USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

Jan. 15, 2019, was the first missed payday for the US Coast Guard, the only military branch who’s working without pay during the government shutdown that started on Dec. 21, 2018.

A work-around secured money for Dec. 31, 2018 paychecks, but no such maneuver was possible for Jan. 15, 2019, and communities around the country have stepped in to support Coast Guard families amid protracted uncertainty.


The strain at home comes after a busy year at sea.

In 2018, the Coast Guard apprehended five times as many migrants at sea off the coast of Southern California as it did in 2017, according to records seen by The Washington Post.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

Coast Guard crews interdicted multiple Dominican migrants attempting to illegally enter Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, Jan. 11, 2019.

(US Coast Guard photo)

The 1,022 migrants picked up off Southern California through the end of the 2018 fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2018, exceeded the 213 and 142 intercepted in fiscal years 2017 and 2016, respectively.

But across the entire US, the number of migrants caught at sea between 2017 and 2018 decreased from 2,512 to 1,668, according to The Post.

Most of the Coast Guard’s apprehensions at sea were for a long time off the coast of Florida; many of those caught were Cubans, who were allowed to pursue citizenship once reaching the US under the “wet foot, dry foot” policy.

The Obama administration rescinded that policy in January 2017, and most migrants intercepted there now come from Haiti or other islands in the Caribbean.

While the number of people picked up in the area has fallen, the route remains active. The service said on Jan. 11, 2019, that 66 migrants were picked up around Puerto Rico in a 72-hour period and that 708 had been intercepted there since Oct. 1, 2018.

Migrants picked up off the California coast come from throughout the region, from Mexico to Bolivia. High-value migrant smuggling — which involves people who’ve paid large sums to come to the US from countries as far afield as China and Sri Lanka — has also increased, including in the waters around Florida, Coast Guard officers told Business Insider during a patrol over Miami in November 2018.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

An overloaded vessel with about 35 migrants is interdicted approximately 34 miles west of Desecheo, Puerto Rico, Jan. 7, 2019.

(US Coast Guard/Coast Guard cutter Heriberto Hernandez)

Out in the Pacific, Coast Guard crews were busy with a more nefarious activity in 2018.

During that period, the service seized 458,000 pounds of cocaine — less than the record 493,000 pounds seized in 2017 but more than the 443,000 pounds seized in 2016, which was itself a record.

Having faced those challenges at sea in 2018, the Coast Guard begins 2019 with a government shutdown that at 25 days is the longest in US history.

Unlike the other four branches of the military, which are part of the Defense Department, funding for the Coast Guard, which is part of the Homeland Security Department, has yet to be approved.

Some 42,000 active-duty Coast Guard members remain on duty without pay. The majority of the service’s 8,500 civilian employees have been furloughed, though about 1,300 remain at work.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

A Coast Guard crew oversees the salvage of a privately owned Hawker Hunter aircraft off of Honolulu, Jan. 7, 2018.

(US Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer Russ Strathern)

Vice Commandant Adm. Charles Ray said in a Jan. 10, 2019 letter that Coast Guard “leadership continues to do everything possible … to ensure we can process your pay as soon as we receive an appropriation,” but “I do not know when that will occur.”

In a letter two days later, Ray cautioned that “there is a distinct possibility that Retiree Pay and Survivor’s Benefit Plan (SBP) payments may be delayed if this lapse continues into late January.”

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride, who has missed his own paycheck, told Military.com that without a budget appropriation for fiscal year 2019, which began Oct. 1, 2019, a continuing resolution, or some other funding measure, the service won’t be able pay its 50,000 retirees on Feb. 1, 2019.

Measures have been introduced to Congress to pay the Coast Guard amid the government closure.

The Pay Our Coast Guard Act was reintroduced to the Senate on Jan. 4, 2019, and assigned to the Senate legislative calendar. The Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act was introduced in the House of Representatives on Jan. 9, 2019, and is with the Appropriations and Transportation and Infrastructure committees.

Those measures would have be approved by the other house of Congress and by the president in order to go into effect. On Jan. 15, 2019, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she was working with the White House and Congress on legislation to fund the service.

“Like the other branches of the U.S. military, active duty @USCG should be paid for their service and sacrifice to this nation,” Nielsen said on Twitter.

Despite support from each other and their communities, Coast Guard families around the country are feeling the strain.

“This is talking an emotional toll on us and all the families here at Fort Wadsworth,” Rebeca Hinger, a Coast Guard spouse and mother of three, told Staten Island Live. “Many of us here … live paycheck-to-paycheck, and without money we can’t pay our bills.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Exercise Keen Sword kicks off with thousands of sailors

Units from the U.S. military and Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) began exercise Keen Sword at military installations throughout Japan and surrounding waters, Oct. 29, 2018.

The biennial exercise is the latest in a series of joint/bilateral field training exercises since 1986 designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability of U.S. forces and the JSDF.

“Keen Sword will give U.S. and Japanese forces an opportunity to practice critical air, maritime and amphibious capabilities essential for Japan’s defense and for regional security,” said Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez, commander of U.S. Forces Japan. “Just as important, the exercise is a visible demonstration of the strength and durability of the U.S-Japan alliance and our shared pursuit of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”


Approximately 10,000 U.S. service members from commands such as U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Forces Japan, 7th Fleet, 5th Air Force, 374th Airlift Wing, 18th Wing, 35th Fighter Wing, and III Marine Expeditionary Force will take part.

