This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment

Jeff Slater was an Army small weapons expert who served in Iraq. He later volunteered for route clearance duty where his job was to intentionally run over IEDs.


On his return home, Slater struggled with depression and feelings of isolation. But he stayed focused on the goal of finding his own enlightenment.

Slater has many striking tattoos, including one on his chest of a hand grenade with wings and the word “Serenity” above it.

“I see the world as a balance between beauty and hate,” Slater says. “Serenity isn’t freedom from the storm. It’s finding peace amidst the storm.”

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

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

Video Credit: Rebecca Murga and Karen Kraft

MIGHTY TRENDING

US reviving long-range Cold War strategy as global tension rises

The Pentagon is preparing to dust off a Cold War-era warfighting concept and upgrade it with new weaponry to thwart a potential shock assault by rival powers.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s research and development arm, is working to revive its decades-old “Assault Breaker” concept to help the US military achieve and maintain offensive superiority in the face of emerging threats from Russia and China, Aviation Week reported March 4, 2019.

The Soviet plan for achieving victory in Europe called for rapid breakthrough strikes on NATO’s forward defenses, clearing a path for overwhelming waves of Soviet mobile armor formations.


The original Assault Breaker concept was developed in the late 1970s to combat the threat to NATO posed by the massive and overwhelming Soviet tanks and armored vehicles. Assault Breaker I “was a concept for attacking moving, rear echelon armor massed deep behind enemy lines,” a Defense Science Board (DSB) study that came out June 2018 explained.

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment

E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft.

(US Air National Guard photo by Bradly A. Schneider)

While NATO forces clashed with front-line Soviet forces, Assault Breaker units would cripple enemy follow-on forces, specifically enemy armor, thus buying time for the allies to send reinforcements without risking escalation by using nuclear weapons.

The edges of the sword for this strategy are surveillance aircraft and long-range smart weapons, but emerging threats, specifically the proliferation of anti-access, area-denial capabilities like long-range missiles by US adversaries have made implementation more of a challenge.

Assault Breaker II “is an umbrella effort drawing on existing and emerging programs across the services to address known capability gaps, opportunities and threats,” DARPA told Aviation Week. The agency will submit a budget request to Congress in March 2019.

“In the same way that the original Assault Breaker program was a concept for stunting the enemy’s advances early on during a conflict, [Assault Breaker II] is designed to respond within a few hours to give an adversary pause and allow more traditional forces to flow into the area of operations,” 2018’s DSB study explained.

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment

The B-52 Stratofortress, B-1 Lancer, and B-2 Spirit.

This time around, the plan involves 21st century precision weapons. The response, according to Popular Mechanics, would play out something like this:

Were Russia to invade NATO, destroying US military bases in Europe to prevent an immediate response, the US could deploy dozens of heavy, long-range bombers directed by modern surveillance aircraft to unleash as many as 20 Assault Breaker missiles, each of which could carry tens of smart submunitions capable of devastating advancing armor.

For China, the most likely battlefield would be at sea, but the concept could be implemented in much the same way.

The exact details of the weapons and systems to make the plan effective are classified, but seeing that almost all of the technology required has been in use for years, the Pentagon expects this strategy could be ready to go within a decade.

The reported plans to revive the Assault Breaker concept is in line with the National Defense Strategy, which identifies rivalry with Russia and China as the US’s leading security concern.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is why no one in North Korea is celebrating Kim Jong Un’s birthday

Jan. 8 is Kim Jong Un’s 34th birthday — but nobody in North Korea is celebrating with him.


The country’s official calendar shows it as a normal workday, according to the BBC.

North Korea has attempted to cover up Kim’s birthday in the past.

The former NBA star Dennis Rodman sang “Happy Birthday” to Kim at a basketball game in Pyongyang on the day in 2014. But citizens were told Rodman sang Kim “a special song,” with no mention of his birthday.

As North Korea regularly threatens anyone who insults Kim and throws massive parties to celebrate nuclear tests, it may seem bizarre that Pyongyang isn’t pulling out all the stops for its leader.

Experts have posited various reasons for the silence on Kim’s birthday — and some could spell disaster for his government.

It’s too cold and expensive to celebrate

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment
Kim Jong-Un on the summit of Mt. Paektu. Photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 19, 2015

Hazel Smith, a researcher at the School of African and Oriental Studies in London who lived in North Korea from 1998 to 2001, said it was “not very surprising” that the country wasn’t marking Kim’s birthday.

