The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope - We Are The Mighty
Articles

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope

The poet Dylan Thomas once wrote “Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight…” To many, that means people who have faced death have seen what’s most important in life, but for myriad reasons too many veteran experiences are left out of the history books, lost in the annals of time.


Also Read: Phil Klay Is The First Ever Iraq War Veteran To Win The National Book Award For Fiction 

The Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) is an amazing medium for the men and women of days gone by to share what those days were like. Those who survived the world wars have mostly gone on to live long, full lives. Given the proper forum, they enjoy looking back and from their recollections important lessons emerge.

Here are some of the best recollections and advice from the AMA forum.  While they share their stories, they also share their advice for not going gentle into that good night.

1. Tom, an 88-year-old World War II veteran who received a Purple Heart and helped liberate Rome:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“War is hell. Bring our boys back from the Middle East.”

“The younger generation [who aren’t veterans] has a hard time appreciating the rigors of war because we have an all-volunteer military.”

“The German soldier was a brilliant soldier.”

 2. A 91-year-old pilot and former POW:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“We were a generation strained in a very specific way. The depression had a huge influence on my life and still plays a role in who I am. I think people were more prepared for hardship back then than they are today. That being said, some of the service members today have been at war for over ten years. And they are volunteers. We were not tested like that.”

3. A 94-year-old Bataan Death March Survivor:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“Just be a simple soldier. Don’t lazy, sleepy or aggressive. Follow the orders of the day.”

“I never met the guards or saw them again, but I forgive them.”

“The worst thing was the death march itself and then the food in the camp. Just rice and salt. We used to try and get the leaves of edible plants and cook it. Some people were so hungry they would sweep up grasshoppers and eat it.”

“I only know that what I fought for was justified.”

“Have plenty of rest, sleep well, and eat everything that is given to you.”

4. Don McQuinn, an 84-year-old Korea and Vietnam Veteran:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“Somebody asked earlier about what did you take away from the Marine Corps. What I learned is that you can stop me, but you can’t beat me. I’ll be back. And when somebody bets on you like that, all the cards on the table are face up. And I had to succeed. There wasn’t any option. Pretty simple.”

“I appreciate the thanks, it was my privilege to serve.”

“The toughest were the Chinese. The nastiest were the North Koreans. The most dogged were the Vietnamese.”

” Vietnam was the hardest. Going away. No definition of ‘the enemy.’ Incredible misunderstanding by the American public and press.”

5. Michael Mirson, 94-year old Soviet soldier, captured by the Nazis, Escaped to the United States:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“I believe in working hard and honesty.”

 “In the Soviet army, they were very poor. Very little food, the boots were poor, and the discipline was not good. We walked in the Caucasus Mountains with blisters on your feet. You could barely walk, and had to go so slow. Officers on horseback would come by with a whip and say “comrade, you’re walking too slow, you must walk fast. You must walk fast for this country and for Stalin.” Once someone fought back against an officer, and was shot. This scared us into keep walking, no matter what.”

“I really learned how to survive. I truly learned how to take care of myself and others. I always tried to help my friends. I learned how to come together to help people, and how other people can help you.”

“It just always seems to be the same story, the fighting story. When people lived in caves, they fought with stones. Now they fight with planes and drones.”

6. Hubert Buchanan, Vietnam POW in Hanoi Hilton who returned to Vietnam meet his captor years later:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“In hindsight it was unwise to get involved in Vietnam, but given that time and history it was understandable that the U.S. got involved. As for Afghanistan and Iraq, I think it was a bad idea to get involved at all.”

“He was just a villager who got the credit for capturing me. It’s illogical to go from the particular to the general. For example, I don’t blame the Vietnamese people. If people were bombing my country I might try to capture the bombers.”

“He was very excited to see me, and it turns out he received a certificate from the government that said something like “village hero” … all in all, it was a “war is war” type of encounter.”

When asked if the Vietnamese were skilled fighter pilots: “I was shot down by a Vietnamese fighter pilot. What does that tell you?”

7. Norm, a 97-year-old ANZAC WWII Veteran, Fought at Papua New Guinea:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“I just want to be able to help people and see the smiles on their faces when the job is finished. Having something to do each day keeps me going.”

“Have respect for your elders, be honest, talk to people who have good manners and treat everyone as you would like to be treated yourself.”

“I couldn’t understand the Japanese at the time. I was offered to go to Japan after the war but I said no. I couldn’t understand the things that the Japanese had done in the war.”

“It was a matter of “if you didn’t get them, they’d get you”. So I didn’t really sympathize with them.”

“It’s been hard to let go.”

“I hope that all wars are finished. I hope they realize that no one gains from war.”

8. Dick Cole, 98-year-old WWII Air Corps Vet and James Doolittle’s Co-Pilot during the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

When asked what he wants for his birthday: “More Time.”

“[Jimmy] Doolittle was a great, great man and I am honored that I was able to serve under him.”

“One quick story most people don’t know is that he has a hunting cabin we would all go meet at. He always insisted on doing the dishes.”

“The hardest part of the Doolittle Raid was Looking at that black hole when we had to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.”

“Most memorable part was when my parachute opened.”

“Just to live your life to the fullest. Enjoy it!”

