homefront!

Military life is always challenging, but it’s especially difficult when your service member is away and you’re the solo parent. This month, we shine a spotlight on military spouse moms navigating through deployments. Thank you, mothers, for your generous love and sacrifices.


To the mothers missing their service member:

We know it’s difficult when your service member is gone. It doesn’t matter how long they are away, whether it is a deployment, a TDY, or just a few days of training. We salute you, moms who are on your own. We know there are times when you cry in the shower or in your car, just so the kids won’t see your tears. And we know that you have what it takes to keep going.

“I’ve temporarily had to say see you later to my best friend, my teammate, and my partner in crime. My husband deploying was extremely difficult on myself and our four children. However, going through all of this without my husband allowed me to experience first-hand that I can, I will, I do, and I did handle deployment like a boss.”
– Megan, Navy spouse

To the pregnant mothers:

We see you, moms who are juggling the difficulties of pregnancy with the obstacles of military life. To all those trying to plan a baby in between PCS moves and deployments, and experiencing sickness and fatigue on your own—we salute you! Even when you feel exhausted, you are everything your baby needs.

“I’m about to be a mom of two Irish twins. My son is 9 months old right now. I’m due again in three months. I’m very nervous not having my husband by my side for this one but I have to be strong for the both of us.”
– Meagan, Army spouse

To the mothers of little ones:

We salute you, mothers surrounded by diapers and bottles, unfolded laundry, and art projects. When you feel like you’re going crazy, remember that you are not alone! You’re part of an incredible club of mothers who are making things work one day at a time.

“I am a mom of four under 7. I took a leave of absence from my job a few months into this deployment. I mentally couldn’t handle my career and solo parenting. It was the best decision I made, and has given me an opportunity to experience being a stay-at-home mom. Because I have so many young children, routine is really important.”
– Emily, National Guard spouse

To the mothers of teens:

We know you’ve been feeling invisible ever since the middle school years. Even when your kids treat you like a taxi and meal delivery service, know that you are still their rock. We salute you for all the times you stay up late, taking care of the emotional needs of these bigger kids.

“Working mom of three teenage daughters here. That means this momma goes 100 mph six days a week. As tired as I am sometimes, I enjoy taking them to practices and games.”
– Terri, Army spouse

To the mothers struggling with infertility:

Our hearts go out to the mothers who have struggled with the pain, loss, and disappointment of infertility. Whether you are already a mother hoping for more children, or you are longing to someday hold your own child, we see you and we salute you.

“We were going through IVF treatment during a year-long deployment. It was the most difficult deployment by far because I was going through a medical treatment that was draining emotionally and physically. It was a hard year, but it was a year of growth.”
– Linda, Air Force spouse

To the mothers who are caregivers:

As a mother, you already give your energy, your love, and your care to your children. To those who also care for their service member or take on the responsibility of aging parents, we salute your generosity and we wish you all the patience in the world.

“I’ve lost a lot of my own independence and free time which is probably the hardest. I’m exhausted at the end of the day. Moving my mother-in-law in actually ended up being way harder and less help than we had hoped.”
– Caitlin, National Guard spouse

To the stepmothers and blended families:

They should call you the bonus mom when you take on bonus kids and open your heart to his, yours, and ours. We salute your love, your patience, and your perseverance.

“We are a quintessential blended family. We each have children from previous marriages. I am pregnant with our second “ours” baby. Sea duty life has rocked our world for the last three years. He’s been gone as much as he’s been home.”
– Julie, Navy spouse

To the mothers in dual military marriages:

You are juggling all the responsibilities, and so much falls on your shoulders. You are supporting your spouse’s military career, while pursuing your own, and trying to do what’s best for your children too. We salute you and thank you for your service!

“It’s hard being the service member and the spouse. Sometimes it’s easier to go to work and focus on a mission than it is to stay at home with the kids and not hear from him.”
– Lauren, Navy married to a Marine

Whatever stage you are in, military spouse, we support you and wish you a happy Mother’s Day!

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Pentagon to the operationally unready: shape up or get out

This week, the Pentagon made good on a policy it’s been developing to guarantee the operational readiness of the US military’s 2.1 million service members. The new message, aimed at personnel listed as non-deployable for 12 months or more, is simple: either get ready or get out.


Since the closing months of 2017, as the current administration has struggled to create a working budget and to fund the government through a series of congressional stop-gap agreements, Defense Secretary James Mattis has been fighting a singular crusade: to make the U.S. military “more lethal.”

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Soldiers with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, prepare to fire an AT4 rocket launcher at an insurgent position during a firefight in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah neighborhood. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs)

Having succeeded in securing $700 billion for the DoD in 2018 — a 4.5% increase over President Trump’s proposed $668 billion defense budget — the Pentagon is now turning its attention to increasing operational readiness across all branches.

That includes the much-anticipated policy, released Feb. 14 in a DoD memo, that will begin assessments of and, in many cases, separation procedures for service members who have been non-deployable for the last 12 months or more.

According to Robert Wilke, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, “about 13 to 14 percent of the force is medically unable to deploy” at any given time. That comes out to about 286,000 of the 2.1 million personnel serving across all branches of the military — active duty, reserves, and National Guard. Some of that number, an estimated 20,000, is sidelined due to pregnancy and over 100,000 are recovering from injury or addressing illness.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Robbins, of the Provincial Reconstruction Team from forward operating base Kalagush, conducts a patrol through the village of Kowtalay in the Nuristan province of Afghanistan June 12, 2007.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Bracken)

But 34 percent of those medically unavailable, some 99,000 personnel are currently non-deployable for administrative reasons, like failing to stay up to date with immunizations or falling delinquent with required medical exams. And that subset of the force is now officially on notice from the Pentagon that they can get ready for deployment or get ready to discharge.

