U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

A U.S. service member has been killed in action in Afghanistan, the second American to die while supporting operations in the country in January 2019.

Officials with Operation Resolute Support announced Jan. 22, 2019, that the death of the service member, whose service branch was not identified, is under investigation.

It’s not clear where the service member was killed. Defense Department policy is not to release the names of those who died supporting combat operations until 24 hours after next-of-kin is notified.


This most recent death comes five days after Army Sgt. Sgt. Cameron Meddock, of the 75th Ranger Regiment, died from combat wounds at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany on Jan. 17, 2019. Meddock was shot during combat operations in Badghis province, Afghanistan, on Jan. 13, 2019.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Sgt. Cameron A. Meddock, 26, of Spearman, Texas.

(U.S. Army Special Operations Command)

Earlier January 2019, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer and Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent were killed, along with an American DoD contractor and civilian worker, in a bombing in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. Three other American troops were wounded in the bombing.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything you need to know about the AC-130 Gunship

The AC-130 gunship is a devastating display of force and firepower. Through the years, the aircraft has been equipped with an array of side-fired canons, howitzers, mini-guns, wing-mounted missiles and bombs, and laser guided-missiles launched from the rear cargo door, earning it the moniker the “Angel of Death.”


The primary missions of the gunship are close air support, air interdiction, and armed reconnaissance.

The heavily armed aircraft is outfitted with sophisticated sensor, navigation, and fire control systems, allowing it to track and target multiple targets using multiple munitions with surgical precision.

Another strength of the gunship is the ability to loiter in the air for extended periods of time, providing aerial protection at night and during adverse weather.

The AC-130 relies heavily on visual targeting at low altitudes and punishes enemy targets while performing pylon turns around a fixed point on the ground during attack.

The Air Force is the only operator of the AC-130 and the gunship has been providing close air support for special operators for the last 50 years.

Development and Design

During the Vietnam War, the C-130 Hercules airframe was selected to replace the original gunship, the Douglas AC-47 Spooky (Project Gunship I). The Hercules cargo airframe was converted into AC-130A (Project Gunship II) because it could fly faster, longer, higher, and with increased munitions load capabilities.

The gunship’s AC identifier stands for attack-cargo.

The aircraft is powered by four turboprop engines and has a flight speed of 300 mph and a flight range of 1,300 miles, depending on weight.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
The AC-130 gunship’s primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and force protection. Missions in close air support are troops in contact, convoy escort and urban operations. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity. Force protection missions include air base defense and facilities defense. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The AC-130A was equipped with down facing Gatling guns affixed to the left side of the aircraft with an analog fire control system. In 1969, the AC-130 received the Surprise Package, which included 20mm rotary autocannons and a 40mm Bofors cannon configuration.

The gunships have been modified with multiple configurations through the years with each update providing stronger avionics systems, radars and more powerful armament.

Currently, Air Force special operations groups operate the AC-130U Spooky II and the AC-130W Stinger II.

The Spooky II became operational in 1994, revitalizing the special operations gunship fleet as a replacement for the AC-130A aircraft, and to supplement the workhorse AC-130H Spectre, which was retired in 2015.

The Spooky II is armed with a 25mm GAU-12/U Gatling gun (1800 rpm), a 40mm L60 Bofors cannon (120 rpm), and a 10mm M102 howitzer (6-10 rpm). The AC-130Us have a pressurized cabin, allowing them to operate 5,000 feet higher than the H models, which results in greater range.

The AC-130W was converted from the MC-130W Dragon Spear, a special operations mobility aircraft and are armed with precision strike packages to relieve the high operational demands on AC-130U gunships until new AC-130Js enter combat-ready status.

Over the past four decades, AC-130s have deployed constantly to hotspots throughout the world in support of special operations and conventional forces. In South America, Africa, Europe and throughout the Middle East, gunships have significantly contributed to mission success.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
An AC-130W Stinger II fires its weapon over Melrose Air Force Range, N.M., Jan. 10, 2013. The AC-130W is one of the newest aircraft being flown at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom)

As of Sept. 19, 2017, the AC-130J Ghostrider, the Air Force’s next-generation gunship, achieved Initial Operating Capability and will be tested and prepared for combat deployment in the next few years. The AC-130J is the fourth generation gunship replacing the aging fleet of AC-130U/W gunships.

The Ghostrider is outfitted with a Precision Strike Package, which includes 30mm and 105 mm cannons and precision guided munitions of GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs and AGM-176 Griffin missiles. The 105mm M102 howitzer system is a devastating weapon that can fire off 10 50lbs shells per minute with precision accuracy.

There are 10 Ghostrider gunships in the current fleet and the Air Force plans on purchasing 27 more by fiscal year 2021.

Operation and Deployment

The AC-130 Gunship operational history includes:

  • 1960s/70s – Vietnam/Laos
  • 1983 – Grenada – Operation Urgent Fury
  • 1989 – Panama – Operation Just Cause
  • 1991 – Persian Gulf – Operation Desert Storm
  • 1993 – Somalia – Operation Restore Hope
  • 1995 – Bosnia – Operation Deliberate Force
  • 2001 – Present – Afghanistan – Operation Enduring Freedom
  • 2003 – Present – Iraq – Operation Iraqi Freedom

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
An AC-130U Gunship aircraft from the 4th Special Operation Squadron jettisons flares over an area near Hurlburt Field, Fla., on Aug. 20, 2008. The flares are used as a countermeasure to heat-seeking missiles that can track aircraft during real-world missions. (Air Force photo/Senior Airman Julianne Showalter)

Air Force units that operate the current fleet of AC-130Us and AC-130Ws include:

AC-130U Spooky – 1st Special Operations Group, Hurlburt Field, Florida

AC-130W Stinger II – 27th Special Operations Group, Canon Air Force Base, New Mexico

VARIANTS:

AC-130A Spectre (Project Gunship II, Surprise Package, Pave Pronto)

Conversions of C-130As; 19 completed; transferred to the Air Force Reserve in 1975, retired in 1995

AC-130E Spectre (Pave Spectre, Pave Aegis)

Conversions of C-130Es; 11 completed; 10 upgraded to AC-130H configuration

AC-130H Spectre

Upgraded AC-130E aircraft; eight completed; last aircraft retired in 2015

AC-130U Spooky

Operational aircraft (active duty USAF); 17 in service

AC-130J Ghostrider

Based on MC-130J; 32 aircraft to be procured to replace AC-130H

AC-130W Stinger II (former MC-130W Dragon Spear)

Conversions of MC-130Ws (active duty USAF)

Also Read: This was the badass predecessor to the AC-130 Spooky gunship

Did you know?

