This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Rodriguez and his platoon patrol the sandy streets of Djibouti, the hot East African sun scorches their path with temperatures upwards of 115 degrees. Passing through impoverished villages, Rodriguez began to notice a devastating trend — most of the children are barefooted.

It was during his visit to an orphanage that, Rodriquez immediately thought of his own two daughters and made it his personal mission to do something about the shoeless orphans.

“While on patrol, every few weeks we passed a local orphanage where children gather for their meals,” Rodriguez said. “Children aged 5-8 sleep along the walls outside and wake up to shower in the orphanage. They eat cups of peanut butter for protein with crackers. Since there is no refrigeration, that is the most protein they are able to get. That’s their lunch — crackers. So I thought you know what? This would be a great mission for my church back home.”


While on emergency leave due to his father’s passing, Rodriguez pushed past his grief to talk to students and coordinate a sandal drive with the school that his daughters attend, Blessed Sacrament Elementary School in Laredo, Texas. Their Catholic school is part of the parish that Rodriguez and his family belong to.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Rodriguez, a platoon sergeant for the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard, stands with several of the children in Djibouti. Rodriguez gifted 500 sandals to barefoot orphans and children during their deployment.

(Photo by Capt. Nadine Wiley De Moura)

“I am very active in my daughter’s school and I wanted to get my daughters involved and proactive in something in Africa as well,” Rodriguez, a platoon sergeant for the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard, said. “I talked to the principal, who said she would talk to Father Wojciech, the priest in charge of his church in Laredo. The school sent out flyers thru the National Junior Honor Society asking parents to donate one pair of sandals.”

On Veteran’s day, Rodriguez who is completing his fourth deployment, visited his daughter’s school to talk about his service in the military and the children in Djibouti.

“I described how the weather was there, how hot it was and asked them to imagine standing outside, barefooted in Laredo,” Rodriguez said. “My daughters and their classmates are at that age where they are learning to help others and how to ask for help as well. I want them to learn a sense of compassion.”

From September to December, his daughter’s school collected six boxes filled with roughly 500 sandals of varying sizes. After the sandals were collected, the students raised money to send the two by three-foot shipping boxes to Djibouti for Rodriguez and his unit to deliver to the children.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Rodriguez, a platoon sergeant for the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Regiment, 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard, hands out sandals to barefoot orphans and children with his platoon during their deployment, February 2019 in Djibouti.

(Photo by Capt. Nadine Wiley De Moura)

“This is the first time that we have done something so big that reaches out of the country,” Cynthia Sanchez, math and science teacher at Blessed Sacrament School. “It’s a trickle-down effect, from parents, and at school they are learning how to help others so that they can teach their own kids.”

Normally, the school participated in blanket, canned food and sweater drives, and periodically will make trips to feed the homeless.

“They feel good and warm inside about helping others with no incentives but because they want to give it,” said Sanchez. “We weren’t expecting that amount. A lot of parents and kids wanted to do their part and National Junior honor Society members went outside of the school into their communities to get donations.”

Anxiously waiting for the packages to arrive, Rodriguez received the sandals in February.

In order to distribute the sandals in the community, Rodriguez coordinated with the local orphanage and the village elder for approval.

After he received approval, Rodriguez and his platoon set out to deliver the sandals to the children of the community.

“When we handed out the sandals the children were so surprised,” Rodriguez said. “Their happiness turned into overwhelming joy, to trying to be next, I made sure they all were good. It got chaotic at times but these children had nothing but what they were wearing and most were barefooted.”

Rodriguez, who kept close contact with his daughter’s school immediately alerted the school, via e-mail, that he had handed out the sandals to the children.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

Children from Djibouti pose for a photo after receiving sandals from Texas Army National Guard Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Rodriguez and his platoon, February 2019 in Djibouti.

(Photo by Capt. Nadine Wiley De Moura)

In response, Anacecy Chavez, a Blessed Sacrament School teacher wrote:

“When I read this my heart jumped. You are a super hero for me and many others for serving our country and helping those around you.”

The Director of the orphanage, Caritas Djibouti, also thanked Rodriguez and his daughter’s school for their donation.

“We had the good surprise a few days ago to receive, through Mr. Rodriguez, a nice and generous donation of shoes for the street children here at Caritas,” said Francesco Martialis, director of Caritas Djibouti. “It was such a generous support which will be usefully used for sure! And also many thanks for the Church support that we feel, from here Djibouti, an isolated place, through your donation. It is precious to us.”

Rodriguez, who has been a soldier on the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force for 18 years, is no stranger to getting involved into the community. Task force members routinely support local law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations in an effort to detect, interdict and deter illicit drug activity.

In addition to being an involved member of his church, Rodriguez said that his experience as a task force member enhanced his ability to build relationships on an international level, communicate and coordinate with partners in order to make the drive a success.

Although Rodriguez’s tour is coming to a close, he has continued to solidify the connections of his church at home with the local Djibouti church — which coincidentally are both named Blessed Sacrament.

Rodriguez spoke to the Bishop of the Djibouti Catholic Church about maintaining contact in the case that they may be able to provide more donations for the children.