Waivers will be made available on a case-by-case basis, but the DoD seems to expect swift implementation. In the official language of the memo,

Military Services will have until October 1, 2018, to begin mandatory processing of non-deployable Service members for administrative or disability separation under this policy, but they may begin such processing immediately.
MIGHTY TACTICAL

China just added another aircraft carrier to its rapidly growing navy

China’s navy is growing at a rapid rate. On Dec. 17, 2019, China commissioned its first homegrown aircraft carrier, the Shandong, into service as part of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, Chinese state media reported.

The new carrier entered service at the naval port in Sanya on the South China Sea island of Hainan. The ship bears the hull number 17.

China joins only a handful of countries that maintain multiple aircraft carriers, but its combat power is still limited compared with the UK’s F-35B stealth-fighter carriers and especially the 11 more advanced carriers fielded by the US.


The Shandong is the Chinese navy’s second carrier after the Liaoning, previously a rusty, unfinished Soviet heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser that was purchased in the mid-1990s, refitted, and commissioned in 2012 to serve as the flagship of the Chinese navy.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

The Liaoning.

The Shandong is an indigenously produced variation of its predecessor. It features improvements like an upgraded radar and the ability to carry 36 Shenyang J-15 fighters, 12 more than the Liaoning can carry.

Construction of a third aircraft carrier is believed to be underway at China’s Jiangnan Shipyard, satellite photos revealed earlier this year.

China’s first and second carriers are conventionally powered ships with ski-jump-assisted short-take-off-barrier-arrested-recovery launch systems, which are less effective than the catapults the US Navy uses on its Nimitz- and Ford-class carriers.

The third aircraft carrier is expected to be a true modern flattop with a larger flight deck and catapult launchers.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

A J-15 taking off from Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning.

“This design will enable it to support additional fighter aircraft, fixed-wing early-warning aircraft, and more rapid flight operations,” the US Department of Defense wrote in its most recent report on China’s military power.

The US Navy has 10 Nimitz-class carriers in service, and it is developing a new class of carrier. The USS Gerald R. Ford is undergoing postdelivery tests and trials, and the future USS John F. Kennedy, the second of the new Ford-class carriers, was recently christened at Newport News Shipyard in Virginia.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

These 15 Medal of Honor recipients are headed to Super Bowl LII

Chad Hennings, Kevin Greene, and Roger Staubach are just a few of our brothers-in-arms that happened to also be incredible football players who earned themselves Super Bowl rings.


For more than four decades, the NFL and the military have shared a special relationship that involves the posting of the colors during the National Anthem and historic flyovers.

This week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the league has invited 15 Medal of Honor recipients to participate in the official on-field coin toss ceremony before Super Bowl LII officially kicks off.

Related: This veteran A-10 pilot has three Super Bowl rings

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Members of the Armed Forces Color Guard and drummers from the U.S. Air Force Band, all based in Washington, D.C., perform during the Super Bowl XLV game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Feb. 6, 2011. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25. (Image from Wikipedia Commons)

Also Read: 6 military veterans who played in the Super Bowl

Medal of Honor recipient and World War II veteran Hershel “Woody” Williams, who earned his distinguished award during the Battle of Iwo Jima, is scheduled to conduct the traditional coin flip at Sunday’s game.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Medal of Honor recipient and Marine veteran Hershel Moody with two of his brothers-in-arms. (Image from DoD)

The other Medal of Honor recipients in attendance include:

  • Bennie Adkins: Army, Vietnam (award delayed 9/15/2014)
  • Don Ballard: Navy, Vietnam (awarded 5/14/1970)
  • Sammy Davis: Army, Vietnam (awarded 11/18/1967)
  • Roger Donlon: Army, Vietnam (awarded 12/5/1964)
  • Sal Giunta: Army, Afghanistan (awarded 11/16/2010)
  • Flo Groberg: Army, Afghanistan (awarded 11/12/2015)
  • Tom Kelley: Navy, Vietnam (awarded 5/17/1969)
  • Allan Kellogg: MarinesVietnam (awarded 10/15/1973)
  • Gary Littrell: Army, Vietnam (awarded 10/15/1973)
  • Walter Marm: Army, Vietnam (awarded 12/19/1966)
  • Robert Patterson: Army, Vietnam (awarded 10/10/1969)
  • Leroy Petry: Army, Afghanistan (awarded 7/12/2011)
  • Clint Romesha: Army, Afghanistan (awarded 2/11/2013)
  • James Taylor: Army, Vietnam (awarded 11/19/1968)
  • Woody Williams: Marines, WWII (awarded 10/5/1945)

To date, the NFL has partnered with several veteran organizations to raise support and awareness, including the Pat Tillman Foundation, TAPS, USO, and Wounded Warrior Project.

Super Bowl LII kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, live from U.S. Bank Stadium.

MIGHTY TRENDING

North Korea will release 3 American prisoners

North Korea has released three US citizens detained there, the Financial Times reported May 2, 2018, citing a South Korean activist who campaigns for the release of detainees.

The releases would meet some of the US’s demands for North Korea to demonstrate sincerity before a historic meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — something that John Bolton, Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, reiterated during an interview on Fox News on April 29, 2018.


The three citizens— Kim Dong-chul, Kim Sang-duk, and Kim Hak-song — have been released from a labor camp and given health treatment and ideological education in Pyongyang, the Financial Times report said.

