The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones

The VA will provide a headstone for any eligible veteran, even if they’re already in an unmarked grave, in any cemetery around the world. In selecting a headstone, the National Cemeteries Administration has approved only 67 possibilities to date — which includes the Hammer of Thor for any believers of Norse gods out there.


Mjölnir (Thor’s Hammer) was one of two selected in 2013. The other was an icon of a sandhill crane for a same-sex spouse of a departed veteran.

Anyone can request a new emblem of belief to be added to this list. All you have to do is establish that there is, indeed, a need for the icon, that the deceased sincerely held the belief, and “submit a three-inch diameter, digitized, black and white representation of the requested emblem that is free of copyright or trademark” to the Memorial Products Service, found here:

Memorial Products Service (41B)
Department of Veterans Affairs
5109 Russell Road
Quantico, VA 22134-3903

In the meantime, feel free to choose from the following.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
Articles

That time the US and Russia agreed to be allies if aliens attacked Earth

The Dream Team has nothing to do with basketball. On a 2009 episode of Charlie Rose, former Soviet Premiere Mikhail Gorbachev was a guest, commemorating the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. During the interview, Gorbachev made a number of interesting statements. He wasn’t impressed with President Reagan’s challenge to tear down the wall.


But he did think Reagan was a great leader. Joining Gorbachev on the show was Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz, who brought up Reagan and Gorby’s famous Lake Geneva Summit. Schultz admitted he wasn’t present when the two leaders ducked out to a nearby cabin to talk. Gorbachev remembered their conversation very clearly.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
Photo: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

“From the fireside house, President Reagan suddenly said to me, ‘What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?’

“I said, ‘No doubt about it.'”

“He said, ‘We too.'”

President Reagan was an avid fan of science fiction films, like The Day the Earth Stood Still and even once got an advance screening of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Reagan repeated the story to a group of Maryland high school students after his return to the US. Deputy national security adviser Colin Powell used to go through the President’s speeches and remove mentions of what he called “the little green men.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Australia’s spies to be allowed to use more force

The government is moving to give Australia’s overseas spies extra powers to protect themselves and their operations by the use of force.

Legislation to be introduced on Nov. 29, 2018, will allow a staff member or agent of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) to be able to use “reasonable force” in the course of their work.

It also will enable the Foreign Minister to specify extra people, such as a hostage, who may be protected by an ASIS staffer or agent.


It is understood the changes have been discussed with the opposition and are likely to receive its support.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne says in a statement that ASIS officers often work in dangerous areas including under warlike conditions. “As the world becomes more complex, the overseas operating environment for ASIS also becomes more complex”, she says.

The provisions covering the use of force by ASIS have not undergone significant change since 2004.

“Currently, ASIS officers are only able to use weapons for self-protection, or the protection of other staff members or agents cooperating with ASIS.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones

R. G. Casey House houses the headquarters of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.

(Photo by Adam Carr)

“The changes will mean officers are able to protect a broader range of people and use reasonable force if someone poses a risk to an operation”, Payne says.

“Like the existing ability to use weapons for self-defense, these amendments will be an exception to the standing prohibitions against the use of violence or use of weapons by ASIS.”

There are presently legal grey areas in relation to using force, especially the use of reasonable and limited force to restrain, detain or move a person who might pose a risk to an operation or to an ASIS staff member.

Under the amendment the use of force would only apply where there was a significant risk to the safety of a person, or a threat to security or a risk to the operational security of ASIS. Any use of force would have to be proportionate.

The government instances as an example the keeping safe of an uncooperative person from a source of immediate danger during an ASIS operation, including by removing them from the danger.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUS on Twitter.

Articles

Whoops — the US Army owns potentially hundreds of thousands of faulty pistols

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
An M-9 pistol. U.S. Air Force photo


It’s an inescapable reality that in big institutions, people will sometimes overlook memos and misplace equipment.

But that’s cold comfort to the U.S. Army, which is struggling to select a new handgun while also dealing with the fallout from its last, controversial pistol choice.

That’s right — overlooked memos and misplaced equipment.

In August 2015, the ground combat branch inspected its Beretta M-9 pistols to make sure the guns had key safety fixes. The Army was supposed to have finished upgrading all the guns … more than two decades ago.

“During a training exercise, a soldier was injured when a slide failure resulted in the rear portion of the slide separating from the receiver and struck him in the face,” an official warning explained.

“‘WARNING’: DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY TO SOLDIERS, OR DAMAGE TO ARMY EQUIPMENT WILL OCCUR IF THE INSTRUCTIONS IN THIS MESSAGE ARE NOT FOLLOWED.”