9. A 92-year-old WWII Veteran From New Zealand:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“Do what you want, eat what you want, drink what you want (he says on his 3rd Whiskey)…pauses…that and 5-7 vegetables every night.”

“The Japanese were doing the job they were told to do. But I didn’t like their cruelty. I felt sorry for the Japanese POWS in a way. They just sat cross-legged in the cages.”

“Easier today…’course they do, they don’t have to sleep on straw sacks!”

10. George, a 98-year-old Navy Chaplain:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“You get so much advice when you have lived as long as I have.”

“I sometimes think that we are the biggest threat to ourselves because of the foolish things we do. There is no ruler anywhere that has any control over good or evil. They all do what they think is best for them in the long run.”

“Always help people, however you can.”

11. Harry Snyder, a WWII Normandy and Battle of the Bulge Veteran:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“The average German soldier was like the average person. If he was captured, I could talk to him. They seemed like ordinary people you could find anywhere. The SS were the bad guys, the real killers. They were responsible for the death camps and the killing of innocent people. You couldn’t interact with them… you treated them like dirt.”

“She’s a great cook. You can’t go wrong for that, marry a great cook.”

“When we are attacked without provocation, either militarily or by terrorists. Then I think then we are justified to go to war.”

“When the war in Europe ended, we were going to be sent to Japan. Not to occupy, but to invade. Then, President Harry S. Truman dropped the bomb. Thank God for the other Harry. He saved a lot of us from going over there. I didn’t feel bad for the Japanese; I feel they got what they deserved. The President saved a lot of us from getting killed.”

12.  Vic, a 93-year-old WWII Marine Corps Pilot:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“Peanut butter. Just keep eating peanut butter. There’s good health in eating peanut butter.”

“Time spent eating doesn’t count against time spent living, so the slower you eat the longer you live.”

“They shoot at us, and we gotta shoot at you.”

“Whatever you’re gonna do, be prepared to do it. Learn your lessons and what they teach you, whether flying or economics. Just pay attention and be prepared.”

13. Gerald Booken, a 102-year-old WWII veteran:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“At the time we felt that [the atomic bomb] was the thing we had to do to end the war, but afterward it was a dreadful thing because it did so much damage to the Japanese people.”

“Listen. Getting old is not the greatest thing in the world. There is nothing to look forward to. It is not a happy situation. That’s what I miss… the good old days.”

14. A WWII Veteran who helped liberate the Dachau Concentration Camp:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“One of the men in my 6-man squad was named Giudice, and he was Jewish. He didn’t say a lot, but you could tell what he was thinking.”

“We have no business being in many of the wars we’re in. We’re not going to change anything.”

“I don’t like the quacks who say it never happened.”

15. An 88-year-old WWII Combat Photographer:

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
(via Reddit)

“I hold no ill will toward Germans or Japanese. They’re great people.”

“Any war that followed after WWII I don’t agree with.”

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

This powerful vodka will bring genuine clarity to your veteran spirit

‘Tis the season for the giving of gifts. ‘Tis also the season of FOMUG (Fear of Messed-Up Gifting). We get it. It’s hard out there for an elf. Team WATM would like to offer you some guidance.


For your Secret Santa 007:

~ a bottle of premium, military-grade vodka ~

Would it be a gross generalization to say that military… uhhhh…”spiritual” preferences tend to run toward the darker-colored varieties–the bourbons? The scotches? The whiskeys? And, failing whiskey, beer? Without question, most of the veteran entrepreneurs we’ve met who operate in the alcoholic beverage sector are almost single-mindedly focused on bringing either whiskey or beer to market.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
USMC Veteran Travis McVey, founder of Heroes Vodka, in 2009. This photo might be blurry, but their mission is clear. (Photo from Heidelberg Distributing YouTube)

Marine Corps veteran and former Presidential Honor Guard Travis McVey is happy to be the exception to that rule. After the combat fatality of a close friend in Afghanistan, McVey opted for clarity over darkness and murk. He started a vodka company.

“Vodka, you make today and sell tomorrow. You don’t have to age it. It’s gender neutral. It’s seasonless. And it outsells all the other spirits combined.”

If that sounds unsentimentally strategic as a description of one’s central product, McVey would counter by pointing to his label and to the millions of servicemembers’ stories that anchor it. Heroes Vodka is all about sentiment where it counts. The brand is dedicated to the brave men and women who protect the country, at home and abroad.

 

A portion of every sale goes directly to AMVETS, Operation Stand Down, and other organizations in support of community assistance programs for American veterans, active duty military, and their families. To date, McVey has donated more than $60,000, but most important is the message the brand projects.  Etched into the company’s DNA and broadcast to the world with every nightly news profile, tasting award, and Instagram post, a single message is clear:

 

We Are The Mighty couldn’t say it better or agree more.

The 2017 We Are The Mighty Holiday Gift Guide is sponsored by Propper, a tactical apparel and gear company dedicated to equipping those who commit their lives to serving others. All views are our own.

Speaking of Propper, they’re giving away twelve tactical packs filled with gear from our Holiday Gift Guide. Click this link to enter.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
popular

This top secret Green Beret unit quietly won the Cold War

Berlin was a dangerous place during the Cold War. A preserved piece of the Wall containing a mural memorializing 146 Germans killed trying to escape communism stands in stark testament.


