The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY CULTURE

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus

The scene of the Italian Air Force display team performing their trademark final maneuver has gone viral, so much so President of the United States used it for a message of encouragement to Italy.


Italy is, after China, world’s most affected country by the Novel Coronavirus pandemic. The latest figures tell of about 2,500 tested positive to Covid-19 and more than 1,800 people deaths. For about a week now, the whole country is on lockdown to slow down the new infections and death toll and the Italians have relied on emotional flashmobs and social media initiatives to break monotony and lift spirits.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus

Among all the things that have been used to boost morale in this tough period, one has really emerged as a symbol of unity: the Frecce Tricolori, the Italian Air Force display team. A clip showing the Frecce’s ten MB.339A/PAN aircraft performing their final maneuver went viral quickly reaching well beyond the (virtual) borders of the Italian social media channels.

As aviation enthusiasts (especially those who attend airshows) know, the Frecce Tricolori display is constituted by an uninterrupted sequence of some thirty figures, the performance of which requires on average some 25 minutes. Following the performance of the first part of the programme with all ten aircraft, the solo display pilot detaches, alternating his own manoeuvres with the ones flown by the remaining nine aircraft. The display, which has a more or less fixed structure, but can occasionally be modified, always concludes with the Alona (Big Wing), the long curved flypast with a tricolour smoke trail by nine aircraft with undercarriage down, performed in harmony with the broadcasting of the voice of Luciano Pavarotti singing “Nessun dorma”, the famous aria from the opera “Tourandot”.

The first time the team broadcasted the “Nessun Dorma” performed by Luciano Pavorotti during their final maneuver was in 1992 during the Frecce Tricolori’s second North American tour for the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. Boosted by the experience accrued during their preceding overseas transfer, the Frecce Tricolori achieved a remarkable success with the public, flying, between Jun. 11 and Jul. 31, 1992, 14 displays and flybys in the USA and Canada. It was at that point, during “Columbus 92”, that the practice of broadcasting the famous aria became the norm: the “Nessun Dorma” was preferred to other musical pieces test-broadcasted during the displays carried out during the North American tour.

As an Italian who has watched the Frecce Tricolori perform their display hundreds times, that final maneuver that draws in the sky the longest Italian flag, always gives me shivers.

As said, the clip posted these days (that, based on the setting, was probably filmed at Jesolo, on the Adriatic coast near Venice, during one of the airshows held there in the last years), has gone viral. Some users on social media said the scene symbolized the end of the Coronavirus: the larger formation trailing a tricolor smoke encompasses the smoke trail of the soloist “virus plane”, turning it invisible. Whatever the meaning you give it, it’s the moving end of the Frecce’s display.

Even President Trump used the clip for a tweet of encouragement to Italy.

For those who don’t know them, the Italian Frecce Tricolori are one of the world’s most famous display teams. They also hold several records.

First of all the team’s size: the Italians are the only ones to fly with 10 aircraft.

Another peculiary which makes the Frecce (also known as PAN – Pattuglia Acrobatica Nazionale – Italian for National Aerobatic Team) unique is the fact that the whole display is executed in sight of the public. Separations, transformations and rejoins are always performed in front of the spectators, a circumstance which requires absolute preciseness in all phases of the display.

By the way: another record accomplished by the Frecce Tricolori is the fact that they separate into two formations (one flight of 5 and another of 4 aircraft) which then fly an opposition pass and subsequently rejoin in less than two minutes. Rejoin time is a factor that can influence deeply a flying display.

One more peculiarity of the PAN is the Downward Bomb Burst, a maneuver which has been part of the Pattuglia’s tradition since its creation, having been part of the Italian Air Force heritage for 90 years now. It is a maneuver in which the aircraft, starting from a high altitude and in formation, dive towards the ground and then separate into 9 individual elements which depart in different directions, finally returning for an opposition pass, at three different levels, over the same point. This is a very spectacular and complex manoeuvre, which no one else is capable of reproducing, especially due to the difficulty in opposition passing and rejoining in the very short time frames required for a display.

The other record of the Frecce Tricolori is tied to the Solo’s Lomçovak. This is a display which is typically executed by propeller aircraft, and foresees a “standing roll” followed by a vertical spin, reverse and subsequent aircraft pitch down. Such a manoeuvre is usually “outside the flight envelope” for most jet aircraft, but the PAN’s Solo pilot can execute it in complete safety, thanks to the outstanding handling capabilities of the MB.339.

The aircraft the team flies is the PAN variant of the single engine tandem seat training and tactical support aircraft. Apart from the livery, it differs from the standard model serving with the Aeronautica Militare’s 61° Stormo (Wing) at Galatina (Lecce) airbase by the presence onboard of the coloured smokes generation system; this device is controlled by two buttons: one on the stick, for white smoke, and one on the throttle for coloured smoke. The system is fed from an under wing fuel tank filled with a colouring agent which is discharged through nozzles placed in the jet exhaust. The agent, vaporised in the jet exhaust, produces a coloured trail. Another PAN aircraft peculiarity is that in order to enhance manoeuvrability along the aircraft longitudinal (roll) axis, and to reduce wing loading, it flies with no tip tanks. These are cylindrical 510 litre tanks which are only mounted on the aircraft for long-range ferry flights. They are replaced by an ad hoc wingtip fairing which covers the wingtip tank attachment points. Since 2002, the PAN also received Mid Life Updated MB.339s. This MLU programme has integrated the previous series models with updated structural features and avionics, such as GPS, formation flying position lights, a new V/UHF radio equipped with a new tail antenna, in addition to reinforced nose and tail. The MB.339 has equipped the PAN since 1982, when it replaced the FIAT G.91, a light fighter bomber aircraft which entered service with the Frecce Tricolori in 1963. The MB.339A/PAN will be replaced by the M-345 HET (High Efficiency Trainer).

