Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

Investigators probing the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014 say they have recorded phone calls connecting pro-Russian rebels implicated in the missile strike and a senior aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The international Joint Investigation Team, based in the Netherlands, on Nov. 14, 2019, released the calls involving members of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the armed Russian separatist group that has fought against the Ukrainian government for independence in eastern Ukraine.

“Well, your plans are far-reaching. Mine are not,” Alexander Borodai, the former self-proclaimed prime minister of the DPR, said in one call. “I’m carrying out orders and protecting the interests of one and only state, the Russian Federation. That’s the bottom line.”


Members of the DPR have been found responsible for the downing of MH17. All 298 people on board were killed when the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. In June, four people were charged with murder.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

(Photo by Alan Wilson)

“The indications for close ties between leaders of the DPR and Russian government officials raise questions about their possible involvement in the deployment of the BUK TELAR, which brought down flight MH17,” the investigators said, adding that the missile system that downed the aircraft originated from “a unit of the Russian armed forces from Kursk in the Russian Federation.”

The investigators said the phone calls indicated that senior members of the DPR “maintained contact with Russian government officials” — including the senior aide, Vladislav Surkov — “about Russian military support.”

According to the call logs published by the investigators, in a conversation six days before the missile strike, Borodai told Surkov he urgently needed military support from Russia, and Surkov replied that Russian “combat-ready” reinforcements would be arriving.

Other intercepted phone calls also implicate the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, and the FSB, Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, the investigators said.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It’s a week we’ve directly … [inaudible] to Moscow and we get the orders,” one rebel said during a call in July 2014.

“We get the orders from Moscow as well. It’s the same with us,” another person replied.

“But it’s FSB in your case? Right,” the first rebel asked.

“Yes,” the second person said.

“And it’s GRU in our case. That’s the only difference,” the first rebel said.

“I know about it perfectly well,” the second person replied.

Though former DPR rebels testified in the investigation that they received military help from Russia, both the rebel group and Russia have denied any involvement in the missile strike. A Kremlin spokesman said the call logs should be scrutinized, adding that they came amid a trove of “fake news” about the incident, according to Reuters.

The investigators said the FSB provided telephones that could not be wiretapped.

“How are you about those special communication telephones, you know, that we have? Those that go through the internet, do you know? Secure,” Sergey Dubinsky, a former GRU officer and a member of the DPR, said on a call on July 3, 2014.

He added: “Those are special phones, you cannot buy them. They are gotten through Moscow. Through FSB.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Airman returns from humanitarian mission with new dog

When Air Force Staff Sgt. John Cox, an air transportation specialist assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing, deployed to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, Oct. 9, he assumed he would be helping Puerto Ricans recover from Hurricane Maria; he did not expect to bring home a four-legged addition to his family.


Cox said he had just returned from a six-month deployment in Kuwait when he volunteered to go to Puerto Rico, where he worked with heavy machinery loading and unloading cargo from aircraft.

“We were placed close to the airport in tents in an open field so we could hear the aircraft when they landed,” he said.

Their main job was helping Defense Department personnel transfer water and Meals Ready to Eat from large aircraft onto vehicles and small aircraft for distribution to the people hard-hit by the hurricane, Cox said.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people
The destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo)

Beef Jerky Wins Hearts

While he was performing a security check of the area, Cox said he came across an abandoned building. Inside, he discovered a scared, emaciated, light-brown dog.

“I brought the dog some beef jerky from an MRE and some water every day, and pretty soon she started following me back to my tent and waiting outside,” Cox said.

When the dog started following him to work every day Cox worried he would get into trouble and decided he should talk to the officer in charge.

Once he introduced the dog, which he’d named Maria, to his leaders, he was given a thumbs-up to having her by his side.

“That’s when I realized I couldn’t leave this dog in Puerto Rico when my deployment ended,” Cox said.

Also Read: This veteran is being forced to give up his support dog

“I drove over an hour to a veterinary clinic and had the dog completely checked and vaccinated, which was a condition I was given to keep her with me,” he said.

Rescue

Cox said the next hurdle was to find a way to get Maria home — a task that would not prove to be easy because he couldn’t just put her on an aircraft without authorization.

“I researched all the regulations I could find and felt like I hit a wall until I found a local adoption agency that specialized in rescuing pit bulls,” Cox said. “They were able to get her home.”

“I not only made a positive impact on the people of Puerto Rico, but I was able to save an animal,” he said. “I saw her go from near-death to super healthy in a matter of months.”

Cox said he is looking forward to hiking the high peaks with his new hiking buddy once the weather is better.

“My advice to someone who plans on adopting a dog is to prepare to have your hands and your heart full,” he said. “Having a dog is sometimes like having a child, but all the effort will be worth it when you see them waiting for you at the end of the day.”

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Leaked photo shows China is building a new supercarrier

The Chinese shipbuilder that’s constructing Beijing’s third aircraft carrier, Type 002, leaked an artist’s impression of that carrier on social media in late June 2018 that heightened intrigue about China’s naval ambitions before quickly taking it down.

