For a lot of years I’ve listened to my friends and the people I served with talk about their trips back to Vietnam. It was interesting to hear, but I was never prepared to spend the time or effort to do so myself. Most importantly, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go back.
Then I met Jason in 2015 and we began what has become an interesting and lasting friendship. One of my early questions to him was, “so you make rucksacks, shirts and pants – but what about the most important thing for rucking – the boots?” His answer was, “we’re in the process, how about you getting involved?” That set the hook and the rest is history. Jason established a strong team to design and oversee the making of the boots – Paul (who is the ultimate shoedog), Andy (the marketer and A-1 video guy), Jason himself (a rucker with SF credentials), and to my honor included me (an earlier generation SF guy).
The factory that builds the boots is in Saigon, Vietnam and in February of 2017 Jason asked me if I would accompany the team on its first trip to Vietnam to visit the factory and “wherever else I wanted to go.” I wasn’t sure what to expect and after some thought I accepted his offer. I was very interested in seeing what had happened in Vietnam since my departure 45 years before.
I’ve had a coping mechanism for all of the traumatic events in my past – I simply put them in a large wooden box with iron straps around it in my head, and I take them out at my leisure – to deal with as I see fit. Now I was going to have to face them head on. Luckily, the team I mentioned above was there every step as we moved to several locations I had been to previously, each one triggering memories of a time past. It all began at Tan Son Nhat Airport seeing the customs officials dressed in what I knew as North Vietnamese Army uniforms, an increase in heart rate and minor flashback; the official war museum, where victors always get to tell the story their way; the shoe factory in Long Thanh, where I attended the Recon Team Leaders Course and heard the first shots I had ever heard fired in combat; Ban Me Thuot, my original base camp and a beautiful location in the Central Highlands filled then and now with butterflies; Dalat, a stately resort city for both sides during the war where a helicopter I was in had to make an emergency landing; and lastly the Caravelle Hotel, where I stayed when I went to Saigon to be debriefed after some missions. It had a gorgeous rooftop bar where you could watch mortar attacks on the outskirts of the city while enjoying drinks – a bit surreal. It’s still there by the way.
I was really glad that I hadn’t come alone and the team I was with were all true professionals in their own right – it was, and continues to be, a privilege to be associated with them.
As I mentioned, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this trip – but what developed was surprising – it helped me honor those who had fallen, closed a loop for me that had been open for years and gave me peace.
One can never be sure about the outcome of anything in this world, but I have come to realize that education, by any means (formal or informal), will always stand you in good stead. So by sharing my humble story perhaps I can help bring a small piece of history into clearer focus.
This article originally appeared on GORUCK. Follow @GORUCK on Twitter.
Eight Ivy Division snipers with the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team field tested an upgrade to the Army’s sniper rifle in the shadows of the fabled Rocky Mountains.
Engineered as an upgrade to the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System, the Compact, Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle (CSASS) was redesigned to enhance a sniper’s capability to perform missions with greater lethality and survivability, according to Maj. Mindy Brown, CSASS test officer with the Fort Hood, Texas-based U.S. Army Operational test Command.
Upgrades being tested include increased accuracy, plus other ergonomic features like reduced weight and operations with or without a suppressor.
A sniper team fires the M110E1 Compact, Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle (CSASS) in Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear during operational testing at Fort Carson, Colo.
(Photo by Maj. Michael P. Brabner)
Brown said the purpose of the operational test is to collect performance data and soldier feedback to inform the Army’s procurement decision regarding the rifle.
“We do this by having the snipers employ the system in the manner and the environment they would in combat,” Brown said.
“In doing this, we achieve a twofold benefit for the Army as we test modernization efforts while simultaneously building unit — or in this case — sniper readiness.”
She went on to explain how the 2nd IBCT snipers stressed the rifles as only operators can, during the 10-day record test.
The snipers fired 8,000 rounds from various positions while wearing individual protective and tactical equipment as well as their Ghillie suits and cold weather gear.
A sniper engages targets from behind a barrier during the short-range tactical scenario of the Compact, Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle (CSASS) operational test at Fort Carson, Colo.
(Photo by Maj. Michael P. Brabner)
To also test how the CSASS allowed snipers to shoot, move, and communicate in a realistic combat environment, they also executed Situational Training Exercise (STX) force-on-force missions in what they described as, “the best sniper training they’d received since attending Sniper School at Fort Benning, Ga.”
The 2nd IBCT snipers really pushed each other, testing the CSASS in what evolved into a competitive environment on the ranges.
“Despite single-digit frigid temperatures, gusting winds, and wet snow, the snipers really impressed me with their levels of motivation and competitive drive to outshoot each other,” said Sgt. 1st Class Isidro Pardo, CSASS Test Team NCOIC with OTC’s Maneuver Test Directorate.
