This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military - We Are The Mighty
Articles

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military

The US Defense Department is making another multi-million dollar investment in high-energy lasers that have the potential to destroy enemy drones and mortars, disrupt communication systems, and provide military forces with other portable, less costly options on the battlefield.


US Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and longtime supporter of directed energy research, announced the $17 million investment during a news conference Wednesday inside a Boeing lab where many of the innovations were developed.

The US already has the ability to shoot down enemy rockets and take out other threats with traditional weapons, but Heinrich said it’s expensive.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
The Sodium Guidestar at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Starfire Optical Range resides on a 6,240 foot hilltop at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. The Army and Navy is developing its own laser weapons systems. Photo from USAF.

High-energy lasers and microwave systems represent a shift to weapons with essentially endless ammunition and the ability to wipe out multiple threats in a short amount of time, he said.

“This is ready for prime time and getting people to just wrap their head around the fact that you can put a laser on something moving really fast and destroy it … has been the biggest challenge,” said Heinrich, who has an engineering degree.

Boeing has been working on high-energy laser and microwave weapons systems for years. The effort included a billion-dollar project to outfit a 747 with a laser cannon that could shoot down missiles while airborne. The system was complex and filled the entire back half of the massive plane.

With advancements over the past two decades, high-powered laser weapons systems can now fit into a large suitcase for transport across the battlefield or be mounted to a vehicle for targeting something as small as the device that controls the wings of a military drone.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
USS Ponce conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research-sponsored Laser Weapon System. Navy photo by John F. Williams.

“Laser technology has moved from science fiction to real life,” said Ron Dauk, head of Boeing’s Albuquerque site.

The company’s compact laser system has undergone testing by the military and engineers are working on a higher-powered version for testing next year.

While the technology has matured, Dauk and Heinrich said the exciting part is that it’s on the verge of moving from the lab to the battlefield.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
A target truck disabled by Lockheed’s ATHENA laser. Photo from Lockheed Martin.

Another $200 million has been requested in this year’s defense appropriations bill that would establish a program within the Pentagon for accelerating the transition of directed-energy research to real applications.

Heinrich said continued investment in such projects will help solidify New Mexico’s position as a leading site of directed-energy research and bring more money and high-tech jobs to the state.

Boeing already contributes about $120 million to the state’s economy through its contracts with vendors.

Articles

The ‘Re-Up Bird’ was the most tireless Vietnam-era recruiter

The moment newly-arrived Marines entered the jungles of Vietnam, they were faced with a question from the most persistent recruiter. The call of the Blue-Eared Barbet, a bird indigenous to southeast Asia and beyond, has a distinctive, high-pitched warble:


This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military

The bird’s song sounded like it was asking troops in Vietnam to re-up – military slang for re-enlisting. Vietnam-era soldier James August wrote in his 2013 memoir “Postmark Vietnam:”

In the elephant grass, there lives a bird whose call sounds like reeeuhuuup, and of course Marines call it the RE-Up Bird. As I am sure you know, re-up means to re-enlist, an idea not popular with the Marines over here.

It was the question no one was ready to answer right away. Luckily for the soldiers and Marines in the Vietnamese jungles, night time brought out the Tokay Gecko, who had the perfect answer to the Re-Up Bird.

Yes, the nocturnal lizard’s own distinctive call earned it a nickname as well. And the nights in the central highlands of Vietnam were filled with the refrain of this continual question-and-answer game.

Elbert Franklin Evans recounted his earliest encounters with Vietnam’s nighttime sign-countersign between the Barbet and the Gecko in his 1997 book, “Night On The Perimeter:”

“I heard the snickers from the soldiers on the bunker on my left. They enjoyed this jungle sonata, which echoed their own sentiments. Re-up? F*** you. You found humor in unlikely places in the bush, and this small bit of humor was peculiarly calming.”

Vietnam veteran John Podlaski writes extensively about the sounds of the jungle at night on his blog, which is named after his book, “Cherries, a Vietnam War story,” about his 1970 deployment to the country.

Articles

Islamic State terrorists launched a chemical attack in Mosul

U.S. Army Major General Joseph Martin spoke via video conference from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on April 19, 2017, confirming that Daesh (Islamic State) terrorists launched a chemical attack against Iraqi forces in Mosul four days earlier.