Two Royal Canadian Navy ships will participate in the maritime portion of the exercise for the first time, along with observers from several other partner nations. Martinez said, “These developments are a positive sign of our shared interest in expanding partnerships and increasing multilateral cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.”

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships are underway in formation during Keen Sword 15.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Chris Cavagnaro)

The U.S.-Japan alliance has been the cornerstone of regional peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region for nearly 60 years, and events like Keen Sword ensure that we will remain ready for the next sixty years,” Martinez added.

Exercises like Keen Sword provide the JSDF and U.S. military opportunities to train together across a variety of mission areas in realistic scenarios to enhance crisis response capabilities.

“On behalf of the 54,000 men and women of U.S. Forces Japan, I am proud to be a part of this alliance that is so essential to our two nations’ shared interests,” Martinez said. “We look forward to working side by side with our Japanese allies to make this important bilateral exercise a success.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

How one military family brought socially-distanced Christmas joy to their neighborhood

On Saturday, December 12, 2020, Santa and his elf could be seen driving around central Oahu waving and handing out candy canes to delighted children waving from their driveways as holiday music rang through the air. But this wasn’t an event sponsored by the city or county, or even a military spouses’ group. It was one couple trying to bring the spirit of Christmas to their community.

“It’s been such a hard year for the kids,” PJ Byers told We Are The Mighty. “We wanted to bring an element of Christmas magic to them.”

When PJ and Jenny Byers realized their son Declan, 3, wasn’t going to be able to see Santa in a traditional way this year, they knew they wouldn’t be the only parents feeling a little “bah humbug.”

“It was actually our neighbor’s son who is battling leukemia that got me thinking about other people’s situations,” Jenny Byers shared. “It got me thinking outside the box of my own life. It reminded me that there were other people facing different scenarios and everyone’s circumstance is different in this pandemic.”

Armed with inspiration, the Byers decided to take matters into their own hands. In early fall, the couple ordered costumes from the internet with the intention to create a magical Santa ‘drive through’ experience.

“When we first tossed around the idea for our neighborhood, we didn’t know what December was going to look like,” PJ, a U.S. Naval officer stationed at Pearl Harbor, said. “The closer it got to the holiday season, we decided we wanted to go ahead with the idea so that no matter what your circumstance was – whether you feel comfortable going to the mall with plexiglass or not – every child in our surrounding community would have the chance to see Santa.”

As the holidays neared, the Byers posted their plan in their Facebook community group to ensure neighbors felt comfortable with them driving around in costume and tossing out candy canes.

“I was shocked by the response,” Jenny said. “So many people were so excited and thankful we were offering that they started offering to help. We were just planning on doing it all ourselves. Everyone started pitching in and we got a speaker from a neighbor down the street. We got a Christmas tree donated to put in the back of the truck and several neighbors donated candy canes for us to toss out to the kids.”

Within the Facebook page, the Byers set a date and time for the Santa spectacular.

“We also posted a route so that people could gauge when we would drive by their house,” Jenny explained. “We tried to hit every street in our neighborhood and we set a specific route so that people didn’t gather. Our goal was to hit every house and not have people group together into a big crowd.”

On the day of the event, the couple festooned their truck, suited up for the big event, and began making their way through the neighborhood.

“The kids were so happy,” Jenny shared, adding that local community members had donated more than 1,000 candy canes. “They were so excited to see Santa. We followed COVID guidelines and all candy canes were pre-wrapped. Santa was wearing gloves and there was no contact. It was so sweet to see so many kids so excited and happy.”

The couple’s son, Declan, waved from a neighbor’s driveway as Santa drove by, none the wiser his dad was the man in red.

The Byers shared that beyond something fun for kids, it was a gratifying opportunity for them to contribute to the community.

“I was honored to do it honestly,” PJ shared. “So much has been taken away from the kids this year, it felt like the least we could do to make the Christmas season feel a little bit more normal for them.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what a Mexican cartel has done to up its drone game

A Mexican drug cartel, the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, or CJNG, has been caught with a kamikaze-style drone, marking an escalation of the threat posed by the non-state actors. The drone was discovered when Mexican police arrested four men in a stolen pickup truck.


USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts
The seized 3DR Solo quadcopter drone, rigged with a remote-detonated improvised explosive device. (Mexican Federal Police photo)

According to a report by the Washington Times, the cartels have been using drones to smuggle drugs into the United States in recent years, but this marks a move to the type of armed drones used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The drone captured by Mexican police was equipped with an improvised explosive device and remote detonator.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts
ISIS is using drones more and more in their warfighting tactics.

An analysis by Small Wars Journal noted that the drone appeared to be a 3DR Solo quadcopter drone. This drone is available for purchase on Amazon.com for $229. Small Wars Journal reported that the takedown took place in an area of Mexico contested by multiple cartels, including the Sinaloa cartel, the Zetas, and CJNG.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts
A 3DR Solo quadcopter drone. (Photo from Amazon.com)

The United States has been pursuing a number of counter-UAV technologies. One, the Battelle DroneDefender, can end drones running back to their home base. This could prove a nasty surprise for some bad guy using a drone with an IED. Nammo has developed programmable ammo to shoot down enemy drones. Another promising approach had been to use lasers. Last month, Lockheed and the Army tested the ATHENA laser system against five MQM-170C drones.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts
The Battelle DroneDefender. (Photo from Battelle)

In any case, some of those counter-drone systems could very well find themselves being deployed on the southern border of the United States to counter the threat of cartel drones. The scary thing is, the cartels may not be the only folks using drones.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of July 5th

Nothing beats the lazy Fridays of a four-day weekend – like today! Everyone probably did something patriotic for Independence Day. Whether it was seeing the fireworks with the family or getting roaring drunk in the barracks with the guys, we all did something extravagant yesterday.