– The original and unofficial nickname for the AC-130 gunship was “Puff the Magic Dragon” or “Puff.”

– The AC-130H Spectre was introduced in 1969 and was used for 46 years in service; the longest service time of any AC gunship.

– Air Force Special Operations Command plans to install combat lasers on AC-130 gunships within a year.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

AC-130U Spooky Fact Sheet:

Primary function: Close air support, air interdiction and force protection

Builder: Lockheed/Boeing Corp.

Power plant: Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines

Thrust: 4,300 shaft horsepower each engine

Wingspan: 132 feet, 7 inches (40.4 meters)

Length: 97 feet, 9 inches (29.8 meters)

Height: 38 feet, 6 inches (11.7 meters)

Speed: 300 mph (Mach .4) at sea level

Range: Approximately 1,300 nautical miles; limited by crew duty day with air refueling

Ceiling: 25,000 feet (7,576 meters)

Maximum takeoff weight: 155,000 pounds (69,750 kilograms)

Armament: 40mm, 105mm cannons and 25mm Gatling gun

Crew: AC-130U – pilot, co-pilot, navigator, fire control officer, electronic warfare officer (five officers) and flight engineer, TV operator, infrared detection set operator, loadmaster, and four aerial gunners (eight enlisted)

Deployment date:  1995

Unit cost:  $210 million

Inventory: Active duty, 17; reserve, 0; Air National Guard, 0

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 8 most useless pieces of gear ever issued

Quality of gear aside, when the U.S. military is equipping its troops, it tries to ensure they have everything they need to defeat the enemy and – if funding permits – not be entirely miserable in the meantime. Given the Pentagon’s track record with winning battles, one would have to concede they’re doing a pretty good job. Operationally, however, the troops figure out very quickly what’s going to work and what they need to improvise.


U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Somewhere in there is a troop still trying to get out of his mosquito net.

Mosquito Nets – Vietnam

One private in the Army who was deployed to an aircraft maintenance detachment in Vietnam mentions using the mosquito net diligently, just as he was trained. Except, when the base was attacked, he stumbled in the dark looking for the zipper, nearly getting himself killed in the process.

He, like many in Vietnam, never used the mosquito net again.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

“Bring out the E-3”

Army Cold Weather Mask

Are you into bondage? Then this is the issued gear for you. If you hate how much it itches your face or if you wear glasses, it definitely is not.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

If they only wore them in dress blues, that would be one thing.

Black Berets

Patrol caps and boonie hats serve the dual purpose of protecting your head from the sun while giving your kevlar a place to rest. They’re also both breathable and prevent the interior of the hat from becoming a swampy mess. The beret did none of these things, but the Army insisted every soldier wear one.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Sun-Wind-Dust Goggles – Iraq & Afghanistan

The only Sun-Dust-Wind goggles that couldn’t protect your eyes from sun, dust, or wind. All that and after a while, the padding slips out of place, the elastic wears out, and they become unwearable. Which isn’t a big deal because they get so scratched up you can’t see from them anyway.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

NBC Gear – U.S. Navy

The U.S. military’s old MOPP system used what is essentially a charcoal suit to protect troops from chemical agents in the air. The only problem was they were useless when wet – which is exactly what happened to the sailors during nuclear, biological, chemical warfare drills when they had to start cleaning the ship.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Black Leather Gloves with Wool Inserts

The dual glove system pretty much meant any fine motor skills you needed weren’t going to happen while wearing these things. Many troops would take off the leather gloves to use their fingers, which promptly froze because the liners themselves were useless in the cold.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Have at it hipsters, you poor deserving bastards.

M65 Field Jacket

Speaking of things that are useless in the cold, there was a time when the only jacket issued for the battle dress uniform was this cruel joke.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Presenting the most miserable troop of the 1980s.

Load-Bearing Equipment

This is a great way to carry many different kinds of gear. Until someone starts shooting at you and you need to get down on the ground, stay low, and/or maneuver while you’re down there.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The North Korean cold war will be paused for the Olympics

The Trump administration has agreed to delay joint military exercises with South Korea until after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next month, the Pentagon said Jan. 4.


A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Rob Manning, said President Donald Trump agreed to the delay in consultation with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

“The Department of Defense supports the President’s decision and what is in the best interest of the ROK-U.S. alliance,” Manning said, referring to the U.S. defense treaty with the Republic of Korea.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
President Donald J. Trump and President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea at the United Nations General Assembly (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

The decision pushes back a set of annual military exercises known as Foal Eagle, which normally are held between February and April. Foal Eagle is a series of exercises designed to test the readiness of the two countries’ militaries. North Korea routinely objects to such maneuvers as a rehearsal for an invasion.

The Jan. 4 decision came as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reopened a key cross-border communication channel with South Korea for the first time in nearly two years.

In a tweet early Jan. 4, Trump claimed his tough stance on nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula is helping push North Korea and South Korea to talk.

Trump tweeted, “Does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong, and willing to commit our total ‘might’ against the North.”

Earlier this week, Trump seemed open to the possibility of an inter-Korean dialogue after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a rare overture toward South Korea in a New Year’s address. But Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations insisted that talks won’t be meaningful unless the North is getting rid of its nuclear weapons.

Also Read: South Korea wants North Korea to host some 2018 Winter Olympics events

The overture about talks came after Trump and Kim traded more bellicose claims about their nuclear weapons.

In his New Year’s address, Kim repeated fiery nuclear threats against the U.S. Kim said he has a “nuclear button” on his office desk and warned that “the whole territory of the U.S. is within the range of our nuclear strike.”

Trump mocked that assertion Tuesday evening, tweeting: “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Kim Jong Un is embarrassed by North Korean infrastructure

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a rare, revealing admission when discussing the state of his country with South Korean President Moon Jae-in: He’s “embarrassed” by his country’s infrastructure.

As Kim and Moon held a historic summit on April 27, 2018, the South Korean president told North Korea’s supreme leader he’d like to visit his country in order to climb Mount Paektu, a mountain that plays a significant role in Korean folklore. Kim then said, “I feel embarrassed about the poor transit infrastructure,” BBC reports.