The U.S. military has confirmed that the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group launched a chemical offensive against advancing Iraqi forces in the flashpoint city of Mosul over the weekend.

Iraqi security sources reported on April 15 that Daesh terrorists had fired missiles loaded with chlorine at the then-freshly-liberated neighborhood of al-Abar in west Mosul, causing respiratory problems for at least seven troops.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
Soldiers conduct detailed aircraft decontamination training. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Josephine Carlson)

Major General Martin, the commanding general of the so-called Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command–Operation Inherent Resolve, said via videoconference from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad that the chemical attack had been launched but had caused no fatalities.

“The Iraqi security forces…were in vicinity of one of the strikes,” Martin told reporters, adding, “They were taken back for the appropriate level of medical care… Nobody’s been [fatally] impacted. Nobody’s died.”

Martin, however, said that the agent used in the attack had not been identified “at this time.”

“We have sent it back for testing but we’re still waiting for the outcomes,” he said.

According to Iraq’s Federal Police, Daesh also hit two other districts of western Mosul, namely Urouba and Bab al-Jadid, with chemical attacks on April 15.

The foreign-backed terrorist group, which seized Mosul in June 2014, has so far carried out numerous chemical attacks against both Iraqi forces and civilians.

Articles

This intense 360 video shows the dangers of fighting during the Civil War

Although trench warfare was made famous during the battles of WWI, it was originally the brainchild of a French military engineer named Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban in the 17th century.


Fast-forward to 1861 when the Civil War started. The implementation of entrenchments as a form of defensive posturing was commonly overlooked.

As the war raged on, infantry units began dominating the battlefield as troops increased their use of the rifled muskets and Gatling guns. These new deadly weapons caused the need for entrenchments as a form of cover.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban — the first known architect of trench warfare.

Related: This intense first-person video shows how dangerous life was in the trenches of WWI

The trenches used during the Civil War were primitively constructed from wood logs, as engineers and other materials needed to build them properly were in short supply.

For nine long months, both sides of the fight battled it out in a series of man-made tunnels that stretched more than 30 miles long.

When the Civil War ended in 1865, an estimated 620,000 people lost their lives during the multi-year skirmish — nearly two percent of the population.

As time would go on, trench warfare was famously utilized and modified throughout military history. Today we commonly refer to trenches as fighting holes.

Also Read: This is actual footage of the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri

Check out the American Heroes Channel‘s video below for this powerful 360 video of a Civil War firefight re-enactment below.

(American Heroes Channel, YouTube)
Articles

6 things civilians will experience now that they can rent base housing

Fort Hood just became the 35th U.S. military base to allow civilians to rent housing on the base as a result of falling demand among officers and senior noncommissioned officers.


Civilians who take the military contractor up on this offer can look forward to these six perks:

1. Cadence calls at ungodly hours of the morning

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
(Meme: Military Memes)

While most civilians only get to see soldiers running and calling funny cadences on TV, the civvies on base will get the privilege of hearing about “yellow birds,” “drip drop, drippity drop, drop,” and “my girl has big ol’ hips,” in person every morning from about 6:30 to 7:30, right after “Reveille” is blasted through the base PA system.

2. A convoluted commute every morning thanks to road closures for PT

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
Spider-Man is the perfect road guard. (Meme: Marine Corps Memes)

Speaking of those morning runs, most bases close down their major roads for units to conduct physical training. Runners, ruck marchers, and a few cyclists will be using those streets and road guards will keep the civilian cars off until PT is finished. Better be off base by 6:30 or able to wait until 7:30 to leave.

3. The pleasure of living in a seriously gated community

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
Seriously, don’t try to slip through a military gate. (Meme: Sh*t my LPO says)

Civilians living on base get peace of mind knowing that their community is sometimes guarded by infantrymen and military police but has, at worst, rent-a-cops at all entrances. These trained killers will diligently search any unknown vehicle that comes near the tenants’ homes, including those of visiting family and friends.

Cousin Shelley will probably look forward to waiting in line for 20 minutes to get her vehicle searched after a 12-hour road trip to come visit.

4. Some of the world’s best grass

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
(Meme: The Salty Soldier)

Military leaders are super protective of their grass, something that will benefit on-base tenants as they get to enjoy the visual of a lush, green carpet that spreads in all directions.