The China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation photo showed the future Type 002 with a large flight deck that featured an angled landing strip and three electro-magentic catapult launching systems — all of which represent a technologic leap to the kind of supercarriers fielded by the US Navy.


It’s expected to be a 70,000-ton ship that’s finished by 2021, if all goes according to plan.

Compare that to China’s second carrier, Type 001A — it has a built-in ski jump on the flight deck and uses an old-fashioned short take-off but arrested recovery launching system that limits the speed of launches and the size of the armaments fighters carry.

Type 002’s features will be much more advanced than Type 001A , allowing the People’s Liberation Army-Navy to deploy a greater number and variety of aircraft — and to deploy the aircraft more quickly. If the supercarrier works as planned — and that’s a big, if — it would make the Chinese navy one of the most powerful in the world.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

Type 001A aircraft carrier after launch at Dalian in 2017.

And this appears to be just the beginning.

China has grand ambitions for a world-class navy, and is even building a fourth carrier , which will reportedly be nuclear-powered and possibly match the specifications of the US’ Nimitz-class carriers the US Navy has operated for half a century.

A modern supercarrier would leap China ahead of Russia, which has only one carrier that’s breakdown-prone, to rival only France and the United States, the only navies that boast nuclear-powered supercarriers that launch planes with catapults.

The “interesting question is what do they intend these carriers to do,” Daniel Kliman, a senior fellow in the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, told Business Insider. “What would it enable China to achieve?”

“A lot of it’s prestige,” Kliman said. And prestige is also about domestic politics.

“There’s a lot of popular attention in China to its carrier program,” said Kliman, who added that a supercarrier is also an effective means to project power in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, much as the US has used them for decades.

“Beyond that, China does see a real need to protect its far-flung investments and protect market access overseas,” Kliman said. “Carriers are certainly useful in that role.”

Whatever the intentions, these supercarriers would vastly expand China’s ability to project power into contested areas at sea and to fly missions overland.

“Either they’re going to try to take the fight to the enemy or it’s about prestige,” Eric Wertheim, a naval expert with the US Naval Institute, told Business Insider, adding that it’s probably “a little bit of both.”

Wertheim said that people were seen crying when China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, was commissioned because “there was such pride.”

Wertheim and Kliman also agreed that China would initially use their current and future carriers to project power in the East and South China Seas, especially the latter.

Ultimately though, China really doesn’t need carriers to achieve its territorial objectives in the East and South China Seas. “Everything’s within land-based aircraft,” Kliman said.

So “is their goal to just dominate Asia” or to project power in other waters? Wertheim asked.

In 2017, China opened an overseas military base (its first ever overseas base) in Africa, where it continues to invest and compete for interest.

“We really don’t know what [China’s] intention [are],” Wertheim said.

Featured image: An artist’s impression of Type 002.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Tricare warns of scam phone calls offering Covid-19 test kits

Tricare is warning customers that scammers are preying on coronavirus fears to steal personal information by offering Covid-19 test kits.


As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States continues to climb, some Americans have growing concerns about the availability of testing. Nefarious actors, it seems, are taking advantage of that uncertainty by contacting people over the phone claiming to be Tricare representatives and offering Covid-19 test kits.

“The scam involves direct calls to beneficiaries with an offer to ship or sell COVID-19 testing kits. The calls include requests for personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank or credit card information,” the release states. “Beneficiaries should avoid any solicitation regarding a COVID-19 test kit by anyone other than their attending physician.”

Tricare will only provide Covid-19 test kits upon order from a physician, and currently physician orders require that a patient meet certain criteria in order to be eligible for a test.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people
Testing is authorized based on the clinical judgment of a provider, exposure, travel history and symptoms,” Tricare’s webpage reads.

“You must have an in-person or virtual telephone/video visit with a provider who will arrange testing in a military treatment facility (if MTF-enrolled) or in the private sector (if enrolled to the network provider with TRICARE Prime or if you’re using TRICARE Select or TRICARE For Life). If network, the cost of the test is covered in the cost of the visit itself.”

As a result of these scammers, Tricare is asking that any unusual or suspicious calls from people claiming to be Tricare representatives should be reported on their Fraud and Abuse page here.

There have been more than a half million confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection around the world thus far, with more than 23,000 deaths attributed to the disease. America recently crossed over the 75,000 confirmed cases mark, with more than 1,000 deaths.

Tricare beneficiaries can be tested for Covid-19 at no cost provided they meet Tricare’s aforementioned testing criteria.

For more information about how the coronavirus is affecting basic training graduations, click here.

If you want to learn more about how the coronavirus has affected PCS and TDY orders, click here.

This article originally appeared on Sandboxx. Follow Sandboxx on Facebook.

MIGHTY CULTURE

You have to see this rare video of Civil War vets doing the Rebel Yell

The Rebel Yell haunted the dreams of many Union soldiers during the Civil War. It wasn’t scary or fearsome on its own, but it was rarely if ever heard on its own. Usually, the listener heard a mass of voices raising from the din of battle. Everyone knew what was coming next, which was more often than not, a bayonet charge from a bunch of gray uniforms worn by troops with nothing to lose.