This was an out-of-character moment for Kim, as North Korean leaders have long been well-known for boasting about their country (and themselves) in an exaggerated fashion.

Relatedly, in December 2017, North Korean state media reported Kim had climbed Mount Paektu and seemed to suggest he has the power to control “nature” given the good weather at the time. Images of the alleged climb also showed Kim in dress shoes and slacks, with no mountaineering equipment.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un poses on Mt. Baekdu.

North Korea is notoriously impoverished. When a North Korean soldier defected to South Korea in 2017, doctors removed an 11 inch parasitic worm from his stomach and also discovered he’d consumed corn kernels, offering a glimpse into how difficult life can be in North Korea. Correspondingly, Chinese tourists have been known to visit the reclusive country almost solely to see how poor North Koreans truly are.

At April 27, 2018’s summit, Kim and Moon made a joint announcement the Korean Peninsula would be completely rid of nuclear weapons and also pledged to work toward formally ending the Korean War, which has technically been ongoing since fighting ceased via an armistice in 1953.

Later in the day, as President Donald Trump met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington DC, Trump sounded cautiously optimistic about his impending meeting with Kim. But he said the US would continue its campaign of “maximum pressure” until the Korean Peninsula is completely denuclearized.

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

Articles

We decided to make the best fictional fighter squadron ever

The fighter squadron has long been a staple of the military in the real world – as well as in fiction. When you think “Star Wars,” you think Red Squadron making the trench run. “Robotech” had Skull Squadron. “Baa Baa Black Sheep” had a very fictionalized version of VMF-214, the “Black Sheep.”


There are real squadrons with legendary track records as well. VMF-211 is the famous “Wake Island Avengers,” there are the “Jolly Rogers” from the U.S. Navy, as well as the “Black Aces” of VF-41. The Air Force has the 555th Fighter Squadron (the “Triple Nickel”), as well as the “Juvats” from the 80th Fighter Squadron.

Fighter squadrons can have anywhere from 12 to 24 planes. In this case, we will go with four flights of four planes each. We’ll also add the CO, XO, and Ops Officer slots as well in what we will call All-Star Squadron.

Commanding Officer – Greg “Pappy” Boyington from “Baa Baa Black Sheep”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The real Pappy Boyington was the top Marine Corps ace – and he had a good run as the commander of VMF-214. The fictionalized version played by Robert Conrad was a superb tactician – cooking up a version of “Operation Bolo” in the pilot of the series, then pulling off several other operations. Also, his experience riding herd on the motley crew of VMF-214 will help with this unit as well.

Executive Officer Wilma Deering from “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

A good pilot in her own right, Wilma also can backstop Boyington’s weaknesses. Notably the paperwork and all the other mundane details that Boyington either got bored with, or may be too hung over to deal with.

Operations Officer – Chappy Sinclair from “Iron Eagle”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

Chappy Sinclair is here as a superb operational planner. In all four “Iron Eagle” movies, he is a mover and shaker — often able to accomplish missions despite long odds and being outnumbered and outgunned. Who else could you pick as the Ops O?

First Flight

All-Star One-One – Jeffrey Sinclair from “Babylon 5”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

With a long family tradition of fighter pilots, Sinclair was no slouch himself, being one of the few survivors from the Battle of the Line. However, in more even fights, he held his own.

All-Star One-Two – Luke Skywalker from “Star Wars”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

This farm kid has been lucky and has a few kills, but he is clearly a raw talent who could learn from being on the wing of a more experienced fighter pilot. This kid will get his own squadron – someday.

All-Star One-Three – David Campbell from “The Longest Day”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

One of “The Few” who had fought off the Nazis in the Battle of Britain, he can be an excellent element lead. Tends to be up for a sortie – unless he’s drinking a beer.

All Star One-Four – Christopher Blair from “Wing Commander”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

He is fresh out of flight training but clearly has some natural ability. Like Skywalker, he is best suited as a wingman for now, but has the ability to rise through the ranks.

Second Flight

All-Star Two-One – Roy Fokker from “Robotech”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

He has seen a lot of combat, and has been a father figure to younger pilots. Given his extensive combat experience, he can lead a flight, no problem.

All-Star Two-Two – Lieutenant Starbuck from the original “Battlestar Galactica”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

A sharp pilot who can sometimes get himself in too deep (he’s crashed his fighter a number of times), Starbuck is not quite yet flight or element lead material.

All-Star Two-Three – Wedge Antilles from “Star Wars”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

This guy has plenty of experience, and he has managed to survive two Death Star runs. That said, his units have taken heavy casualties in the past. Good enough to command an element, but flight lead may be a stretch for now.

All-Star Two-Four – Doug Masters from “Iron Eagle”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

Another natural stick with a high kill count. Still, there is a distinct need for more seasoning. Though Masters does seem to enjoy playing tunes while flying.

Third Flight

All-Star Three-One – Tyrus Cassius McQueen from “Space: Above and Beyond”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

He’s taken on an enemy ace and lived, plus he has a track record of being a mentor to younger pilots. McQueen’ll be able to handle the other pilots in this flight.

All-Star Three-Two – Steven Hiller from “Independence Day”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

He’s a good pilot – scoring a maneuver kill against an enemy that had a means to neutralize other weapons. Then he readily adapted to flying an alien craft. While he may get his own squadron some day, right now, he needs someone more experienced to get him to settle down and get over his obsession with the Fat Lady.

All-Star Three-Three – Cameron Mitchell from “Stargate: SG-1”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

He’s had combat experience on Earth and against the Gou’ald, as well as some small-unit leadership experience. Mitchell also received the Medal of Honor for heroism.

All-Star Three-Four – Pete Mitchell from “Top Gun”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(WATM photo archive)

No relation to Cameron Mitchell, Pete is a very good pilot with three kills in one engagement over the Indian Ocean. That said, some view his unorthodox style as “dangerous,” and he has made high-speed passes on various towers.

Fourth Flight

All-Star Four-One – Brad Little from “Fire Birds”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

Okay, he mostly flew rotary-wing aircraft, but he has extensive experience as an instructor, and did score a kill on a fighter with an Apache.

All-Star Four-Two – Harmon Rabb, Jr. from “JAG”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

Rabb’s shown some skill, but had a lengthy layoff due to his assignment to the Judge Advocate General corps for an extended period. He’ll catch on quick, but let’s season him under Little.