“We heard it through our sources in North Korea late last month,” Choi Sung-ryong told the news outlet. “We believe that Mr. Trump can take them back on the day of the US-North Korea summit or he can send an envoy to take them back to the US before the summit.”

The Financial Times report said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Kim about the detainees during the pair’s secretive meeting in April 2018.

In June 2017, Otto Warmbier, an American university student who was detained in North Korea, died days after being returned to his family in the US while in a coma.

The South Korean newspaper Dong-a Ilbo said the three Americans might be being coached to say that human-rights abuses did not occur while they were in North Korean custody.

North Korea operates several prison camps that have been compared to Auschwitz, the former Nazi concentration camp.

If North Korea has indeed released the three Americans and is preparing to give them to the US, it would represent the latest concession Pyongyang has agreed to make ahead of a summit with Trump.

North Korea has signaled a commitment to denuclearization and said it would stop its nuclear and missile tests, though it has dropped a demand for the withdrawal of US forces from the Korean Peninsula and avoided calling for an end to the US’s annual military exercises with South Korea as a condition for giving up its nuclear program.

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

Lists

5 tips that will have her grateful to be your Valentine

If you’re single, it’s a chance to mingle. If you’re “wifed-up,” it’s the time to lay it down. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and everyone has high expectations. If you want yours met, then you best meet hers.


But, guess what: Statistically speaking, you probably haven’t even begun to BAMCIS this date, and just winging it is not acceptable. No worries, brother. We’ve got you covered.

Related: How to make the best steak ever, according to a Marine chef

1. Don’t take her to dinner and a movie.

No one is saying this isn’t a perfectly acceptable date. It is — just not on V-Day, my man. Be a little more original instead of relying on this old standby. Do something interactive, something fun — a date that feels like an adventure.

Basically, you want to plan a date that will make her friends jealous when she tells them about it.

2. Make sure she has the 15th off.

Valentine’s Day often falls right in the middle of the regular work week and not many companies treat it as a holiday. So, do the next best thing and call in for her.

Let her boss know that she’ll be busy recovering from the date you’ve got all planned out and that she’ll need the entire day in order to get back to reality.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
D’awww, so sweet.

3. Don’t let her get hungry.

If you don’t already know, learn this now: If she is hungry, she isn’t happy.

It seems simple enough, but your date is likely privy to dropping hints and subtleties. You, being accustomed to overt statements and barked orders, might miss these clues, creating a situation where she seems mad for no reason at all.

It’s not what you did, it’s what you didn’t do!

You didn’t provide snacks. Bring tasty treats and she’ll able to focus on how amazing her Valentine is. Also, don’t watch her eat.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Yum yums. Trust.

4. Keep the drinks flowing.

This one seems obvious, however, it can be overdone. This tip requires a nuanced touch and everyone is different with regards to tolerance. Stick to one drink per hour and make sure she enjoys them. Find out her favorite fruit, smash it up, add some sugar, drain through a sieve, add some good vodka, and finish with equal parts champagne.

Garnish with the same fruit and some mint and boom, you just made her new favorite drink. If this seems too complicated, just get champagne. Everyone likes champagne.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms
Yep, that’s the one.

Also Read: 15 last-minute Valentine’s Day gift ideas from actual military spouses

5. Get her out of her norm.

If she’s a city girl, rent a cabin in the hills. If she’s a country girl, give her a night on the town. The idea is to get her out of her comfort zone and to be her comfort simultaneously.

If you create a situation where she is experiencing new things, great! But make sure she knows you have everything taken care of. If you plan on ending up in a hot tub, bring her a bathing suit. If you’re going hiking, pack her some boots.

The ideas are endless and the guidelines are simple. Whatever you plan to do, be prepared and make sure she doesn’t have any responsibilities aside from enjoying the ride.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends.

Featured

New video shows Kim Jong Un in South Dakota

In this brand new video created by the very talented and quarantined folks here at We Are The Mighty, we showcase our exclusive footage of North Korea’s Supreme Leader all over the world. From atop the Taj Mahal to smooching the Big Buddha, we’re wondering if he was just on a vacation this whole time, not dead like this senior executive in China stated for her 15 million fans to hear. After making an appearance on Monday, no one really knows where Kim has been.


Where is Kim Jong Un? It’s kind of like a game of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Or Where’s Waldo? Except it’s not fiction. Or a suitable game for children. Also, why doesn’t anyone know?

The only thing we really ever know about North Korea is that we can’t ever be sure about what’s happening there, but rumors about Kim’s grave health and possible passing were circulating for weeks before he allegedly made an appearance at a ribbon cutting on Monday.

When Kim failed to make an appearance on April 15 for the country’s most important holiday which honors the founder of the country (Kim’s late grandfather Kim II Sung), suspicion started building that Kim was sick. April 25 was another major holiday – the 88th anniversary of their armed forces, the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army and again, Kim was noticeably absent. People across the world started saying he was, indeed, dead.

But then, plot twist: According to Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Mr Kim was accompanied by several senior North Korean officials, including his sister Kim Yo-jong at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday.

The North Korean leader cut a ribbon at a ceremony at the plant, in a region north of Pyongyang, and people who were attending the event “burst into thunderous cheers of ‘hurrah!’ for the Supreme Leader who is commanding the all-people general march for accomplishing the great cause of prosperity,” KCNA said.

In the absence of any information about where Kim’s been the last month, we drew our own conclusions. And made our own video.

Where in the World is Kim Jong Un?

www.youtube.com

Where in the World is Kim Jong Un?