War Is Boring obtained the startling message via the Freedom of Information Act. Censors inked out the number of guns the Army believed were missing the updates, including a number of weapons in “SWA.”

This is a common Pentagon acronym for the Southwest Asia region, which includes Iraq. The warning applied to all M-9s in the inventory of the Army, its sister branches and Special Operations Command.

The redacted portion of the document suggests the total could be as high as six figures. Since Beretta delivered around 160,000 pistols to the military before adding the modifications at the factory, the Army may simply have ordered troops to check every one of the old weapons still in service.

Issues with the Beretta’s slide are hardly new. The broken parts were a key part of the controversy surrounding the Army’s first decision to buy the Italian-made guns more than three decades ago.

Between 1985 and 1988, the Army and Navy documented no fewer than 14 incidents where the slide failed. In four cases, the shooter suffered an injury.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
Soldiers train with M-9s. U.S. Army photo

“What is of particular concern is the safety hazard encountered when failure does occur,” the Government Accountability Office explained in a 1988 report. “Injuries resulting from four slide failures included face lacerations requiring stitches, a broken tooth and a chest bruise.”

The GAO had already forced the Army to hold a new competition after complaints of collusion in the original testing. Ultimately, the Beretta won out again and became the standard handgun across the U.S. armed forces.

With the winner settled for good, the Army issued an order to modify all the existing pistols with a set of safety features. The modification kit included a new slide, a reinforced hammer pin and and a left grip panel.

The Army reportedly concluded that brittle metal in the original slides was the source of the gun’s failures. However, Beretta and its allies implied that the military’s overly-powerful ammunition was actually at the root of the problems.

Whatever the cause, in March 1989 troops began installing the new parts on around 160,000 potentially defective pistols. On June 30, 1993, the Army declared that all the guns complied with the so-called “modification work order,” or MWO.

Or so it apparently thought.

“Recently, a soldier found out the hard way that the MWO hadn’t been applied to all M-9s when a slide broke and hit him in the face,” was how the Army’s P.S. Magazine described the matter on Facebook on Oct. 28, 2015. ” All armorers need to immediately check their M-9s.”

Billed as “the preventive maintenance monthly,” the magazine in question publishes notices and tips on defects, recalls, common problems and other issues for troops. In continuous publication since June 1951, each issue features comic book-style art to help these important message stick.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
An angry M-9 asks the obvious question. U.S. Army art

“Are you kidding me?!” an anthropomorphized pistol asks the shooter in a version of the message in the January 2016 edition. “That MWO was supposed to be done 20 years ago!”

The issue is so old that the order isn’t even available online — and the Army doesn’t have any modification kits on hand. Anyone who finds a problematic gun is supposed to send it back by registered mail to the Defense Logistics Agency. We don’t know what will happen to the guns after they go back to the warehouse.

All of this comes at at time when the Army finds itself embroiled in another controversial attempt to buy new pistols. Eight years ago, the services canceled their previous handgun projects.

Around the same time the slide flew off the old Beretta, the ground combat branch asked pistol-makers to offer up new options. If this program goes according to plan, troops should start getting their new weapons sometime around 2018.

Under the proposal, the Army will buy no fewer than 280,000 guns for itself. Other services would have the option of signing up to get their hands on another 212,000 pistols.

With the previous experience of the Beretta decision, the Army itselfquestioned how realistic this timeline might be when it explained the need to buy Glock pistols now for commandos and allied troops in 2015. The contract document pointed out that the service had already spent two years trying to get its latest project off the ground.

“We’re not figuring out the next lunar landing. This is a pistol,” the Army’s chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley told a gathering at New America’s Future of War Conference on March 10. “Two years to test? At $17 million?”

“You give me $17 million on a credit card, and I’ll call Cabela’s tonight, and I’ll outfit every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine with a pistol for $17 million,” the Army’s top officer added, referring to the Nebraska-based outdoor goods chain, which sells firearms.

But Milley’s obvious frustration notwithstanding, the Army knows full well how complicated the project might turn out to be due to budgets, politics, competing priorities and the sheer size of the American military. Replacing hundreds of thousands of pistols is no easy task.

In February 2015, the Army also formally rejected Beretta’s offer to update the existing pistols. The Italian company’s American branch subsequently decided to sell these M9A3 guns on the commercial market.

It took seven years for the Army to settle on the M-9, more than a decade for everyone to get them and about as long to get important fixes installed — and people are still getting hit in the face by faulty slides.