An agreed upon highlight of the test among the snipers was the force-on-force day and night STX Lanes.
A test sniper occupies an observation post and conducts counter-sniper operations on a dismounted Situational Tactical Exercise Lane at Fort Carson, Colo..
(Photo by Maj. Michael P. Brabner)
Sniper teams were pitted against one another on tactical lanes in natural environmental and Urban Terrain to see who could infiltrate, detect, and engage whom first.
Staff Sgt. Cameron Canales, from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment said, “The force-on-force STX lanes were an extremely fantastic way for us as snipers to hone our field craft.”
One other sniper, Sgt. 1st Class Cecil Sherwood, from Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment said he really enjoyed all the “trigger time” with the CSASS.
A test sniper engages targets identified by his spotter while wearing a Ghillie suit during the Compact, Semi-Automatic Sniper Rifle (CSASS) operational test at Fort Carson, Colo.
(Photo by Maj. Michael P. Brabner)
Sherwood said he was able to learn from the other test snipers and improve his field craft.
“In a regular sniper section, I would never get this much trigger time with a sniper rifle or be issued nearly as much ammunition to train with in a fiscal year, let alone a 10-day period,” he said.
While OTC celebrates its 50th Anniversary, 2nd IBCT snipers and OTC’s CSASS Test Team are a testament to the importance of the half century relationship between the Operational Force and the test community.
“As we move into a period of focused modernization, now, more than ever, that relationship is decisive to ensuring only the best materiel capability solutions make it into the hands of the men and women in uniform serving on the front lines around the world and at home,” Brown said.
On a flight line shrouded in a constant haze and tortured by Thailand’s relentless sun, the sounds of jet engines and jungle birds fill the ears of Staff Sgt. Travis Davis, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief; a best friend to any 35th Fighter Squadron pilot who puts their trust in crew chiefs like Davis every time they fly.
While executing U.S. Indo-Pacific Command objectives and U.S. Pacific Air Forces priorities at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Davis and 114 other maintainers from the 8th Fighter Wing, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, are operating and will redeploy 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons loaded with full-scale-heavy-weight-munitions supporting exercise Cobra Gold 2019. Cobra Gold is a Thai-U.S. co-sponsored exercise that promotes regional partnerships to advance security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and is one of the longest-running international exercises.
Behind the Scenes: Air Force Crew Chief Prepping F-16 for Launch
Staff Sgt. Travis Davis, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, inspects an F-16 brake during exercise Cobra Gold 2019 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, Feb. 19, 2019.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Savannah L. Waters)
Davis and other maintainers quickly adapted to operating in a hot and humid environment alongside their Royal Thai Air Force partners, and as the sun shines, they’re reminded of the winter conditions of home-station.
“I like my job, but there are people who don’t necessarily enjoy it due to extreme cold or hot weather conditions,” Davis said. “Especially when we are busy and breaks are hard to come by, but the mission comes first.”
Davis advises fellow crew chiefs in maintaining, servicing and inspecting the F-16s. His inspector role ensures 8th AMXS Airmen are equipped with the proper tools and skill sets to get the job done as safely and efficiently as possible, while keeping those who fly the jets reassured that they’re sitting in a well taken care of and lethal jet.
“As a crew chief, you need to keep your head on a swivel, and make sure to pay attention to what you’re doing,” Davis said. “You have someone else’s life in your hands, and mistakes can quickly escalate into a life or death situation. We can always replace parts here and there, but we can’t replace a person.”
Staff Sgt. Travis Davis, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, gives the 35th Fighter Squadron’s “Push It Up!” sign during exercise Cobra Gold 2019 at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, Feb. 19, 2019.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Savannah L. Waters)
Consistency is very important, Davis said, and a mistake on a crew chief’s part creates the potential for loss, whether it’s a million aircraft or a precious life.
With no U.S. aircraft maintenance support, Davis and other 8th AMXS maintainers learned to operate in conditions that are similar to a bare base during Cobra Gold 19. Weapons, avionics, and other maintenance specialists assisted crew chiefs in launching aircraft by aiding as a “B man,” and egress technicians supplemented crash and recovery teams to build F-16 tires.
Regular maintenance, inspections, refueling, launch and recovery is a lot of work, said Davis, but combining hands-on efforts across the 8th MXG enabled smoother transitions throughout the exercise.
“Cross utilization of maintainers of different (Air Force specialty codes) and roles is a true embodiment of maintainers making the mission happen,” said Capt. Su Johnson, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. Without (the) Wolf Pack maintainers’ pride and aggressive attitude to succeed, exercise Cobra Gold would not have been successful.”