New video surfaces showing that Kim Jong Un was just on a worldwide vacation this entire time.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is an actual Army report on witches in the Republic of the Congo

Please spare some sympathy for the member of the Special Operations Research Office who, in 1964, was ordered to take a good, hard look at the impact of “witchcraft, sorcery, magic, and other psychological phenomena” during the civil war in the Republic of the Congo.

Yup. This poor soul was actually tasked with investigating the burning question of, “Are we losing because of the witches?

The surprising answer was, to paraphrase, ‘At least partially.’


In fact, the 1964 paper even analyzed the viability of U.S. forces and their allies adopting magic for their own purposes. Oh yeah, if you wanted to be a U.S. Army witch doctor, this was the time to do it.

Except, of course, the U.S. didn’t actually believe magic was affecting the physical world. Instead, it was studying how the belief in magic affected the morale of troops fighting on each side of the conflict, and then it had to decide whether to engage in some play-acting; doing fake magic in order to affect the enemy’s perceptions.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

A Swedish soldier with U.N. forces on duty in Congo during the crisis.

(Pressens Bild, public domain)

This wouldn’t be the Army’s only flirtation with the supernatural at the time. In 1950, a U.S. Army colonel helped fake a vampire attack to terrify communists in the Philippines, and psychological operations soldiers pulled a similar (but less effective) trick in Vietnam when they played ghost sounds over enemy troop concentrations.

The magical beliefs in the Congo revolved around two supposed classes of powers. There was sorcery, a system of magic that relied on rituals that were usually performed while mixing ingredients for a traditional medicine or preparing a charm. And there was witchcraft, a method of doing magic that relied on an innate ability that some people had from birth. These witches could simply wish for certain things to happen and, for some inexplicable reason, they would.

This magical belief was deep-seated in the Congolese. It had survived and even flourished despite nearly 100 years of economic and religious colonization. What missionaries and Belgian representatives sent to the country always found was that when push-came-to-shove, the bulk of the Congolese people would only incorporate European beliefs and power structures into their belief in magic. European beliefs were never able to replace traditional, magical ones.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

A Shona witch doctor in Zimbabwe.

(Hans Hillewaert, CC BY-SA 3.0)

When Belgium finally began relaxing its stranglehold in 1957 over what was then the Belgian Congo, this struggle had resulted in a deep rift between the Congolese who embraced European education and methods and those who were more dedicated to tribal beliefs and power structures. But both sides held magical beliefs. The European-influenced évolués, as they were known, simply hid those beliefs.

The Belgian Congo collapsed in 1960 and U.N. forces were eventually sent in to try and keep a tentative peace after repeated fighting and clashes. The stakes there were high. Certain parts of the Congo were quite resource-rich, including one of the breakaway zones. It also had Uranium that would be quite valuable to either the Soviet Union or the U.S., depending on who tied the emerging but troubled Republic of the Congo to their sphere of influence.

Hence U.S. military planners debating on twisting magical beliefs to their own ends. The rebellious forces often had the sorcerers (and the occasional witch) prepare magical defenses that were supposed to stop harm from European weapons.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

Swedish soldiers from the U.N. man a fighting position near a road in Niemba.

(Pressens Bild, public domain)

Upon deeper study, though, the 1964 paper recommended against weaponizing these beliefs against the Congolese rebels. There were a couple of major concerns. One was that these évolués were the ones most likely to be Congolese leaders that the U.S. would work with. Since they still believed in magic, they would probably balk at a U.S. mockery of it.

But they would balk even harder if their forces or their Western allies began dabbling in magic. Their entire political brand was built on not being superstitious and backwards like their peers (even though they did believe in the same magic).

Even more troublesome, though, was that while the belief in magic was near universal across the country, the exact details of the belief varied wildly between tribes and, sometimes, even between sub-tribes. As the paper described it, “Literally, one man’s charm might be another man’s potion.”

So, if a psychological operations unit were sent to capitalize on these beliefs, they would have to surreptitiously gather data on every targeted tribe and keep detailed records of it. Then, when crafting their messaging or other plots, they would have to adjust it for each tribe and then take care to keep the messages from sabotaging each other.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

Irish forces on duty in Congo during the Crisis.

(Irish Defence Forces)

But the most awesome concern with the program was the author’s worry that, if the U.S., Western, and government forces began openly engaging in magical operations against tribal leaders and insurgent witch-doctors, and the witch-doctors engaged in open counters, then the one near-guaranteed result would be an increased belief in magic.

In the post-war Congo, that would grant a ton of power to tribal leaders and witch-doctors, potentially necessitating power sharing that the évolués and their Western backers wouldn’t necessarily want. And, while there were government-friendly tribes, nearly all the insurgents were part of traditional tribal structures, so potentially strengthening the belief in magic would be a long-term problem for the West whether they won or lost.

Instead, the paper recommended overturning magical beliefs by showing them to be false. The biggest magical claim that witch-doctors made was that they could make troops invulnerable to Western weapons. So, every enemy soldier killed with a Western weapon weakened belief in magic. As the paper states it:

In the Congo, as elsewhere in black Africa, there is every reason to believe that disciplined troops, proficient in marksmanship, and led by competent officers, can handily dispel most notions of magical invulnerability.

In the end, it appears that no magical campaign was launched. But that hasn’t prevented decades of rebellions, coups, and other violence.

This unrest has unfortunately continued to this day — literally. On the day this article was written, accusations of recent murder by police, election violence by the state, and other human rights abuses were in the news.