“It is great to hear that our young youth are striving to be humanitarians as that is something this world is missing more of,” Rodriguez said. “It gives me great pride to know that the sacrifices we make as soldiers to protect our country is giving our youth the opportunity to grow into caring, responsible and giving citizens of our communities.”

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

MIGHTY FIT

Team RWB invites you to accept the 1776 Challenge!

Team Red, White & Blue’s 1776 Challenge is an epic physical series of goals that brings Veterans, supporters, and Team RWB partners together to focus on service, personal growth, and the joy that comes from doing something hard with others.

Take the challenge each day from June 17, 2020, to July 4, 2020. Together, we will perform up to 100 daily repetitions of various exercises such as lunges, squats, push ups, or crunches. Alternative exercises will be provided to ensure participants at all ability levels are able to complete the challenge.

New exercises will be shared through the Team RWB App every day, featuring demonstrative videos hosted by Team RWB’s corporate and nonprofit partners. Demonstrations will include modifications for various fitness levels and mobility. Additional adaptive exercises will be demonstrated by retired Army Sergeant First Class and and Paralympian Centra “Ce-Ce” Mazyck, a recipient of TrueCar’s DrivenToDrive program.


Up for the challenge?

If you’re up for the challenge, join Team RWB as we tackle 1776 reps and break down barriers for Veterans. Click here to sign up for reminders and daily inspiration straight to your inbox. Participants to complete every exercise and check-in through the app will receive a free 1776 Challenge patch.

You must be a member of Team RWB to check in and participate. Membership is free and Veterans get a free Nike shirt!

Learn More!

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How to honor Vietnam veterans

The following is an Op/Ed written by Ken Falke. The opinions expressed are his own.


There’s an important day of commemoration on March 29th — or in some U.S. States, March 30th — that goes unnoticed until the nightly evening news or a stumble on social media. This very special day is Vietnam Veterans Day, or in some states, “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day.”

In 1974, President Nixon established this commemoration to recognize the contributions of the men and women who served during this unpopular war and tumultuous time in our history.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
Vietnam War memorial. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons | InSapphoWeTrust)

While many will rightly mark the day with speeches, tributes, and celebrations fitting for this great generation, there is a more meaningful way to honor our Vietnam veterans and all veterans. That honor is to provide them new and innovative ways to improve their mental wellness and reintegration into their communities.

Approximately 2.7 million young men and women served in Vietnam — about the same number that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since September 2001. While all serving since 9/11 volunteered, few realize that almost two-thirds of Vietnam veterans volunteered to serve as well.

Even though Vietnam was an unpopular war, 91 percent of Vietnam Veterans said they were glad they served in the war, and one-quarter said they would do it again. What these numbers show is the incredible commitment to service that our Vietnam-era veterans share with the post-9/11 veteran generation.

But there are disturbing similarities as well. The current veteran suicide rate of 20+ per day is well publicized; though that the average age of the veteran is 55 years old is less known. PTSD rates from both generations hover around 30 percent.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
An American Green Beret (right), and a South Vietnamese soldier assist wounded Vietnamese soldier to medivac helicopter following fighting near the Special Forces camp at Duc Phong, 40 miles north of Saigon, Sept. 9, 1969. South Vietnamese spokesmen said government casualties reached a two-month high 502 dead and 1,210 wounded. It was the highest casualty toll since the week ending June 14, which saw 516 dead and 1,424 wounded. (Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS by Shunsuke Akatsuka)

Additionally, Vietnam veterans struggled — and many still do — with the same challenges that today’s veterans face: PTSD, anxiety, drug, and alcohol dependency, and family and work stability. By a percentage comparison, of the 591 Vietnam prisoners of war (POWs) only 4 percent had symptoms of PTSD.

So why did POWs who experience what would be considered the most traumatic experiences seem to fare so well?

Many suggest the leadership of Admiral James Stockdale while a POW in the “Hanoi Hilton.” His leadership provided purpose, mission, and direction as a team to “return with honor.”

Often, the sense of purpose provided by leadership during transitions facilitates growth to occur. While the DOD, the VA, and other organizations work hard to care for our veterans, the element of leadership seems to be lost after service and veterans fall into a “no-man’s land” that lacks wellness, a clear mission, and renewed purpose.

Why have we made so little progress in mental wellness for our returning warriors?

Many experts, including the Journal of American Medical Association, suggest that our reactive approach to combat related stress such as PTSD doesn’t work. Indicators show that our current approach has made little progress since the Vietnam War, and some suggest since World War I.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
Understanding PTSD is critical military veterans and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

We are repeating minimally effective practices where veterans are offered medication, which largely attacks symptoms and leaves them as diminished versions of themselves, or talk-therapy provided by well-intended but often ill-equipped therapists, and cased in stigma.

Though the VA has announced plans to hire 1,000 additional mental health professionals, more therapists will not fix the inadequacies of the current approaches.

How can we do better?

First, expand public-private partnerships. The private sector and nonprofit organizations have developed new approaches to veteran wellness and reintegration that could be expanded. These approaches leverage training (which is compatible with military personnel and veteran culture) and new technology that could “triage” veterans and provide skills to facilitate Post-traumatic Growth before the need for medication or therapy.