Davis has averaged about 50 work hours a week, overseeing maintenance operations and inspections so pilots are able to conduct training without delay or complications.
“I’m thankful for the many opportunities this career has given me the last 10 years,” Davis said. “It makes you really appreciate the job, even on the tougher days. During deployments and exercises such as Cobra Gold, you really get to see the bigger picture, and how your work contributes to and impacts the mission.”
The Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) assisted a distressed vessel in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California April 20, 2018.
The civilian vessel, Mahana, reported it was taking on water at approximately 10:33a.m.
Pearl Harbor, approximately nine nautical miles away from the vessel at the time, coordinated with Coast Guard Sector San Diego and Mission Bay lifeguards during the rescue.
“Both the tradition and law of the sea is that mariners assist other mariners in distress,” said Cmdr. Ben Miller, from Mobile, Alabama, Pearl Harbor’s commanding officer. “As a U.S. Navy warship, we have a highly trained team of damage controlmen and medical specialists that are able to respond to any emergency at sea. Pearl Harbor was in the right place at the right time to assist the Coast Guard.”
The Sailors aboard Pearl Harbor loaded their rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) with de-flooding equipment and medical gear, and launched within 10 minutes of receiving the call.
“We had line in hand, our team geared up, and were ready to receive orders from the bridge,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate Frank Jimenez, from Miami, Florida. “We had eight members manning the RHIB, including the boat team and the rescue and assistance team that were well trained and prepared for this kind of situation.”
(U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Donnie W. Ryan)
A Coast Guard Sector San Diego MH-60T helicopter was the first on scene and deployed a search and rescue swimmer to assess the vessel and stabilize the water levels. Coast Guard Sector San Diego requested Pearl Harbor’s response team to stand by for further assistance.
“We grabbed all the necessary equipment, manned the RHIB and lowered the vessel as soon as we could,” said Damage Controlman 3rd Class Quinn Connelly, from Las Vegas. “The Coast Guard was in the process of assisting the vessel when we arrived, so we were standing by for further instruction. They were there with pumps at the ready. We were there as back up.”
The Mission Bay lifeguard vessel escorted Mahana and crew back to shore safely.
Pearl Harbor, part of U.S. 3rd Fleet, is currently underway in the Pacific Ocean conducting routine training operations.
U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. Third Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions that promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the Pacific.
This article was sponsored by WGN America. Be sure to tune in to the All-Day All-Night M*A*S*H Marathon, Saturday, December 8th, starting at 9am/8am central.
The millennials out there know what I’m talking about. As kids, nothing made you keenly aware that your TV-watching session had run well past your bedtime quite like those distinctive opening chords and telltale yellow letters that meant a rerun of your parents’ favorite show was coming on.
But now that we’re all grown up and don’t need a constant stream of slapstick comedy, cutesy characters, and teenage drama to sustain our attention, it’s time to revisit and start binge watching one of the greatest television shows ever made — and I promise your dad didn’t tell me to write this.
Before you dive in (you’ll thank me later), here’s what you need to know to start watching M*A*S*H.
Inside a real MASH operating room during the Korean War, from a real-world Korean War doctor, Dr. Robert L. Emanuele of Chicago.
(Photo by Dr. Robert L. Emanuele)
A MASH was a real thing
In the Korean War, a MASH unit was a frontline medical unit, a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Wounded troops would be treated by a medic or corpsman, then taken to an aid station if necessary. Once there, if they needed more care, they would be evacuated, sometimes by the newly-developed helicopter, to a MASH for surgery. These units were as close as ten miles to the front.
What later became a movie and a legendary TV show, M*A*S*H got its start as a book, written by Richard Hornberger under the pen name Richard Hooker. Hornberger was a real-life surgeon in a MASH unit and the book documented a few things the author says were based on real events — though he never says which ones.
While the setting of the series is important, it’s all the characters that really drive the show. Here’s who you’ll meet:
Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce.
Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce
Hawkeye is a talented surgeon and pacifist from Maine who was drafted at the outset of the Korean War. He won’t use a weapon but he’ll let himself be sent to the front line if it means it’ll save a life. Like almost everyone in the 4077th, he enjoys a drink after work, even going as far as constructing a still in his tent, nicknamed “the Swamp.” His nickname comes from the book, The Last of the Mohicans.
Wayne Rogers plays Trapper John.
Capt. “Trapper” John McIntyre
Trapper is Hawkeye’s best friend on the camp for the first three seasons of the show (actor Wayne Rogers left the series after season three) before being replaced by Capt. BJ Hunnicutt. Trapper, a former football player at Dartmouth, was drafted from a hospital in Boston and was sent home from Korea before the end of the first year. He shares a tent with Hawkeye and Maj. Frank Burns, and spends his spare time drinking and chasing nurses.