Articles

A judge ruled this veteran is a US citizen. Now he faces deportation to Mexico

A decorated US Marine Corps veteran, who a federal judge ruled was an American citizen, is facing deportation to Mexico in a case that has been criticized as a cruel and extraordinary application of immigration laws.


The US government’s ongoing effort to deport George Ybarra, who is currently locked up in an Arizona detention center, has shed light on the vulnerabilities of foreign-born Americans who have served in the military, along with the deportation threats that can plague even those who are deemed to be citizens and have deep ties to the country.

Ybarra, who was honorably discharged after serving in the Persian Gulf war and earning numerous badges and medals, is facing deportation due to a criminal history that his family says is tied to mental health struggles and post-traumatic stress disorder from his service. While there have been growing concerns about the removal of veterans and the harsh policies of deporting people for minor crimes, Ybarra’s case is particularly troubling to immigrant rights’ advocates given a judge’s acknowledgement that he is US citizen.

“George hopes he will be able to stay in the country he fought for,” Luis Parra, Ybarra’s attorney, told the Guardian. “He is a third-generation [US] citizen … It would be a very extreme hardship for George to have to relocate to Mexico.”

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
George Ybarra during his time as a US Marine. Photo from Tucson Sentinel.

Ybarra, whose story was first reported in the Tucson Sentinel, has a complex immigration and citizenship battle dating back more than a decade, including deportation threats under Barack Obama’s administration.

Ybarra, also known as Jorge Ibarra-Lopez, was born in Nogales in Mexico, just south of the Arizona border, in 1964, according to his court filings. He moved to the US months after he was born, and his maternal grandfather was a US citizen, born in Bisbee, Arizona, his lawyers wrote. Ybarra has long argued that he has “derivative citizenship,” meaning he is a citizen by virtue of his mother’s status.

An immigration judge eventually agreed that there was “sufficient evidence” that the 52-year-old father of five should be considered a US citizen, but the US Department of Homeland Security challenged that decision in 2011 and has since continued to try to deport him, records show.

The deportation proceedings stem in part from a number of criminal offenses, including drug-related charges. He was also convicted of firing two rounds through the front door of his home in Phoenix in 2011 in the direction of two police officers, according to the Sentinel. The paper reported that no one was hurt and that Ybarra said he was suffering from a PTSD-induced episode of delusion at the time and believed federal authorities were coming to “take away” his family.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
Attorney Luis Parra. Image from Tucson Sentinel.

Ybarra ultimately served a seven-year sentence in state prison for aggravated assault, but instead of returning to his family after he completed his time, he was transferred into the custody of federal immigration authorities last month. Ybarra and his family now fear he could soon be deported.

Parra argued that Ybarra should be released while the ongoing dispute about his citizenship is resolved. US Citizenship and Immigration Services had previously denied his application for a certificate of citizenship, but there are numerous ways he can have his status formally recognized, according to Parra.

His family has argued that he should get treatment and other government support as a disabled veteran with PTSD.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
Photo courtesy of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“He basically has no family in Mexico,” said Parra, noting that Ybarra’s children and grandchildren and other relatives in Arizona are all US citizens. “He has a very supportive family living in the Phoenix area, including his mother, who depends on George.”

Ybarra is distraught and worried about his continued detention, Parra said. In a Sentinel interview last month in an Arizona state prison, Ybarra said, “I’ve got a lot of anger, a lot of anxiety over this. They know I’m a citizen, they know I’m a combat veteran. I don’t see where they’ve ever shown that they care.”

A spokeswoman for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to questions about Ybarra’s case, but said in a statement that the agency “does not knowingly place US citizens into removal proceedings”, adding, “ICE deportation officers arrest only those aliens for which the agency has probable cause to believe are amenable to removal from the United States.”

When ICE does detain US citizens, the statement said, it’s usually because there is a misunderstanding about their status.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
Image from Department of Homeland Security.

“The job for ICE deportation officers is further complicated by some aliens who falsely assert US citizenship in order to evade deportation, which is not uncommon,” the statement continued.

A Northwestern University analysis of government data found that hundreds of US citizens have, in fact, been detained by immigration authorities.

Margaret Stock, an immigration attorney and expert on military cases, said the deportation of veterans has been an ongoing challenge under both Obama and Donald Trump, but that she has never seen a case like Ybarra where the government threatens to deport someone ruled a citizen by a judge.

“If you can deport this guy, you can also try to deport all kinds of other people,” she said.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How to use thermoplasic to make tools for your gun

While working on a completely different project I discovered something curious on Amazon. That product was moldable thermoplastic pellets.