All-Star Four-Three – Blaine Rawlings from “Flyboys”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

The combat experience Rawlings has is substantial, and he did down a pair of German aces. He was also awarded the Croix de Guerre for a daring rescue.

All-Star Four-Four – Tom Kazanski from “Top Gun”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan
(Youtube Screenshot)

The man flies by the book, and has very rarely made a mistake (over the Indian Ocean, he got target-fixated and a MiG-28 damaged his bird). We figure he’s best suited to flying as someone’s wingman until he can loosen up a little.

Who do you think we should add? Let us know in the comments below.

MIGHTY HISTORY

When did having a prisoner’s last meal be anything they want start?

If you happen to ever find yourself slated to have society as a whole decide it would be best if they killed you, the silver lining is that in many parts of the world where this is still a thing, the last meal you ever eat is likely to be significantly better than the ones you’ve been consuming up to that point in prison. So how did this rather odd meal tradition come about and is it actually true death row inmates can get anything they want to eat?


To begin with, while it’s commonly stated that the whole idea of the last meal request came about due to Christ’s famed last supper, there doesn’t seem to be any direct evidence of this.

So how did the tradition actually start?

While history is absolutely littered with various cultures having feasts associated with death, such as the public feast for Roman gladiators the night before their potential date with death, called the coena libera, it wouldn’t be until slightly more modern times where we start seeing those being executed widely granted such a courtesy en masse. Once this did start to become a thing, in the early going, while wealthy individuals slated for execution, as ever, could generally request whatever they wanted any time, and were even often allowed servants to attend them as they awaited their execution, common things granted to the poor before their execution seem to have been at best a swig of some alcohol or the like.

Things began to pick up steam considerably on this front around the 16th century, however. Or, at least, things appear to have. It is entirely possible that such courtesies were widely granted before this to even the poor, with documented evidence of it simply not surviving. On that note, things like the printing press’ invention in the 15th century began making documented history of rather mundane events like the executions of random Joe Citizens more, well, documented. Thus, it may or may not be coincidence that accounts of such courtesies started to pop up more and more around the 16th century and progressing from there.

Whatever the case, by the 18th century, particularly in places like England, such practices were definitely around and relatively common. For example, in London it was common to allow the condemned to enjoy a meal with various guests, generally including the executioner, on the eve of the execution. Further, there is record of Newgate Prison death row inmates being allowed to stop at a pub on their march to their death at the Tyburn Fair gallows. At the pub, they would typically share drinks with their guards and executioner.

Over in Germany, perhaps the best documented case of the food practice around this time was that of Susanna Margarethe Brandt of Frankfurt. On January 14, 1772, Brandt, a poor servant girl, was executed for allegedly killing her newborn child. Eight months before this murder, she’d become pregnant by a journeyman goldsmith who she never saw again after they had sex. She subsequently successfully hid her pregnancy all the way to the eighth month when she gave birth secretly and alone in a laundry room on August 1, 1771. Unfortunately, when the baby came out, whether because newborn babies are insanely slippery or she just failed to realize it was about to drop, it fell from her and smacked its head against the stone floor. The child then, according to her, wheezed momentarily and then ceased to breathe. Brandt subsequently panicked, hid the baby in a stable and fled the scene. However, having no money or means to support herself, the next day she returned to Frankfurt where she was eventually arrested for murdering the child. Whether she did or not, and even if it would have survived anyway given it was premature, is a matter of debate even today, but she was nonetheless convicted of the murder and sentenced to death.

Shortly before her execution, however, she was the guest of honor at what has been dubbed the “Hangman’s Meal”- a rather large feast prepared for the condemned and various officials who had condemned her. If you’re curious, the meal in this case supposedly was “three pounds of fried sausages, ten pounds of beef, six pounds of baked carp, twelve pounds of larded roast veal, soup, cabbage, bread, a sweet, and eight and a half measures of 1748 wine.” Of course, the young Susanna reportedly ate none of it, merely drinking a little water as the officials feasted around her. Not long after, her head was lopped off.

Moving over to the United States where the idea of the “last meal” is perhaps best known today, it would appear this tradition did not initially jump across the pond when Europeans began setting in the Americas. Or, at least, surviving accounts of executions don’t seem to mention such courtesies, with some exceptions usually having to do with drink or something to smoke. For example, in 1835, the New York Sun reported shortly before his execution, murderer Manuel Fernandez requested and was granted a bit of brandy and some cigars, courtesy of the warden at Bellevue prison.

As the 19th century progressed, this sort of thing became more and more reported, as did eventually the practice of granting last meal requests, which by the early 20th century became quite common.

This all leads us to why. Well, as far as more historic cases, such as the early known instances in Europe, it’s generally hypothesized that people did it as a way for officials and executioners to more or less say to the prisoners “We’re going to kill you, but it’s nothing personal.” In essence, offering a bit of kindness to the condemned before their death with the prisoners themselves seemingly appreciating the courtesy, at least when it came to the alcohol.

On that note, it’s widely reported from this that the practice was instituted as a way to ensure the ghosts of the executed would feel friendly towards their condemners and executioners and thus not come back and haunt them, but we couldn’t find any primary documentation backing such a notion.

Whether that’s true or not, moving on to more modern times, the underlying reason why prison officials started doing this is not any better documented and there doesn’t ever seem to have been any laws requiring it, for instance. It’s just something people did on their own and the idea spread, presumably thanks to the media’s then love of reporting everything about the last hours of those being executed, and the general public eating it up across the nation.

Whatever the case, law professor Sarah Gerwig-Moore, co-author of Cold (Comfort?) Food: The Significance of Last Meal Rituals in the United States, posits of all this,

Last meals may be an offering by the guards and prison administrators as a way of seeking forgiveness for the impending execution, signaling that ‘it’s nothing personal.’… There are standard operating procedures that put up a wall between guards and prisoners, but nevertheless, there is a fondness between them… The last meal as a tradition is really a way of showing humanity between the caregivers of people on death row who are completely powerless and who come to care about these people — they feel complicit, and conflicted. The last meal is a way to offer, in a very, very small way, a show of kindness and generosity.

