This dying Army vet's last wish is to hear from you - We Are The Mighty
Articles

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

Lee Hernandez wants everyone to call him or text him. Anyone and everyone in America.


The 47-year-old has undergone three brain surgeries but still suffers from strokes that affect his vision and cognitive function.

But a few notes from his military family are just what the doctor ordered.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
Lee Hernandez wants to hear from you. (photo by Arizona Veterans Forum)

As Lee lay dying in a Texas hospice, his wife Ernestine told the Arizona Republic that phone calls or texts are what brighten Lee’s day. It doesn’t matter who sends them.

He asked Ernestine to hold on to his phone one day in case someone called him. For two hours, no one called.

“I guess no one wants to talk to me,” Lee told his wife.

Lee Hernandez has trouble with speaking, so Ernestine figured that’s why people don’t take much time to attempt a conversation. So she reached out to a group called “Caregivers of Wounded Warriors” to get more texts and call pouring in.

He is a veteran of the Iraq War who served 18 and half years in the Army. He’s been fighting for his life for the last five years.

If you want to send Lee a message of support or just see how he is, be sure to reach out between 2 pm and 6pm Arizona time. Lee is now blind, but Ernestine will read your texts to him.

He can be reached at 210-632-6778.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Ukraine says 3 dead in new fighting against Russian-backed separatists

Ukraine says one of its soldiers has been killed and three wounded as a result of clashes with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Defense Ministry said on Oct. 16, 2018, that separatist fighters violated a cease-fire 37 times during the previous 24 hours by firing machine guns, grenade launchers, and mortars.

It said Ukrainian government forces killed two separatists and wounded six.


Articles

Today in military history: President Garfield is shot

On July 2, 1881, President Garfield was mortally wounded when he was shot only four months into his administration.

His assailant, Charles Guiteau, was likely insane. He spent weeks stalking the president, believing he was fulfilling a mission from God to unite the Republican party, and finally on the morning of July 2, 1881, he shot the president at the Baltimore and Potomac train station in Washington D.C.

The president was treated quickly and spent the next few days fighting for his life, while Vice President Chester A. Arthur served as acting president. On Sept. 19, 1881, after 80 brutal days, President Garfield finally died of blood poisoning. The following day, Arthur was inaugurated as President of the United States.

Guiteau was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. He was hanged in June 1882.

Four presidents have been assassinated in American history: President Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot on April 14, 1865, James Garfield was fatally shot on July 2, 1881, William McKinley was fatally shot on Sept. 6, 1901, and finally John F. Kennedy was shot and killed on Nov. 22, 1963.

Featured Image: An engraving of James A. Garfield’s assassination, published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper on July 16, 1881. The caption reads “Washington, D.C.—The attack on the President’s life—Scene in the ladies’ room of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad depot—The arrest of the assassin / from sketches by our special artist’s [sic] A. Berghaus and C. Upham.”

President Garfield is at center right, leaning after being shot. He is supported by Secretary of State James G. Blaine who wears a light colored top hat. To the left, assassin Charles Guiteau is restrained by members of the crowd, one of whom is about to strike him with a cane.

Articles

5 crazy games you played while in the military

As kids growing up, we played games to pass the time, entertain ourselves, and meet other youngsters our age. It was an innocent time.


In the military, it’s sort of the same — except the games are much darker.

Spending the majority of your day either stuck on a ship, humping a pack in the field, or just bored as hell in the barracks, tends to give service members ampul time to come up with simple, low-cost games to play.

Warning: these do not necessarily reflect the most noble moments of our military heritage — but they sure are entertaining!

1. Don’t Fall Asleep

You could consider this a prank or a game.

The military grants you at least 8 hours of rest per night, supposedly. Don’t be so sure that when you manage to sneak a cat nap here or there that someone isn’t out to get you, even if they’re on your side.

These service members found out the hard way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbDoBBTHZtA
 

2. F*ck, Marry, Kill

This one is probably self-explanatory, but Dale Doback from 2008’s Step Brothers (played by John C. Reilly) is going to explain.

 3. No Balls

This game is almost like truth or dare, minus the truth option.

It’s no secret that men and women sometimes talk themselves up in front of their comrades to boost their image to gain respect. We’ve all experienced it at some point or another and maybe even done it ourselves.

The best time to call out “no balls” is after a tough talker makes a strong arm claim and no one else expects it. Seeing everyone’s shocked reaction of “will they do it?” could be priceless.

4. Nut Tap/ The Gator/ Nut Check

The various names of this game are endless.

Out of all the games, this is probably the most dangerous and most painful one. It can leave your fellow gamers fuming at you for extended periods of time, but who cares. It’s hilarious!

This game is typically controlled under false pretenses as getting you mark into proper position can be challenging.

