'Sky Soldiers' celebrate their first female Ranger - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger

“This is it. Number one on my list of worst days at Ranger School,” 1st Lt. Anna Hodge thought as it started to rain again during day eight of Mountain Phase patrols. The blisters on her feet, the chaffing on her legs, and the prickly heat stung with the rain. She stuffed more pieces of MRE gum in her mouth, biting down hard to keep her mind off the pain.

“Your complaint has been duly noted and will be answered within 24 to 48 hours,” she mentally responded to the pain, imitating an answering machine. “Now back to counting steps, 1,344, 1,345…

“Our Mountain Phase experienced record-high rainfall, and I felt bad for my platoon mates who had chafed in some pretty uncomfortable places,” says Hodge. “My legs looked like road rash; the blood and pus was sticking to my uniform. Shivering at night was the norm; yes, it was cold, but even more because of the pain.”


But Hodge had one advantage some of her friends didn’t. She decided to go to Ranger School without feeling pressured; the pain described above was something she had chosen, all simply to become a better intelligence officer.

“I wanted to focus on tactical intelligence,” says Hodge. “It is impossible to know where the enemy will move, nor how to advise the commander if you don’t know Infantry tactics.” Military Intelligence is an Operations Support branch. If soldiers don’t understand what they are supporting, mission success is unlikely.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for the Infantry, and I learned so much about Infantry tactics at Ranger School,” says Hodge. “After graduating, that respect grew even more.”

Hodge wanted to attend Ranger School dating back to 2010 when she first joined ROTC. “I loved patrolling, working as part of a squad and the challenge of pushing myself to perform on minimal food and sleep. I remember cleaning weapons one day and someone joked that I should shave my head and go to Ranger School. I thought it was funny, and secretly I really wanted to go. But it wasn’t open to females at the time.”

That all changed in 2015 when, for the first time, a female graduated Ranger School.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger

1st Lt. Anna Hodge proudly displays her Ranger tab on graduation day.

(U.S. Army photo by Capt. Joseph Legros)

The following year Hodge attended the Basic Officer Leadership Course for Military Intelligence. She listened to an instructor who recruited Military Intelligence, or MI, officers for the new 75th Regiment MI Battalion. “The hardest part of Ranger School is deciding to go,” the instructor said.

Hodge remembers thinking, “I’ve always been a religious person and when I heard the instructor, it was like God telling me, ‘you better start preparing because you’re going to go.'”

It wasn’t until she went to 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, “The Rock,” part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy, that she got her opportunity.

“Slowly I expressed a desire to attend Ranger School and my chain of command believed in me,” explains Hodge. “They encouraged me and other lieutenants to go; they did an excellent job creating a command climate where mistakes and failure are accepted as long as you try. Leaders can have a profound impact on a unit’s culture and I’m so grateful to serve in ‘The Rock.’ The unit is full of great leaders, past and present, serving as examples for the type of leader I strive to be.”

“There are a lot of things that get you through Ranger School, but two of the most important are ‘wanting to attend’ and ‘not quitting,'” says Hodge’s battalion commander, Lt. Col. Jim Keirsey. “1st Lt. Hodge wanted to go and earned her spot on the order of merit list. Once there, she didn’t quit. Now she is a Ranger qualified ‘Rock’ Paratrooper.”

Hodge trained for Ranger School by herself, facing the difficulty of balancing work and training. Many times she wished she could have trained more, but battalion priorities came first. She was motivated to work out twice a day, doing countless ruck marches. Sometimes she carried a sledge hammer, simulating the weight of machine gun.

“I really thought I would struggle with the physical aspect, so I trained hard prior to school,” Hodge explains. “But instead, it was the Infantry stuff that was difficult for me. Coming from a Military Intelligence background, I didn’t know the tactics very well, nor how the instructors wanted me to conduct patrols.”

At Ranger School, a student can repeat a phase for patrols, peer ratings or an observation report; this is referred to as “recycling.” If a candidate fails the same thing again, they will be dropped from the course. Her first time through, Hodge was dropped during patrols.

“I was devastated. I didn’t know why I worked so hard only to fail,” shares Hodge. “But ironically, I’m really glad I failed Ranger School my first time. Dealing with failure is one of the most important lessons you can learn.”

Being recycled is not uncommon. According to Ft. Benning, 61.2 percent of graduating Rangers were recycled at least once in 2017. This means less than 39 percent made it through without having to start any of the phases over again. No surprise here: Ranger School is tough.

“I definitely thought about heading home after I failed,” says Hodge. “To start again, it would have been colder, and mentally I was spent.” Despite those thoughts, she stayed.

“I wasn’t ready to give up just yet,” says Hodge.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger

1st Lt. Anna Hodge.

(Photo By Staff Sgt. Alexander C Henninger)

“I was able to sign up for a Master Resiliency Trainer course in between Ranger classes and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Thank goodness for resiliency because my second Ranger Assessment Phase week was one of the hardest of my life. It was so cold and miserable that I wanted to quit every day, but I told myself to just quit tomorrow. Before long I made it through the week.”

“The same work ethic and ‘never quit’ attitude that got her through Ranger School is what makes 1st Lt. Hodge an asset to the unit,” adds Keirsey.

In Hodge’s case, it was also helpful to have other female Ranger graduates to follow. She became the fifteenth female throughout the Armed Services to graduate Ranger School and the first Ranger qualified female Sky Soldier. However, this also proved to be challenging.

“I never wanted to be the first female graduate,” says Hodge. “I knew those who went first would deal with criticism and scrutiny. I am very grateful for the 71 females who attended Ranger School before me, the pioneers who overcame prejudice as they pursued their goals. They helped positively change opinions about female Rangers.”