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

Articles

9 reasons why military camouflage works — or doesn’t

Sun Tzu once said that he who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.


To be honest, in a way, that is exactly what camouflage is all about. It is not about colors, shapes, or ninja stuff. It is about knowledge, patience, and the manipulation of anything anywhere.

All to achieve one goal: to become the environment. In this article, I am going to give you a small, bitter taste of the art of camouflage.

When I was in the Israeli Airborne SF, I served with one of the SR groups. My secondary specialty in my team was what we call in the IDF, a ‘builder.’ Basically, someone who is capable of concealing anything, from one man to an entire team or vehicles in any environment.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
Eliran Feildboy. Photo courtesy of Breach Bang Clear.

What is camouflage?

Back in the days, when I used to assist as an instructor for the next generation of builders, one of the first questions I asked the young soldiers in every introduction lesson was, ”What does the word ‘camouflage’ mean to you?”

The majority of the answers were split into two: hiding or disappearing.

While both might sound correct, those two words describe a long-living misconception that one experiences when he gets involved with task-oriented concealment work.

Long story short, the majority of the time camouflage begins with understanding the nature of observation.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
Applying standard camo. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod.

The purpose of it is not only to hide, but to make you part of the environment, allowing you to safely observe, document, and, when necessary, respond.

Being a master of camouflage means being able to live off nature’s hand for 72 hours (or more), being just hundreds of meters away from the objective, and being able to observe the point of interest all the while.

Let’s say camouflage is the art of manipulation–the controlling of reality.

Fundamentals of Camouflage

There are three fundamental camouflage actions. These are the main principles that are found in any concealing construction.

  • Hiding: The action of hiding is setting a barrier that separates you physically, and often visually, from the surrounding environment and its unfolding reality.
  • Blending: Resembling your surroundings by combining different, like elements into a single entity. The main difference between success to failure lays in properly blending subtle details.
  • Disguising: In short, disguising is an action we perform to alter an existing shape or form. We do that to eliminate or create intentional target indicators, such as smell, shape, or shine. Disguising, for example, is adding vegetation to a Ghillie suit or collecting branches to conceal my hide side.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
Photo courtesy of Breach Bang Clear.

Target Indicators

Knowledge is power. One of the keys to perfect camouflage at the tactical level is the ability to understand what kind of X or Y signatures my presence creates that will lead to my exposure.

TI, or target indicators, are about understanding what signatures my enemy creates in a specific environment. Those target indicators suggest presence, location, and distance in some cases.

There are two dimensions to consider when detecting and indicated presence. The first–and oldest–dimension is basic human sense. The other is technological.

Human Sense

While smelling, hearing, and touching are obvious senses, but those senses normally only come into play in short distance.

Let’s focus on ‘seeing.’

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
Snipers with 1st Sapper Company, Burundi National Defense Force, observe enemy movement, donning field-made ghillie suits. USMC Photo by 1st Lt. Dominic Pitrone

The visual sense is, by far, the most reliable sense for humans. We use it up to 80% of the time to collect information and orient ourselves. So, what kind of visual signatures could I leave that may lead to my exposure? In short:

  • Shape – The perfectly symmetrical shapes of tents or cars, for example, don’t exist in nature. Those, and the familiar shape of a human being, are immediate eye candy.
  • Silhouette – Similar to ‘shape,’ but with more focus on the background. A soldier walking on top of the hill or someone sneaking in the darkness with dark clothes against a white wall–the distinction of a foreground element from its background makes a target indicator sharp and clear.
  • Shine – Surface related. Radiance or brightness caused by emitted or reflected light. Anything that my skin, equipment, or fabrics may reflect. Popular examples would be the reflection of sunlight on hand watches, skin, or optics for example.
  • Shadow – Shadows are very attractive and easy to distinguish for human eyes, depending on a shadow’s intensity. For example, caves in open fields stand out for miles and are very easy to recognize. As a result, we never use caves for hiding, as they’re a natural draw to the eye.
  • Color – Let’s make it sure and simple–wearing a pink hoody to a funeral is a good way to stand out. Match your environment.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
Army photo by Pfc. Dixie Rae Liwanag/Released

Technology-Based Target Indicators / Multi-Spectral Awareness

Oh boy, this is where the real challenge begins! I’m actually going to risk it and say that ghillie suits are becoming less and less relevant today due to increases in technology.

Before we will dive into all that Einstein stuff, these are the main wavelengths used by different devices to find your ass:

  • Infra-Red / NIR – Used in NVGs, SWIR cameras, etc. Night-vision devices, for example, use active near-infrared illumination to observe people or animals without the observer being detected.
  • UV – UV radiation is present in sunlight. UV-capable devices are excellent, for example, in snowy environments for picking up differences undetectable by the naked eye.
  • Thermal – Your body generates a temperature different from any immediate background, such as the ground in the morning or a tree in the evening. Devices tend to set clear separations between the heat or cold of different objects, resulting in pretty nice shapes that are easy to distinguish for the observer.
  • Radar (radio)– A radar system consists of a transmitter producing electromagnetic waves, an emitting antenna, and a receiving antenna to capture any waves that return from objects in the path of the emitted signal. A receiver and processor then determine the properties of the object. While often used to detect weather formations, ships, structures, etc., there are numerous devices that can give you an accurate position of vehicles and even humans. It’s a long story, hard to manipulate. Such devices exist already in the tactical level.