Almost makes you wish the magic was real. Would be a perfect time to whip up a few charms to protect the population.

MIGHTY TRENDING

An Army paratrooper jumped off a cliff to save a drowning man

It was a beautiful June day in Contra Pria, Italy. Families enjoyed a picnic together, and the refreshing water served as a welcome refuge from the heat and humidity of the last weekend leading into summer.

It was Father’s Day in America, and Army Lt. Col. John Hall, a public affairs officer with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, decided to take advantage of the weather to bring his grandsons to a popular nearby swimming hole.


The tiny hamlet of Contra Pria is made up of a few houses that appear lost in the foothills of the Dolomite Mountains. The half-dozen houses follow the course of the Astico, a small river created by the melting snow of the mountains that flow down into the rocky valley creating deep chasms with frigid still waters that invite adventure seekers escaping the summer heat.

When Hall and his family arrived early on June 17, 2018, they were surprisingly greeted by Army Lt. Col. Jim Keirsey, the commander of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, and his family, who were picnicking and swimming with some friends in the remote swimming area. They introduced their children to each other who then played in the beach areas together.

“We noticed a few people jumping from the 20-30 foot cliffs that formed a small canyon along the stream,” said Hall’s wife, Laura Hall. “Jumpers would often pause for scuba divers in wet suits exploring the glacial waters that feed into the chasm below.”

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

U.S. Army Paratrooper Lt. Col. John Hall

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander C Henninger)

Deep, Frigid Water

This peaceful scene completely changed in the blink of an eye.

“The boys were taking a break from the cold water when I decided I would climb up on the cliff to see what the divers were exploring,” Hall said. “Just as they swam away, four Italian men, probably somewhere in their twenties, appeared above the river on the opposite cliff. They seemed to be daring each other to jump. Two immediately jumped and then challenged their friends. One chose not to jump at all, while the other hesitated, but after a few minutes I saw him falling through the air.”

Hall said that when the man hit the deep, frigid water, he began to thrash about, yelling for his friends to help as he repeatedly went under water. The two men who jumped in earlier leapt from the cliff to attempt a rescue, but as they swam up to him, the scene turned into what appeared to be a fight or wrestling match in the water.

Hall could see from his vantage point on the opposite cliff that the struggling man was drowning, and would possibly drown his companions, as they all began to go under water together.

“I jumped from the cliff,” Hall said.

‘That’s Just John’

“I swam over to the three men, firmly wrapped my arm around the chin of the drowning man and pulled him onto my hip. The other men briefly continued pulling at us and one another. Once we broke free, I swam the man to the cliff, pulled him around, and placed his hands on the rocks.”

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

Army Lt. Col. John Hall, a public affairs officer for the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, saves a man from drowning in the frigid waters of Pria Park.

(Army photo by Spc. Josselyn Fuentes)

One of the man’s friends swam over to help Hall hold him in place while he caught his breath. The men swam toward the water’s edge, but the group was still in deep water without a foothold. Exhausted and in shock, the man was unable to work his way along the rocky face to reach the shallow waters. As they both clung to the rock face, Hall indicated to him that he would help him climb and push him up to safety.

“Once he was safe, I swam over to a rocky outcropping and climbed to verify that he was ok,” Hall said. “Still shaking from the experience, the man turned and gave me a hug.”

“John Hall will claim he was just in the right place at the right time to save that guy’s life, and that may be partially true,” Keirsey said. “But it really takes the right person to recognize somebody is in jeopardy and then have the courage to do something about it.”

“At first, I thought he was just jumping to amuse our grandsons who were watching. When I saw him swim into a group of splashing men and pull one out, it was then that I realized that he was saving the man,” Laura said.

“I was surprised that someone who couldn’t swim well would jump into those waters, but I wasn’t surprised that John helped him,” she said. “That’s just John.”

“I am just so glad that someone was there to help him. After it was over, I couldn’t help thinking it was Father’s Day,” Hall said. “No man should lose his son on Father’s Day.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia says fighter intercepted U.S. surveillance planes over Black Sea

Russia says a fighter jet intercepted two U.S. military surveillance planes in the Black Sea — the latest in a series of midair encounters between U.S., NATO, and Russian forces.

Military officials told the state TASS news agency on August 5 that the Su-27 jet met the U.S. planes in international waters in the Black Sea.

“The Russian fighter jet crew approached the aircraft at a safe distance and identified them as an RC-135 strategic reconnaissance aircraft of the U.S. Air Force and an R-8A Poseidon, the U.S. Navy’s maritime patrol aircraft,” the Defense Ministry said.


There was no immediate confirmation of the incident from U.S. or NATO officials, though civilian radar-tracking sites showed U.S. aircraft in the Black Sea region on August 5, not far from Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

Crimea was forcibly annexed by Russian in 2014, a move that few foreign countries have recognized. The peninsula is home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet and multiple military installations.

U.S. and NATO jets routinely intercept Russian surveillance and strategic bomber aircraft off NATO member countries and U.S. airspace over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The vast majority of incidents are routine and considered nonthreatening.

In May, a NATO official told RFE/RL that Russian military aircraft activity in the Black Sea and other parts of Europe had increased since 2014.

Last year, the official said that NATO aircraft took to the skies 290 times to escort or shadow Russian military aircraft across Europe.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Soldiers remember the harrowing Battle of Hue

The ferocity of the Tet Offensive, which began 51 years ago, surprised most Americans, including service members manning the television station in Hue, Vietnam.

Detachment 5 of the American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN) was located in a villa about a mile outside the main U.S. compound in Hue, in a neighborhood considered relatively safe from attack.

