Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

Twists and turns, bumps and bruises, the occasional crash. For many Veterans, the sport of bobsled is a metaphor for life.

Army Veteran Will Castillo’s story began on April 27, 2007. Castillo – then a staff sergeant – was riding along with Spc. Eddie Tamez and Pfc. David Kirkpatrick on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq, when their Humvee struck an improvised explosive device (IED).

The aftermath was a blur. When Castillo awoke, his sister and mother were by his bedside.


“I could hardly talk I was so heavily medicated,” he said. “I was just trying to survive.”

He was 27 years old, and his injuries had cost him his left leg – but he was alive. Tamez and Kirkpatrick did not survive.

Castillo spent the next two years at Walter Reed Army Medical Center recovering and learning to navigate life with one leg. Visitors came by to give him hugs, handshakes and well wishes. The Director of Homeland Security even offered him a job.

In 2009, he was discharged from Walter Reed, and he moved to Orlando to start anew. But life wasn’t good.

“I had survivor’s guilt. I thought about my guys, what had I done wrong. I was depressed. I was suicidal.”

His marriage crumbled, and his mental health deteriorated.

“All the struggles I was going through. I was Baker Acted,” Castillo said, referring to the Florida law that allows for emergency or involuntary commitment for mental health treatment.

He recovered, remarried and again tried to rebuild. But his struggles continued and, in 2015, he divorced for the second time.

In 2017, Castillo returned to Walter Reed for a follow-up operation to his injured leg. His life took an unexpected turn.

“A friend of mine was there and said to me, ‘You should try bobsled.’ I was extremely overweight, but I figured it would be something to keep me busy.”

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

Army Veteran Will Castillo displays his gold medal from the Empire State Winter Games para bobsled competition. Castillo is one of the world’s top ranked sledders in the sport. (Courtesy photo)

That conversation led Castillo to a para-bobsled and para-skeleton camp for Veterans at Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex in upstate New York.

His first attempt was skeleton, a sport where the slider rides face down and head-first on a small sled down an ice track at speeds of more than 80 mph.

“It was terrifying,” he said. “I was 260 pounds. I was crashing into the walls. Those little sleds are not made for that weight.”

After a year at skeleton, he switched to monobob, a one-person bobsled that looks like a rocket on ice skates. He knew instantly he’d found his sport.

“Everything just slowed down, I was able to see everything. There was danger, but I did it. There’s no disability on that ice. For that one minute, it’s awesome.”

Veterans like Castillo are dominating the sport in the United States, thanks in large part to camps like the ones at Lake Placid. From 2015 to 2020, VA’s Adaptive Sports Grant had funded 16 camps for Veterans at Lake Placid and Park City, Utah, the only two bobsled track sites in the country.

Thanks to the VA grant, Veterans’ only cost to attend is travel to and from the camp.

“(The grant) is huge for us because it allows us to do the camps,” said Kim Seevers, USA Bobsled and Skeleton Para-Sport Development Committee chair.

Camps are typically five days and allow Veterans to stay on site at the Olympic Training Center. Once there, Veterans receive training from strength and conditioning experts, physical therapists and sports psychologists. After completing initial training, they head to the ice track where they learn the fundamentals of para-bobsled and skeleton.

“With bobsled, things are pretty expensive,” Seevers said. “To get the ice time and the bobsleds is a lot. Each of the bobsleds is ,000. For us to rent the sleds and pay for track time is typically between ,500 and ,000, dependent on the number of Veterans sliding.”

Veterans among world’s elite

At the 2019-2020 Para World Cup competition, all five U.S. team members were Veterans. They finished the season ranked 7th, 16th, 18th, 21st and 24th in the world.

Castillo is the number one ranked para-bobsledder in the U.S. and will pilot USA 1, the name of the monobob designated for Team USA’s top slider, in upcoming competitions. It’s an opportunity he humbly accepts.

“It all starts with VA and those camps,” he said. “Then you really have to put the work in and you start seeing the rewards. You get to put that uniform on again (and) represent the USA with integrity and honor.”

Para bobsled and para skeleton are relatively new sports with the first international competitions having taken place in 2013. Still, neither sport is recognized as Paralympic eligible. But that may soon be changing.

In August, the International Paralympic Committee is voting on whether to include it into the Paralympic Games in 2026.

Competition is gender neutral

Marine Corps and Army Veteran Sarah Frazier-Kim is hoping her success can help the sport and other Veterans advance to the pinnacle of international competition.


Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

Marine Corps and Army Veteran Sarah Frazier-Kim is one of the United States’ top para bobsledders. Athletes are hoping the sport will become one of the newest Paralympic competitions. (Courtesy photo)

“I always liked winter sports, even though I don’t like the cold,” she said. “I’d watch the Olympics on TV and bobsled and skeleton were sports I always loved.”

