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MIGHTY MOVIES

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha

Here’s a quick look at a few of our favorite stories of the week:


In early April 2016, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Charlie Linville departed the U.S. with The Heroes Project founder Tim Medvetz. Their destination was Nepal and their third attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the top of the world. Semper Fi!

The Syrian Democratic Forces coalition launched a new campaign to advance toward the ISIS capital at Raqqa.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYcqrT0nU0I

To say that Gurkhas are simply soldiers from Nepal would be a massive understatement. They are known for their exceptional bravery, ability, and heroism in the face of insurmountable odds. A great example is Dipprasad Pun, who singlehandedly held his post against more than 30 Taliban fighters.

MIGHTY HISTORY

When the Coast Guard saved New York from a huge blast

In the early evening of April 24, 1943, Coast Guardsmen braved leaping flames and saved New York City from what could have been the largest man-made explosion in history to that point, a blast that would’ve wiped out sections of the harbor and, potentially, large swaths of the larger city and parts of New Jersey. Instead, just one ship was lost and zero lives.


Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha

Painting of the El Estero fire by Austin Dwyer.

(Austin Dwyer via U.S. Coast Guard)

While all the other branches rib the Coast Guard for being a band of puddle pirates, it’s important when really looking at its history to remember that, first, they actually have conducted a ton of deepwater missions. And, more importantly for this discussion, the shallow waters of the world are home to vital and dangerous missions that the Coast Guard does well.

The Coast Guard often takes on a large role during conflicts to help to ensure that war materiel is safely moved from industrial powerhouses in the U.S. to theaters of war overseas. During World War II, this included loading many of the Liberty Ships and other vessels that plied the Atlantic and Pacific.

But logistic expediencies created real hazards. It made sense in terms of speed and efficiency to move all the munitions, vehicles, and other vital supplies to a handful of ports and load it on ships from there. But doing so meant that strings of railroad cars and ships filled with explosive materials would be stored right next to each other.

On Saturday, April 24, Coast Guardsmen working on explosive loading details finished loading 1,365 tons of ammo onto the Panamanian freighter El Estero. But before they could even get fully aweigh, smoke started to come up out of the ship’s passageways.

Investigations would later reveal that the boiler had likely been leaking fuel oil into bilge water in the compartment below it, and a boiler flashback ignited the pooled fuel and started a fire. But once the fire was going, it would be able to boil oil to give itself more fuel and heat up the ammo until it started to explode.

The engine room crew immediately started fighting the flames with handheld extinguishers, but it wasn’t enough, so officers went to the Coast Guard barracks for volunteers. Could someone, anyone, please climb onto the burning ship, descend into its belly, and fight flames in the hopes of it not blowing up?

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha

A graphic tried to tackle the level of damage if the ship had exploded. This high traffic area would have made an explosion of the El Estero especially catastrophic.

(New York Daily News illustration via U.S. Coast Guard)

But the Coast Guardsmen knew what was at stake. The loading docks were always filled with ammo and fuel and, on April 24, there were two other nearly full ships nearby, there were railroad cars loaded with ammunition waiting to unload, and there was a fuel farm that served the departing ships. A detonation on the El Estero would likely trigger a chain reaction.

And explosions like this had happened before. Before the U.S. joined World War I, American firms sold arms to each side under equal terms, but British buyers were able to secure more credit while German ones were unlikely to even be able to get their purchases to the fighting thanks to a British blockade. So, German saboteurs blew up the shipping facilities at Black Tom Island in New Jersey, killing at least five people, destroying over million in property, and partially excavating the island.

Another World War I explosion, this one on a ship with 5,000 tons of TNT in Halifax Harbor in Canada, had killed 1,500 people leveling a large section of Halifax, Canada, in 1917. The combined loads of the El Estero and nearby ships and trains, somewhere around 5,000 total tons of explosives, dwarfed the size of the Halifax explosion. And an El Estero explosion would’ve been on the doorstep of New York City and could’ve flattened everything for five miles around.

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha

Coast Guardsmen on a fireboat. Small vessels like these assisted in controlling the El Estero fire.

(U.S. Coast Guard)

And so 60 Coast Guardsmen, most of them in dress uniforms while awaiting their Easter Day liberty passes, rushed to the ship. New York firefighters arrived soon after with a firefighting ship, and they began passing hoses into the holds of the El Estero, but it was Coast Guardsmen who descended into the smoke and fire.