It is nearly impossible to eliminate your signature against devices who work within the wave length. The only solution is to understand what the human being sees through advanced optics and manipulate the final result.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
Army photo by Andrew Zimmer

Buckle up and get your aspirin – we’re moving into the science stuff.

The human and its environment emits different signatures that can be picked up by different technological devices that make use of different types of waves.

Cones in our eyes are the receivers for tiny visible light waves. The sun is a natural source for visible light waves and our eyes see the reflection of this sunlight off the objects around us.

The color of an object that we see is the color of light reflected. All other colors are absorbed.

Technically, we are blind to many wavelengths of light. This makes it important to use instruments that can detect different wavelengths of light to help us study the earth and the universe.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
Army photo by Sgt. Jeffrey Alexander

However, since visible light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum that our eyes can see, our whole world is oriented around it.

Until recently.

With the advancement of technology, humanity slowly cracked and understood the existence of other light waves.

We began to see those dimensions through different devices.

Since the visual camouflage has foiled many plans throughout a history of wars and conflicts, militaries around the world began researching the possibilities of using non-visible wavelengths in detecting the signature of specific objects in specific environments.

Summary

Camouflage is not about hiding and it’s definitely not only about wearing a ghillie suit or digging deeps foxholes.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
Soldiers with the Estonian Defense Force defend their position May 12, during Operation Siil in Oandu, Estonia. Army photo by Sgt. Juana Nesbitt.

It’s an involved, looping process that starts with understanding how humans detect and continues with manipulating this detection.

The old standards, such as ghillie suits, are becoming less and less relevant to the modern battle space as detection technologies advance.

New predators such as SWIR or advance thermal cameras are hard to beat unless you know the device, the interface, and the humans who use it.

As Albert Einstein once said, technology has exceeded our humanity–so get creative.

Articles

Standby for another North Korean ballistic missile test very soon

American speculation is mounting that North Korea will soon be testing a nuclear-capable missile. This follows a seismic event that the Kim regime claimed was its first successful hydrogen bomb test.


The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus

Japan and the United State regularly monitor North Korean test sites for activity via satellite. Two U.S. officials told AFP that the Communist state’s Sohae satellite complex is buzzing with activity.

The North has launched satellites into orbit before, most recently in 2012, but the same U.S. officials believe the technology used for those launches could be used for intercontinental ballistic missile launches as well.

International bodies are still struggling with how to respond to the hydrogen bomb test. There isn’t much left to sanction in North Korea. China, the North’s largest trading partner, is unlikely to slap any more restrictions on trade with the Kim regime without a direct threat to itself or its interests.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
A rocket lifta off from its launch pad in Musudan-ri, North Korea (DPRK State Media)

Why does North Korea act so provocatively? According to former Soviet diplomat Alexei Lankov, the saber rattling is a function of the nation being starved for resources and strapped for cash. The North’s military mobilizes while the government threatens South Korea, all in an effort to convince the west that the only way to prevent war is to provide funding and grain. But Kim’s strategy has backfired, resulting in sanctions rather than assistance.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus

“All the nuclear test proved is the North still does not have a reliable launch vehicle,” Lankov told Fox News.

North Korea is said to have over a thousand missiles of varying capabilities, but is not yet known to have developed a nuclear-capable warhead. Its longest-range missile, the Taepodong-2, has a advertised range of 6,000 kilometers, but the North has never successfully tested one.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus

If the North Korean Taepodong-2 missile becomes operational, it would be be able to hit America’s Pacific allies as well as U.S. bases on Okinawa, Guam, and most of Alaska.

MIGHTY HISTORY

A single map shows how crazy successful the OSS was in France

The Office of Strategic Services, the World War II-era agency that preceded the CIA and many special operations units, deployed teams into France for months starting just before D-Day. A map slide produced after the war showed just how insanely successful the 423 men assigned to the mission in France were.


The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus

(National Archives and Record Administration)

We’ve previously written about the “Jedburgh” teams, commandos from the U.S., Britain, France, and other countries who deployed into France to counter the Nazis. This mission officially kicked off June 5 as the teams jumped in just hours before the larger D-Day invasion.

These teams contained only two to four personnel each, but they partnered with local resistance forces and protected key infrastructure needed by the invading forces while also harassing or destroying German forces attempting to reinforce the defenses.

But the Jedburghs weren’t the only Allied commandos on the ground. The OSS deployed 21 Operational Groups into France as well as two into Norway. These teams were supposed to contain four officers and 30 enlisted troops, though shortages of trained personnel led to many teams deploying at about half strength.

These original OGs operated as guerrilla bands, destroying German infrastructure and conducting ambushes and hit and run against Nazi formations. They deployed with their own medical support and were well trained in infantry tactics, guerrilla operations, demolition, airborne operations, and more.

These two forces, the OGs and the Jedburgh Teams, were the primary OSS muscle, providing 355 of the OSS’s 423 men in France. As the map above shows, they deployed across France and inflicted almost 1,000 casualties against German forces and destroyed dozens of vehicles and bridges.