Sure, they won’t be able to walk on any of it without a wild sergeant major appearing out of nowhere and yelling at them, but still . . . beautiful.

5. Wake-up calls courtesy of the artillery and armored corps

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
Photographed: A very rude awakening. (Photo: US Army Spc. Ryan Stroud. Text: WATM Logan Nye)

No need to worry about accidentally sleeping in on base. While a study conducted with the Finnish Defense Forces found that a Howitzer’s 183 dB blast will typically only cause hearing damage to people within 220 yards of the gun, the Howitzers can wake people up from much further away.

6. Constant reminders to not drink and drive

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
Fort Bragg military police hang a banner near a wrecked car in 2013. The car and banner served as a reminder to soldiers to not drink and drive. (Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Kissta DiGregorio)

Drunk drivers are public menaces who make everyone less safe. Civilians living on base will get regular reminders to not drink and drive thanks to the flashing signs listing soldiers’ recent blood-alcohol levels.

Articles

China may be training to overtake Japan-administered islands

Concern is rising in Japan that the Chinese military may be training for a future mission in the disputed Senkaku Islands, where Beijing has been dispatching coast guard ships at increasing frequency in recent years.

Quoting the Pentagon’s 2017 survey of the Chinese military, Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun reported June 8 the People’s Liberation Army could be training for a raid of outlying areas, including the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, also claimed by China and Taiwan.


In a section on China’s amphibious capabilities, the report from the U.S. Department of Defense states the “PLA Army focuses its amphibious efforts on a Taiwan invasion while the PLA Navy Marine Corps focuses on small island seizures in the South China Sea, with a potential emerging mission in the Senkakus.”

The Japanese military also may be concerned that, according to the report, China’s PLA Navy Marine Corps brigades conducted “battalion-level amphibious training at their respective training areas in Guangdong,” or the Southern Theater.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Ashigara (DDG 178), foreground, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) transit the Philippine Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Z.A. Landers)

“The training focused on swimming amphibious armored vehicles from sea to shore, small boat assault and deployment of special forces by helicopter,” the report states.

In May, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported China’s Navy Marine Corps is in the process of building a 100,000-strong military unit.

The Pentagon report states China has used “coercive tactics, such as the use of law enforcement vessels and its maritime militia, to enforce maritime claims.”

Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty applies to the Senkakus, and the United States is obligated to defend the islands if they come under attack.

In May, four Chinese coast guard ships entered Japanese territorial waters near Okinawa and the Senkaku Islands and in 2016, more than 100 Chinese ships trespassed into Japan’s territorial waters, the second-largest annual number of Chinese ships entering disputed areas since Japan announced the nationalization of the Senkakus in September 2012.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Next season of ‘The Bachelorette’ might feature a military widow

File this one under: “And we thought Reality TV couldn’t get worse.” The answer, as always, is “yes, it can.”

Casting producers for an upcoming show are “searching the country for one amazing woman who unfortunately lost her husband/boyfriend/fiancé before they were able to start a family,” according to a message sent by Cherish Hamutoff, a Hollywood casting producer. “We are looking [for] an all American woman whose partner was a hero (military, police, firefighter) to be our lead on the series.”

In other words: bring out your military widows, you guys. Reality TV wants to exploit them for the sport of TV drama.


Although Hamutoff named the network on which the show will air in her message to those she contacted via Facebook, she has since said she was not cleared to do so.

She also clarified that the show isn’t specific to military widows. Instead, she said it’s searching for “incredibly deserving woman” who is ready to find love and start a family.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
(Photo by Mark Bonica)

“I can’t stress enough how positive the show is,” she said during a phone call with Military.com. “I didn’t mean to offend anyone.”

Still, her original message painted a much different casting picture.

“It’s an empowering show about one woman who is pursuing her dream to start a family. She will be featured/presented on the show as one of the most eligible in the country who is ready to complete her love story,” the message said.

In other words: you know what’s hot? Combat loss and service-related tragedy. Military loss and widows are so hot right now.

But do not fear! There is cash involved.

“There is generous compensation to the woman who is selected,” the message states.

In other words: do not worry about the exploitation. Exploiting someone’s tragedy and sacrifice is totally fine if they are well paid. Thanks for your sacrifice and stuff.

