This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets - We Are The Mighty
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This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Devin Faulkner is an infantry veteran of the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team who is pedalling across America on a bike in an effort to raise money for veteran causes.


The 24-year-old began his journey Jun. 4 in San Francisco with the intent of riding to New York across 3,900 miles, mostly avoiding major highways and sticking to roads filled with people and other cyclists.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
Devin Faulkner takes a short pit stop on Jun. 6, his second day of riding. Photo courtesy Devin Faulkner via his blog.

Faulkner left a job at Monster Energy to attempt his trip. Faulkner began at Monster as a photography intern assigned to cover military and veteran activities. This quickly led to him getting involved with the Warrior Built Foundation, a veteran-ran group sponsored by Monster which provides vets with recreational therapy through racing events, camping trips, and vehicle fabrication.

While working for Monster with Warrior Built Foundation and other veteran groups, Faulkner found himself thinking back to an idea he had mentioned to his old medic, a ride across the entire continental U.S.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
Devin Faulkner during training in the U.S. Army. Photo courtesy Devin Faulkner

And now he’s doing it in what is tentatively planned as a 48-day ride. Faulkner planned the route by looking at weather concerns and finding roads frequented by other cyclists.

“So, my original plan,” Faulkner told WATM, “was to ride from San Bernadino, California, where I live, to New York … but then I thought about, ‘This is June. It’s hot out there. There’s no way I’m built to survive in Arizona on a bicycle without water.'”

So Faulkner looked North and used Strava heat maps to find roads commonly ridden by other cyclists. The final route leads through Nevada and Utah east through Chicago and across to New York. He is hoping to finish in about seven weeks but is leaving himself open to stopping in cities to speak with veteran groups along his route, potentially delaying his arrival in New York.

To keep costs low, he’s carrying a tent and sleeping wherever he can find a spot to pitch it.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
Everything Devin Faulkner will have for the ride is packed on his bike. Photo courtesy Devin Faulkner via his Go Fund Me page.

Unfortunately, he faced trouble even before he could leave for the trip. Faulkner is coming off of two injuries. The first came during a training ride when he moved to avoid a car and struck an obstacle on the road, hurting his wrist and delaying his training. Right after he was able to return to training, he was hurt again when he was riding a motorcycle to work and was sideswiped by a car.

Still, Faulkner was set on beginning his ride on time and climbed back onto the bike just in time to leave for his trip.

All money he raises on the ride is going to post-traumatic stress and groups, such as Warrior Built, that seek to help veterans suffering from PTSD.

Supporters can contribute to Devin’s ride through his Go Fund Me page and can follow his trip through his blog, Downshift With Devin.

MIGHTY TRENDING

9 hilarious memes that actually teach military history

Look, we get it, military history is one of the more exciting histories to learn, but it’s still a bunch of history lessons. All the descriptions of amazing heroics and bold battle plans are watered down by the years of failed diplomacy, post-war reconstructions, and industrial build ups.

Luckily, we found these nine awesome military memes that hit a lot of the high notes:


At the start of World War I, people from all over the world were surprised to learn that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand had triggered a series of dominoes that resulted in them needing to cross oceans and fight people they never met for confusing reasons. Extensive treaty networks and colonial relationships dragged country after country into what was originally a single territory’s attempt at revolution.

Yes, troops from New Zealand, Australia, and India were sent to fight for the British Empire against Germany and the other Centrists powers. French colonial forces did the same thing. Some battles were actually fought in those far-flung colonies, resulting in locals in places like Africa and southern Asia being surprised by sudden battles erupting around them.

Napoleon was one of the most capable and revolutionary military leaders in history, so much so that he was able to rise from commoner to first consul to Emperor of France. But then he forgot to win some battles and was exiled from France to the Isle of Elba.

But then he decided to leave Elba and win some battles again. That plan was short-lived because just about every kingdom in Europe agreed that Napoleon should be either dead or somewhere else, so they sent their best forces, generals, and admirals to make him either pretty dead or at least get him off the continent.

Napoleon was defeated again in 1815 and exiled some more, this time to the island of Saint Helena. He died there, partially thanks to arsenic-based home decor.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
(Piximus.net)

In case you don’t remember dates well, June 5, 1944, was the original date for D-Day, but it got postponed to June 6 due to weather, which is what this particular meme is referring to.

Speaking of the weather, the Allies had better weather reports than the Axis, so their top weatherman called for a few good, clear hours of decent seas on the morning of June 6 thanks to a break in a storm. Rommel and the Axis did not know about this break, and so they figured they could screw off and go to birthday parties and stuff.

Yeah, for real, Rommel left the beaches to go celebrate his wife’s birthday. The beach defense didn’t go perfectly for the Germans, and Hitler was facing a two-front war.

(Three, if you count fighting in Italy, which no one does because a bunch of the best forces in Italy were diverted to Operation Dragoon soon after the D-Day landings, so there were insufficient forces around to press the attack north quickly. They did tie up German Army Group C and eventually win, though.)

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
(@avalonnicholls95)

But that new front in France was sort of hard to win. While most history classes talk about D-Day and then yada-yada to the Battle of the Bulge, those yada-yadas cover a lot of horrible fighting. The first big troubles came in the hedgerows just past the beaches.

The fields and gardens of Normandy were crisscrossed with hedges that formed thousands of tiny little enclosures, and soldiers had to punch through one right after another. Each enclosure could be defended by snipers, machine gunners, and other forces. The infantrymen and tankers couldn’t know whether an RPG team was waiting for them at every breach.