In 1995, Frazier-Kim was injured in a training accident in the Marine Corps. In January 2019, after years of complications, pain and suffering, doctors at Ft. Sam Houston amputated her right leg above the knee.

“(My doctor) asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I want to make Team USA. And he said, ‘We’ll get you there.'”

In November 2018, in anticipation of her surgery, she was sent for physical therapy to get her into shape.

“I changed from a mom body to an athletic body.”

After the surgery, she continued physical therapy with her therapist, an ex-football player.

“He worked me out like I was on the football team. I was working out like a beast, doing balancing exercises, strength training, and someone there knew Kim Seevers.”

Like Castillo, Frazier-Kim says she was invited to one of the camps at Lake Placid. She completed her first camp in October 2019.

In less than a year, Frazier-Kim has become one of the top female sliders in the sport. Para bobsled is gender neutral with men and women competing together.

“There’s nothing like it. It’s the most exhilarating feeling. The excitement, the adrenaline rush, you’re going so fast. It’s crazy,” she said.

But her rapid success did not come without bumps and bruises along the way.

“Your legs and shoulders are hitting the sides of the bobsled. It’s not for everyone,” she said. “You have to think about every curve while you’re being slapped back and forth.”

Despite the challenges, she says her goal now is simple – to be the best.

“I plan on doing it for as long as I can – as long as my body can take it. And being a Marine, I don’t know any other way.”

For a list of recipient organizations and more information about VA’s Adaptive Sports Grant, visit www.blogs.va.gov/nvspse/grant-program/.

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


Articles

This Navy SEAL claims he killed bin Laden–and that’s not all

The man who claims he was the SEAL Team 6 operator who shot Osama bin Laden in 2011 has written a new book, and his retelling of that raid shows the reason photos of the terror leader’s body were never released.


The book, “The Operator” by Robert O’Neill, recounts the former Navy chief’s career spanning 400 missions, though his role with the elite SEAL team’s raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, has become his most consequential.

According to O’Neill, he was walking behind his fellow SEALs as they searched bin Laden’s three-story compound. Upstairs, they could roughly make out bin Laden’s son Khalid, who had an AK-47.

“Khalid, come here,” the SEALs whispered to him. He poked his head out and was shot in the face.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
Osama bin Laden.

An unnamed point man and O’Neill proceeded up to the third floor. After they burst into bin Laden’s bedroom, the point man tackled two women, thinking they might have suicide vests, as O’Neill fired at the Al Qaeda founder.

“In less than a second, I aimed above the woman’s right shoulder and pulled the trigger twice,” he wrote, according to the New York Daily News. “Bin Laden’s head split open, and he dropped. I put another bullet in his head. Insurance.”

There is some dispute over who fired the fatal shots, but most accounts are that O’Neill shot bin Laden in the head at some point.

According to a deeply reported article in The Intercept, O’Neill “canoed” the head of bin Laden, delivering a series of shots that split open his forehead into a V shape.

O’Neill’s book says the operators had to press bin Laden’s head back together to take identifying photos. But that wasn’t the end of the mutilation of bin Laden’s body, according to Jack Murphy of SOFREP, a special-operations news website.

Also read: Bin Laden shooter Robert O’Neill threatened by ISIS as ‘number one target’

Two sources told Murphy in 2016 that several SEALs took turns dumping round after round into bin Laden’s body, which ended up having more than 100 bullet holes in it.

Murphy, a former Army Ranger, called it “beyond excessive.”

“The picture itself would likely cause an international scandal, and investigations would be conducted which could uncover other operations, activities which many will do anything to keep buried,” he wrote.

After bin Laden’s body was taken back to Afghanistan for full identification, it was transported to the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) for burial at sea.

Somewhere in the Arabian Sea on May 2, 2011, a military officer read prepared religious remarks, and bin Laden’s body was slid into the sea.

The Defense Department has said it couldn’t locate photos or video of the event, according to emails obtained in 2012 by The Associated Press.

Articles

13 funniest military memes for the week of June 9

It’s a tradition as old as time. From the days of Sun Tzu and George Patton, military leaders have taken a break every Friday to share dank memes.


These are those memes:

1. Can confirm this is the test, can give no guidance on how to complete it (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
D-mned devil ball.

2. No one is out there to bother you, lots of fresh air (via Military Memes).

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
Also, bring lots of water. You’ll be out there a while.

3. This is a whole new level (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
Can not figure out what this does. Like, at all.

Also see: This incredible rap song perfectly captures life in Marine Corps infantry

4. Why is the sky blue? God loves the infantry (via Military Memes).

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
But he only pours his liquid crayons on the tankers.

5. Better limber up those arms. This is about to get rough (via The Salty Soldier).

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

6. Slowly, the military melts more and more of the happiness off your bones (via Air Force amn/nco/snco).

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
And, apparently, gives you two more legs.

7. “Just send iiiiit!”

(via Keep Calm and Call for Artillery)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
All good fire missions are initiated while slightly inebriated.