Hodge shares, “I remember reading negative comments about other female graduates, wondering if I would be judged, too. Would they question whether I truly earned my Ranger tab?”

But the length of ruck marches has not changed, nor does the rain fall only on male candidates. Everyone carries their own weight.

“At Ranger School, everyone is held to the same standard,” asserts Hodge.

During one of the phases, she was assigned to carry the machine gun or the radio, the two heaviest items, on a regular basis. The frequent assignments to carry heavy equipment ultimately made her grateful.

“It showed me and others that I could carry the heaviest items and keep up,” says Hodge.

“I was an equal member of the squad, working together with my classmates to accomplish the mission. I formed friendships that will last a lifetime. I am especially grateful to the friends I made in my platoons, my unit and from Ranger Battalion. They taught me so much about the Army and the Infantry.”

“My husband was also very supportive the whole time. He even helped shave my hair and showed me how to do it myself,” shares Hodge.

When asked if she has any doubts of the results, Hodge responds, “After persevering through school, I know, without a doubt, I earned my Ranger tab. It took patience and determination. I put in the effort. I met the standards.”

She also offers the following advice to anyone thinking of attending Ranger School: “Appreciate the little things. You better learn to love patrols. Volunteer for the small, simple tasks that no one wants to do and make them your hobby, like emplacing claymores and camouflaging them. I loved that.”

She adds, “Don’t let little things get to you. Try to see the good. Yes, there were annoying bugs like mosquitos and spiders, but there were also fireflies which were super cool. Yes, it rained, and everyone’s skin was chafed. But the rain also cooled us down.”

The first Ranger qualified female Sky Soldier concludes, “Whatever your goal, take it one step at a time and continue in patience.”

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

Articles

This is the Air Force vet who forced KSM to reveal his darkest secrets

James Mitchell had a successful 22-year career in the U.S. Air Force — most notably as a top trainer at the Air Force’s survival school — before retiring as a lieutenant colonel.


And while he earned some awards and accolades for his service as a SERE leader, it was what he did as a contractor for the CIA after his retirement that truly marks his career.

See, Mitchell is the man who broke al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (often called “KSM”) and other high-ranking members of the terrorist group in the months and years after 9/11.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger
Photo provided by Crown Publishing

After the release of his new book about the interrogation program titled “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America,” Mitchell sat down for an interview with Marc Theissen, a Washington Post columnist and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

During the 90-minute discussion, Mitchell both clarified details about the controversial “enhanced interrogation techniques” he used and provided insights into the minds of the terrorists.

 

First, Mitchell explained the difference between interrogation and what he describes as “how do you do” visits.

“These enhanced interrogations that I was part of really only dealt with about 14 of the top folks. I didn’t have anything to do with the mid-level or low-level folks at all,” Mitchell, who’s a licensed psychologist, said. “And most of these interrogations took place over a period of time of about two weeks. KSM’s took about three weeks. And then after that, there was no enhanced interrogations for KSM — you know, none at all.”

He later added, “[O]ur goal in doing enhanced interrogations was to get them to make some movement, to be willing to engage in the questions instead of rocking and chanting and doing the other sorts of things that they had previously been doing.”

Once they broke, it was all about “cigarettes and beer,” to borrow a quote from Defense Secretary nominee James Mattis.

“We switched to social influence stuff because we know that the real way that you get the cooperation that you want is not by trying to coerce it out of them,” Mitchell said. “It’s by getting them to provide the information in a way that they don’t feel particularly pressured to do it.”

Mitchell made it clear that after the terrorists broke, the nature of his visits were more along the lines of maintenance. During one of those visits, he described how the mastermind of 9/11 revealed that he had personally beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

“He describes cutting his head off and dismembering him and burying him in a hole. And [we] asked him, was that difficult for you to do, thinking emotionally this had to be hard to do,” Mitchell said. “And he said, ‘Oh, no. I had sharp knives. The toughest part was getting through the neck bone’ — just like that.”

Mitchell also described KSM’s shock at George W. Bush’s response to the 9/11 attacks, revealing that the terror leader thought the U.S. would treat the attack as a law enforcement problem and not go to war over it.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger
Photo of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed taken after his capture by American personnel. (Photo by DOD)

“And then he looks down and he goes, ‘How was I to know that cowboy George Bush would say he wanted us dead or alive and invade Afghanistan to get us?’ And he said it just about like that, like he was befuddled, like he couldn’t imagine it,” Mitchell said.

And Mitchell firmly denies that his EITs were torture.

“If it was torture, they wouldn’t have to pass a law in 2015 outlawing it because torture is already illegal, right?” Mitchell said. “The highest Justice Department in the land wouldn’t have opined five times that it wasn’t torture — one time after I personally waterboarded an assistant attorney general before he made that decision three or four days later, right?”

Mitchell’s book, “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America,” is published by Crown Forum and is available at Amazon.com.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Soldier set to become the first ever female Green Beret

For the first time ever, a woman is now “in the final stage of training” to become the U.S. Army’s first female Green Beret.


The female soldier, who has not been identified by the Army, is an enlisted member of the National Guard, and was one of only a handful of women to ever make it through the rigorous 24-day assessment all aspiring Soldiers must survive in order to earn a spot in the year-long Special Forces qualification course, commonly referred to as the “Q Course.” According to a spokesman for the U.S. Army, this Soldier is nearing completion of the Q Course, which means her accession into the role of Special Forces engineer sergeant is all but guaranteed, provided she doesn’t fall out of training due to injury or a sudden shift in her performance. There is also at least one other woman in the same Q Course, though the Army did not indicate whether or not she was expected to pass.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger

U.S. Special Forces Green Beret Soldiers, assigned to 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Operational Detachment-A, prepare to breach an entry point during a close quarter combat scenario while Integrated Training Exercise 2-16 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Efren Lopez/Released)

The Army isn’t releasing any information about the Soldier that may soon earn the mantle of first-ever female Green Beret, citing security concerns and standard protocol.