“Kim Jong Un is treated today as the supreme leader whose words are automatically seen as authoritative because he has the familial lineage of the Kim family,” Smith said, adding that the birthdays of Kim’s grandfather and father, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, are already designated national holidays.

“North Korea’s propagandists don’t need another day to emphasize the point,” she said.

Smith also said that national celebrations were costly to organize and that it was too cold to hold outdoor parties this time of year.

“These celebrations for these national days are also very expensive and involve thousands of people, and January provides the coldest temperatures of the year regularly falling to -25 centigrade,” she said. “It’s not very feasible to organize yet another set of parades when they have Feb. 16” — Kim Jong Il’s birthday celebration — “to plan for.”

There’s growing discontent within the country

Another reason North Korea isn’t celebrating Kim’s birthday could be because of his unpopularity within the country as a result of sanctions.

The UN approved multiple rounds of economic sanctions against Pyongyang last year as punishment for its nuclear development.

Also Read: North Koreans are tired of all the Kim Jong Un photos

Daily NK, a news site based in South Korea, last month quoted a source in North Korea’s South Pyongyang province as saying:

International sanctions, especially those instituted after the 6th nuclear test in September, have caused a lot of hardship for workers with many losing their jobs as a result of the gradual slowing of coal exports. So public opinion of Kim Jong Un has dropped to a new low.

 

As the government pushes propaganda about its nuclear and missile development while even the more successful merchants are losing jobs and going hungry this year, people would only ridicule Kim Jong Un if they saw his birthday had been made a holiday.

The source added, however, that government authorities would still “conduct lectures” and “distribute snacks to children” on Jan. 8.

Nevertheless, the extent of Kim’s popularity remains unknown.

“I don’t think we know anything for sure about his popularity one way or another apart from it’s extremely dangerous to speak out against him,” Aidan Foster-Carter, an honorary lecturer at Leeds University who’s an expert on North Korea, told The Independent.

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment
Members of the North Korean military stand in front of photos of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il (Image KCNA Watch)

Maybe Kim’s cult of personality just isn’t big enough

Experts also say Kim hasn’t amassed a large enough cult of personality to have his birthday designated a national holiday.

Owen Miller, a Korea expert at SOAS, told The Independent that North Korea “might consider it too soon to take Kim Jong Un’s personality cult up to that level.”

“Kim Jong Il was anointed as successor [to Kim Il Sung] in 1980, and his cult was built up long before he became leader,” Miller added. “Kim Jong Un, on the other hand, was only introduced to North Koreans a year or two before he became leader in 2011.”

Some experts even suggested that Kim was trying to reinvent himself as a man of the people and that designating his birthday as a national holiday would hamper that image.

The Guardian reported in September that Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister who’s a senior government minister, had been trying to “create a cult of personality around her brother that included presenting him as a benevolent, accessible leader.”

Articles

First SEAL to reach the rank of admiral dies at 93

Retired Navy Rear Adm. (Lower Half) Richard Lyon, the first SEAL in the Navy Reserve to reach flag rank, passed away Feb. 3. He was 93.


According to a report by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Lyon, a veteran of the World War II-era Underwater Demolition Teams — the forerunners to the SEALs — served 41 years in the Navy Reserve and also saw action during the Korean War.

Lyon is believed to have been among the first troops to land on the Japanese mainland as Tokyo surrendered.

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment

In 1951, Lyon was recalled to active duty for the Korean War and worked on destroying enemy mines and later would help destroy enemy tunnels and railways – part of the evolution of the UDTs into the SEALs.

“He was one of the most impressive men I’ve ever met,” Doug Allred, a former officer in Underwater Demolition Team 11, told the Union-Tribune. “It was 1961 and he was a reservist. This old man shows up at our unit and asked if he could go out with us.

“By golly, we were swimming and diving and doing all these hard things and he was destroying all of us young guys.”

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment
Retired Rear Adm. Dick Lyon, the first Bullfrog, left, passes the Bullfrog trophy to Capt. Pete Wikul, the 13th Bullfrog, during the passing of the Bullfrog ceremony. The title Bullfrog recognizes the UDT/SEAL operator with the greatest amount of cumulative service. Wikul retired after 39 years and 4 months of Navy service. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua T. Rodriguez)

After the Korean War, Lyon returned to the reserves, and built a very successful civilian carer, being promoted to Rear Adm. (Lower Half) in 1975. In 1978, he was recalled to active duty to serve as deputy chief of the Navy Reserve.