And now today’s a day where nothing really happens after a big holiday. Now it’s time to just recoup and recover from the hangover by sitting on our collective asses with video games, movies, or whatever on a regular weekday… Only to do it all over again the moment your buddy calls you up or knocks on your barracks’ room door.


So here’s to sitting on our collective asses! Enjoy some memes. You earned it!

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via The Army’s Fckups)

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via Call for Fire)

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via Not CID)

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via Private News Network)

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

MIGHTY CULTURE

Iranians, American veterans react to death of Soleimani

On Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, a U.S. airstrike in Iraq killed Quds Force Commander and Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani and Kata-ib Hezbollah leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, sending a wave of uncertainty into an already volatile region.

According to NBC News, Soleimani was planning to attack U.S. targets in the Middle East. NBC spoke to a State Department official after the strike, who said that they had “very solid intelligence” that Soleimani would act. U.S. President Donald Trump would later call Soleimani the “No. 1” terrorist in the world.

In response to the strike, Iran‘s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that “forceful vengeance” awaits the criminals behind the attack.


Coffee or Die spoke to two veterans of the Iraq War who have experience fighting Iran’s proxy militias, and three Iranians, two of whom currently live in Iran. The Iranians were given aliases to protect their identities.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

Former U.S. Army Ranger and Green Beret Travis Osborn on deployment.

(Photo courtesy of Travis Osborn.)

Travis Osborn is a former U.S. Army Ranger and Green Beret. He spent 20 years in the Army and has experience going rifle-to-rifle with Iran’s proxy fighters.

“He caused a lot of issues in Iraq with the Badr Brigades and supporting Muqtada Al Sadr’s Madhi Army,” he said, referring to a Shi’a militia that was involved in multiple clashes with U.S. troops. “It was a target of opportunity that could not be passed up.

“Why was [Soleimani] in Iraq?” Osborn continued. “It wasn’t just for vacation. In my estimation, they were planning their first opening moves against the U.S. and Iraqi government for a takeover/overthrow of the country. We have been in the business of asking Iran to be nice for too long. It is time they were taught it is in their best interest to not sponsor terrorism and genocide.”

He also had some insights for people who may be afraid of a war with Iran: “They forget Iraq beat Iran in a war. And we ran over Iraq when it had one of the largest militaries in the world.”

Army veteran Adam Schumann agrees that the death of Soleimani was a positive action. Schumann served three combat deployments in Iraq with the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, and his struggle with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was turned into the Hollywood movie “Thank You For Your Service.”

“I’m overjoyed with the news of Soleimani’s death! I was fortunate enough to spend three years in Iraq encompassing every campaign of the war except for operation New Dawn,” he said. “In 2007, the Mahdi militia were thick in New Baghdad — and clearly backed and equipped by Iran.”

Schumann doesn’t believe that the strike indicates the start of another war. “Some are saying this is the beginning of a new conflict. I think it’s finally the beginning of the end of one we’ve been invested in for 17 years,” he said. “Too many American service members fought and died at the hands of Iran’s influence in the region. I can only hope that the commander in chief keeps his foot on the gas and further aides Iraq to a free and sovereign country.”

The Iranians we spoke to about the issue aren’t mourning the death of Soleimani, either.

“He was the head of a terrorist Shia network. He has blood on his hands, including the blood of Americans, Israelis, Iraqis, Syrians, and, of course, Iranians,” Hossein said. “It’s a great loss for the Islamic Republic, especially Ali Khamenei. They are angry, desperate, and confused. As an Iranian, I’m so happy he is dead and that it was done in such a quick, intelligent way by U.S. forces.”

Firuz said that it was the happiest news he has heard all month. “Soleimani displaced and destroyed thousands of innocent people,” he added.

“To me, he was always a terrorist,” Kaveh said. “They all are — IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) members, I mean. One day he’s the general, and the day before that he was the guy torturing political prisoners. I see him as someone responsible for the death of many Iranians and Arabs from neighboring countries. Good riddance!”

What happens next depends on if Khamenei chooses to escalate the situation. Either way, tensions between America and Iran appear to be at an all-time high.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Iran-backed fighters ‘killed’ in Syria air strikes after Iraq base attack

Air strikes in eastern Syria have killed 26 fighters from an Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary group following a deadly attack on U.S.-led coalition forces in neighboring Iraq.


The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the March 12 strikes near the Syrian border town of Albu Kamal were probably carried out by the coalition.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

But a spokesman for the coalition said in an statement to AFP that it “did not conduct any strikes in Syria or Iraq last night.”

Later in the day, U.S. Defense Secretary Mike Esper blamed Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia groups for the attack on the coalition at the Camp Taji military base, located less than 30 kilometers north of Baghdad.

But he did not confirm whether the U.S. or its allies had carried out the eastern Syria attack.

However, Esper said that “all options are on the table” as Washington and its allies try to bring those responsible for the attack, which killed two U.S. troops and one British soldier and wounded a dozen others when a barrage of Katyusha rockets were launched from a truck later discovered several kilometers from Camp Taji.

Syrian state media reported that in the attack in eastern Syria, unidentified jets hit targets southeast of Albu Kamal with only material damage.

