This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims

Hurricane-like winds roared across the state of California, creating a catalyst that ignited wildfires Oct. 8, 2017. The fires tore through northern California, scorching more than 160,000 acres and leaving more than 15,000 people homeless.


One of the hardest hit areas was Santa Rosa, which lost 3,000 homes to the Tubbs fire.

Senior Airman Martin Baglien, 349th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, and his wife Marissa, were sleeping in their home in Santa Rosa, when they were startled awake by a pounding at their door at 2 a.m. that first morning. As they answered the knock, Marissa’s family stood outside. Their house was gone.

“We were dead asleep, just like everyone else,” Baglien said.

After answering the door, he ran into the street.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department extinguish a fire during a live fire training scenario at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 27, 2017. (USAF photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

“You could see the glow all around us, a total 360,” he said. “You couldn’t know the extent of it.”

To get an idea of the scope of the fire, he and his wife drove to a high point.

“From there, we could see how massive this fire was,” he said. “It was obvious how bad things were getting.”

Driving around, they saw downed power lines and office buildings burning with no one around.

“It was truly humbling seeing my city burn,” he said.

They immediately jumped into action.

Related: How 10k soldiers helped out during Hurricane Irma

“We went around to friends’ houses, families’ houses, neighbors’ houses, waking up everyone we could,” Baglien continued. “A lot of people had no idea.”

The next move was to go and grab water and start giving it to whoever needed it.

“We just drove around wherever they would let us,” he said. “It was a battle of trying to get in somewhere before they would block off the road. We were just trying to do whatever we could to help, whether that was finding stray animals, waking up neighbors, or bringing people water.”

The homes on the street his family lived on were completely burned to the ground. Chimneys stand above the ashes, like gravestones in a cemetery, tin rememberance of what once was. Charred cars and appliances are all that remains of families’ possessions.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
A burned out car lies in front of the remains of a house that was destroyed by the California wildfire in Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 31, 2017. The recent wildfires destroyed more than 15,000 homes and caused more than $3 billion in damages. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps)

“The neighbors next to my family have four kids, which is pretty hard to deal with,” Baglien said. “They worked out of their home. To see it gone is humbling, to say the least.”

The next day, after his family arrived, the Bagliens drove around giving out clothes, blankets, and water to anyone who was distraught. While trying to figure out where the fire was, they determined what actions to take.

The second day of the fires, he got a call from a friend with bad news.

“My buddy, he works in ambulances, told me, ‘Hey, I just got a radio call. The fire is coming over your ridge. You’ve got to pack your [things] because it’s coming,'” Baglien said.

They immediately drove home to find their neighborhood in chaos.

“People were freaking out, which is just so unnecessary,” he described. “We were seeing fights at gas stations and over water.”

So, Martin, his wife, and in-laws all evacuated. The Airman and his wife sent their family to Petaluma where they would be safe with other family members. However, the firefighter and his wife felt wrong about leaving.

“After we sent them down to Petaluma, my wife and I headed to our evacuation center and just started helping, doing everything we can,” he said. “I told them I was a firefighter and they said, ‘Hey, we can totally use you.'”

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
Camp Guernsey Fire Department and Wyoming Air Guard firefighters train together at the Wyoming Airport Rescue Fire Fighting Training Facility in Casper. (Wyoming Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy McGuire)

The scene was chaotic, he described. He ran around unloading ambulances, hooking people up to oxygen, scrambling to find extension cords, and passing out clothes.

“People were coming up to me saying, ‘I just want to go home,'” he said. “And you just had to look at them, smile, and say, ‘We’ll figure this out.'”

In the midst of all the chaos, Baglien said he saw a lot of joy.

“The community really came together,” he said. “We saw a lot more smiles than frowns, which is truly beautiful.”

Baglien and his wife, a nursing student, devoted themselves to volunteering and doing everything they could to help people out. As an Air Force Reserve firefighter, he really wanted to help out in that way.

“Everyday I would get up, put on my wildland gear, and go to either the nearest strike team or go to the evacuation center where they staged,” he said. “I’d get turned away, which is understandable. But, I’d tell them, ‘I’ll roll hoses, I’ll cook, I’ll clean,’ because you got to look at the bigger picture.”

But Martin and Marissa were not deterred. Whenever he got turned down, the two would just find another place to volunteer.

Read Also: 16 photos that show how the US military responds to natural disasters

“You just give time,” he said. “Because it’s all about your family, your friends, your community. It was really important to do whatever we could for those people in need.”

Even though he and his wife were working themselves to exhaustion every day, Baglien still felt something was missing.

“I was getting up and doing everything that I could,” he said. “But, it didn’t feel like enough. I never had that fulfillment.”