And the OGs were tightly partnered with the French Maquis, a partisan group that resisted the Nazis. The Maquis and OGs captured over 10,000 prisoners.

Not bad for a force with less than 500 members.

It’s easy to see why the post-war government re-built the OSS capabilities. Even though the OSS was broken up, the modern military’s special operations units, the CIA, and other teams now carry on the missions and legacy of the OSS, including the OGs and Jedburgh teams.

Articles

Stampeding wild boars kill ISIS fighters

A stampede of wild boars mauled to death three waiting in ambush Sunday in Iraq, Kurdish said Tuesday.


The mangled bodies were discovered by refugees fleeing territory controlled by the about 50 miles southwest of Kirkuk, said Sheikh Anwar al-Assi, a chief of the local Ubaid tribe and supervisor of anti- forces.

responded by going on a spree of the area’s wild boars, said Brigadier Azad Jelal, the deputy head of the Kurdish intelligence service.

The were preparing an ambush of local tribesmen, al-Assi said. Five other were injured.

“It is likely their movement disturbed a herd of wild pigs, which inhabit the area as well as the nearby cornfields,” he said.

Al-Assi said the executed 25 people attempting to flee three days before the boars .

Anti-jihadist tribesmen retreated to the Hamrin mountains when seized the nearby town of Hawija in 2014.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything you need to know about Zimbabwe’s ousted dictator

Robert Mugabe is the only head of state that Zimbabwe has ever known in its 37-year existence.


He resigned from the presidency on Nov. 21, 2017.

Mugabe — the longserving president of Zimbabwe — was put under military control in what amounted to a coup ending his authoritarian rule.

On Nov. 21, members of parliament in Zimbabwe started impeachment proceedings against Mugabe.

Over the past nearly 40 years, the now 93-year-old Mugabe has gone from an African independence hero to being widely perceived as an authoritarian tyrant.

Here’s a look at the life and career of the controversial Zimbabwe leader:

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
Robert and Grace Mugabe, 2013, in Harare, Zimbabwe (Photo from Wikimedia Commons user DandjkRoberts)

Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born February 21, 1924 in what was then Southern Rhodesia. The territory had been in British control since 1888.

Mugabe was born on a Catholic mission near Harare, now Zimbabwe’s capital, and educated by Jesuit priests. He first got work as a primary school teacher.

He moved to South Africa to attend the University of Fort Hare, known at the time as a center of African nationalism.

Mugabe is often compared with South African leader Nelson Mandela, another Fort Hare graduate who went on to lead his country out of white rule. While both men were revolution leaders, critics note the diverging paths they took once in power.

Returning to Southern Rhodesia, Mugabe became involved in politics. At the time, the country was dominated by white minority rule. Below, a Rhodesian government soldier holds African villagers at gunpoint in 1977, as they’re interrogated about anti-government guerrilla activity.

Perhaps the embodiment of white minority rule was Ian Smith, below on the right. Named prime minister of Southern Rhodesia in 1964, Smith quickly declared independence from Britain in 1965, naming the country Rhodesia. “The white man is master of Rhodesia. He has built it, and he intends to keep it,” Smith said.

Smith ruled over Rhodesia until 1980. He said in 1966 that “The white man is master of Rhodesia” and declared in 1976 that there would be no black majority rule, “not in a thousand years.”

Mugabe spent 10 years in jail — from 1964-1974 — for opposing white rule. While in prison, he earned three degrees, adding to four he already had.

Read Also: The dictator of Zimbabwe was ousted in a coup overnight and no one really knows what’s next

Upon his release, he eventually gained leadership of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, which was locked in a brutal civil war with the Smith-led white government. Mugabe became known as the “thinking man’s guerrilla,” espousing Marxist ideas.

At the end of the war, Mugabe was elected Zimbabwe’s first black leader in 1980. His party, Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), was swept into power. Here he is emerging from parliament following its official opening, alongside his wife Sally.

Mugabe was quickly welcomed on the international stage, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in 1980 as Zimbabwe became a newly admitted member.

Things started to change as Joshua Nkomo — a former Mugabe ally during their shared fight for an independent country — emerged as Zimbabwe’s leading opposition figure. Below are Mugabe, left, and Nkomo, right, as revolutionaries in 1976.

In 1982, Mugabe initiated military action in Matabeleland against perceived uprisings, blamed on Nkomo.

Mugabe sent North Korean-trained army units in to Matabeleland. Mass graves were later discovered — prompting accusations of genocide — and human rights groups estimated that 20,000 people died.

His first wife, Sally, seen by many as the only person capable of restraining him, died in 1992.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
Robert Mugabe and Grace Mugabe at a Politburo meeting. Grace was previously thought to be the successor to the Presidency. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons user Brainy263)

In 1996, Mugabe married his former secretary Grace Marufu, who eventually went on to become almost as controversial as her husband.

Mugabe became president of Zimbabwe in 1990, after serving as the country’s prime minister. During the decade, the government took increased control of the economy and land redistribution continued, in an effort to move the country’s prosperous white-owned farms to black ownership.

The 1990s also saw some of the first public uprisings against Mugabe, as students and workers took to the streets to protest the seemingly increasingly authoritarian government.

“Officially, Zimbabwe remains a parliamentary democracy, but in reality Mugabe presides over the country as a tyrant in the classical sense of the word: an autocrat who rules exclusively for his own gratification, with contempt for the common good,” Philip Gourevitch wrote in a 2002 New Yorker profile.