However, the Observatory said camps of the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella grouping of Iran-backed Shi’ite militias, were hit in the strikes, which came after a rocket attack on the Camp Taji military base, located less than 30 kilometers north of Baghdad.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab “underscored that those responsible for the [Camp Taji] attacks must be held accountable,” the State Department said of a phone call between the two.

Iraq’s military said caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi ordered an investigation into what he called “a very serious security challenge and hostile act.”

No-one claimed responsibility for the rocket attack, but the United States has accused Iran-backed militias of previous attacks on Iraqi bases hosting coalition forces.

U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of Central Command, told a Senate hearing that the attack was being investigated.

But he noted that Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah “the only group known to have previously conducted an indirect fire attack of this scale against U.S. civilian and coalition forces in such an incident Iraq.”

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

upload.wikimedia.org

U.S. President Donald Trump on March 12 said it had not been fully determined whether Iran, which has backed a number of anti-U.S. militia groups in neighboring Iraq, was responsible for the Katyusha attack.

Washington blamed that militia for a strike in December that killed a U.S. contractor and triggered a round of violence that led U.S. President Donald Trump to order the killing of a top Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani, in a drone strike in Baghdad the following month.

In retaliation, an Iranian ballistic missile strike on an Iraqi air base left some 110 U.S. troops suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Military family embraces camper living

Our family made the downsize of a lifetime – from a 2,667 square foot home to 39 feet. That is, a 39-foot travel trailer AKA camper. My husband, our two boys, ages three and one, dog, and cat – we packed up the essentials, stored what was sentimental and sold/donated the rest.

Now, we are full-time campers. Mobile living where we can pick up and go as needed, living in minimal space and with maximum experiences.

It was a life I never though I’d have, and now, one I can’t imagine not doing.


We have more time outdoors, more time together, fewer things to worry about.

The day we moved into our long-term slot we were full of peppy energy. We were starting this new adventure that was outside the norm, but so incredibly exciting. After settling down around the campfire, I felt the beginning stages of an eventual miscarriage. Here we were, making this epic family move, book-ended with thrills and sadness. There are surprises we can control and those that we cannot, and we were taking in both at full force.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Military Families)

In the camper, everything is so simple. Those three bathrooms I had to clean before? I can deep clean the entire camper in less time. Yard work? Now we do it for fun. Because we get to be outside and the to-do list is miniscule.

The absolute icing on the experience: we have time for our kids. So. Much Time. We go on bike rides, walks, down to the park, to the pool – all the outdoor activities that we never seemed to have time for before. I’m not longer tied to things like housework that kept me from being a good Mom. (At least, that’s how it felt at the time.)

This is, of course, why we did it. We were tired of the grind. Drill hours are exhausting as a rule. (Where are you other drill wives at? You are my people!) But with two littles, my self-employment and a too-big yard and house … it was just work – work at home, work at work, work at raising kids. Work at trying to find time for fun and plan for said fun.

Sure it was hard to sell our house; good memories are always hard to leave behind.

But as military life goes, you can’t keep it all. You hold onto what matters, and then you make the decisions you have to make. In this case, it was moving your family into a camper.

Originally it was to help us through a PCS … until we thought, “Why not just do this indefinitely?!”

We had some help in that decision, of course, thanks to the military norm of dramatic and rapid plan changes.

But now, we’re steadily living that camper life. We have wonderful neighbors, and the boys have plenty of friends at the ready at all times. When a tree fell on a neighbor’s camper, we turned it into a block party, cutting firewood and eating pizza.

Because, as it turns out, this lifestyle is a thing. Families of all sizes pile into their campers for PCSs, TDY, and for entire duty station stints. It’s an entire world that I’m fascinatingly taking in as we go.

There are tanks to be emptied. Rules about what can go down the sink. I have minimal fridge space. Neighbors can likely hear me yelling at the kids – blah, blah, blah. But it’s an exciting process, one that fuels me every day.

As for the downsides – no, it didn’t solve every problem. My husband is still OCD about the way the bikes are parked or worried about there being to many things outside the camper. I’m still my normal amount of hot mess.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

(Military Families)

There are moments where we are tripping over one another, frustrated with the lack of space. We are regularly woken in the middle of the night to a propane detector that’s set off by the dog’s gas. (Not making this up; it happens to other people too.) We have to haul up the laundry to use coin machines. But laundry is always my least favorite chore; I’ll never enjoy it unless its’ done for me. And a lack of walking space also means a lack of things I have to clean.

Like everything, there are the ups and downs in life and you decide what’s important. For us, this is the life we get to be a better family, a more engaged, less-stressed version of our former selves. I encourage more people to give it a chance.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Did you know these 20 Oscar winners are veterans?

And the Oscar goes to….

Last night’s 92nd Academy Awards had most military-connected folks rooting for Adam Driver to win best actor.


Driver, who was nominated for his role in the Netflix film, “The Marriage Story,” served in the Marines as a mortarman. He was previously nominated for his role in Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman.” Unfortunately, Driver didn’t take home the statue (Joaquin Phoenix did for his portrayal of Joker), but we looked to see what other veterans had won an Oscar for best actor.

Turns out, there were quite a few. These 20 veterans have all won entertainment’s most prestigious acting award:

James Stewart

Unlike some in Hollywood that hid behind their status, Stewart signed up right away and joined the Army when the U.S. entered WWII. Serving all the way to 1968, Stewart’s military exploits are an article in and of itself.

Stewart was nominated five times, winning once for “The Philadelphia Story.” He also received a well-deserved Honorary Oscar in 1985.