Second, we need to recognize and address the stigma associated with therapy. While veterans — and civilians — can gain some benefit from talk-therapy and medication, one can only grow by learning the skills associated with growth. This requires a holistic training approach that veterans understand and allows them to thrive, not just survive.

Finally, innovation costs money. The President’s proposed budget has a 6 percent increase to the VA’s budget; much of it to focus on health care. While this is positive, we need to use new funds to create innovative solutions, not further outdated practices. While the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue and future threats remain, veteran mental health issues will likely worsen.

This March 29th and 30th we will stop to honor and welcome home our Vietnam veterans. While speeches, ceremonies, and commemorations will recognize their sacrifice, to truly honor their service — and the service of those that follow — we should facilitate growth and purposeful lives they truly deserve and welcomes them home.

Recognized as one of We Are The Mighty’s 25 veterans to watch in 2017Ken Falke is a 21-year service-disabled combat veteran of the U.S. Navy and retired Master Chief Petty Officer and is the CEO of organizational improvement solutions company Shoulder 2 Shoulder, Inc. He is also the founder and Chairman of Boulder Crest Retreat.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian patent literally looks like flying AK-47

Kalashnikov’s AK-47 represents a timeless design and an instantly recognizable icon of warfare, but one thing it cannot do is fly.

But Russian arms maker Almaz-Antey filed a patent in February 2018 on what looks like a literal flying AK-47 drone.

Images filed with the patent show a minimalist drone formed around a Kalashnikov-style rifle, and were first pointed out by aviation writer Steven Trimble on Twitter.


The aircraft has no apparent propulsion, but has two large bulbs that may support propellers. It looks to have large control surfaces built into rear vertical stabilizers and towards the gun’s barrel at the front of the aircraft.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

(Almaz-Antey)

The gun appears a completely standard Kalashnikov rifle, with a standard banana-shaped magazine that extends conspicuously from the bottom of the airframe. The drawings of the drone show absolutely no effort made towards making the gun streamlined or more aerodynamic.

Russia has unveiled a number of unusual drones in recent years, including an underwater drone meant to fight off undersea divers. The underwater drone is armed with an underwater version of a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

Additionally Russia has tested unmanned aerial combat vehicles and even “suicide drones.”

But the flying AK-47 drone patent raises more questions than it answers. With forward facing propellers, the drone will likely have to maintain some velocity throughout its flight. Other drones with helicopter-like rotors can fly in place.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

This small drone plane has to aim at you to shoot you.

(Almaz-Antey)

Also, an assault rifle basically only works against people or unarmored targets. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Russia would need small flying aircraft to try to shoot people in what would essentially be a flying drive by. To operate such a drone against small targets, the aircraft would have to handle the blowback from shots fired and have a way to find, track and fire at moving targets. And unless the drone has some hidden capacity to change magazines in flight, each drone gun likely wouldn’t hold more than 30 rounds.

Defense contractors routinely file patents for a variety of innovations and don’t always follow through with them, so it’s unclear if we’ll ever see this strange bird fly.

But if you were thinking of building for commercial purposes a small drone to fly a Kalashnikov around and not do much else, then don’t. There’s a patent on that.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Putin Attends Naval Parade, Promises New Ships, Weapons

President Vladimir Putin said the Russian Navy will get 40 new ships and vessels this year, as he attended a naval parade in St. Petersburg marking Navy Day in Russia.

The parade in St. Petersburg on July 26 featured 46 ships and vessels and over 4,000 troops and aimed to “demonstrate the growing power of our navy,” Putin said.


Putin said 40 ships and vessels of different classes will enter service this year, and that the Russian Navy will be equipped with hypersonic weapons to boost its combat capabilities.

The combination of speed, maneuverability, and altitude of hypersonic missiles, capable of travelling at more than five times the speed of sound, makes them difficult to track and intercept.

Russia has made military modernization its top priority amid tensions with the West that followed Moscow’s 2014 seizure of Crimea.

Similar parades marking Russia’s Navy Day on July 26 took place in the Far Eastern cities of Vladivostok and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsk, Sevastopol in the annexed Crimea region, the seaport towns of Severomorsk and Baltiysk, Kaspirsk in the south of Russia, and the port city of Tartus in Syria.

Earlier this week, during a ceremony of keel-laying for new warships in Crimea, Putin pledged to continue an ambitious program of building new warships, saying that Russia needs a strong navy to defend its interests and “help maintain a strategic balance and global stability.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

ISIS is urging its fighters to avoid Europe because of the coronavirus pandemic

ISIS has issued a travel advisory for Europe to its fighters due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, asking fighters to suspend travel to the region for terror attacks.


The latest edition of the terror group’s newsletter, Al-Naba, calls on its fighters to “stay away from the land of the epidemic,” Homeland Security Today recently reported.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

“The healthy should not enter the land of the epidemic and the afflicted should not exit from it,” the editors of the newsletter stated.

The newsletter also offered militants advice on how to avoid getting infected, including “cover the mouth when yawning and sneezing” and “wash the hands before dipping them into vessels.” There’s a full-page graphic on the back cover that cites Islamic texts for “directives to deal with epidemics.”

The terror group’s newsletter has been following the novel coronavirus pandemic closely, reporting on the spread of the virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, since the beginning of 2020.