As the grand central station of East-West espionage, the city was a playground for all sorts of secret agents. And its place in the history of the 20th century far outweighs its size. Indeed, 37 percent of Americans viewed the fall of the Berlin Wall as the single most important event of the 1980s.

That Wall came down after 28 years because Americans in uniform stood as a barrier to Soviet aggression. The vast majority of those GIs were clearly visible. But a small contingent operated behind the scenes, not even acknowledged until long after the Cold War ended. Only this year were they fully and publicly recognized.

Born in the Mid-’50s

Though the Status-of-Forces Agreement signed by all four powers occupying Berlin prohibited elite forces, each country had its own prowling the city. It was 10 years after WWII ended, however, before the U.S. had such a unit formally in place there.

In August 1956, the elite 10th Special Forces Group, based in Bad Tolz, Germany, stationed the secretive 7781 Army Unit (also known as the 39th Special Forces Operational Detachment) in West Berlin. It consisted of six modified detachments that became part of the Headquarters Company of the 6th Infantry Regiment. Each team had six members.

Two years later, the unit was renamed Detachment A and assigned to the Headquarters Company of the U.S. Army Garrison, Berlin. Then in April 1962, it was attached to the Berlin Brigade. Its area of operations was primarily that city, but it could undertake missions elsewhere in Europe.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Top secret spy photos taken by Det-A in the early ’60s showing detail of the Berlin Wall. (Photo: Bob Charest)

“Detachment A was literally in the eye of the Cold War hurricane,” said Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. As an unconventional and classified outfit of 90 men (a normal tour of duty was three years), Detachment A carried out clandestine operations.

Originally operating in small cells, by the late 1960s it expanded to 12-man “A” teams. Unit members were as unique as the U.S. Army ever recruited. Many were German or East European refugees who still had families trapped behind the Iron Curtain. In the early years, a significant number were WWII vets, too. Hence they brought much-needed skills along with knowledge of other nations and languages to the unit.

Training and tools of the trade

Physical training was wide-ranging and progressively intense. For instance, winter warfare training in Bavaria consisted of downhill and cross-country skiing equivalent to extreme skiing. Specialized demolition training was required for various targets in Berlin. Some teammates attended the CIA’s specialized demo course at Harvey Point, N.C. Scuba diving was another required skill.

Every month, members made parachute jumps staging out of Tempelhof Air Base in Berlin. Detachment A participated in NATO escape and evasion exercises. Exercises exclusive to Berlin included dead drops, live drops, primary meetings, surveillance and communications. Team members trained with the elite West German Federal Border Guard and Border Protection Group 9, British Special Air Service and special police units.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
The Det A boys ready to go all cloak and dagger circa ’72. (Photo: Bob Charest)

 

But they also taught an urban course to other 10th SFG personnel, as well as SEAL Team 2 based on Crete. As masters of spy craft, team members carried items reminiscent of a James Bond movie.

Coal filled with C-4 explosives was used to potentially sabotage the rail ring surrounding Berlin. Oneshot cigarette-lighter guns, vials filled with metal shavings for destruction of turbines and noise-suppressed weapons for eliminating targets were all part of the arsenal. The German Walther MPK 9mm SMG that fit in a briefcase was the weapon of choice.

All scuba gear was German-made, including the one-man portable decompression chamber. Every member spoke fluent German and dressed mostly in authentic German civilian clothes. They sometimes carried non-American flash documentation and identification. Dual passports, or dual nationalities, were part of the deception.

Adversaries in this potentially deadly game of cat and mouse included the notorious East German Secret Police (Stasi), Soviet KGB (Committee for State Security) and even Spetsnaz (Russian Special Purpose Forces). Being vigilant of Soviet surveillance was a given. The KGB had members under constant watch and possessed dossiers on everyone in Detachment A. Yet the Green Berets always deceived their adversaries into believing they were an exponentially larger force than they really were.

Mission

During the mid-1970s, the unit’s mission began to evolve. Though the classic Cold War enemy always remained, a new one reared its ugly head in the form of terrorism. The lethal Red Army Faction —a rabid Marxist group targeting the U.S. military starting in 1972—came into play, killing six GIs in all. That meant being prepared to take on terrorists with snipers and SWAT tactics.

“They were very brave men and took on some tough missions,” recalled Sidney Shachnow, who led Detachment A from 1970 to 1974. Still, the Soviet threat hovered over the divided city. In 1978, the unit was tasked by the CIA with digging up several mission sites positioned throughout Berlin for stay-behind operations. Also, to maintain the equipment in them— weapons and demolitions, for example.

In April of 1980 Detachment ‘A’ participated in “Operation Eagle Claw,” the attempt to end the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 diplomats held captive at the United States Embassy and the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran, Iran. Det-A’s portion of the mission was code-named “Storm Cloud.”

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Patch for Operation Storm Cloud. (Courtesy: Bob Charest)

Detachment ‘A’ was responsible for the pre-mission reconnaissance of the targets by successfully infiltrating a team into Tehran on several occasions and contributed an element to rescue three hostages held in the MFA.

When the first mission was aborted because of a crash involving a C-130 and a CH-53 in the middle of the Iranian desert, a second attempt was planned for later that year. That was cancelled when negotiations proved successful.