Jason Robards

Robards served in the Navy and saw a lot of action in his time. He was out at sea when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, where he was stationed. His ship was later sunk in the South Pacific, with Robard treading water for hours until he was rescued. The second ship he served on suffered a kamikaze attack off the coast of the Philippines.

Robards decided to become an actor while serving and had an illustrious career.

He won two Oscars; one for “All the President’s Men” and “Julia.”

Lee Marvin

Marvin was a badass on screen with his steely-eyed demeanor, a trait no doubt perfected during his time in the Marines during WWII. He fought in the Battle of Saipan, earning a Purple Heart when he was hit by machine-gun fire and then by a sniper.

Marvin later won the Oscar for his role in “Cat Ballou.”

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

Clark Gable

Probably the most famous leading man of them all, Gable served in the Army Air Forces during WWII, seeing combat in the skies over Europe. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal. Legend has it that Hitler was a fan of Gable and offered a reward for him to be captured alive.

Gable earned an Oscar for this role in “It Happened One Night” and surprisingly not for “Gone with the Wind.”

George C. Scott

Another post-WWII Marine, Scott was stationed at 8th and I in Washington D.C. where he served as an honor guard at services held at Arlington National Cemetery.

Nominated several times, Scott famously told the Academy that he would refuse the award if he won for Patton on philosophical grounds. The role was so iconic, he won anyway.

James Earl Jones

Before his voice terrified moviegoers as Darth Vader, James Earl Jones served in the ROTC at the University of Michigan. He then went to become a first lieutenant in the Army.

He received an honorary Oscar in 2011 for his many iconic roles. His filmography is lengthy and includes The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Sandlot, Lion King, Clear and Present Danger, and many more.

Mel Brooks

He’s made us laugh in Blazing Saddles, Spaceballs, and Young Frankenstein.

Before his life of comedy, Brooks had a more serious role defusing landmines in Germany during World War II.

Brooks won an Academy Award for his screenplay of “The Producers.”

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

Clint Eastwood

A badass of the silver screen, Eastwood served stateside during the Korean War.

Eastwood is an Oscar legend winning four times against 11 nominations. He won two Best Director Awards and Two Best Picture Awards for “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby.”

He was also nominated for two amazing military movies, “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “American Sniper.”

Robert Duvall

Before he “loved the smell of napalm in the morning,” Duvall served stateside during the Korean War.

After his stint in the Army, he went on to achieve greatness in acting with seven Oscar nominations (including for “Apocalypse Now” and “The Great Santini”), winning for “Tender Mercies.”

Ernest Borgnine

Known for many military roles, including “McHale’s Navy” and “The Dirty Dozen,” Borgnine served in the U.S. Navy in 1941 and was discharged, only to rush back into service when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

He won an Academy Award for his role in “Marty” in 1955.

Paul Newman

Arguably one of the best-looking actors of all time, Newman served in the Navy during World War II. He tried to become a pilot, but color blindness prevented him from doing so. He instead served as a radioman and turret gunner.

Newman also is an Oscar legend with a nomination in 5 different decades. He won an Honorary Oscar in 1985, and had a Best Actor win the next year for The Color of Money.”

Kirk Douglas

Before he portrayed the gladiator turned freedom fighter Spartacus, Douglas served in the Navy during WWII from 1941 – 1944.

He would later be awarded an Honorary Oscar in 1996 after earning three nominations during his illustrious career.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts

Henry Fonda

Fonda left acting and enlisted in the Navy during World War II and served in the Pacific, earning a Bronze Star.

When he returned to acting, he would have a legendary career with two nominations, including a win for “On Golden Pond.”

Charlton Heston

Heston served in the Army Air Forces during WWII as an aerial gunner. He was stationed in Alaska, which was under threat from the Japanese.

Heston had a legendary career with epic roles in “The Ten Commandments,” “Planet of the Apes,” and “El Cid,” and won an Oscar for his role in “Ben-Hur.”

Morgan Freeman

While it is easy to imagine Freeman serving as a radio operator, he actually served in the Air Force as a Radar Repairman.

While earning several nominations, he won for his role in “Million Dollar Baby.”

Sidney Poitier

Before his iconic, “They call me Mr. Tibbs!” line, Poitier served in the U.S. Army, lying about his age in order to serve.

He won the Oscar for his role in “Lilies of the Field.”

Wes Studi

Known for many roles, his most famous being the Huron warrior Magua, who cut out the heart of his vanquished foe. Studi enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard and served in Vietnam.

He was awarded an Honorary Oscar, the first Native American to be so honored.

Gene Hackman

Hackman lied about his age and enlisted in the Marines as a radio operator in 1946, rising to the rank of Corporal.

Nominated five times in his illustrious career, he won twice for “the French Connection” and “Unforgiven.”

Jack Lemmon

Lemmon had an amazing and long career showing off his chops in movies like “Glengarry Glen Ross.” Before that, Lemmon served in WWII as a Naval Aviator toward the end of the war.

He later won two Oscars for his roles in “Mister Roberts” and “Save the Tiger.”

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Jack Palance

Palance was known for his rugged looks, which studio execs claim he got from surgery to repair injuries he suffered when jumping out of a burning bomber while training during WWII.

He was nominated three times and won for City Slickers, which he celebrated by doing one-armed pushups on stage.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This Civil War vet’s grave is Underground Railroad site

Former slave and Civil War veteran Reddy Gray died on Sep. 4, 1922, when he was 79 years old. He was buried in Baltimore’s Loudon Park National Cemetery — the first VA burial site included in the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

Gray’s experience is representative of African Americans who risked travel through the Underground Railroad to find freedom, but his story is significant for the wealth of information gleaned from public records. His life is a reminder of the fight for civil rights that began in the 1860s to continues today.