On this point, she also notes from her research, “The most generous meals correlate to the states that execute the most people — except for Texas…”

Texas, of course, having executed about 1,300 people in the last two centuries and trending the opposite of everyone else- actually increasing the number of executions in recent decades. For reference here, they’ve conducted 562 executions (almost half their couple century total) since 1982- apparently doing their best to adhere to the supposed 13th century Papal decree at the Massacre at Béziers, “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.” This translates to, “Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are His own.” Or to put it in the form that is apparently Texas’ state motto- “Kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out.” (Joking asside, Texas’ state motto is actually the single word- “friendship”, owing to the fact that the name of the state derives from the Caddo word for “friends” or “allies”.)

On the note of Texas, last meals, and being friendly, in 2011 Senator John Whitmire very publicly pushed for an ultimately got the special meal requests for those about to be executed abolished, at least officially. He noted of this, “It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege… enough is enough… If you’re fixing to execute someone under the laws of the state because of the hideous crime that someone has committed, I’m not looking to comfort him… He didn’t give his victim any comfort or a choice of last meal.”

That said, proponents on the other side of that argument generally state that part of the point of offering such courtesies is to demonstrate that while the state is killing someone on behalf and with the express consent of the public as a whole, if it’s not done in a humane way, the public and the state are no better than the person being killed. As Professor Kathy Zambrana of the University of Florida sums up, “It comes down to how do you treat one human being when you’re about to take someone’s life.”

History professor Daniel LaChance of Emory University further chimes in, “These last meals — and last words — show the state is democratic and respects individuality even as it’s holding people accountable. As horrible as the deed they’ve been convicted of [is], the person still has some kind of dignity that we’re acknowledging.”

As to what drew the ire of Senator Whitmire to come against the then almost century old Texas tradition of the last meal, it was the meal request of death row inmate Lawrence Russel Brewer, who was sentenced to death for taking part in the rather horrific and senseless racially motivated murder of James Byrd Jr in 1998. So what did Brewer ask for? A couple chicken fried steaks, a triple decker bacon cheeseburger, a beef and cheese omelet, fried okra, a full pound of BBQ, a half loaf of bread, three fajitas, and a meat lover’s pizza. For dessert, he requested a container of Blue Bell ice cream and peanut-butter fudge. To wash it all down, he asked for three root beers.

When the time came, however, he ultimately ate nothing.

This all brings us to whether inmates can actually request and receive basically anything they want. While the media widely reports this is the case, including with this specific example of Brewer, this isn’t correct at all. In fact, in the vast majority of cases where inmates request something elaborate like this, what they actually get is just a simple, one-person version of it.

As famed “death row chef” Brian Price, who prepared well over 100 such meals, states, “The local newspaper would always say they got 24 tacos and 12 enchiladas, but they would actually get four tacos and two enchiladas… They only get items in the commissary kitchen. If they order lobster, they get a piece of frozen pollack. They quit serving steaks in 1994. If they order 100 tacos, they get two or three.”

That said other states and prisons sometimes do it differently. For example, in nearby Oklahoma, they allow the meal to be purchased from a local restaurant if desired, though capping it at … Other states that allow similar, such as Florida, are more generous, allowing for a budget of .

Of course, as you might have guessed from all we’ve said so far, those actually involved in making or acquiring the last meal may or may not pitch in if they so choose to go beyond. For example, in Cottonport, Louisiana, when one unnamed death row inmate requested lobster, the warden at the Angola prison, Burl Cain, went ahead and paid for a full lobster dinner, with Cain then dining with the inmate. You see, much like many historical instances of this sort of thing, before Cain’s recent retirement, he would always extend an invitation to the condemned to have their last meal with him and sometimes other select guests.

Of course, as with Susanna Brandt and Lawrence Brewer, it’s quite common for death row inmates to forgo eating their “last meal”, as the whole impending death thing generally leaves many without an appetite. To try to get around the problem, the so-called last meal is sometimes not actually the last meal at all, with it generally designated the “special meal” by prison officials. Even when it is literally the person’s last meal, it is usually scheduled far enough ahead that they might still be able to eat, but not so far away that they’ll have to go an extended time without eating before their execution. For example, in Virginia the rule is the meal must be served at least four hours before the execution. In Indiana, they go even further with the special meal often coming a few days before the big show, in a time when the person can actually enjoy it on some level.

For those who don’t have an appetite, they often share. For example, in places like Florida, in certain cases family or friends may be allowed to enjoy the meal with the condemned. Some inmates instead donate it to others. For example, in 1951, Raymond Fernandez, one of the “Lonely Hearts Killers” along with his lady love Martha Jule Beck, made a request that his meal be given to another inmate to enjoy.

On a similar note, in the early decades of this tradition in Texas, it was relatively common for the condemned to order and be given large portions of food for their special meal precisely so they could have enough to share with every other inmate on death row in the prison. This extra food request was usually honored by prison officials because it was seen not just as a mercy, but something that helped keep all those on death row in line directly before executions.

That said, not all inmates have trouble eating. Perhaps the most famous case of this was murderer Rickey Ray Rector. After committing two rather senseless murders, he attempted to kill himself by shooting himself in the head. However, he ended up living through the ordeal owing to shooting himself in the temple- a common way to kill one’s self in the movies, but in reality very survivable if medical aid is nearby, with the person effectively having just given themselves a lobotomy.

Despite his rather deficient mental faculties as a result of the whole bullet through the brain thing, Rector was controversially sentenced to death. The issue became even more of a media sensation after the fact when it was learned that while he happily ate his last meal, he chose not to eat the pecan pie that he got with it. Why? He told the guards he was “saving it for later.”

Once again showing the humanity of the guards involved, they went ahead and saved the piece of pie just in case there was a last minute stay of execution.

This all brings us to what prisoners actually usually request for their last meal. While exact fare is rather diverse (for example in one case a person simply requested a “jar of pickles” according to the aforementioned Brian Price), if categorizing this into groups, it often comes down to either things you’d find at McDonald’s or KFC (or literally McDonald’s or KFC meals in many cases), something fancy, or a favorite home cooked meal from the person’s childhood or the like.

As for the first two categories there, it’s noted that the vast majority of death row inmates come from rather impoverished backgrounds, and thus often go with favorite food items they are accustomed to and haven’t gotten while in prison- things like fried chicken, cheeseburgers, french fries, and soda, or the like. That said, some go the other way, picking foods they couldn’t really afford when in the land of the free, or may have never even tried at all, like lobster or filet mignon. As for favorite home cooked meals, the aforementioned Brian Price states when he prepared these meals, he always did his best to make it just as the inmate described, or even potentially getting a specific recipe from the condemned’s loved ones.