Shaped in balls like smaller-than-usual airsoft pellets, moldable thermoplastic melts at just 140F, can be formed like clay, and then increases in hardness as it approaches room temperature.

There are seemingly endless uses for this product, but I had a pet one in mind for the test: a US Optics turret tool.


The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones

(RECOILweb)

With most scopes (several of them being US Optics) a simple hex wrench can be used to float turrets back to zero after obtaining a physical zero.

But no, not the case with the USO BT-10.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones

(RECOILweb)

While official instructions say to press down with your palm on the top and rotate, the reality meant several friends and I tried in vain to accomplish this for about an hour.

And once you get it, it has to be pushed back in the same way.

Either way you cut it, it sucked on both ends.

So, a US Optics BT-10 tool it would be.

Firstly, you heat up some water at a medium temperature. Then drop some thermoplastic in place. Once it’s clear, then it’s pliable.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones

(RECOILweb)

Then all you have to do is mold it around an object. I have found that it does not stick to treated metal but may to plastics (so use a release agent like PAM). As it comes to temperature, it becomes opaque again.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones

(RECOILweb)

[Note that I did attempt to add texture which is why it looks so rough]

Does it work?

Hell. Yes.

The extra area and easier grip makes floating turrets a HELLUVA lot easier with this scope.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones

(RECOILweb)

The best part is, if you muck it up it can be re-melted and reused.

This article originally appeared on Recoilweb. Follow @RecoilMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

F-35s crushed Russian air defenses in their first combat sorties

Isreal used its US-made F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet in combat in the raging air war over Syria, making it the first country to ever to do so, its military confirmed on May 22, 2018.

“The Adir planes are already operational and flying in operational missions. We are the first in the world to use the F-35 in operational activity,” Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, commander of the Israeli Air Force said, referring to the Israeli version of the F-35 as the Adir.


“We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East and have already attacked twice on two different fronts,” Norkin told a meeting of air force chiefs in Israel, as Reuters notes.

Shlomo Brom, a retired brigadier general in the Israeli Air Force, told Business Insider that one of those fronts was over Syria after Iranian forces fired rockets towards Israel and Israel’s air force launched a blistering retaliation that killed dozens of Iranians and hit more than 50 individual targets.

That specific air battle saw Israeli jets pound Russian-made Syrian air defenses that had been made to counter older jets like Israel’s F-15 and F-16s. In February 2018, during a similar battle, Israel lost an F-16 to Syrian air defenses.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
Israeli Air Force F-16I Sufa
(Israeli Air Force photo)

“The Iranians fired 32 rockets, we intercepted four of them, and the rest fell outside Israeli territory,” Norkin said of the battle. “In our response attack, more than 100 ground-to-air missiles were fired at our planes.”

The F-35 is the “ideal” platform for the congested skies over Syria, according to retired US Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Berke, a former F-35 squadron commander.

F-35 vs. Russian defenses

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones

Fighting over Syria often gets near Damascus, one of the more heavily protected cities in the world with powerful Russian missile defense batteries protecting its ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

It’s unclear whether Syrian or Russian defenses tracked or attempted to engage the F-35s, but the stealth jet makes itself difficult to find.

When Israel released video of one of its bombs destroying a Russian air defense system, Russian media offered excuses as to why it failed to stop the incoming missile.

Russia explained that the system was either not battle-ready or had run out of munitions. But Israel’s announcement on May 22, 2018, brings in a new possibility — that it had been bombed by the first combat deployment of the F-35.

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

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of November 25th

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Rafael Vasco, front, and Master Sgt. Steven C. Harlow Jr., both Phoenix Raven Team Members with the 514th Security Forces Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing, provide security during a final check prior to taking off from Toussaint Louverture International Airport, Port-au-Prince, Republic of Haiti, Nov. 18, 2017. The 732nd Airlift Squadron, which is assigned to the 514th, delivered 76,410 pounds of food comprised of packages of fortified rice and soy protein and barley grass juice powder mix to the Foundation Mission de l’Espoir (Mission of Hope). The delivery was possible because the Denton Program enables donors to use available space on U.S. military cargo aircraft to transport humanitarian goods and equipment to countries in need. The 514th is located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen)

Staff Sgt. Manuel Lastra, an aerial port specialist with the 156th Airlift Wing, fastens down equipment on a WC-130H, Nov. 20, 2017, in St Croix Air Guard Station, U.S. Virigin Islands. The WC-130H is used primarily for cargo transport in the Puerto Rico Air National Guard.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Martinez)

Army:

A U.S. Army platoon sergeant evaluates Soldiers’ assigned to Lightning Troop, 3rd Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment, movement across the objective with the use of phosphorous smoke for concealment during a squad live fire exercise at Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland, November 21, 2017.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
(U.S. Army Photo by Capt. Gary Loten-Beckford)

A U.S. Soldier assigned to 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, scans for enemies during Decisive Action Rotation 18-02 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., Nov. 18, 2017.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Daniel Parrott, Operations Group, National Training Center)

Navy:

An SA-330 Puma delivers cargo during a vertical replenishment aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88). Preble is conducting maritime security, forward presence and theater security operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Morgan K. Nall)

U.S. Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Airman James Totten directs an aircraft on the flight deck of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier and flagship of Carrier Strike Group Five, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), during Annual Exercise 2017 over the Philippine Sea, Nov. 20, 2017. Annual Exercise 2017, the premier training event between the U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, is designed to increase the defensive readiness and interoperability of Japanese and American Forces through training in air and sea operations.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman)

Marine Corps:

U.S. Marines with the Maritime Raid Force (MRF), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), climb aboard the United States Naval Ship (USNS) Big Horn during a simulated Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) mission as part of Combine Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) in the Atlantic Ocean, Nov. 20, 2017. The MRF conducted the VBSS as part of the Combined COMPTUEX to certify the ARG/MEU team in maritime operations for an upcoming deployment at sea.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jered T. Stone)

U.S. Marines with Fox Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), provide security after at staging area prior to conducting a night mechanized raid at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Nov. 18, 2017, as part of Combined Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX). Combined COMPTUEX serves as the capstone event for the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG)/MEU team prior to deployment, fully integrating the ARG/MEU team as an amphibious force and testing their ability to execute missions across a range of military operations.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Staff Sgt. Dengrier Baez)

Coast Guard:

A member of the Pacific Paradise response team prepares to dive inside the Pacific Paradise to get measurements of interior compartments on board the vessel grounded off Kaimana Beach, O’ahu, Nov. 20, 2017. The diverse salvage team is improving the watertight integrity of the vessel before buoyancy is added and they attempt to tow it further offshore to an EPA approved disposal site.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
(U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class DaVonte Marrow)

A puppy welcomes the Coast Guard Cutter Spencer crew home to Boston, Tuesday, November 21, 2017 following a highly successful 90-day patrol fighting transnational organized crime networks in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, and training for multi-national search and rescue response in the Arctic. The puppy met his new human dad for the first time after the cutter moored up.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cynthia Oldham. )

Articles

The destruction of these villages shows the complex calculus of the Afghan War

On the morning of Oct. 6, 2010, three villages in the Arghandab River Valley of Afghanistan were filled with insurgents and dozens of IEDs.


A few hours later the villages were gone as if they’d never existed at all, destroyed by over 25 tons of U.S. Air Force bombs.

Artillerymen with the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment had taken numerous casualties in the months they spent trying to clear the surrounding fields on foot. Special Forces soldiers turned back after they ran out of explosives attempting to blow the IEDs in place. Mine-clearing line charges were fired, opening up lanes into the town but leaving soldiers without “freedom of maneuver” in a heavily-contested area.

The ground commander, Lt. Col. David Flynn, took another look at the problem. He talked to the local elders and told them that his plan to clear the villages could cause extreme damage to the buildings. The elders said that was bad but acceptable as long as the nearby pomegranate trees survived.

Flynn then turned to the U.S. Air Force and requested that Lower Babur, Tarok Kolache, and Khosrow Sofla be destroyed. Surveillance was conducted to be sure that there were no civilians in the area, only insurgents. The mission was approved, and the bombing campaign began.

The Air Force dropped 49,000 pounds of bombs on Tarok Kolache alone, leveling it. The other two villages were completely destroyed as well.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
Photo: Youtube.com

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
Photo: Youtube.com

No civilian casualties were reported, though the pomegranate fields were severely damaged and had to be replanted. (USAID planted 4,000 trees, but they take five years to bear fruit.)

Many of the bombs in the area were destroyed by the operation, and soldiers with the 1-320th were able to set up 17 small bases and outposts in the valley, gaining security around the 38 remaining villages. Mine clearance operations had to continue though as not all the explosives were destroyed in the bombing.

Two years later, the Army erected new buildings, but they were weak concrete structures that the villagers refused to live in. Even worse in a war designed to win hearts and minds, local Afghan police chiefs reported that the bombings switched the loyalties of the villages who went on to become supporters of the Taliban.