Four years later the mission of this unique outfit was deemed unnecessary even though the Cold War was far from over. At the end of 1984, Detachment A was disbanded.

“I knew when I closed the door,” said Eugene Piasecki, the detachment’s last commander, “I would no longer serve in a unit like that.”

Bob Charest, a retired Army master sergeant, served with Detachment A from 1969 to 1972 and 1973 to 1978.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Major advances occurring in traumatic brain injury care for veterans

New developments in traumatic brain injury prevention, diagnosis and treatment are certain to improve patient health among Soldiers, as well as improve Army readiness, said Tracie Lattimore, director of the Army’s Traumatic Brain Injury program within the Office of the Army Surgeon General.


Lattimore said that new tests for assessing TBI are available this year. One such test allows providers to determine if a patient’s eyes are tracking properly, and helps patients indicate if they are experiencing double vision or an increase of other symptoms. The test can determine whether or not “oculomotor dysfunction” is present, Lattimore said.

Oculomotor dysfunction, which involves the eye’s inability to locate and fixate on objects in the field of vision, occurs in 40 to 60 percent of TBI cases, Lattimore said.

Also of benefit to providers and their patients are two new FDA-approved devices, including one called “BrainScope” and another called “InfraScan,” Lattimore said.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Capt. Robert Jacoby, right, and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Raymond Bedard, from Expeditionary Resuscitative Surgical System 19, prepare medical supplies aboard Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Cardigan Bay. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin J. Steinberg/Released)

BrainScope measures and analyzes the brain’s electrical activity to aid in the evaluation of patients who are being considered for a head CT scan (to detect bleeding in a closed head injury). The BrainScope device is portable and rugged, and can be used in a variety of militarily-relevant scenarios. Lattimore said she is hopeful the devices can be distributed more broadly in the near future.

InfraScan uses near-infrared spectroscopy to detect potential brain bleeds, and is also meant for use in patients who are being considered for a head CT scan.

PREVENTION

Lattimore said a study of concussions among college athletes, including some at military academies, is gathering interesting data on TBI prevention.

The study, which is still producing information, indicates that someone who experienced TBI often had one or more sub-concussive hits in the hours or days leading up to the hit that resulted in concussion, Lattimore said. This indicates that those smaller hits had a cumulative effect.

The study is an effort between the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Department of Defense Grand Alliance.

Another interesting finding from the study was that in 2002, concussed players were returned to play after a few days, and then experienced a more severe concussion just 5.2 days after the first concussion, Lattimore said.

Now, the NCAA keeps players out of the game until they are symptom-free — on average, 12 to 14 days after the first concussion.

Also Read: Helmets just got new technology to protect your brains

With this increased recovery time after concussion, the average athlete did not experience a second concussion until 72 days after the first, and it was much less severe than the second concussion experienced by athletes in the 2002 study.

“This study validates the DOD’s hallmark policy for concussion management in deployed settings, which beginning in 2010 removed Soldiers who sustained a concussion from duty until symptom-free,” Lattimore said.

Lattimore said the study demonstrates that if a Soldier is removed from training or the war fight for an adequate recovery time, it results in an optimized capability when he or she is returned, while likely reducing the frequency and severity of additional injuries.

“That message needs to be communicated, not just to medical personnel, but to every Army leader,” Lattimore said.

TREATMENT

The standard concussion treatment, from 2008 to 2016, had been informally called “cocooning,” Lattimore said. The treatment required patients to not exert themselves physically or mentally, to not watch TV, to not exercise, and to get plenty of sleep until they recovered.

Medical professionals now understand that cocooning is the wrong approach, Lattimore said.

After reviewing literature and patient experiences over the last four-to-five years, it was found that the only activities that must be limited are those that exacerbate symptoms, she said.

The DOD started moving in this direction with the release of the progressive return to activity guideline for concussed patients, Lattimore said. However, the evidence has grown even stronger for this model since its release.

After 24 to 48 hours of rest, Lattimore said, patients should be encouraged to be active, as long as the specific activity does not put them at risk for another head injury or provoke their symptoms.

“This is an enormous paradigm shift from the ‘cocoon care’ model,” she said.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Cary Chase lifts a set of dumbbells during a workout in the gym aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard while underway in the Pacific Ocean, Aug. 27, 2017. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jonah Baase

With oculomotor dysfunction, it’s now understood that rest will not resolve symptoms. Instead, effective treatment for oculomotor dysfunction often involves practicing muscle memory under the guidance of a physical or occupational therapist, Lattimore said.

If the patient fails the pen test, for instance, he or she might respond to another sensory input, such as an acoustic clicker attached to the end of a pen.

Many of the advances in TBI prevention, diagnosis and treatment, Lattimore said, are so new that the Army is just now finishing up the process of evaluating how best to incorporate them into assessment protocols.

Many Army medical personnel are not yet aware of the developments, she said. However by the end of this year, she said that updated tools and training will be available to push the information out across the Army.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything you need to know about the Army’s ‘third arm’

When engineers from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory brainstormed on how to improve soldier lethality, the idea of a third arm seemed like something that might help.

Mechanical engineer Dan Baechle carefully planned out a device that doesn’t need batteries, is lightweight and can evenly distribute the load of a heavy weapon.