So, yeah, they took heavy losses.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
(Reddit)

While we love to point out that the British Imperial Army was the largest on Earth during the Revolution, Britain couldn’t afford to actually send many to the colonies to put down the rebellion. But the troops they did send were some of the best trained in the world, and they did have thousands of high-grade mercenaries.

British forces, counting their American Loyalists, did typically outnumber their U.S. counterparts, but thanks to weapons and powder sent from France, America had a fighting chance. Gen. George Washington made plenty of mistakes, but he had a keen military mind and learned from each one.

As his men gained experience, he began to achieve some stunning victories while also avoiding defeat. And, for most insurgencies, avoiding defeats is enough to eventually win. Britain got tired of fighting in what it saw as a backwater and bailed on the conflict. (Something very embarrassing for the men who had to surrender to Washington.)

Yup, Germany sank our ships and killed our civilians. But, in their defense, the U.S. was providing all sorts of materials to Allied combatants in World War I (and later in World War II). So, while the American government and military were “neutral” for most of the war, its industry was very much not neutral.

Germany, understandably, found this objectionable. But their policy of unrestricted submarine warfare just galvanized the American public, especially after the Lusitania was sunk.

So, bit by bit, Germany attacked American industry and people until the government and military did join the war. And then America started pouring 10,000 troops or more a day into Europe to fight Germany.

It went badly for Germany.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets
(Piximus.net)

In Britain’s defense, declaring independence didn’t make America independent either. It was mostly the “drunken libertarian farmers and fishermen” thing mentioned before.

We’re not going to go through the whole American Revolution thing again.

Fun fact: China was once the hands-down most powerful nation on Earth. Its population benefited from the simple economics of old-time agriculture. Rice produced more calories per acre than wheat and other grains, and China’s rice lands were super productive. This allowed Chinese people to specialize more and make technological advances.

They invented all sorts of nifty stuff, including gunpowder. But then they focused on arts and culture, and they stopped focusing on technology or military investment. That, compounded with Britain smuggling metric tons of opium into the country, eventually broke China’s back.

Sure, they had advanced past torch-fired rockets long before America built its first F-22, but you get the point.

If you don’t know about White Death, Simo “Simuna” Häyhä, boy are you missing out. The Finnish sniper fought in the Winter War from November 1939 to March 1940. The Soviet Union had hundreds of thousands more troops, better equipment, and the benefit of knowing that no other nations in the area would join the war against them

Thanks to all of this, Russia … Wait, lost? Yeah, Russia took approximately 350,000 losses to Finland’s 70,000. This was partially thanks to Häyhä’s efforts, as the sniper killed more than five Soviets per day for 100 days. He wore a white mask to help him blend in with the snowfields, and he would hold snow in his mouth to prevent his breath fogging where Russian soldiers would see it.

Häyhä took a shot to the face in 1940 that ended his frontline career, but he survived until 2002.

Of course, Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 and the Soviet Union re-invaded Finland, capturing more Finnish territory and forcing Finland to pay many of the monetary costs of the war.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Marines to shut down all tank units, cut infantry battalions in major overhaul

In the next decade, the Marine Corps will no longer operate tanks or have law enforcement battalions. It will also have three fewer infantry units and will shed about 7% of its overall force as the service prepares for a potential face-off with China.


The Marine Corps is cutting all military occupational specialties associated with tank battalions, law enforcement units and bridging companies, the service announced Monday. It’s also reducing its number of infantry battalions from 24 to 21 and cutting tiltrotor, attack and heavy-lift aviation squadrons.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

The changes are the result of a sweeping months-long review and war-gaming experiments that laid out the force the service will need by 2030. Commandant Gen. David Berger directed the review, which he has called his No. 1 priority as the service’s top general.

“Developing a force that incorporates emerging technologies and a significant change to force structure within our current resource constraints will require the Marine Corps to become smaller and remove legacy capabilities,” a news release announcing the changes states.

By 2030, the Marine Corps will drop down to an end strength of 170,000 personnel. That’s about 16,000 fewer leathernecks than it has today.

Cost savings associated with trimming the ranks will pay for a 300% increase in rocket artillery capabilities, anti-ship missiles, unmanned systems and other high-tech equipment leaders say Marines will need to take on threats such as China or Russia.

“The Marine Corps is redesigning the 2030 force for naval expeditionary warfare in actively contested spaces,” the announcement states.

Units and squadrons that will be deactivated under plan include:

  • 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines
  • Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264
  • Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462
  • Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469
  • Marine Wing Support Groups 27 and 37
  • 8th Marine Regiment Headquarters Company.
This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

The 8th Marine Regiment’s other units — 1/8 and 2/8 — will be absorbed by other commands. Second Marines will take on 1/8, and 2/8 will go to the 6th Marine Regiment.

Artillery cannon batteries will fall from 21 today to five. Amphibious vehicle companies will drop from six to four.

The Hawaii-based Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, which flies AH-1Z and UH-1Y aircraft, will also be deactivated and relocated to Camp Pendleton, California, the release states.

And plans to reactivate 5th Battalion, 10th Marines, as a precision rocket artillery system unit are also being scrapped. That unit’s assigned batteries will instead realign under 10th Marines, according to the release.

“The future Fleet Marine Force requires a transformation from a legacy force to a modernized force with new organic capabilities,” it adds. “The FMF in 2030 will allow the Navy and Marine Corps to restore the strategic initiative and to define the future of maritime conflict by capitalizing on new capabilities to deter conflict and dominate inside the enemy’s weapon engagement zone.”