5. Playing Picasso

You’re the last man in the office, as you secure the spaces you notice John Doe has left his CAC inserted (so to speak) into a government computer and he’s gone for the day. Game on!

A Common Access Card (or CAC — please don’t call it a CAC card) is just as important for civilians and active duty members to have in their possession while on base as a driver’s license while operating a motor vehicle. Once you’ve retrieved the CAC, its time to teach the forgetful service member a small, but useful lesson.

Time to create your masterpiece!

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

These games are meant to be conducted out of good wholesome fun. So don’t be that guy who goes overboard.

What military games did you play? Asking for a friend…

Articles

17 breathtaking photos of the Air Force at night

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing sits on the flightline March 25, 2015, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. | US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel


The US Air Force is the world’s premier aerial force.

The Air Force has 39 distinct types of aircraft, not counting individual variants within each of those airframes. This range of planes allows the Air Force to highly specialize for each mission and achieve incredible successes.

The following photos show some of the amazing missions that the Air Force carries out both on air and land at night.

A C-130 Hercules from the 36th Airlift Squadron conducts a night flight mission over Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 11, 2016.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Yasuo Osakabe

Capt. Thomas Bernard, a 36th Airlift Squadron C-130 Hercules pilot, performs a visual confirmation with night vision goggles during a training mission over the Kanto Plain, Japan, Oct. 14, 2015.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Osakabe Yasuo

Capt. Jonathan Bonilla and 1st Lt. Vicente Vasquez, 459th Airlift Squadron UH-1N Huey pilots, fly over Tokyo after completing night training April 25, 2016.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Yasuo Osakabe

The F-35 Integrated Test Force is completing a series of night flights, testing the ability to fly the jet safely in instrument meteorological conditions where the pilot has no external visibility references.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force

A special operations Airman aims his weapon to designate the location of a threat Oct. 9, 2014, during a training mission at Stanford Training Area near Thetford, England.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony

Staff Sgt. Joseph Pico, a security forces Airman with the 106th Rescue Wing, conducts night-firing training at the Suffolk County Police Range in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., May 7, 2015.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
New York Air National Guard/Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy

Canadian special operations regiment members call in close-air support from their US Air Force allies during Emerald Warrior 2013 April 26, 2013, at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Senior Airman Matt Bruch

Airmen with the 9th Airlift Squadron and 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron with Marines from the Marine Expeditionary Brigade prepare to load vehicles into a C-5M Super Galaxy Oct. 6, 2014, at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Jeremy Bowcock

A US Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft assigned to the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, sits on the flight line during pre-flight checks Nov. 23, 2010, while deployed at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Andy M. Kin

Staff Sgt. Robert Clark directs anArmy M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System out of a C-17 Globemaster III, April 25 during Exercise Emerald Warrior, at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

Beneath the light of a full moon, Airmen from the 19th Airlift Wing prepare a C-130J Hercules for a flight March 27, 2013, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Russ Scalf

Senior Airman Larry Webster scans for potential threats using night vision goggles after completing a cargo airdrop Oct. 7, 2013, in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. Webster is a 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Master Sgt. Ben Bloker

A US Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft with the 107th Airlift Wing fires off flares during a night formation training mission.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force

Maintainers from the 81st Fighter Squadron pull out firing pins and chalks to ready an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft for takeoff before a night combat search and rescue training mission July 20, 2012.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Senior Airman Natasha Stannard

Airmen from the 25th Aircraft Maintenance Unit prepare an A-10 Thunderbolt II for a simulated combat sortie in support of exercise Beverly Midnight 16-01 at Osan Air Base, South Korea, March 9, 2016.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Rachelle Coleman

Maj. Kurt Wampole, assisted by Capt. Matt Ward taxis a C-130H Hercules back to its parking spot at Bagram Airfield, Parwan Province, Afghanistan, Oct. 7, 2013 after completing an air cargo drop mission in Ghazni Provence Afghanistan.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
US Air Force/Master Sgt. Ben Bloker

MIGHTY TRENDING

U.S., U.K. blame Russia for 2019 cyberattack on Georgian websites

TBILISI — The United States and Britain have joined Georgia in blaming Russia for a massive coordinated cyberattack last year that took thousands of Georgian websites offline and even disrupted TV broadcasts.

Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimer Konstantinidi told a news conference in Tbilisi on February 20 that the cyberattack was planned and carried out by Russia.


“The investigation conducted by the Georgian authorities, together with information gathered through cooperation with partners, concluded that this cyberattack was planned and carried out by the main division of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation,” Konstantinidi said.

Meanwhile, the United States and Britain said in separate statements that the attack was carried out by a unit of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency known as Unit 74455 and Sandworm.