This Soldier won’t be the Army’s first ever female to earn a role within a Special Operations unit, however. In 2017. a female Soldier earned her place in the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment, and more than a forty others have now completed Ranger School, which is widely considered to be not only grueling, but among the best leadership courses in the entirety of the U.S. Armed Forces. One of those women, Captain Kristen M. Griest, became the Army’s first female infantry officer back in 2016.

“I do hope that, with our performance in Ranger school, we’ve been able to inform that decision as to what they can expect from women in the military,” Captain Griest said when she graduated in 2015. “We can handle things physically and mentally on the same level as men.”
‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jason Robertson)

Although the title “Special Forces” is often attributed to all Special Operations units in popular culture, in truth, the title “Special Forces” belongs only to the U.S. Army’s Green Berets. Special Forces Soldiers are tasked with a wide variety of mission sets and often serve as physical representation of America’s foreign policy at the point of conflict. That means Green Berets are experts in unconventional warfare, training foreign militaries for internal defense, intelligence gathering operations and, of course, direct-action missions aimed at killing or capturing high value targets. Earning your place among these elite war-fighters means excelling throughout 53 weeks of arduous training centered around combat marksmanship, urban operations, and counter-insurgency tactics, among others.

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

MIGHTY MONEY

This meditation company is giving away free downloads to veterans

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger
Deployed Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, coalition partners and civilians go relax as they finish the largest Yoga session to take place in Qatar history July 11, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.


A meditation company with an iTunes app is offering free downloads to veterans. Meditation Studios has developed 200 meditation tracks that can be downloaded through their app in the iTunes store.

Through a recent partnership with Give Back, the company created the Veterans Collection, a unique series of meditations that are designed to help veterans improve their focus, relieve stress, and encourage better sleep.

In a statement to We Are the Mighty, Meditation Studios said:

Please enjoy these complimentary meditations from Meditation Studio App. For more from this collection, download the app. The guided meditations in the Veterans collection will help to improve focus, relieve stress, encourage better sleep and generally bring more peace of mind. The mind can be a great source of distress when it’s out of control. When we can relax, pause or slow the mind down, it becomes a source of consolation and peace. As we learn to meditate, we learn to recognize emotions, thoughts and sensations without reacting to them. It helps us to respond more thoughtfully, without impulse or overreaction. This can be very comforting, giving veterans more control over the thoughts and emotions that accompany a return from deployment.

The downloads are available through the app, or through SoundCloud. The app, which is $3.99 and has high ratings, features unlimited access to all of the company’s meditations and courses; population and situation specific mediations; step-by-step “courses” with instruction on proper meditation; meditations in various lengths to fit into busy schedules; a section for tracking progress, scheduling meditations, and an in-app calendar.

The meditations offered by Meditation Studios are Self Care and Relax and Energize.

An uncontrolled study published in Military Medicine in June, 2011 found that meditation among Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom combat veterans with moderately severe post traumatic stress “may have helped to alleviate symptoms of PTSD and improve quality of life in veterans of OEF/OIF with combat-related PTSD.”

A similar study by the Army in 2013 determined that meditation could have a positive impact on PTSD, and noted that more research was needed.

The VA notes that meditation, when combined with other treatments, may “improve outcomes” of treatment.

MIGHTY MOVIES

This is the hilarious new podcast from the creators of Terminal Lance and Duffel Blog

Spending an hour listening to “After Action with Max and Paul” –a podcast about national security, military life, and other random bullsh*t – is like spending an hour with Max and Paul themselves. While you’re listening, you genuinely feel as if you’re hanging out with your best veteran friends… if your best veteran friends are prominent members of the Marine Corps veteran community, that is.


‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger
Look for this logo.

Max Uriarte is the mind behind “Terminal Lance,” a Marine Corps-based comic strip he created while he was still in the Corps. He also created Terminal Lance’s crowdfunded offshoot, “The White Donkey.” Since being published in 2016, “The White Donkey” has become a New York Times bestseller and Uriarte is working on an “omnibus” of Terminal Lance strips.

Paul Szoldra is the creator of Duffel Blog, the military-themed satire site that’s so popular with active duty personnel, civilians, and veterans from of all branches. He just released Mission Accomplished: The Very Best of Duffel Blog, Volume One.

The two are very busy. And they are really good friends. And it shows as you listen to their podcast.

“Me and Max hang out quite a bit and we always have these conversations” Szoldra says. “We’re just talking about the news or what’s going on in the military space, and it always bounces around so much. One day we both realized, hey, we should record this. This might be something people would like to listen to. So, we did.”

For all the joking about their other projects, they are extremely grounded in reality and it shows in what they choose to talk about — some of the most divisive wedge issues among the military-veteran community. The Trump trans-ban, North Korea, and whatever else may have come up that week, for example.

The issues many veteran-related blogs and websites are polarized about Max and Paul laugh and riff on – then they inject a dose of reality or humor to the discussion.

Paul: Most of the arguments against women in the infantry are really dumb. They could be dismissed pretty easily. Most of them against are basically like “men are shitty.” Or, like, “Oh, they’re gonna inconvenience everybody ’cause they gotta use different toilets,” or something. Really, like that’s gonna be so difficult?

Maximilian: I think what’s funny is men … we can get super feminist, political about this because this is sort of a larger issue too. … You know, men get so worried about women’s genitals. They’re like, “How are they gonna handle their period?” Let them worry about it.