NOW: ‘The Fighting Season’ nails the gritty realities of the Afghan War

OR: Navy turns seawater into fuel and nobody cares

Articles

‘Missing Man’ honored after going MIA in Vietnam

Thundering jets above Colorado Springs the morning of May 9 bid a final farewell to a native son who went missing 48 years ago on a mission to bomb the Ho Chi Minh Trail.


It was a sound that Capt. Roger Helwig loved. Helwig, who was born in Trinidad and raised in Colorado Springs, was a free spirit known for meticulous honesty oddly melded with a wild streak that drove him to seek adventure in the sky.

“He was a tremendous guy,” said retired Maj. Jack Schnurr, a flight school friend, after an Air Force Academy memorial for the captain.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
The F-4 flew bombing, combat air patrol, fighter escort, reconnaissance and the famous Wild Weasel anti-aircraft missile suppression missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.)

Helwig loved the F-4 Phantom and new bride Carol in what some joking called equal measures when he flew off for his second tour in Vietnam in 1969.

“He didn’t have to be there,” Schnurr said. “He volunteered to go back.”

On his first tour overseas, Helwig flew in the second seat of the F-4, running the plane’s weapons systems and electronics as a GIB, the military acronym for “guy in back.”

After he came home, Helwig got more flight training and headed back to war as the guy in front.

He was a forward air controller, one of the legendary “fast-FACs” who ranged far and wide over Southeast Asia spotting targets for troops on the ground.

During his final flight, Helwig and Capt. Roger Stearns were 10 miles west of Vietnam on a mission to stop the flow of arms and troops that fueled the Viet Cong insurgency. Flights against targets in neutral Laos, though, were something the Air Force avoided discussing in public.

Also read: The last US troops killed in the Vietnam War actually died two years after it ended

Records say the two had just bombed a target, and the jet was trailing a mist of fuel before it exploded. Searchers later found shredded parachutes and the remains of a life raft, but they didn’t find Helwig or Stearns.

In 1990, a Defense Department team returned to the crash site and found Stearns’ remains. Helwig stayed missing until last summer.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
Dog tags are primarily used for the identification of dead and wounded service members. (Photo: U.S. Army Human Resources Command Daniela Vestal)

His widow got a visit from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in August. Searchers had found a tiny talisman at the jungle site: Helwig’s dog tag.

“It was surreal when I held that in the palm of my hand,” Carol said May 9. “It was as if I was reliving the past.”

Dozens gathered at the academy May 9 to relive the past with her and tell stories about the 26-year-old pilot.

Lt. Col. Mike Newton, a chaplain, told mourners they need to remember Helwig’s courage.

“I have no idea what it took to fly 100 missions in Vietnam, each one of them harrowing,” Newton said. “But he strapped it on every time.”

Carol remembered the kind but kind of crazy young man she met when he was riding his motorcycle from Arizona to Washington, D.C.

She knew she was competing with a twin-engined jet for Helwig’s affection.

“He loved flying,” she said.

Helwig left no children to mourn him, but a wide array of friends came to the Air Force Academy cemetery to remember.

The academy supplied an honor guard, rifle team, and a bugler to play taps.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones
The 24 notes of Taps lay heroes to rest. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy)

Air Combat Command offered up four F-15 Eagle fighters to blaze overhead in the missing man formation.

Carol supplied her own touch. Bells played a last waltz for the man she loved — the theme song of Doctor Zhivago, the first film they had seen together.

And as the bells played, quiet voices whispered the song’s tale of love long lost but reclaimed.

“Somewhere, my love, there will be songs to sing. Although the snow covers the hope of spring.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is what it’s like to live in an ISIS-controlled Hellhole

RAND Corporation senior policy researcher Shelly Culbertson is an expert on the Middle East. Her new report, “Making Victory Count After Defeating ISIS” details the steps Iraq and its international allies must take to rebuild in ISIS’ wake.


She revealed to Business Insider what life was like for the civilian population in Mosul, when the second largest Iraqi city was under ISIS control. Following is a transcript of the video.

Shelly Culbertson: ISIS took over the entire city government when they came to Mosul. So, they took over leadership of all of the ministries, they took over property management, utilities management, and so forth.

The economy didn’t entirely shut down under ISIS, actually, satellite photos can show truck transportation in and out of the city showing fairly robust trade during that time.

But nonetheless, there were a lot of challenges and changes under ISIS.

Religious mores became much stricter, social controls and so forth. But many aspects of city life continued on, even though they were continuing in a much more minimal state.

There was a lot of significant damage, in particular in the beginning, in power, water, schools, hospitals.

Just taking the case of education — when ISIS came in, they instantly closed all of the schools, and then they reopened them shortly thereafter, but with a new ISIS curriculum.