Survivors would describe a heat that overwhelmed them. The hot deck plates warmed and then burned their feet, paint peeled off the walls, and the heat continued to build. The Coast Guard officer in charge was Lt.j.g. Francis McCausland. It was his first day of work at the station.

But he was able to get tugboats to move the other ammo ships away and ordered Army soldiers to shift as many of the train cars out of range as they could move. By the time that additional fire trucks and Coast Guard fireboats arrived at 5:35, the fiercely burning El Estero was largely isolated, but still surrounded by the city, fuel stores, and warehouses of ammo.

The Coast Guard seemed to get the upper hand on the ship for a few minutes as the oily black smoke gave way to yellow and white streaks of flames, a signal that streams of water were hitting the major source of the fire. But the oily smoke returned, and the heat continued to rise.

About 40 volunteers were ordered off the ship, and a crew of 20 stayed onboard to try and keep the fire contained as long as possible while the ship was towed to a safe detonation point. Those 20 passed their personal effects to the men ordered off, some of whom wanted to stay and keep working. These included an engaged man who had to personally be ordered off the decks.

The further the ship was out of the harbor, the more lives would be saved in New York City and in the surrounding harbor from the pending explosion. Coast Guardsmen shoved anti-aircraft shells from the decks into the water and kept directing the water from the tugs onto the hot ammo as they traveled.

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The El Estero rests mostly below the waves.

(Public Domain)

Miraculously, their work was enough, and the ship was towed out as the nearby cities prepared for an explosion that never came. Fuel barrels on the decks popped and boomed open, but the burnt and exhausted Coast Guardsmen onboard were eventually able to build up enough water in the ship to sink it.

(The ship was designed so that it could only be scuttled from one spot that was directly underneath the burning boilers, so the Coast Guardsmen could only sink it by flooding it.)

Once the hull of the ship was under the waves, the threat of a full ammo explosion was largely dissipated. Firefighters kept water pouring onto the still burning superstructure for hours until, finally, the threat was gone. No one had died in a crisis that was later found to have threatened as many as one million residents with death, injury, or extreme property damage.

All the Coast Guardsmen involved were given special medals for their efforts, and the U.S. government overhauled ammo-handling procedures to move dangerous operations away from population centers. This would save lives in June 1944, when an ammo ship with 4,600 tons of ammunition exploded northeast of San Francisco, killing 300 sailors on the ship and nearby, but leaving the city untouched.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Here’s why the Mandalorian Season 2 Episode 2 is the worst episode

After leaving us with a fun (probable Boba Fett) easter egg last week, Chapter 10 opens with a meaningless action sequence that has no real consequence other than a long walk for Djarin (Pedro Pascal). The Yoda Baby is definitely going to need therapy if he’s going to be a wise Jedi leader — the kid has been thrown, concussed, and exposed to violence and murder a lot, you guys. Like, a lot.

Spoilers ahead.

Djarin is still searching for some Mandalorians and conveniently, Peli Motto (Amy Sedaris) just met a creature who has a lead. “The Frog Lady,” as she’s credited, needs secure passage to rendezvous with her husband in The System in order to fertilize her eggs — and in exchange, her husband will tell Djarin where he might find a Mandalorian cohort.

OMG there are going to be so many egg-backpacks at Comic-Con next year… (Mandalorian concept art | Disney+)

In the ship, the Yoda Baby is left alone with the eggs and here’s what I wrote in my notes: “I’m legit worried that Yoda Baby will eat the spawn…ew, Jesus, I was right.” This became a running joke(???) throughout the episode that was extremely problematic. The Frog Lady has made it clear that her only hope to prevent extinction is to reunite with her husband so he can fertilize her eggs and they can reproduce. 

In other words, those eggs are her unborn children. To imply that it’s funny or cute that The Child keeps eating them, keeps literally murdering them, is very obtuse coming from a male writer and male director. It makes my skin crawl. Such a crime and violation should be treated with the severity of when Starbuck’s ovary was surgically cut out from her while she was imprisoned by Cyclons in Battlestar Galactica.

Murder baby. (The Mandalorian | Disney+)

The Frog Lady was dehumanized and her desire to have children was treated as a joke. Considering how few female characters there even are in the series (it has yet to pass the Bechdel Test — though it received praise for hiring female directors), it further displays how tone-deaf stories can be when women are shut out of telling them. 

MOVING ON.

