A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History's 'Six' - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’

It’s a testament to the everlasting mythology of the SEAL Teams when a screenwriter – who also happens to be an Air Force Pararescue Jumper – and his Marine veteran dad team up to write a TV show about them. That’s exactly what happened with History’s show Six, now in its second season.

David Broyles is the son of Hollywood (and Vietnam) veteran William Broyles, writer of some of the best military films and television in recent memory, including China Beach, Apollo 13, Jarhead, and Flags of Our Fathers. Now father and son can add Six to that list.

Related: 6 things military veterans will love about History’s ‘Six’

Before David joined the military, he watched the Twin Towers fall with his father, who was a lieutenant of Marines in Vietnam. He had just finished his degree at the University of Texas at Austin. Within a week, he was looking at joining the military, judging them by their special operations teams.

Yes, he considered joining the Navy to be a SEAL. What he chose was Air Force Pararescue.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’
David Broyles during his Air Force PJ days.
(Courtesy of David Broyles)

“I looked at the SEALs, I looked at the Marine Corps, and I found Pararescue,” says David Broyles, co-creator and one of the main writers on Six. “It seemed really challenging with the high washout rate. But also the job was to save lives, so after watching the towers come down I wanted to help. I want to make a difference. And probably like most of us, I wanted to challenge myself.”

There were 82 would-be pararescue jumpers in Broyles’ initial class. By the time he graduated there were only two (and four more would graduate later). Broyles spent his career in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Karshi-Khanabad in Uzbekistan. There were good times and there were bad.


“I never felt more alive and never felt more terrified,” Broyles says. “The bonds of brotherhood that I experienced have always stuck with me and the things I saw and did have always powered my writing.”

Broyles always knew he would be a writer. After the military, he attended Columbia Film School in New York City. When the opportunity came to write Six, it was a chance to express in writing what it all meant to him and his friends that went through the war together.

“It was a way to work through that through writing,” he told We Are The Mighty. “A cathartic way to explore it and really honor the guys that were still in there and the guys that didn’t come back.”

With his father William Broyles, the two wrote the pilot for Six, the elder Broyles bringing his experience in Vietnam while the younger Broyles brought his experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. For Six, however, William Broyles was also bringing his experience as a father who watched his son go off to war.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’
WIlliam Broyles and his fellow Marines in Vietnam.
(Photo courtesy of David Broyles)

William Broyles went off to Vietnam as a youth and didn’t really think about how his mother or father felt during his time away. his recent experiences with war put him in just that position. While his son was deployed, William Broyles would go to his cabin in the mountains and not answer the phone. It was a trying time for the families back home.

So while Six highlights the military family in the field, it doesn’t forget the family at home that gets left behind.

The father-son duo knew they couldn’t please everyone (they acknowledge how hard it is to please the entirety of the military-veteran community) but were determined to zero-in on the emotional truth of those moments of what it meant to serve and to be part of a brotherhood.

And they succeeded.

David’s friends and colleagues in the special operations community reached out to him to voice their support and admiration for the show and appreciate his message of what it means to be part of that team.

“I think they respect what we’re trying to do,” Broyles says “But, it’s the toughest group to please. There’s no doubt about it. We’re constantly straddling the line between reality and drama. We try to straddle the worlds between the hard authenticity, the tactics, the equipment, the movement. We wanted to make it as real and authentic as possible without putting any of the guys who are actually doing the job at risk.”

The other side of the coin is telling the story to those who have no experience in war and loss, but making them come to understand what is to be part of that bigger picture.

“That is drilling down to the emotional truth of the moment,” he says. “It’s not just about war, it’s about brotherhood and loss and family. I think people respond to those kind of broader, deeper issues regardless of whether or not you have military experience.”

History’s Six airs Wednesday nights at 10pm.

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If you need a spouse, this is what the Marines would issue

There’s an old USMC saying, “If the Corps wanted me to have a wife, they would have issued me one.”


While the phrase is meant as a joke, when analyzed further, it becomes clear that “the most difficult job in the Corps,” or being a military spouse, requires a variety of attributes if you want to cultivate a successful partnership.

Related: 5 things infantrymen love about the woobie

If the Marine Corps was responsible for issuing spouses, these are the five attributes they’d have.

1. Spouses would come from military families

The Marine Corps is well-known for issuing Gulf War-era Army gear and your new life partner is no exception. Get ready to sign for and receive your 45-year-old Army brat that supply is going to issue you.

They may not look all shiny and brand new, but what they lack in aesthetics they more than make-up for in years of proven, valuable experience.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’
Certificate of authenticity.

 

2. Maximum capacity of three offspring

Marines are trained to plan for the worst — to have a backup plan for their backup plan. That mentality is just exactly what issued spouses would be accustomed to, which is why having a primary, secondary, and tertiary legacy is appropriate.

Any more and the situation would seem redundant, any less and you’re playing with fire.

3. Financial accountability

In all honesty, junior enlisted Marines are not well-known for their financial foresight. Given the high tempo training cycles, their chances of overlooking a few things are close to inevitable.

That’s why every Marine-issued spouse will have a degree in accounting from the Armed Forces University. You can rest easy, Marine, while your money is managed by the one you’ve been told to trust the most.

Carry the two and — he spends way too much on Copenhagen long cut Rip-its.

4. Diplomatic superiority

Marines have a storied history of high morale, foul mouths, and dirty minds. This translates to acting a fool at parties which, unfortunately, can land those same devil dogs in some hot water. Betrothing a Marine-suppressor in the form of a life companion that is classy AF is essential.

Also Read: 5 things boot Marines buy with their first paycheck

5. Tier one mobilization expertise.

Changing duty stations regularly is a part of life for any Marine and moving with a family can be stressful, to say the least. That is why all issued spouses will come equipped with the same capabilities of USMC Logistics/Embarkation Warrant Officer and, if you’re lucky, the same sweet disposition.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The insane USAF flying saucer-shaped missile

The wizards who brought you the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank have been serving the U.S. military’s needs for more than a century. In that time, General Dynamics, the multi-billion dollar defense contractor responsible for many amazing technological advances, has made history many times over, from developing the Navy’s first submarines to the Air Force’s first ICBM.