Loretta Swit as Maj. Houlihan.
Maj. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan
Major Houlihan is the chief nurse at the 4077th, a career member of the Army Nurse Corps, and a military brat – her father was an artillery officer. She’s a by-the-book kind of officer and the most capable nurse in the OR, but she’s carrying on an illegal relationship with Maj. Frank Burns.
With Frank, she is constantly battling the practical jokes from Hawkeye and Trapper and doesn’t respect the leadership style of the 4077th’s commander, Lt. Col. Henry Blake, who she is constantly trying to undermine.
Larry Linville as Major Burns.
Maj. Frank Burns
In the U.S., Frank Burns is an Army reservist with his own successful practice who married into a wealthy family in Indiana. In Korea, Major Burns is carrying on an illicit affair with Major Houlihan and, with her, trying to undermine the authority of Lt. Col. Blake. Despite his higher rank, Burns isn’t respected as a doctor, having flunked out of medical school twice. His actions in and out of the operating room reflect his ineptitude in medicine and in life.
McLean Stevenson as Lt. Col. Blake.
Lt. Col. Henry Blake
Henry Blake is an Army reservist and the commanding officer of the 4077th who was sent to Korea after asking a general if he took cream and sugar with a coffee enema. Blake is also a skilled surgeon but a chronic alcoholic. He’s a friend to Hawkeye and Trapper and puts medical needs ahead of Army formalities. He knows he’s not the best choice to be a commander of anything, but asserts his authority when needed.
Blake was sent home in the third season of the show and replaced by Col. Sherman Potter for the rest of the series. But the producers famously wrote a final scene into the third season finale that only Alan Alda knew about as they were filming the episode. It wasn’t until they finished shooting the regular script that the actors were told, and they filmed the final scene where Radar announces that Henry Blake’s plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan.
Cpl. Walter “Radar” O’Reilly
Gary Burghoff was the only actor to play his character in both the 1970 M*A*S*H film and the CBS television show. He’s the company’s enlisted clerk, and one of the only two enlisted recurring characters, the other being Cpl. Max Klinger. His nickname comes from the fact that he acts on orders before they’re given and can predict things before they happen.
Cpl. Maxwell Klinger
Corporal Klinger was only supposed to be an extra in one episode, but viewers loved Jamie Farr’s character so much he was brought back in the regular cast for the rest of the show. Klinger was drafted from Toledo, Ohio, and is constantly looking for ways to get kicked out of the Army, most famously trying to be considered crazy and get a section eight discharge for wearing women’s clothes.
Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt
Captain Hunnicutt was a young doctor fresh out of residency when he was drafted and replaced Trapper John at the beginning of the show’s fourth season. Where most of the other doctors are loose with their morals when it comes to women and war, Capt. Hunnicutt is true to his wife and the Hippocratic Oath.
He still enjoys having drinks with his colleagues, though.
Col. Sherman Potter
Colonel Sherman Potter is also a fourth season replacement, coming in for the dearly departed Lt. Col. Blake. Unlike Blake, Potter is a career U.S. Army surgeon who pays closer adherence to Army regulations – though hardly as strict as Maj. Houlihan and Maj. Burns would like. He fought in World War I as an enlisted cavalry troop at age 15 who was captured by the Germans. He later earned a commission after going to medical school in the years between World Wars. He was also in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
It’s not known how old Col. Potter is during the Korean War.
Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III
Major Winchester is a classically-trained physician and surgeon from an aristocratic family who isn’t accustomed to the “meatball surgery” performed at a MASH unit. He enters the show in season six as a replacement for Frank Burns who went crazy after Maj. Houlihan got married to someone else and was promoted out of the Korean War for it.
Winchester gets stuck at the 4077th after winning so much money betting against his commanding officer in Tokyo that his CO exiles him to the Korean War. He’s a much smarter, more conniving foil to Hawkeye and BJ’s antics.
Father Mulcahy is an Irish-Catholic chaplain at the 4077th and is surprisingly non-judgemental about the extramarital affairs of the unit’s doctors and nurses. Even though most of the staff is not religious (and Klinger is an avowed atheist), everyone treats the Chaplain with respect – even more because he tends to win all the base betting contests and poker games.
Things like not saluting superior officers.
So, how do Army officers get away with all this stuff?
As you can imagine, talented surgeons were hard to find in the Army. Of course some existed, but in a war like the Korean War, the numbers of military surgeons working on the front lines were augmented by conscription – in other words, they were drafted. The doctors of a MASH unit were doctors first, then Army officers if time allowed.