“This will be an empowering show featuring a woman who is at a place in life where she is ready to have a child and would love to find her partner,” Hamutoff said in an email to Military.com. “It’s a hopeful and inspiring show. The intent is to give a woman who is finally ready to open her heart again a chance to find another great love and the chance to start a family.”

The original post did not include a direct comment from Hamutoff, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment prior to publishing. Hamutoff has since contacted Military.com with clarifications to her original message.

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

MIGHTY SPORTS

John Stewart kicks off the 2019 Warrior Games

The opening ceremony of the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games began with the traditional procession of service-member athletes representing their countries. The national anthem for each country was played marking the international participation of the games, but when U.S. Army Maj. Luis Avila, a wounded warrior, sang the Star-Spangled Banner, you had a sense these games were going to be special.

Jon Stewart, a comedian, was once again the master of ceremonies to officially open the games. He mixed humor with a compassion and seriousness about wounded warriors that seems to resonate with service members and families.

“Thank you very much for coming out to the Warrior Games,” Stewart said. “We have had a tremendous day or two of competition. The athletes are finding out what it is like to be in a city that was built inside of a humidifier.”


“We are here to celebrate these unbelievable athletes from all of the branches (of military service),” Stewart continued. “These are men and women that refuse to allow themselves to be defined by their worst day, but define themselves by their reaction to that day and the resilience, and the perseverance, and the dedication, and the camaraderie, and the family you are going to witness this week.”

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military

Jon Stewart at the opening ceremony of the Department of Defense Warrior Games.

(DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

Stewart stated the athletes have gone through a lot to get to the games, but no one gets there by themselves.

“The families and the caregivers so often work as hard as the athletes to get them prepared and to get them going and to be there,” Stewart said.

Kenneth Fisher, chairman and chief executive officer of the Fisher House, plays a huge role in helping the families. Fisher acknowledged the work with wounded warriors that Jon Stewart continues to do as an advocate for service members in and out of uniform, and focused on family support.

“I have had the great honor of meeting so many of this nation’s wounded people and never a day goes by when I am not inspired by you; amazed by what you have accomplished and humbled by the unconditional support given to you by your families, your friends, your spouses, your children; by all those who love you the most.”

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military

Approximately 300 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans will participate in 13 athletic competitions over 10 days as U.S. Special Operations Command hosts the 2019 DoD Warrior Games.

(DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

Former President George W. Bush and U.S. Senator Rick Scott, Florida, sent videotaped messages to the athletes, wishing them well during the competition. Congresswoman Kathy Castor noted the fantastic job U.S Special Operations Command has done hosting this year’s Warrior Games.

Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist had an opportunity to watch the U.S. Army wheelchair basketball team practice earlier in the day.

“Coach Rodney Williams has those three-time defending champions looking pretty good,” Norquist noted. “They got (retired) Spc. Brent Garlic who was part of last year’s team, and (retired) Staff Sgt. Ross Alewine, who is the defending Warrior Games Ultimate Champion.”

Norquist welcomed and thanked all the international participants at this year’s competition, and alluded to the qualification to participate in the games.

“To compete in the Warrior Games, it is not enough to be strong; it is not enough to be fast. In the Warrior Games, there is a level of resolve; a unique ability to embrace and overcome adversity and that is the price of admission. Just to get to this event, it requires unbelievable grit and resilience.”

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military

Air Force athletes enter the arena for the opening ceremony of the Department of Defense Warrior Games in Tampa, Fla., June 22, 2019.

(DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

Tim Kane, father of Army Sgt. Tanner Kane, said, once his son got involved with adaptive reconditioning sports, he found a purpose to get up and out in the mornings.

“Tanner didn’t speak for two years and then he connected with other Soldiers, it all changed. Tanner realized his former state was wasting away at his spirit and this program was here to help and aid other Soldiers on their progress to healing.”

Tiffany Weasner, wife of retired Army Sgt. Johnathan Weasner said, “I know what this program has done for my husband Jonathan and our family. To look around this arena and see the joy on other families faces, I can only imagine what adaptive reconditioning has done for other families; it’s a blessing.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Army brigade trains to fight in Europe, right next to Russia

Soldiers and equipment from the US Army’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, from the 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood in Texas, are arriving in Europe in late May 2018, for a nine-month rotation in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Operation Atlantic Resolve started in April 2014, in response to Russian interference in Ukraine, and is meant to emphasize US commitment to European defense through “continuous, enhanced multinational training and security cooperation.”