In a February edition, ISIS said “many Muslims rushed to confirm that this epidemic is a punishment from God Almighty” for China’s oppression of the Muslim Uighur minority, but went on to warn that the “the world is interconnected” and transportation “would facilitate the transfer of diseases and epidemics.”

ISIS no longer has a self-declared caliphate, meaning it doesn’t control a large swath of territory across Iraq and Syria anymore. But it’s estimated the terror group still has as many as 20,000 fighters in the region, and a recent UN report said the group has 0 million in reserves.

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There have been confirmed cases of coronavirus in a number of countries where ISIS has fighters, including Iraq and Afghanistan. As of Tuesday afternoon, almost 196,000 people worldwide have been infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 7,800 have died.

Europe has been hit especially hard by COVID-19, particularly Italy, where over 30,000 people have been infected and over 2,500 people have died as of Tuesday.

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

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This video provides interesting details about the iconic F-117 jet

As we have explained in posts we have published recently, F-117s continue to zip through the Nevada skies despite being officially retired in 2008. Actually, the iconic stealth jet is doing probably much more than “just flying around”. The most recent sightings have seen the aircraft actively taking part in seemingly complex missions, flying the aggressor role alongside 57th Wing F-16s as The War Zone reported just a few days ago.


Anyway, it’s certain that some F-117s have been retired once for all. In November 2014, we spotted an F-117 fuselage being transported on a truck trailer was seen back on Nov. 14, 2017. More recently, on Aug. 16, 2019 at 4:09 PM aviation expert and photographer Chris McGreevy spotted another fuselage being hauled by a truck along Columbia Way (Ave. M) near the joint military/civilian use Palmdale Regional Airport outside Palmdale, California. While we don’t know where the first F-117 ended, we know everything about the latter one: nicknamed “Unexpected Guest”, the aircraft in question was #803 (82-0803), an F-117 that entered active service in 1984, flew 78 combat missions (the most of any Nighthawk) starting from Panama’s “Just Cause” operation and was retired in 2007 after logging 4,673 Flight Hours.

Peace Through Strength: F-117 Display at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

www.youtube.com

The “Unexpected Guest” was prepared for public display at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, through an operation dubbed Operation Nighthawk Landing. The interesting video was released for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Dec. 7, 2019, during the Reagan Foundation and Institute’s annual Reagan National Defense Forum. It includes footage of the F-117 stealth jets throughout their career, from the era when they flew under the cover of darkness at Tonopah, when an early form of biometric scanner called the Identimat built by Stellar Systems was used, to their last days of official operations before “retirement” (or something like that….). Long live the Stealth Jet!!

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Now’s your chance to honor Medal of Honor recipients

Janine Stange is looking for a lot of people to acknowledge what a few people have obtained over the past 156 years.

Stange, who, in 2014, became the first person to perform the national anthem in all 50 states, is in her third year of asking people to write letters of appreciation to those who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

“I didn’t realize how many people wanted to do this,” Stange said over the telephone from her Baltimore, Maryland, home.


This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

Janine Stange performing the National Anthem for the 2016 National Medal of Honor Day gathering.

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the military.

March 25th is National Medal of Honor Day. During the last week of March, recipients meet for an annual event in Arlington, Virginia. In 2016, Stange was invited to sing the national anthem at that gathering.

In the weeks leading up to the event, she had an idea. “I thought I would ask people if they wanted to write them,” she said.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

Just some of the packages and letters Janine has received to pass onto MOH recipients.

The response was encouraging.

During the first two years, Stange and event organizers reminded them of their service years. “We handed the letters out in packages, ‘mail-call style,'” she said.

There are currently 72 living Medal of Honor recipients. The honor was first issued in 1863 and has been bestowed upon 3,505 recipients since. The oldest living recipient is Robert Maxwell, 98, who served in the Army in World War II. The youngest recipient is William Kyle Carpenter, 30, who served in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

“If they didn’t have their medal on, you’d think you were talking to the nice guy in the neighborhood,” Stange said about her moments getting to know the ones who have been honored. “They are so in awe that people take the time to write them. Many take time to write people back.”

Stange said humility is a common trait among the recipients.

“This is an opportunity for people to learn about these selfless acts of valor. They were not thinking of their lives, but their buddies, and something bigger than themselves. They were not concerned about their own life, they were looking at future generations,” Stange said.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

Medal of Honor recipient Roger Donolon with some of the mail he’s received via Ms. Stange.

Stange said she doesn’t use the word “win” for a recipient.

“They don’t ‘win’ this. It’s not a contest. I don’t say ‘winner.’ It’s because of their selfless sacrifice.”

In addition to the letters, Stange said people have included small gifts, ranging from pieces of art and carved crosses to postcards from the writers’ homes and pieces of quilts.

“Don’t limit it to letters. These small mementos make it feel very homegrown,” she said.

Stange said the letter writing is open to anyone, from individuals to group leaders (school teachers, community organization leaders, sports coaches, businesses, etc). Those interested in leading a group in this project can go online to www.janinestange.com/moh – recipient(s) will be assigned to ensure an even distribution of letters.