Finally, he got a call from Travis Air Force Base to report to base. The Atlas Fire was rapidly spreading in Solano County.

“I jumped at the chance to go to base,” he said. “I was on standby, that’s where you start to see the bigger picture. In the fire department, everyone wants to be on the fire line; fight the fire, do the job, and be a hero. But at the same time, you have to know where your response is and where you are needed.”

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
Senior Airman Martin Baglien, 349th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, surveys the remains of his family’s home after the California wildfire in Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 31, 2017. The recent wildfires consumed more than 15,000 homes, and caused at least $3 billion in damage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps)

The fires have since diminished, leaving desolation in their wake. Now, the recovery begins for thousands across California. Many have taken notice of what is truly important in their lives and have leaned on their community members for support.

“I think with all the destruction and chaos and horrible things we were seeing, a lot of people still got out with their skin,” Baglien said. “Seeing people lose everything, but they still had those smiles, because they still had each other; and that’s all that matters. They realized the things they lost were just [things]. It’s really good for people to see this.”

Baglien credited his Air Force Reserve training for helping him stay calm in such a stressful situation.

“The training we get with the 349th [CES] is wonderful and I truly love it,” he said. “We get very good training from everyone there. I could watch everything – combining the classes we’ve taken and the lectures – you start getting into it, and watching the fire and winds and understanding how hot it is. It really helped me to stay calm.”

Baglien’s home still stands, though his in-laws’ is gone. But, they are getting help.

“We are getting a lot of support from the community for our family,” he said. “Right now, they are living with us and various family members. Someone even just donated us a trailer to use for a while.”

“It’s really beautiful to see the community come together, and definitely for the better,” the firefighter said with hope. “It’s really important that we continue to overcome and we continue to push forward from this, because it really is just another day.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why North Korea bailed on meeting VP Pence at the Olympics

US Vice President Mike Pence agreed to hold a secret meeting with North Korean officials while at the Olympic Games, The Washington Post reported Feb. 20, 2018.


The meeting was set to go ahead Feb. 10, 2018, but the North Koreans pulled out less than two hours before. It was the same day North Korea’s visiting delegates, which included Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un, met with South Korean President Moon Jae-In and invited him to Pyongyang for a meeting between the leaders.

“North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the vice president softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics,” Nick Ayers, the vice president’s chief of staff, told The Post.

Also read: South Korea wants North Korea to host some 2018 Winter Olympics events

The vice president’s office told The Post that the delegation pulled out of the meeting because the vice president met with North Korean defectors and had announced new sanctions. Before reaching South Korea, Pence said the US would soon unveil the “toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever.”

Ahead of his tour of Asia, Pence had not confirmed whether he would meet with North Korean officials, once saying only, “we’ll see what happens.” The US State Department, however, had explicitly ruled out any planned meeting.

“There are no plans to meet with any North Korean officials during or after the Olympics; I want to be clear about that. There are no plans to do so,” the State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Feb. 6, 2018. “The secretary and the vice president said we’ll see what happens when we get to the Olympics.”

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.

This contradicts the latest report from The Post, which said that the meeting between Pence and North Korean officials took two weeks to organize and that efforts began after the CIA received word North Korea wanted to meet with Pence.

Pence agreed to the meeting before leaving for his Asia trip on Feb. 5, 2018. President Donald Trump; the White House chief of staff, John Kelly; CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were all reportedly involved in the discussions.

According to The Post, the purpose of the meeting was to convey the US stance on sanctions and denuclearization, rather than open the door to negotiations.

“The president made a decision that if they wanted to talk, we would deliver our uncompromising message. If they asked for a meeting, we would meet,” Ayers said in a statement to CBS News. “As we’ve said from day one about the trip: This administration will stand in the way of Kim’s desire to whitewash their murderous regime with nice photo ops at the Olympics. Perhaps that’s why they walked away from a meeting, or perhaps they were never sincere about sitting down.”

The meeting was set to take place at the Blue House, the South Korean equivalent of the White House, with Pence, a National Security Council representative, an intelligence representative, and Pence’s chief of staff meeting Kim Yo Jong and North Korea’s official head of state, Kim Yong Nam.

Related: The North Korean cold war will be paused for the Olympics

The Post said North Korea confirmed the meeting the morning of the day it was to take place but pulled out hours later.

“At the last minute, DPRK officials decided not to go forward with the meeting. We regret their failure to seize this opportunity,” Nauert told the news media.

“We will not allow North Korea’s attendance at the Winter Olympics to conceal the true nature of the regime and the need for the world to remain united in the face of its illicit weapons programs. The maximum-pressure campaign deepening North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation will continue until North Korea agrees to credible talks on a way forward to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.”