During their space flight, Djarin and his cargo were intercepted by two New Republic X-Wings who started asking too many questions for Djarin’s comfort. In an effort to evade them, he crashed on an ice planet, wrecking the hull of his Razor Crest. While he sought to repair it, his cargo made some decisions.

The Frog Lady decided to take a hot spring dip with her eggs while the Yoda Baby decided to eat some eggs he discovered in the ice caves. Inside the eggs were calamari-looking spiders and the whole scene was disgusting — but not as bad as what came next. 

The hundreds of eggs reacted and began to hatch, joined by creatures Star Wars Rebels fans will recognize as Krykna — giant (ice) spiders.

Empire Strikes Back concept art depicting Krykna on Dagobah. (Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Hundreds of Krykna then scuttled after the trio, ranging from babies to horse-sized spiders, to enormous monsters that were heavier than Djarin’s ship. It was tense and gross. They were saved at last by the return of the X-Wings, who had checked in on Djarin’s records and determined that he wasn’t a bad guy. 

After slaying the hordes of Krykna, the pilots left Djarin to repair his ship and limp his shaky way to The Frog Man.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Ughhhh I hate it.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China says new radar can spot US stealth fighters at incredible distances

China has reportedly developed an over-the-horizon maritime early warning radar system that its creator claims can detect stealth aircraft far beyond visual range, an advanced capability that could threaten US fifth-generation fighters operating in the area.

Liu Yongtan, the team leader for the radar project, told Chinese media his high-frequency surface wave radar emits “high frequency electromagnetic waves with long wavelengths and wide beams” that travel along the surface of the sea, the Global Times reported June 10, 2019, citing a recent interview with Naval and Merchant Ships magazine.

The radar system, part of China’s ongoing efforts to prevent a sneak attack by enemy stealth assets, can purportedly detect enemy air and naval threats hundreds of kilometers away in any weather condition.


The 83-year-old creator says the radar is also “immune” to anti-radiation missiles, which track the point of origin for electromagnetic waves.

Liu’s radar system, which won him the country’s highest scientific award, has been named China’s “first line of defense.”

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha

F-35A Lightning II.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer)

Does it actually work?

Western experts argue that this type of radar, which is not new technology, offers the defending country a chance against incoming stealth assets, but there are limitations that prevent it from being the death of a fifth-generation fighter like the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

“Because of its very long wavelengths, it can detect objects like stealthy aircraft,” Todd Harrison, an aerospace expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told Business Insider, explaining that stealthy aircraft are designed to be less detectable to shortwave radar.

Major drawbacks, however, include the low resolution and lack of a real-time target-grade track. “It will tell you there’s something there, but you can’t characterize it,” Harrison explained, adding that the radar “can’t get a precise enough fix on a position to target it.”

Justin Bronk, an air combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute told Business Insider that “China might be better informed about where American stealth fighters are operating in the battle space, but still unable to use those radar systems to cue in missiles to actually kill them.”

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha

F-35 Lightning II.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Cook)

But, the over-the-horizon radar does have the ability to cue other types of radar systems to narrow their field of view and concentrate their radar energy on the position where an object was detected. “You have a better chance of finding it” with the over-the-horizon radar, Harrison explained.

Another big problem with the powerful Chinese radar, though, is that it is vulnerable to attack, meaning they might only be useful in the early stages of a fight.

While they may be immune to counter-radar anti-radiation missiles, these systems are large, can be easily seen from space, and could be targeted with a GPS-guided missile. “It will help you in the initial stages of conflict, but the US will probably put a missile on the antenna sites and take it out of commission pretty quickly,” Harrison said.

The Chinese radar system is also presumably vulnerable to jamming and electronic warfare attacks, a high-end capability provided by US fifth-gen fighters.

China’s new radar system is not perfect, but it does provide early warning capabilities that could alert the country to the presence of incoming stealth assets, strengthening its defenses and potentially giving it a shot.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia will be happy to see US troops leave Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he welcomes U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent pledge to pull U.S. troops out of Syria “very soon” now that the Islamic State (IS) militant group has been largely defeated there.

Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on April 2, 2018, that Russia had recently seen what he called “worrisome” signs that U.S. troops were “getting deeply entrenched” in areas east of the Euphrates River that they recently helped liberate from IS.


Trump’s statement late March 2018, shows that “he is committed at least to the previous promises the United States will leave Syria after victory over the Islamic State,” Russian state-run news agency TASS quoted Lavrov as saying.