Regardless of what camp one goes with, some choose their last meal not on what they necessarily intend to eat, but rather to make a statement.

As for such statements, going back in time a bit in 1963, murderer Victor Feguer requested nothing more than a single solitary unpitted olive for his last meal. He then requested the seed be buried with him in the hopes that it would grow an olive tree as a symbol of peace and rebirth.

On a similar note, one Jonathan Wayne Nobles, who apparently had been on drugs since he was 8 years old living in foster homes, as an adult murdered two women while high on a cocktail of substances. In prison, however, he got off the drugs and became a devout Catholic and, not just model inmate, but model person. As one example, at one point he attempted to save the life of a random woman he heard about who was dying from kidney failure. However, while he did successfully find a doctor willing to perform the procedure to take one of his kidneys out and give it to the woman, it ultimately turned out the pair were did not have matching blood types and the woman died. Doubling down, Nobles later attempted to have all his organs donated after his execution, but this request was denied as Texas did not allow death row inmates to donate their organs. Going back to his last meal request, he simply asked for the Eucharist (communion).

To end on a lighter note- well… relatively speaking…- in the 1940s Wilson De la Roi, who murdered a man while in prison, was slated to be killed via a somewhat newly minted poison gas chamber in San Quentin. When asked what he wanted for his last meal, he merely requested a bunch of indigestion tablets. When asked why, he stated that he felt sure he was soon to have rather severe case of gas…

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

‘South Park’ banned in China after most recent episode

The most recent episode of “South Park,” called “Band in China,” mocked Hollywood’s submission to the country. Now the long-running Comedy Central animated series has seemingly been banned in China itself.

Episodes, clips, and online discussions of the show have been removed from the Chinese internet, according to The Hollywood Reporter. THR reviewed the Chinese social network Weibo and found zero mention of the series; clips and episodes on Chinese streamer Youku didn’t work; and “South Park” discussion forums on Tieba had been closed.

“According to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open,” a note on the platform says when you search for a “South Park” discussion thread, according to THR.


In the episode, Hollywood wants to make a biopic of Stan Marsh’s band, but must alter the movie to fit China’s regulations. Meanwhile, Stan’s dad, Randy, attempts to sell marijuana in the country after people in South Park stop buying his and start growing their own.

The Return of Fingerbang – “Band in China” – s23e02 – South Park

www.youtube.com

China is currently the second-largest theatrical market in the world and Hollywood has increasingly relied on the country’s box office to give potential blockbusters a boost. A report from Ampere Analysis last year predicted that China would surpass the US as the world’s box office leader by 2022.

The “South Park” episode is heavily critical of China’s censorship and references the country’s crackdown on Winnie the Pooh imagery. After China’s ruling Communist Party announced it wanted to eliminate presidential term limits last year, photos comparing its leader Xi Jinping to Pooh popped up online.

Disney’s “Christopher Robin,” a live-action take on the Winnie the Pooh characters, was not released in China last year because the character was such a symbol of resistance, according to THR.

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

Featured

This Green Beret invented a flag that can’t – and won’t – burn

When 10th Group Special Forces soldier Kyle Daniels returned from his last combat deployment, he was frustrated by what he saw. He understood that he’d been fighting for America’s freedom, including the important freedom to protest. But he didn’t like seeing the American flag burned.

So he did something about it.


U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Daniels designed and developed a flag that will not burn. Now, after two years of research and hundreds of prototypes, on Sunday, June 14 – Flag Day 2020 – the Firebrand Flag Company will launch its first product: A first-of-its-kind, official, fire-retardant U.S. Flag made in America from the same kevlar and nomex fabric that keeps our service members and first responders safe.

Daniels has big ambitions for his flag company. “I want Firebrand Flags to be the official flag company of the U.S.A.,” he said. “I want every home, business and government building in America to proudly fly one of our flags. And, if, for some reason, one of our enemies got ahold of one of our flags, it wouldn’t be much use as a propaganda tool. They would have to go to extreme lengths to destroy it, much like they do when they are face to face with an American service member. Old Glory can now defend itself.”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Early on, Daniels shared his vision with his former Green Beret commander, Jason Van Camp. Van Camp immediately invited Daniels to join his Warrior Rising incubator. Warrior Rising helps veteran entrepreneurs find mentors who can help realize their business goals and transition to the private sector. “I’ve known Kyle since the Special Forces Qualification Course. I believe in Kyle. He was a perfect fit for Warrior Rising,” Van Camp explained. “He had passion and zeal for making a flag that would literally dominate the narrative about flag burning but needed to evolve a new set of business skills to realize his vision.”

The mission wasn’t going to be easy. To make a flag that would look, feel and fly like a real flag but that wouldn’t burn, Daniels needed to engineer new materials and design a manufacturing process that previously didn’t exist. There were plenty of roadblocks along the way. The process to make the flag required entirely new cutting machines and the largest purchase of Kevlar fabric outside of the U.S. military. But Daniels applied the resilience he learned in the military to his business. As Daniels put it, “You have to adapt, overcome and do whatever needs to be done to accomplish the mission.”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

At a Warrior Rising event, Kyle met yet another ex-Green Beret, Chase Millsap, the Chief Content Officer at We Are The Mighty. We Are The Mighty is a publisher and content studio focused on the military and veteran communities. Millsap loved the Firebrand mission from the outset. “We tell stories that celebrate service. Kyle’s unburnable flag is an awesome product with an amazing story.” It took Milsap no time to convince his colleagues to jump on board and the two companies have formed a partnership to bring the Firebrand Flag to market. WATM is the proud media partner of Firebrand Flags.

Get your unburnable flag today. The first 150 orders before June 26 save , and get free shipping (a value). All orders placed by June 26 are guaranteed to arrive in time for the 4th of July.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

FIREBRAND FLAG COMPANY – Founded by Green Beret veteran Kyle Daniels, Firebrand Flags is the 1st company to develop a 100% made in America, fire retardant officials U.S. Flag.

WARRIOR RISING – A 501c(3) which empowers U.S. military veterans and their immediate family members by providing them opportunities to create sustainable businesses, perpetuate the hiring of fellow American veterans and earn their future.