The Ironhorse Brigade’s arrival is the third back-to-back rotation the Army has pursued in order to have an armored brigade in Europe, where the US has been looking to bolster its armored presence.

But the route the brigade is taking to its base points to another capability the US and its NATO partners are trying to boost: The ability to move around Europe on the ground.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
US Army armored and support vehicles from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division arrive in Antwerp, Belgium, May 20, 2018.
(US Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jacob A. McDonald)

The unit will primarily be based in Germany and mostly operate in eastern Europe, but the first of three ships carrying its tanks, trucks, and mobile artillery arrived in May 2018, in Antwerp, a Belgian port that hasn’t seen a major US military movement of this kind in the past 10 or 20 years, according to an Army release.

Maj. Gen. Steven Shapiro, commander of 21st Theater Sustainment Command, which supports US military operations in Europe and Africa, said the vehicles will move across Europe via convoy, line-haul, river barge, and train. The Army has issued notices about planned movements by road and rail in western and eastern Germany.

“Sometimes what is old is new again, and that is coming in here,” Shapiro said. “Antwerp and Rotterdam were major ports when we were operating during the Cold War … We are coming back to Antwerp in a big way.”

The brigade will send about 2,500 pieces of equipment through Antwerp, including 87 M1 Abrams tanks, 138 armored personnel carriers, 18 Paladin self-propelled howitzers, and more than a thousand other vehicles.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
US Army combat vehicles assigned to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team unloaded in Antwerp, Belgium, May 20, 2018.
(US Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Case)

“It’s a totally different type of deployment,” said brigade commander Col. Wilson Rutherford IV. “We could have gone into the port of Gdansk, [in Poland], which is much closer, but we wanted to exercise this port, exercise the barge movement, the line haul, and the convoys.”

“This is very different from the 2/1 [ABCT] and 3/4 [ABCT] deployments, but the goal is to learn as much as we can,” he added, referring to previous rotations by the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team from the 1st Cavalry Division and the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team from the 4th Infantry Division — the latter of which is known as the Iron Brigade.

Reversing post-Cold War atrophy

The US military’s presence in Europe has steadily declined since the end of the Cold War. The US Army once had 300,000 soldiers stationed there, but that force dwindled to roughly 30,000. In April 2013, the US’s last 22 Abrams tanks in Europe returned to the US, ending the Army’s 69-year history of stationing main battle tanks there.

That absence was short-lived. In January 2014, 29 Abrams tanks arrived in Germany, joining other armored vehicles there for what were to be short stints in small formations. That approach changed in early 2017, when the Iron Brigade arrived with tanks and armored vehicles for the first nine-month, back-to-back rotation.

But the new emphasis on operations in Europe has encountered logistical hurdles.

A tangle of customs rules and local regulations have hamstrung movements across borders. Infrastructure issues — like bridges or roads not built to carry heavy armored vehicles — have also hindered operations, as have shortages of transports.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
A German man with an US flag greets vehicles from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in Germany, April 23, 2018.
(US Army photo by Spc. Dustin D. Biven)

These obstacles have created issues for training operations — a convoy of Paladins was halted by German police in January 2018, because the contractors transporting them violated several regulations — and would present issues for any peacetime mobilization effort.

These problems led NATO to conclude in an internal report in late 2017, that its ability to rapidly deploy around Europe had “atrophied since the end of the Cold War.”

That report recommended setting up two new commands — one to oversee logistics operations in Europe, particularly in central and eastern Europe, and another to manage the shipment of personnel and supplies across the Atlantic.

In March 2018, NATO said the new logistics command would be based in the city of Ulm in southern Germany. (The US has volunteered to host the new Atlantic command in Norfolk, Virginia.) That same month, the European Union said it was working to address the conflicting regulations and infrastructure issues hindering military operations.

“By facilitating military mobility within the EU, we can be more effective in preventing crises, more efficient in deploying our missions, and quicker in reacting when challenges arise,” EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said at the time.