And the curriculum that they introduced was pretty indoctrinating. It was very much intolerant of minorities, it taught jihad education at age 6, it taught math problems, word problems for elementary school students, through calculating numbers of people you could kill with explosives.

That became very harsh over time. A lot of parents took their children out of school. And families fled.

So, over time, about a million kids studied this indoctrinating ISIS curriculum, and that is going to be one of the biggest challenges going forward, and rebuilding and repairing Iraq.

A million kids studied this, and getting them back into school with a healthier, much more tolerant curriculum will be an important step.

MIGHTY HISTORY

At the Battle of Midway, key decisions shifted tides of war

This article was sponsored by Midway, in theaters November 8!

In 1942, a Japanese fleet of almost 100 ships, led by the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, attempted an even more overwhelming attack that would have kicked the U.S. out of the Central Pacific and allowed the empire to threaten Washington and California. Instead, that fleet stumbled into one of the most unlikely ambushes and naval upsets in the history of warfare.

Thanks to quick and decisive action by key sailors in the fleet, the U.S. ripped victory from the jaws of almost-certain defeat.


The first big decision that saved Midway Atoll came as Pearl Harbor was still burning. Intelligence sailors like Cmdr. Edwin Layton had to figure out what Japan would do next.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones

Patrick Wilson as Cmdr. Edwin Layton in 2019’s ‘Midway’

(Lionsgate)

Naval intelligence knew that Japan was readying another major attack. Layton was convinced it was aimed at Midway, but Washington believed it would hit New Guinea or Australia. Layton and his peers, disgraced by the failure to predict Pearl Harbor, nevertheless pushed hard to prove that the Japanese objective “AF” was Midway.

A clever ruse where they secretly told Midway to report a water purification breakdown, then listened for whether Japan reported the breakdown as having occurred at “AF” proved that Midway was the target and allowed the Navy to concentrate valuable resources.

Next, Layton’s new boss, Adm. Chester Nimitz, agreed with his intelligence officers and prepared a task force to take on Japan. But Japanese attacks and other priorities would make that a struggle. The daring Doolittle Raid in April against Tokyo proved that American airpower was capable of striking at the heart of Japan, but it tied up two aircraft carriers.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones

Woody Harrelson as Adm. Chester Nimitz in 2019’s ‘Midway’

(Lionsgate)

Then, America lost a carrier at the Battle of the Coral Sea and suffered near-catastrophic damage to another, the USS Yorktown. With only two carriers ready to fight but the attack at Midway imminent, Nimitz made the gutsy decision to prepare an ambush anyway. He gave repair officers at Pearl Harbor just three days to repair the USS Yorktown even though they asked for 90.

Still, Nimitz would have only three carriers to Japan’s six at Midway, and his overall fleet would be outnumbered more than three to one.

If this under-strength U.S. fleet was spotted and destroyed, Japan would finish the victory begun at Pearl Harbor. Cities in Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast would be wide open to attack.

After a few small strikes on June 3, the Battle of Midway got properly underway in the early hours of June 4. The opening clash quickly proved how easily the base at Midway would have been steamrolled without the protection of the carriers. The 28 Marine and Navy fighters on the atoll were largely outdated and took heavy losses in the opening minutes. It quickly fell to the carrier-based fighters to beat back the Japanese attack.

But something crucial happened in this opening exchange: A PBY Catalina patrol plane spotted two of the Japanese carriers. The U.S. could go after the enemy ships while Japan still didn’t know where the U.S. fleet was. The decision to search this patch of ocean and report the sighting would change history.

American bombers and torpedo planes launched from 7 am to 9:08 and headed to the Japanese carriers in waves.

When Ensign George Gay Jr. took off that morning, it was his first time flying into combat and his first time taking off with a torpedo. But he followed his commander straight at the Japanese ships, even though no fighters were available to cover the torpedo attack.

The torpedo bombers arrived just before the dive bombers, yet the Japanese Zeros assigned to defense were able to get to Gay’s squadron. An estimated 32 Zero planes attacked the Douglas TBD Devastators, and all 15 planes of Gay’s squadron were shot down.

Gay survived his crash into the sea and was left bobbing in the middle of the Japanese fleet for hours. But the decision of the torpedo pilots to attack aggressively despite having no fighter cover and little experience drew away the squadron of Mitsubishi Zeroes guarding the Japanese carriers. This risky gambit would allow the dive bombers to be lethal.