“It can help stabilize the weapon and take the load off of their arms,” he said. “It’s made from composite materials to make it as light as possible, but also to ensure the range of motion that soldiers need.”

The device, officially called the Third Arm helps take the weight of the weapons off of a soldiers’ arms. It weighs less than four pounds, and because of the innovative design, the weight of the device and the weapon are evenly distributed.

“We’ve actually tested it with the M249 and M240B machines guns. The M240B weighs 27 pounds, and we were able to show that you can take the weight of that weapon completely off of the soldiers’ arms,” Baechle said.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Army researcher Dan Baechle (right) briefs Sgt. Michael Zamora on how to use the Third Arm exoskeleton device from the Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
(U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

Soldiers testing the device pointed out that initial versions didn’t make it possible for them to use the device and go into the prone position. But that’s not an issue with the current version.

At a recent test with a soldier at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain site at APG, a sergeant wore the device with an M-4 type weapon and dove into a prone fighting position from a sprint. The Third Arm provided immediate stabilization to improve marksmanship for the soldier.

“Right now it’s a prototype device, and it’s a fairly early stage prototype device,” Baechle said. “It’s been getting a lot of interest higher up in the Army, but also online with some of the stories that have come out. We’re using some of the interest to help motivate further development of the device.”



Baechle said that the Army modernization priorities include “soldier lethality that spans all fundamentals — shooting, moving, communicating, protecting and sustaining.” Further documentation specifically mentions the fielding of “load-bearing exoskeletons.”

“It falls in line with the direction that the Army wants to be heading in the future,” Baechle said. “We get comments from Soldiers who tell us different things about the way it feels on their body … about the way it redistributes the load. Some like it, some give us tips about the ways it could be improved, and we’re using that input to improve the device and improve the design so that it not only works well, but it also feels good.”

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Army Sgt. Michael Zamora assumes a prone fighting position using a prototype Third Arm exoskeleton device during testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, March 14, 2018.
(U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

In 2017, the lab conducted a small pilot study of active-duty troops using Third Arm in live-fire trials. The results showed the device can improve marksmanship, reduce arm fatigue and muscle activation for some soldiers.

“We’re using that small study to motivate a larger study this year with more soldiers taking a look at dynamics, shooting scenarios,” Baechle said. “We’re still refining the device. We’re starting to look at heavier weapons.”

Baechle stressed that what you see now may not be what gets to future soldiers.

“What we have right now is a very specific device, but we can learn from that device,” he said. “I hope in the future what we’ll end up with is something that will help the soldier. Whether or not it’s in the form you see today, that’s less important. Helping the soldier is what I really hope for. I think this year is really going to be a good one and an important one in showing what this device can do.”


The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

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

Articles

Air Force approves incentive pay for airmen in Turkey

The Air Force recently approved incentive pay for Airmen assigned to Turkey, just months after a military coup prompted defense officials to suspend accompanied deployments there. The Pentagon had ordered Air Force dependents out of the country in March.


According to the Air Force Times, unaccompanied tours to Turkey will be reduced from 15 months to 12 months. Airmen will be given the option to extend their tours from 12 to 24 months with an incentive pay of $300 per month.

Air Force Personnel Command says that Airmen must apply for Turkey Assignment Incentive Pay either prior to leaving their current duty station, within 30 days of arriving in Turkey, or “during their date eligible for return overseas forecast and initial vulnerable to move list windows.”

Airmen who have been in Turkey over 30 days may elect to extend their date eligible for return overseas, or DEROS, for 24 months past their current DEROS. Airmen who elect to accept Turkey Assignment Incentive Pay under these conditions will begin to collect the incentive pay on the first month of the 24 month extension, the service said.

All other Airmen who are eligible for Turkey Assignment Incentive Pay, and accept it, will serve 24 months in Turkey and will begin receiving the incentive pay upon arrival in country.

The Air Force Times reports that civilians previously assigned in Turkey will automatically have their tours reduced from 24 months to 12 months, unless an extension is approved by the U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander.

Turkey, a NATO ally, has seen civil unrest progress in recent years, with terror attacks and a failed coup in July. The country is host to a key airbase at Incirlik, which is critical to the coalition fight against Islamic State terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

The Air Force Times reports that Airmen who find that this recent change in tour requirements presents a hardship for them may request a “home-base or follow-on assignment” and that the Air Force will consider cancellation requests on a case-by-case basis.

The changes to Turkey assignments do not impact personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy or Security Cooperation Organizations in Turkey.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Gen. Kelly’s response to a lawmaker who called him a ‘disgrace to the uniform’ is priceless

White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly issued a stinging response to Democrat Rep. Luis Gutierrez, after the Illinois lawmaker said Kelly’s position on DACA qualified him as a “disgrace to the uniform he used to wear.”


“As far as the congressman and other irresponsible members of congress are concerned, they have the luxury of saying what they want as they do nothing and have almost no responsibility,” Kelly told Fox News Sept. 10. “They can call people liars but it would be inappropriate for me to say the same thing back at them. As my blessed mother used to say ’empty barrels make the most noise.'”

Gutierrez attacked Kelly in early September for serving the Trump administration as it moves to phase out the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
USMC photo by Sgt. Zachary Mott.