North Korea and the US do communicate

The news of the meeting discussions shows that while the two countries don’t have diplomatic relations, North Korea and the US do indeed communicate.

Last year, Tillerson confirmed there were “three channels open to Pyongyang.”

It’s unclear what these channels are, after North Korea ended communication to the US via its mission to the United Nations in New York in 2016.

More: North Korea warns that it’s ready for both war and diplomacy

Ashley Parker, a reporter from The Post, said that South Korea initially acted as the intermediary for communications between the two countries but that they eventually “directly communicated.”

Tillerson confirmed that the US had the ability to communicate with Pyongyang. He told 60 Minutes that North Korea “will tell” him when it wanted to talk, because “we receive messages from them.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Coast Guard Seized Over $411 Million Worth of Drugs During Recent Deployment

The US Coast Guard and its allies announced the seizure of approximately 23,000 pounds of cocaine and 8,800 pounds of marijuana before offloading the illegal drugs at Port Everglades, Florida, during a press conference on Wednesday. 

“The outstanding Coast Guard women and men on this ship are the very best. Their professionalism, teamwork, and dedication produced multiple interdictions through often harrowing and arduous conditions,” said Capt. Todd Vance, commanding officer of the Coast Guard cutter James. “With absolute certainty, we know that each interdiction saves lives and helps to protect others from violence, extortion, and instability; byproducts of the illegal drug trade in the Western Hemisphere.”

Over the course of approximately three months, the combined task force conducted 20 separate interdictions with eight American and United Kingdom ships, dealing a heavy strike against the drug trafficking organizations responsible for the illegal narcotics. The seized narcotics are estimated to have a street value of $411.3 million.  

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
Crew members aboard the Coast Guard cutter James stand next to approximately 23,000 pounds of cocaine and 8,800 pounds of marijuana Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, at Port Everglades Cruise Port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Coast Guard seized the drugs with an estimated $411.3 million wholesale value. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Erik Villa Rodriguez/US Coast Guard, courtesy of DVIDS.

The operation was successful despite one of the task force’s ships being forced to make an early return to port because of a surge of COVID-19 infections. The USCG cutter Stratton returned to port Nov. 18, 2020, after crew members tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Out of the 133 crew members, 11 had tested positive by the time the Stratton returned to its homeport at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, California. 

The USCG cutter James’ most recent deployment was part of the efforts of the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF) to combat illegal trafficking of all types in the Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. The task force, located at Naval Station Key West, Florida, conducts detection and monitoring operations in the Joint Operating Area in order to maintain security in the US and her allied countries. 

The US Coast Guard, Navy, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with allied and international partner agencies, including the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands, all played a role in the recent counterdrug operations.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
The HNLMS Groningen’s crew interdicts a suspected drug boat in the Caribbean Sea, Sept. 27, 2020. HNLMS Groningen is a Holland-class offshore patrol vessel operated by the Royal Netherlands Navy and was part of the recent countertrafficking operation. Royal Netherlands Navy photo, courtesy of DVIDS.

The USCG 7th District Southeast said in a press release, “The fight against drug cartels in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea requires unity of effort in all phases from detection, monitoring and interdictions, to criminal prosecutions by international partners and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in districts across the nation.”

Capt. Vance gave an example during the press conference of one of the task force’s recent interdictions. He said that USCG and Dutch Caribbean surveillance aircraft located a drug smuggling vessel somewhere in the Caribbean Sea. The UK launched an aircraft from its Royal Fleet auxiliary ship Argus, with a USCG law enforcement group of eight to 10 personnel attached. The group completed a successful interdiction of the drug smuggling vessel, with the interdiction and boarding led and conducted by the USCG.

“If that’s not joint international collaboration, I’m not sure what it better looks like. A coordination like this happens every day in this theater of the world,” said Vance. He continued to recognize the various US and foreign ally partnerships, who “work together to stop the drugs from poisoning our communities. Who work together to reduce the influence and corruption of transnational criminal organizations and their corrupt influence on regional leaders. They work together to enhance safety, security, and regional security here in the Western Hemisphere.”

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Asian countries doubled down on security ties to the US

Military spending has ramped up in Asia, led by China, whose addition of submarines to its fleet has inspired similar ambitions among its neighbors.


Beyond hardware, however, countries in Asia are also reassessing the balance of power there, contemplating how to engage China and what role the US — long a guarantor of security and trade in the region — will play going forward.

“Everyone out in Asia is, on one hand, scared of China, and, the other hand, they need China for trade,” Mike Fabey, author of the 2017 book Crashback, about tensions between China and the US in the Pacific, told Business Insider. “Also there’s a real sense of, ‘China’s right here. America’s on the other side of the world.'”