One of the dive bomber pilots was Navy Lt. Dick Best. A faulty oxygen canister injured him before he ever saw an adversary, and then a co-pilot suffered a mechanical failure, but he kept his section of planes flying against the Japanese carriers.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones

Ed Skrein as Dick Best (left) and Mandy Moore as Anne Best in 2019’s ‘Midway’

(Lionsgate)

Best was forced to decrease altitude and ended up at the lead of the dive bombers right as they reached the Japanese fleet. He took his section through a series of violent maneuvers before they released their bombs over the carrier Akagi at full speed. Two bombs destroyed planes taking off, and another did serious damage to the deck. One of the hits jammed the carrier’s rudder, forcing it into a constant turn that made it useless until it sank. Another two carriers were destroyed in that attack as Gay bobbed in the ocean.

The 66 religious symbols the VA will put on tombstones

The Japanese aircraft carrier Soryu circles to avoid bombs while under attack by Army Air Force B-17 bombers from Midway Atoll on the morning of June 4, 1942. Soryu suffered from some near misses, but no direct hits during the attack.

(U.S. Air Force)

Best was injured, and mourning lost friends, but he took part in a later attack that afternoon and bombed the carrier Hiryu despite curtains of fire coming from the carrier and a nearby battleship. Hiryu was the fourth Japanese carrier lost in the battle, and it created a sea change in the war.

Japan was forced out of the Central Pacific, and America was on the warpath, all thanks to the decisions of U.S. sailors like Best, Gay, Nimitz, and Layton.

This article was sponsored by Midway, in theaters November 8!

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russian icebreaker under construction burns for hours

A fire aboard the under-construction Russian icebreaker Viktor Chernomyrdin engulfed a significant portion of the ship and injured at least two people before it was extinguished on Tuesday, according to Russian media reports.

The fire-alarm call came in around 7 p.m. Moscow time, or around 11 a.m. EST. Within three hours, it had reportedly been put out.


“At [9:10 p.m.] Moscow time it was announced that the blaze was contained and all open fire sources were put out at an area of 300 square meters,” a spokesperson for the Russian emergencies ministry told state-media outlet Tass. “At [10:15 p.m.] Moscow time, the fire was completely extinguished.”

Construction on the Chernomyrdin began in December 2012. The diesel-electric-powered vessel was expected to be the most powerful nonnuclear icebreaker in the world, according to Tass, and was supposed to operate on the Northern Sea Route, which traverses the Arctic.

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The Chernomyrdin has five decks, and the fire consumed parts of the third and fourth. The blaze affected a 300-square-meter area of the ship, out of a total of 1,200 square meters. According to Tass, “electrical wiring, equipment, and wall panels in technical areas” were damaged by the fire.

One of the people injured was hospitalized. The other was treated by doctors on-site, Tass reported, adding that 110 people and 24 pieces of equipment were involved in fighting the fire.

As noted by The Drive, which first spotted reports of the fire, the Chernomyrdin has been waylaid by budget and schedule problems.

The ship was supposed to be delivered 2015. In April 2016, an official from Russia’s state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation said it would be delivered that year. In 2017, the ship was moved to Admiralty Shipyard in St. Petersburg, which is known for building warships, with the goal of speeding up construction.

Reports in January said delivery was expected by autumn 2018 — a date likely to be pushed back. The extent and impact of the damage are not yet clear, but fires can cripple ships.

In 2013, the US Navy decided to scrap a nuclear-powered attack submarine that had been severely damaged in a fire set by an arsonist, rather than spend 0 million to repair it.

The Chernomyrdin fire is only Russia’s latest shipyard accident.

A power-supply disruption on the PD-50 dry dock caused the massive 80,000-ton structure to sink at the 82nd Repair Shipyard near Severodvinsk in northwest Russia.

The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier, was aboard the dry dock at the time. The collapse of the dry dock brought down with it a crane, which tore a 200-square-foot hole in the side of the ship above the waterline.

The Kuznetsov was undergoing an overhaul expected to be completed in 2021, but Russian officials have admitted there is no viable replacement for the PD-50, which could take six months to a year to fix.

The absence of a suitable dry dock for the Kuznetsov leaves the Russian navy flagship’s future in doubt.

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The Chernomyrdin is also not the first fire-related accident at a Russian shipyard this year. In January, video emerged of thick, black smoke spewing from the water near several docked Kilo-class submarines at Vladivostok, home of Russia’s Pacific fleet.

Russian officials said at the time that the fire was part of “damage control exercises,” which many saw as a dubious explanation considering the intensity of the blaze.

A month later, a fire sent smoke gushing from the deck of the destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov while it was in port at Vladivostok. Despite a considerable amount of smoke, a shipyard representative said there was no significant damage.

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

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