“General Kelly is a hypocrite who is a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear. He has no honor and should be drummed out of the White House along with the white supremacists and those enabling the President’s actions by ‘just following orders,'” Gutierrez said in a statement issued hours after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA will be phased out.

The DACA program, implemented through executive action in 2012, protects roughly 800,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children from deportation and provides temporary work visas for those who qualify.

Kelly defended the administration’s decision to roll back the program, suggesting the move was a response to the program’s dubious constitutional status, rather than a personal decision made by Trump.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Democrat Rep. Luis Gutierrez. Photo under public domain.

“Every DOJ and DHS lawyer says DACA is unconstitutional. Every other legal scholar – right and left – says the same thing. Trump didn’t end DACA, the law did. That said, I worked and succeeded to give the congress another six months to do something. I am not confident,” he said.

Gutierrez’s office took issue with Kelly’s characterization of the program’s constitutionality, arguing the program has never been challenged in court.

“The constitutionality of DACA has never been challenged successfully in court and the Department of Homeland Security, which administers the program, certainly never questioned its constitutionality at its inception or while hundreds of thousands signed up for it,” Gutiérrez spokesman Douglas Rivlin told Fox News.

The Trump administration repealed the program under threat of an impending lawsuit from a coalition of conservative state attorneys general. Trump seemed to soften following the announcement, expressing hope that Congress would codify amnesty for Dreamers through legislation before the six month reprieve period expires.

Articles

The day we saved 2,147 POWs from Los Baños Prison

By February 1945, the cruel and inhumane treatment by the Japanese against their enemies was well known. As the Allies liberated the Philippines, the decision was made to attempt a rescue effort at the Cabanatuan Prison.


This rescue, often referred to as the Great Raid, liberated over 500 prisoners from Cabanatuan on Jan. 30, 1945. These prisoners then described their horrific treatment as well as the atrocities of the Bataan Death March.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
POWs interned by the Japanese in the Philippines were malnourished and subject to brutal conditions. (Photo: U.S. Army Signal Corps)

This convinced the Allied commanders to attempt more rescue operations in order to save the lives of those held by the Japanese.  

A plan was quickly drawn up, this time using paratroopers from the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

The target would be the University of the Philippines campus-turned POW camp at Los Baños. There the Japanese were holding over 2,000 Allied personnel, mostly civilians who were caught up in the Japanese onslaught of late 1941.

The plan was divided into four phases.

The first phase involved inserting the 11th Airborne’s divisional reconnaissance platoon along with Filipino guerrillas as guides.

Prior to the attack they would mark the drop zone for the paratroopers and landing beach for the incoming Amtracs. Others from the platoon would attack the sentries and guard posts of the camp in coordination with the landing of the paratroopers.

The second phase consisted of the landing and assault by the paratroopers. These men were from Company B, 1st Battalion, 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment along with the light machine gun platoon from battalion headquarters company. They were led by 1st Lt. John Ringler.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
U.S. paratroopers awaiting orders to jump. (Photo: U.S. Army Signal Corps, 1942)

Simultaneous to the landing of the paratroopers, Filipino guerrillas from the 45th Hunter’s ROTC Regiment would attack the prison camp itself.

Together these two groups would eliminate the Japanese within and the Americans would gather them for transport from the camp.

The third phase of the operation would bring the remainder of the 1st Battalion, 511th PIR across the Laguna de Bay in Amtracs. These would then be used to transport the prisoners to safety.

Finally, another 11th Airborne element, the 188th Glider Infantry Regiment, would make a diversionary attack along the highway leading to the camp. The intent would be to draw the Japanese attention away allowing the paratroopers to escape with the prisoners.

All of this would happen nearly simultaneously. The amount of coordination of forces was tremendous.

Everything was set to go off at 7 AM on Feb. 23, 1945.

The first to depart for the mission were the men of the division reconnaissance platoon who set out the night of Feb. 21 in small Filipino fishing boats. Once across the Laguna de Bay, they entered into the jungle and made their way to hide sites to wait for the assault to begin.

On the morning of the 23rd at 0400, the 1st Battalion minus B Company boarded the 54 Amtracs of the 672nd Amphibian Tractor Battalion and set out across the bay toward their landing beach.

At 0530 the men of B Company boarded the C-47’s for the short flight to Los Baños. By 0640 they were in the air toward their destination.

At 0700 on the morning of Feb. 23, 1945, the coordinated assault on the prison camp at Los Baños began.

Lt. John Ringler was the first man out the door of the lead C-47 coming low at 500 feet.

Having already marked the drop zone, the reconnaissance platoon and their accompanying guerrillas, spotting the incoming troop transports, sprung from their hide sites and attacked the Japanese guard post and sentries. Many were quickly overwhelmed.

At the same time, the 45th Hunter’s ROTC Regiment of Filipino guerrillas attacked three sides of the camp. As this was happening, the paratroopers were assembling on the drop zone and the lead elements were breaching the outer perimeter of the camp.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Filipino guerrillas worked with the U.S. Marine Corps across the Pacific during WWII. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

The assault had been perfectly timed to coincide with not only a changing of the guard shift but also morning formation for both the prisoners and Japanese soldiers.

Many Japanese were caught in the open, unarmed, preparing to conduct morning physical training. They were cut down by the gunfire of the assaulting forces.