Individuals can find a list of living recipients here, and pick those they’d like to write.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

A classroom of students showing their cards for the MOH recipients.

On or before March 15, send letters to:

Medal of Honor Mail Call
ATTN: (Your Recipient’s Name)
2400 Boston Street, Ste 102
Baltimore, MD 21224

Stange reminds letter writers to include their mailing address as the recipients may write back.

Janine can be found on her website, at @TheAnthemGirl on Twitter, and at NationalAnthemGirl on Facebook.

MIGHTY CULTURE

5 perks to a Jocko and The Rock presidential ticket

The recently formed “Literally Anyone Else” political party names the powerhouse team of – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jocko Willink for office 2020. No, not actually, but when Willink appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience” earlier this month, the team was suggested, and we all got way too excited thinking about it. Walk with us down the path of what a The Rock and Jocko presidency could look like.


The Oval Office renamed Presidential Octagon

In a bold first week move, the Oval Office was immediately redesigned to suit the meeting style of the newly elected presidential team. The Resolute Desk is rumored to be replaced with a bench press, where both the president and vice president contemplate world issues while spotting an easy 425-pound set.

Unlike previous office meetings, in the new Presidential Octagon, anyone requesting a meeting must step into the ring and prove themselves worthy before any talk may take place. It has been noted that frivolous requests, unfounded complaints, and the typical garbage ideas D.C. is known for have completely disappeared from the daily schedule.

Leadership from Russia and China have entered into a “whatever you say so we don’t have to enter the Octagon” peace deal. Willink’s only comment on the matter was “good.” Johnson also made a rare statement as well saying, “Just bring it.”

Entire news segments now dedicated to discerning facial expressions and sighs from both candidates.

Due to mainstream media’s love of out-of-context soundbites, the newly elected team rarely speaks publicly. Instead, a far more effective approach of nonverbal communication has been utilized to address the nation when asked the often absurd and pointless questions from the press.

When asked what Willink thought about the state of the economy, he reportedly paused for a considerable amount of time before answering while making direct unbroken eye contact with the reporter. His only response was to cross his arms and sigh for “a very long time.” The reporter took several steps backward, thanked Willink for his response, and said, “no further questions.”

After an “abrupt” eyebrow raise from Johnson earlier this month watching an anchor report on his visit to a local school, all major news outlets immediately retracted their statements and released the most factual, unbiased reports anyone has seen on record.

Over half of congress suddenly retires after realizing the era of corruption is over.

Members of congress begin retiring in mass quantities, allowing for new leadership (with an actual pulse) to be elected. The reason for the departure remains unclear, but speculation is that it had something to do with the new 4:30 am PT schedule implemented earlier this month by Willink.

One senator, who wishes to remain anonymous, was quoted saying that, “They made us show up five days a week. Five! The last straw was cutting our unlimited vacation which was then replaced with the standard two weeks per year. Who can live like that?”

To no one’s surprise, everything from bills to legislation, to an actual balanced budget has remained on schedule.

The last remaining known corrupt members have been asked to attend a meeting with the president and vice president this Tuesday to explain the justification behind exploiting the public over their careers. It is unclear whether they will attend.

Obesity near-extinct, fast food chains “pissed” but too afraid to complain.

Gym membership at a staggering all-time high. Obesity is reportedly on the verge of extinction as Americans all compete for an early morning gym selfie spot to tag the White House Instagram in hopes either candidate will repost.

Millions of actual walls to be added to all gyms as a testament to Johnson waking up daily starting his fight against the metaphorical wall. Early injuries at CrossFit gyms reported when confused and hungry Keto members thought they were supposed to actually move the wall as a part of a new WOD.

McDonald’s CEO was seen quietly leaving the White House after losing out on the previous “Body by Big Mac” contract.

An unofficial “swear jar” solely funds Space Force annual budget when anyone mentions “SEAL teams.”

The mention of SEAL teams happened so often that a “swear jar” has been implemented nationwide. The general public uses social pressure to put a dollar in for instances like someone assuming they’ve spotted a SEAL team member hidden in the crowd. Willink alone estimated to have donated upwards of ten thousand dollars during his first 48 hours in the office reviewing existing security protocols telling everyone “In the SEAL teams we…” (puts a dollar in the jar).

Space Force is “very excited” to see the possibility of the multi-billion dollar lightsaber project becoming a reality.

All jokes aside guys, what would it take to make this happen?

MIGHTY MONEY

6 things you should know about the GI Bill

1. Be strategic about your degree

Choose a degree that leads to a career and a school that can help build a career network. I know it looks tempting to get the BAH, and take random classes. Don’t take that temptation. If you have to, go to a community college for two years to get a taste for school, and then choose a direction.


Read More: GI Bill gets huge boost with this new law

2. Research schools

Choose a school that lets you go to school year-round. If you can take 6 classes per semester, do it. If four is better for your school-life balance, do that. Remember, it may be more economical to take more classes. If your school charges the same for 12 credits as 18, take 18 credits. It might be hard, but you will be pushing through more effectively. Again though, you want to succeed, so only take a course load that helps you succeed.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
Life hack: bend your young, naïve classmates to your war-hardened will.