After the AFVN crew had signed off the air that night and settled into their billets, they heard an explosion down the street. Some of them were already asleep, but a few were still up watching fireworks through their window, since it was the first night of Tet, the Vietnamese lunar New Year.


“Then the real fireworks started,” said Harry Ettmueller, a specialist five and broadcast engineer at the time.

Mortars and rockets began to blast the city landscape and tracer rounds could be seen in the distance.

“It was quite a light show,” said former Spc. 4 John Bagwell, a broadcaster who jumped out of bed once he heard the noise.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

Spc. 4 John Bagwell broadcasts for the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam before he was transferred to AFVN Det. 5 in Hue during January 1968.

(U.S. Army photo)

One mortar round hit the maintenance shed next to their TV station, which was located behind the house where the AFVN team of eight slept.

The team then pulled out their weapons: World War II carbines along with a shotgun, three M14 rifles, and an M60 machine gun that jammed after two shots.

They took up positions in doorways and windows to stop possible entry. They even handed a carbine to a visiting NBC engineer, Courtney Niles, who happened to be an Army veteran.

Battle for Hue

Station commander, Marine 1st Lt. James DiBernardo, called the Military Assistance Command-Vietnam, or MAC-V office in Hue, and was told to keep his crew in place. A division-sized force of the North Vietnamese army, along with Viet Cong guerrillas, was attacking locations all across the city.

They had even captured part of the citadel that once housed Vietnam’s imperial family and later became the headquarters of a South Vietnamese division.

The NVA attack on Hue was one of the strongest and most successful of the Tet Offensive. Even though more than 100 towns and cities across the country were attacked during Tet, the five-week battle for Hue was the only one where communist forces held a significant portion of the city for more than a few days.

On the second day of Tet, the power-generating station in Hue was taken out and the telephone lines to the AFVN compound were cut. The crew became isolated.

Station background

AFVN had begun augmenting its radio broadcasting with television in Saigon in early 1967. Then TV went to Da Nang and up to Hue.

The U.S. State Department decided to help the Vietnamese set up a station for local nationals in what had been the consulate’s quarters in Hue. AFVN set up their equipment in a van just outside the same villa and began broadcasting to troops in May.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

Following the Tet Offensive, not much remained of the house where members of AFVN Det. 5 held off the North Vietnamese in a 16-hour firefight.

Hundreds of TVs were brought up from Saigon and distributed to troops. Ettmueller said he was often flown by Air America to units near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to distribute them.

In January 1968, with the 1st Cavalry Division and elements of the 101st Airborne Div. moving up to the northern I Corps area of operations, AFVN decided to add radio broadcasting to the TV station in Hue.

Broadcasters Bagwell and Spc. 5 Steven Stroub were sent from 1st Cavalry to help set up the radio operation. They arrived a day and a half before Tet erupted.

16-hour assault

For the next five days, sporadic fire was directed at the AFVN billets, Ettmueller said. The staff members remained in defensive positions at doors and windows.

Bagwell said they were hopeful MACV would send a rescue mission for them, but by the fifth day, they were running out of food and water.

As night fell Feb. 4, the North Vietnamese launched a company-sized assault against the AFVN compound. Dozens of Vietnamese rushed the house and the Americans kept up a steady fire through the windows.

Each time the WWII carbines were fired, though, the magazines fell out and had to be reinserted, Ettmueller said. But he had an M14 and put it on full automatic.

During the assault, a young boy appeared in the window where Bagwell was on guard. The boy was trembling as he pointed his weapon at Bagwell, who hesitated.

“He shot and one bullet came close to my ear and I could hear it whiz by,” Bagwell said. “The next bullet he shot came close to the other ear. I realized if I didn’t kill him, he’d kill me.”

He pulled the trigger on his M14 and the boy fell backward.

North Vietnamese rushed the house repeatedly during the night. Sgt. 1st Class John Anderson, the station’s NCOIC, was awarded a Silver Star for manning the living room door with a shotgun to turn back assault after assault.

“He personally was responsible for inflicting deadly fire on the attacking enemy force,” reads the citation, adding that Anderson held his post despite being severely wounded by enemy grenades.

At one point, a Vietnamese soldier came running toward the door with a satchel of explosives strapped around him. Ettmueller said when one of their bullets hit the soldier’s satchel, it exploded, taking him out and a couple of others near him.

During the course of the night, at least three rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the house and a B40 rocket went right through the front window and hit the back wall. The wall collapsed on Ettmueller and Marine Sgt. Tom Young, forcing both men to crawl out from underneath the debris.

“They pretty much… leveled the house,” Bagwell said.

Breakout and capture

By morning, the house was on fire and the AFVN crew was beginning to run low on ammunition.

They decided their best chance was to try and make a run for the MACV compound. NBC engineer Niles said he knew the layout of the city the best, so he volunteered to be the first one out the door. Bagwell was close behind him.

The plan called for both men to cross the road into a ditch so they could lay down covering fire for the rest of the team. However, Niles was fatally shot. Bagwell applied a quick tourniquet, but said it did not help much.

Anderson and others in the house saw the direction of the gunfire. After a brief pause, the seven of them ran out the door and turned in the opposite direction. They made it through a hole in the fence line and sneaked around a North Vietnamese team manning a machine gun on the second floor of a building under construction.

They made it through another hole in a fence into a small rice paddy, when they came up to the U.S. Information Services library next to a concrete wall topped with barbed wire.

There, the North Vietnamese caught up to them.