Some Japanese were able to mount a defense but many simply fled in the face of the charging Americans and Filipinos. By the time the balance of the 1st Battalion arrived at the camp in their Amtracs, the fight was all but over.

In very short order the raiding force had overwhelmed and secured the prison.

Out on the highway, the 188th GIR was making good progress against the Japanese and had successfully established blocking positions by late morning. The sound of their battles reminded the men at the camp that time was of the essence — the Japanese were still nearby.

Due to their harsh treatment, many of the prisoners were malnourished and extremely weak. Those that could walk began making their way towards the beach for evacuation. Others were loaded into the Amtracs at the camp and transported back across the lake.

It took two trips to get all the internees across the lake and a third to evacuate the last of the assault troops, but at the end of the day 2,147 prisoners were liberated from the Los Baños prison camp. The cost to the Americans and Filipinos was just a handful of casualties — no paratroopers were killed in the raid.

Among those evacuated was Frank Buckles, a World War I veteran, who would go on to be the last living veteran from the conflict.

“I doubt that any airborne unit in the world will ever be able to rival the Los Baños prison raid,” said Gen. Colin Powell. “It is the textbook airborne operation for all ages and all armies.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Air Force vet tells the story behind ‘Suicide Butterflies’ and her other tattoos

Heather Hayes was an Air Force mechanic who deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan and has tattoos that tell the story of her time in uniform.


To Hayes, “tattoos are a journey.”

One of them is a Banksy graffiti piece called “Suicide Butterflies” that depicts a woman shooting herself and the resulting damage morphing into butterflies.

“It’s kind of intense I suppose,” Hayes said. “Basically it’s a symbol of something really tragic turning into something really beautiful.”

Hayes’s story is part of a series presented by We Are The Mighty. War Ink: 11 for 11 features 11 combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan using tattoos to tell their stories on and off the battlefield. Each week for the next 11 weeks, a different tattoo’d veteran will share his or her story.

Do you have a tattoo that tells the story of your war experiences? Post a photo of it at We Are The Mighty’s Facebook page with the hashtag #WeAreTheMightyInk. WATM will be teeing up the coolest and most intense ones through Veteran’s Day.

Video Credit: Rebecca Murga and Karen Kraft

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Russian shops test facial-payment technology, possible rollout in 2020

Russia is testing facial-payment technology at supermarkets and could roll it out on a large scale by the middle of the year.


VTB, Russia’s second-largest lender, is testing the technology in the Lenta supermarket chain, the head of the bank’s digital division told Izvestia.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope

live.staticflickr.com

Promsvyazbank, another Russian lender, is holding talks to launch the technology in other supermarket chains next year, the paper said, citing a top manager at the bank.

The technology will enable shoppers who have linked an image of their face to a bank account to pay for goods by posing in front of point-of-sale machines equipped with cameras.

China, which has one of the most advanced mobile-payment systems, has already rolled out facial-recognition technology in many stores.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Security forces: our first line of defense

media.defense.gov

SnapPay, a Canadian company, announced in October it would offer the payment method in North America.

The popularity of the technology could receive a boost from the novel coronavirus, amid concerns that the virus can be transmitted through cash and cards, Finam analyst Aleksei Kornenev told Izvestia.

Advocates say it’s more convenient and speeds up the checkout process.

However, the use of facial-recognition technology has raised concerns over privacy, especially in countries with authoritarian governments.

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

Articles

This is why the Navy wears bell bottoms, and it’s not for fashion

The Navy dress uniform — also known as “cracker jacks” — is one of the most iconic symbols in the military today. You can spot a Navy sailor from a mile away after they don the familiar dressing.


Every piece of the uniform from head-to-toe has some symbolic or practical use — and the famous bell bottoms are no different.

During the ’60s and ’70s, bell bottoms were all the rage in fashion culture as men and women of all ages walked the streets with the popular look.

Related: This is why sailors have 13 buttons on their trousers

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
A girl in the 1970s sporting some fashionable bell buttons near a beach. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

But the fad didn’t make its debut on a famous red carpet or in an elegant fashion show — it’s the brilliant invention of the U.S. Navy.

Although no one has been officially accredited with inventing the bell bottom trouser, the flared out look was introduced for sailors to wear in 1817. The new design was made to allow the young men who washed down the ship’s deck to roll their pant legs up above their knees to protect the material.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Young sailors aboard a ship play tug-of-war in their classic bell bottoms. (Source: Pinterest)

This modification also improved the time it took to take them off when the sailors needed to abandon ship in a moments notice. The trousers also doubled as a life preserver by knotting the pant legs.

Also Read: This is why some Marines wear the ‘French Fourragere,’ and some don’t

Years later in 1901, the Navy authorized the first use of denim jumpers commonly known as “dungarees.” This new fabric was approved to be worn by both officers and enlisted personnel.

The dungarees also featured the unique bell bottom look and are considered iconic in their own right.

What’s your favorite Navy uniform? Comment below. And don’t forget to submit your photos in the comment section wearing your dress uniform.

Articles

Army voting assistance officers stand by to help Soldiers register

This election season, many Soldiers will face the same crucial question, and it’s not necessarily the one you think. It’s not, “Who do I vote for?” It’s “Can I vote?”


For the many Soldiers stationed overseas or facing deployments, the answer isn’t always clear.