Also read: China wants you to know it’s not afraid of a trade war

Officials in the region felt the Obama administration “was letting China slide with a few things here and there” to secure cooperation, or at least noninterference, from Beijing on other issues, like the Paris climate accord, Fabey said. “But even with that, there was still definitely a feeling, ‘Hey, America’s got our back.'”

The Trump administration has referred to the region as the “Indo-Pacific,” in what is likely meant to be a rhetorical swipe at China, though it also points to the region’s maritime dimensions. But, Fabey said, “with the recent administration, there’s much more of a feeling now in the Western Pacific, even from folks like Australia, who are really wondering exactly how far America would go now if China were to do anything.”

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Photo from Moscow Kremlin)

That has translated into greater interest in local partnerships.

“You’re starting to see Australia, Japan, and India, for example, there’s a new emerging trilateral out there, and that they’re counting the US out. The US is involved,” Fabey said, but there’s now more of a feeling of, “‘we’re on our own more, at least we should act like we’re on our own more, and we’ll do it without the US if we have to.'”

‘They’re very good at playing that card’

First proposed in 2007, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, made up of the US, Japan, Australia, and India, gained new life in 2017, when officials from those countries met to discuss a “free and open Indo-Pacific” and seven core themes, including freedom of navigation, maritime security, and a rules-based order in the region.

Some members of the Quad have tread carefully out of concern about China, which protested its restoration. India has also expressed reticence about the partnership — in part over concerns about its own autonomy as well as doubts about the other three countries’ approaches to China.

“China likes to play the card, ‘Look, you’re Asian. We’re Asian. Quite honestly, no Western power is going to protect your Asian rights out here … You can’t depend on the West to do that,'” Fabey told Business Insider. “And they’re very good at playing that card.”

But cooperation between countries in the region continues, with an eye on securing and enhancing trade and security.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
A US sailor aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Howard gives a tour to Indian sailors during Malabar 2017. (US Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Preston)

Japan has increased efforts to counter China’s Belt and Road initiative, ramping up international partnerships and investments — including in Sri Lanka, where a recent Chinese port project has angered India.

Australia has followed suit, talking to the US, India, and Japan about a joint regional infrastructure program to rival Beijing’s outreach.

Australia, India, and Japan have been pursuing a trilateral partnership since late 2015, aimed at ensuring “open and free” movement in the region and advancing their shared interests.

The Malabar 2017 exercises in summer 2017, in which India, Japan, and the US took part, emphasized antisubmarine warfare — including submarine-on-submarine exercises. “Nowhere else does the American Navy do that,” Fabey noted, saying cooperation between US and Indian navies “is unlike any other in the world.” (While New Delhi blocked Australia’s participation in Malabar 2017, their defense cooperation has progressed.)

Related: The US Navy just launched an effort to built this super-stealthy submarine

India and Japan did three days of antisubmarine exercises in the Indian Ocean in October 2017.

In March 2018, Vietnam’s president visited India, where the leaders of the two countries put out a statement pledging to continue defense cooperation. Two days later, US carrier made a port call in Vietnam — the first such visit in four decades and a sign of growing ties between the US and Hanoi (whose acquisition of submarines has also irked China).

Around the same time, India’s army chief said that New Delhi was working with Australia, Japan, and the US to guarantee “freedom of navigation” in the region. A few days later, India began its Milan 2018 naval exercises, underscoring New Delhi’s growing engagement with the region.

The Milan exercises were first held in 1995 with four countries. This year, 16 countries joined the drills, which, for the first time, included a joint multilateral exercise at sea. The naval portion took place around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, strategically located near the Malacca Straits, which connects the Indian and Pacific oceans.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
US Navy Rear Adm. Bill Byrne, commander of Carrier Strike Group 11, observes Indian, Japanese, and US ships from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz during Malabar 2017 in the Bay of Bengal, July 17, 2017. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Holly L. Herline)

That was followed in late March 2018 by the fourth meeting between US Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Indian navy chief Adm. Sunil Lanba, where they “discussed ways to improve interoperability to include additional naval exercises and staff talks.”

As with the Quad, India, which uses Russian-made military hardware, has been reluctant about joint operations. Its reticence about information-sharing has reportedly hindered those exercises and broader interoperability.

‘Like their Caribbean’

China has made clear its displeasure with such regional cooperation.

When Japan’s inclusion in the Malabar exercise was permanent in late 2015, Beijing reacted sharply, saying it hoped “the relevant country will not provoke confrontation and heighten tensions in the region.”

The rivalry between China and India in the Indian Ocean appeared inflamed in February 2018, when both looked poised to respond in the Maldives, where the government imposed a state of emergency, jailed opponents, and stifled protests. (The state of emergency was lifted in late March 2018.) India has long wielded influence in the Maldives, but the government there has courted China, buying into what critics fear is Beijing’s “debt-trap diplomacy.”