Russia and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been urging the United States for months to pull its 2,000 or so troops out of Syria, maintaining that their presence on Syrian territory is a violation of international law.

Assad frequently points out that he did not invite U.S. troops to join the seven-year civil war like he did when he invited Russian forces in 2015, and Iranian forces and militias since the beginning of the war in 2011.

In response to Russia’s calls to leave Syria, top U.S. officials have said they intended to keep U.S. troops there as long as needed to protect U.S. allies in the war-torn country and ensure that IS does not make a comeback in its former Syrian strongholds.

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha
A poster of Syria’s president at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Damascus.

(Photo by Elizabeth Arrott)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who Trump fired in March 2018, citing significant policy differences, argued in January 2018, that U.S. forces must remain engaged in Syria not only to prevent IS and al-Qaeda from returning, but to deny Iran a chance to “further strengthen its position in Syria.”

Pentagon leaders have made similar statements. Defense Department spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said on April 2, 2018, that “our mission has not changed… We are continuing to implement the president’s strategy to defeat [IS].”

But Trump’s statement on March 29, 2018 — telling supporters in the U.S. state of Ohio that “we’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now” — suggested Trump may be thinking differently about Syria than some of his top advisers.

In another sign Trump may be mulling a pull-out, The Wall Street Journal recently reported that he is holding up $200 million in U.S. funding earmarked to go toward stabilizing areas of eastern Syria recaptured from IS.

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha
President Donald Trump
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Lavrov’s comments welcoming Trump’s eagerness to leave Syria come as Russia and Syria have been clearing out the last remnants of armed rebel groups that once largely controlled the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta through a series of negotiated pull-outs.

The Russian military and Syrian state media reported on April 2, 2018, that the largest rebel group, Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), has started evacuating from the area’s last holdout town, Douma.

The SANA news agency said two buses carrying the rebels left Douma heading for Jarablus, a town in north Syria shared between rebels and Turkish forces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, also reported that the last rebels are leaving Douma, handing Syria and Russia their biggest potential win since they regained control of Syria’s largest city, Aleppo.

Articles

China is freaking out at the White House over a $1.4B arms sale to Taiwan

China protested Friday the Trump administration’s $1.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan as a violation of its sovereignty and demanded that the deal be cancelled.


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Lu Kang said the sale ran counter to China’s vital security interests and would be a gross violation of the stated commitment by the U.S. to a “one China” policy.

“We stress that nobody could sway our determination to uphold our territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Lu said at a regular daily briefing. “We oppose any external interference in our internal affairs.”

Lu’s remarks were aimed at the $1.42 billion sale of arms to Taiwan announced Thursday by the U.S. State Department.

The package reportedly included technical support for early warning radar, anti-radiation missiles, torpedoes and components for SM-2 (Standard Missile-2) missiles, one of the U.S. Navy’s primary anti-air weapons. The sales also included AGM-154 Joint Standoff air-to-surface missiles.

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USS Hopper (DDG 70) fires a RIM-161 SM-3 missile in 2009. (US Navy photo)

In announcing the deal, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that the sale did not violate the Taiwan Relations Act that governs U.S. contacts with the island off China’s coast formerly known as Formosa.

“It shows, we believe, our support for Taiwan’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense policy,” Nauert said, adding that “There’s no change, I should point out, to our ‘one-China policy.'”

The last U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, approved during the Obama administration in December 2015, was worth $1.8 billion and included two de-commissioned U.S. Navy frigates, minesweepers, Stinger missiles, and anti-armor and anti-tank missiles.

The State Department and the Pentagon had approved another $1 billion arms sale in December of 2016 similar to the one signed Thursday, but President Barack Obama held off on final approval to allow the incoming Trump administration make the decision.

China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and has long opposed any arms sales to the self-governing island. China has a policy of eventual reunification, and has not ruled out force to achieve it.

The arms sale announcement came at an awkward time for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was visiting Hong Kong to mark the 20th anniversary of the end of British rule.

Taiwan was also rattled by the presence in nearby waters of Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning, the only carrier in China’s growing fleet.

China announced Monday that the Liaoning, accompanied by two destroyers and a frigate, had left its homeport in Qingdao to join the Hong Kong events on a course that would take it through the Taiwan Straits.