Young stepped out to lay down covering fire and was killed by automatic gunfire from the machine-gun position.

Ettmueller described the chaotic situation: “There we were, trapped. More rounds coming in; more grenades being thrown. Chickens running all over the place, jumping up in the air and flying. More rounds coming in.”

Stroub was shot in the left arm and had an open fracture. He passed out, Ettmueller said. Anderson was shot with a bullet that penetrated his flak jacket and grazed his diaphragm. He began to hiccup.

As the AFVN team began to run out of ammo, the North Vietnamese closed in and captured them.

The prisoners were bound with wire and had their boots removed, and then ordered to march forward. Ettmueller helped Stroub up, but it was not long before he stumbled and fell. An NVA soldier opened fire from above with the machine gun and executed him.

Sole escape

Meanwhile, Bagwell was left alone outside the station after Niles was fatally shot. The North Vietnamese had taken off in pursuit of the rest of the AFVN team.

Bagwell, who had been in Hue only a few days, had no idea which way to go and he was out of ammunition.

He wandered the streets, not sure what to do. “I was quite amazed with all the fighting going around that I hadn’t been shot.”

Then he looked down at his boot and spotted a hole. With his adrenaline pumping, he had not felt anything, but “the next thing I knew I was in pain.”

Bagwell looked up and saw a Catholic church. He knocked on the door and pleaded with a priest to help him. About 100 Vietnamese civilians were already hiding in the church.

The priest insisted Bagwell change his clothes. They buried his uniform and M14 in the courtyard. Then the priest wrapped Bagwell’s face in bandages.

“His idea was to make me look as much like a Vietnamese as possible,” Bagwell said.

Not long afterward, North Vietnamese soldiers burst into the church looking for Americans.

“They came by and started pointing their rifles right at my face,” he said. “I just closed my eyes and thought, ‘there’s no way they’re not going to know I’m not Vietnamese.'”

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

Broadcast Engineer Staff Sgt. Donat Gouin sits behind the television van for Detachment 5 of the American Forces Vietnam Network in Hue.

(U.S. Army photo)

But the North Vietnamese walked on past him. Bagwell was then taken by the priest up into the bell tower of the church to hide.

Other American forces, however, had been told that NVA fighters were hiding in the church, Bagwell said. So, they began to shell the church and hit the bell tower.

Part of the tower collapsed. “I just crawled out of all the mess and crawled back downstairs,” Bagwell said.

The priest then rushed up to him and said, “You know, you’re kind of bad luck. We need to get you out of here.” He pointed across rice paddies to a light in the distance and said he thought that was an American unit.

As he crawled through the rice paddies, Bagwell said a U.S. helicopter began circling him and shining its search light down, thinking he was Vietnamese, since he had no uniform.

“Actually, during that time, I counted about 12 times that I should have been shot and killed,” Bagwell said. “Six by the North Vietnamese and six by the Americans.”

When the sun came up, Bagwell was near a U.S. signal unit. He took off his white shirt and put it on a stick, yelling “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot! I’m an American!”

They held a gun to him and asked if he was really an American.

“You can’t tell with this Okie accent?” Bagwell replied.

“Well, what were you doing out there?” a soldier asked.

“I was with the TV and radio station,” Bagwell said.

“No, I don’t think so; they’re all dead or prisoner,” the soldier insisted. “The only body we haven’t found is Bagwell.”

Aftermath

The North Vietnamese executed an estimated 3,000 South Vietnamese civilians in Hue during Tet for sympathizing with American forces. Bagwell said he learned that a Catholic priest was executed for hiding a U.S. soldier in a church, and he knew that soldier had to be him.

The prisoners of war from AFVN Det. 5 — Ettmueller, DiBernardo and Anderson, along with Marine Cpl. John Deering and Army broadcast engineer Staff Sgt. Donat Gouin — were forced to walk 400 miles barefoot through the jungle over the next 55 days.

For five years, they were tortured, interrogated and moved from one POW camp to another, until released from the infamous Hanoi Hilton in the 1973 prisoner exchange.

Bagwell and Ettmueller were inducted into the Army Public Affairs Hall of Fame in 2008. The Army Broadcast Journalist of the Year Award is named in Anderson’s honor.

Editor’s note: Bagwell and Ettmueller were interviewed this month by phone. Retired Master Sgt. Anderson was interviewed in 1983 when he was a civilian public affairs officer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The threatened Philippine war over trash would be hilarious

The Philippine president and authoritarian strongman Rodrigo Duterte has threatened war with Canada over a festering trash debacle. That would be an amazing overreach by the bombastic leader, and it would result in one of the most mismatched military engagements in modern history, if the two sides could even manage to hit each other in any real way.


Before we get into why the fight would be so funny, let’s just take a moment to say that there’s almost no chance that a war would break out. The whole argument centers over a mislabeled batch of trash that Canada paid to send to the Philippines. It was supposed to be filled with recyclables, but someone lied on the paperwork and filled it with municipal trash, including food and used diapers, instead.

That meant that it was hazardous waste, and there are all sorts of rules about shipping that stuff. Canada is working with diplomatic staff from the Philippines on how to bring the material back to Canada. But, for obvious reasons, the people on the islands are angry that Canadian trash has sat in the port for years as Canada tried to ship it back.

But the process is underway, Canada has said it will take the trash back, and there would be no good reason to go to war over the trash even if it was destined to stay there. But Duterte is not that logical of a leader, and he threatened war over the issue even though his staff was already working a fix. His military is, to put it mildly, not ready for that conflict.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

Philippine Marines storm the shore during an exercise.