Sandworm is known as a single group of hackers within the GRU and security experts have linked it to such cyber breaches as the theft of 9 gigabytes of e-mails from the French presidential campaign of Emmanuel Macron, a similar campaign against the Democratic National Committee in the United States in 2016, as well as the malware that hit Ukraine’s power grid in 2015 and spread globally.

Britain has also linked the group to two attacks against Ukraine in 2017, including NotPetya and BadRabbit, which affected the nation’s financial and energy sectors as well as the Kyiv Metro and Odesa’s airport.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

“The United States calls on Russia to cease this behavior in Georgia and elsewhere,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, adding that Washington would provide assistance to Georgia to help improve the country’s ability to fend off such attacks.

“We also pledge our support to Georgia and its people in enhancing their cybersecurity and countering malicious cyber actors,” Pompeo added.

Russia denied involvement in penetrating Georgian government websites.

“Russia did not plan and is not planning to interfere in Georgia’s internal affairs in any way,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko told Russian news agencies.

static.kremlin.ru

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately comment.

More than 2,000 state, private, and media websites as well as two private television stations — Imedi and Maestro — were knocked out on October 28. The targeted websites included those of the president’s office and local municipality offices.

In many cases, website home pages were replaced with an image of former President Mikheil Saakashvili, and the caption “I’ll be back.”

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

With the rise of cyberattacks, Navy ships are now equipped with defense from hackers.

Russia has fraught relations with its southern neighbor, which is seeking to join Western organizations, including the European Union and NATO, moves that Moscow opposes.

Russia fought a five-day war with Georgia in 2008 after which Russia recognized the independence claim of two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which comprise 20 percent of its territory.

Russia is one of only a few countries that recognizes the two regions’ independence.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why the Russian military just landed in Venezuela

Two Russian military planes loaded with troops landed in Venezuela amid an escalating national crisis in the country, according to a Mar. 24, 2019, Reuters report. The planes departed from a Russian military airport and landed in Caracas just months after the two countries conducted military exercises in Venezuela.


The exercises also included troops from Cuba and China and were conducted along the Venezuelan border with Colombia. The planes were filled with at least 100 Russian troops that some say are a message to the Trump Administration, but will likely be helping the Venezuelan military settle the crisis there.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

One of the planes carried the troops while another brought tons of military supplies and equipment. Venezuela’s military is the critical component to holding power there. President Nicolas Maduro maintains a tenuous grip on power because of the military, along with armed groups of militiamen whose role is to keep civilians in line. Those militias can be seen primarily along the Venezuelan border and are being used to keep American aid out of the country.

Challenging Maduro’s legitimacy is opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself the legitimate President of Venezuela, with the backing of the United States. At least 50 other countries have recognized Guaido’s claim to power.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

While the Chinese interest in Venezuela is primarily seen as a financial one – it has a lot invested in Venezuela’s neglected oil sector – Russian interest is believed to be an attempted check on American interventionism worldwide. Russian President Vladimir Putin may even establish a permanent Russian military presence in the country as a way to show the United States it means business.

Another indication that Russia is serious about bolstering the Maduro regime is that the planes allegedly carried Russian General Vasily Tonkoshkurov, the Chief of Staff of the Russian ground forces, with the rest of the Russian troops.

The United States criticized the move as Russian interference in the region. The planes were sighted at the airport in Caracas by a local journalist, who checked the planes against a flight tracking website. The site confirmed the Ilyushin IL-62 passenger jet and an Antonov AN-124 cargo plane departed Russia for Venezuela, after a brief stop in Syria.

Both Russia and Venezuela have not yet commented on what the troops will be doing there.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is the amazing life of the veteran with the most apt tattoo

There is perhaps no photo more iconic to the Post-9/11 generation of warfighters than the one that graced the cover of a Stars and Stripes article in 2011. The article, which was about how MEDEVAC pilots have a single hour to get wounded troops to medical facilities, went viral arguably because of the this photo. The powerful picture was of a critically wounded Pfc. Kyle Hockenberry and the tattoo across his ribs, which reads, “For those I love I will sacrifice.”

The photo quickly spread across both social and print media and his ink became the rallying cry for all American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.


This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

It just so happened that Stars and Stripes journalist Laura Rouch was also on this flight.

(Photo by Laura Rouch, Stars and Stripes)

Kyle Hockenberry had always wanted to serve in the U.S. Army. From the time he joined, he had one phrase in the back of his head that he felt compelled to have permanently etched on himself. He graduated basic training in January 2011 and was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division’s 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment “Pale Riders” who would deploy to Afghanistan the following month.

As many troops tend to do right before shipping out, he got some ink. He had the iconic phrase tattooed onto his ribs. By February, he was at Forward Operating Base Pasab outside of Haji Rammudin.