The Library of Congress has released video of “ol’ Confeds” who “haven’t got much but will give you what we got left.”

At the end of the Civil War, there were hundreds of thousands of veterans on both sides of the war. Many enlisted while they were young, others when they were adults. For the decades that came after, veterans from all walks of life would meet up and share their experiences. With the advent of television and film, these meetups were filmed, and certain cultural notes that might have been lost to history were preserved forever, like the famed Rebel Yell.

The video above was taken in the 1930s, as the men in it are visibly aged but still seem to be in relatively good health. Their original uniforms in the backdrop of the post-World War I world stand in dramatic contrast, marking their emergence from a bygone era of American history. Civil War vets from North and South would meet up through the 1940s, as they began to die off in droves in the 1950s.

The Library has also released a trove of other amazing historical videos, including African-American Civil War veterans from the North and South, proudly wearing their uniforms to members of the Army and the Grand Army of the Republic (a Civil War Veterans’ political group) escorting the casket of Hiram Cronk, the last surviving veteran of the War of 1812, down the streets of New York City in 1905.

When Civil War veterans came together in later years, especially in the pre-war and interwar years, people were less inclined toward national divisions of decades past than they were coming together to confront the threats against the country coming from overseas.

There’s nothing that can bring Americans together like a common enemy.

MIGHTY MONEY

Why these female veterans will never struggle for work again

Female post-9/11 veterans are the fastest growing demographic within the veteran population, but they’re also the greatest risk of experiencing homelessness after their service ends. Just like their male counterparts, they experience all the financial trappings that come with leaving the military. As of this writing, the national unemployment rate stands at 3.9 percent and is falling. But for female post-9/11 vets, unemployment is a solid 5.5 percent.

That’s why the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University decided to change all of that — by showing women veterans how to start their own businesses and never have to look for a job again.


Female vets are a valuable, knowledgeable part of the workforce. More than half of transitioning women have a college education and are twice as likely as men to have a background in science, technology, engineering, or math career fields. Despite this, many women have difficulty transitioning to civilian life and navigating their benefits, taking up to three months longer than male counterparts to find a job once they leave the service.

With this in mind, Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families launched its premiere entrepreneurship training conference, Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), with the help of the U.S. Small Business Association. It helps female veterans and military spouses find their passions and teaches them the skills they need to turn passion into a profitable business venture in just three phases.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

65 percent of these women will start businesses after the V-WISE conference and 93 percent of those will still be in business five years later.

(Institute for Veterans and Military Families)

Phase I of the V-WISE program is a 15-day online learning experience designed to teach participants the “language of business,” how to understand opportunity recognition as it relates to growing a sustainable venture, and present actionable strategies related to new venture creation.

The conference phase of the V-WISE experience is a three-day training offered to cohorts of 200 women at locations across the country. Participants must complete Phase I before attending Phase II.

The conference includes more than 20 distinct modules of training (representing over 40 hours of coursework) designed for both new business owners and to support the needs of existing ventures. Topics addressed include business concepts, financing, guerrilla marketing, human resources, legal challenges, profit models, and more.

Phase III, V-WISE Biz Support, provides program graduates with technical assistance to start and grow their business. Graduates will have access to incorporation services, financing services, mentorship, and opportunities for further education and skill-building with the IVMF and its partners, often at a reduced or waived cost. These services are available through a password-protected website.

And the system works. The V-WISE program is only six years old and has many of the three-phase programs under its belt but can boast more than 3,000 entrepreneurs — 93 percent of whom are still in business to this day. On Sept. 14, 2018, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families will host its 20th event in San Diego, Calif., where the slate of speakers will include:

  • Remi Adeleke, Transformers actor and former Navy SEAL
  • Angie Bastian, Co-Founder of Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn
  • Larry Broughton, Co-Founder and CEO of BROUGHTONadvisory and Founder and CEO of broughtonHOTELS
  • Neale Godfrey, founder and CEO of Children’s Financial Network
Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

The V-WISE class in Phoenix, Ariz. in 2017.

(Institute for Veterans and Military Families)

The V-WISE conferences are open to all women veterans, active duty female service members, and female partners/spouses of active service members and veterans who share the goal of launching and growing a sustainable business venture. It is just one of a slate of eight national entrepreneurship programs and three resources offered by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families — a slate the IVMF calls, “The Arsenal.”

Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Its dedication to veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement allows IVMF to provide in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community.This one-of-a-kind dedication to the military-veteran community creates real, sustainable changes in the lives of military veterans, as showcased by the successful women who have graduated from the V-WISE program.

To learn more about the V-WISE program and learn how you can be in the next cohort, visit the V-WISE website.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Lack of cyber talent remains a national security threat

The massive shortage of cyber professionals is a national security threat, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Cyber personnel from the private and public sectors are America’s frontline of defense because critical infrastructure sectors, including water, healthcare, and elections, rely on a resilient cyber infrastructure, explained Rob Karas, associate director for Cyber Defense Education and Training from the DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.