8. Deliveries of donuts are pretty great at raising morale (via Coast Guard Memes).

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
Of course, doing them too often also lowers the boat in the waterline.

9. If the students weren’t so worthless, we wouldn’t have these issues (via Decelerate Your Life).

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

10. It’s been a while since I had a class that wasn’t about sexual harassment or suicide prevention (via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting).

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

11. Oh, if only we were all in Alpha Company …

(via Why I’m Not Re-enlisting)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
… instead of in Charlie where dudes KEEP LOSING SENSITIVE ITEMS!

12. You ever seen an insurgent go steel-on-steel with their first round?

(via The Salty Soldier)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
Nobody has, so stop running.

13. Oh, you made points or something?

(Via Decelerate Your Life)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
Cool story, bro. Tell it again but, like, over there.

Articles

This mysterious ‘Daesh Hunter’ is killing ISIS leaders in Libya

An unknown sniper is killing the leadership of Daesh (as ISIS hates to be called) in Libya.


According to the UK’s Mirror, a mysterious assassin strikes fear in the hearts of the terrorist group’s leadership in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte. So far, the dark knight has killed three Daesh commanders in Sirte, which is former dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s hometown that was captured by Daesh last year.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
This is not the Daesh Hunter sniper. This is a stock image. We hope the real Daesh Hunter keeps up the good work.

The terror organization’s fighter are tearing the city apart, looking for the one they call “Daesh Hunter.”

He first killed Hamad Abdel Hady on January 13th. Hady was a Sudanese national nicknamed Abu Anas Al-Muhajer, an official in the city’s Sharia Court.

“State of terror prevailed among the IS ranks after the death of Al-Muhajer,” said Libya Prospect. “They randomly shot in the air to scare inhabitants, while searching for the sniper.”

Next came Abu Mohammed Dernawi, six days later, near his home. On January 23 Abdullah Hamad al Ansari, a commander from southern Libya, got his.

Like Musa the Sniper during last year’s siege in Kobani, the mysterious sniper has become a folk hero among the citizen of the city.

Related: Meet Musa the Sniper, scourge of ISIS in Kobani

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Is a French WWI helmet safer than a modern helmet?

Science says yes!

We have all been there before. We spend money on the latest and greatest technological marvel only to realize that maybe the latest doesn’t necessarily mean greatest.


Look at your smartphone. Yeah, you can watch non-stop cat videos and get swiped left on by all the loves of your life, but the battery drops to 50 percent by 10 a.m., and a slight fall will result in a shattered screen. It makes you think back to that trusty Nokia phone that you could literally talk on for three days straight and throw full force at your idiot friend’s head without worrying about it breaking.

Well, the same thing can be said about helmets.

As we learn more about traumatic brain injuries and the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) on the human brain and behavior, scientists started to look at if the helmets used by the American military actually gave the protection that they should be giving. There is no doubt that helmets (regardless of which era) provide protection. While initially designed to protect from bullets and shrapnel, there is an increasing need to protect military members from shockwaves and concussions.

Biomedical researchers at Duke University decided to test out the modern military helmet to see how it held up. They also decided to use older helmets as well to see how they stacked up.

The results, as they say in clickbait headlines, were shocking.
Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

The older helmets performed just as well as modern counterparts when it came to shockwave protection.

One though, the French Adrian helmet, actually did a better job of protection.

Before we go into why, we need to understand the evolution of the modern combat helmet.

In ancient times all the way to the Middle Ages, metallic helmets were a necessity. The Romans had their Gallic helmet, the Greeks the Corinthian helmet, the knights of the Middle ages had jousting helmets and the Samurai of Japan had their kabuto headgear (Darth Vader’s helmet was based on the samurai style).

These helmets protected from swords, javelins, lances and clubs. But a new invention made them rapidly obsolete: Gunpowder. Bullets could penetrate helmets with ease, and headgear became mostly stylish and ceremonial. The Janissaries of the Ottoman Empire had a long flowing bork, Americans in the Revolution had the trifold, and the British wore bearskins and busbys. Military headgear was tall, decorative, and not really practical.

This all changed with World War I. While artillery and mortars were not new to the battlefield, advances in the types of shells used were. The military brass on both sides rapidly saw that artillery that exploded in the air (airburst) was causing horrific injuries that had not been seen before. It became quite clear that the headgear of the time (like the famous German pickelhaube) was not suited at all for trench warfare. Almost immediately, a call went out for helmets that would deflect shrapnel.

The British had the Brodie, the French produced the Adrian and the Germans came out with the Stahlhelm. While the carnage of World War I was still horrific, helmets did provide protection and were here to stay.

Their future designs were based on protecting the wearer from shrapnel and projectiles. Every helmet designed since, including the Kevlar helmets worn in Iraq and Afghanistan have had that purpose.

While they might have become lighter and sturdier, the intent was the same.