Existing infantry units are going to get smaller and lighter, according to the plan, “to support naval expeditionary warfare, and built to facilitate distributed and Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations.”

The Marine Corps will also create three littoral regiments that are organized, trained and equipped to handle sea denial and control missions. The news release describes the new units as a “Pacific posture.” Marine expeditionary units, which deploy on Navy ships, will augment those new regiments, the release adds.

In addition to more unmanned systems and long-range fire capabilities, the Marine Corps also wants a new light amphibious warship and will invest in signature management, electronic warfare and other systems that will allow Marines to operate from “minimally developed locations.”

Berger has called China’s buildup in the South China Sea and Asia-Pacific region a game changer for the Navy and Marine Corps. He has pushed for closer integration between the sea services, as the fight shifts away from insurgent groups in the Middle East and to new threats at sea.

Marine officials say they will continue evaluating and war-gaming the service’s force design.

“Our force design initiatives are designed to create and maintain a competitive edge against tireless and continuously changing peer adversaries,” the release states.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force has new app to save time, keep planes battle-ready

The Air Force Reserve went live with an app that is expected to save time and stress for aircraft maintainers late 2018 with an estimated 100 users to be enrolled by February 2019.

Headquarters Air Force, AFRC, and Monkton teamed up to create an iOS modern mobile app that enables maintainers to directly access the maintenance database from the flight line at the point of aircraft repair. This eliminates the need to secure their tools, go to back to their office and log into a network computer to document the maintenance actions performed.

The BRICE app, or Battle Record Information Core Environment, was designed with all the necessary Department of Defense security and authentication required to allow the maintainers to input, store and transmit data in real time to the maintenance database.


“Maintainers didn’t have a convenient way to input their maintenance actions into the system of record.” said Maj. Jonathan Jordan, Headquarters Air Force Reserve A6 logistics IT policy and strategy branch chief. “They have to travel to a desktop computer, go through the sign-in procedure for both the computer and the maintenance data system, then they can enter the data for the maintenance performed on the flightline.”

During user acceptance testing at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, 81 percent of testers estimated the app saved an hour or more of time per day.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Air Force Reserve Command A4 Directorate, Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, hosts a user acceptance testing session for the Battle Record Information Core Environment mobile app at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., with the 924th Fighter Group maintainers in March 2018.

(US Air Force photo)

“Live data availability is paramount for field units to take swift maintenance actions and schedule work orders as changes are occurring across the flight line,” said Christopher Butigieg, Headquarters Air Force project delivery manager. “Additionally, returning time back to maintainers is an added benefit as task documentation is completed throughout the day rather than at the end of shift.”

Because the data entry can occur in real time by using the new app, there is a greater probability of accuracy and less steps involved compared to the current steps of writing notes on a piece of paper and transcribing them into the database later from an office.

Some of the challenges overcome with development of the app were overwhelming security documentation requirements and connectivity challenges on the flightline. Through a partnership with Monkton, Amazon, and Verizon, the team was able to create a secure path to take the modern technology and interface with a legacy database system securely from almost anywhere according to Jordan.

“Over the past couple of years there has been a paradigm shift from desktop computing to mobile. This application provides a friendly and easy-to-use interface that is familiar to an everyday mobile users,” said Butigieg.

He said the app performs the same desktop computer actions on a handheld device and typically more efficiently by utilizing on-device hardware and software.

The biggest benefit is improved quality of life according to Master Sgt. Daniel Brierton, AFRC A4 Directorate, Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, eTool Functional Manager, A4 Directorate, Logistics, Engineering, and Force Protection.

As someone who has worked in aircraft maintenance for 10 years Brierton knows how the workload has changed especially when the maintainer shortage was at its peak.

“When we signed up for aircraft maintenance, the image in our head was not sitting at a desk,” said Brierton. “Maintainers are here to fix jets. This effort aides maintainers by reducing time spent on documentation, transit, and legacy IT systems.”

According to Jordan, if each maintainer saved an hour of time by using the app, as many reported in the acceptance testing, this would result in over five million hours of recouped time on maintenance tasks Air Force-wide.

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Special Tactics combat controller laid to rest at Arlington

Known for his grit, loyalty, unwavering character, and the author of quick-witted military cadences, often referred to as “jodies,” Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin was tough, dedicated, and easy going — often making light of difficult situations.

He was a good teammate, a selfless friend and a true patriot who expressed a willingness to lay down his life for what he believed in — God and country.


Elchin, a Special Tactics combat controller assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, was honored as hundreds gathered in the rain and he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, Jan. 24, 2019.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

A Special Tactics combat controller with the 24th Special Operations Wing pounds a flash into the casket of Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

“The boy had a deep-seeded love for his country, and I think early on he decided he wanted to do something with that,” Elchin’s grandfather, Ron Bogolea said. “Somewhere along the line, he apparently made the decision that he was willing to give his life for the country.”

As a Special Tactics combat controller, Elchin was specially trained and equipped for immediate deployment into combat operations to conduct global access, precision strike, and personnel recovery operations. He was skilled in reconnaissance operations, air traffic control and joint terminal attack control operations.

Foundation of morals, discipline

Growing up in rural Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Elchin’s love for camping, hiking, and swimming led him to cub and boy scouts, where his grandfather, Bogolea, believes he acquired his moral compass.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Dawna Duez, mother of Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin, receives a flag from Air Force Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, during a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Jan. 24, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

“He loved the whole aspect of boy scouts,” said Bogolea. “I think as a boy scout, it did a lot to instill in him some of the better moral things in life that people need, and it filled him with patriotism.”