In 1983, he retired from the Navy Reserve, ending a 41-year career. He went on to serve two terms as mayor of Oceanside, California.

The cause of death was reported as renal failure. The family has asked that donations be made to the Navy SEAL Foundation.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy Reserve gets first of new warfare instructors

Lt. Cesar Mize became the first Anti-Submarine Warfare/Anti-Surface Warfare (ASW/SUW) Warfare Tactics Instructor (WTI) in the Navy Reserve during a ceremony on Oct. 26, 2018. Capt. Joseph Cahill, director of Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC’s) Sea Combat Division administered Mize’s oath of office into the Navy Reserve.

“I’m thrilled to be part of this tremendous team of young officers raising the Combat capability of Naval Surface Forces,” said Cahill. “Cesar’s exceptional skills, qualifications, and experience as an ASW/SUW WTI make him a critical asset to the Nation. As the first Reserve ASW/SUW WTI, Lt. Mize will continue to play a vital role for our Navy and our Nation. He is the first of what will eventually be many ASW/SUW WTI’s who choose to continue to serve as reserve enablers after they transition from active duty.”


Mize served under Cahill’s command aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), completing a 5th and 7th Fleet deployment in 2018.

“It’s exciting that the Navy is investing in our tactical talent. I’m tremendously excited to join the reserve component of SMWDC,” said Mize. “The ability to surge a tactically lethal surface warfare force in wartime is critically important. This reserve force will continue to rigorously train, learn, and teach to be able to answer the nations call at a moment’s notice.”

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment

Lt. Cesar Mize, left, shakes hands with Capt. Joseph Cahill, right, director of Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center™s (SMWDC) Sea Combat Division after being commissioned into the Navy Reserve and SMWDC™s Reserve Component, Oct. 26, 2018.

Currently there are five reserve units at SMWDC, corresponding to the headquarters and its four divisions. Mize is one of three reserve SWOs qualified as a WTI. The others are qualified as Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) WTIs.

While the three reserve WTIs earned their patches on active duty and later transitioned into the Navy Reserves, SMWDC is on track to expand WTI training and qualification opportunities to highly motivated reserve SWOs who demonstrate exceptional tactical skill and potential. SMWDC reserve component recently selected its first reserve SWO to complete the ASW/USW WTI course of instruction in 2019.

SMWDC is a subordinate command of Commander U.S. Naval Surface Forces, and is headquartered at Naval Base San Diego with four divisions in Virginia and California focused on IAMD, ASW/SUW, Mine Warfare, and Amphibious Warfare.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How Russia and China are dodging North Korea’s sanctions

China, Russia, Malaysia, and other nations are failing to curb sanctioned financial dealings and trade conducted by North Korea in their countries, according to a U.N. report.


A U.N. panel of experts on North Korea said these nations and others are failing to stop the Kim Jong Un regime’s efforts to fund its nuclear and missile programs, according to a report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. CNN received key sections of the report.

Their draft report was distributed to a U.N. committee overseeing North Korea sanctions compliance. It then goes to the Security Council.

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment
Kim Jong Un in a nuclear facility in North Korea. (KCNA)

In violation of U.N. sanctions, North Korean exported roughly $200 million in coal and other commodities in 2017, the panel said. Much of the regime’s coal and fuel shipments passed through Chinese, Malaysian, Vietnamese, or Russian ports.

More reading: Here’s another potential reason for North Korea’s nuclear provocations

More than 30 representatives of North Korean financial institutions are operating in foreign nations, including Russia and China, the investigators said.

North Korea “is already flouting the most recent resolutions by exploiting global oil supply chains, complicit foreign nationals, offshore company registries and the international banking system,” the document stated.

Several dozen times over the past decade, the report said, North Korean weapons have been shipped to Syria to develop a chemical-weapons program.

Syria told the panel no North Korea technical companies are operating in the country, and the only North Koreans there are involved in sports.

Also read: Why the US will never recognize a nuclear North Korea

A member country also reported that Myanmar is buying a ballistic-missile system and conventional weapons from North Korea, including rocket launchers and surface-to-air missiles, according to the report.

Chinese, Russian, Malaysian, and Burmese embassies in Washington didn’t respond to a request for comment by The Wall Street Journal.

Last year, the U.N. Security Council passed stronger sanctions against North Korea after several weapons tests, including nuclear ones.

Related: Here is how Russia could shoot down a North Korean missile

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said violations of maritime operations involving North Korea are a problem.