However, scientists have recently discovered that it’s not just projectiles that cause damage. The shockwave that comes from an explosion is just as harmful. Back in World War I, troops would come off the lines in a state of confusion and in a stupor. Doctors would examine the soldier to find no physical damage. The term shell shock was coined to describe men that were rendered combat ineffective while not sustaining wounds. In some circles, this was not considered a medical issue, but a sign of weakness.

Nowadays, we know that the shockwaves from a blast can cause brain damage and trauma, which can cause a soldier to be rendered out of action.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

During the Global War on Terror, medical officers noticed a dramatic drop in pulmonary trauma. The body armor worn by troops clearly did protect not just from shrapnel, but shockwaves as well.

Now, scientists are looking to see if there is a way to design a helmet that can protect the brain from those shockwaves.

The researchers at Duke wanted to see how the American Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH) protected servicemembers from those shockwaves. They decided to test out World War I helmets too to see how much better the helmet did when compared to those primitive models.

It didn’t.

The ACH pretty much offered the same protection from shockwaves as a World War I helmet worn by a British or German soldier. The French Adrian helmet, on the other hand, performed better as far as protection. Why is that? The researchers say it is simple geometry.

The French Adrian helmet has a crest on top and a brim that reflects more outward than the other helmets. The design was to deflect shrapnel, but researchers now know that it does a better job of dissipating shockwaves than other helmets, including the ACH.

Now before you ditch your Kevlar or think it’s worthless, know this. Every helmet offers five to tenfold protection than not wearing one.

Now there will be a rush to design a new helmet that not only deflects shrapnel but also shockwaves.

Who knows, maybe someone reading this will be the one to do so.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Chinese and Australian warships had a standoff in the South China Sea

Three of Australia’s warships were “challenged” by the Chinese navy in the South China Sea early April, 2018, according to an ABC report.

Defense sources told ABC that Australia’s navy was en route to Vietnam when it encountered polite but “robust” challenges from the People’s Liberation Army, but the specific nature of the challenges is not described. HMAS Toowoomba had departed from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, while HMAS Anzac and HMAS Success travelled through the South China Sea after leaving the Philippines.


It’s believed the interaction happened around the same time China was conducting its largest-ever naval parade on April 12, 2018. The massive show of force involved 10,000 naval officers, 48 naval vessels, submarines, the country’s only aircraft carrier.

During the event President Xi Jinping was on board one of the destroyers, overseeing the parade.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
(CGTN)

When questioned about the incident, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wouldn’t reveal any details.

“All I can say to you is we maintain and practice the right of freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the world,” Turnbull said. “In this context, you’re talking about naval vessels on the world’s oceans including the South China Sea, as is our perfect right in accordance with international law.”

The South China Sea is a highly contested and valuable region. It is a major shipping route and some claim it has more oil reserves thany any other area on the planet, except Saudi Arabia.

Numerous countries — including China, Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines — have territorial claims, making the South China Sea one of the most disputed places on the planet. For its part, China has been criticized for building artificial islands in the region and militarizing them with missile sites and air bases.

This isn’t the only problem Turnbull has faced with China of late.

In 2017, Turnbull proposed a new law to target and broaden the definition of foreign interference, after a wave of claims regarding China’s influence campaigns in Australia. The laws have been derided in China and since then the two countries have been sparring over strained diplomatic relations and China’s growing influence in the Pacific.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Mexico just set a new record for violence in the country

The steady increase in deadly violence that Mexico has experienced over recent years continued in May 2018, when 2,890 people were killed — an average of 93 a day, or almost four victims an hour.

The total number of victims surpasses the 2,746 recorded in March 2018 to make May 2018 the deadliest month this year, and it topped the 2,750 victims registered in October 2017, making May 2018 the deadliest month in two decades, the period for which the government has released homicide data.

There were also 2,530 homicide cases opened in May 2018. Cases can contain more than one victim, and May’s total was the most in a month in 2018 and the most on record. The daily average of 93.2 homicide cases was also an increase over April 2018, when it was 90.7 cases a day.


Deadly violence in Mexico has steadily increased since 2015, after declining during the first two full years of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term, which started in December 2012.

There were 7,167 homicide victims during the first five months of 2015, which closed with 17,892 victims. There were 8,364 victims between January and May 2017, increasing to 22,569 by the end of that year.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
Official photograph of the President of Mu00e9xico, Mr Enrique Peu00f1a Nieto

2017 had 10,988 homicide victims during the first five months and ended with 28,710 victims, which was a record for a full year.

There were 13,298 homicide victims recorded in the first five months of 2018, putting the year on pace for 31,915 killings.

The homicide rate between January and May 2018 was 9.17 cases per 100,000 people, a 75% increase over the 5.25 cases during the same period in 2015, according to Mexican news site Animal Politico.

“We are nearing a level of 100 homicides a day in the country, and with an upward trend, we still don’t see a break,” Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said on June 21, 2018, on radio show Atando Cabos.