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

Articles

That time a Confederate regiment was ordered to guard bat guano

There are bad guard details, horrible guard details, and then guard details where you and the bulk of your regiment are ordered to guard caves filled with bat shit.


This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
(Photo: National Park Service, Nick Hristov)

Gunpowder is made up mostly of saltpeter, a chemical powder generally mined from deposits on cave walls or extracted from urine and bat guano. When the South found itself under naval blockade early in the war, it had to find a way to make many of its necessities.

To make the saltpeter necessary to manufacture gunpowder, the Confederacy turned to large bat guano deposits near Austin, Texas. One deposit area was later estimated to contain at least one-thousand tons of guano.

The Confederate government ordered the deposits guarded to ensure wartime production was secured, but it’s unclear how much saltpeter was actually manufactured before the end of the war. The caves were later put back into production during World War I.

Modern ammunition uses cleaner-burning propellants, but the nitrates in guano are still valuable for fertilizers. The descendants of the bats that provided the guano are now famous in Austin. Spectators line up on bridges to watch the bats depart for their nightly feeding.

NOW: That time a US Navy aircraft carrier was shut down by a race riot

Articles

How a former Nazi interrogator left a permanent mark on Disney

In 1970, Cinderella’s Castle was brought to life at Disney World in Florida. Over a period of 18 months, the landmark building was sketched, drawn and turned into one of the country’s most notable theme park attractions. It comes as no surprise that doing so required a team effort from artists of all kinds. What comes as more of a surprise is one contributor’s particularly colorful past. 

Artist Hanns-Joachim Sharff — long before he was a renowned mosaic artist — served as an interrogator. And not just any interrogator, but one for the Nazi forces. After a series of strange events, Polish-born Sharff was recruited to work as the Nazi’s lead Luftwaffe interrogator during World War II. He was so successful at gaining information that he received accolades for his abilities. He is well known for his gentle methods, getting prisoners of war to divulge secrets without violence or even raising his voice. 

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
A close-up of the mosaic. Walt Disney World Resort.

After the war, he then taught classes on interrogation for the U.S. Air Force in exchange for safety within the U.S. 

But long after his days of teaching other interrogators, however, Sharff found another career — as one of the world’s most famous mosaic artists. Upon moving to New York City, Sharff was instantly successful, earning money through his business, Hanns Scharff Designs. He later moved to Los Angeles. 

Scharff is known for creating the marbled floor within the California state capitol building, entry ramps at Epcot Center and the eagle floor located at the University of Southern California. His work is also featured in countless homes, hotels, schools, stores and churches across the entire world. However, perhaps his most famous project to-date resides within Cinderella’s Castle. 

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
Another wall of mosaic artwork in Cinderella’s castle. Walt Disney World Resort.

A colorful display of art, Sharff and his team created artwork consisting of five, 15-feet walls. Each helps portray the fairytale in an impressive fashion. In total, Sharff personally hand-cut and shaped more than 1 million pieces of glass. In total, the pieces include more than 500 colors. 

The images were completed by gluing glass to a thin fabric, face-down. A team of six workers then put up fresh concrete on the walls, then carefully lined up the fabric and pressed each piece into the wet mortar. Once it dried the fabric was slowly peeled back, then remaining cracks were cemented in to strengthen the mosaics and allow them to withstand visitor touches. 

Scharff completed the project with his daughter-in-law, Monika Scharff, another skilled mosaic artist, his wife and other family members. 

A decade later, Scharff’s team was asked to complete another Disney project, this time working on the entryway to Epcot’s The Land pavilion. The space uniquely curves into the ground, with mosaic tiles seamlessly filling in the design, curves and all. This is due to a math error, where the art designer’s measurements were three feet larger than the wall itself. Scharff and Monika came up with the idea to curve the design and it was approved by Disney execs and put into effect. 

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military
The curved wall entrance to The Land at Epcot.

The piece is also known to host a “hidden” tile, where an emerald piece sits among a sea of lighter green and beige tiles. Supposedly, this was a design choice so that both sides of the mural were not identical. 

Scharff and Monika later formed the group, Scharff and Scharff, together and worked in tandem until Hanns’ death in 1992. Monika still owns and operates the business to this day.

Articles

Navy officer accused of espionage is about to go to trial

A military trial is set to begin for a Taiwan-born Navy officer accused of passing military secrets to China or Taiwan.