Now that you’ve read this primer, the only thing left to do is dive into the show and experience it for yourself. And believe me, there’s a reason why the show captured the attention of an entire generation of TV fans.
Be sure to tune in to the All-Day All-Night M*A*S*H Marathon, Saturday, December 8th, starting at 9am/8am central.
Bayonets epitomize the warrior mentality. Although it’s been a good while since the last official call was made to “fix bayonets” in an actual combat mission, the ancillary CQC weapon retains a special place in many warfighters’ hearts. Of course, if troops like to attach a sharp, pointy knife to their rifle’s end, then they’d surely love to affix a chainsaw. What could be better?
Chainsaw bayonets have become a trope in popular sci-fi, but there is none more iconic, overly-gratuitous, and awesome than those attached to the Mark 2 Lancer Assault Rifle in the Gears of War series. This futuristic weapon is a massive, fully-automatic rifle outfitted with a roaring chainsaw bayonet. It works well in the game, but it wouldn’t stand a chance in the real world.
There aren’t any official technical specs available for the Lancer, so it’s impossible for us to accurately judge its effectiveness, but we’ve seen a few people try to recreate the chainsaw bayonet themselves. Still, this technique is nowhere near as common as pop sci-fi would have you believe — for good reason.
In real life, the chainsaw bayonet is extremely flawed for a number of reasons. Firstly, there isn’t really any way to store the gasoline needed to power the chainsaw, so it won’t run for long. The workaround here would be to add a larger fuel source, but by doing so, you’d add to the already-bulky weight of the saw.
Then there’s the weight-distribution problem. It’s never an issue for the hulking heroes of Gears of War, but real-world troops aren’t so massive. Adding weight to a rifle will likely throw off its center of balance. When the front of a gun is far heavier than the back, it simply won’t fire accurately.
The center of balance is almost always closer to the butt-stock so the user has more control over control the weapon. Firearms without butt-stocks are also balanced in a way so that the recoil doesn’t shift the sight picture. Attachments to the front of a weapon, like suppressors, can help regulate weight distribution, but these are very specialized tools. The bulk of a functioning chainsaw would be incredibly difficult to offset.
Finally, we have a hard time seeing a situation in which a chainsaw bayonet would be more effective — not just more enjoyable — than a standard bayonet.
For a quick rundown on why this weapon would also be a complete safety hazard, check out this video.
One of the struggles that many returning, wounded veterans face is trying to find a new normal after a horrific incident. What was once a simple pastime, like playing a quick round of your favorite video game to relieve stress, is taken away from someone who has lost the ability to hold and operate a controller as they once did.
This is what Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller is designed to alleviate. And any little thing that can help give our wounded brothers and sisters a better chance at living a comfortable, normal life should definitely be counted as a win for the veteran community as a whole.
AbleGamers has founded many Accessibility Arcades to give gamers with disabilities a space with a wide variety of modified controllers.
(USDA photo by Bob Nichols)
The disabled gaming community has had to find ways to compensate for many years, going to either extremely costly or very frustrating lengths to do so. If a gamer with disabilities isn’t able to successfully adjust the way they play to fit their condition, they have to abandon the game, wasting cash and taking a hit to morale as they have to say goodbye to their favorite titles.
And then came the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which requires tech companies to outfit all forms of communication, including laptops, smartphones, and video game consoles, with accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Since the CCVAA’s passing, nearly all tech giants have taken steps in the right direction, introducing many text-to-speech features for the visually impaired and other accessibility options, like color-blind support settings in most major game titles. Then, Microsoft moved leaps and bounds ahead of the wave when they announced a partnership with AbleGamers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving accessibility in the video game space.
The engineers at Microsoft began working on a versatile prototype controller that can interface with all types of external input devices, allowing for an adaptive remapping of inputs. There are 19 ports on the back of the controller that can be connected to joysticks, standard controllers, buttons, switches, or whatever other type of device is most accessible to the gamer. If need be, any Xbox game can be played with one hand and a foot, one hand and a shoulder, one shoulder and a foot — whatever allows the gamer to play most comfortably.
The controller has been released to the public — and at a reasonable price. Our friends at Operation Supply Drop were given many adaptive controllers to be deployed to military hospitals around the world. The chief medical officer of OSD, Maj. Erik Johnson, has long been a supporter of using video games as a therapeutic tool for wounded troops.
With these controllers, many more wounded veterans will be able to bring gaming back into their lives.