“America’s cybersecurity workforce is a strategic asset that protects the American people, the homeland, and the American way of life,” he said.

However, there is not enough talent in the field, both in the U.S. and around the world.

“Estimates place the global cybersecurity workforce shortage at approximately three million people worldwide, with roughly 500,000 job openings in the United States,” Karas said. “This global shortage means American organizations, whether in the private sector or in the federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial governments, compete with employers all over the world as well as with each other to find cybersecurity talent. … CISA sees the cybersecurity workforce shortage as a national security issue.”

Army Lt. Col. Julianna M. Rodriguez is a cyber warfare officer at Fort Gordon, Georgia. She is the offensive cyberspace operations division chief in the Army Cyber Command’s Technical Warfare Section.

Though she did not take a direct path to her current position, her preparation and adaptability enabled her to take advantage of opportunities for the evolving cyber field.

In high school, Rodriguez took advanced classes, focusing on math and science up to AP Calculus BC and AP Physics. After graduating, she attended the United States Military Academy, majoring in Electrical Engineering with a focus on Computer Systems Architecture.

In addition to earning a master’s in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science through Columbia Engineering, she earned two technical certifications: Mirantis OpenStack Certification Professional Level and SaltStack Certified Engineer, and is preparing for the Army Cyber Developer Exam.

For Rodriguez, changing career fields was a process of discovering where she could best serve.

“I started in Air Defense Artillery because [in 2003] it was one of the few combat arms branches in which women officers could lead,” she said.

Rodriguez served in ADA units as a battalion intelligence officer and headquarters battery commander, eventually attending the MI Officer Advanced Course. She also deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division to Afghanistan and taught at the USMA before transferring into the cyber branch.

When advising others interested in cyber, Rodriguez gives feedback based on her experience.

“Our citizens can best serve when they use their innate skills and interests for our national good [and] improve daily in learning and practicing related skills. For those who have an interest in computing, information technology, and network communications, committing to engage that interest in service to our nation can meaningfully impact our nation’s security,” she said.

However, she cautioned how the field is not a good fit for those who like routine and clearly defined work. She also described the Army’s cyber branch as highly competitive, so if an individual wants to join, she recommends:

  • Learn programming languages C, Python, R, or JavaScript (Not markup languages like HTML)
  • Obtain technical certifications like OSCP, OSCE, CISA, and CCNP
  • Do networking or security projects
  • Stay current on technology advances and policy impacts

Rodriguez adds specific backgrounds make a good fit for the field, including those with strong computer and IT skills.

“Soldiers from a variety of other branches and MOSes, including signal, aviation, and field artillery,” she said.

Because of the critical need for cyber talent, the Army created the Cyber Direct Commissioning Program. It is actively recruiting “software engineers, data scientists, DevOps engineers, hardware and radio frequency engineers, vulnerability researchers, and other computer-based professionals,” Rodriguez said. “I encourage anyone who has a deep interest in technology, a penchant for learning and change, and a commitment to our nation’s security to pursue a career in cyber with our military.”

For those interested in CISA cybersecurity education programs, check out:

FedVTE (Federal Virtual Training Environment): Free online cybersecurity training

CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service: DHS/CISA scholarship for bachelors, masters, and graduate cybersecurity degree programs in return for service in federal, state, local or tribal governments upon graduation

President’s Cup Cyber Competition: Competition for federal and Department of Defense cyber workforce to promote and recognize top cyber talent in government service

National Centers of Academic Excellence: 190+ academic institutions that DHS/CISA and the National Security Agency have designated for cybersecurity-related degrees

Cybersecurity Education Training Assistance Program: Cybersecurity curricula and education tools for K-12 teachers

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The NFL’s most generous legend gives homeless veterans a new life

1977 was a big year for Chicago’s Walter Payton. After two years in the NFL, he was the league’s leading rusher and was selected to play in the 1977 Pro Bowl, where he was named the Pro Bowl MVP. His on-the-field performance turned the struggling Bears franchise around, but his off-the-field performance would earn him the NFL’s Man of the Year Award, an honor that would later bear his name.


Throughout his 13-year career, Payton was an exceptional member of his team, the example by which all team members should follow – in any kind of group, setting, or sport. He only missed one game in that entire span and, despite being the league’s premier running back, he was able to do anything the team asked of him, throwing eight touchdown passes and even setting a game rushing record with a 101-degree fever.

Heck, he wanted to kick,” Bears Head Coach Mike Ditka told ESPN. “We wouldn’t let him kick.”
Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

“Never Die Easy” was Walter Payton’s motto.

(NFL)

But it wasn’t his football performance that prompted the NFL to name its prestigious award after him. What he did in his spare time left a legacy of humanitarianism and generosity that prompts NFL players to use their high earnings to good works within their local communities to this day.

As a young black man in Mississippi, Payton helped integrate his local high school and its football team. From there, he would go on to play at tiny Jackson State University, but his determination at running back caught the NFL’s eye, earning him his spot in the 1975 NFL draft. He didn’t make waves in his first season with the Bears, but he would soon be one Chicago’s — and professional football’s — most legendary athletes.