China has also flexed its muscles in the South and East China Seas. In January 2018, a Chinese sub was detected around the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, which are controlled by Japan but disputed by Beijing. It the first confirmed identification of a Chinese sub that area and drew a Japanese protest. Chinese ships have entered that area on six days this year, most recently on March 23, 2018.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
A Chinese Shang-class nuclear attack submarine in the contiguous zone of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. (Photo by Japanese Ministry of Defense)

In recent days, Vietnam, which has sought to mollify Beijing after the US carrier’s visit, assented to Chinese pressure to scrap an offshore oil-drilling project — the second time in a year Hanoi has done so. The cancellation is likely to be read in Beijing as a sign Vietnam’s strategic thinking has not changed, despite US shows of force in the area.

More: Beijing vows ‘stern measures’ after US ship sails near South China Sea islands

Such a victory means Beijing’s efforts to assert its claims, and to influence its neighbors, are unlikely to end. Even with regional efforts to counter China, the country’s geography, resources, and military put it in a position to wield considerable influence over the region and the trade that passes through it — which makes a continuing US presence all the more important, said Fabey, author of Crashback.

“If the US were to pull back from there … China would take control, and if China wants to do this, they basically would,” he told Business Insider. “The South China Sea could be like their Caribbean. How we control the Caribbean, China says it wants to control the South China Sea.”

“Now as long as everything’s equal — that is to say, that China is benefiting from that being free and open — then I guess there’s no problem,” Fabey said. But that could change, he added, if Beijing decides changing it is in its interests. “China will always do what’s best for China.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch the Maple Leafs’ tribute to the victims of the Toronto van incident

The Toronto Maple Leafs held a stunning tribute to the victims that died after a van rammed through several pedestrians in Toronto on April 23, 2018.

During the hockey match against the Boston Bruins, the Maple Leafs’ announcer referenced the incident in which a van hit and killed at least 10 people and injured 15.


“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, our first responders, and to all those affected,” the announcer said during the game. “All of Toronto is with you.”

After observing a brief moment of silence, the crowd cheered and sang along in unison with singer Martina Ortiz-Luis for the national anthem.

Around 1:30 p.m. local time, a van jumped the sidewalk and plowed through a busy intersection in downtown Toronto.

Police arrested a male suspect who is believed to have been previously known to Toronto officials. The suspect, identified as 25-year-old Alek Minassian, was arrested after threatening to brandish a firearm. According to law enforcement officials, the incident is believed to have been deliberate.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Navy celebrates its massive World War I railroad guns

The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) held a commemoration ceremony for the 100th anniversary of the first combat firing of the naval railway gun, Sept. 6, 2018.

The ceremony took place at Admiral Willard Park at the Washington Navy Yard where on display is a naval railway gun still mounted on a railway carriage.

Master Chief Yeoman Nathaniel Colding, senior enlisted leader at NHHC, was the master of ceremonies for the event and shared the history of the naval railway gun with the guests in attendance.

Upon entering World War I in April 1917, the Navy was already developing long-range artillery primarily to counter the German army’s heavy guns capable of bombarding the English Channel ports used by the Allies.


The Navy’s initial idea was to employ several 14-inch 50-caliber Mark IV naval rifles, with a complete train of equipment for each gun, on railway mountings behind British lines in France. However, changing military conditions prevented British authorities from stating definitively at which port these batteries were to be debarked.

The Navy ultimately offered the guns to General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, who readily accepted them.

“In the summer of 1918, five U.S. naval railway guns made the journey across the Atlantic Ocean for use in France during the First World War,” said Colding. “Although they were assigned to the First Army’s Railway Artillery Reserve, the guns operated as independent units under the command of Rear Admiral Charles P. Plunkett. In early September 1918, Battery Number 2 went into action with a bombardment of a German-occupied railroad hub more than 20 miles away.”

Retired Rear Adm. Sam Cox, director of NHHC, was the guest speaker for the commemoration ceremony and spoke about why this event is important for us to remember today.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims

British 12-inch howitzers on top-carriage traversing mounts.

“The U.S. Navy was able to provide a quick solution using guns that were normally intended for battleships,” said Cox. “The key point of the U.S. Navy’s participation in the war was that although we only lost about 430 Sailors during the entire course of the war, we were able to get two million U.S. Army troops to France a lot faster than the Germans ever thought was possible. The Navy did this without any losses to U-boats, ending a war that at that point was the bloodiest in human history.”

While the naval railway guns were in operation, the crew had no support from the Army should the Germans unit advance on them and they were expected to “fight alone.” They did not have to face that fate, however; the Germans were in retreat throughout their period of service.