(Petty Officer 1st Class Nardel Gervacio)

First, let’s just look at what forces the two countries can bring to bear. Assuming that both countries were to meet at some unassuming, neutral field, Duterte would still struggle to even blacken Canada’s eye.

Canada is not the military power it once was, but it still has serious assets. Its military is comprised of about 94,000 personnel that operate 384 aircraft; about 2,240 tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery pieces; and 63 ships and boats including 12 frigates, 4 submarines, and 20 patrol vessels.

So, yeah, the top six state National Guards would outnumber them and have similar amounts of modern equipment, but Canada’s military is still nothing to scoff at.

The Philippines, on the other hand, has a larger but much less modern military. Its 305,000 troops operate only 171 aircraft of which zero are modern fighters, 834 armored vehicles and towed artillery pieces, and 39 patrol vessels that work with three frigates, 10 corvettes, and 67 auxiliary vessels.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

So, you don’t want to get in a bar brawl with the Philippine military, but you’d probably be fine in a battle as long as you remembered to bring your airplanes and helicopters.

Canada has pretty good fighters, CF-18 Hornets based on America’s F/A-18 Hornet. So we would expect their unopposed fighter sweeps against Philippine forces to go well, allowing them to progress to hitting artillery pieces pretty quickly.

And Canadian ground forces, while small, are not filled with slouches. Their snipers are some of the best in the world, and their infantry gets the job done.

It sort of seems odd that Duterte thinks this would be a good idea. But, if war between two American allies seems scary to you, even if the closer ally is very likely to win, we have more good news for you.

There is essentially no way that Canada and the Philippines can effectively go to war against each other.

Blooming together: Our salute to moms

We’ll grant that the Republic of the Philippines Navy ship BRP Apolinario Mabini looks cool sailing in an exercise, but if it shows up off your shore, you just remove its batteries and wait it out.

(U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mark R. Alvarez)

The Philippines are the ones threatening the war, so they would most likely be the ones who would need to project their military across the Pacific.

They, charitably, do not have the ability to deploy significant numbers of their troops across the ocean to Canada, let alone to open a beachhead against Canadian defenders.

And if Canada decided to launch a preemptive strike against the Philippines after Duterte declared war, even it would be hard pressed to do so. Those 63 boats and ships Canada has? None of those are carriers or amphibious assault ships. None of them are designed to project significant force ashore.

And all of this is without getting into the fact that Canada is a member of NATO. No one in NATO really wants to go to war against the Philippines, but, in theory, Canada could invoke Article 5 and call on the rest of the alliance.

Since the world’s most powerful military is part of that alliance, NATO would probably win a larger war against the Philippines.

Articles

Meet the wounded Iraq war veteran being honored by ESPN

Blooming together: Our salute to moms


Next month, as Hollywood and professional athletes gather in Los Angeles to celebrate the year in sports, U.S. Army Veteran and VA employee Danielle Green will be honored at the 2015 ESPYS with the Pat Tillman Award for Service.

“As a teammate and soldier, Pat believed we should always strive to be part of something bigger than ourselves while empowering those around us,” said Marie Tillman, president and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation. “Danielle has been unwavering in her aspiration to lift others suffering from the physical and mental injuries of war. In Pat’s name, we’re proud to continue the new tradition of the Tillman Award, honoring Danielle for her service as a voice and advocate for this generation of veterans.”

Green, who is now a supervisor readjustment counseling therapist at the South Vet Center located in South Bend, IN., said she was honored to receive the award and be a part of Tillman’s legacy of selfless service.

“It means so much,” she said. “You see so many negative stories revolving around suicide, PTSD and VA employees, but everyday my team and I work with Veterans who truly believe they are broken. We show them how much they have to offer, how they can heal and get them the help they need.”

Green has seen her share of adversity. In 2004, a little more than a year after leaving her job as a schoolteacher to enlist as a military police, she found herself on the rooftop of an Iraqi Police station in the center of Baghdad.

She recalls the heat and the uneasy feeling she had when the normally lively neighborhood turned quiet. Suddenly a coordinated RPG attack on the station from surrounding buildings left her bleeding out and in shock.

“I didn’t realize I was missing my left arm,” she said. “I just remember being angry at the fact that I was going to die in Iraq.”

She credits the quick response of her team and their proximity to the Green Zone to her survival. She believed her quiet prayers, asking for a second chance to live and tell her story, didn’t hurt either.

“I learned to really value life that day,” Green said. “You can be here today and gone tomorrow.”

In the course of a few days, she went from a hot rooftop in Iraq to Walter Reed Medical Center. For eight months the former Notre Dame Basketball standout worked with physicians, nurses and occupational/physical therapists to recover from her injuries. The southpaw’s loss of her dominant arm forced her to relearn daily tasks like writing, but through it all she continued to follow her dreams and found inspiration in those medical professionals around her. They never let her quit on herself, and while there was doubt and fear of what her life would be like after she was discharged from Walter Reed and the Army, she kept charting a path toward service.

After going back to school for her masters in counseling, and a short stint as an assistant athletic director at a college, Green found an opportunity to harness all of her experiences and assist fellow Veterans who were transitioning out of the military. By 2010, she had gone from being a patient to a catalyst for change for those seeking help at her local Vet Center.

“There was some doubt and self pity,” she said. “I’d sometime look down at my arm and wonder what the purpose of it all was … But now I realize the importance of what I can do for my peers. It’s challenging and rewarding, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

More from VAntage Point

This article originally appeared at VAntage Point Copyright 2014. Follow VAntage Point on Twitter.

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