They may have even develop the flying saucer UFO.


In the late 1950s, the Air Force was looking to replace the B-52 Bomber with a nuclear-capable hypersonic upgrade. For this mission, the air service wanted the experimental XB-70 Valkyrie. The Valkyrie could fly at speeds of Mach 3 while dropping nuclear bombs on the unsuspecting or unprepared Soviet Union.

But how can the Air Force protect its bombers while they’re flying at three times the speed of sound in an unfriendly territory? The answer was to give it a defensive missile system, code named Pye Wacket, after a local Massachusetts urban legend involving a witch’s familiar who protected her master.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’

The XB-70.

(U.S. Air Force)

The Valkyrie didn’t actually need defensive missiles. The Soviets didn’t have anything that could actually threaten the XB-70, but the airframe was considered a long-term solution and the Air Force wanted to ensure it had defenses should the need materialize. The missiles wouldn’t just need to hit interceptor aircraft, it would need to be capable of hitting SAM batteries and surface-to-air missiles themselves.

It also needed to be able to fly at seven times the speed of sound. So, General Dynamics engineers developed a wedge missile, in the shape of a lens – a kind of flying saucer – that could be fired from the aircraft in any direction and was capable of deft maneuvering.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’

Pye Wacket at the Arnold Engineering Development Center, in Tennessee.

The Air Force tested the new weapon between 1957 and 1961. The weapon was based on a saucer propulsion design from NASA’s Alan Kahlet, who wanted to use it for manned spacecraft. For the missile, designers wanted to include a small nuclear warhead, one that would neutralize the target but also be able to prevent an enemy nuclear warhead from exploding, a process called “dudding.”

Unfortunately for the future of the Pye Wacket missile, the Air Force ultimately decided that the best way to hit the Soviets with a barrage of nuclear devices was a series of rockets that used extremely unstable fuel and could be fired by any fool who knew the key combination was “000000000.”

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Army Legend Hal Moore Dies at 94

Legendary retired Army Lt. Gen. Harold “Hal” Moore of “We Were Soldiers” fame died Feb. 10. The commander of 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of Ia Drang was days short of his 95th birthday.


A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’

According to a report by the Opelika-Auburn Tribune, Lt. Gen. Moore had suffered a stroke on the evening of Feb. 9 and was “hanging tough,” according to a family member.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’
Then-Lt. Col. Hal Moore and Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley in Vietnam. Plumley died in 2012.

Moore gained immortality from the book, “We Were Soldiers Once, and Young,” co-written with reporter Joe Galloway, about the battle of the Ia Drang Valley in Vietnam. The book was used as the basis for the 2002 film “We Were Soldiers,” in which Academy Award-winning actor Mel Gibson portrayed Moore.

Moore served 32 years in the Army after graduating from West Point, and his decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross and four Bronze Stars.

According to an official after-action report, the three-day battle left 79 Americans killed in action, and another 121 wounded. None were left behind or missing after the battle. American forces killed 634 enemy troops, and wounded at least 1,200.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’
Soldiers of the U.S. Amry 1/7th Cavalry disembark from a Bell UH-1D Huey at LZ X-Ray during the battle of Ia Drang. (US Army photo)

While preparing to film the epic movie — which made over $78 million at the United States box office, according to Box Office Mojo — Gibson would develop a deep friendship with Moore. This past summer, while headlines noted that Gibson and Vince Vaughn had eaten at Hamilton’s, an Auburn-area restaurant, what hadn’t been known then was that Moore’s family had recommended the eatery to the A-list superstars.

Below, here are some of the more iconic moments from “We Were Soldiers,” starring Mel Gibson as Hal Moore.

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This is the only unit to see combat in every major conflict since WWI

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of numbered units throughout the military, many with storied histories and with extensive combat roles since the United States military began operating on the world stage in the early 20th Century. The U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment can trace its lineage all the way back to the American Revolution. The 1st Infantry Division can claim to be the longest continuously serving division in the U.S. military. Even the U.S. Navy has the famed USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned sailing ship in the fleet. However, no unit has been deployed to every major conflict of the last one hundred years except for one — the 5th Marine Regiment.


A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’
Lance Cpl. Seth H. Capps, a member of the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, drinks out of Devil Dog Fountain following the 93rd anniversary of the Battle for Belleau Wood May 30. (Photo By Cpl. Bobby J. Yarbrough)

The 5th Marine Regiment’s story begins on June 8, 1917, when it was activated in Philadelphia as part of the United States’ buildup for World War I. The Regiment was assigned to the 4th Marine Brigade, which became a part of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Division. The 5th would establish itself in Marine Corps lore for its actions at the Battle of Belleau Wood in the spring of 1918. They would also fight at places such as Aisne and St. Mihiel, as well as the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

During the regiment’s service in France, it earned its nickname, “the Fighting Fifth,” and was awarded the French Fourragère for receiving three Croix de Guerre citations, a decoration members of the 5th Marines still wear today. The unit also had five folks (3 USMC, 2 USN) receive the Medal of Honor.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’
A Collier’s drawing of Belleau Wood, circa 1921

The next major action for the Fighting Fifth was battling their way across the Pacific in World War II. The 5th landed on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942 and endured four months of grueling combat on there before being relieved with the rest of the division on December 9, 1942. For their efforts during Guadalcanal, the 5th Marines and the entire 1st Marine Division received their first Presidential Unit Citation.

After a rest and refit in Australia, the 5th Marines returned to combat in the late stages of Operation Cartwheel in late December 1943. They landed at Cape Gloucester, New Britain and would fight there until February 1944 when they were relieved by the 40th Infantry Division. The Marines had another period of rest and refit before encountering their greatest challenges of the war, at Peleliu and Okinawa.

The 5th Marines entered combat on Peleliu on September 15, 1944. Unbeknownst to them, the Japanese changed their tactics from attempting to stop landings at the beach to fortifying the entire island and creating a defense in depth. The lack of this knowledge would cost the Marines dearly. After the seizure of the airfield, the rest of the division set about clearing the remainder of the island.