Airships like zeppelins and blimps lost their appeal somewhere between World Wars I and II. It might have had something to do with the Hindenburg going down in a massive, fiery wreck in front of the whole world. By the time World War II came about, airships were a thing of the past for every military except the United States, which is a shame because you did not want to f*ck with an airship.
They seem like goofy floating targets just begging to be shot down but getting to them was a lot harder than anyone might think. More than that, they were really effective at locating enemy submarines and then blowing them into oblivion. Of the 89,000 ships protected by airships during WWII, only one was ever lost.
And only one airship was ever lost, and it happened off the coast of Florida in July 1943.
Blimp-Submarine combat seems like it would be adorable.
The missions of blimp crew was an easy one, use the massive range of sight the blimp had over the ocean waters, locate enemy submarines, then call in for fighters and bombers to come finish the subs off. They had some weapons, a few depth charges, and a .50-cal machine gun, but not something to take on a submarine head-to-head. But K-74 did just that.
A 252-foot airship, K-74 was performing its usual mission in the Florida Straits when it spotted German U-boat 134 on radar. The airship came down from the cover of the clouds to find the boat on the surface of the water. Seeing that the U-boat was headed for a merchant convoy, Lt. Nelson Grills decided he couldn’t just wait for backup and had to act fast. As the ship moved to intercept the boat, the sub’s conning tower exploded with 20-mm rounds.
U-134 under attack from the RAF earlier in 1943. The sub survived the meeting.
K-74 was able to drop two charges on the sub as it flew overhead, but the charges did nothing to silence the 20mm guns. The blimp returned fire, but the submarine had hit one of the airship’s engines, and she was losing altitude fast. Then it caught fire. The next thing he knew, the crew had begun to abandon ship – all because he couldn’t follow protocol. But the ship didn’t explode in a Hindenburg-like burst of flame. It gently fell to the surface of the water, and the crew climbed aboard the deflated ship.
Gills helped his crewmen escape, but as they climbed the balloon part of the ship, Grills got separated when he stayed behind to destroy the ship’s classified documents and top-secret cargo.
The ship’s commander was found when another K-ship spotted him in the water below just a few hours after his ship went down. His crew was in the water all night and was found by a seaplane the next day. Most of them survived, except for one. The crew was being circled by sharks as planes flew overhead and surface ships moved in for a rescue. The USS Dahlgren had come on scene to pick them up, and even though the Dahlgren’s crew managed to keep some sharks away with small arms, one of the K-74 crewmen was pulled under by a shark and disappeared.
All was not lost, however. K-74 damaged the enemy submarine in the action. The U-boat was forced to limp home heavily damaged. Eventually, it was found at sea by the British Royal Air Force, who swiftly finished it off near the Cies Islands.
Tony Wells in a video by John Hopkins University https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubBVPc--ZNA.
Tony Wells’ journey from Marine to leading USAA’s brand wasn’t easy. But his diverse career after his service made him the perfect person for the job.
“I grew up in the Washington D.C. area and obviously there is a very heavy military presence there,” Wells explained. His mother was a teacher and his father a pharmaceutical representative, both successful in their own right. “I was very fortunate to have a number of family members that either served or had connections.”
Although he eventually became a proud Marine, it wasn’t always the plan.
Recruited by the Naval Academy to play basketball as a senior in high school, it was the first time Wells really considered a career in the military. His maternal grandfather served during World War II as a Steward and Driver for a Navy captain. As a Black American, it was one of the few jobs they were allowed to hold within the military during that time period. “For him, it was an absolute moment of pride when I graduated from the Naval Academy many years later,” Wells shared. “The idea that his grandson would be a Marine officer was just a dream come true.”
So, why did Wells choose becoming a Marine over a sailor? As a midshipman during his junior year, he was assigned to a Marine unit. “We went to Bridgeport, which is where Marines do mountain warfare training. I just had an unbelievable time and seeing the relationship between the staff NCOs and officers, for me it was just a different experience…It felt more like what I wanted to embody as a military leader,” Wells shared.
In 1986, Wells commissioned as a Marine Corps Infantry Officer and headed to the fleet. Wells shared that being an “Officer of Marines” was the greatest job he’s ever had. “Being of service to country and for me, having those basic leadership philosophy foundation approaches ingrained early has served me well,” he said.
Wells deployed with the 1st Battalion 8th Marines out of Camp Lejeune to the Mediterranean. He was a rifle and weapons platoon commander during this time. He then had the opportunity to become a company commander. “It was a very unique opportunity for me as a 1st Lieutenant,” he said. Wells served under Michael Hagee, who would go on to become the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
After PCSing to Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Wells had the opportunity to take on a secondary MOS and was trained to be a Public Affairs Officer. When he returned to San Diego after completing his training, the first Gulf War began. Wells found himself on the evening news…Wells found himself on the evening news, briefing the nation on how recruits were handling training as they prepared to deploy. “It was a great leadership experience and a great practical opportunity for me to transition. That became how I ended up transitioning to civilian service,” he explained.