He founded the Walter Connie Payton Foundation to give back to the city that gave him so much. Though Payton died of a rare liver disorder that led to bile duct cancer, his legacy lives on through his foundation.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

Walter Payton with beneficiaries of his foundation’s support.

What began as an effort to help Chicago’s children now includes Chicago’s homeless veteran population. The foundation works with the Northlake, Ill. Concord Place Assisted Living Community in providing veterans with everything they need to live with dignity and pride.

Concord Place Assisted Living is a 55-and-older community, but homeless veterans can live there thanks to Walter and Connie Payton’s foundation. The new homes include food, health care, and physical activities. It keeps them off the cold streets of Chicago while offering them a chance to build new lives. The project is so close to the foundation’s heart that 100 percent of donations for vets will go to the project.

The foundation is now run by Payton’s widow, Connie, to whom he was married for 23 years.

I had no idea how many veterans had no place to go,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “They serve us knowing there might be a chance that they’ll never come home. … I wanted to find a way to do something to help.”

They turned the entire 15th floor of the assisted living community into veteran housing. A mere ,500 funds a room for a vet, complete with bed, TV, food, health care – the works. Once the 15th floor was filled, they started on the 14th. The foundation continues to fund the rooms using its other charitable works.

[Walter] was a kind, genuine person, and the foundation was important to him,” Payton said. “We always felt that when you’ve been blessed, why not learn to give back to other people and bless them, and hopefully someday they can bless someone else.
Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

Walter and Connie Payton Foundation President Connie Payton oversee the renovation of the Northlake, Ill. Concord Place Assisted Living Community.

(WLS ABC 7 Chicago)

Today, the NFL’s Man of the Year Award is named for Payton, honoring players who display Walter Payton-level excellence in every aspect of their lives. The award for 2017 went to the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt, an outstanding defender who raised million for those in Houston affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The frontrunners for the 2018 award are the Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph, the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, and Robbie Gould of the San Francisco 49ers.

MIGHTY TRENDING

After 16 years, family of fallen soldier presented with his Distinguished Service Cross

Hundreds of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers, Army veterans, Pittsburgh-area officials, and Army leaders recognized U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker for his heroism April 5, 2019 — 16 years to the day after he was killed in action while serving in Iraq.

Booker’s mother and sister were presented with the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor, during a ceremony at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood — near the University of Pittsburgh — as family, fellow soldiers, city officials and veterans watched.

“I am so honored … I am so proud of all my son accomplished,” said Freddie Jackson, Booker’s mother. “I didn’t realize how much my son did and how he inspired other people. Steve died for his country, not just for the Booker Family,” she said.


Booker died on April 5, 2003, while serving as a tank commander with Company A, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor of the 3rd Infantry Division. The 34-year-old Apollo, Penn., native was killed in action near Baghdad while serving in Iraq during the “Thunder Run” mission as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Booker attended Apollo-Ridge High School, near Pittsburgh, and enlisted in the Army in June 1987, at age 19, shortly after his high school graduation. He was promoted to Army staff sergeant in February 2001 and deployed in March 2003 to Iraq.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, left, deputy commanding general of Forces Command, speaks in Pittsburgh’s Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum, during the presentation of the Distinguished Service Cross to Freddie Jackson, right, the mother of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker for his 2003 heroism while serving in Iraq.

(Photo by Mr. Paul Boyce)

“We’re here to honor his service, his sacrifice and his heroism … as well as his Family” said U.S. Army Forces Command Deputy Commanding General Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson. “He gave his life for something bigger than himself; he gave his life for others. He’s a Pittsburgh hero, an Army hero and an American hero.”

Richardson attended Friday’s ceremony along with 3rd Infantry Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. Leopoldo Quintas, 3rd Infantry Division soldiers, the 3rd Infantry Division Band and two retired Army generals. Army and Air Force cadets from the University of Pittsburgh’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program participated and attended as well.

Veterans of Booker’s unit also travelled from across the United States to attend the medal-presentation ceremony, organized by the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division, based in Fort Stewart, Ga. The Army ceremony honored Booker for his heroic actions, personal dedication, and commitment to his fellow soldiers.

Booker’s platoon led a task force on April 5, 2003, along Highway 8 towards Bagdad International Airport. About 1.2 miles after the line of departure, the platoon came under heavy small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire from enemy forces. Booker immediately communicated the situation to his chain of command, encouraged his crew, and returned fire with his tank-mounted machinegun.

“When both his and his crew’s machineguns malfunctioned, Booker, with total disregard for his personal safety, exposed himself by lying in a prone position on top of the tank’s turret and accurately engaged the enemy forces with his personal weapon,” according to the award’s summary. “While exposed, he effectively protected his platoon’s flank and delivered accurate information to his command during a critical and vulnerable point of the battle.”

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker.