By late October, the 5th Marines were the only regiment still combat effective and their commander, Col. Harold Harris, turned to siege tactics to remove the Japanese, telling his officers “be lavish with ordnance and stingy with men’s lives.” The Marines handed over operations of the island to the 81st Infantry Division and moved on to prepare for the invasion of Okinawa.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’

The 5th Marines final action of the World War II was at Okinawa, where they landed along with the rest of the 1st Marine Division and 6th Marine Division on April 1, 1945. They were able to quickly clear the northern part of the island but Japanese resistance to the south would require extraordinary effort to reduce. The fight on Okinawa made places like Sugar Loaf Hill and Shuri Castle famous.In all of World War II four Marines from the 5th were awarded the Medal of Honor. Following the fall of Okinawa and the Japanese surrender,  the 5th was sent to China for occupation duty.

War soon found the 5th Marines again when they were deployed as part of the Provisional Marine Brigade to the Pusan Perimeter in South Korea to shore up defenses against the invading North Koreans. The Fighting Fifth then rejoined their World War II counterparts, the 1st and 7th Marines, in reforming the 1st Marine Division to take part in the landings at Inchon and the liberation of Seoul.

That winter the 5th Marines fought for their lives at the “Frozen Chosin” Reservoir. When the situation looked bleak and the Marines were falling back Gen. Oliver Smith told his command, “Retreat, Hell! We’re not retreating, we’re just advancing in a different direction!”

After their withdrawal from North Korea, the 5th Marines remained in the war and would hold off the Chinese attempts to break the Main Line of Resistance until the armistice in July 1953. The heroic efforts of the 5th Marines garnered ten more Medals of Honor and another Presidential Unit Citation. The regiment left Korea in 1955.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’

Peacetime would not last long for the 5th as just over a decade after leaving Korea they were deployed as part of the troop buildup in Vietnam in May 1966. The 5th Marines and the rest of the 1st Marine Division would spend six years battling the North Vietnamese Army and Vietcong. Their fighting spirit would make their name known once again, this time at places like Huế during the Tet Offensive. During the Vietnam War, seven members of the regiment received the Medal of Honor before returning to Camp Pendleton in 1971.

The 5th Marines returned to combat once again against the forces of Saddam Hussein in 1991 as part of Operation Desert Storm. 1st Battalion served as part of Task Force Ripper, while the 2nd and 3rd Battalions joined later and participated in the Liberation of Kuwait. The 5th Marines returned to the Middle East in 2003 as part of the Invasion of Iraq where they spearheaded the Marine Corps efforts. After defeating Iraqi forces, the 5th Marines remained in Iraq until October 2003, conducting security and stability operations. They would return to Iraq two more times, each time completing a 13-month deployment. Beginning in 2009 separate battalions of the 5th Marines began deployments to Afghanistan until the deployment of Regimental Combat Team 5 in 2011. 2nd Battalion was the last to deploy serving with RCT 6 in 2012.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’
Cpl. Brian Conley of 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division drinks from the Devil Dog Fountain in the town of Belleau, France, May 26.After participating in the Memorial Day ceremony at the Belleau cemetery the Marines of 5th Marine Reg. walked to the town of Belleau to spend time with the locals and French marines to strengthen French-American relationships while memorializing losses in the battle of Belleau Wood. (Official Marine Corps photo by: Cpl. Daniel A. Wulz)

In the nearly 100 years since the 5th Marine Regiment was first formed, 24 Marines from the regiment have received the Medal of Honor, second only to the 7th Marines 36 recipients. The 5th Marines have also been a part of the 1st Marine Division when it received all nine of its Presidential Unit Citations, as well as earning two of its own during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. According to the Marine Corps website, the 5th Marines are the most decorated regiment in the Corps.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Afghan president admits ‘horrific’ losses, but says Taliban is losing

The latest reports on the war in Afghanistan seem to contradict the government assurances that victory is within reach, painting a picture of a bloody conflict with no end in sight.

In November 2018, 242 Afghan security force members were killed in brutal engagements with Taliban insurgents, The New York Times reported Nov. 15, 2018. Militants almost wiped out an elite company of Afghan special forces in an area considered the country’s “safest district,” and officials told Voice of America Nov. 15, 2018, that more than 40 government troops were recently killed in Taliban attacks near the border.


Over the past three years, more than 28,000 Afghan soldiers and police have been killed, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani revealed in a rare admission.

“Since 2015, still much regrettable, but the entire loss of American forces in Afghanistan is 58 Americans. In the same period, 28,529 of our security forces have lost their lives,” the president said, according to the Times. For Afghanistan, this figure works out to roughly 25 police officers and soldiers dying each day.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

“Are the losses horrific? Yes,” he added, saying that this does not mean the Taliban are winning.

But there are real questions about whether the scale of these losses is sustainable.

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis highlighted just how devastating the war has been for the Afghan security forces in an October 2018 speech. “The Afghan lads are doing the fighting, just look at the casualties,” he explained. “Over 1,000 dead and wounded in August and September.”

The Afghan government controls or influences only 55.5 percent of the country, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) introduced in its most recent quarterly report to Congress, noting that this is the lowest level of control in three years. In November 2015, the government controlled or influenced 72 percent of the country.

Hamid Karzai, former Afghan president, told the Associated Press that the blame for these losses rests on the shoulders of the US.

“The United States either changed course or simply neglected the views of the Afghan people,” Karzai told the AP. His views reflect what has been reported as a growing aversion for the NATO mission.

Signs that the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating come as the US and its coalition partners ramp up their air campaign against Taliban forces. Coalition bombing in Afghanistan is at a 5-year high, according to the latest airpower report from US Air Forces Central Command, and the year isn’t out.

US Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the top US commander in Afghanistan who narrowly escaped an assassination that left two senior Afghan officials dead and a US general wounded, recently told NBC that the war in Afghanistan “is not going to be won militarily. He added that the “the Taliban also realizes they cannot win militarily,” a view that may not be shared by Taliban commanders.