Wells dove into his new civilian career with Nissan, working as their Corporate Communications Manager and eventually an Advertising Manager. After almost six years with Nissan, he moved on to other various marketing roles for different companies and industries. While working for one of them about 20 years later, he had a conversation with USAA.
“It was like coming home. I’ve been a USAA member since I was at the Naval Academy,” Wells shared. “It’s just been a tremendous experience around this idea of how important the mission is. I would say my whole business career I haven’t experienced the pull of the mission and alignment since the Marine Corps.”
Although Wells said he’s worked for some truly great companies, purpose is inherent within USAA. So is perspective. “When I have a tough day or think it’s been rough. I know that somewhere there is a cold, wet and hungry Marine who is in danger while protecting our country and our way of life,” he said.
As he looks back on his life, Wells is quick to recognize what he called deep blessings and great opportunities. “For me, Black History Month is about paying homage to the folks who have come before and the great sacrifice and accomplishments that Black Americans have had that may have gone unrecognized,” Wells explained.
Not only did his grandfather serve in the Navy, his cousin was a Montford Point Marine, one of the first Black Americans to enlist in the Marine Corps. In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order requiring fair employment practices and banning discrimination.
“The last year has been a very interesting time in America. I think the murder of George Floyd really caused folks to reassess race relations. I think it’s very interesting that the military has such a long history of being the first to integrate but at the same time recognizes there’s still a lot of work to be done,” he said. Military leadership spanning across every branch of service was quick to condemn the murder of George Floyd and begin a deeper examination of their own houses for racism.
USAA joined them, issuing their own statement and commitment to fighting racism.
“Despite the discord and division we often see in America right now, I still remain hopeful…there are many, many more people committed to being on that journey to get back to the Constitution, which is just this idea that all are men created equal,” he shared. “I just think that the best is yet to come and I continue to believe that the military will play an instrumental role in making that transition a reality.”
This Marine spent his life living and breathing a servant-leadership mentality, honoring all who came before him. Although Wells may have left the Corps behind years ago, he found his new home in USAA by serving them and all other service members.
When Wells was asked if had any last words for readers, he smiled. “Semper Fi.”
Cats are apt to perch wherever they please — on your keyboard, atop the refrigerator, or squished into a box. But a cat on top of a submarine is unexpected, to say the least.
Military Giant Cats (@ GiantCat9 on Twitter) is a bizarre Twitter account that’s exactly what it sounds like — photos of giant cats on top of, playing with, or stalking various militaries or weapons systems.
The account’s creator, a person who identified himself as Thomas, told Insider, “I started this weird account because I love the absurdity of [the] internet, I love the cats, I worked several years in the defense industry.”
“A lot of people send me [cat] pics in the DM,” Thomas told Insider via Twitter direct message. He then Photoshops the cats onto airplanes, submarines, battlefields, and tanks, much to the delight of the account’s 29,000 followers.
Take a look at these felines on fighter jets in the next slides.
The honor of making the ultimate sacrifice is timeless. But casualty counts in the United States’ current conflicts are relatively low relative to previous wars.
Of course, no competent warfighter signs on to die for his (or her) country (because as we all know by now (and as General George S. Patton famously said during World War II), the whole point of war is to make the other poor bastard die for his (or her) country).
But what if you lived in another time? Would you have survived the Civil War or World War I?
In the movie “Forrest Gump” Forrest notes that Lt. Dan “was from a long, great military tradition — somebody from his family had fought and died in every single American war.”
So what do the Lt. Dan family’s odds look like on paper? WATM has the answer:
The American Revolution
1 in 50 – 2 percent
Lieutenant Dan’s ancestor wasn’t so lucky, but these are relatively good odds considering the conditions at the time and the nature of how the Revolutionary War was fought. Back then FOBs meant New York, Boston, and Saratoga Springs. Orders to Valley Forge? Get ready for cold and a diet of nothing but bread.
1 in 15 – 6.7 percent
Tough luck, Lieutenant Dan . . . and everyone else. If you add the Union and Confederate Army casualties vs. the best assumed total number of troops, the rate of killed and injured is a staggering 43 percent. As of 2013, the government was still paying veterans benefits related to the Civil War (and those people were probably waiting in line since 1962).