3. Plan it out

Plan your classes down to the day. Look at the schedule for each semester. The GI Bill is prorated down to the day. If you have even one-day left, you will qualify for the entire semester including BAH. By planning this, you’ll be able to get more from your GI Bill. Also, the BAH is lower for an online program, but if the degree gives you something of benefit, it might be worth it to take a lower BAH rate. Focus on the long-term plan.

4. Choose a school based on the professors and the network they offer you

This is not GI Bill specific, but your professors and fellow-students will be your network in the future. Look at alumni. Look at the research by your professors. Look at who works for the school in a consulting or a part-time capacity. These relationships are super important towards shaping your future. Utilize them.

Read More: 4 schools the GI Bill pays for other than traditional college

5. Don’t be afraid to change direction and re-plan everything

I did this in my first semester of undergrad. I had a plan that wasn’t smart. My professors pushed me toward a degree that would get me to my goals. That being said, my last semester of Graduate School, I changed my mind on what I wanted to do with my life. It happens. I am creating my own peacebuilding business instead of going to work for the UN. I have all the skills for this from my two degrees, and it fits my interests better.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
You’re never too old to mess with the bell curve.

6. Be active in planning, preparing, and choosing all aspects of your degree path

This is part of planning your schedule, but it’s also about taking classes that will help you in your career. Don’t take a math class that you don’t need. Don’t take gym just to take it. Take classes that teach you things that you will use. If you do this, you’ll get more than your money’s worth from the GI-Bill.

This is how I’ve used the GI-Bill with purpose, and how I think you can do the same.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How to survive the first 4 weeks of Marine boot camp

“Get off my bus right now!”


This is how Marine Corps recruit training, or boot camp, begins. Some guy you’ve never met, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, screams at you to get off the bus. You file out and stand on the yellow footprints, a right of passage for all future Marines, and a reminder that every one of the Corps’ heroes and legends stood where you’re standing.

The first 72 hours are called “receiving,” and they’re a mild introduction to what’s ahead. Those first three days consist of a flurry of knife-hands, screaming, rough buzzcuts, gear issue, and general in-processing and paperwork.

If you’re tired or having second thoughts by then, you’re in trouble. The real work hasn’t even started.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

Task & Purpose spoke to Staff Sgt. Thomas Phillips, a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, to talk about what recruits go through during the first four weeks of Marine Corps boot camp.

The 27-year-old Marine enlisted when he was 18, and six years later returned to Parris Island in July 2013 as a drill instructor assigned to the same company where he was a recruit.

“Six years ago, I was in their shoes on that same black line they’re now standing on,” says Phillips, who has now trained eight platoons of Marines. A platoon of recruits can range in size from 50 to 100, and is overseen by three to five drill instructors, depending on the platoon’s size.

Enlisted Marines are trained at only two locations: Parris Island and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California. Parris Island is home to 4th Recruit Training Battalion, where female Marines are trained.

Drill instructors serve a variety of roles. There’s the enforcer, often called a “kill hat;” an experienced drill instructor, called a “J-hat” or a “heavy,” who has the most interaction with recruits; and a senior drill instructor, who serves as a stern paternal figure. Phillips served in each of these roles throughout his seven-and-a-half cycles training recruits.

Recruit training lasts 12 weeks and is broken into three phases.

In first phase, civilians learn how to be Marine recruits, and later, Marines.

First phase begins during receiving, and afterward, recruits are assigned to their platoons and introduced to their drill instructors.

“First phase is that indoctrination,” says Phillips. “They’re not recruits yet, you’re teaching them how to be recruits. It’s a whole new lifestyle.”

Recruits relearn everything they thought they knew: how to dress, walk, talk, eat, and even how to shower and properly clean themselves. Throughout boot camp, recruits must refer to themselves in the third person. The words “I, you, and we,” are replaced by “this recruit,” “that recruit,” and “these recruits.”

“We have to teach them a new way to talk, a new way to eat, brush their teeth, shave their face, everybody comes from different backgrounds growing up” says Phillips, who explains that first phase “evens the playground for everyone, it strips them down and puts everyone on that even playing field.”

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
Staff Sgt. Maryssa Sexton, a chief drill instructor with November Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, ensures a recruit is paying attention during a history class Aug. 18, 2014, on Parris Island, S.C. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple)

First phase also involves a lot of lectures, conducted by a drill instructor who lays out the Corps’ history from its founding in 1775 to now.

“The knowledge is such a key part,” says Phillips. “I’ve had kids tell me they didn’t expect there’d be so much classroom time. It’s not ‘Call of Duty,’ kids are like, ‘Man this is completely different from what I’ve expected. I haven’t shot a weapon, I’ve just carried it around.'”

Recruits also drill almost non-stop — which means walking in military formation with their weapons — for 100 or more hours, explains Phillips, who adds that drill teaches recruits proper weapons’ handling, instills discipline, and builds unit cohesion.

“Drill is used in first phase to get that discipline,” says Phillips. “Just standing at attention and not moving for 20 or 30 minutes, that’s hard for a lot of those 18 or 19-year-old kids that are used to just doing whatever they want to do. Drill is that unit cohesion, that teamwork, that sense that if I mess up, those guys on my left or right are going to suffer.”

If you come in with the wrong mindset, it will cost you.