“The increased use and effectiveness of aircraft, particularly bombers, with their greater flexibility and mobility, meant that the naval railway battery would not be a mainstay in future wars,” said Conrad. “Nonetheless, its development and deployment highlights the U.S. Navy’s ability to think innovatively and create and deploy new and effective programs quickly. That skill is transferable and is a hallmark of the U.S. Navy in the twentieth century.”

Although the naval railway guns operated well behind the front lines and were not subject to the constant bombardment received by more forward positions, the U.S. naval railway batteries were hardly immune from enemy fire. Many of the units took counter-fire from German artillery. German observation planes flew above their positions during the day, and bomber aircraft were active at night. The units lost only one Sailor to enemy fire and other battery personnel were wounded.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims

French 370 mm railway howitzer of World War I.

According to Dennis Conrad, Ph.D., a historian at NHHC, 530 officers and men made up the Naval Railway Guns command. The unit was subdivided into six groups, one for each battery and these groups were further subdivided into crews: a train crew, a construction crew and a gun crew.

The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy’s unique and enduring contributions through our nation’s history, and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC is composed of many activities including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, ten museums, USS Constitution repair facility and the historic ship Nautilus.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

President promises record war games in Korea if they resume

President Donald Trump canceled joint military exercises with South Korea as a concession to the North for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula during his summit with Kim Jong Un in June 2018, but a White House statement released on Aug. 29, 2018, warned that, if he decides to restart the drills, the war games “will be far bigger than ever before.”

Negotiations between the US and North Korea have hit a snag. Aug. 24, 2018, the president canceled what would have been Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s fourth trip to Pyongyang after receiving a reportedly “belligerent” letter that warned that talks are “again at stake and may fall apart.”


In the White House statement, Trump put the blame for the breakdown in bilateral negotiations on China, which the president accused of providing the North with assistance that Trump characterized as “not helpful!” He suggested that China is pressuring North Korea to act out due to Beijing’s dissatisfaction with the ongoing trade spat with Washington.

A report from Vox on Aug. 29, 2018, however, suggested that North Korea may be expressing frustration with the Trump administration’s failure to make a good on a reported promise Trump made to Kim in Singapore, a promise to sign a declaration ending the Korean War.

The president explained that, despite setbacks, he considers his relationship with North Korea to be a “warm one,” adding that he sees no reason to spend “large amounts of money on joint U.S.-South Korea war games.”

He is apparently optimistic that his administration will be able to resolve disputes with both China and North Korea in an acceptable manner.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis explained Aug.28, 2018, at the Pentagon that the US suspended several large joint exercises in 2018 to provide space for American diplomats to negotiate with their North Korean counterparts to address key issues.

He left the door open for the possibility that joint drills with South Korea could resume should conditions require such an action.

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

Articles

Poll reveals military sentiments on POTUS

On Sunday, a poll from Military Times and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families displayed the thoughts and sentiments of active-duty military troops about President Barack Obama as he ends his eight years as commander in chief.


The results showed that U.S. service members have an overwhelmingly negative view of Obama — or a neutral view at best.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
President Barack Obama (U.S. Coast Guard file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David B. Mosley/Released)

Overall, 60.3% of Marines, 53% of the Army, 49.6% of the Air Force, and 45.9% of the Navy said they disapproved of Obama — a plurality in each case. Enlisted soldiers and Marines were more likely than officers to disapprove of Obama, by about 4 percentage points.

In total, 29.1% of soldiers said they had a very unfavorable view of Obama’s leadership, and 18% said they held a very favorable view.

The poll elicited responses from 1,664 participants. The responses were weighted to better reflect the entire military, according to the poll. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Obama sought to reduce the role of the military during his presidency, with drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan and a decrease in the overall size of the force.

Troops interviewed by Military Times said those steps possibly made the U.S. less safe, as the last few years of Obama’s presidency have seen the rise of ISIS in Iraq and a resurgence of Taliban aggression in Afghanistan.

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White House predicts another chemical attack in Syria

The White House issued a stern warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad on June 26 as it claimed “potential” evidence that Syria was preparing for another chemical weapons attack.


In an ominous statement issued with no supporting evidence or further explanation, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the US had “identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.”

He said the activities were similar to preparations taken before an April 2017 attack that killed dozens of men, women, and children, and warned that if “Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”

The White House offered no details on what prompted the warning and spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said she had no additional information.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
Photo from White House YouTube.

Several State Department officials typically involved in coordinating such announcements said they were caught completely off guard by the warning, which didn’t appear to be discussed in advance with other national security agencies. Typically, the State Department, the Pentagon, and US intelligence agencies would all be consulted before the White House issued a declaration sure to ricochet across foreign capitals.