“We must put an end to illicit ship-to-ship transfers that undermine UN sanctions,” he said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This was the secret CIA plot to have Castro killed – for two cents

A U.S. plot to pay Cubans for killing Cuban officials and Communist sympathizers was revealed in a batch of CIA files released on Thursday.


  • Only $0.02 was offered up for the killing of Prime Minister Fidel Castro, an offer that was meant “to denigrate” the revolutionary leader in the eyes of the Cuban people.
  • The bounty operation never happened, but it didn’t prevent the US government from trying to oust Castro, unsuccessfully, for decades.

President Donald Trump approved the release of about 2,800 top secret documents on Thursday related to the federal investigation into the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Also Read: Here are the top conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy assassination

One file exposed a plot crafted by senior leaders in the Kennedy Administration encouraging Cubans to kill government agents for financial rewards.

The bounties for targeting Communist informers, cell leaders, department heads, foreign supporters, and government officials ranged from $5,000 to as much as $100,000. The plan, according to the newly released file, was to drop leaflets from the air in Cuba advertising the rewards.

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment

A meager $0.02 was offered for the killing of Fidel Castro, then Cuba’s prime minister.

In 1975, Edward Lansdale, a prominent CIA intelligence official, testified to the Senate that the pocket-change offering for the Cuban leader was meant “to denigrate … Castro in the eyes of the Cuban population.” Lansdale was known for leading counter-insurgency missions in developing countries, especially in Vietnam and the Philippines.

The recently released JFK file goes on to say that once the plan was implemented, US agents would “kidnap known [Communist] party members thereby instilling confidence in the operation among the Cuban populace and apprehension among the Cuban hierarchy.”

Also Read: 4 of the craziest assassination attempts in U.S. history

The kill-for-pay plan — dubbed “Operation Bounty” — never took hold. Lansdale said he “tabled” the concept because he didn’t think “it was something that should be seriously undertaken or supported further.”

It’s unclear why exactly he thought the plan should have been scrapped. The CIA had, on numerous occasions, attempted to assassinate Castro and overthrow his Communist government.

Articles

‘Pin-ups for Vets’ creatively shows appreciation for veterans

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment


When we think about ways to give back to the veteran community and show our appreciation, we often turn to the standard monetary contributions and volunteer opportunities, but there are more creative ways to show our appreciation as well. One example of such an endeavor is the organization Pinups for Vets.

I recently had the founder of Pinups for Vets, Gina Elise, on the Military Veterans in Creative Careers podcast, and I was surprised and inspired by what she had to share. Gina started the organization in 2006 as a way to give back to the veteran community. After seeing images of veterans alone in hospital beds, and watching reports on the news of the severe injuries sustained by our troops fighting in Iraq, she became convinced that she had to do something to help raise funds to support our hospitalized veterans.

She had always been a fan of World War II nose art (on the nose of the plane), so decided to use this creative passion of hers to create calendars that could be donated to veterans and raise money for VA hospitals. Now it is a reality, and Gina not only produces the calendars, but brings a group together and goes to donate the calendars at VA hospitals, dressed as the pinups. The organization has donated over $50,000 worth of rehab equipment for VA hospitals nationwide, and has visited over 7,000 ill and injured veterans.

As you would imagine with a group that visits VA hospitals, the stories Gina had to share were touching. She mentioned a man who was in the hospital for a traumatic injury, and how they were talking with him and he responded. This wouldn’t have been a big deal, except for the fact that afterward they were told that this man had not spoken in over a month.

Navy veteran Jennifer Marshall is a return volunteer for these groups that go to VA hospitals, and shared with me the story of an elderly Navy veteran who cried because she was so happy to have this visit. The video of this touching moment is below:

Jennifer had the following to say about her volunteer experience with Pinups for Vets:

Volunteering with Pin-Ups for Vets means so much to me. On every visit, we see veterans that have not had visitors in days, weeks, or even months. Reconnecting with my brothers and sisters, regardless of era served or branch, is a unique and often beautiful experience. No veteran should ever feel lonely or go without visitors while hospitalized. I do it because not only do I value our veterans, but it makes me feel good as well. I love connecting with other vets and I think volunteer work is essential for anyone who would like to make the world a little brighter.

She also had the following experience to share, which reminds us of the need of young veterans as well:

A visit that sticks out in my mind was when we walked into a room and there were two very young veterans in their late 20s to early 30s. At the hospital, they were surrounded by elderly vets and did not really have anyone to talk to. We spent a lot of time in that room just talking and reminiscing about the service. They were so happy to have company that was around their same age, and it was a really great bonding experience. We signed their calendars and took photos to remember the day by. I still think about that visit often.