Then, on the 15th of June, 2011, a pressure plate triggered an IED while Pfc. Hockenberry was moving to cover. It would take both of his legs above the knee and his left arm above the elbow. The blast would also take the life of his friend, Spc. Nick Hensley. He was immediately rushed to the medical facility at Kandahar Air Field.

Laura Rouch of Stars and Stripes was on-site with the crew of Dustoff 59 for her article. Saving Hockenberry was no easy feat.

“They began working on him immediately. They started cutting his clothing off and as they’re getting tourniquets on, they cut away his uniform and this tattoo emerged. I saw the tattoo and it just reached up and grabbed me.” explained Laura Rauch to the Marietta Times.

The severity of the blast and commitment of the flight medics were in constant conflict. Hockenberry’s heart stopped three times and each time the crew pulled him from the brink. He entered a coma as he reached the hospital. Rouch held hold onto the article until Hockenberry recovered enough to give his blessing for publication.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

And of course, the still proudly rocks the hell out of the greatest military tattoo.

(Vanilla Fire Productions)

Hockenberry was then transported to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas to begin walking the long road to recovery. In time, he would marry his loving wife, Ashley, and be promoted to corporal before being medically discharged in 2013. The pair welcomed a happy baby boy, Reagan, in 2016.

Recently, he has been working closely with documentary filmmakers Steven Barber and Paul Freedman on an upcoming documentary, World’s Most Dangerous Paper Route. The film is an inside look and history of Stars and Stripes. Heavily featured in this film is the iconic photo and the incredibly badass life of Kyle Hockenberry.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is what soldiers should expect from the new Army Greens

The Army has been tossing around the idea of adding another uniform to their wardrobe for a while now. During last year’s Army-Navy game, Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey wore an updated version of the classic, WWII-era “Pinks and Greens,” which had many people predicting the iconic uniform would be making a comeback. Well, now it’s official.

The Army announced the upcoming addition of new Army Greens on November 11th and with it comes a whole slew of information that soldiers need to know.


This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

Say what you will about the garrison cap, but it does bring back a bit of style back to the uniform.

(U.S. Army)

First and foremost, they’re not called “Pinks and Greens” like the old WWII-era uniforms. These are called, simply, “Army Greens.” It seems like someone finally got around to realizing that the beige-colored shirt and pants aren’t actually pink.

While the Dress Blues will still act as a soldier’s dress uniform and the OCPs will still be used in the field or deployment, the Greens will be worn during duty hours while the soldier is stationed in garrison stateside or outside the continental US, like in Germany or South Korea.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

Get ready for uniform inspections on a near daily basis everyone…

(U.S. Army)

The biggest concern that a lot of soldiers have about the new uniform change is the price — which is entirely understandable. The Army has said that the change in uniform is “cost-neutral” and won’t be coming out of tax payers’ pockets.

That being said, enlisted soldiers will need to buy them using their annual clothing allowance. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dailey told the Army Times in September that they are doing everything in their power to keep the costs low. Even still, it’s going to cost a bit for the average Joe.

Since it’s a duty uniform, the average soldier will need at least three sets to make it through the week before doing laundry. It will also require that soldiers spend more time preparing their uniforms for the next day, setting their ribbon racks right, shining their shoes, and keeping everything ironed. This could also off-set “hip pocket training” from being more sporadic as leaders would be less willing to mess up perfectly good uniforms.

Take that as you will.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

I speak for all Army veterans when I say “F*ck yes!” to that jacket.

(National Archives)

Costs and effort aside, there are a lot of positives coming with this change.

First off, the slight variations in the uniform seem poised to revive a strong sense of pride in the Army. It hasn’t been officially mentioned yet, but it seems as though airborne and Rangers will still wear their berets instead of the garrison cap. Units authorized to wear jump boots will wear those in lieu of the brown leather oxfords. The Greens also allow for more choices for female soldiers, as they can choose between pants or a skirt and pumps or flats.

Also, the new Greens will supposedly feature an “Ike-style” bomber jacket that goes over the Greens — and that’s badass.

New soldiers will receive Greens in basic training by summer 2020 and it’ll be entirely mandatory, service-wide, by 2028.

As with most uniform changes, it’ll probably look better on the soldiers that take the initiative and start buying them as soon as they hit the PX in summer 2020.

Articles

That time US sailors got a bounty for capturing a Nazi ship

Prior to America’s official entry into World War II, the U.S. Navy was involved in “short of war” operations against Nazi Germany. In some cases this involved escorting merchant ships that were steaming to help supply England.


Tensions between the U.S and Germany increased after a Nazi submarine fired on the destroyer USS Greer (DD 145).

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
Theodore E. Chandler, the commanding officer of USS Omaha during the Odenwald incident. (US Navy photo)

But, as Samuel Eliot Morison pointed out in the “Battle of the Atlantic,” the U.S. was still operating under neutrality legislation. So, when they did stuff to Nazi vessels, they needed to have some legal grounds outside of a war declaration.