Caitlin Foster contributed to this report.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia wants its flag to be raised at a consulate it doesn’t run

The Russian Embassy in Washington has demanded that a flag removed from the now-closed Russian Consulate in Seattle be put back.

The embassy claims that the U.S. removal of the flag “under the cloak of night” in late April 2018, violated international law and was “unacceptable treatment” of the Russian national symbol.


But U.S. State Department officials countered on May 2, 2018, that the Russian flag was lowered “respectfully” from the Seattle consul-general’s residence after it was vacated in April 2018, under orders from the department.

While the Russian Embassy said the mansion is still its property and the flag should still be flying there, the department countered that the house was built on U.S. government-owned land.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’
The building that housed the Russian Consulate in Seattle.

The State Department said it asked Russian consulate personnel to take the flag down themselves before they vacated the premises.

U.S. officials say that U.S. diplomats took down an American flag flying at the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg with a brief ceremony when they were similarly ordered to leave by Moscow.

“Since the Russians chose not to treat their own flag with such respect, we have done so for them,” the department said, adding that it will return the flag removed in Seattle to the Russian Embassy.

The Seattle Consulate was shut down in response to allegations that the Russian government poisoned a former Russian spy living in the United Kingdom with a nerve-agent in March 2018.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why America’s enemies still fear the Nimitz-class carrier

The most successful U.S. Navy carriers of the postwar era all belong to a class named in honor of World War II’s most successful admiral, Chester W. Nimitz. The class’s lead ship, commissioned in 1975, bears the fleet admiral’s name. The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers were, at the time, the largest warships ever constructed. Although superseded by the new Ford class, the ten Nimitz carriers will continue to form the bulk of the Navy’s carrier force for the next twenty to thirty years. Many project a half a century or more.


The story of the Nimitz carriers goes back to the mid-1960s. The U.S. Navy was in the process of spreading nuclear propulsion across the fleet, from submarines to cruisers, and had just commissioned the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Enterprise, in 1961. As older carriers were retired, the Navy had to decide whether to switch over to nuclear power for future ships. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was ultimately convinced to proceed with nuclear power on the grounds that nuclear carriers had lower operating costs over their service lifetimes. He ordered the construction of three nuclear-powered carriers.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) performs a high speed run during operations in the Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer Mate 1st Class James Thierry)

The result was the Nimitz class. Its first ship was laid down on June 22, 1968. The ship built on the Navy’s prior experience with both conventionally powered supercarriers and the Enterprise. The Nimitzretained the layout of previous carriers, with an angled flight deck, island superstructure and four steam-powered catapults that could launch four planes a minute. At 1,092 feet she was just twenty-four feet longer than the older Kitty Hawk, but nearly nineteen thousand tons heavier. More than five thousand personnel are assigned to Nimitz carriers at sea, with three thousand manning the ship and another two thousand in the air wing and other positions.

Lower operating costs were not the only benefits of nuclear power. Although nuclear-powered carriers have a maximum official speed of thirty-plus knots, their true speed is suspected to be considerably faster. Nimitz and her sister ships can accelerate and decelerate more quickly than a conventional ship, and can cruise indefinitely. Like Enterprise, it is nuclear powered, but it also streamlined the number of reactors from eight to two. Its two Westinghouse A4W reactors can collectively generate 190 megawatts of power, enough to power 47,500 American homes. Finally, nuclear propulsion reduces a carrier battle group’s need for fuel.

Also Read: The Navy has 7 nuclear carriers at sea for the first time in years

Of course, the real strength of a carrier is in its air wing. The Carrier Air Wings of the Cold War were larger than today’s. During the 1980s, a typical carrier air wing consisted of two squadrons of twelve F-14 Tomcat air-superiority fighters, two squadrons of twelve F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters, one squadron of ten A-6 Intruder attack bombers, one squadron of 4-6 E-2 Hawkeye airborne early-warning and control planes, ten S-3A Viking antisubmarine planes, one squadron of four EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare planes and a squadron of six SH-3 antisubmarine helicopters. With slight variations per carrier and per cruise, the average Nimitz-class carrier of the Cold War carried between eighty-five and ninety aircraft.

Today the carrier air wing looks quite different. The venerable F-14 Tomcat aged out and was replaced by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The A-6 Intruder was retired without a replacement when the A-12 Avenger carrier stealth bomber was canceled in 1991. The S-3A Viking was retired in the 2000s, and the EA-6B Prowler was replaced by the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. This resulted in a smaller carrier air wing of approximately sixty planes without dedicated fleet air defense, long-range strike and antisubmarine warfare platforms.

The Nimitz-class carriers have participated in nearly every crisis and conflict the United States has been involved in over the past forty-two years. Nimitz was involved in the failed attempt to rescue U.S. embassy personnel from Tehran in 1980, and a year later, two F-14s from Nimitzshot down two Su-22 Fitters of the Libyan Air Force during the Gulf of Sidra incident in 1981. During the Cold War, Nimitz-class carriers conducted numerous exercises with regional allies, such as NATO and Japan, designed to counter the Soviet Union in wartime.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) busting a U-turn in the Atlantic Ocean. (Image from Wikipedia Commons)

During Operation Desert Storm, the Nimitz-class carrier Theodore Roosevelt participated in air operations against Iraq. In 1999, Theodore Roosevelt again participated in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. After 9/11, Carl Vinson and Theodore Roosevelt participated in the first air strikes against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Since then, virtually all Nimitz-class carriers supported air operations over Afghanistan and both the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.

Over a thirty-year period ten Nimitz carriers were built. The last, George H. W. Bush, incorporated the latest technology, including a bulbous bow to improve hull efficiency, a new, smaller, modernized island design, upgraded aircraft launch and recovery equipment, and improved aviation fuel storage and handling.

The Nimitz-class carriers are a monumental achievement—an enormous, highly complex and yet highly successful ship design. The ships will carry on the Nimitz name through the 2050s, with the entire class serving a whopping eighty consecutive years. That sort of performance—and longevity—is only possible with a highly professional, competent Navy and shipbuilding team.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

CDC director: We can control virus in 4 to 8 weeks if everyone in the US wears a mask

Now is the time for everyone to wear masks, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield and his colleagues wrote in an editorial published Tuesday in the journal JAMA.