In March 2018, Peña Nieto reached 104,583 officially reported homicide cases under his tenure, surpassing his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, who had 102,859 homicides during his six-year term. Calderon deployed the military around the country to combat organized crime, which many credit with driving violence in Mexico up.

Much of the increase since 2015 has been attributed to organized crime, especially in areas where organized-crime groups are clashing or where larger criminal groups have fragmented into smaller factions.

Such fragmentation often leads to more violence as smaller groups compete with each other. Those groups are also more likely to prey local populations, adding to insecurity.

Colima, one of Mexico’s smallest states by population, is also its most violent, with a rate of 33.17 homicide cases per 100,000 people through May 2018.

The state, located on the Pacific coast, is believed to be contested by elements of the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels. The 298 homicide victims there during the first five months of 2018 were a slight increase over the 281 over the same period in 2017.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
Police inu00a0Juu00e1rez, Mu00e9xico.

Baja California, which borders the US in northwest Mexico, was also among the most violent of Mexico’s 32 states, with a homicide rate of 29.47 per 100,000 people. Much of that bloodshed has taken place in Tijuana, which borders San Diego. Tijuana had 975 of the state’s 1,218 homicide victims during the first five months of the year; the head of the rapid reaction police force in Rosarito, a town near Tijuana, was found slain in Tijuana on the morning of June 20 2018.

Guerrero, one of Mexico’s most violent states and home to one of the country’s most violent cities in Acapulco, had a homicide rate of 26.65 through May 2018, the third highest.

Chihuahua, another northern border state, had a rate of 17.16 homicides per 100,000 people, and the 801 homicide victims there between January 2017 and May 2018 were an increase over the 752 during the same period in 2017.

“Chihuahua caught my attention a lot in May. It’s back in the top 5. Something also happened in Ciudad Juarez,” Hope said, referring to the state’s major border city, which was the site of extreme drug-related violence between 2008 and 2012.

“Baja California is also already above the levels it had in 2007,” Hope added, referring to a period of heightened violence there a decade ago.

Growing violence around Mexico’s most popular tourist areas has been a source of concern in recent months.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
Police in Mexico City.
(Photo by Timothy Neesam)

In Quintana Roo, home to Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the number of homicide victims increased from 100 during the first five months of 2017 to 252 over the period in 2018.

In Baja California Sur, where Los Cabos is located, the number of homicide victims declined from 247 through May 2017 to 119 during the first five months of 2018.

Other signs of growing insecurity were also evident in the crime data released June 2018.

Femicides, or killings that specifically target women, have consistently increased over the past three years. The 328 femicides recorded through May 2018 were over 100% more than the 153 over the same period in 2015.

While reports of kidnapping and extortion were down slightly over the first five months of 2018, there was a 22% increase in violent car thefts and a 39% increase in street-level drug dealing.

Homicide data for May 2018 was released 10 days before Mexicans vote in nationwide elections on July 1, 2018, in which 3,400 elected offices are up for grabs, including the presidency.

The increasing violence — which exists alongside and is often exacerbated by widespread corruption among law enforcement and rampant impunity for many crimes — has hung over the presidential campaign, even as the candidates have offered few specifics about how they would address it.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

FBI arrested instagram ‘troll’ accused of impersonating Parkland shooter

Prosecutors have accused a man of sending threatening and harassing messages on Instagram to relatives and friends of people killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Brandon Fleury, a resident of Santa Ana, California, said he sent the threatening messages for nearly three weeks using numerous Instagram accounts, according to a criminal complaint filed in the US District Court of Southern Florida and seen by INSIDER.


“One post threatened to kidnap the message recipients, while others sought to harass the recipients by repeatedly taunting the relatives and friends of the [high school] victims, cheering the deaths of their loved ones and, among other things, asking them to cry,” the affidavit said.

Following the search warrant on his home, Fleury said he created multiple Instagram profiles referencing Nikolas Cruz, who is accused of killing 17 people in the Parkland shooting.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

Nikolas Cruz being arrested by police in Florida, Feb. 14, 2018.

At least five accounts with usernames such as “nikolas.killed.your.sister,” “the.douglas.shooter,” and “nikolasthemurderer,” were traced to an IP address linked to Fleury’s home during the course of a law-enforcement investigation.

Some of the messages contained emojis with applauding hands, a smiling face, and a handgun:

“I killed your loved ones hahaha”

“With the power of my AR-15, I erased their existence”

“I gave them no mercy”

“They had their whole lives ahead of them and I f—–g stole it from them”

“Did you like my Valentines gift? I killed your friends.”

“Little [AS] will never play music again,” one message said on New Year’s Eve, in an apparent reference to the death of 14-year-old student Alex Schachter, who performed in the school’s marching band and orchestra.