(Facebook)

Booker’s “fearless attitude and excitement over the communications network inspired his platoon to continue the attack and assured them and leadership that they would defeat the enemy and reach their objective safely,” the award’s narrative explains. “As he remained exposed, Booker identified an enemy troop carrier which was attempting to bypass his tank, but within seconds engaged the enemy vehicle and destroyed it prior to the enemy troops dismounting. Along the five-mile route he remained exposed and continued to engage the enemy with accurate rifle fire until he was mortally wounded.”

Army Col. Andrew Hilmes, Booker’s former company commander in Iraq, said the heroic staff sergeant prepared his crew well for that day’s battle. “His ability to train his soldiers saved a lot of lives. Not just his actions on April 5, but the training he put his soldiers through prior to the 5th of April paid off for the unit.”

Booker’s sister echoed their mother’s comments during a media conference attended by Pittsburgh-area news media prior to the awards ceremonies, which included a plaque dedication in the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial’s Hall of Valor. “He’d be very proud. He’d probably be pumping his chest right about now,” said Booker’s sister Kim Talley-Armstead. “It’s a bittersweet moment, but we are extremely proud.”

After giving careful consideration and reviewing the recommendations from the Senior Army Decorations Board, Army officials said, the Secretary of the Army made the determination that Staff Sgt. Booker be awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross. In recognition of their gallantry, intrepidity and heroism above and beyond the call of duty, 12 soldiers recently received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest award for their valor.

Previously recognized for their bravery by awards of the Silver Star, the Department of Defense upgraded the soldiers’ medals as part of a 2016-2018 comprehensive review of commendations for heroism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Four soldiers are still on active duty; three are posthumous awards; three recipients have since retired and two recipients previously separated from the Army.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Shia hits the fan: Understanding Iran’s role in the Middle East

The Islamic Republic of Iran was America’s original nemesis in the Middle East before Saddam’s Iraq stole the spotlight from 1990-2003. (Saddam and the Iranians, by the way, fought a bloody 8-year war against each other in the 1980s.) A casual observer might assume that the Islamic Republic of Iran must be best buddies with the infamous Islamic State (ISIS)…but no, they share a mutual hatred of each other.


Yeah, it’s all a bit complicated and messy, so strap in, and we’ll clear things up a bit.

Iran is a theocracy, meaning the country is governed by religious law. Rather than a single strongman dictator, Iran is ruled by a group of religious clerics who control the country’s “elected” leaders like former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (remember him?) Iran became the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 after religious fundamentalists overthrew the secular government of Shah Reza Pahlevi.

The Shah was a dictator, albeit one less brutal than the current regime, who came to power in 1954 with the help of the American CIA. It was a bad look for Uncle Sam, and many Iranians never forgot it.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

American hostages in Iran following the Islamist takeover of 1979.

(Source: Associated Press)

The Iranians are not Arabs like their neighbors to the west. Rather, they are Persians. Instead of Arabic, they speak a dialect of Persian called Farsi. The Iranians are predominantly Shia Muslims, whereas most Arabs are Sunni Muslims.

Theologically, Shias and Sunnis are akin to Protestants and Catholics in the Western world. 85-90% of Muslims worldwide are Sunni and, while the world’s Shia are concentrated in Iran, there are Shia minorities throughout the Arab world. Iraq is unique because it has both an Arab majority and a Shia majority, giving Iran a prime opportunity for heavy influence there (check the news…)

Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are Sunni jihadist groups, whereas Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and many of the large militias in Iraq are Shia.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

(Source: Pew Research Center)

So the Iranians are Persians and not Arabs, and their leaders are fundamentalist Muslims but from the opposite branch of Islam than bin Laden and the Islamic State.

So what’s Iran’s game plan? In a nutshell, Iran wants to preserve and spread its “Islamic revolution” by boxing out the Sunni Arabs and supporting Shia groups across the Middle East (they also work with certain Sunni groups like Hamas.)

To dominate the Middle East, Iran’s leaders want to exploit the “Shia Crescent,” a network of Shia populations stretching from the Persian Gulf to Lebanon. Iran’s message to these Shia populations is “Big Brother Iran is here to save you from the Sunnis, the Israelis, and the Americans.”

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

(Source: Geographic Intelligence Services)

You can think of the fight against ISIS as World War II, with ISIS filling the role of Nazi Germany. During WWII, the Western Allies and the Soviet Union set aside their rivalries to defeat a common threat. The Defeat-ISIS campaign was similar in that Iran’s Shia coalition shared a mutual enemy with the American/Sunni alliance, even though the two sides weren’t officially partners.

But now, like in 1945, the old rivalries are back in play once again. On one side, Iran leads Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and other Shia factions in the region. Opposing them are the Sunni Arab countries aligned with the United States.

Fear and mistrust of Iran runs deep in countries like Saudi Arabia- so deep, in fact, that Saudi Arabia has reportedly made secret arrangements with Israel to counter the Iranian threat (that’s, uh, a plot twist…to put it mildly.) Iraq, with its Shia majority but close and complicated relationship with the United States, remains stuck in a tug-of-war between the rival coalitions.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

Alleged secret plan for Israeli aircraft to use Saudi airspace to strike Iran. Saudi Arabia publicly denies this.