The new century saw Zimbabwe’s economy crash, shrinking by more than a third from 2000 to 2008. Unemployment skyrocketed to more than 80%.

Much of the blame for Zimbabwe’s economic woes could be blamed on the land reform programs, which amped up in 2000, as black war veterans violently took over white-owned farms, a move Mugabe supported.

By the end of the decade, Zimbabwe was hit was hyperinflation, abandoning its currency in 2009.

Despite both popular and political pressure, Mugabe refused to give up power. In 2008, Mugabe said “only God” could remove him from office.

Read Also: 22 brutal dictators you’ve never heard of

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, writing from Zimbabwe in 2010, reported that many black citizens wanted a return to white rule. “It would have been better if whites had continued to rule because the money would have continued to come,” one 58-year-old farmer told Kristof. “It was better under Rhodesia. Then we could get jobs. Things were cheaper in stores. Now we have no money, no food.”

Mugabe’s age became increasingly apparent as he entered his 90s. A public and well-documented fall in 2015 was confusingly denied by the government.

As Zimbabwe prepared for general elections in 2018, there were few indications that the country would soon see the likely end of the world’s longest serving leader.

Mugabe’s rapid downfall started in mid-November, following the expulsion of two consecutive vice-presidents and the rise of Mugabe’s wife, Grace.

“Gucci” Grace Mugabe, as she has come to be known for his lavish spending in the face of the country’s poverty, had seen her own standing in Zimbabwe’s government quickly rise since taking over the ZANU-PF women’s league in 2014.

The Zimbabwe army took to the streets of Harare on November 15, placing the capital and the Mugabe family under military control.

On November 19th, Mugabe was widely expected to announce his resignation — but didn’t. Zimbabwe’s parliament has now pledged to impeach him if he doesn’t leave office.

Mugabe finally announced his resignation on Nov. 21.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Military spouse life hack: Holiday care packages

Have you ever considered sending a care package to your loved one or seen festively decorated ones and wondered how the heck did they do it?

I’m here to put all your nerves at ease and make creating a care package a fun project to spread the holiday cheer to your service member.

To ensure that your package gets to your service member on time make sure to check out holiday care package deadlines.


First things first.

At any United States Postal Service location, you can grab boxes for your care packages. You do not need to pay for them until you mail it out, and I always grabbed Priority Mail boxes. It will be incredibly more expensive if you use a box that is not Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express, as those already have set prices and you can ship domestic or international for same price.

Create a theme for your care package.

Scrapbooking paper is a great and easy way to decorate the inside of your box. Pinterest is also a great resource for looking up different ideas for care packages. For instance, decorating the inside of the box with candy corn scrapbook papers, a quote from Hocus Pocus, stuffed with candy and beef jerky topped with fake spider webs and fake spiders.

Some examples for decorating the inside of Thanksgiving boxes may be decorating the inside of the box with brown and orange scrapbook paper with cut-outs of pumpkins and leaves. Another fun thing to add to your box is a secret message at the very bottom. Whether it is something funny or simple like “Gobble Gobble” or “I’m thankful for you.”

For Christmas care packages it could be themed around How the Grinch Stole Christmas or Merry Christmas. Take a look at Instagram and Pinterest for various ideas of fun ways to decorate your box.

NEVER decorate the outside of the box if they are packaged in the Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express boxes. The USPS staff will ask you to remove it, so don’t waste your time in the first place.

For domestic packages ensure that you are following the guidelines in the US to ship and do not include items such as; aerosols, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, cigars tobacco, cremated remains, dry ice, firearms, fragile items, glue, lithium batteries, live animals, matches, medicines prescriptions drugs, nail polish, paint, perfumes, perishable items or poisons. For more information make sure to visit here.

Below are ideas that you can add to your care package that are military approved. If shipping overseas, make sure to add a general overview of what items are the package to your customs forms.

Toiletries

  • High-quality socks
  • Foot powder
  • Hand Warmers
  • Baby wipes
  • Deodorant
  • Dental Floss
  • Lip Balm
  • Sunblock
  • Toothbrush
  • Cough drops
  • Icy hot
  • Vicks

Entertainment

  • Board games
  • Deck of cards
  • Reading materials
  • Pencils
  • 3M wall hooks
  • Photos from home
  • Letters

Food

  • Hot sauce
  • Packets of condiments
  • Water flavoring packets
  • Hot cocoa mix
  • Instant coffee
  • Powdered creamer
  • Granola bars
  • Tuna fish
  • Candy
  • Beef jerky
  • Slim jims
  • Protein bars
  • Gum
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Spam
  • Non-chocolate candy (it melts way to easy in the packages)
  • Dried fruit
  • Trail mix
  • Cookies
  • Fresh baked holiday treats

Change up your care packages and add fun surprises every once in a while. Always add extra items for the service members to share with their battle buddies.

Make sure to tape up the sides of your box to be nice and secure and mail off. If you need assistance filling out the customs forms the staff are very helpful.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

Featured

From Annapolis to Miami: Navy midshipman drafted by the Dolphins

Last night, the Miami Dolphins drafted one of the most dynamic players to ever take the field for the United States Naval Academy. If you have seen Malcolm Perry play, it should be no surprise that he is being given a chance to play in the NFL.


From Annapolis to Miami! Malcolm Perry selected by the @MiamiDolphins. #NavyFB | #BuiltDifferentpic.twitter.com/pkrOIOUwD2

twitter.com

From Annapolis to Miami! Malcolm Perry selected by the Miami Dolphins!