Paul: They already go to the field. They already go to basic training.

Maximilian: “They’re bleeding down there. I don’t know, it’s a problem. What are they gonna do? I don’t think they should be there.” I don’t know. They handle it.

Paul: “And they attract bears. You know that, right? It’s science. Okay?”

Maximilian: I think there could be a discussion about the logistical difficulties, but it’s one of those things where we’re so past the point of debate. You can’t go back with it now. Right now it’s more like, “How do I make this work?”

Paul: Yeah, and everybody’s still yelling about, “Women shouldn’t be the infantry.” It’s like, well-

Maximilian: They’re already out there.

It’s not all about serious issues with Max and Paul. The same conversation recounted above eventually evolves into a discussion about women in the infantry in “Starship Troopers,” movies in general, and then dragons.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger
Tune in to the podcast to find out how.

As with most discussions that turn to politics, not everyone will agree with Max. Or Paul. Or Max and Paul. But what you get is a really hilarious and irreverent back and forth that will make even the most closed-minded person crack a smile. They may even rope in one of their Marine friends via phone or Skype (in their second episode, they call Jack Mandaville, star of “Range 15” and outspoken “former Marine”).

“We’re sort of both leveraging our kind of pseudo-celebrity status to get the coolest guests that we can get,” Uriarte laughs. “We got a lot of great people coming on the show. Everyone seems to like it a lot.”

But there is something for everyone, not just Marines. And not just veterans. Max and Paul are two very talented, educated, and witty individuals — and it shows in their work, especially “After Action With Max and Paul.”

Here’s Mandatory Fun’s interview with Max Urierte in which he explains the  “After Action” podcast.

Subscribe to Mandatory Fun: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher

“After Action With Max and Paul” can be found and downloaded on Stitcher and iTunes and probably elsewhere, because this is the veteran podcast we’ve all been waiting for.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Elon Musk accepts Ford’s challenge for Cybertruck tug-of-war rematch

A top Ford executive implied on Nov. 25, 2019, that Tesla’s video showing its new Cybertruck beating an F-150 in a tug-of-war might not have been completely fair.

“Hey @elonmusk send us a Cybertruck and we will do the apples to apples test for you,” Sunny Madra, who leads Ford X, the automaker’s mobility-ventures lab, said on Twitter. Not long after, Tesla’s billionaire CEO accepted the challenge, saying “bring it on.”


On Nov. 21, 2019, as part of a laser-filled reveal that didn’t always go to plan, Tesla CEO Elon Musk went out of his way to take shots at Ford and other automakers.

“You want a truck that’s really tough, not fake tough,” he said.

Ford was quick to fight back.

“We’ve always focused on serving our truck customers regardless of what others say or do,” a Ford representative told Business Insider.

Madra’s tweet appears to be the first time since the Tesla reveal that a Ford executive has publicly discussed the Cybertruck. Musk responded to the Ford executive’s challenge on Nov. 25, 2019: “Bring it on,” he said.

For its part, Ford has big plans for its own electric-truck fleet.

Earlier this year, Ford showed off an electric F-150 prototype that handily towed 1 million pounds of train cars for 1,000 feet. (For context, a properly configured Ford F-150 pickup truck can tow 13,200 pounds.)

It’s not clear whether Tesla will take Madra up on the offer of a test, which could be the first of its kind for the nascent electric-vehicle industry — and certainly a treat for automotive fans.

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

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MIGHTY MOVIES

‘Midway’ movie takes war in the Pacific seriously

This Veterans Day, moviegoers everywhere can witness the most pivotal Pacific battle in World War II: “Midway.” The production reminds viewers just how precariously America’s future teetered in the early 1940s, and what cost, sacrifice and luck was required to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Patriot, White House Down, Independence Day: Resurgence) waited ten years before embarking on the heroic story, written by U.S. Navy veteran Wes Tooke. The ambitious storyline begins in earnest in Asia the 1930s, and follows the war in the Pacific through the Midway battle that ultimately changed the tide of war.


The narrative chiefly follows the experiences of two principal characters: Lt. Cmdr. Edwin Layton (the U.S. Pacific Fleet Intelligence Officer) and Lt. Dick Best (naval aviator and commanding officer of Bombing Six squadron). As with the actual war, numerous other characters help the story take shape. Historic figures like Nimitz, Doolittle, Halsey, McClusky and others played critical roles in the war, and resultantly in the movie.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger

Actor Woody Harrelson observes flight operations with sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, Aug. 11, 2018, as aircraft trap, or recover, while returning from a mission.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joseph Miller)

The movie timeline has a fever-pitch parade of battles from the attack on Pearl Harbor through the the climactic fight at Midway a mere seven months later. Those portrayed are originally imperfect versions of themselves, who grow personally and professionally. Along the way they are confronted with unimaginable challenges and choices, often with historic consequences.

“I wanted to showcase the valor and immense courage of the men on both sides, and remain very sensitive to the human toll of the battles and war itself,” said Emmerich.

Hallowed grounds

Just as the project was being “green lighted,” Emmerich visited historic Pearl Harbor in June 2016. While there, he saw first-hand the historic bases, facilities and memorials that remain some 75 years on. Home to the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Oahu was the target of the infamous Dec. 7 attack. The island also hosted the headquarters where much of the early Pacific war planning occurred and where information warfare professionals partially broke the Japanese code. Ultimately, this was the location from which Adm. Chester Nimitz made the decision to risk what remained of the Pacific Fleet in the gamble at Midway in June 1942.