Fleury said in a statement that he posted the messages “in an attempt to taunt or ‘troll’ the victims and gain popularity,” according to the FBI. Fleury also said he had a “fascination” with Cruz and other mass shooters, and specifically targeted the victims’ family, who he said were “activists” with large followings on social media.

Multiple news outlets cited authorities who said Fleury did not show remorse for his actions.

Law-enforcement officials investigated similar threats made on Instagram in 2018. Two days after the Parkland shooting, a 15-year-old Florida teen was arrested on charges of threatening to kill people in the same school district. The teen at the time “appeared to be remorseful and claimed his post was a joke,” according to the Broward Country Sheriff’s Office.

This article originally appeared on INSIDER. Follow @thisisinsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

South Korea wants to lower its bar for peace talks with the North

South Korea’s president said Feb. 26, 2018, that the United States should lower the threshold for talks with North Korea and that the two countries should start a dialogue soon.


President Moon Jae-in made the remarks in a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong one day after a senior North Korean official told Moon that his country is willing to open talks with the United States.

Also read: North and South Korea to train together at the Winter Olympics

The officials were in South Korea for the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Feb. 25, 2018.

According to his office, Moon asked for China’s support for U.S.-North Korea talks, and Liu responded that China would help facilitate them. Moon also said that North Korea should show a commitment to denuclearization, something it has refused to do.

Earlier, the U.S. said the international community needs to maintain maximum pressure on North Korea until it gives up its nuclear weapons development.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
President Donald J. Trump and President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

“We will see if Pyongyang’s message today, that it is willing to hold talks, represents the first steps along the path to denuclearization,” the White House said in a statement.

Moon met Feb. 25, 2018, with a North Korean delegation led by Kim Yong Chol, a former general whom South Korea has accused of being behind two attacks on the South that killed 50 people in 2010. Kim told Moon that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wanted to improve ties with Washington and had “ample intentions of holding talks,” according to the South Korean president’s office.

Related: North Korea’s brinkmanship will continue right after the Olympics

The North Korean delegation met with Moon’s national security chief on Feb. 26, 2018. Moon’s office said the two sides agreed that the Olympics had been a meaningful stepping stone toward restoring inter-Korean ties, and to continue to collaborate to seek a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

South Korean protesters burned a North Korean flag and used a knife to slash a portrait of Kim Jong Un near a hotel where the North Korean delegation was staying.

MIGHTY TRENDING

95-year-old grandmother makes masks for Veterans with hearing loss

When Meredith Willcox learned some Veterans had issues with comprehension because of COVID-19 masking policies, she did something about it.

Willcox, of Kirksville, Missouri, is the 95-year-old grandmother of a health provider at Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital. She used the internet and her sewing skills to make specialized masks to help Veterans with significant hearing loss.


“Hearing aids are wonderful tools,” said Laura Jacobs, an audiologist at Truman VA and Willcox’s granddaughter. “We use them to treat hearing loss in our Veteran patient population.

“The VA offers our Veterans state-of-the-art hearing devices that utilize Bluetooth technology. Our devices are the best of the best in hearing aids. However, even with extremely high-quality aids, some of our Veterans have such significant hearing loss that this technology isn’t enough for them to comprehend speech.”

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

Meredith Willcox, a 95-year-old grandmother from Kirksville, Missouri, displays some of the specialty hand-sewn masks she donated to Truman VA’s Audiology team.

Reading lips impossible with standard mask

Jacobs said that in extreme cases, some Veterans must rely on a combination of hearing aids and visually reading a speaker’s lips to understand conversations. This is extremely important during clinic visits with their providers. However, because clinicians must wear a mask, reading lips has been impossible ― that is, until now.

“After mentioning this issue to my grandmother, she went online and learned how to make masks that incorporate a clear mouth covering,” Jacobs said. “So far, she has made 40 specialized face masks for our clinic. I’ve always known that she was an amazing person. However, for her to take the ball and run with it as she’s done with these masks. Well, let’s just say I’m extremely proud of her!”

In the photo above, Jacobs wears one of her grandmother’s handmade masks while caring for a Veteran with profound hearing loss.

Generous support

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Truman VA has received an outpouring of support from the mid-Missouri community.

“I can’t put into words what it means to have this level of support,” said Patricia Hall, medical center director of Truman VA. “So many have come forward at a time of extreme uncertainty. I believe without a doubt that their generosity and support helped our team get through these dark times.”

“We truly appreciate everyone’s generosity,” said Ron Graves, Chief of Voluntary Services at Truman VA. “I especially want to thank Veterans United Home Loans. They provided daily meals for our front line staff for almost three straight months. They also made sure to use area businesses to help stimulate our local economy. I thought that was an amazing gesture.”

“There are too many individuals to name who have made reusable cloth face masks for our Veterans, visitors and staff,” Graves said. “But just to show you the level of support we’ve received in this area, Quilts of Valor, Central Missouri Mask Makers and Hanes Brands, Inc., together provided us with more than 3,000 donated cloth masks.”