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Deed of Manumission and Release of Service,” 1865.

Gray went by Reddy, short for Redmond, Redman or Reverdy. Born at Loch Raven, Maryland, to John and Lydia Talbott Gray, he was enslaved by the Thomas Cradock Risteau family in Baltimore County from birth to until the middle of the Civil War. Likely a field worker or carriage driver, he resisted servitude by escaping in March 1863. It is not clear what happened, but Gray’s “Deed of Manumission and Release of Service” retroactively corresponds with his enlistment. President Abraham Lincoln had already issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and the U.S. Army was recruiting black soldiers.

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U.S. Army, Gray Muster-Out record, 1865.

Gray enlisted in the U.S. Colored Troops at Baltimore City on March 23, 1864. His Company B, 39th U.S. Colored Infantry, fought in Virginia at the Sieges of Petersburg and Richmond, and in the expeditions and capture of Fort Fisher and Wilmington in North Carolina. Reddy mustered out in Wilmington on Dec. 4, 1865, and that record remarks, “slave when enlisted.”

His life after the Civil War shows personal accomplishment and community involvement. He learned to read and write. He returned to Baltimore and had four children, including son Redmond, with second wife Susan Gray, who worked as a laundress. In the army he suffered from rheumatism, for which he received a disability pension in 1890; however, he worked as a manual laborer doing light work like trimming lawns or gathering rags and as a carriage driver.


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Reddy Gray Burial Site Certificate of Acceptance, NPS 2018.

As “Redmond” Gray, he appears in the Baltimore Sun, Sep. 15, 1894, as judge for a running race at the “Colored People’s Fair” in Timonium, Maryland; and a few years later as a member of the Colored-Odd Fellows. Reddy (also Reverdy) Gray is honored with his name on the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, D.C. Other black soldiers who found their freedom through the Underground Railroad are buried at Loudon Park National Cemetery along with Gray, but their stories are not so easily documented.

The Network to Freedom program is managed by the National Park Service, per the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1998. Loudon Park National Cemetery was one of the 14 original national cemeteries established under the National Cemetery Act of July 17, 1862; it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Everything you need to know about the Air Force’s new PT tests

Air liaison officers and tactical air control party operators will soon see new career field-specific physical testing as the Air Force expands physical training beyond the standard PT test, officials announced Jan. 31.


It marks the first time specific career fields will have “occupationally specific and operationally relevant standards, as well as a second fitness assessment,” the service said in a release.

“ALO and TACP operators will be given a 12-month period after implementation to adapt to these new tests and standards before they are officially enforced,” Dr. Neal Baumgartner, chief of the Air Force’s Exercise Science Unit (ESU), said in the release.

“There are certain career fields, ALO and TACP for instance, that required much higher and broader levels of physical fitness to meet the demands of their operational mission sets,” he said.

Because of the critical skills these career fields require, Baumgartner said, the unit — with support from Rand Corp., a nonprofit institution that provides research and analysis studies on public policy, and its Project AIR FORCE team — initiated the science-based review.

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Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Blakeney (second from left), 9th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Hood, Texas, launches a medicine ball at the fitness center at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 9, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Yanik)

Job-related exercises

Based on the study and focus groups, the new Tier 2 test — which is still being augmented in certain cases — includes such exercises as follows:

  • 1,000-meter row (measured in minutes and seconds);
  • Pull-ups (measured in repetitions);
  • Trap bar deadlift (five repetitions, measured in pounds);
  • Two-cone agility drill (measured in seconds);
  • Medicine ball toss (measured in feet);
  • Grip strength test (measured in pounds per square inch);
  • 100-yard farmer’s carry (or 4 x 25 yards, measured in seconds);
  • Extended cross knee crunch (measured in repetitions);
  • Weighted lunges (measured in repetitions); and
  • A faster 1.5 mile run (measured in minutes and seconds).

Tier 2 is scored on a 1-10 scale in each of the 10 components. The ALO or TACP must score at least 46 points out of 100 to pass, according to the scoring sheet provided to Military.com.

In addition, TACPs or ALOs must now complete the 1.5-mile run in 11 minutes, 31 seconds, or less, the scores reveal.

Unlike the Tier 1 test, age, and gender are not a factor.

The tape test — widely unpopular among airmen, which measures weight and waist circumference — will still be taken, Air Force spokeswoman Brooke Brzozowske told Military.com.

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Master Sgt. Kyle Anderson, 3rd Air Support Operations Group, runs between two cones during a speed, strength and agility demonstration at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 9, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Yanik)

Science-based review

The study, which began in 2011, found that in order “to properly develop Tier 2 tests and standards, we performed five major steps to develop a final product: identify critical physical job tasks; develop fitness tests and physical task simulations; validate fitness tests and standards versus operational physical requirements; implement and verify these tests and standards; and finally document Tier 2 products and provide recommendations for policy during the adaptation period,” Baumgartner said.

The first step used Air Force focus groups to identify 44 air liaison-TACP Critical Physical Tasks, or CPTs, the release said. They were reviewed and approved by senior leaders in the operations community.

The ESU team then identified 10 testing components deemed critical for strength training, dubbed “Tier 2 Operator Prototype PF Test Battery.”

They included grip strength, medicine ball toss, back and side; three cone drill; trap bar deadlift, five repetition maximum; pull-up; lunges, weighted 50 pound, metronome; extended cross knee crunch, metronome; farmer’s carry, 2 x 50 pound, 100 yards; row ergometer, 1000 meters; and 1.5-mile run.