Jennifer told me she feels that, through such visits, along with the organizations active social media presence, “people are able to see that there are still veterans who not only appreciate but need the companionship.”

The website for the organization includes thank you letters from the hospitals these volunteers have been able to visit, and reading these was an inspiration in itself. One line from these letters that helped me understand the importance of the visits said their visits make “every day Veterans Day” for their residents.

We don’t want anyone to end up alone in a hospital, especially anyone who dedicated themselves to serving our country. We are fortunate that Pinups for Vets is making an effort, and can see this first hand in the commitment these men and women make to showing these veterans that they care. An example below shows Gina dancing with a veteran, a touching moment that may not change the world, but certainly shows that veteran and the others who see this that people appreciate our service and are making an effort to ensure we are not alone.
MIGHTY TRENDING

China may have murdered the president of Interpol

It’s been more than a month since Beijing confirmed that the vanished Interpol president had been detained in China, and we’re no closer to knowing what happened.

Meng Hongwei disappeared after traveling to China on Sept. 29, 2018. Beijing broke its silence over the matter a week later, on Oct. 7, 2018, saying that it had detained him and was investigating him over bribery allegations.


That same day Interpol said it received Meng’s resignation — without specifying the source — and accepted it “with immediate effect.”

Jürgen Stock, Interpol’s secretary-general, told reporters on Nov. 8, 2018, that “there was no reason for me to (suspect) that anything was forced or wrong” about the resignation.

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment

Interpol secretary-general Jürgen Stock.

Details of China’s allegations against Meng remain unclear. His detention appears to be part of a wider “anti-corruption drive” led by President Xi Jinping since his ascendancy to the Chinese leadership.

Activists at Human Rights Watch believe Meng is kept under a form of secret detention called liuzhi (留置), where the person is held incommunicado without access to lawyers or relatives for up to six months.

Sophie Richardson, the organization’s China director, told Business Insider that “we assume but cannot confirm” that.

The wife’s fight

Meng’s wife, Grace, repeatedly denied China’s corruption charges and claimed that her husband’s disappearance was “political persecution.”

She told the BBC in October 2018: “I’m not sure he’s alive. They are cruel. They are dirty,” she added, referring to China’s tactics to silence people.

Grace Meng added that she received a threatening phone call shortly after Meng’s disappearance, in which a man speaking in Chinese warned her not to speak out.

Reuters reported early November 2018 that Meng had retained two law firms in London and Paris to track down her husband. Business Insider contacted the two firms for comment on Meng’s next steps.

The last text Grace Meng received from her husband on Sept. 25, 2018, says in Chinese: “Wait for my call,” followed by a knife emoji — a possible warning that he was in danger.

Interpol says it can’t investigate, but is “strongly encouraging” China to speak out

The international police organization, where Meng was elected president in 2016, has not provided much clarity either.

It has not released a public statement since Oct. 7, 2018, when it acknowledged Meng’s resignation and has not responded to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Stock, Interpol’s secretary-general, said on Nov. 8, 2018, that the organization’s rules forbade him from investigating Meng’s disappearance.

“We are not an investigative body,” he said, according to the Associated Press. He added that “we are strongly encouraging China” to provide details of Meng’s whereabouts.

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment

Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Richardson of Human Rights Watch told Business Insider: “If President Xi was even remotely serious about the rule of law, Meng would be guaranteed fair trial rights, but that is highly unlikely to happen given the profound politicization of China’s legal system.”

Rights groups protested Meng’s election to the Interpol presidency at the time, citing his previous work at China’s ministry of public security in Xinjiang and Tibet. The two regions are home to the country’s Uighur and Tibetan ethnic minorities, who Beijing has attempted to muzzle.

During Meng’s tenure, China submitted multiple “red notices” — Interpol arrest warrants — for dissidents around the world.

Roderic Wye, an associate fellow at Chatham House and former first secretary in the British Embassy in Beijing, told Business Insider in October 2018 that public disappearances were not unusual in China, especially in politics.

“It is often a sign that someone has got into trouble if they fail to appear in public doing their normal duties for a period of time,” he said.

Earlier in 2018 Chinese authorities publicly disappeared prominent Chinese actress Fan Bingbing for three months after she was accused of evading taxes.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Navy declassifies 300 pages of probe into 1963 USS Thresher disaster

Nearly six decades after a Navy submarine plummeted to the bottom of the sea during a deep-dive test, families of those lost in the tragedy are finally getting a look at hundreds of documents about the accident the service has long kept under wraps.