The Navy quarterback is being drafted as a wide receiver as Dolphin scouts were deeply impressed with Perry’s athleticism which was on full display at the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine. Perry was only the second midshipman to be ever invited to the Combine and showed off his versatility as both a passer and receiver. Listed at 5’9″ and weighing 186 pounds, Perry ran a 4.63 in the 40-yard dash.

As Navy football fans probably know, Perry switched back and forth from quarterback and slot back while at the Naval Academy. The Dolphins hope that he will be able to develop into a route runner and be used in the slot. His senior year, he set numerous Naval Academy records as he led Navy’s triple option offense to an 11-2 record and another win over Army. Perry rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 21 rushing touchdowns while also throwing for seven.

Malcolm Perry 2019 Navy Highlights

www.youtube.com

Malcolm Perry 2019 Navy Highlights

For those of you wondering about his service commitment, the rules are different than what they used to be. Defense Secretary Donald Esper announced in November 2019 that service academy cadets and midshipmen could either defer their military service or pay pack the cost of tuition if they were drafted in a professional sports draft.

Perry comes from a military family. Both his parents served in the 101st Airborne division and are Gulf War veterans. Perry grew up an Army brat and always thought about enlisting but never gave thought to going to a service academy, especially the one in Annapolis.

“Growing up, I thought being in the military was the coolest thing,” he said. “I just always figured I would enlist, though I didn’t know much about the academies themselves.” But Perry’s athleticism in high school bought him the attention of both the Navy and Air Force Academies and he ended up going Navy.

ESPN had cameras in Perry’s house (as with most notable draft prospects) because of the virtual nature of the 2020 NFL Draft due to the coronavirus outbreak. It is awesome they did because, we can see Perry and his family’s reaction to him being taken. Those Army parents look really nice in Navy gear, don’t they?

Here it is! Congrats #malcolmperry and family – and @MiamiDolphins!!pic.twitter.com/QzKRYssuUp

twitter.com

popular

These badass Marines held off an entire Viet Cong battalion

In the summer of 1966 the United States was ramping up operations in Vietnam. For the Marines of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, this meant deep infiltration and reconnaissance into the Que Son Valley.

Dubbed Operation Kansas, the recon teams moved deep into enemy-held territory to observe and strike at the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong operating in the area.


This mostly consisted of calling for artillery or air support to take out small concentrations of enemy fighters. When larger groups were observed, they were dealt with by calling in reinforcements in the form of Marine rifle companies and battalions.

There was little intention of the recon Marines making direct contact.

Thus, 18 Marines from Team 2, C Company, 1st Recon inserted onto Hill 488 to begin their observation mission.

The team was led by Staff Sgt. Jimmie E. Howard. Howard had enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1950 and was assigned to the 1st Marine Regiment in Korea.

While serving as the forward observer to the regimental mortar company in 1952, Howard was awarded a Silver Star and two Purple Hearts while defending outposts along the Main Line of Resistance.

After his tour in Korea, Howard stayed in the Marine Corps and entered Marine Reconnaissance. In early 1966 he returned to combat in Vietnam, leading a platoon of Reconnaissance Marines.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
Jimmie E. Howard was a Staff Sergeant when he led the defense of His 488. (U.S. Marine Corps)

On the night of June 13, 1966, Operation Kansas began with the insertion of numerous recon teams into the Que Son Valley. Team 2 on Hill 488 quickly set up positions to observe the valley. Over the course of the next two days, the recon teams disrupted enemy activity with air and artillery strikes. Howard and his team were doing so well that they turned down an offer to be extracted in order to remain one more day.

Unfortunately, the accuracy and effectiveness of the firepower Howard’s team brought to bear also served to alert the Viet Cong that these were not simply random attacks; they were being watched. The enemy had also surmised that the observation must be coming from Hill 488. Alerted that a Viet Cong battalion of approximately 200-250 men was heading their way, the Marines prepared to defend themselves.

As the Marines waited for the inevitable, the Viet Cong were creeping up the hill toward the Marine positions. Howard had ordered his men to pull back to a rocky knoll at the top of the hill the moment contact was made. Under the cover of darkness, the first Viet Cong made it to within 20 feet of the Marine perimeter. The first shots from the Marine defenders rang out. Under a hail of gunfire and grenades, the Marines fell back to the final defensive position.

The Marines took casualties almost instantly but they responded with determined resistance. Grenades and mortars rained down on their position as heavy machine gun and rifle fire covered the advance of the attackers. But the Marines mowed down the first wave of attackers and blunted the advance. The remaining enemy took a more cautious approach and searched for an opening.

Howard used the brief lull in fire to call for extraction. Before help could arrive, the Viet Cong mounted another determined charge to take the hill but were again driven back. By this time the Marines were out of grenades, running low on ammunition, and all eighteen had been wounded or killed. But there was still more fighting to do.

US Air Force

After some three hours of fighting, air support arrived overhead. As Air Force planes dropped flares to illuminate the valley, gunships and fighters made strafing runs. They dropped napalm on the advancing enemy. To say the air support was danger-close would be an understatement. Despite the air attack, the enemy was persistent and continued to charge the hill.

At one point the Viet Cong began yelling at the Marines, taunting them. The young Marines of the recon team looked to Howard who gave them the go-ahead to yell back.