Related: Here’s how to get in shape to be an Air Force special operator

“The important takeaway here is that each of these 10 components have specific relevance to unique ALO-TACP operational mission sets,” Master Sgt. Matthew Gruse, ESU NCO in charge, said in the release.

“The grip strength test, for example, measures muscular strength in the hands and forearms, but why?” he said.

“While some may see this as redundant to other test components, our study found grip strength plays a significant role in performing tasks such as litter carries, casualty drags and rescue sled pulls during casualty movement,” Gruse said.

Lastly, Rand designed eight broad physical task simulations, or PTSs, which were developed in collaboration with special operators, reviewed by senior leaders, and tested during a pilot study.

Physical Task Simulation components included rope bridge; rope ladder; cross load personnel and equipment; casualty movement; and small unit tactics.

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Master Sgt. James Blair, 12th Combat Training Squadron, performs a farmers drag during a strength and agility demonstration as part of the Air Force special operations community’s new fitness assessment program at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Jan. 9, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Yanik)

Coming in 2019

All airmen are required to pass the service-wide Fitness Assessment known as Tier 1, Brzozowske said.

With Tier 2 in the mix, there is some nuance.

“ALOs and TACPs are granted permanent exemption from the aerobic (1.5-mile run) and muscle fitness (sit-up and push-up) components [under] the Tier 1 Air Force Fitness Assessment,” Brzozowske said in an email Wednesday. They were granted the exemption on Nov. 1, 2017, she said.

That is because the sharper run is already built in their new Tier 2 training.

Brzozowske said, “The exemption applies only to ALO and TACP personnel assigned to positions that are required to take the Tier 2 [Occupationally-Specific, Operationally-Relevant] Fitness Assessment per forthcoming Air Force Instruction 13-113, TACP Training Volume 1 policy. All other ALO and TACP personnel must continue to take the Tier 1 Air Force Fitness Assessment.”

While there were no women represented in the career fields during the pretrial testing, officials said they are eligible for either career field provided they “meet all minimum standards outlined in respective qualifications summaries.”

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright (second from left) poises to launch a medicine ball over his head Jan. 9, 2018 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. Wright visited a demonstration for a new occupational fitness program performed by senior noncommissioned officers from across the special operations community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Yanik)

How and when the Air Force intends to implement the Tier 2 testing is still being determined.

The service is also weighing expanding job-specific physical testing standards for other Special Tactics career fields such as combat controllers, weather officers, combat rescue and combat pararescue, as well as non-battlefield airmen careers such as fly-away security teams, loadmasters and firefighters, which require more endurance on the job.

To prepare and to avoid duplication, some of these careers — combat control (1 C2Xl ), combat rescue officer (13DX), pararescue (1 T2Xl), special tactics officer (13CX), special operations weather technician (1 WOX2) — may be granted a temporary exemption of the aerobic run, push-ups, and sit-ups until Dec. 1, 2018, Brzozowske said. The waist-tape test will still occur.

“This exemption is contingent upon each career field manager resuming and continuing development and validation of their new AFSC-specific, operationally specific/relevant fitness assessments,” she said.

The Tier 2 test is expected to be fully implemented for the ALO-TACP career fields by the start of 2019.

Articles

Stolen valor: Marine steals another combat vet’s Purple Heart story

A former Southern California Marine has been handed a 21-month federal sentence for faking a Purple Heart and lifting from another Marine’s combat story to get disability benefits and a free house.


In a rare prosecution under the 2013 Stolen Valor Act, a 35-year-old Iraq war veteran will also have to pay back more than $300,000 to the U.S. government and a Texas charity.

Brandon Blackstone served with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment out of Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert in 2004. He deployed to Iraq in August, during a period of fierce fighting on the Syrian border.

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So did Casey Owens, another 1/7 Marine.

But that’s where the similarities in the two Marines’ stories end — and where Blackstone’s fabrications began.

Prosecutors and fellow Marines say Blackstone fashioned a tale of blast injuries and combat stress based on a horrific explosion that nearly killed Owens and cost him both of his legs.

Owens was in a Humvee that triggered a double anti-mine bomb while responding to a downed U.S. serviceman in September 2004.

Blackstone was in the area and likely witnessed the event. But he wasn’t injured in that attack — or in any other combat incident — according to people who were there, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Texas, and Blackstone’s own lawyer.

In fact, he was evacuated from Iraq after a month with appendicitis.

Also read: This is how the Pentagon had over 120,000 extra Purple Heart medals

But starting at least in 2006, Blackstone began spinning a story of suffering traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder after his Humvee hit a mine in Iraq.

He even fabricated two witness statements to support his claim for U.S. Veterans Affairs Department disability benefits that he received from 2006 to 2015, prosecutors said.

Worse, in the eyes of his fellow Marines, he began showing the photograph of Owens’ mangled Humvee as part of his story about how he was wounded.

“This scumbag lied to try to get s–t. You don’t do that. It’s not honorable. It’s not how we are. It’s personal for me, especially, as a friend of Casey’s,” said Andrew Rothman, a 1/7 Navy corpsman who was a key player in exposing Blackstone’s fraud.

“This kid essentially stole from all of us. And the honor part is bigger to us than the money and the house.”

Blackstone was awarded a 100 percent disability rating and, by claiming to have a Purple Heart, his application for a mortgage-free house was granted by Texas-based Military Warriors Support Foundation.