World War One
1 in 89 – 1.1 percent
This is where the combat starts to look more familiar, except for the whole “running at a machine gun” thing. It’s surprising the numbers aren’t much, much higher since human wave attacks were standard operating procedure. A cool twenty bucks (which went much further in 1917) says Lieutenant Dan’s ancestor in “The Great War” was suffering from trench foot and Jerry just put him out of his misery, which is probably why his standing order in Vietnam was to change socks at every stop.
World War Two
1 in 56 – 1.8 percent
Lieutenant Dan’s surprised look probably stems from the low number for this one too. Keep in mind, this is just the rate for the American Army. The Soviet Union lost 26 million people, significantly more than the losses suffered by the army that actually lost. (That would be the German Army for you history buffs.)
1 in 185 – .5 percent
Lieutenant Dan lives (severely wounded in his case, but alive). Of all America’s major wars, Vietnam offered best odds of survival. It also had (arguably) the highest quality of life in the field (very much dependent of where you served in-country), and the best food. (There might be a correlation between those things.)
ISIS always needs new women to marry off to jihadist fighters and they’ve found a new tactic, according to CNN.
Recruiters of women are using tumblr blogs, Instagram feeds, and other social media outlets to spread images of handsome men and women enjoying life together as jihadi and bride. The men have gotten the nickname “jihotties” because of course they did.
The images hint at some of the dangers for women in the caliphate, like losing their husband when he is martyred:
Other recruitment efforts, like videos by ISIS fighters, promise an idyllic, safe life in the center of ISIS territory where the women are supposedly safe from the fighting.
While being far from the front might protect the women from the Iraqi Army, the Kurds, and other groups, the U.S. and NATO allies are pounding the group with bombs that can hit anywhere in the so-called caliphate.
It’s not the first time ISIS has tried to recruit through carefully orchestrated videos and social media campaigns. They’ve previously released videos of amusement parks filled with kids and urban centers teeming with cars.
A surprise maneuver at the end of December 2018 ensured Coast Guardsmen got their final paychecks of 2018, despite the government shutdown that began on Dec. 22, 2018.
But the shutdown has dragged on, and the income for some 50,000 personnel, including 42,000 deemed essential personnel and required to work during the shutdown, remains in doubt as the first payday of 2019 approaches.
Salaries for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps are covered by the Defense Department, which got its full funding the for the fiscal year in the fall of 2018. But while the Coast Guard is a military branch, it is part of the Department of Homeland Security, funding for which had not been approved by the time the shutdown began.
Coast Guard operations have continued, however.
Coast Guard personnel prepare a sling that will hoist a 12,000-pound beached buoy, near Chatham, Massachusetts, May 9, 2017.
(US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi)
On Dec. 23, 2018, Coast Guard crews on training exercises in Hawaii were diverted twice, first to medevac a snorkeler who was having a medical emergency and then to rescue passengers from a capsized vessel. In January 2019, Coast Guard crews in the Pacific have been involved in searches for crew members from two different vessels.
Officials said on Dec. 28, 2018, that the Homeland Security Department had found a way to supply about million needed to cover pay for the Dec. 31, 2018 pay period, but they said they would be unable to repeat it for the Jan. 15, 2019 payday.
There is some money within the Homeland Security Department that has moved around to keep things going, but some activities, like issuing licenses, has been curtailed. Funding for other services, like child-care subsidies, is also running out, further complicating life for service members and their families.
During the first week of January 2019, the Pay Our Coast Guard Act was introduced to the Senate by Republican Sen. John Thune, cosponsored by Republican Sens. Roger Wicker, Susan Collins, Cindy Hyde Smith, and Democratic Sens. Marla Cantwell, Richard Blumenthal, Doug Jones, and Brian Schatz.
A family poses with Jane Coastie at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City, May 29, 2017.
(US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Himes)
The bill would pay active, retired, and civilian Coast Guard personnel despite the shutdown. It would also fund benefits for retired members, death gratuities, and other payouts.
Thune’s measure was first introduced in 2015 but died after being referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. After a grassroots effort generated 141,015 letters to congress members asking for its reintroduced, the bill was resubmitted on Jan. 3, 2019, the first day of the 116th Congress.
“All we know so far, is that if this isn’t resolved by the 10th they will not get paid on the 15th,” Coast Guard spouse Stephanie Lisle told ConnectingVets.com. “Hopefully the bill gets passed.”
The bill garnered support from more than a dozen veterans groups, but it would also have to pass the House of Representatives, which is now controlled by Democrats, and be signed by President Donald Trump.
Early January 2019 Trump said he was prepared to keep the government shut down for “months or even years” after he and Democratic leaders again failed to resolve his demand for billions in funding for a border wall.
“We won’t be opening until it’s solved,” Trump said on Jan. 4, 2019. “I don’t call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and the safety of our country.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.