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

Heather Black, LPN, Truman VA’s own Betsy Ross, displays just a few of the 623 masks she’s sewn for Truman VA Veterans, visitors and staff.

Nurse sewed over 600 masks…on her breaks!

Graves said Truman VA staff also should be recognized. Housekeepers, warehouse employees, frontline staff and other support personnel ― all have been important in the fight against COVID-19. However, he acknowledged one individual for going above and beyond in support of her colleagues and the Veterans that receive care at Truman VA.

“Heather Black, a nurse in Specialty Care Clinic, donated 623 hand-sewn masks,” Graves said. “She works full time on-site. She brought her sewing machine to work and makes masks before and after her shifts. Also, during her breaks. How can you not be awed by such dedication?”

“For those individuals who have made masks for us, provided meals or in any other way supported us throughout this global pandemic, we truly appreciate your efforts,” Hall said. “Each one of you has made such a positive impact on our team, and we thank you!”

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


MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of June 28th

Next week is the Fourth of July and there’s countless celebrations planned all around the country. Of course, there’s the fireworks and the air shows, but we can’t forget about all the military parades. Speaking from personal experience, military parades for the general public are the worst.

You get there five hours in advance and your NCO is hounding you not to even make the slightest wrong move. Then when you’re actually marching in formation through the designated route, there’s always going to be those people in the crowds that try to jump to the “join” the formation.

I get it, if it’s a kid – I’ll smile down at them, tell them they’re getting it (regardless if they are or not) and keep moving. My problem is when the douche bag bros hop in the back and say some sh*t like “I’m just like you guys!” If this was just a one time thing, I would chalk it up as a bad encounter. But this happened three different times to me outside two different Army posts.


Anyways, here’s some memes while I wrap myself in my DD-214 blanket to forget about douchey civilians.

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(Meme via Not CID)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

(Meme via Call for Fire)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

(Meme via Weapons of Meme Destruction)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

(Meme via Infantry Follow Me)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

(Meme via Team Non-Rec)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

(Meme via PT Belt Nation)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

(Meme via The Salty Soldier)

Articles

Trump widens potential rift with Mattis over NATO

President-elect Donald Trump’s renewed criticism of NATO widened a potential rift with Defense Secretary-designate James Mattis on the need to shore up the alliance against the threats of Russian President Vladimir Putin.


In a joint interview Sunday with The London Times and Germany’s Bild publication, Trump recycled charges from his campaign that NATO is “obsolete,” questioned the worth of the European Union and said that Germany was wrong to admit refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war.

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

In his Senate confirmation hearing last week, retired Marine Gen. Mattis said, “If we didn’t have NATO today, we’d need to create it. NATO is vital to our interests.”

“I think right now the most important thing is that we recognize the reality of what we deal with [in] Mr. Putin,” Mattis said. “We recognize that he is trying to break the North Atlantic alliance, and that we take the steps — the integrated steps, diplomatic, economic, military and the alliance steps — working with our allies to defend ourselves where we must.”

“There’s a decreasing number of areas where we can engage cooperatively and an increasing number of areas where we’re going to have to confront Russia,” he said.

Mattis also suggested that Trump is willing to hear opposing arguments on NATO. “I have had discussions with him on this issue,” he said. “He has shown himself open, even to the point of asking more questions, going deeper into the issue.”

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and Trump’s choice to become national security adviser, also supports bolstering NATO and other U.S. global commitments.

In a speech last week at the U.S. Institute of peace, Flynn said, “Alliances are one of the great tools that we have, and the strength of those alliances magnifies our own strengths.

“As we examine and potentially re-baseline our relationships around the globe, we will keep in mind the sacrifices and deep commitments that many of our allies have made on behalf of our security and our prosperity,” Flynn said.

‘It’s Obsolete’

After meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Trump’s criticism of NATO is “in contradiction” of Mattis’ vision of a strengthened alliance and U.S. support of NATO’s Article 5, which considers an attack on any member as an attack against all.

“Obviously, the comments from President-elect Trump that he views NATO as obsolete were viewed with anxiety,” Steinmeier said.

In his remarks to The London Times and Bild, Trump said of NATO: “It’s obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago.” He renewed his charges that most members of the 28-nation alliance are not living up to their responsibilities under the treaty.

The U.S. provides about 70 percent of the funding for NATO while other nations “aren’t paying their fair share, so we’re supposed to protect countries,” Trump said. “There’s five countries that are paying what they’re supposed to — five. It’s not much.”

Under agreements reached in 2014, when Russian-backed separatists launched attacks in eastern Ukraine, NATO members pledged to devote at least two percent of their budgets to defense and outlined steps to reach that goal.

Despite the criticism of NATO, Trump’s remarks could also be seen as a prod to get members to pay their dues. “NATO is very important to me,” he said.