Emmerich personally toured the waterfront, including Battleship Row and the harbor where much of the fleet was anchored that fateful Sunday morning. He went on to visit the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island, which includes a dedicated Battle of Midway exhibit. His visit was curated by the facility’s historian and author Mr. Burl Burlingame, who has since passed away. Burlingame provided rich accounts of the opening months of the war, including the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. Emmerich also got a behind-the-scenes look in the historic aircraft hangar there.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger

More than 200 extras in period dress on location during the filming of the major motion picture “Midway.”

(U.S. Navy photo by Mr. Dave Werner)

The tour continued along Ford Island, which included stops at the original USS Arizona Memorial; a Navy seaplane ramp (with Pearl Harbor attack bomb and strafing scars); the Army seaplane ramps (also with strafing scars); and the USS Oklahoma and USS Utah Memorials.

Emmerich and his party then conducted windshield tours of the USS Missouri; the Pacific Fleet Headquarters compound at Makalapa – which included the historic Nimitz and Spruance homes; the temporary office space from which Adm. Kimmel watched the attack on Pearl Harbor unfold; and the famed Station HYPO, profiled throughout the movie Midway, where its operators broke enough of the Japanese code to enable the ambush at Midway.

The visitors were able to glimpse the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Dry Dock One. In the of Spring of 1942, a battered and bloodied USS Yorktown aircraft carrier limped back to Pearl Harbor following the Battle of Coral Sea. Despite extensive damage, the ship remained in dry dock only three days as shipyard works swarmed aboard to get her back in the fight. Initial repair estimates actually forecast three months to get her operational. The “Yorktown Miracle” resulted in the aircraft carrier being available to join the Midway fight a few days later.

After a full day of exposure to the places and legends who won Midway, the task of pulling it together for one movie might intimidate even the most seasoned directors. Not Emmerich.

“I was really impressed with his enthusiasm for the history and his determination to get it right. You could see the wheels turning in his head with each visit – it was like the movie was coming alive in his mind,” said Dave Werner, who escorted Emmerich and his group during the visit.

Script reviews

Once the Department of Defense approved a production support agreement with the movie’s producers, the writers got busy working to get the script as accurate as practicable. Multiple script drafts were provided to the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC). Those same historians viewed the rough and final movie productions.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger

Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, left, and actor Woody Harrelson discuss the life and career of Adm. Chester Nimitz, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander during World War II.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charles Oki)

The “Midway” movie writers and producers worked tirelessly with the Navy in script development and during production to keep the storyline consistent with the historic narrative. In a few small instances, some events portrayed were not completely consistent with the historical record. Revising them would have unnecessarily complicated an already ambitious retelling of a series of complicated military battles. The production was representative of what unfolded in the opening months of WWII in the Pacific and does justice to the integrity, accountably, initiative and toughness of the sailors involved.

The naval historians who reviewed the production were impressed.

“I’m glad they did a movie about real heroes and not comic book heroes. Despite some of the ‘Hollywood’ aspects, this is still the most realistic movie about naval combat ever made and does real credit to the courage and sacrifice of those who fought in the battle, on both sides,” said the director of NHHC, retired Rear Adm. Sam Cox, who personally supported each phase of the historical review.

The commitment to getting it right matriculated to the actors honored to represent American heroes.

Harrelson as Adm. Chester Nimitz

Woody Harrelson plays the role of Adm. Chester Nimitz, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander who assumed command after the attack on Pearl Harbor, through Midway and remained in command until after the end of the war. Harrelson bears an uncanny resemblance to Nimitz in the movie.

In preparing for the role and while in Pearl Harbor, Harrelson called on Rear Adm. Brian Fort, who was (at the time) the commander of Navy Region Hawaii. Harrelson wanted to understand the decisions the fleet admiral took in those critical months, and also wanted to get a sense of the type of naval officer and man Nimitz was. Calm and understated, and renowned for his piercing blue eyes, Nimitz was a quiet, confident leader. And he demonstrated a remarkable threshold for taking calculated risks. Committing his remaining carriers to the Midway engagement was chief among them.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger

Actor Woody Harrelson, second from left, poses for a photo with sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) while observing flight operations with sailors.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joseph Miller)

“Adm. Nimitz came in at an extremely difficult time for the Pacific Fleet. It was really important for Harrelson to understand not just the man, but the timing of his arrival and the urgency of the situation for the Navy and nation,” said Jim Neuman, the Navy Region Hawaii historian who arranged the meeting between Rear Adm. Fort and Harrelson. Neuman also served as the historical liaison representative on multiple sets during the filming.

Harrelson also got underway on the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis in August 2018 while the ship operated in the eastern Pacific Ocean. While embarked Harrelson got a close look at air operations at sea. He observed the launching and recovery of various naval aircraft, as well as seeing the navigation bridge and other areas critical in ensuring the ship operates safely. Harrelson was also exceedingly generous with his time to interact with sailors, stopping to talk with them, sign autographs and even played piano at an impromptu jam session.

During the visit, he saw first-hand what “Midway” depicts throughout: Navy teams work very closely together to make the impossible become possible.

The Midway battle pitted four Japanese aircraft carriers against three American carriers. Preparing, arming, launching and recovering aircraft from a ships at sea is no easy task. Adding the uncertainty and urgency of war only complicates an already highly complex operation.

Having credible combat power win the fight was only one aspect of winning Midway. Having them in the right location, at the right time, was the work of the information warfare professionals.