“The thing that’s going to get you spotlighted during first phase is attitude,” says Phillips. “[Recruits] should know coming here that it’s never personal. The Marine Corps is a business. It’s a fighting force.”

If recruits do mess up, and they will, then they “suffer,” usually in the form of incentivized training or “IT,” which involves lots of push-ups, running in place, burpees in the sun, and planks.

Also Read: This is what happens when your father was your drill instructor’s drill instructor

“They watch the videos and hear the yelling and screaming and think ‘I won’t break,’ then they get here and it’s time to be a man.”

This phase of training culminates in two events: initial drill and swim qualification.

Initial drill involves a detailed inspection where recruits’ uniforms and weapons are checked, and they’re quizzed on what they’ve learned in those first few weeks.

The final hurdle in phase one is swim qualification, and if a recruit can’t pass that, then he or she has no chance of moving forward.

“Some kids have never been in the pool and I would tell them to be mentally prepared for that,” says Phillips.

In addition to being mentally prepared, prospective Marines who can’t swim might want to think about taking lessons before they sign on the dotted line.

“If you can’t swim, there is nothing they can do, you are not going to move on to that next phase,” says Phillips.

According to Phillips, no matter how tough the drill instructors are, everything they do is for a reason.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

Consider the knife-hands that recruits are told to point and gesture with. There’s a reason for that. A knife-hand is when your fingers are outstretched and together, like a blade, your wrist is straight, with your thumb pressed down. That’s also the position your hand should be in when you salute.

It’s not a coincidence, says Phillips.

“They don’t even know the reason, but they’re going to reap the benefits of that reason.”

After phase one, recruits move on to the second phase of training where they are taught how to shoot, as they build off what they’ve learned in the first four weeks.

MIGHTY HISTORY

A Green Beret describes how good the Russian Spetsnaz are

In 2001, Mark Giaconia was a Green Beret patrolling the border areas between Kosovo and Serbia. His counterparts were Russian troops, many of which were airborne. Their mission was to disrupt the movements of Albanian UCPMB rebels in the area. For six months, he and his Russian allies worked side-by-side, in the forests and mountains around Kosovo.

Then one day, his coworkers put on what they called a “Spetsnaz Show” – and Giaconia realized who his tactical buddies really were.


To be clear, the “Spetsnaz” aren’t any single part of the Russian military apparatus. They are any special operations unit of the Russian military, including the Russian Navy, Airborne troops, and FSB (formerly the KGB). Most often, when westerners refer to the Spetsnaz, they’re referring to the special operations section of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service.

Giaconia’s experience with the Russians was his first – and it was the first time American Specials Forces and Russian special operators worked together. The height of their mission in Kosovo was rolling on a rebel base that had killed one of the Russians’ soldiers. The team captured a young rebel while on a patrol and extracted the location of the rebels’ base of operations.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

American and Russian Special Forces troops in Kosovo alongside Swedish Jaegers, 2001.

Giaconia describes his time in Kosovo with his ODA in his book, One Green Beret: Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and beyond: 15 Extraordinary years in the life – 1996-2011. He describes the joint US-Russian Special Forces outfit arriving in an area called Velja Glava, where the rebel camp was supposed to be. After dispatching the sentries, the joint team dismounted from their armored vehicles and moved through the forest to assault the camp. The Russians deftly traversed through the vegetation while Giaconia laid the forest bare with a Mk 19 grenade launcher.

The Russians captured the Albanian rebels that were still able to be captured, and the UCPMB camp was taken out of action permanently. When it came to the performance of the Spetsnaz in combat, Giaconia says they were keen on tactics and had great intuition and instinct. They could shoot well, took care of their weapons and equipment, and were in great shape, and were very well-disciplined.

In short, he says he had a lot of respect for these “badasses in spirit.”

Lists

These are the 11 Russian military aircraft in Syria right now

Israeli satellites on Feb.24, 2018 revealed two Russian Su-57s at its Hmeimim air base in Syria.


A Russian official said the Su-57s were deployed to the war-torn country as a deterrent “for aircraft from neighboring states, which periodically fly into Syrian airspace uninvited.”

Additional satellite images from July 2017 also showed 10 other kinds of Russian jets and planes, 33 aircraft altogether, stationed at its air base in Latakia.

There’s probably, however, more than 33, as some jets and aircraft could have been conducting sorties or flying elsewhere when the images were taken.

Also read: Russia’s new Su-57 ‘stealth’ fighter hasn’t even been delivered yet — and it’s already a disappointment

Moscow first sent fighter jets to Syria in 2015 to help the Assad government, which is a large purchaser of Russian arms. In the first few months of 218, Russia and the Syrian regime have increased bombing runs in Idlib and Eastern Ghouta, killing, injuring and displacing thousands of civilians.

Here are the 11 kinds of military jets and planes Russia has in Syria now:

1. Su-57

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
(United Aircraft Corporation)

The Israeli satellite images showed two Su-57s at Hmeimim air base.

The Su-57 is Russia’s first fifth-generation stealth jet, but they are only fitted with the AL-41F1 engines, the same engine on the Su-35, and not the Izdelie-30 engine, which is still undergoing testing.