While the organization has been slow to warm up to broad mask-wearing recommendations — first advising, but not requiring, healthy members of the general public on April 3 to cover their faces when out and about — Redfield and his colleagues now say mask wearing should be universal because “there is ample evidence” asymptomatic people may be what’s keeping the pandemic alive.


“The data is clearly there that masking works,” Redfield told Dr. Howard Bauchner, JAMA’s editor in chief, during an interview Tuesday that corresponded with the editorial’s release. “If we can get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think in the next four, six, eight weeks … we can get this epidemic under control.”

One model projects universal masking could save 45,000 lives by November 

In the paper, Redfield, with his CDC colleagues Dr. John Brooks and Dr. Jay Butler, pointed to research demonstrating the effectiveness of masks.

One study of the largest healthcare system in Massachusetts showed how universal masking of healthcare workers and patients reversed the infection’s trajectory among its employees.

They also pointed to the Missouri hairstylists who were infected with COVID-19 but did not infect any of their 140 clients, presumably because of the salon’s universal masking policy.

A CDC report also released Tuesday detailed this case, concluding “consistent and correct use of face coverings, when appropriate, is an important tool for minimizing spread of SARS-CoV-2 from presymptomatic, asymptomatic, and symptomatic persons.”

Meanwhile, a modeling program from the University of Washington projected universal masking could save 45,000 lives by November.

“Mask mandates delay the need for re-imposing closures of businesses and have huge economic benefits,” Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a statement, MarketWatch reported. “Moreover, those who refuse masks are putting their lives, their families, their friends, and their communities at risk.”

Not wearing a mask is like opting to undergo surgery by a team without face coverings

The JAMA paper also highlighted the two key reasons masking works: It protects both the wearer and the people they come in contact with.

While early recommendations focused on masking’s benefit to those around you, Redfield and colleagues emphasized the benefit to the wearer as well.

They likened not wearing a mask with choosing to be operated on by a team without any face coverings — an “absurd” option because it’s known the clinicians’ conversations and breathing would generate microbes that could infect an open wound.

“Face coverings do the same in blocking transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” the doctors wrote.

Proper social distancing and handwashing are equally important measures, though, when fighting the virus, Redfield told Bauchner.

People are coming around to mask wearing, but there’s still resistance 

More people are coming around to mask wearing, with a separate CDC report, also out Tuesday, showing the rates of mask wearing in public increased from 61.9% to 76.4% between April and May.

Redfield told Bauchner he was “heartened” to see President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence setting that example.

But there’s still resistance, and the issue remains politicized — something Redfield and his coauthors hope their editorial will cut through.

“At this critical juncture when COVID-19 is resurging, broad adoption of cloth face coverings is a civic duty, a small sacrifice reliant on a highly effective low-tech solution that can help turn the tide favorably in national and global efforts against COVID-19,” they wrote.

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

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Why the US military is struggling to keep up with all its responsibilities

Years of complex operations and the ongoing demands of units in the field have left the armed forces struggling to maintain both operational capacity and high levels of readiness, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office.


“After more than a decade combating violent extremists and conducting contingency operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and most recently Syria, [the Defense Department] has prioritized the rebalancing of its forces in recent budget requests to build and sustain the capabilities necessary to prevail across a full range of potential contingencies,” the report states.

“However, DoD has acknowledged that unrelenting demands from geographic commanders for particular types of forces are disrupting manning, training, and equipping cycles,” it adds.

Each of the service branches has had some success in addressing readiness issues, but problems remain in some areas for each.

For the Marine Corps, as of February, about 80% of aviation units didn’t have the minimum number of aircraft ready for training. The Marines also had a significant shortage of aircraft ready for wartime requirements.

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Photo courtesy of USAF

A high pace of operations has also hindered the Navy’s maintenance efforts. The service bases its readiness recovery on deployment and maintenance schedules. “However, GAO reported that from 2011 through 2014, only 28 percent of scheduled maintenance was completed on time and just 11 percent for carriers.”

Like the Navy, the Air Force has seen continued operations with a shrinking pool of resources and little time for repair and recovery, citing Air Force reports that less than 50% of its forces are at acceptable readiness levels.

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Photo courtesy of USAF

The service branch also says it is short of 1,500 pilots and 3,400 aircraft maintainers.

Air Force leaders are looking at several options to address these personnel issues, including heftier retention bonuses and stop-loss policies.

While the Army has seen readiness improvements in recent years, as GAO notes, it continues to have important deficiencies that put it at a disadvantage compared to other countries.

“For example, the Army reports that two thirds of its initial critical formations — units needed at the outset of a major conflict — are at acceptable levels of readiness, but it cautions that it risks consuming readiness as fast as the service can build it given current demands,” the report says.

The Army has also gotten withering criticism of its unit readiness from within the service itself.

According to Capt. Scott Metz, who until recently was a observer/controller/trainer at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, “many of our multinational partners are more tactically proficient at company level and below than their American counterparts.”

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US troops from the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment call in their location in the back woods of the mock village they are taking over during Saber Junction 17, a field-training exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center on May 15, 2017, at Hohenfels, Germany. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Frost)

“In fact,” Metz wrote in a paper published this spring, “several of them are significantly better trained and more prepared for war than we are.”

Metz recounted how unit commanders arriving at the JMRC would caution him about their unit’s lack of preparation and the minimal training done at their home stations. In his role as the opposition-force commander during exercises, he could see how this manifested itself in potentially fatal mistakes in the field.

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US soldiers prepare to engage a multinational force while during an exercise at Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany, March 25, 2017. US Army photo by Sgt. William Frye.

The opposition-force commander “knows from past experience that the Americans will probably stay on or near the roads,” Metz writes, adding:

“They will stop for long periods of time in the open with minimal dispersion. They will not effectively use their dismounted infantry and will likely leave them in the back of vehicles for too long, allowing them to be killed with the vehicle. They also will probably make little use of tactical formations and will not use terrain to their advantage.”