Alongside three brothers, Dylan grew up doing “boy things,” often resulting in minor scrapes and bruises. A trip to the hospital at the age of four showcased a trait that would establish the foundation for Elchin’s success in Special Tactics.

As Bogolea recalls, Dylan’s horseplay on a bunkbed resulted in a laceration above his eye that required stitches, but with the location of the cut, the medical team wasn’t able to apply any medication for the pain. What happened next amazed Dylan’s grandfather and showcased how Dylan was different from other children.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

An Air Force bugler plays taps during the military funeral honors of Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

“The boy never whimpered, never whined, never cried, and I was just amazed.” Bogolea said. “From that point on, I just knew there was something a little different about this child. He could take things and kind of brush them off.”

Joining the nation’s elite warriors

By age 14, Dylan began reading accounts of various historical conflicts — Vietnam, the Gulf War, and others — that involved the expertise of special operations.

“A spark ignited, the spark that most of us don’t have,” Bogolea said.

At the end of high school, Dylan visited the local Air Force recruiter and expressed his desire to perform more high-risk activities.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

A casket team folds an American flag during the military funeral honors of Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin, a Special Tactics combat controller assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Jan. 24, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

“Dylan wanted to jump out of airplanes, scuba dive and do all that fun stuff,” his grandfather said.

The recruiter was able to fulfill Dylan’s desires and offered him an opportunity to serve his nation as a Special Tactics combat controller. While the desire and passion were there, Elchin needed to focus on the physical aspects of the job to best prepare him for what lay ahead.

“For a year, the recruiter took Dylan under his wing and brought him to the YMCA…swam him, lifted weights with him, ran him, ran him and ran him.” Bogolea said. “The whole year this recruiter got him in shape; otherwise he wouldn’t have made it.”

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

A casket team removes the casket of Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin, a Special Tactics combat controller assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

On Aug. 7, 2012, the Hopewell High School graduate would come one step closer to his goal as he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and arrived in San Antonio, Texas for basic military training. Upon graduation, he immediately began the two-year Special Tactics combat control training program.

As Dylan progressed through one of the most strenuous military training programs, his teammates began to notice one of his most valued characteristics, his quick-witted humor.

“He was a hilarious human, he was probably one of the funniest people that I’ve ever encountered in this job,” said a Special Tactics officer with the 720th Special Tactics Group and Dylan’s teammate in the pipeline. “His quick wit, his ability to draw the most hilarious comics and just provide levity to the worst situations made him an unbelievable teammate that everybody wanted to help carry along and be carried by.”

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

A caisson carries the casket of Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

However, it wasn’t only his humor his teammates noticed. They saw the same spark Bogolea did.

“He just had that grit…He just kept driving through and he would always do whatever it took to get the job done. That definitely stood out to me,” said a Special Tactics officer and Elchin’s teammate throughout the pipeline and his team leader at the 26th STS. “His never quit, no-fail attitude carried him, and that’s what he took to everything he did, even post-pipeline, as an operator.”

When it came time for Dylan and his team to graduate from combat control school at Pope Field, North Carolina, and don their scarlet berets for the first time, he invited his family down to attend the graduation ceremony.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Air Force Maj. Amber Murrell, left, and Air Force Capt. Christopher Pokorny, both chaplains, lead a caisson carrying the casket of Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

“I go down there and I meet up with him; and I look across the field and I see a half a dozen guys jogging through a field with a telephone pole on their shoulders,” Bogolea said. “I said to (Dylan), ‘what’s that?’, he said ‘that’s Andy’, I said, ‘what are they doing?’, and he replied, ‘well, if you screw up, you get to carry Andy. If you don’t screw up, you get to carry Andy’.”

The ability to smile and laugh gave Dylan and his team a comradery that would fuel them through combat control school and their next stop — Advanced Skills Training at Hurlburt Field, Florida. Following graduation of AST, Special Tactics operators are sent to their respective units deployment ready and prepared to be force multipliers on the battlefield.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

The family of Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

When Dylan arrived to the 26th STS in October of 2015, his new unit was set to deploy in the upcoming months. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the time required to earn his joint terminal attack controller rating, and he was unable to go with his unit on the deployment.

For many special operators, this situation would be disheartening.

“His attitude with it the whole time was great,” said Master Sgt. TJ Gunnell, a Special Tactics tactical air control party specialist with Air Force Special Operations Command headquarters and Dylan’s team sergeant at the 26th STS. “We came back and they were like, ‘man, Dylan was crushing it here the whole time you guys were gone,’ and they put him right back on a team and he immediately went to work.”

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

A casket team removes the casket of Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

In August of 2018, the 26th STS deployed and this time Dylan joined his unit in Afghanistan serving as a JTAC embedded with a U.S. Army Special Operations Force Operational Detachment-Alpha team. His role was to advise the ground force commander, direct close air support aircraft, and deliver destructive ordnance on enemy targets in support of offensive combat operations.

“As soon as they got overseas on this trip, he was there two weeks and immediately into it, just crushing it as a JTAC,” Gunnell said.

Gunnell was referring to Dylan’s actions Aug. 12, 2018, when he repeatedly disregarded his own personal safety and exposed himself to enemy fire while coordinating life-saving, danger-close, air-to-ground strikes, killing enemy fighters who had pinned down their friendly forces convoy. Dylan’s timely and precise actions were credited with saving the lives of his Army Special Forces and Afghan Commando brethren, and he was awarded an Army Commendation Medal with Valor.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

More than 350 family members, friends and teammates of Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin gather for a ceremony at Fort Myer Memorial Chapel, Arlington, Va., Jan. 24, 2019.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

This was just the start of a consistent battle rhythm Dylan and his teammates pursued throughout their deployment; but unfortunately on Nov. 27, 2018, Elchin and three of his teammates paid the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.