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The Purple Heart is one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces. (Photo: AP)

Meanwhile, Owens tried to make the best of his life with a double leg amputation and brain injuries, among other medical complications. He moved to Aspen and competed as a Paralympics skier.

But Owens was still in pain. He did national TV interviews describing how he struggled to get the care he needed for his mental and physical wounds. His right leg required additional surgeries that took more of it away.

In October 2014, Owens used a gun to kill himself.

But things for Blackstone were going well. He became a mentor at a Missouri-based veterans charity, Focus Marines Foundation. He even started his own nonprofit group, called The Fight Continues, with two other post-Sept. 11 veterans.

But those brushes with others in the veterans community led to his downfall. His story, including video testimonials he was giving about his combat injuries, didn’t sit right with other 1/7 Marines who dedicated a Facebook thread to discussing it.

Related: Not all PTSD diagnoses are created equal

Eventually, Rothman tipped off the Warriors Support charity that was poised to grant Blackstone the deed to the donated house.

Blackstone pleaded guilty in September to one count of wire fraud and one count of fraudulent representation about the receipt of a military decoration for financial gain.

At his sentencing last month, a federal judge in Texas called Blackstone “shameful,” but gave him credit for accepting blame for his actions. Sentencing guidelines limited his incarceration to 27 months or less, according to news reports. His was given credit for time served since February, so he will serve 18 more months.

Blackstone’s defense lawyer, Justin Sparks, said his client was diagnosed with PTSD and suffered a head injury in Iraq — but not in combat.

The head wound happened when a superior roughed him up in the barracks and he hit his head on a dresser. There were other injuries while in uniform that weren’t related to combat but required surgery, Sparks said. While in the hospital, a higher-ranking Marine informally gave Blackstone a Purple Heart medal to acknowledge his pain — but it wasn’t an official award.

There’s no explaining why Blackstone lied about the Purple Heart or applied for the free home, knowing he wasn’t qualified, the former Marine’s lawyer told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“There’s not really a good answer for that. He was in a very, very tough time in his life and reached a pitfall there,” Sparks said this week.

Sparks said his client seemed to lose his grasp on reality as the story spun on.

There’s a symptom of PTSD where you are living your life in the third person. You’re always convincing yourself about what is reality,” he said. “It’s almost a coping mechanism.”

Sparks said his client is still rated at 70 percent disabled by the VA.

The lawyer disagreed that Blackstone was appropriating Casey Owens’ story.

“Brandon never claimed his lost his legs,” Sparks said. “The only common elements in the two stories are PTSD, the Purple Heart, and head injuries. There must be at least 1,000-plus soldiers who have those three things.”

Blackstone’s fellow troops don’t buy the PTSD explanation for his behavior. Several of them also were disappointed by his sentence.

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A Marine salutes the memorial stand for his fallen brother. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

“He was in the grip of his own lies,” said Eric Calley, a former Marine who used his own money to start The Fight Continues with Blackstone.

“That judge should be ashamed. I think (Blackstone) deserves a life sentence for what he did to our veterans.”

Lezleigh Owens Kleibrink, Owens’ sister, said her family was hoping for closure from a tougher sentence but didn’t get it.

Kleibrink said she has no doubts that Blackstone was trying to at least bask in the association with her brother’s reputation.

“He was a thief and Casey’s story was a means to get what he wanted,” she told the San Diego Union-Tribune this week.

Further reading: Here are the criteria that entitle a service member to the Purple Heart

“What Brandon doesn’t understand is that it’s ripped open our wounds once again,” Kleibrink said. “Anyone who makes my mother cry like this … He may have joined the Corps, but he was no Marine.”

The Military Warriors Support Foundation said it was the charity’s first brush with stolen valor in awarding more than 750 homes to combat-wounded veterans.

“This was an unusual case, in that even official VA documentation was inaccurate,” said spokesman Casey Kinser. “That said, we are constantly reviewing our processes to vet our applicants more accurately and efficiently.”

The Fort Worth-area house that Blackstone nearly owned has been awarded to another Marine family.

Articles

8 best examples of nonsensical ‘military logic’

Military logic is like military intelligence; it seems like an oxymoron until you realize it just follows its own — very weird — rules.


But sometimes, there’s just no way to read the rules that makes sense, and you’re left with these eight moments:

1. Just going to break these new boots in before we get into contact …

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In other news, never use your fighting load carrier in a fight and avoid getting into combat in the Army combat uniform.

2. In the Air Force’s defense, airmen have a better history of success with planes than dates.

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Don’t talk to the cheerleader; save the world.

3. Come on, he left the pin in it.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts
Alright, gonna go work on my college courses after just one more game.

4. In their defense, every bag that wasn’t laid out was inevitably incomplete on target.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts
So, this one might be on the joes, not the generals.

5. What they really mean is that it’s too simple to make a good evaluation bullet.

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts
Better complicate it up and turn it into a mind-numbing PowerPoint deck. (via America’s Sgt Maj.)

6. Oh, the quaint old days when the jets cost only $70 million.

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The F-35 will take aerial warfare into the future of ridiculous overmatch.

7. What if a truck comes by and can’t see the soldiers in their fancy camouflage?

USCG works without pay even after surge in migrant intercepts
Also, are we not going to talk about why we need to rake the dirt in the first place?

8. Long drives are dangerous, that’s why you should only do them in large convoys at night in tactical conditions.

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Let’s be honest, he’s just trying to limit the first sergeant has to drive to pick up all the troops hit with DUIs.

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