All units make mistakes during their time at the JMRC, according to Metz.

The shortcomings evident in units that visit the facility come rather from deficiencies in training they do at home.

“The problem is that they are making mistakes because they have not trained as a platoon or company,” Metz states.

A multitude of factors outside the control of commanders limits the time and resources they can devote to small-unit training.

This has resulted in the longstanding problem of a “deluge of requirements,” Metz writes, citing a 2015 report that “makes the case that the Army overtasks subordinates to such a level that it is impossible for Army units and Army leaders to do everything they are tasked to do.”

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US Army paratroopers finish boarding an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft loaded with a heavy-drop-rigged Humvee for a night jump onto Malemute Drop Zone, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Photo courtesy of the US Army.

The problem is a deep-rooted one and will take some time to correct, requiring a cultural change starting at the highest levels of the Army’s leadership, Metz writes.

Gen. Mark Milley, the Army’s chief of staff, told the Senate this month that the Army, like the Air Force, is also suffering from a lack of personnel.

He told the Senate Appropriations’ defense subcommittee that the service’s portion of US defense strategy, the Army needs an active component of 540,000 to 550,000. That active component is now 476,000.

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A US soldier, left, and a US Army Interpreter look over a map with an Iraqi army soldier before starting a cordon and search in the Ninewa Forest in Mosul, Iraq, June 8, 2008. US Army/Pfc. Sarah De Boise

Though the US armed forces maintains definite advantages over peers and other forces in technology, training, and capabilities, years of operations and, according to many officials, reductions in funding have imperiled the US military’s ability overcome opponents and fulfill its missions.

“In just a few years, if we don’t change our trajectory, we will lose our qualitative and quantitative competitive advantage,” Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee earlier this June.

Humor

5 of the best tips for surviving graveyard shifts

The sun is just about to set, the weather is cooling, and most of the base is either winding down or gearing up to let off steam following that long day of duty.


It’s 1700 and you’re prepping for your twelve-hour graveyard shift that starts in two hours. For some night owls, this shift and these hours are nearly perfect. For most, however, the graveyard presents the ultimate test of willpower: You vs. the Sandman.

Here are five of the very best tips for surviving a graveyard shift.

Related: 5 of the sneakiest ways people try to fool the front gate MPs

5. Caffeine

For as much caffeine as the average graveyard shift worker consumes, it is really a wonder that there hasn’t been some kind of corporate sponsorship put in place — or a blanket discount at the very least.

There’s a reason that so many Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, etc. are found in gate shacks and patrol cars everywhere… they do what they’re supposed to do!

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The base is protected by caffeine and defenders. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

4. Push-ups (calisthenics)

Feeling a little sluggish after that mid-shift meal? Facing a sugar crash after pounding three Monsters before making it through a third of your shift? Taking heavy damage as the Sandman rains down haymakers from every angle?

Do some push-ups.

Getting the blood pumping is a surefire way to keep sleep at bay. Excitement can be hard to come by in the wee hours of the morning and you’re happily serving your country. A few sets of push-ups will give you a boost and help you make it to your second wind.

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For a bonus, grab a few of your also-tired comrades and have a party. (USMC photo by Cpl. Jacqueline Sanderfer)

3. Games

It’s not all doom and gloom at work, we can have fun… when appropriate. You’d be surprised how a couple of simple games, especially done in conjunction with duty, can make the night fly right on by.

Just make sure you’re taking care of your responsibilities and not doing anything that could remotely result in NJP and you’re golden.

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Doing anything from this movie will get you NJP. (Image from Fox Searchlight’s Super Troopers)

2. Hide and seek

Unlike the previous point, this isn’t actually a game. This is all about taking advantage of how slow and quiet the base can be during a graveyard shift.

Do you job and stay out of the way.

Also Read: 5 of the top excuses MPs hear during traffic stops

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Just trying to make it through the night. (Image from Columbia Pictures’ Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2)

1. Read WATM

I mean, you’re already here. Check out some of our other content, maybe a few Mighty Minutes can help get you over the hump.

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Might as well take a look around, right? (Pictured: WATM host, Shannon Corbeil)

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is why Yemen is a constant war zone

Yemen’s civil war has been raging since 2015 and has caused one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, with more than 50,000 children dying so far this year, according to Save the Children.


Most died from hunger and disease, which has ravaged the poor Arab country, but many have been caught in the crossfire between the Saudi-backed government and Iran-backed rebel militant Houthis.

Tensions between the two groups hit a tipping point on Dec. 4 when Houthi rebels shot and killed Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

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President George W. Bush welcomes Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh into the Oval office of the White House, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2005. (White House photo by Eric Draper)

Saleh, who held various positions of power in Yemen for 33 years, had been “playing factions off each other” for years, former Yemeni ambassador Mohamed Qubaty told Al Jazeera.

In May 2015, Saleh officially announced his alliance with the Houthis, and even helped them seize control of large land areas, including Yemen’s capital Sanaa.

But on Dec. 2, Saleh flipped his allegiance by offering to turn a “new page” with Houthi rival Saudi Arabia. He called the Houthis a “coup militia,” which they saw as the ultimate betrayal and the reason for his assassination.

Yet Saleh’s death is just the latest incident contributing to turbulent conditions in Yemen.

The Saudi-backed government first faced rebel Houthis in the 1990s

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Houthi fighters in Yemen (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Yemen’s complex history is one of conflict and political rivalry that has continued for nearly a century.

The Houthi movement, officially known as Ansar Allah (translation: supporters of God), began in the 1990s as a theological movement that preached peace and tolerance in Yemen.

But in 2004, the group picked up arms and declared war on the government. An uprising occurred and government forces killed the Houthi’s leader.

Yemeni officials accused the Houthis and other Islamic opposition parties of trying to overthrow the government, but Houthi leaders dismissed the accusation and claimed they were defending themselves. They have long said they faced social and religious discrimination as well as political marginalization.