The officials weren’t authorized to discuss national security planning publicly and requested anonymity.

A non-governmental source with close ties to the White House said the administration had received intelligence that the Syrians were mixing precursor chemicals for a possible sarin gas attack in either the east or south of the country, where government troops and their proxies have faced recent setbacks.

Assad had denied responsibility for the April 4 attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held Idlib province that killed dozens of people, including children. Victims show signs of suffocation, convulsions, foaming at the mouth, and pupil constriction.

Days later, President Donald Trump launched a retaliatory cruise missile strike on a Syrian government-controlled air base where US officials said the Syrian military had launched the chemical attack.

It was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Trump’s most dramatic military order since becoming president months before.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017 local time). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams)

Trump said at the time that the Khan Sheikhoun attack crossed “many, many lines,” and called on “all civilized nations” to join the US in seeking an end to the carnage in Syria.

Syria maintained it hadn’t used chemical weapons and blamed opposition fighters for stockpiling the chemicals. Russia’s Defense Ministry said the toxic agents were released when a Syrian airstrike hit a rebel chemical weapons arsenal and munitions factory. Russia is a close ally of Assad.

The US attack on a Syrian air base came after years of heated debate and deliberation in Washington over intervention in the bloody civil war. Chemical weapons have killed hundreds of people since the start of the conflict.

Earlier on June 26th, Trump had dinner with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and other top officials as he hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House.

Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talked earlier that day about the need to secure a cease-fire in Syria, fight extremist groups, and prevent the use of chemical weapons, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
Photo from Moscow Kremlin.

Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, followed up Spicer’s statement with a Twitter warning: “Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Asaad, but also on Russia Iran who support him killing his own people.”

Less than an hour after Spicer issued the statement, Trump was back to tweeting about the 2016 campaign, denouncing investigations into potential collusion between Moscow and his campaign aides as a “Witch Hunt!”

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Watch USMC footage of artillery strikes on ISIS in Syria

US Marines have been on the ground in Syria since March, when a detachment from an amphibious task force arrived in the country, where they joined US special-operations forces to support US partner forces.


The Marine units deployed to Syria included elements of an artillery battery that can fire 155-millimeter shells from M777 Howitzers.

The military has already released footage and photos of Marines in Syria firing their howitzers in support of local coalition partners during their advance on Raqqa, ISIS’ self-declared capital in northwest Syria.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims

“The Marines have been conducting 24-hour all-weather fire support for the Coalition’s local partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces,” the Defense Department said at the time that footage was released.

During the first week of July, the US military released the first footage of Marine artillery units striking an ISIS target on May 14, destroying what the Defense Department called an ISIS artillery position in support of Syrian Democratic Forces.

The M777 howitzer has a range of 15 to 25 miles, and the artillery units in Syria have moved at least once to support the ongoing fight against ISIS there, Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told Military.com in April.
“The fight evolves, so they’re moving to where they can best provide support based on the capability of the weapons system,” Neller said. “The commanders there understand the capability, and they’ll reposition them as required in order to provide the fire support and other effects they need to do to make the campaign successful, ultimately.”

Marine artillery units previously deployed to Iraq to support the fight against ISIS there were set up in a fixed position — though they came under fire just hours into their deployment in March 2016.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
The 26th Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, is greeted on his first full day in the position by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., in Arlington, VA, Jan. 21, 2017. (DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen.)

US forces in Syria are aiding local partner forces in what Defense Secretary James Mattis has called an “annihilation campaign,” seeking to surround and destroy ISIS fighters — foreign fighters in particular — “so we don’t simply transplant this problem from one location to another,” Mattis told reporters in May.

Mattis “asked me and the military chain-of-command to make a conscious effort not to allow ISIS fighters to just flee from one location to another,” Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Defense News in June.

“Our commanders on the ground have tried to meet that goal of annihilating the enemy in order to mitigate the risk of these terrorists showing up someplace else.”

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
Marines with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit fire their M777 Howitzer during a fire mission in northern Syria as part of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. (USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Zachery Laning)

Fighting to retake Raqqa has already begun, and over 2,000 ISIS militants are thought to remain there.

US special-operations forces are already working with Arab and Kurdish partners to vet and train a force to secure the city during and after the effort to oust ISIS. Questions remain about how Raqqa and the surrounding area will be secured, as well as about how territory wrested from ISIS around Syria will be divided among the various factions operating in the country.