In 2014, 69 percent of the active-duty Army was registered to vote, compared to 65 percent of the civilian population, according to a 2014 Federal Voting Assistance Program report to Congress. But when it actually came to voting in the 2014 election, only about 20 percent of active-duty Soldiers did, compared to 42 percent of the general population.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
U.S. Army Maj. Ashantas Cornelius, from Macon, Ga., fills out her absentee ballot form while Pfc. Crystal Miller, from Auburn, N.Y., looks for her city’s mailing address during a voting assistance drive at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar. | US Army photo by Dustin Senger

This election season, the Army is making sure that, for Soldiers who do choose to take advantage of the freedom they signed up to defend, the answer is always, “yes.” They can cast a vote from wherever they are.

Rachel Gilman, who manages the Army Voting Assistance Program, oversees the more than 3,000 voting assistance officers Army-wide who are dedicated to ensuring Soldiers everywhere have the tools and information they need.

“Our program really focuses on awareness, assistance, providing education, and really training voters about where to go and what information they need,” Gilman said.

“Voting is a very personal choice. If they decide to vote, we are there to help them. If somebody wants to make changes on issues that are important in their hometowns and communities, that’s what we are there to provide.”

Soldiers who want to vote in November should act now, Gilman said. Whether the Soldier is stateside, forward-stationed overseas, or deployed, the way to do that is by seeking out a unit voting assistance officer and then filling out a Federal Post Card Application.

“The (Federal Post Card Application) … that’s your form, your go-to form,” Gilman said.

Also known as GSA Standard Form 76, the Federal Post Card Application will begin the process of registering a Soldier to vote in his or her correct voting district. It will also inform election officials as to which voting district to send the ballot to. The form is not just for Solders, but for any voter who wants to cast a ballot outside of his or her home district.

To obtain the form, Soldiers can download it from the Federal Voting Assistance Program website at the FVAP.Gov, or visit a voting assistance officer wherever they are stationed.

The voting assistance officer can also help Soldiers determine the state and location of their voting district, information that is required on the Federal Post Card Application. Soldiers can also use the FVAP website to make that determination.

The FVAP.Gov website provides deadlines for registering to vote, requesting a ballot, and mailing a ballot. Each state has different requirements, Gilman said, but kicking off the process now is better than waiting.

“It’s really important, especially for overseas voters and those Soldiers who are deployed,” she said. “Once they receive their ballot, it’s important that they immediately fill it out and send it back due to the mailing time.”

The Army doesn’t require Soldiers to vote or even register to vote, Gilman said. But she thinks it’s important that they do. Preserving the right to vote, she said, is one of the reasons that Soldiers serve in the first place.

“I think it’s really important for Soldiers to vote, because it’s a freedom they defend,” Gilman said. “I think it’s an opportunity to have their voices heard. It’s important for them if they want to change issues in their communities, their home towns, for their families. I think it’s very important that they have their voices heard.”

Articles

5 awesome facts you didn’t know about Memorial Day

Celebrated on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day brings America together to remember the 1.1 million men and women who died in service to their country.


As most of us spend our day flipping burgers, wearing pro-American attire and saving money on those amazing furniture deals, it’s important to understand the significance of the historic day.

Related: 5 interesting facts about the Marine Corps birthday

Check out these awesome facts you probably didn’t know about our beloved holiday.

1. Moment of remembrance at 3 pm

On Dec. 28th, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, which asks all Americans to pause on Memorial Day at 3:00 pm local time for a full minute to honor and remember all those who perished protecting our rights and freedoms.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Airmen from the 317th Airlift Group stand at parade rest during a Memorial Day ceremony at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo/ Released)

2. Wearing red poppies

You may have noticed people wearing red poppy flowers pinned to their clothing on Memorial Day. This idea was influenced by the sight of poppies growing in a battle-scarred field in WWI which prompted the popular poem “In Flanders Fields” written by former Canadian Col. John McCrae.

The American Legion adopted the tradition of wearing the red poppy flowers along with many allied countries to commemorate troops killed in battle.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Honor the dead. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

3. Flag raising procedures

Americans love to proudly display their flags and let them wave high and free. On Memorial Day, there’s a special protocol to properly raise and exhibit the ensign. Here it is.

When the flag is raised at first light, it’s to be hoisted to the top of the pole, then respectfully lowered to the half-staff position until 12:00 pm when it is re-raised to the top of the pole for the remainder of the day. Details matter.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
Service members saluting the raised American flag. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Harry Brexel)

4. The origin of the holiday

Originally called “Decoration Day” by Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, in 1868, the day was intended to honor the estimated 620,000 people who died fighting in the Civil war and was celebrated on May 30th.

But it wasn’t until 1971 that Congress shifted the holiday to the last Monday of May to ensure a three-day weekend and renamed it to what we all know today.

Thank you, Congress.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope

Also Read: The mother of the boy in this iconic photo has a Memorial Day message all Americans should read

 5. The holiday’s birthplace

At least five separate cities claim to be the birthplace of “Decoration Day,” including Macon and Columbus, Georgia. Of course, there’s no real written record or D.N.A test to prove who is truly the mom and dad.

The wisdom of these 15 average joe WWII veterans will break your heart and give you hope
California, you are not the father… or mother. (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Do Not Sell My Personal Information