(Source: Rick Francona)

Iran was once the great ancient empire of Persia, and there is more to modern Iran than its leaders’ ambitions. Iran has a population of over 80 million, and resentment toward the regime is widespread. Strict religious tyranny and a weak economy cause frequent protests which the Iranian regime suppresses with ruthless violence. It’s unclear if this unrest will eventually put the regime’s power in serious jeopardy.

Iran’s economic problems are driven in part by economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe. These sanctions, in turn, are imposed partly as a result of Iran’s nuclear program- a program which, the regime insists, is strictly for domestic energy production. Iran’s alleged quest for nuclear weapons is concerning because an atomic Iran could lead its Sunni rivals to pursue their own nuclear weapons.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

Iranian protesters in 2009.

(Source: Getty Images)

Further Iranian vs. American bloodshed seems to have been averted in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, but violence between the two countries is nothing new.

The infamous 1983 Beirut bombing, which killed 241 U.S. servicemen, was perpetrated by an Iranian suicide bomber and 1988’s “Operation Praying Mantis” pitted the U.S. Navy against the Iranian Navy in the largest American naval combat operation since WWII. The whole region remains a Game of Thrones-tier snake pit of conflicting loyalties, religious conflict, and political scheming.

Hopefully now, however, you better understand what led to the U.S. government ordering a drone strike on that guy who looked like Sean Connery.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people

Iranian Quds Force general Qasem Soleimani, killed by a U.S. drone strike in January 2020.

(Source: Getty Images)

MIGHTY FIT

Here’s what happens to your body when you pass out in formation

There you are, marching in a perfectly structured formation when you hear the command to halt. Along with the rest of your platoon, you stop on a dime. The whole unit looks well-disciplined as each service member stands up straight, assuming the position of attention.

You stand proudly in front of all your friends and family with your chest out and eyes forward. Then, suddenly, something weird begins to happen. You start to feel weak and your legs give out. You fall directly to the ground like a sack of potatoes.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2FplcoWBSrPvOP6.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=490&h=1c50dfefdb992057ae3e2d6431e02f19988c1369e54bfdc3f340e64b1f481df4&size=980x&c=1591054496 image-library=”0″ pin_description=”” caption=”Clunk!” crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252FplcoWBSrPvOP6.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D490%26h%3D1c50dfefdb992057ae3e2d6431e02f19988c1369e54bfdc3f340e64b1f481df4%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1591054496%22%7D” expand=1 photo_credit=””]

The next thing you know, your eyes open, you see the medic, and you realize you just passed the f*ck out in front of everyone. How freakin’ embarrassing, right?

Well, you just experienced what medical professionals call “syncope,” which is the loss of consciousness due to decreased blood pressure. During bouts of hypotension (lowered blood pressure), our brains aren’t getting the oxygen or glucose they need, so it shuts down as it tries to recover.

So, why would someone pass out in formation? Well, it could be one of several happenings within the body.


Fainting can be a reaction to intense stress triggers, like seeing something crazy, being exposed to heat, or standing for long periods of time. This is called a vasovagal syncope, and it occurs when the part of your brain that governs heart rate malfunctions in response to an external trigger. So, if you’re standing completely still in the heat for long enough and you start to feel lightheaded, this might be what’s happening behind the scenes.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F13RGiS3cRvouLm.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=845&h=5ccd7a7d6a06696ffe82bead58f9fe83509d445ff45e60afd7fbee76d8a7759e&size=980x&c=237224070 image-library=”0″ pin_description=”” caption=”Too much drama!” crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F13RGiS3cRvouLm.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D845%26h%3D5ccd7a7d6a06696ffe82bead58f9fe83509d445ff45e60afd7fbee76d8a7759e%26size%3D980x%26c%3D237224070%22%7D” expand=1 photo_credit=””]

A sudden change of position may also be to blame. Our blood vessels change width to make sure every part of our body is getting the supply it needs. Sometimes, however, our vessels can’t keep up with the rapid changes to the body’s position. If you’re laying or sitting down, our heart rates are low. If we then quickly stand, our hearts have to speed themselves up in mere moments — sending blood rushing to the brain. This can cause momentary lightheadedness — and, in extreme cases, you might pass out.

Hunger may also be a factor in why your body shuts down. Your brain needs glucose to function — and glucose comes from eating. So, remember to snack before you take on those high-impact activities you like to do on the weekends.

Lastly, not properly hydrating is also to blame. Without enough water, your blood becomes thicker than usual. This causes your heart to work overtime to supply your brain with the oxygen and glucose it continually needs to sustain itself.

In general, some people are prone to passing out due to poor circulation while others may sometimes experience episodes of vasovagal syncopes. Unless injured by the fall, typically, no treatment is required. Most cases of syncope only last a few seconds, but if this event begins to happen more frequently, that person might have a cardiac condition.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F3o751YuQ6qZBDZmnDO.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.giphy.com&s=522&h=7e963e4003388f138f32a3ca75ce75d95d839ddec699002e9d40d28dbbcd3535&size=980x&c=2365089745 image-library=”0″ pin_description=”” caption=”We didn’t mean Cardi B, we meant cardiac. You crazy kids and your pop culture references.” crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F3o751YuQ6qZBDZmnDO.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.giphy.com%26s%3D522%26h%3D7e963e4003388f138f32a3ca75ce75d95d839ddec699002e9d40d28dbbcd3535%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2365089745%22%7D” expand=1 photo_credit=””]

So, if you find yourself often passing out often, book an appointment with your doctor soon.