Elchin, along with U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Ross and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Emond, were killed in action when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan while deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Army Sgt. Jason McClary died later as a result of injuries sustained from the IED.

For his outstanding courage and leadership over the course of his deployment, Dylan was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star Medal.

“I implore you to honor (Dylan’s) service and sacrifice by picking up your sword and shield and continuing the righteous fight, that each one of us might make this world a better and safer place,” said Air Force Lieutenant Col. Gregory Walsh, 26th STS commander, in a letter addressed to Dylan’s teammates. “Although heartbroken at the loss of Dylan, I am extremely proud of him, and every one of you as we carry on in defense of our great nation. Together we must continue the mission, honor his legacy, and never forget what Dylan gave that we might be free.”

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

A casket team secures the casket of Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin is the 20th Special Tactics Airman to be killed in combat since 9/11. In the close-knit Special Tactics community, the enduring sacrifices of Elchin and his family will never be forgotten.

Elchin was a qualified military static line jumper, free fall jumper, an Air Force qualified combat scuba diver, and a qualified JTAC. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with Valor, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Combat Action Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award, Air Force noncommissioned Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon and NATO Medal.

“Dylan knew the freedom and lifestyle we enjoy here must be protected from evil people wanting to destroy our life. Such love a man must have to lay down his life for his friends and his country, but this is who he was,” Bogolea said. “He truly died a noble death. Dylan was a man who had dreams and the guts to make those dreams come true.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US Army veteran cleans up vandalized Purple Heart sign in South Dakota

Tony Sutter was at work when he noticed photos of a vandalized sign pop up on his neighborhood watch group on Facebook Sunday afternoon. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is a Purple Heart City, which falls under the Purple Heart Trail program. One of their signs marking Highway 11 had been spray painted black.

According to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, “The purpose of the Purple Heart Trail is to create a symbolic and honorary system of roads, highways, bridges, and other monuments that give tribute to the men and women who have been awarded the Purple Heart medal.” The signs serve as visual reminders of the sacrifices US men and women have made on behalf of their country.


Sutter served in the US Army for six years and was injured during his last deployment to Afghanistan. His grandfather, who recently died, was a Vietnam War veteran. He has seen the rigors of war through the psychological toll it takes as well as seeing brothers and sisters wounded or killed overseas. So seeing the vandalized sign hit a nerve.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

The sign in Sioux Falls that was partially vandalized. Tony Sutter believes whoever was responsible didn’t spray paint the upper portion because the sign stands approximately 10 feet tall. Photos courtesy of Tony Sutter.

Sutter explained that regardless of what the vandal’s intentions were, “make your own sign and do whatever you want with it, but something that the city of Sioux Falls thought was appropriate to show some respect for our wounded veterans [should be left alone] — I couldn’t tolerate it, I gotta clean that up.”

“If I could prevent somebody from having that heartache or that feeling of disrespect [from seeing that sign vandalized] — if I could prevent that from at least one veteran or one person in general, maybe a family member of a veteran who’s been wounded, I’d say that’s a job well done,” Sutter said.

Sutter has an extensive background with mechanics and painting, so removing paint from the sign was not a problem. He grabbed a ladder and the proper chemicals to remove the paint and set out to Highway 11 and 57th Street, where the sign is located. Sutter was shaking in anger and shock over the disrespect someone had for the wounded veteran community. He thought about all of his friends and family who had been wounded while serving in the military as he scrubbed the paint away.

This former paratrooper is cycling across America for vets

Though Tony Sutter specialized in radios and radio repair, he used his background before the military to assist his fellow troops with generators while deployed to Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Tony Sutter.

The connection with his grandfather was most present in his mind. Sutter’s grandfather was a US Marine who served during the Vietnam War. They used to share quiet moments together — just being around each other was comforting due to their separate but similar experiences in war.

Sutter went through a dark period in his life that included a divorce and the weight of his past experiences weighing him down. He broke down while talking with his grandfather and, with his grandfather’s support, decided to seek help. Within about a year, his grandfather sought help with his own experiences from Vietnam.

Sutter is aware of the hard times Vietnam veterans endured upon their return to the US after deployments. They were spit on and labeled as dysfunctional. When Sutter saw the Purple Heart City sign vandalized, he immediately thought of the Vietnam veterans, especially his late grandfather.

“You don’t mess with my family, and we’re all family,” Sutter said of the military and veteran communities. “Whether we know each other or not, […] we’re there for each other. I know for a fact my grandpa [was] looking down yesterday, and he had a big smile on his face. And I know that I made him proud because that’s who he helped raise — was that person that I became, to look out for other people and not just myself.”

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

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10 brothers who received the Medal of Honor

How are babies made? Well, a mommy and daddy fall deeply in love, get married, and give birth to national heroes.


Here are five dinner tables from history where any third siblings must have felt really awkward as their brothers wore matching Medals of Honor every Christmas:

1. John and William Black

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(Photos: Public Domain)

Union Capt. William P. Black received the Medal of Honor for actions on March 7, 1862. His regiment was outnumbered by rebels and his Company I covered the retreat. Fierce fire cut down the Union soldiers and the younger Black was forced to hold the line on his own with a Colt revolving rifle after he was shot in the ribs. He later wrote home about the battle and left out his heroics.