2. Su-24

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
A Su-24 taking off from Hmeimim air base in 2015. (Russian Ministry of Defense)

The satellite images from July showed 11 Su-24 Fencers, but that number might now be 10, since one Fencer crashed in October, killing both pilots.

The Su-24 is one of Russia’s older aircraft and will eventually be replaced by the Su-34, but it can still carry air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, as well as laser-guided bombs.

3. Su-25

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
A Su-25 taking off from Hmeimim air base in Syria in 2015. (Russian Ministry of Defense)

The July satellite images showed three Su-25 Frogfoots.

The Frogfoot is another of Russia’s older attack aircraft. It’s designed to make low-flying attack runs and is comparable to the US’s legendary A-10 Warthog.

Su-25s had flown more than 1,600 sorties and dropped more than 6,000 bombs by March 2016, just six months after their arrival in Syria.

One Su-25 was also shot down by Syrian rebels and shot the pilot before he blew himself up with a grenade in early February 2017.

This photo, taken near the Hmeimim air base in 2015, shows an Su-25 carrying OFAB-250s, which are high-explosive fragmentation bombs.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
(Russian Ministry of Defense)

This shows a Russian airmen fixing a RBK-500 cluster bomb to an Su-25 in Syria in 2015.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
(Russian Ministry of Defense)

4. Su-27SM3

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

The satellite images from July showed three Su-27SM3 Flankers, which were first sent to Syria in November 2015.

The upgraded Flankers, which are versatile multirole fighters, were deployed to the war-torn country to provide escort for its other attack aircraft, among other tasks.

Related: This is who would win a dogfight between an F-15 Eagle and Su-27 Flanker

5. MiG-29SMT

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

Moscow sent an unknown number of MiG-29SMT Fulcrums to Syria for the first time in September, so they were not seen in the satellite images from July.

The upgraded Fulcrum is able to carry a variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles as well as laser-guided bombs.

The video below shows the MiG-29SMTs in Syria for the first time.

(WELT | YouTube)

6. Su-30SM

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
A Su-30SM at Hmeimim air base in Syria in 2015. (Russian Ministry of Defense)

The satellite images from July 2017 showed four Su-30SMs.

The Su-30SM, a versatile multirole fighter that’s based off the Su-27, carries a variety of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles and laser-guided bombs.

7. Su-34

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
(Russian Ministry of Defense)

The July 2017 satellite images showed six Su-34 Fullbacks.

The Fullback, which first deployed to Syria in September 2015, was Russia’s most advanced fighter in the war-torn country for over a year.

It carries short-range R-73 and long-range radar-guided R-77 air-to-air missiles. It also carries Kh-59ME, Kh-31A, Kh-31P, Kh-29T, Kh-29L, and S-25LD air-to-ground missiles.

The picture shows a Russian airman checking a KAB-1500 cluster bomb on a Su-34 in Syria in 2015.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
(Russian Ministry of Defense)

This shows Russian airmen installing precision-guided KAB-500s at the Hmeimim air base. One airman is removing the red cap that protects the sensor during storage and installation. The white ordnance is an air-to-air missile.

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
(Russian Ministry of Defense)

The video below shows a Fullback dropping one of its KAB-500s in Syria in 2015:

(Russian Ministry of Defense | YouTube)

More: Watch this Russian Su-35 fighter make what seem like impossible aerial moves

8. Su-35S

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
(Russian Ministry of Defense)

The July 2017 satellite images showed six Su-35S Flanker-E fighters.

The Flanker first deployed to Syria in January 2016 and is one of Russia’s most advanced fighters, able to hit targets on the ground and in the air without any air support.

9. A-50U

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans
(Russian Ministry of Defense)

The July 2017 satellite images showed one A-50U Mainstay.

The A-50U is basically a “giant flying data-processing center” used to detect and track “a number of aerial (fighter jets, bombers, ballistic and cruise missiles), ground (tank columns) and surface (above-water vessels) targets,” according to Sputnik, a Russian state-owned media outlet.

10. IL-20 “Coot”

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

The Coot “is equipped with a wide array of antennas, IR (Infrared) and Optical sensors, a SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar) and satellite communication equipment for real-time data sharing,” according to The Aviationist.

It’s one of Russia’s most sophisticated spy planes.

11. An-24 “Coke”

This soldier collected 500 pairs of sandals for barefoot orphans

The An-24 Coke is an older military cargo plane.

Below is one of the July 2017 satellite images, showing many of Russia’s fighters lined up.

 

Since 2015, Russian airstrikes in Syria have taken out many ISIS fighters — although their numbers are often exaggerated — but they have also killed thousands of civilians.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that between September 2015 and March 2016 alone, Russian airstrikes had killed about 5,800 civilians.

Russia and the Syrian regime have increased bombing runs in Idlib and Eastern Ghouta, killing 290 civilians in one 48-hour period late February 2018.

“No words will do justice to the children killed, their mothers, their fathers and their loved ones,” the UN recently said in a statement. “Do those inflicting the suffering still have words to justify their barbaric acts?”

A number of monitoring groups have also accused Russia of deliberately targeting hospitals and civilians, but Moscow barely acknowledges the civilian deaths and often denies it.

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