Wilson as Lt. Cmdr. Edwin Layton

Patrick Wilson, who serves in the role of Lt. Cmdr Edwin Layton, the U.S. Pacific Fleet intelligence officer, took great care in accurately portraying his character. He called on the Pacific Fleet’s intelligence officer, just-retired Navy Capt. Dale Rielage. The two toured an unclassified area outside of the still highly-classified offices at the Pacific Fleet. The outer office space is adorned with storyboards that remind the Navy information warfare professionals there just how critical their work was in winning Midway and the war in the Pacific. Also located there is the Pacific Fleet intelligence officer portrait board – with Layton’s picture being the first in a line of dozens of officers who have served in the 75 years since.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger

Patrick Wilson, right, who portrays U.S. Pacific Fleet intelligence officer Lt. Cmdr. Edwin Layton in the upcoming movie “Midway,” tours U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters. Here he tours an unclassified outer office dedicated to heritage of the World War II information warfare specialists who helped win the war in the Pacific.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mr. Dave Werner)

After the brief tour, the two sat down and compared notes about Layton’s education, his experiences in Japan and elsewhere before the war, his relationship to Nimitz, and what the relationship was like between the Pacific Fleet staff and the code breakers in Station HYPO. No detail was too small, including typical protocol concerning how staff might have reacted when a senior officer such as Adm. Nimitz entered the office. Wilson’s command of Layton’s history was impressive and exhaustive, and his portrayal in the movie reflects it.

In fact, the research he and others put into the script and portrayals made “Midway” a compelling and believable representation of how information warfare professionals literally helped save the world 75 years ago. In today’s connected 21st-century information landscape, the importance of naval information warfare professionals are even more important to today’s security.

“We were thoroughly impressed with the amount of research he had conducted on his own, and it’s evident he is committed to honoring Layton’s legacy. Besides that, he was a really just a good guy and earnestly interested in learning more about Layton and the history,” said Werner, who escorted Wilson during the visit to the staff.

“Midway” opens in theaters everywhere on Nov. 8, 2019.

This article originally appeared on United States Navy. Follow @USNavy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump seems to be why Kim Jong Un went to China

Kim Jong Un’s March 2018 visit to China may have been motivated by US President Donald Trump.


The visit — Kim’s first trip outside North Korea since becoming leader in 2011 — came just weeks after Trump agreed to face-to-face talks, for which President Xi Jinping may be able to help Kim prepare.

Lowell Dittmer, a political scientist at University of California Berkeley, told Business Insider that from North Korea’s perspective, China can give Kim crucial insight into the US administration.

Also read: Kim Jong Un received a South Korean delegation for the first time

“Kim Jong Un wants two things: to request a reduction of China’s sanctions enforcement, and advice about how to handle Trump, especially if he gets tough,” Dittner said.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger
Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping. (Xinhua News)

And China knows well how to impress the Trump. The US president showered China and Xi with praise after the country quite literally rolled out the red carpet for Trump during a carefully-orchestrated and extravagant “state visit-plus” in November 2017.

Trump has been known to respond well to flattery and personal attention, which North Korea may use in its bilateral negotiations.

Related: Kim Jong Un received a South Korean delegation for the first time

China is also potentially being previewed as a potential venue for the historic talks between the leaders, who have not been quiet about their distaste for one another.

Although President Trump has scaled back on his insults against Kim in preparation for the historic talks, Trump has previously referred to Kim as a “little rocket man” and has considered preemptive strikes against the country.

Besides tough talk, Kim is likely concerned about Trump’s style as a negotiator, which has been criticized as “amateur” in the past. Trump has also had some awkward and tense encounters with global leaders in the past, which may explain why Kim could have turned to China for advice on how to handle the US leader.

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 Avengers who are not cut out for the military

If you’re a fan of the Marvel Universe, then this year has been one of the most mind-blowing and entertaining of your nerdtastic life. From Black Panther‘s record-smashing release weekend to the heart-breaking ending of Avengers: Infinity War, 2018 has done a lot for comic-book fans.


Starting with Iron Man in 2008, superheroes has taken on a prominent role in lighting up the big screen. Their wide array of high-powered abilities are fascinating to watch — even if they’re obviously not real. The true heroes are our service members, men and woman who risk life and limb each day — even without divine superpowers or extreme genetic mutation.

As anyone who has ever gone through boot camp can tell you, it’s not all bronze that gets you through basic. You need a certain mental fortitude if you’re going to make the cut. With that in mind, let’s break down Marvel’s Avengers and see who wouldn’t cut it in the military.

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Iron Man

“Take away his suit and what do you have left?” Tony Stark would proudly answer back, “a genius, billionaire playboy philanthropist.” Good answer, but these are all characteristics that would make Iron Man an outstanding civilian. How would he fair up in boot?

Let’s see how far daddy’s money will take him when he’s stripped of his suit, money, and nice hair cut. Iron Man is tough — of that there’s no doubt — but we also know how Tony gets when he doesn’t have his way. He’s a problem-solver, but he’s not one for regulations. In short, Tony Stark is not the battle buddy I’d want watching my 6.

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Scarlet Witch

Scarlet Witch has the power to levitate items at will and hurl them at the enemy. This is a perfect ability to have in any branch. You can deflect bullets from incoming assailants or save a ship from a missile strike. This superpower that could, potentially, save thousands of lives makes Scarlet Witch a powerful asset to any team.

Power, however, has proven itself to be useless without grit. Yes, Scarlet is powerful and has abilities that can quickly upset the balance, but hesitation during battle often makes the biggest difference.

In the real world, battle doesn’t stop for speeches. If Scarlet Witch needs a motivational essay before using her powers, she might as well be carrying an M16 without any 5.56mm rounds.

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Spider-Man

We all know the story: He got bit by a radioactive spider and now he’s fast, strong, and has amazing reflexes. Spider-Man would make the perfect recruit on paper. He’s be an excellent infiltrator and reconnaissance expert.