The Navy on Wednesday released the first 300 pages of a court of inquiry on the catastrophic 1963 loss of the nuclear-powered submarine Thresher. The documents provide details into the Navy’s worst undersea accident, which claimed the lives of 129 men onboard.


While Navy leaders say they’re committed to being transparent with the families and the public about what caused the Thresher — the first sub in its class — to sink, it took a court order to reach this point.

Capt. Jim Bryant, a retired Navy submarine officer, sued his former service in 2019 to get it to release the full 1,700-page report on the Thresher accident. A federal judge ordered the Navy in February to begin releasing portions of that report monthly to the public.

“I think I’m doing the Navy a favor,” Bryant told Military.com this week. “This is a significant historic event … and the reactions were very sound. It’s a really good story here for the Navy.”

Rear Adm. Bill Houston, director of the Undersea Warfare Division at the Pentagon, told reporters Tuesday that Navy leaders don’t believe the newly released Thresher documents “will shed any additional light on her loss.” Still, he added, the Navy is committed to releasing additional portions of the report monthly, despite much of it remaining classified.

“This process requires coordination between many organizations, and takes time to be done correctly,” Houston said. “But the Navy knows this is the right thing to do.”

He declined to comment on Bryant’s lawsuit prompting the documents’ release.

The first batch of documents released this week includes witness and exhibits lists, findings of facts, opinions, recommendations and initial testimony. Families were notified in a letter sent last month from Vice Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander of Naval Submarine Forces, that the Navy was working to declassify the documents and make them public.

Joy MacMillan and her brother Tim Noonis lost their father, Walter “Jack” Noonis, to the Thresher accident. Both credited Bryant for the time he put into pushing the Navy to release the documents. The decision to do so “should have been automatic,” MacMillan said.

“We would definitely want to know,” she said. “We know it won’t bring them back, but it does help to understand how something like that could have happened to our family.”

MacMillan’s mother, who passed away in 2016, had four children under the age of 10 when the Thresher sank.

“It was intense, but I think my mom did a fabulous job picking her boots up and marching forward, but I would never say that it was easy,” MacMillan said. “I feel that it would’ve been an honor to all the moms to get this information.”

Bryant said the families — along with the rest of the public — deserve access to the answers.

“Naval history is important,” he said. “And when the technology is no longer of danger to national security — well, I think we should know about it.”

How Tragedy Led to Change

The Thresher had just completed a months-long overhaul period when — on April 10, 1963 — the sub began dive tests off the coast of Massachusetts.

It was accompanied by the submarine rescue ship Skylark, which received garbled communications about the Thresher experiencing minor difficulties.

The court of inquiry determined that the Thresher sank due to a piping failure that resulted in a loss of power and the inability to blow ballast tanks quickly enough to avoid sinking. Houston said this week that the Navy stands by those initial determinations.

Bryant wanted to know more, though, and was unsatisfied with the Navy’s original decision to publicly release just 19 of the 1,700 pages of documents from the court of inquiry. It was only after a Freedom of Information Act request failed to shake loose the documents that he took the Navy to court.

The families and the public have a right to know more about the decisions that led up to the accident, he said. In 2018, Bryant wrote a piece for the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine arguing that data showed the Thresher “very likely had already sunk below her 1,300-foot test depth limit when she reported minor difficulties.”

“The result,” he wrote, “was a hull collapse that could have been avoided with more testing and better planning.”

Noonis, who said he’s read everything he could find publicly on the Thresher, said he’d like the Navy to further analyze acoustical recordings of the Thresher accident that were picked up by the Navy’s Sound Surveillance System, known as SOSUS.

Bryant described an analysis Navy Reserve Lt. Bruce Rule provided during 1963 testimony about what the SOSUS picked up on the Thresher’s sinking. According to Bryant’s April 2020 Proceedings article titled “USS Thresher (SSN-593) Disaster: Ten Questions Our FOIA Lawsuit Hopes to Answer,” Rule’s observations reject the Navy’s assessment that there was major flooding on the sub before implosion.

While Noonis said he’d like to see the Navy take another look at that claim, he isn’t holding out much hope — especially since the service isn’t releasing the documents by choice.

“They were forced to release it,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of faith in the government coming out and changing their conclusion. … Bureaucracies aren’t fond of finding fault with themselves.”

People who study technology need access to any information available about major accidents to understand the decisions leading up to them, so they don’t repeat the same mistakes, Bryant said this week.