On Nov. 6, 1941, the light cruiser USS Omaha (CL 4) and the destroyer USS Somers (DD 381) were on patrol in the South Atlantic looking for a German raider. Two months had passed since the Greer had been fired on, and since then, the destroyer Kearny (DD 432) had been torpedoed and the destroyer USS Reuben James (DD 245) had been sunk.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
USS Omaha (CL 4) in 1943. (US Navy photo)

The Omaha and Somers then came across a ship claiming to be an American merchant vessel out of Philadelphia. The interaction with the vessel drew suspicions, and the Omaha, under the command of Capt. Theodore E. Chandler, ordered the vessel to stop. A boarding party came aboard just as scuttling charges went off. The boarding party kept the ship from sinking, and determined its true identity as the German blockade runner Odenwald.

The ship was taken to Puerto Rico, where the cargo – over 6,200 tons, including 103 truck tires and lots of rubber – and the vessel were sold off. According to Samuel Eliot Morison, the Navy justified the intercept by claiming that the Odenwald was a suspected slave trader.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
The Navy prize crew on board the Odenwald. Each of them received $3,000 in 1947. (US Navy photo)

In 1947, the Odenwald’s owners sued the Navy over the seizure. It didn’t pan out for them at all. The boarding party and prize crew assigned to the vessel, though, made out big-time: $3,000 each. Crew on board the Omaha and Somers got two months of pay and allowances.

That’s a prize worth as much as $34,000 today.

Chandler, though, never got that bonus. Although he was promoted to rear admiral, in January 1945, his flagship, the heavy cruiser USS Louisville (CA 28), was hit by kamikazes off Iwo Jima. While assisting in fighting fires, his lungs were badly injured, and he died of his wounds soon after.

Articles

Retired A-10 crew chief discusses his relationship with the Thunderbolt II

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you


In the heart of the Sonoran Desert lies a 2,600-acre piece of land, a “boneyard,” where it is commonly understood a unique bond exists between an Airman and his aircraft.

Since the days shortly after World War II, this particular piece of land, located on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, has been the final resting place for tens of thousands of military aircraft, many of which have played a significant role in shaping the world since the early 1940’s.

The boneyard is home to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. It’s where 600 technicians, from dozens of specialties, ensure the preservation or perform the “cannibalization” of the sleeping fleet. Most of the technicians have decades of experience, both military and civilian, spanning multiple generations of airframes. However, not many have the level of relationship Richard Brunt has with the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which pilots and crews lovingly refer to as the “Warthog.”

Those who come across Brunt in the boneyard, may assume he’s just another mechanic. He has that seasoned maintainer demeanor, sun-scorched skin, roughly calloused hands, and sarcasm perpetuated by thousands of hours of knuckle-busting wrench turns.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
Richard Brunt cleans the windscreen of an A-10 at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, circa 1988. | Photo by Richard Brunt

Nevertheless, Brunt is far more than a junkyard part puller.

“I joined the military in 1975, but it wasn’t until my second tour of active duty that I worked as an aviation crew chief,” said Brunt. “I always had a passion for all things aviation, so I was excited.

“Initially I worked five years on F-4 (Phantoms), F-111 (Aardvarks), and as a quality assurance inspector. But, in 1987, after a three-year tour at Osan Air Base, Korea, that’s when I was struck by the Thunderbolt.”

Brunt joined a “hodge-podge of crew chiefs and pilots” from all over the world who were tasked with activating the Air Force’s first OA-10 forward air controller (FAC) airborne unit.

“We all had to learn a new aircraft; none of us had touched an A-10 … it made us a close-knit group,” Brunt said. “All of us worked together, the mechanics and the pilots. We had one goal in mind: get qualified.”

From 1987 to 1990, Staff Sgt. Brunt and the 23rd Tactical Air Support Squadron trained day in and day out, traveling throughout the country. They were also tasked with providing heavily armed airborne FAC to support the Army’s renowned and battle-tested 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions.

After two years of intense training, the Davis-Monthan AFB OA-10 unit was called upon to support Operation Desert Storm. The unit would formally usher in the new era of close air-support and give rise to a new term – “tank-plinking.”

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
An A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft takes part in a mission during Operation Desert Storm. The aircraft is armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, AGM-65 Maverick missiles, and Mark 82 500-pound bombs. | Air Force photo

The sight of the group’s hard work and preparation finally being utilized during Desert Storm is as vivid for Brunt as if it were yesterday.  He calls it the fondest memory of his career.

“I remember the night we caught the (Iraqi) Republican Guard moving south along the Highway of Death (Highway 80, which runs from Kuwait City to Basra, Iraq),” Brunt said. “The first group of A-10s I launched came back and the pilots were all pumped up. They had spotted a whole convoy that spanned many miles.