Lt. Cmdr. Stephanie Turo, a Navy spokeswoman, confirmed on May 3 the espionage trial in Norfolk will begin May 4.

Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin is accused of failing to report foreign contacts and passing along secret national defense information. He is being held in a Navy brig in Virginia.

Also read: 7 ways to prove your spouse is really a spy

Court documents do not reveal whom Lin is accused of spying for. But officials told The Associated Press last year that the country involved is China or Taiwan, and possibly both.

Civilian defense attorney Larry Younger declined to comment. Lin’s sister, Jenny Lin, wrote to members of Congress last year and said the Navy lacks evidence to support the charges.

Articles

There are achievers and then there’s this Marine astronaut, surgeon, and mathematician

Story Musgrave has more than 18,000 hours in over 160 aircraft. He is a parachutist with over 800 freefalls. He has graduate degrees in math, computers, chemistry, medicine, physiology, literature and psychology. He has been awarded 20 honorary doctorates. Oh, and he was a part-time trauma surgeon during his 30-year astronaut career.


It all started with his decision to become a United States Marine.

“My horizons started to expand when I went off to Korea in the Marine Corps. As the saying goes, you join the service to see the world. That’s when my horizons began to expand.” – Story Musgrave

Franklin Story Musgrave grew up on a dairy farm in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. From an early age, he showed a remarkable intelligence and physical ability. At age 5, he was building homemade rafts and by age 10, he was driving trucks. By 13, he was fixing trucks. He attended a co-ed prep school which would have prepared him for a comfortable life in the post-World War II era, but instead of finishing high school, he decided to run off and enlist in the Marine Corps.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military

“I was an airplane mechanic for the Marines in Korea at the age of 18, and that’s when I got introduced to things that don’t come home. Challenger was not an engineering accident. NASA was told about the problem [of the O-rings in low temperature]. So then the memory turns to solid anger.”Story Musgrave

He eventually did get a GED while serving. Musgrave spent his time in the Corps in Korea as an aviation electrician and instrument technician and later as an aircraft crew chief aboard the USS Wasp. After leaving the Marines, he almost averaged a new degree every year from 1958 until 1964, including his medical doctorate from Columbia University. He would earn another Master’s degree in Chemistry in 1966 and a degree in Literature in 1987 at age 52.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military

Any hand I’m dealt, I will play to the best of my ability.” – Story Musgrave

Musgrave is also an accomplished pilot, earning FAA ratings for instructor, instrument instructor, glider instructor, and airline transport pilot. He also earned his astronaut wings in 1967.

“Space is a calling of mine, it struck like an epiphany. That occurred when NASA expressed an interest in flying people who were other than military test pilots. And when I was off in the Marine Corps in Korea, I had not graduated from high school, yet and so I could not fly. And so, I was not a military test pilot, but as soon as NASA expressed an interest in flying scientists and people who were not military test pilots, that was an epiphany that just came like a stroke of lightning.” – Story Musgrave

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military

Musgrave was selected as a scientist-astronaut and then worked on the design and development of the Skylab Program. He was also the backup science-pilot for the first Skylab mission.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military

What’s really unique about Musgrave’s astronaut experience is that he flew on all five space shuttles, the dates below are for his first flight in these ships. He flew aboard Challenger twice:

  • Challenger, April 1983
  • Discovery, November 1989
  • Atlantis, November 1991
  • Endeavour, December 1993
  • Columbia, December 1996

Musgrave described the Space Shuttle as “very fragile” in an interview with Time Magazine, calling a “butterfly bolted on a bullet.”

His shuttle missions are extraordinary (among shuttle missions) as well. On board the Challenger‘s maiden voyage, he and Don Peterson conducted the first Space Shuttle Extra-Vehicular Activity (or EVA, a spacewalk, a mission outside the spacecraft) to test new space suits. On his Endeavour flight, he helped repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

Still, despite all his accomplishments (this doesn’t even cover most of them), Musgrave’s ribbon rack is one of a true Marine.

This is what a $17 million investment in laser technology gets the US military

“I’m massively privileged to be part of the space program, and I never forget to say that,” he told Huffington Post in a 2011 interview. He plans to return to space as a tourist.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information