The older brother, Lt. Col. John C. Black, received the Medal of Honor for actions on Dec. 7, 1862. His regiment was sent against Confederate lines that had just repulsed two other charges. Black sent out skirmishers and marched at the head of his men, but a large group of enemy infantry jumped from hiding places in the ground and fired. Despite serious wounds, Black led an organized withdrawal under fire and the regiment continued to protect Union artillery.

2. Charles and Henry Capehart

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(Photos: Public Domain)

Army Maj. Charles E. Capehart was leading a cavalry force at midnight on July 4, 1863, after the Battle of Gettysburg when he saw a column of retreating Confederates through the darkness. Heavy rains and a lack of light created dangerous conditions for horses at night, but Capehart led a charge that allowed the destruction and capture of most of the Confederate equipment and troops.

Doctor and Union officer Henry Capehart was leading a brigade of cavalry in West Virginia in combat on May 22, 1864, when he spotted a drowning soldier in the river. Under fire, he swam into the river and rescued his cavalryman.

3. Harry and Willard Miller

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(Photos: Public Domain)

Seaman Willard Miller and his younger brother, Quartermaster 3rd Class Harry Miller, were Canadians who enlisted in the Navy and volunteered for a risky operation at the start of the Spanish-American War. The Navy wanted to cut off Cuba’s communications with the rest of the world, requiring a raid on two underwater cables.

Two small boats went within 100 feet of batteries and rifle pits on the shore as the crews searched out the underwater cables, grappled them with hooks, and raised them to the surface to be cut with hacksaws. At one point, the boats were under pistol, rifle, and artillery fire from the shore and the U.S. naval artillery support was forced to fire just over the boat crew’s heads.

4. Allen and James Thompson

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(Photos: Public Domain)

During the Battle of White Oaks Road, Virginia, the Confederates carried the first day of fighting on March 31, 1865. The Union was trying to cut through the rebels and severe Gen. Robert E. Lee’s lines of communication with Maj. Gen. George Pickett.

On April 1, the Union was back at it and Privates Allen and James Thompson made a dangerous reconnaissance through the thick wood bordering the road. They found paths large enough for the heavy artillery to make it north and bombard the Confederate positions, assisting the Union’s victory that day. Allen was 17 and James was 15 at the time.

5. Antoine and Julien Gaujot

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Army Capt. Julien Gaujot (Photo: Public Domain)

Antoine and Julien Gaujot are the only brothers to receive the Medal of Honor in two different military campaigns.

In December 1899, Cpl. Antoine Gaujot was serving in the Philippines at the Battle of San Mateo. His unit was under heavy fire and needed to cross a river. He twice attempted to find a fording point. When that failed, he swam across the river and stole a canoe from the enemy side.

Twelve years later, Capt. Julien Gaujot was serving on the border with Mexico when a battle between Mexican government troops and rebels spilled over the border. Gaujot crossed to the Mexican side and negotiated a surrender of Mexican forces and helped them evacuate to American lines. He also rescued wounded from each side and took them to the U.S. for medical treatment.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US and North Korea weirdly fired off missiles at almost the same time

North Korea fired off two suspected short-range missiles May 9, 2019, marking the second time in a week the country has done so after more than a year without a missile launch.

The unidentified weapons were launched from Kusong at 4:29 pm and 4:39 pm (local time) and flew 420 km and 270 km respectively, according to South Korea’s semi-official Yonhap News Agency reported.

They splashed down in the East Sea afterwards, the agency said.

May 9, 2019’s test comes on the heels of another test conducted May 4, 2019 (local time). During an impromptu exercise, North Korean troops fired off rocket artillery, as well as a new short-range ballistic missile that some observers have compared to Russia’s Iskander missile.


Before last May 4, 2019’s “strike drill,” North Korea had not launched a missile since it tested the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017.

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An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 12:03 a.m., PDT, April 26, 2019, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

(US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ian Dudley)

The self-imposed freeze has long been perceived as a sign of good faith as Pyongyang negotiated with Washington and Seoul, negotiations that have hit several unfortunate speed bumps.

Interestingly, at almost the exact same time as North Korea was launching its missiles May 9, 2019, the US troops almost 6,000 miles away were doing the same thing, just with a much bigger missile.

At 12:40 am (local time) May 9, 2019, a US Air Force Global Strike Command team launched an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The unarmed ICBM flew over 4,000 miles.

Air Force officials told Fox News that the timing of the American and North Korean launches was a coincidence.

May 9, 2019’s Minuteman III ICBM test marks the second time in just over a week the US has tested one of its missiles, launching the weapon into the Pacific.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Air Force flew this awesome A-10 over Normandy this D-Day

The Michigan Air National Guard’s 107th Fighter Squadron flew a specially painted A-10C Warthog over the beaches of Normandy on June 5, 2018, to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

D-Day is one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history, with 156,000 allied troops landing on five beaches and about 13,000 paratroopers dropping behind German lines.

And the 107th, which took part in the invasion, flew a pair of A-10s, multiple C-130 Hercules and even dropped paratroopers over the beaches of Normandy to commemorate the historical event.

It was the first time the 107th was assigned a mission in France since World War II.

Check out the photos below:


Here’s the specially painted A-10 Warthog, which was actually painted in 2017, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 107th squadron.

Here's the specially painted A-10 Warthog, which was actually painted last year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 107th squadron.


Source: The Aviationist

The paint job was inspired by the 107th’s P-51 Mustangs, which took part in the D-Day invasion.