The problem is that this kid just doesn’t know when it’s time to shut his mouth. Yes, he has the skills, but let’s remember that loose lips sink ships, Mr. Parker.

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Thor

He’s the God of Thunder, Son of Odin, and one of, if not, the strongest Avenger. This blonde-haired, Fabio-looking strongman is not only impenetrable to harm, but also wields a Hammer that grants him the ability to fly.

Thor would make the cut for almost any special operations team the military has to offer. However, good luck getting him to follow orders.

Being an immortal God has a way of turning one into a lone wolf. Thor would find himself in and out the military faster than you can say Mjölnir!

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The Hulk

Last and most certainly not least, we have the man of the hour: The Incredible Hulk. As Bruce Banner, this Avenger would make the perfect troop. He’s smart, he’s cunning, he follows orders, and he’s always ready to help.

Sounds like the perfect recruit, right? Wrong. Bruce Banner is the perfect definition of someone who goes postal. Let’s see how long Bruce can be barked at by drill instructors before the mean green surfaces. He’d be great for a raid, but try finding a redhead in the Middle East to calm this beast down when he’s chocked full of rage.

Let’s just say court=martial is most definitely a part of his near future.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The surprising way the Navy wants to repair H-53 rotors

Fleet Readiness Center East is celebrating an achievement, and likely first, in using 3D printing and polymers as a supply solution to repair components for the H-53E.

Research and Engineering Group engineers used a polymer additive manufacturing process — fused deposition modeling — to produce replacement blade inspection method vents (BIM vents) for the aircraft’s main rotor blades.

“I believe this is the first time a polymer AM process has been used to build a flight critical repair component in (Naval Air Systems Command),” said Douglas Greenwood, AM Lead for the Advanced Technology Integrated Product Team. “We don’t usually, if ever, see ‘polymer AM’ and ‘flight critical’ in the same sentence.”


According to Joshua Peedin, senior engineer for H-53 Rotor Systems, artisans in Blade Shop 94304 identified integral damage in the parts during the repair process in 2016. It was a discovery of cracks in the foam beneath the root fairing that pointed to the damage in the vents.

The BIM vents work as part of the indication system to alert pilots to pressure loss in the blades. The BIM vents are critical application items, which means they have a critical function for a major component; not critical in terms of safety of flight.

Peedin said that unavailable parts led him in the direction of the solution. “I contacted our logisticians and (the OEM) to see if we could buy any replacements,” he said. “Neither had any available, so I checked the technical drawings to see if we could manufacture our own replacements.” He said making composite molded replacements were considered, but the composite material was too rigid to meet the required specifications.

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Aircraft Mechanical Parts Repairer Todd Bridgers applies a gel viscosity instant adhesive to a blade inspection method (BIM) vent — produced at Fleet Readiness Center East — before applying it to an H-53 blade.

Peedin said Materials Engineers Rob Thompson and Andrea Boxell, from the Polymers and Composites Branch, pointed out FRC East’s capability of 3D printing the part using a material that is chemically similar to the original material — a high-performance, thermoplastic polyetherimide. He also got the help of FRC East Digital Data Center members Justin Reynolds and Todd Spurgeon, AM subject matter experts, to redesign the BIM vents to ensure design compatibility with FRC East’s 3D printers.

“We had many meetings throughout the process to ensure everyone was in agreement to move forward,” said Peedin.

The prototype repair parts were tested under pressure and heat to ensure the repair could withstand in-service conditions and future blade repairs. The local engineers developed, documented, reviewed, and approved the repair procedure through AIR-4.3 Air Vehicle Engineering. The repair was first successfully demonstrated on a scrap main rotor blade asset. The most recent BIM vent repair was the second performed on a production main rotor blade asset using the AM parts.

Greenwood said the accomplishment is also noteworthy, as it demonstrates the flexibility of AM processes. He said FRC East primarily uses the AM printers to make sheet metal form blocks, prototype parts, visual aids, support equipment and many other kinds of parts to support FRC East production.

“All of those parts are built using materials different from the BIM vent parts and none of them are intended for use in flight,” said Greenwood. “Nevertheless, we are using the same printers with a different material to make the BIM vent repair parts.”

Greenwood added, the BIM vent parts mark a new milestone for FRC East. “This is an even bigger achievement for FRC East,” he said. “Using our printers to make polymer AM repair parts on H-53E main rotor blades that will enter the supply system and be used by the fleet.”

The accomplishment offers benefits in the way of cost avoidance, production, and aircraft readiness.

Peedin said the estimated cost to make the type of repair to blades through fused disposition modeling is about ,000 per blade. The pre-existing alternative to the fused deposition modeling repair was to pay the OEM to overhaul the main rotor blade for about 0,000 per blade; a 5,000 savings per blade.

Peedin said, FRC East is now able to keep a steady flow of main rotor blade repair work in the blade shop. “This will lead to a reduction of backordered repairs and ultimately contribute to improvements in the H-53 readiness posture,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Naval Air Systems Command. Follow @NAVAIRNews on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Navy ship has dangerous encounter with Iranian chopper

The Wall Street Journal reporter Rory Jones was aboard the USS Boxer in the hours before the US amphibious flattop downed an Iranian drone and recounted a series of tense encounters that led up to the engagement.

According to Jones, the Boxer was leading a flotilla of Navy ships through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf, where Iran has repeatedly harassed international vessels. Just after 7 a.m. local time, Jones reported, an unarmed Iranian Bell 212 helicopter came so close to the Boxer that it could have landed on deck. A US helicopter chased away the Iranian craft, cutting short an incident that Capt. Ronald Dowdell, the commander of the Boxer, called “surreal.”