WE ARE THE MIGHTY – Launched in 2014, We Are The Mighty (WATM) was created to give military veterans a voice to tell the most authentic, entertaining and inspirational stories about the military and by the military.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 simple whiskey cocktails to make this summer

A well-made whiskey cocktail is a nice reward at the end of any day. But sometimes classic cocktails are too much. For one thing, unless you’re a seasoned drink-slinger, many whiskey cocktails are often too complicated — or intensive — to whip up at the end of a long day (Hey if you want to shake the hell out of that classic whiskey sour, go right ahead). For another, the alcohol content of one concoction can quickly equal that of two or three regular drinks. Sometimes this is great; other times, not so much. Because while we’d like this to not be the case, “falling asleep in the chair” is not really a regular item on the nightly to-do list.

That’s what inspired this list of one-shot whiskey cocktails. They’re all great to sip at the end of the day but won’t put you on your ass — or require four kinds of hooch and one of those hilariously long copper mixing spoons. They’re simple, refreshing, and very drinkable. What more do you want from a summer cocktail?


U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

(Photo by Jessica Lewis)

1. The Blinker

What is it? The Blinker is a simple, refreshing drink made with grapefruit juice and rye whiskey. While they might not seem like the most obvious combination, one sip and it might just become your new summer go to.

Try it with: Michter’s Rye. It’s bold enough to shine through the intensity of the grapefruit tang.

How to make a Blinker:

  • 1-2oz Rye
  • 2-3oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1oz raspberry syrup

Instructions: Shake over ice and strain into a coupe glass.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

2. Bourbon and Georgia Peach Coca-Cola

What is it? A way better version of the classic whiskey and Coke.

Try it with: Knob Creek. The strong vanilla notes compliment the peach flavoring.

How to make a Bourbon and Georgia Peach Coca-Cola:

  • 1-2oz Knob Creek Bourbon
  • 4-6oz Georgia Peach Coca-Cola
  • Garnish with a fresh slice of peach

Instructions: Fill a highball glass with ice and add all the ingredients.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

(Photo by Johann Trasch)

3. The Bourbon Bloody Mary

What is it? The vodka brunch classic made with bourbon. Whiskey gives the drink a subtle hint of smoke and more depth than the original.

Try it with: Bulleit Bourbon. The whiskey’s citrus and spice notes accentuate the punch of the tomato and the heat of the hot sauce.

How to Make a Bourbon Bloody Mary:

  • 1-2oz bourbon
  • 4oz Bloody Mary mix (we like McClure’s)
  • A few generous dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of Tapatio hot sauce
  • Garnish with black pepper and a kosher pickle spear

Instructions: Fill a highball glass with ice and add all ingredients. Stir.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

(Photo by Johann Trasch)

4. Japanese Highball

What is it? A whisky-soda with a rock and roll kick. A good Japanese malt gives this classic a radically different profile.

Try it with: Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky. The whisky is fruity and floral and the tiny bubbles from the soda atomize the nose to create a fragrantly charming and refreshing cocktail

How to make a Japanese Highball:

  • 1-2oz whisky
  • 4oz club soda

Instructions: Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add ingredients. Stir briefly.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

(Photo by Adam Jaime)

5. The Single Malt Old Fashioned

What is it? It’s just an Old Fashioned made with Scotch instead of rye or bourbon. The Old Fashioned is a perfect cocktail and normally we don’t like to tinker with perfection. But, variety is the spice of life and Scotch is, and always will be our first love.

Try it with: Ardbeg 10. This single malt adds a big peaty smoke as well as a touch of salt and pepper for a more layered drink.

How to make a Single Malt Old Fashioned:

  • 1-2oz Single Malt Scotch
  • 2-3 Dashes of bitters
  • 1 Tsp of simple syrup
  • Top with 1oz club soda
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions: Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add the ingredients.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The US Space Force just got its first leader

Vice President Mike Pence swore in Air Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond as the highest-ranking military leader of the newly created U.S. Space Force in a ceremony that recognized the arrival of the nation’s newest military branch.

Raymond was formally designated the first chief of space operations in a formal ceremony sponsored by the White House and held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. It came less than a month after the Space Force, by law, became the sixth independent branch of the U.S. military, marking the first time since 1947 that a new military branch had been created.


“The first decision the president made after establishing the Space Force was deciding who should be its first leader,” Pence said. “I was around when the President made that decision and I can tell you, he never hesitated. He knew right away there was no one more qualified or more prepared from a lifetime of service than General Jay Raymond to serve as the first leader of the Space Force.”

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond addresses the audience in the Executive Eisenhower Office Building Washington after being sworn in as the first chief of space operations by Vice President Mike Pence, Jan 14, 2020.

(Photo by Andy Morataya, Air Force)

The Space Force was established Dec. 20 when President Donald J. Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act. He also appointed Raymond to lead the Space Force. Although directed by its own military leadership, the Space Force is nested within the Department of the Air Force.

Raymond noted the historic nature of the moment. “Not only is this historical; it’s critical,” he said. “That is not lost on me or the outstanding Americans who serve with me.”

The Space Force’s overarching responsibility is training, equipping and organizing a cadre of space professionals who protect U.S. and allied interests in space while also providing space capabilities to the joint force. The Space Force’s mandate includes developing military space professionals, acquiring military space systems, refining military doctrine for space power, and organizing space forces for use by combatant commands.

A major reason for creating the Space Force is the importance of space for both national security and everyday life. It is the backbone that allows for instant communication worldwide, precision navigation and global commerce. The U.S. Space Force will ensure the country’s continued leadership in space, Raymond said. Equally important, he added, is avoiding conflict in space.

“We want to deter that conflict from happening,” he said. “The best way I know how to do that is through a position of strength.”

Among those attending the ceremony were Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper, Deputy Defense Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as Adm. Charles Ray, vice commandant of the Coast Guard; Navy Adm. Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations; and Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Faculty members and cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy wait to receive “first contact” from the cadet-designed FalconSAT-6 satellite after its successful launch into space, Dec. 3, 2018.

(Photo by Joshua Armstrong, Air Force)

“We are moving forward with alacrity and in accordance with presidential direction, the law, and DOD guidance,” Barrett said about the establishment of the new U.S. Space Force. “Directing this effort is the incomparably qualified leader, General ‘Jay’ Raymond. As a career space officer, he’s the perfect person to guide this lean, agile, vital Space Force.”

Raymond was the natural choice for the job. He is the commander of the U.S. Space Command; the nation’s unified command for space.