Despite the battle over the documents, though, Bryant credits the Navy with taking important steps in the aftermath of the Thresher tragedy to help prevent other undersea mishaps. That’s why he said he wants to see the service share any documents it has that can help others understand what went wrong.

Houston said the Thresher remains a defining event for the submarine service. Every new Navy submariner learns about the vessel.

“From day one, every new submariner checking onboard discusses the impact of Thresher to the submarine force, and the significant improvements that transpired as a result of her loss,” he said.

The Navy’s Submarine Safety program, known as SUBSAFE, was born out of the Thresher accident. SUBSAFE has “drastically improved quality control and assurance in the fabrication, construction and maintenance of submarines,” Houston said.

“Since the program’s inception, no SUBSAFE-certified submarines have been lost at sea,” he said.

MacMillan said she’s grateful the accident led to change, but said without the Navy releasing the full probe, no one can be certain all possible steps have been taken to prevent something similar from happening again.

“Was it the main coolant pump? Was it just a push too fast for a deeper dive in the Cold War?” she said. “It really does feel like it’s been [more than enough] time to know what really occurred.”

Now, as the Navy begins releasing never-before-seen documents on the accident that prompted those changes, Houston said the service must balance being transparent while still protecting information relating to national security.

Bryant said he and his attorney feel the Navy’s plan to release about 300 pages connected to the Thresher probe every month is reasonable, but noted they’ll be closely monitoring what is held back or redacted.

If the Navy refuses to declassify information they feel should be made public, Bryant said, “We’re going to fight them over it.”

MacMillan said she hopes the documents being released prove to the public that it’s possible to take on powerful organizations that might be reluctant to release information. Bryant didn’t have a stake in the Thresher accident, she said, but fought to do the right thing.

“If you work long and hard enough, you can get to the truth,” she said. “… As a 6-year-old child kind of still frozen in that time period, I think it’s high time that they come up with something.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How a Chinese spy blew the cover for CIA assets in Russia

A former CIA case officer who was arrested on Jan. 16 on a single count of illegally possessing classified information — real names and phone numbers of covert CIA sources, locations of covert facilities, and meeting locations — may have compromised U.S. assets in Russia, according to current and former U.S. officials cited in an NBC News report published Jan. 19th.


A secret task force involving the FBI and CIA suspected that 53-year-old ex-CIA officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, could have been spying for China, during a period when at least 20 CIA informants in China were executed. FBI agents were said to have received information that Lee, who left the CIA in 2007, was cooperating with Chinese intelligence officers while working in Hong Kong, according to sources cited in the report.

In 2012, agents reportedly searched his hotel room and discovered notebooks with the names and phone numbers of CIA sources.

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment
The Memorial Wall is on the north wall of the Original Headquarters Building lobby. This wall of 103 stars stands as a silent, simple memorial to those CIA officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The Memorial Wall was commissioned by the CIA Fine Arts Commission in May 1973 and sculpted by Harold Vogel in July 1974. (Image CIA Flickr)

U.S. intelligence officials, who suspected that China had infiltrated their covert communications following the executions of their sources in the country, believed that Chinese intelligence officers shared the U.S.’s method of covert communications with Russian intelligence officers during a joint training session. After the training session, Russian officers reportedly “came back saying we got good info on [covert communications],” a former official said to NBC News.

U.S. assets in Russia reportedly began disappearing, prompting a change in operational procedures for communications.

The former officials noted that the information Lee possessed was not all-inclusive, and that not all of those who were sought by Chinese officials were linked to his notebook: “No single officer had access to all of them,” one official said to NBC News.

Also Read: Sailor accused of spying for China, Taiwan cuts deal with feds

The former officials also noted that the CIA’s method for sharing messages with agents could have been easily accessed by the Chinese due to its simplicity: “All they had to do was get one agent’s laptop, and they could figure it out,” and official said.

Lee reportedly flew to back to the U.S. in 2012 with his family on the promise of a job offer, which turned out to be a plan by authorities to lure him back to the U.S. Photographs taken of items in Lee’s hotel room at the time indicated he possessed a 49-page datebook and a 21-page address book filled with sensitive information.