For the last decade, Houthi rebels and Yemeni government forces continued to clash periodically. Other factors, including an insurgence by a powerful Al Qaeda branch in Yemen and infighting between local tribes have fostered conflict and strife for years in the region.

Also Read: This is why Iran is smuggling boatloads of weapons into Yemen

A former Houthi spokesperson told local news in 2013 that the group’s ultimate goal is to build a “striving modern democracy” in Yemen.

Yemen’s presidents have struggled

In 2012, President Saleh stepped down and formally handed power over to his deputy, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, in an internationally brokered move to foster stability in the region.

Hadi struggled to keep Yemen afloat, which faced an increased presence of, and attacks by, Al Qaeda — some of which targeted government officials. Corruption was widespread and, at the same time, a third of the country lived below the poverty line and more than half were unemployed.

In 2014, the increasingly militant Houthis took advantage of Hadi’s struggling government and seized control of Yemen’s capital Sanaa.

A bloody civil war broke out.

A Saudi-led coalition supporting the government stepped in

Countries felt an international response was necessary.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia led a coalition of nine African and Middle East countries to intervene, backing President Hadi.

The coalition received logistical and intelligence support from the US and its allies, and launched air strikes targeting Houthi strongholds. It also implemented a naval blockade, limiting resources and aid into Yemen.

And a humanitarian crisis broke out

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Yemen still has 350,000 displaced persons, although verifying this number is difficult.  (Image Julien Harneis, Flickr)

Since then, continued air strikes and the country’s tight blockade have affected lives in Yemen where it is nearly impossible for food, water and fuel to pass through.

According to UNICEF one child dies every 10 minutes from preventable causes like hunger and disease,

The United Nations has tried to broker peace agreements on several occasions, but with little success. In May, the UN’s envoy for Yemen told the security council that a peace deal was urgently needed, but confessed a deal was “not close” to being accepted by the warring sides who refuse to compromise.

In November, Saudi Arabia partially relaxed its crippling blockade to let aid deliveries through, but it had little effect on the country’s starving residents.

Relations deteriorated even further this week

On Dec. 2, former President Saleh offered to mediate the conflict and “turn a new page” with the Saudi-led coalition in exchange for stopping air strikes and ending the blockade that has crippled the country, according to the BBC.

However, Houthi rebels, who had formed an unlikely alliance with Saleh, saw the move as a “coup” against “an alliance he never believed in,” the BBC added.

Last weekend, a convoy Saleh was traveling in came under deadly fire from Houthi rebels. His death was confirmed on Dec. 4.

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Sana’a in the wake of airstrikes. (Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mr. Ibrahem)

What happens next?

With Saleh dead and his allied forces facing an intensified battle with Houthi fighters, the future of war-torn Yemen is uncertain, and hopes of putting an end to the bloody civil war look bleak.

According to analysts, the Saudi-led coalition’s fight against the increasingly brazen Houthis will likely intensify, Al Jazeera reported.

Joost Hiltermann, International Crisis Group’s Middle East program director, told Al Jazeera that the breakdown of the Houthi-Saleh alliance will “increase fragmentation and conflict by adding layers of revenge.”

Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi celebrated Saleh’s death as a victory against the Saudi-led coalition in which “the conspiracy of betrayal and treason failed.”

Saleh’s son, a potentially powerful figure in Yemen’s politically unstable climate, vowed on Dec. 5 to lead a campaign against the Houthi movement.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Kelly Johnson: the man who designed the future of military aviation

Kelly Johnson wasn’t the first man to build an airplane, nor was he the first to push the limits of what an airplane could do, but few men have played a more vital role in shaping mankind’s ascent into the skies.

According to the latest expert estimates, human beings just like you and I have been walking on earth for over 200,000 years. That figure gets even tougher to wrap your head around when you consider that a mere 200 years ago, mankind had yet to develop matches or typewriters. A century ago, we didn’t have antibiotics or movies with sound. These, along with countless other advancements, played a roll in a technological revolution that continues to this day, like a snowball rolling down hill, enveloping everything in its path.


Of course, mankind didn’t come by these incredible advancements by accident (most often, anyway) and behind each groundbreaking technology is a man or woman, dedicated to solving the problems of their day, and to getting out in front of those coming tomorrow. Nowhere is this human-driven rapid advancement of technology more prevalent than in one of our species most recent civilization-altering breakthroughs: aviation.

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Lockheed engineer Kelly Johnson with famed aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart. (Lockheed Martin)

In 1903, the Wright Brothers first took flight in Kitty Hawk. Less than forty years later, the first B-29 took to the skies with a pressurized cabin and a wingspan that stretched further than the length of Orville Wright’s entire first flight. A mere 19 years after that, Yuri Gagarin flew in space.

There’s no doubt that countless hands, hearts, and minds played vital roles in our rapid progression from the steam engine to the SpaceX Starship, but even amid this sea of engineers and aviation pioneers, some names stick out. Because while millions may have helped mankind reach the sky, some men’s contributions stand head and shoulders above the rest; Men, like Kelly Johnson.

Forged in the fires of World War II

Clarence Leonard “Kelly” Johnson was born in 1910, seven years after the Wright Brothers changed the world in Kitty Hawk. The son of Swedish immigrants, Johnson would win his first prize for aircraft design at the age of 13. By the time he was 22 years old, he was working as an engineer at the legendary aviation firm Lockheed.

At 28, Kelly Johnson’s role at Lockheed would bring him to London, where the island nation was preparing for the onslaught of Nazi Luftwaffe fighters and bombers that were to come just three years later in the Battle of Britain. The British were unconvinced that such a young man could produce an aircraft that could turn the tides of an air war, but the fruit of Kelly Johnson’s labor, dubbed the P-38 Lightning, would go on to become one of the most iconic airframes of the entire war.

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Steve Hinton flies “Glacier Girl,” a P-38 Lightning dug out from 268 feet of ice in eastern Greenland in 1992. The aircraft was part of a heritage flight during an air show at Langley Air Force Base, Va., on May 21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ben Bloker)

At the start of the fighting in Europe, many Allied air units were still operating bi-planes. By the end of World War II, Kelly Johnson and his team delivered the United States its first ever operational jet-powered fighter, the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. Johnson had been tasked with building an aircraft around the new Halford H.1B turbojet engine that could compete with Germany’s Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe. In just an astonishing 143 days, Kelly had gone from the drawing board to delivering the first operational P-80s.