However, Trump’s views that NATO is obsolete are in line with those of Putin, who has for years denounced NATO’s expansion to Russia’s borders. In response to Trump’s remarks, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that “NATO is indeed a vestige of the past and we agree with that.”

A Deal With Putin

Trump also expressed interest in a deal with Putin that would lift sanctions against Russia in return for a mutual reduction of nuclear arsenals.

“They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia,” Trump said, according to the Times. “For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially; that’s part of it.”

The Trump interview came as U.S. troops and tanks were arriving in the Polish town of Zagan in a historic move to shore up NATO’s eastern flank that has infuriated Putin. In addition, 300 U.S. Marines landed in Norway on Monday to join in training exercises.

In a ceremony as snow fell over the weekend, Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz told the first contingents of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Carson, Colorado, “We have waited for you for a very long time.”

“We waited for decades, sometimes feeling we had been left alone, sometimes almost losing hope, sometimes feeling that we were the only one who protected civilization from aggression that came from the east,” Macierewicz said.

Reassuring Europe

To counter Russia, the Obama administration, with the support of Congress in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act, recommended boosting the budget for the European Reassurance Initiative from $789 million to $3.4 billion.

ERI was established in the fiscal 2015 budget to “reassure allies of the U.S. commitment to their security and territorial integrity as members of the NATO alliance.” It supported increased U.S. investment across five categories: presence, training and exercises, infrastructure, pre-positioned equipment, and building partner capacity.

To expand presence across the region, the U.S. Army began periodic rotations of armored and airborne brigades to Poland and the Baltic states; the Air Force added additional F-15 Eagles to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission; and the Navy cycled ships through the Black Sea. The U.S. also spent $250 million to improve bases in Europe.

In a welcoming ceremony in Germany earlier this month for the 4,000 troops of the 3rd ABCT, Air Force Lt. Gen. Tim Ray, the deputy commander of U.S. European Command, said that its presence showed that the U.S. commitment to NATO is “rock solid.”

“I can assure you, this [ABCT] does not stand alone — it is integrated and combined with forces and other equipment in space, cyberspace, the air, land and sea, with our allies and partners,” Ray said. “A joint persistent rotational presence of American land, sea and air is in the region as a show of support to our allies and in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.”

“Let me be very clear — this is one part of our efforts to deter Russian aggression, ensure the territorial integrity of our allies, and maintain a Europe that is whole, free, prosperous and at peace.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Here’s the firepower the US is sending to take on Iran

The US military is sending a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East as a show of force to Iran. There is a ton of firepower heading that way.

The USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, which consists of the carrier and its powerful carrier air wing, as well as one cruiser and four destroyers, is moving into the region with an unspecified number of B-52 Stratofortress heavy long-range bombers, according to US Central Command.

These assets, according to US Central Command, are being deployed in response to “clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces in the region.” This is in addition to strategic assets already in the area.


Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary S. Welch)

Aircraft carrier: USS Abraham Lincoln

Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, previously described aircraft carriers as “tremendous expression of US national power.” A carrier strike group is an even stronger message. “CSGs are visible and powerful symbols of U.S. commitment and resolve,” US European Command said in a statement on May 7, 2019.

The USS Abraham Lincoln, a mobile sea-based airfield, is the lead ship for the carrier strike group that bears its name and is outfitted with a highly capable carrier air wing.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

An F/A-18E Super Hornet.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan U. Kledzik)

Carrier air wing: fighters, electronic-attack aircraft, early-warning aircraft, and rotary aircraft

Carrier Air Wing Seven consists of F/A-18 Super Hornets, EA-18G Growler electronic-attack aircraft, E-2 Hawkeye early-warning aircraft, and a number of rotary aircraft from multiple squadrons capable of carrying out a variety of operational tasks.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

The USS Leyte Gulf.

(US Navy photo)

Cruiser: USS Leyte Gulf

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers are multi-role warships that run heavily armed with 122 vertical-launch-system (VLS) cells capable of carrying everything from Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles to surface-to-air missiles and anti-submarine-warfare rockets.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

The USS Mason.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Anna Wade)

4 destroyers: USS Bainbridge, USS Gonzalez, USS Mason, and USS Nitze

Like the larger cruisers, destroyers are also multi-mission vessels. Armed with 90 to 96 VLS cells, these ships have air-and-missile defense capabilities, as well as land-attack abilities.

Early in the Trump presidency, two US Navy destroyers devastated Shayrat Airbase with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to punish the Syrian regime in the aftermath of a chemical-weapons attack.

Adrenaline on ice: Veterans excel at Para bobsled

The B-52 with all its ammunition.

(US Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Robert Horstman)

Bombers: B-52s

The B-52 is a subsonic high-altitude bomber capable of carrying nuclear and conventional payloads. These hard-hitting aircraft can carry up to 70,000 pounds of varied ordnance and can be deployed to carry out various missions, including strategic attack, close air support, air interdiction, and offensive counter-air and maritime operations.

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