Before his new role, Raymond was the commander of Air Force Space Command, which carried the nation’s primary military focus on space, managing a constellation of satellites, developing policy and programs and training frontline space operators. Air Force Space Command was redesignated as the U.S. Space Force under the recently passed NDAA.

More broadly, the Space Force is responsible for maintaining the United States’ space superiority, even as space becomes more crowded and contested. The NDAA, which created the Space Force, also directs that the Space Force “shall provide the freedom of operation in, from, and to space, while providing prompt and sustained space operations.”

(Charles Pope is assigned to the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Public Affairs. Air Force Maj. Will Russell contributed to this report.)

This article originally appeared on Department of Defense.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Coastie and musician won the chance of a lifetime

U.S. Coast Guardsman Bobby “Blackhat” Walters is the epitome of “cool cat.”


He’s a Coastal Virginia Bluesman and an award-winning recording artist, harmonica player, vocalist, songwriter, producer, comedian, and actor. He’s also the winner of the 2017 Mission: Music competition that found incredible musicians from the military community, sent them to Nashville for a professional video shoot at the iconic Ocean Way Nashville Recording Studios, then introduced them America, who voted for which artist would take the stage at Base*FEST Powered by USAA. 

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Walters’ blues and contagious laughter carried him all over the country and right up to that stage, along with headliners Thompson Square and DNCE.

“You know, when you’re going up onto that stage, and the first thing you worry about is ‘please don’t let me trip,'” he laughed. “But then I gathered everyone around me together and I said, ‘Okay guys, rule number one: have fun.'”

Also read: The votes are in – this Coastie is the MISSION: MUSIC winner

For many veterans, who put their creative careers on hold when they join the military, building an artistic life can be challenging. Opportunities like Mission: Music give talented service members a helpful boost as a way of thanking them for that service. Nationwide coverage and the chance to play at an event with major headliners can be a game-changer.

Walters called the experience one of the highlights of his musical career.

“They say you get the rockstar treatment, well, we got the ‘blues star’ treatment!”

Follow Walters’ journey from the U.S. Coast Guard to the blues, to competing in Mission: Music and receiving that victory call, all the way to the stage at Naval Air Station Pensacola and his meeting with Thompson Square in the video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvbQUBaGlwo

(Bobby Blackhat slays at Base*FEST Powered by USAA)

MIGHTY HISTORY

A mass murderer allegedly learned to kill from an Army vet-turned hitman

The story of Robert Prongay gets more confusing the more anyone retells it, but it all begins with prolific serial killer and alleged mafia hitman, Richard Kuklinski. Known as “The Iceman” for masking his victims’ times of death by freezing their corpses, Kuklinski claimed to have killed more than 100 people for the five families of the New York City mafia — and he claimed to have learned his skills from a Special Forces veteran.


Kuklinski was only ever convicted of five murders, but it was enough to put him away for the rest of his days. These victims were small-time drug and porn dealers in the mid-1980s. In one of those murders, he used a hamburger laced with cyanide, a murder technique he picked up from a man he described as a Special Force veteran-turned-ice cream man, Robert Prongay.

He taught me a lot,” Kuklinski once said. “But he was extremely crazy… he’d go into these neighborhoods and sell ice cream to the kids, then maybe kill one of their fathers.
U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Prongay was played by Chris Evans in the 2013 movie about Kuklinski, ‘The Iceman.’

Kuklinski was known as “The Iceman” to law enforcement and Prongay was called “Mister Softee.” According to Kuklinski, the two men met at a New Jersey motel while stalking the same mark. They summed each other up and realized they were both contract killers. Prongay told Kuklinski he was an Army Special Forces veteran, trained in using explosives and poisons.

In Kuklinski’s words, Prongay used his ice cream truck as a surveillance van to follow around his potential victims, whom he would kill using aerosol cyanide and remotely-detonated grenades. It was from Prongay that Kuklinski said he learned to freeze bodies to mask time of death.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

A man who is allegedly Robert Prongay serving ice cream from his Mister Softee truck.

(HBO)

Not much is really known about the real Prongay. Kuklinski claimed to have a very firm moral code when it came to killing. He could kill anyone without feeling anything at all, but he wouldn’t kill innocent women and children. The Iceman claimed that Mister Softee asked Kuklinski to kill his wife and young son for him, which Kuklinski declined. When Prongay began to talk about poisoning an entire reservoir just to kill one family, Kuklinski shot him.

The only verification that Prongay existed and may have known Kuklinski is that an ice-cream man by the name of Robert Prongay was killed in his ice cream truck, shot twice in the chest. On Aug. 9, 1984, his body was found hanging out the side of his ice cream truck. The real Prongay, it turns out, was facing trial in New Jersey for bombing the front house ex-wife and making terrorist threats against his ex-wife and son.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Before murdering Prongay, the Iceman and Mister Softee teamed up on a few occasions. An HBO Documentary in 2001 found old film reels of Prongay and called him an “Army demolitions expert,” a claim verified by Paul Smith of the New Jersey Organize Crime Bureau.

It is our opinion,” Smith told HBO, “that friendship led to Richard Kuklinski learning a lot about killing with different types of chemicals, including cyanide.”

In reality, Kuklinski made a lot of claims about himself and his famous hits. He was convicted of killing the members of a small-time burglary gang he led in New Jersey, along with one of his cyanide suppliers. The claims of the people he worked for and murdered makes his resume sound like one of the most prolific hitmen in the history of the American mafia. If you believe Kuklinski, he was recruited by Gambino capo Roy DeMeo, who gave Kuklinski his death orders.

Kuklinski claimed the murder of NYPD detective Peter Calabro, a murder in which Gambino underboss Sammy “The Bull” Gravano was also charged. The Iceman also claimed the death of Roy DeMeo and claimed to be involved in John Gotti’s famous hit on Gambino boss Paul Castellano. The only mafia hit law enforcement really related to Kuklinski was that of Calabro.

U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan

Kuklinski claimed to have killed some 100-250 people between 1948 and 1986 but his claims varied wildly in later years, as some of them were unverifiable and others were found to be complete fabrications (he claimed to have killed famous disappearing act Jimmy Hoffa, for example). Renowned mafia writers and historians claim to never have heard of Kuklinski.

If Kuklinski’s claims are true, he would be the most prolific serial killer in American history.