“That night, we launched nearly 600 jets. Our pilots did a typical tactical attack; they knocked out the front, then knocked out the back, boxing them in. Each jet carried 1,150 pounds of (high-explosive incendiary), the 30 millimeter cannon, four bombs, and two to four air-to-ground missiles … each one came back empty. It was a great day.”

Although missions like that night were filled with adrenaline and affirmation, those moments were always short-lived. Most days were filled with nonstop sortie generation, harsh conditions and constant angst from the surrounding dangers.

Still, it was never just a job for Brunt, it was a sense of pride; it was never just his name on the side of the plane that connected him to the machine, it was much deeper.

“Every day, multiple times a day, that was my plane heading into danger, my pilot relying on my machine to respond accurately and protect his life,” Brunt said.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
Richard Brunt, left, and Captain Patrick B. Olson stand in front an OA-10, number 197, in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. | Photo courtesy Richard Brunt

Unfortunately, one of the most defining moments in Brunt’s love affair with the A-10 was the loss of a dear friend and colleague.

“His name was Lt. Patrick Olson,” Brunt said. “We called him Oly. He was a great officer. I was his crew chief; it was our names on the side of aircraft 77-197.

“I remember it clear as day. There was a light drizzle and as we prepared for launch; Oly was talking about how he heard the war may end really soon. I got him in the plane, buckled him up and he took off up north toward the Republican Guard.”

That day, Feb. 27, 1991, Olson was directing fire toward Iraqi tanks when he was spotted and immediately engaged. He quickly yanked the A-10′s vertical to the ground, banked sharply and instead of disengaging, went directly for the Iraqi tanks. Olson’s aircraft took critical damage.

“He was hit with (anti-aircraft artillery), they disabled his rudder and elevator,” said Brunt. He was told to bailout… but he said ‘No, I’m going to land this thing.'”

Because of the damage sustained by the aircraft, as he was preparing to land, the gear in his wing broke through the skin, the plane slide sideways, flipped over and burst into flames.

“I took it very hard,” explained Brunt, “When the expediter pulled me aside and told me that Oly wouldn’t be coming back, I burst into tears; it was hard for me to process.”

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
Richard Brunt touches a memorial plaque, located in Heritage Park at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 5, 2016, which honors Captain Patrick B. Olson. | Photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

The war ended the next day.

After an emotionally charged six months in Saudi Arabia, Brunt spent the next five years traveling the world with the A-10, supporting multiple operations. Then, in 1996, after 17 years and 10 months in the service, Brunt was the subject of the Air Force’s reduction in force efforts; he retired as a technical sergeant with full benefits.

Following retirement, Brunt looked for ways to stay with the A-10. It wasn’t until 2002, after six years of working multiple jobs in aviation, that he was finally reunited with the aircraft.

“For years I had been trying to get back to the plane that I knew the best, the one I spent 11 years with,” Brunt explained. “The wait had been too long.”

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

While the Thunderbolts were the same, Brunt’s new involvement with them was exactly the opposite of what it used to be. Instead of repairing them, he was tearing them apart.

“It’s a shame going through the save list and striping them down,” Brunt said. “It’s hard to imagine that the very aircraft that took me to all ends of the world would soon be crushed up, salvaged and probably turned into beer cans.

“At least for now, the A-10 will live on for a few more years and the parts I pull will keep the aircraft flying and save the tax-payers millions of dollars. When the A-10 is finally taken out of commission, it will not be forgotten. It has given me some of the greatest moments of my life. For that I owe it a great deal of gratitude.”

For those traveling to Davis-Monthan that get a chance to tour the boneyard, look for Brunt. You’ll find him hard at work, carefully stripping down the birds he once repaired. Ask him about his time with the A-10 and you’ll see a subtle grin and a sparkle in his eye…he’ll begin to point out his favorites starting with the NF (Nail FAC) Desert Storm aircraft.

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia’s ‘proof’ of the US helping ISIS is from a video game

Moscow has for months been accusing the US of aiding ISIS in Syria, and on Monday, the Russian Ministry of Defense finally tweeted out “irrefutible evidence” of the collusion.


But it turns out the evidence was just screenshots of a video game and old videos from Iraq, according to Bellingcat.

“#Russian_Mod shows irrefutable evidence that #US are actually covering ISIS combat units to recover their combat capabilities, redeploy, and use them to promote American interests in Middle East,” the Russian Ministry of Defense tweeted, in a now-deleted tweet.

One of the pictures in the tweet of the US supposedly covering an ISIS convoy leaving the Abu Kamal region was actually a screenshot from an AC-130 gunship simulator video game, Bellingcat reported.