Shortly after, an Iranian military vessel sailed toward the Boxer flotilla, following it at 500 yards — the exact distance the Navy allows before it warns another vessel not to come closer. Jones reported that a US helicopter flew between the two ships, deterring the Iranian vessel before tailing an aircraft identified as an Iranian Y-12 surveillance plane.

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The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer.

(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class James F. Bartels )

After these incidents, the Iranian drone came “within a threatening range” of the Boxer, according to Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman, prompting the US crew to take defensive action. Military.com reported that the Light Marine Air Defense Integrated System aboard the Boxer attacked the drone by jamming its signal.

INSIDER reached out to US Naval Forces Central Command to confirm Jones’ account of the hours leading up to July 18, 2019’s confrontation and didn’t receive an immediate reply. INSIDER has also reached out to the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its mission to the UN regarding the incidents in Jones’ account.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister has denied Iranian involvement, and said that USS Boxer shot down its own drone.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

This 87-year-old grad still enjoys marching with new cadets

Through 20 years of March Backs, Wallace Ward has seen it all.

In the beginning, the march was 15 miles, now 20 years later it is only 12. Over the years it has moved from taking place in the middle of the night to starting in the morning. There has been rain and thunderstorms that soaked and threatened the marchers. There was a hamstring injury that slowed him down, but couldn’t stop him.

No matter the obstacle, the distance or the weather, since members of the Long Gray Line were invited to the March Back 20 years ago, Wallace Ward has completed every single one.

This year, as he stepped off from Camp Buckner before dawn with India Company, Ward, who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in the Class of 1958, earned the distinction of being the oldest graduate to participate in the annual tradition.


He first joined the March Back at 67 and now aged 87 he once again walked the entire way from start to finish.

“I come back to March Back every year because I love to run,” Ward said. “I’ve participated in 10 marathons and one ultramarathon that was 62 miles. I have been running and walking all my life so when they said they wanted people to hike back with the plebes I thought that was a great opportunity since I love being outside running and walking.”

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Retired Lt. Col. Wallace Ward, USMA Class of 1958, marches back with the Class of 2023. Ward, 87, was the oldest grad to participate in the 2019 March Back.

(Photo by Brandon OConnor)

The decision brought him full circle as it was running that first introduced Ward to West Point.

A track athlete in nearby Washingtonville, New York, Ward competed at a regional track meet at West Point as a high schooler. He entered the meet with a single goal — earning the one point he needed to secure his varsity letter for the season — and determined to do whatever it took to secure it.

With the finish line nearby and his goal within reach, Ward dove across the line. His last bit of effort earned him his letter, but it also left shrapnel in his left elbow that has served as a, “reminder of West Point for the rest of my life.”

It would prove to be the first of many marks West Point would leave upon him as the track meet set him upon a path that eventually allowed him to enter West Point as a prior service cadet after he was not accepted directly from high school and enlisted in the Army in 1951.

“I’d never been to West Point,” Ward said of that track meet roughly 70 years ago. “I got there and saw this great fortress over the Hudson River and said, ‘Wow, this is fantastic. I’d sure like to be able to go there for school.'”

His time at West Point changed the course of his life after being abandoned along with his brothers in a Brooklyn flat by his mother. They bounced through different foster homes before finding stability and discipline after moving near Washingtonville.

West Point continued the process of instilling discipline and helped to keep him from becoming, “a kid in New York, running the streets, stealing and things like that, getting in all kinds of trouble,” Ward said.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger

Retired Lt. Col. Wallace Ward, USMA Class of 1958, marches back with the Class of 2023.

(Photo by Brandon OConnor)

He retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel in 1979 after a career as an air defense officer. Now 61 years after his graduation from West Point, Ward uses his time with the new class during March Back to encourage them and teach them about the place that means so much to him.

“We spend half the time (talking), except when we are going uphill. I always tell them, ‘Cut if off, wait until we get to the top of the hill. Then we can resume the conversation,'” Ward said. “When we are walking and having a conversation with the plebes we tell them it is going to be a tough year, stick it out, keep your nose clean and work hard and things will come out alright and you will be proud of the fact you went to West Point.”

With 20 years and more than 200 miles of March Backs under his belt, Ward hasn’t decided if he’ll be back for number 21. He said he will have to, “think about it,” before lacing up his sneakers and hiking through the woods with another class seven decades his junior even though he enjoys his time spent with the plebes and talking with them as they traverse the hills.

“I get the enthusiasm of going back to West Point every year and seeing that great fortress on the Hudson River, meeting old friends and comrades and enjoying the atmosphere,” Ward said of why he has come back for the last 20 years.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

US aviator who helped form Israeli Air Force dies at 94

Mitchell Flint, an American aviator who helped form the Israeli Air Force in 1948 and served in Israel’s first fighter squadron has died. He was 94.


Flint, a former US Navy fighter pilot, died Sept. 16 in Los Angeles of natural causes, said his son, Michael Flint.

Flint was one of the founding members of “Machal,” a group of non-Israelis who fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He was one of the original members of the Israeli Air Force’s first fighter squadron and helped train Israel’s first military pilots, his son said.

‘Sky Soldiers’ celebrate their first female Ranger

Flint and other members of the Machal had flown in German planes that were captured during World War II and covered the Nazi insignia with Stars of David. He flew in rebuilt Messerschmitts, Germany’s main fighter plane during World War II, as well as Mustangs and Spitfires.

When he returned to the United States, Flint moved to Los Angeles and became a lawyer. He continued flying until last year, his son said.

“He was a humble man who did what he did and never looked for glory,” Michael Flint said of his father. “He was proud of what he did until the very end.”