The US-led coalition and its partner forces have already come into conflict with Syrian pro-regime forces, which are backed by Iran and Russia. Southeast Syria near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders has been a flashpoint for these confrontations, though a local ceasefire has recently gone into effect there.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force just grounded its entire B-1 Bomber fleet

US Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the entire Air Force bomber fleet, ordered a safety stand down for its B-1B Lancer bombers on June 7, 2018, following an emergency landing by a Lancer in Texas in May 2018.

“During the safety investigation process following an emergency landing of a B-1B in Midland, Texas, an issue with ejection seat components was discovered that necessitated the stand-down,” the command said in a release. “As issues are resolved aircraft will return to flight.”


A B-1B bomber from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas made an emergency landing at Midland International Airport in western Texas on May 1, 2018, after an in-flight emergency. Emergency responders made it to the runway before the plane landed, and none of the four crew members onboard were injured.

It was not clear what caused the emergency, though fire crews that responded used foam on the plane.

Photos that emerged of the bomber involved showed that at least one of its four cockpit escape hatches had been blown, but the ejection seat did not deploy.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
Aircrew members from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota conduct post-flight checks at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Aug.u00a06, 2016.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. JT May III)

The B-1’s four-man crew includes a pilot, copilot, and two weapons officers seated behind them. All four sit in ejection seats and each seat has an escape hatch above it, according to Air Force Times. Pulling the ejection handle starts an automatic sequence in which the hatch blows off and a STAPAC rocket motor launches the seats from the aircraft. The entire process takes only seconds.

It was not clear at the time of the incident whether the blown hatch or hatches had been recovered or whether the ejection seats had failed to deploy.

A Safety Investigation Board, a panel made up of experts who investigate incidents and recommend responses, is looking into the incident at Midland, the Global Strike Command release said.

The Global Strike Command stand-down order comes about a month after the Air Force ordered a day-long, fleet-wide stand-down while it conducted a safety review following a series of deadly accidents. At the time, the Air Force said it was seeing fewer accidents but that 18 pilots and crew members had been killed since October 1, 2018.

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

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Recent layoffs indicate working for ISIS might be a risky career move

ISIS is facing severe cash shortfalls as NATO airstrikes take out their supply lines and cash reserves, forcing the so-called caliphate to slash salaries for all workers and fighters as well as cut back services.


The U.S. began targeting warehouses of ISIS cash in Jan. and NATO has been striking oil infrastructure and equipment for months.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
GIF: Youtube/Mike B

Other strikes against weapons and fighters have driven up the cost of waging violent jihad, and plummeting oil prices have further damaged ISIS’s bottom line. Now, the Iraqi government has decided to stop paying the salaries of government workers in ISIS-controlled areas, salaries ISIS had heavily taxed.

This Airman and his wife rushed to help wildfire victims
Photo: Youtube.com

The Commanding General of U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, told CNN that ISIS has lost millions of dollars because of U.S. operations.

Back in Jan., it was revealed that money troubles forced ISIS to reduce fighters’ salaries by half, and new reports from the AP show that even that wasn’t enough to bridge the shortfall.

Civil servant salaries have now had their salaries slashed as well, and ISIS is cutting many perks. Fighters no longer get free energy drinks or candy bars (yeah, they were apparently getting those) or bonuses for getting married or having babies.

Some fighters are now going without pay while food and electrical rations have been reduced.

Between the money shortages, the airstrikes and raids, and the Internet trolling, it seems like working for ISIS might be a bad idea.

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Kim Jong-un reveals its spec ops force in military parade

North Korea publicly unveiled a special operations unit for the first time during a military parade marking the Day of the Sun, the anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, reports Yonhap News Agency.


The soldiers were armed with grenade launchers and presented with night-vision goggles on their helmets.

“Once Supreme Commander Kim Jong-un issues the order, they will charge with resolve to thrust a sword through the enemy’s heart like lighting,” a North Korean broadcaster said.

The North Korean special operations forces marched across Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang behind the Navy, Air Force, and other strategic forces. The new unit is believed to be led by North Korean Col. Gen. Kim Yong-bok.

North Korea’s special operations forces could be used to counter allied pre-emptive strike plans. Special operations troops recently drilled in preparation for a possible strike on an enemy missile base, the Korean Central News Agency reported. The force also practiced combating enemy commandos.

U.S. and South Korean reports have suggested that allied war plans include the possibility of “decapitation strikes” designed to eliminate the North Korean leadership. South Korea reported that this year’s Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills included exercises focused on “incapacitating North Korean leadership.”

“The KPA will deal deadly blows without prior warning any time as long as the operation means and troops of the U.S. and South Korean puppet forces involved in the ‘special operation’ and ‘preemptive attack’ targeting the [Democratic Republic of Korea] remain deployed in and around South Korea,” the North Korean military warned in late March.

The North also unveiled several new missiles, intercontinental ballistic missile models, during the parade.

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