The paint job was inspired by the 107th's P-51 Mustangs, which took part in the D-Day invasion.

Here’s a close-up. The emblem on the side is for the 107th’s nickname, the Red Devils.

Here's a close-up. The emblem on the side is for the 107th's nickname, the Red Devils.


Source: The Aviationist

And it flew with another A-10 over Normandy on June 5, 2018.

And it flew with another A-10 over Normandy on Tuesday.

Here’s a close-up of the emblem.

Here's a close-up of the emblem.

The two A-10s flew with multiple C-130s over Normandy as well.

The two A-10s flew with multiple C-130s over Normandy as well.

The C-130s even dropped paratroopers in commemoration of the D-Day anniversary.

The C-130s even dropped paratroopers in commemoration of the D-Day anniversary.

During World War II, the 107th operated L-4, L-5, A-20 and Spitfire aircraft, and was later fielded with F-6As, the reconnaissance version of the P-51 Mustang.

During World War II, the 107th operated L-4, L-5, A-20 and Spitfire aircraft, and was later fielded with F-6As, the reconnaissance version of the P-51 Mustang.


Source: US Air Force

In the lead-up to D-Day, the 107th flew 384 missions between December 1943 and June 1944 to photographically map the French coast before the invasion.

In the lead-up to D-Day, the 107th flew 384 missions between December 1943 and June 1944 to photographically map the French coast before the invasion.

The 107th lost one aircraft during the recon mission. Lt. Donald E. Colton was killed in action near Roven, France, on May 9.

Source: US Air Force, Michigan Veterans Affairs

The 107th flew more than 1,800 after May 1944, participated in four campaigns after Normandy, and even received the Presidential Unit Citation.

The 107th flew more than 1,800 after May 1944, participated in four campaigns after Normandy, and even received the Presidential Unit Citation.


Source: US Air Force, Michigan Veterans Affairs

US Air National Guard photos

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

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This failed secret mission changed special ops forever

Nearly four decades ago, America’s fledgling counter-terrorism force launched a daring operation to a remote desert outpost to rescue Americans held hostage. The mission failed, but its repercussions were felt for years, and the flames and death of that day forged the special operations force that was able to successfully execute even more daring — and successful — missions in the decades to come.


On Nov. 4, 1979, approximately 3,000 Iranian militants took control of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, holding 63 Americans hostage. An additional three U.S. members were seized at the Iranian Foreign Ministry for a total of 66.

This was in response to President Jimmy Carter allowing Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the recently deposed Iranian ruler, into the U.S. for cancer treatment. New leadership in Iran wanted the shah back as well as the end of Western influence in their country.

After a few weeks, 13 hostages, all women or African Americans, were released but the remaining 53 would wait out five months of failed negotiations.

President Carter, originally wanting to end the hostage crisis diplomatically and without force, turned to alternative solutions as he felt the political pressure to resolve the problem. On April 16, 1980, he approved Operation Eagle Claw, a military rescue operation involving all four branches of the U.S. armed forces.

The two-day rescue mission consisted of eight Navy RH-53D helicopters and multiple variations of C-130 aircraft. All aircraft were to gather together at Desert One, a salt flat about 200 miles outside of Tehran. There, the helicopters would refuel through the C-130’s and then transport assault units into a mountain location near Tehran where the rescue mission would begin. Unfortunately, the mission never made it that far.

On April 24, 1980, Operation Eagle Claw began. All aircraft proceeded to Desert One but a strong dust storm complicated traveling. Two of the eight helicopters were unable to complete the mission and had to turn around. Another helicopter broke down at Desert One, leaving a total of five working helicopters. Mission commanders and leadership needed a minimum of six to complete the mission. The decision was made to abort the operation and return home.

During departure from Desert One, one of the helicopters collided with a C-130, killing eight U.S. service members. The remaining members all left in the additional C-130 leaving behind numerous helicopters, a C-130 and the eight dead Americans. The failed mission, in addition with loss of life, was a humiliating blow for the U.S. However, this tragedy put a magnifying glass over the inadequacies of joint operations, forever changing the future of the U.S. military and special operations.

The need for enhanced capabilities between more than one military service was the prediction for the future of the Armed Forces. Significant military reforms, such as the Goldwater-Nichols Act and Joint Doctrine, addressed the readiness and capability issues demonstrated in Operation Eagle Claw. It pointed out the necessity for a dedicated special operations section within the Department of Defense with the responsibility to prepare and maintain combat-ready forces to successfully conduct special operations.

Today, the different branches training alongside each other is common practice. Planning for missions consist of specific details with back up plans to the back up plans. Ultimately, the lives lost as Desert One weren’t in vain. The lessons learned from that mission made special operations into what we know them as today.

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The Harrier versus the Lightning II: Which does close air support better?

With the debate on close-air support raging between those who think the F-35 Lightning can perform the role versus those who think the A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka the Warthog) can’t be beaten, one other plane that excels in this role has been all but forgotten.


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Marine Corps Air Station Cherry , North Carolina – Maj. James S. Tanis lands an AV-8B Harrier during field carrier landing practice sustainment training at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, N.C., Dec. 5, 2014. (Photo By: Cpl. J. R. Heins)

The McDonnell-Douglas/British Aerospace AV-8B+ Harrier has played a role for decades supporting troops on the ground in combat.

The Harrier had caught the fancy of Hollywood for a while – notably being used to evacuate a defector in the beginning of “The Living Daylights” – and especially after it proved to be a war-winning weapon in the Falklands in 1982. The U.S. Marines had a similar plane in the AV-8A Harrier.