Lee was arrested after flying into John F. Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Stephanie Kwolek: The chemist who invented Kevlar

On the morning of Dec. 21, 2012, Pennsylvania State Trooper Timothy Strohmeyer was pursuing a man who had just murdered three people. With Strohmeyer and other police closing in, Jeffrey Lee Michael rammed his Ford F-250 truck into another trooper’s patrol vehicle head on, pinning the officer inside. Michael emerged from his truck with a gun, headed toward the trapped officer. To save his fellow officer, Strohmeyer rammed his police car into the back of Michael’s truck. The desperate Michael spun around and dumped a magazine of rounds into Strohmeyer’s windshield. One of the bullets hit Strohmeyer in the wrist and ricocheted to his chest. But rather than kill him, the bullet was stopped by the Kevlar bulletproof vest he was wearing.

“I believe he had intentions of shooting or killing every single person that he came in contact with,” Strohmeyer told the Kevlar Survivors’ Club in 2014. “He killed three people prior to contacting me, and he definitely tried to kill me.” 

Strohmeyer is one of more than 3,100 police officers who have escaped death or serious injury because of Kevlar body armor, according to a registry kept by the Kevlar Survivors’ Club, a project of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and supported by Kevlar maker DuPont.

All, whether they are aware or not, owe a deep debt to groundbreaking chemist Stephanie Kwolek.

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment
At the DuPont Textile Fibers Pioneering Research Laboratory, left to right: Paul Morgan, Herbert Blades, and Stephanie Kwolek. Photo courtesy of DuPont.

Kwolek’s parents, immigrants from Poland, taught their daughter a passion that eventually led to her work on the lifesaving fabric.

Her father died when she was 10, but in the years they had together, he was an enthusiastic naturalist and instilled in Kwolek a curiosity about nature and science. The two roamed the woods together looking for animals, wild plants, leaves, and snakes, and Kwolek kept a scrapbook of all her discoveries.

Kwolek’s mother worked as a seamstress and taught her the details of making clothes and working with fabric.

“I used [my mother’s] sewing machine when she wasn’t around,” Kwolek told the Science History Institute in 2007, adding her first clothes were for paper dolls before she upgraded to outfits she could wear made out of fabric. “It was fun and it was creative and it gave me a great deal of satisfaction.” 

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment

Kwolek studied chemistry at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). It was a time when many women who held doctorates in science lasted only a couple of years as researchers before quitting to raise families or for jobs in education. When she joined DuPont, she worked for 15 years without a promotion.

“I was stubborn,” she said. “I decided I was going to stick it out and see what happened.”

DuPont was one of a handful of chemical companies remaking every area of daily life in the years after World War II, as the use of synthetic materials and plastics began to replace heavier materials in manufactured goods. DuPont created nylon, the first synthetic fiber. When Kwolek arrived in 1946, she joined a team of experienced scientists at DuPont’s Pioneering Research Laboratory.

In 1964, there were discussions about a gasoline shortage, and DuPont challenged its researchers to develop a synthetic fiber that could replace steel wire in tires. Kwolek’s experiments in transforming a polymer solution from a liquid into a fiber required spinning the chemicals, not unlike how a tuft of cotton candy is formed. Typically, liquids in her groupings were thick and clear and looked like corn syrup, but one solution came out thin, watery, and milky. The liquid was so different that the operator of the machine used to spin the fibers refused to use it, out of fear it would break the equipment.

This soldier searched for peace and balance after his deployment
Stephanie Kwolek, left, laid the groundwork for Nomex, a flame-resistant material used in firefighting bunker gear. She also was a consultant in the development of spandex. Video still courtesy of Science History Institute/YouTube.

Nevertheless, Kwolek insisted, and when it was spun into a fabric, test results were beyond what any at DuPont had ever seen before. The fiber was five times stronger than steel. “It wasn’t exactly a ‘eureka moment,’” she told USA Today in 2007, adding she didn’t want to tell management at first because she was afraid the tests were wrong. “I didn’t want to be embarrassed. When I did tell management, they didn’t fool around. They immediately assigned a whole group to work on different aspects [of the material].” 

Kwolek’s fiber became the basis of Kevlar, which is used in more than 200 applications today. This long list includes cut-resistant gloves for chefs, armored vehicles, helicopter rotor blades, the landing cushions on Mars rovers, and everyday objects like athletic shoes, hockey sticks, and frying pans. Kevlar also provides material support in the aerospace, marine vessel, and rail industries.

Beyond Kevlar, Kwolek consulted on Nomex, the flame-resistant nylonlike material firefighters use in their bunker gear, and Lycra spandex, a springy material that makes clothes stretchy. Kwolek was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1995, the fourth woman of 113 inductees at the time. A year later she accepted the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, and in 1997 she received the Perkin Medal, which is considered one of the highest honors in the chemistry field. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2003 and died in 2014 at age 90.

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

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