Below is a side by side screenshot provided by Bellingcat of the Russian screenshot and the video game screenshot:

This dying Army vet’s last wish is to hear from you
Russian Ministry of Defense’s “irrefutable evidence (left) and video game simulator (right). Screenshot/Bellingcat

The other three images were also not what Russia claimed, but instead from videos shot in Iraq in 2016.

 

Russian citizens themselves even called out their Ministry of Defense for the mistake, accordingto Newsweek.

“Do not humiliate yourselves and do not humiliate Russia,” one Russian tweeted at the Ministry of Defense.

“Won’t you comment on how a screenshot from a game appeared in your evidence file connecting the U.S. with ISIS,” another Russian tweeted.

On Tuesday, Russian state-owned media outlet TASS blamed the ordeal on a “civil service employee.”

Read More: Russia claims US is actually helping ISIS in Syria

“The Russian Defense Ministry is investigating its civil service employee who erroneously attached wrong photo illustrations to its statement on interaction between the US-led international coalition and Islamic State militants near Abu Kamal, Syria,” the ministry said, according to TASS.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has since deleted the tweets of the false images. However, some images are still up, including the one below, which is actually pinned to their page.

 

But Michael Kofman, a senior research analyst at CNA, told Business Insider that while the images still up are not from the video game or old videos from Iraq, “they are really blurry and incredibly difficult to verify.””It’s impossible to tell, but I suspect none of this footage is real,” Kofman said, adding that even if they were images of ISIS convoys in Syria, it doesn’t prove that the US is aiding the terrorist group in any way.

“The claim itself is actually ridiculous,” Kofman said, with a laugh.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Meet North Korea’s most powerful woman, Kim Yo Jong: Kim Jong Un’s 30-something sister who could lead the country if something happens to him

As North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sought to raise his international standing, a figure seen by his side almost constantly during his meetings with world leaders is none other than his younger sister Kim Yo Jong.

Those frequent appearances have taken on a new significance in recent days, as rumors swirl that the dictator is gravely ill after a surgery. Kim Jong Un’s line of succession is hazy — he is believed to have three children, but they are too young to take control over the country, and his brother has reportedly been deemed unfit to lead.


That has prompted speculation that Kim Yo Jong is next in line, though the country has never had a female leader.

During the two summits between the US and North Korea, Kim Yo Jong was front and center during the historic show of diplomacy between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

She also traveled to South Korea during the 2018 Winter Olympics, becoming the first member of North Korea’s ruling family to visit the south since the Korean War in the 1950s.

Like her brother, and much of the rest of their family, few details are known about Kim Yo Jong and the life she lived before reaching a prime leadership role in the North Korean government.

Here’s what we know about her so far.

Like many of Kim’s family members, Kim Yo Jong’s exact age is difficult to pin down. But she’s believed to be in her early 30s, likely born in 1989.

Kim Yo Jong as a girl: this is the earliest photo we have of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, taken while she was at school in Switzerland.pic.twitter.com/LrDFgGBzdt

twitter.com

She’s the youngest child of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and his consort, Ko Yong Hui, a former dancer.

She was partly educated in Switzerland at the same school Kim Jong Un attended. But she returned to North Korea in 2000 after completing the US equivalent of the sixth grade.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2F5c76d86b2628981e0e185319%3Fwidth%3D1300%26format%3Djpeg%26auto%3Dwebp&ho=https%3A%2F%2Fi.insider.com&s=327&h=f892c8a2729aafffe7a2825c410497bf48761ebcad11d2871036e6f55e3653b1&size=980x&c=3282151137 crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252F5c76d86b2628981e0e185319%253Fwidth%253D1300%2526format%253Djpeg%2526auto%253Dwebp%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fi.insider.com%26s%3D327%26h%3Df892c8a2729aafffe7a2825c410497bf48761ebcad11d2871036e6f55e3653b1%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3282151137%22%7D” expand=1]

The Liebefeld-Steinhölzli public school in Köniz, Switzerland.

Sandstein/Wikimedia Commons

Kim Yo Jong appeared destined for a powerful career from a young age. Kim Jong Il once bragged to foreign interlocutors in 2002 that his youngest daughter was interested in politics and eager to work in North Korea’s government.

It’s completely unclear where she was or what she was up to between 2000 and 2007.

In the following years, she conducted a lot of behind-the-scenes work for her father, Kim Jong Il, and brother Kim Jong Un. She played a particularly significant role in helping Kim Jong Un take over instead of his older brothers.

Her first public appearance was in 2011 at Kim Jong Il’s funeral.

Kim Yo Jong’s first recorded public appearance: The North Korean princess appeared among the mourners at her father’s funeral at the end of 2011.pic.twitter.com/GWPw4dgbZU

twitter.com

Kim Yo Jong made headlines in 2017 after she was promoted to a top position in her brother’s government: the head of the propaganda department of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

That’s not just a fancy title — Kim Yo Jong plays a crucial role in controlling her brother’s public image.