Then, with the enemy still shouting taunts, the remaining Marines literally looked death in the face and laughed their heads off. The whole team joined in a chorus of laughter that silenced the Viet Cong.

The Viet Cong came again.

With the enemy still probing their lines, the beleaguered Marines relied on their expert marksmanship and a little trickery to even the odds. Out of grenades, the Marines would watch for movement and then hurl a rock at the enemy.

Intending to escape the impending explosion the Viet Cong would expose their position. Then with deadly accuracy the Marines would take a single shot, conserving ammunition and racking up the body count.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
Two UH-1s were shot down by the Viet Cong forces during medevac and air support attempts. (U.S. Army)

A rescue attempt at dawn resulted in one lost helicopter, with a medevac waved off due to the intense fire. Eventually it was decided to bring in a Marine infantry company to clear the hill and allow the recon team to be pulled out. Reportedly there remained only eight rounds of ammunition between the survivors; the rest had picked up enemy weapons.

Howard’s steadfast leadership and cool under fire during the battle for Hill 488 earned him the Medal of Honor. He was also awarded a Purple Heart, along with every other member of the team. Thirteen members of the team were awarded the Silver Star for their bravery. The remaining four members of the team received the Navy Cross. Six of the Marines of Team 2 received their awards posthumously. The recon platoon was the most decorated unit for its size ever in the history of the American military.

Lists

4 ways nicknames in the military are nothing like in pop culture

Movies would have you believe that every unit has a guy nicknamed “Hawkeye” or “Snake” or some other generic, tough name. As fun as films and video games make those monikers seem, it just doesn’t work that way in real life.

In actuality, nicknames fall into one of four categories: Either the troop is a freakin’ legend, it’s the unit’s name plus a number or letter, it’s just a shortened version of their last name, or it’s an insult in disguise.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://assets.rbl.ms/17941332/980x.jpg image-library=”0″ pin_description=”” caption=”Unless you’re a BAMF, don’t expect an awesome one.” crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//assets.rbl.ms/17941332/980x.jpg%22%7D” alt=”saint mattis of quantico” expand=1 photo_credit=”(OAF Nation)”] (OAF Nation)


The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus

Even with all of The Punisher swag that Chris Kyle wore, he never insisted that anyone call him “The Punisher” — even if he was one of the few people on Earth worthy of that title.

The legends

Let’s kick this list off with the freakin’ legends. Take Secretary of Defense James “Warrior Monk” Mattis for example. He’s a highly revered military mind within the U.S. Armed Forces and his nickname reflects that.

As is the case with most nicknames, they’re typically invented and popularized by others — not by the legends themselves. These nicknames are even more intimidating when they’re created by the enemy. Chris “the Legend” Kyle, for example, was known as “Al-Shaitan Ramad,” which translates into “the Devil of Ramadi.”

The reason why both Kyle and Mattis have such badass nicknames is because they earned them.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus

Why, yes. They do call me “Romeo” for a reason…

(Photo by Cpl. Charles Santamaria)

Call signs

People often confuse nicknames with call signs, so let’s hash the difference right now. Call signs are official unit designations given to members of the chain of command. Sometimes, a call sign will become more familiar than your own name.

If you’re, let’s say, the company commander of the alpha company “Spartans,” you’ll get the designation of “Spartan 6.” The XO gets “Spartan 5,” Senior Enlisted gets “Spartan 7,” and so on. Drivers, gunners, and radio operators can swap out the number designation for D, G, and R, respectively.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus

“Hey, Ski!” “…which one?”

(Photo by Sgt. Lauren Harrah)

Butchered last name

The next nickname variation is especially terrible if your last name is anything outside of the standard, common English name. Unless you’re a “Smith” or a “Brown” or a “Johnson,” no one is going to try to pronounce what’s on your name tape — no matter how phonetically simple it may seem.

A whole nine letters broken into three syllables — you know, something simple like Milzarski (pronounced Mil-zar-ski) is too complicated. So, most will just shorten it to “Ski.” Good luck if there’s more than one Polish troop in the squad. Not that I’m ranting or anything…

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus

If it’s dumb and it sounds like an insult, don’t take it personally. It’s meant with brotherly love.

(U.S. Army)

Remember when you screwed up?

The most common way to get yourself a nickname of your very own is to f*ck up. Don’t worry if it’s not a record-shattering mistake — people will constantly remind you of what you did. It’s not pleasant and it’s usually a way to rib one another, but you don’t want to be known as “Fumbles” by everyone.

Don’t worry if you get one of these dumb names. It’ll pass as soon as you PCS or ETS.

MIGHTY MOVIES

How Carrie Fisher’s daughter helped play Princess Leia

In addition to playing a Resistance lieutenant, Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd had a special second role in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

Lourd stepped in to play Princess Leia during the short flashback scene in “Episode IX.”

“Billie was playing her mother,” Industrial Lights & Magic visual effects supervisor Patrick Tubach told Yahoo Entertainment. “It was a poignant thing, and something that nobody took lightly — that she was willing to stand in for her mom.”


During the scene, a young Luke Skywalker, who is played by Mark Hamill, is training his sister to be a Jedi. At one point, both of them take off helmets to show their younger faces. For a few moments, you’re seeing Lourd combined with images of Fisher from “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi.”

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus

Here’s a reference of how Leia looks in most of “Return of the Jedi.” The look is reminiscent of how we see her in the new film.