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Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star (WikiMedia Commons)

The original Skunk Works

It was during World War II that Kelly Johnson and fellow engineer Ben Rich first established what was to become the legendary Lockheed Skunk Works. Today, the Skunk Works name is synonymous with some of the most advanced aircraft ever to take to the skies, but its earliest iteration was nothing more than a walled-off portion of a factory in which Johnson and his team experimented with new technologies for the P-38, developing the first 400 mile-per-hour fighter in the world for their trouble, in the XP-38.

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XP-38 (San Diego Air and Space Museum)

Later, Kelly’s secretive team again came through with the P-80, and again with the design and production of the C-130 Hercules, which remains in service for the U.S. and a number of other Air Forces around the world today. Then, in 1955, they received yet another seemingly impossible assignment: The United States needed an aircraft that could fly so high it could avoid being shot down, or potentially even detected.

Soviet Radar and intercept fighters of the era were limited to altitudes below 65,000 feet, and the highest any American aircraft could reach was just 48,000. In order to continue keeping tabs on the Soviets, the Air Force solicited requests for an airplane that could fly at an astonishing 70,000 feet with a long 1,500 mile fuel range.

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Clarence L. Kelly Johnson, chief designer at Lockheeds secret Skunk Works facility, initially designed the U-2 around the F-104 Starfighter fuselage. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Kelly Johnson’s Skunk Works responded with a design that they claimed could fly as high as 73,000 feet with a range of 1,600 miles, based on the Lockheed XF-104 Starfighter, a slender and supersonic intercept fighter. The Air Force rejected his design… but it caught the attention of America’s secretive spy agency, the CIA.

President Eisenhower wanted eyes on the Soviet nuclear program, and Johnson’s unusual aircraft design with long slender wings and no retractable landing gear seemed like it could do the job, despite its shortcomings. Johnson and his team were given a contract to design and build their high-flying spy plane, and in just eight months, they delivered the U-2 Dragon Lady.

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(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

In order to test this incredible new aircraft, Kelly Johnson needed a remote air strip, far from the prying eyes of the American public. He chose a dry lake bed in Nevada for the job, and it proved particularly well suited for testing classified aircraft. Eventually, that little airstrip and accompanying hangars and office buildings would come to be known popularly as Area 51.

Taking spy planes to the next level

The U-2 may have been an immense success, but just as aviation advancements were coming quickly, so too were air defenses. In 1960, Soviet surface-to-air missiles finally managed to get a piece of a CIA operated U-2 flown by pilot Gary Powers. The aircraft was flying at 70,000 feet, higher than the Americans thought could be spotted or targeted by Soviet radar, when it was struck by an SA-2 Guideline missile. Powers had to ride the Dragon Lady down from 70,000 feet to 30,000 feet before he could safely eject, and as the secretive spy plane plummeted to the ground, Kelly Johnson and his team at Skunk Works were already developing a platform to replace it.

With spy satellites still more than a decade away, the United States needed a new aircraft it could rely on to keep tabs on the Soviets. It would need to not only fly higher than the U-2, but faster–much faster, so even if it was detected, no missile could reach it.

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SR-71 Blackbird (NASA)

Johnson and his team designed a twin-engine aircraft with astonishing capabilities in the A-12, which then led to the operational SR-71 Blackbird — an aircraft that retains the title of fastest operational plane in history to this very day. Lockheed’s SR-71 could sustain speeds in excess of Mach 3.2, flying at altitudes higher than 78,000 feet. During its 43 years in service, the SR-71 had over 4,000 missiles fired at it from ground assets and other aircraft. Not a single one ever found its target.

A special ops veteran and his Marine dad created History’s ‘Six’

(USAF Photo)

Another aviation revolution

Kelly Johnson and the team at Skunk Works were on the cutting edge of speed and power, but as the Cold War raged on, it was Johnson and his team that recognized how the battle space was shifting. For years, the United States had focused on developing aircraft that could fly ever faster and ever higher, but with the advent of computer-aided engineering, yet another technological leap was within Lockheed’s grasp.

Johnson and his team needed to develop an aircraft that could defeat detection from not only enemy radar, but also other common forms of detection and targeting, like infrared. Using the most advanced computers available at the time, Skunk Works first developed an unusual angular design they dubbed “the hopeless diamond,” as it seemed unlikely that such a shape could ever produce aerodynamic lift.

Undaunted, development continued and by 1976, they had built a flyable prototype. The aircraft was called Have Blue, and it would lead to the first operational stealth aircraft ever in service to any nation, the legendary F-117 Nighthawk.

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Have Blue flying in testing (WikiMedia Commons)

The F-117, or “stealth fighter” as it would come to be known, played a vital role in America’s combat operations over Iraq in Desert Storm and elsewhere, but this program produced more than battlefield engagements. The technology developed for the F-117 directly led to America’s premier stealth fighters of today: the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The latter of those two is expected to serve as the backbone of America’s air superiority strategy for decades to come.

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Kelly Johnson (Lockheed Martin)

“The damn Swede can actually see air.”

In total, Kelly Johnson had a hand in the design and development of some 40 aircraft for commercial and military purposes, with seemingly countless awards and credits to his name for his engineering prowess. The man had a genuine affection for his work, to the degree that he turned down the presidency of Lockheed on three separate occasions to retain his role within the Skunk Works he helped to found.

Kelly’s boss at Lockheed, Hall Hibbard, once exclaimed, “The damn Swede can actually see air,” as he tried to understand how one man managed to play such a pivotal role in so many aircraft, and in turn, in how the Cold War unfolded. Finally, Kelly retired in 1975, but remained a senior advisor to Skunk Works for years thereafter.

He passed away in 1990 at age 80, just one year before the United States, with all its incredible military technology, would emerge the victor of the Cold War.

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

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