Kim Yo Jong’s role in the North Korean regime is not just ceremonial. She’s actually working, protecting the image of her brother Kim Jong Un and making sure that everything runs smoothly.pic.twitter.com/hWsQnPIZzr

twitter.com

In public, Kim Yo Jong appears to have greater freedom than other top government officials in North Korea, occasionally appearing in photographs unaccompanied, rather than constantly being in the presence of Kim Jong Un.

Some have speculated that she was promoted partly in an effort to continue Kim Jong Un’s dynasty. While she’s out of the line of succession, some believe she could take over the country’s leadership if something happens to Kim Jong Un before his kids are old enough to rule.

It wouldn’t be an unprecedented role for her, either. Kim Yo Jong once briefly took control of the country’s affairs while her brother was ill in 2014, according to a South Korean think tank run by North Korean defectors.

She stepped onto the world stage in February 2018. In a rare show of diplomacy between the two Koreas, Kim Yo Jong traveled to South Korea for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Everyone’s eyes were on Kim Yo Jong at the start of the games. She shared a historic handshake with South Korean President Moon Jae In, and both broke out in smiles.

During the opening ceremony, she sat right behind US Vice President Mike Pence, second lady Karen Pence, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Kim Yo Jong and Pence did not speak with each other.

Her interaction with South Korean leaders was a rare show of diplomacy and warmth. Given her experience in propaganda, she likely knew exactly what she was doing to try and curry favorable attention.

In April 2018, she played a crucial role in the peace talks between the two Koreas. Leaders from the two nations met at the Demilitarized Zone, and Kim Yo Jong was notably the only woman at the table.

Though she stayed well away from the spotlight, leaving that to her brother, it was clear Kim Yo Jong played a significant role in orchestrating the talks and ensuring the day ran smoothly.

She was her brother’s right-hand woman when he and Trump signed the agreement acknowledging North Korea’s intentions to denuclearize.

Kim Yo Jong sparked curiosity at one point, when she switched out the pen that was provided for the summit with her own ballpoint pen. It’s unclear why she swapped the pens, but some have speculated that it was for security reasons.

Anyone else spot this? There were two “Donald Trump” signing pens, NK official came in and shined up the one for Kim, then at the last minute Kim Yo Jong pulled out her own per to use instead of the one provided. Kim used that and back it went in her blazer. (Pool video)pic.twitter.com/dZWEK22IdF

twitter.com

She made headlines in February 2019 when she was seen holding her brother’s ashtray while he smoked during their train journey to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Kim Jong Un takes smoking break on way to Summit

www.youtube.com

Kim Yo Jong was featured prominently in the preparations for her brother’s talks with Trump, often rushing ahead to make sure everything was ready.

She even went viral at one point when she seemed to be hiding in the plants as Kim Jong Un met with the US president at the Metropole Hotel.

An incredible addition to annals of “Where’s Kim Yo Jong?” from @nknewsorg’s @chadocl.pic.twitter.com/9zZSUAnsL2

twitter.com

It has become increasingly clear over the past several years that Kim Yo Jong was one of her brother’s most trusted officials, and her power in the regime was only growing.

But in the Hermit Kingdom, no one’s position is ever truly secure under the mercurial leadership of Kim Jong Un. He’s known for turning on family members quickly when they fall out of favor — and it remains to be seen whether Kim Yo Jong is an exception.

Kim Yo Jong was not listed as an alternate member of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea politburo — the party’s top decision-making body — and did not appear at any high-profile events during an important party gathering in April 2019.

She also missed a meeting between Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin later that month, fueling speculation that she had been demoted.

One theory is that Kim Jong Un ordered her to lie low after his failed summit with Trump in February 2019.

But in early June 2019, Kim Yo Jong was spotted for the first time in 52 days, suggesting she was back in her brother’s good graces.

In October 2019, North Korean media released strange photos of Kim Jong Un riding a white horse atop a mountain with historic and symbolic significance.

Experts told Business Insider that the photos are packed with political meaning — and could foreshadow a frightening military advancement.

Since then, her profile has only grown. In March 2020, Kim Yo Jong made her first-ever public statement, insulting South Korea as a “frightened dog barking” after the country condemned one of North Korea’s live-fire military drills.

“Such incoherent assertion and actions… only magnify our distrust, hatred and scorn for the South side as a whole,” Kim Yo Jong said in the statement.

The following month, Kim Yo Jong was reinstated as an alternate member of the Workers’ Party of Korea politburo, suggesting that all has been forgiven since the collapse of last year’s summit.

Given these recent developments, it’s clear that Kim Yo Jong’s power has grown tremendously in recent years, fueling speculation that no other family members besides her could take over.

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

Do Not Sell My Personal Information