(Lucasfilm)

“If you’re going to have someone play [Fisher’s] part, it’s great that it’s [Billie] because there are a lot of similarities between them that we were able to draw from,” added Tubach. “The real challenge was just making the Leia footage we had to work with fit in that scene.”

The ILM team told Insider that bringing Fisher back was “a gigantic puzzle.” The team utilized previously unused footage from director J.J. Abrams’ “The Force Awakens” to help bring her to life.

“When you see Leia in ‘Episode IX,’ basically it’s a live-action element of her face with a completely digital character,” visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett told Insider.

This article originally appeared on Insider. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

Read more:

MIGHTY TRENDING

Vincent Jackson, NFL Pro Bowler and military advocate dies

The news Vincent Jackson, three-time Pro Bowler, passed away has been tough to bear. A fan favorite both in San Diego where he played for the Chargers and in Tampa Bay where he played for the Buccaneers, Jackson electrified NFL fans with his catching skills and athletic ability.  He finished with over 9,000 yard receiving and 57 touchdowns. He had over 1,000 yards in a season six times.

Beyond that, Jackson had deep ties to the military that go back to his family. Because of those roots, after his career was over, he was heavily involved in supporting the military community.

Vincent Jackson
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Image by Jeffrey Beall

The Buccaneers released a statement stating, “We are shocked and saddened to hear the terrible news regarding the loss of Vincent Jackson. During his five seasons with our franchise, Vincent was a consummate professional, who took a great deal of pride in his performance on and off the field. Vincent was a dedicated father, husband, businessman and philanthropist, who made a deep impact on our community through his unyielding advocacy for military families.”

Jackson was born to military parents in Colorado Springs. Growing up he excelled at football and basketball but also academically. He turned down Columbia University so he could play both sports in college. Enrolling at the University of Northern Colorado, Jackson became a standout wide receiver and caught the eye of NFL scouts. 

In 2005, he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the second round. Over the next seven seasons, he would develop into a favorite target for quarterback Philip Rivers. In 2011, after a contract dispute with the Chargers, Jackson ended up on the opposite side of the country in Tampa Bay. 

He proved just as productive there, until injuries ultimately ended his career.  

Both San Diego and Tampa Bay proved to be ideal for Jackson, not just on the field but off. Jackson, being from a military family had a passion to help those who served and their families as well. Both communities have a heavy military presence and Jackson used his star power to ensure that he did everything he could to advocate and help them. 

How so? Here are a few amazing ways that Jackson served the military community. 

Jackson was a recipient of the Salute to Service award presented by USAA in 2016 because of the work he did in the community. Jackson sponsored military families at every Buccaneers home game.  He arranged for military members and their families to sit in the Front Row Fans section at Raymond James Stadium. He visited troops overseas and helped a Marine veteran get his home fixed after a disaster. 

A signed helmet of Jackson’s. Image via Flickr.

Jackson started a non-profit called Jackson in Action 83 Foundation. He organized annual baby showers for groups of local military moms. The annual “Military Moms Baby Shower” event was held in Tampa where expectant military mothers were surprised with free supplies. 

Over the seven years, local military families received more than $500,000 in products and services.

Jackson wrote, “Danny DogTags” children’s books, dealing with common issues for children in military families. The book was partly inspired by Jackson’s own life as a military brat. It was a book to give guidance to military children who moved around a lot because of their parents changing duty stations.  On growing up in the military, Jackson said, “It’s part of the military lifestyle of just picking up and going to a new state and new school. It’s not the easiest thing to go through, but it was a part of building my resilience and my ability to adapt, and adjust, in different, challenging environments.”

These are but a few of the countless ways Jackson supported the military.  Many talk the talk, but he walked the walk.

Rest Easy 83. See some of the highlights of his career below.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This South Korean howitzer can bring the thunder if Pyongyang attacks

One of the biggest threats North Korea poses is not measured in a few nukes on a few dozen ballistic missiles. We get it that nukes can do a lot of bad stuff, and the consequences of their use can be downright horrific. But they aren’t the only game in town.


In fact, one of North Korea’s deadliest threats are regular old howitzers.

To be honest, we’re talking lots and lots of howitzers. A veritable horde of howitzers, in fact. Try close to 8,000, according to GlobalSecurity.org. However, South Korea has not been idle in the howitzer field.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
A 46-ton K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer with its 155mm gun raised. (Wikimedia Commons)

According to Hanwha Defense Systems, the South Korean military has been using the K9 self-propelled howitzer. This vehicle carries a 155mm howitzer that has a range of about 25 miles that can fire up to eight rounds a minute, including a burst of three rounds in 15 seconds.

But the firepower isn’t all this is about. The K9 is also able to scoot – able to dash at just under 42 miles per hour and go as far as 223 miles on one tank of gas. The crew of five is able to start shooting within 30 seconds, and they have 48 rounds on board. The vehicle can be quickly resupplied by the K10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle, which can reload the K9 in just under 18 minutes.

The story behind the Frecce Tricolori video that has become the symbol of Italy’s battle against coronavirus
The K10 Ammunition Resupply Vehicle. (Wikimedia Commons)

It can take punishment, too. Its armor protects the crew from 14.5mm machine gun fire and fragments from 152mm artillery shells. According to GlobalSecurity.org, over 1,100 of these self-propelled guns are in South Korean service.

The K9 has also secured an export buyer in Turkey, which is acquiring 300 of these guns. In short, this gun will potentially see action on both sides of the continent of Asia.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information