Then, around 1985, the AV-8B and GR.5 entered service, offering a greater payload for ground attack. The 1990s saw the AV-8B+ enter service with the APG-65 radar used on the F/A-18 Hornet.

So, how does this plane stack up against the competition is a close-air support mission?

In a max-payload configuration, the AV-8B+ can carry 14 Mk 82 500-pound bombs. The AV-8B+ can carry a wide variety of other weapons as well, including the Mk 84 2,000 pound bomb, CBU-87 and CBU-100 cluster bombs, the AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missile, GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), and laser-guided bombs.

The Harrier also features an internal gun – the 25mm GAU-12 — with 300 rounds of ammo. While not as powerful as the A-10’s GAU-12, this gun still packs a punch.

So, how does this stack up to the F-35B which the Marines are using to replace the Harrier?

The F-35B can carry JDAMs, but cannot carry any 2,000-pound bombs. As this Military.com video shows, 2,000 pound bombs are sometimes needed to support grunts.

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U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, conduct the first ever hot load on the F-35B Lightning II in support of Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 1-17 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Sept. 22, 2016. (Staff Sgt. Artur Shvartsberg)

Even though the F-35 has a larger maximum payload (15,000 pounds to the AV-8B’s 9,200 pounds), not being able to drop the bigger bombs can be a problem. The F-35 also doesn’t carry the Maverick missile, which can be a problem when there are ground-based air defenses.

The lack of an internal gun is another killer. Sometimes, you don’t need a big bang, especially when you have to be aware of collateral damage. When you drop a 500-pound bomb, that’s still a lot of high explosives going off.

Even the AGM-114 Hellfire used on drones has caused some civilian casualties when taking out high-ranking terrorists.

The Marines need new aircraft, particularly since they had to be bailed out by the boneyard earlier this year. The high-tech F-35B may be a good replacement for the F/A-18C Hornets the Marines desperately need to replace, but the AV-8B+ may need to stick around a while to help with the close-air support mission.

Because like the Hog, it can do stuff that the F-35 just can’t do.

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7 lies sailors tell their parents while deployed

College life and Navy life are very different, but there’s one thing they have in common: worried parents.


Whether you’re in college or the Navy, you can count on parents constantly checking in and asking a million questions. These conversations can feel like investigations; especially during deployments.

While Navy parents worry about their sons and daughters being in harm’s way, sailors are usually worried about more important things, like when’s the next port visit and what are their duty days. A little white lie can ease a parent’s worries. Here are some of the most common ones offered:

1. “I’m only allowed one call a month.”

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

2. “Sorry I won’t be able to call you during my next port visit, I have duty the entire time.”

3. “Of course I’m eating healthy, midrats is the healthiest meal of the day!”

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Photo: U.S. Navy

4. “With the hours I work, I have no desire to stay out late.”

5. “Yes, I am spending my money wisely.”

6. “No, I never drink during port visits.”

7. “I spent my entire Hong Kong port visit sightseeing.”

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Senate confirms Mattis as secretary of defense

The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to serve as the next secretary of defense.


A majority of the upper chamber voted in favor of Mattis taking over the top civilian job at the Pentagon.

The move came after President Donald Trump, in one of his first acts as the new commander in chief, signed a waiver passed by Congress to permit Mattis to serve in the role.

Related: 6 new changes to expect at the Pentagon with Mattis as SECDEF

After taking the oath of office, Trump remained at the Capitol to sign a number of documents officially nominating his choices for cabinet and ambassador posts and to declare Jan. 20 a “National Day of Patriotism.”

Among the documents was the historic waiver for the 66-year-old Mattis, who led the 2003 invasion of Iraq as commander of the 1st Marine Division, commanded a task force in Afghanistan in 2001, and commanded a battalion in the Persian Gulf war in 1990.

In 1947, Congress passed a law barring members of the military from taking the Defense Secretary’s post until seven years after retirement to preserve civilian control of the military. Mattis retired in 2013.

The only previous exception to the law was the waiver granted to Gen. George C. Marshall, the five-star Army chief of staff in World War II, who became Defense Secretary in 1950.

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U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, commander, U.S. Central Command visits with Marines stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait on Feb. 26, 2011. | DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

Earlier this week in separate action, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 26-1 to approve Mattis for a confirmation vote by the full Senate. The only “No” vote in the Committee was from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, who praised Mattis but said she was voting against him on the issue of civilian control.

The full Senate was expected to confirm Mattis, possibly later Friday. If confirmed, Mattis was expected to make his first visit as the 26th Secretary of Defense to the Pentagon to meet with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who was staying on temporarily at the Pentagon to assist with management issues.

During the campaign, Trump said he would demand a plan from his commanders within 30 days of taking office speed up and ultimately end the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In his inaugural address, Trump said he would “eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the Earth.”

During his Senate confirmation hearings, Mattis also said he would be reviewing plans to “accelerate” the ISIS campaign but gave no details.

Already, there were signs that the U.S. military was moving more aggressively against ISIS and also the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria. On Wednesday, in the last combat mission specifically authorized by President Barack Obama, B-2 Spirit stealth bombers flying out of Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri struck ISIS camps in Libya.

On Thursday, a B-52 bomber deployed to the region dropped munitions in Syria west of Aleppo against a training camp of the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham group, formerly known as the Al Nusra Front and linked to Al Qaeda.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman said “The removal of this training camp disrupts training operations and discourages hardline Islamist and Syrian opposition groups from joining or cooperating with Al Qaeda on the battlefield.”

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