Articles

US wants stronger partnership with China on space

As NASA scientists aim to cooperate on research with their Chinese counterparts, more communication between the agencies may not be such a bad idea — a partnership that might even bolster space agreements, officials say.


Speaking at a DefenseOne Space, Satellite and Communications briefing Tuesday near Washington, D.C., Brian Weeden, technical adviser to the Secure World Foundation, said the scope of how the U.S. works with China needs to expand.

Secret phone calls reveal new evidence in crash that killed 298 people
The Air Force shows an artist’s depiction of the Space Based Space Surveillance satellite. Could the U.S. work with China on similar programs in the future? (Photo via AF.mil)

While space wasn’t a dominant topic in this year’s election, Weeden said both Trump and Clinton campaign surrogates publicized “fairly favorably some sort of cooperation engagement with China.”

Weeden said it’s unknown whether those favorable views toward China in the space realm will translate into hard policy under President-Elect Donald Trump. “But I think there is … a growing sense that having the only interaction with China [be] in a national security, military context — I think is a problem,” he said during a discussion.

Weeden said there needs to be “commercial or civil engagement” to help deal with additional challenges, such as managing space traffic and debris control.

Since 2011, Congress has banned NASA from joint research and technology programs or data sharing with China even though the U.S. and Russia have had a robust association, even in times of conflict.

However, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has been trying to build bridges with China on a space program. In August, he visited China and met with the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment and the Civil Aviation Administration. The next month, NASA announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with those agencies to analyze data from Chinese airports “to identify potential efficiencies in air traffic management.”

It may not be space, but it’s a start.

Also read: This space plane is still on its secret mission in orbit

“It’s not going to happen during my tenure as NASA administrator,” Bolden said in May while addressing spaceflight and technological agreements with China. “But I think we will evolve to something reasonable.”

The DefenseOne panel also featured Winston Beauchamp, director of the principal Department of Defense Space Adviser Staff and Air Force deputy under secretary for Space; Chirag Parikh, director of source strategies, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; and Robert Tarleton, director of the MILSATCOM Systems Directorate, Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The mission to accelerate veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs

Want your veteran owned business to succeed—fast?


Check out Patriot Boot Camp with their next event in San Antonio, Texas, Feb. 16-18, 2018.

The program welcomes 50 veteran and mil-spouse entrepreneurs from around the country—and offers an intense 3 day education, mentoring, and networking experience designed to help their businesses succeed.

Patriot Boot Camp (PBC) was started by Taylor McLemore as a volunteer effort to help veterans and mil-spouses gain access to mentors, educational programming, and a robust community of experts and peers. It was built to help them innovate and build impactful technology businesses.

Also read: Officers and enlistees confess the best and worst about each other

Charlotte Creech, a veteran spouse, and the CEO of Patriot Boot Camp, discusses the impact of the program for entrepreneurs.

“I am continually impressed by the determination and mission-focus of the entrepreneurs that come through Patriot Boot Camp, as well as the magnitude of the problems they aim to solve.”

Creech adds that most veteran and military spouse founders don’t merely set out to build a business; rather, they work to make the world a better place and it’s inspiring to hear the stories of what motivates them to succeed and to follow their progress along the entrepreneurial journey.

“What makes the program so powerful, is when we combine these talented, mission-driven entrepreneurs with a community of peers and mentors that are dedicated to helping them achieve their business milestones and goals. By the end of the event, we all leave with new insights and new network contacts that will help us advance and overcome the challenges of startup life.”

The core, three-day program is modeled after the popular Techstars accelerator and continues to leverage the Techstars network to empower and advance military/veteran and spouse founders.

Since its first program in 2012, nine Patriot Boot Camp alumni have been accepted into the Techstars accelerator programs, with many others gaining acceptance to prominent accelerators including Y Combinator and Vet-Tech.

Related: This is how drunken shenanigans influence pilot callsigns

Four of PBC’s alumni have appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank television show, and five have had successful exits via acquisition.

Creech adds: “It’s inspiring to see these alumni achieve great business outcomes, but what’s really powerful about the PBC program and network is that our high-performing alumni continue to come back to PBC as mentors and guest speakers to share their lessons learned and coach new entrepreneurs to success.”

The boot camp works as follows:

The Patriot Boot Camp staff facilitate the planning and execution of the program where they organize external guest speakers and mentors to provide the educational content and workshops.

Each PBC program is entirely unique because the speakers vary in each 3 day intensive. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to attend multiple programs to continue learning as the needs of their business change over time.

If you’re interested in learning more or applying for this year’s Patriot Boot Camp, visit http://patriotbootcamp.org.