U.S. relations with China — and the severing of formal diplomatic ties to Taiwan — were the outgrowth of President Richard Nixon’s “opening to China” in the 1970s. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter established formal relations with China.

Also in 1979, the U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act guaranteeing U.S. support for Taiwan and aid in its self-defense. The unofficial U.S. presence in Taiwan is maintained via the American Institute in Taiwan, a private corporation which carries out informal diplomatic activities.

Articles

These ISIS-fighting women are getting an Amazon Studios film

The Yazidi women who have fought the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria will be the subject of a new feature film in production by Amazon Studios and directed by Sarah Gertrude Shapiro.


This will mark Shapiro’s feature film directorial debut.

According to a report by Deadline.com, the exact plot details are unclear, but Shapiro has done much research into the plight of the Yazidi. Among the stories Shapiro has looked into is that of captured humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller.

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DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro

The report notes that Mueller was forced into sex slavery and a marriage to ISIS leader Abu Bake al-Baghdadi, and that both the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders and the Obama Administration failed to negotiate for her release.

Mueller’s parents claimed they were told that if they did make an offer to the terrorist group, they would risk prosecution. Details of Mueller’s captivity were provided by at least one former sex slave who escaped ISIS, and a letter smuggled to her family.

Mueller died in February 2015, with ISIS claiming she had been killed in an air strike carried out by the Royal Jordanian Air Force, after being held for 18 months. Earlier this month, some reports claimed that Al-Baghdadi was also killed by an air strike.

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha
At 23, Joanna Palani, a young Danish-Kurdish student, dropped out of college to join the fight against jihadists in Syria.

Shapiro is also reportedly researching the so-called “European jihadi brides” in preparation for the project. Some of the worst torture suffered by Yazidi sex slaves has been at the hands of the spouses of ISIS fighters.

Shapiro is best known as the creator of the Lifetime series “UnREAL,” starring Constance Zimmer and Shiri Appleby, and also worked behind the scenes on the ABC Reality show “The Bachelor.”

Articles

That time those combat cameramen won an Oscar for covering the Battle of Tarawa

There were a lot of big name winners at the 17th Annual Academy Awards in 1945, Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman, and… the United States Marine Corps. That’s right, USMC Combat Cameramen won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short for their coverage of the Battle of Tarawa in 1943. Tarawa was unique because of the coverage COMCAM operators were able to give the battle.


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First Row: Tech. Sgt. Carlos Steele, Cpl. Jack Ely, Sgt Ferman H. Dixon, Staff Sgt. John F. Ercole, Cpl. E. Newcomb, and Sgt. Ernest J. Diet. Second Row: Pvt. Chris G. Demo, Sgt. Forrest Owens, Cpl. Jim R. Orton, and Cpl. Raymond Matjasic Back Row: Sgt. Roy Olund, Capt. Louis Hayward, Marine Gunner John F. Leopold, Staff Sgt. Norman Hatch. Pfc. William Kelliher was not present for the picture.

November 20-23 1943 saw a thousand Marines die fighting to take the tiny, two mile wide island of Tarawa from Imperial Japanese forces during World War II. Two thousand more Marines were injured. 4,700 Japanese died defending the island with only 17 surrendering to U.S. forces. Hundreds of Korean slave laborers also died.

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Obie Newcombe, USMC Camerman

Combat Camera Marines with the 2nd Marine Division were along for the ride and after the battle, edited With the Marines at Tarawa, a twenty minute short film designed to bring the story of the battle to Americans on the home front. The goal was to give people as close to a first hand experience of the horrors of war as film could get them.

In an eleven minute newsreel from the Army-Navy Screen Magazine designed to be viewed by servicemen, Marine Corps Combat Cameraman Norm Hatch narrates the footage he filmed during the battle of Tarawa.

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USMC Combat Camerman Norm Hatch filming Bonneyman’s assault.

The narration was clearly written by a screenwriter (this is WWII propaganda, after all), and it includes a short skit as a premise for the story, but the combat footage is heavy and graphic at times.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=222v=LnRvmCxSFMA

The end may seem out of place, but the quick construction of the airfield at Tarawa is a reminder of the importance of the battle and the need for the island’s strategic position. It’s also a good reminder of what Marines can do when called upon: The Japanese admiral commanding Tarawa boasted the Marines couldn’t take Tarawa with a million men in a hundred years.

It took 18,000 Marines only 76 hours.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Destroyer pierces Chinese claims in Pacific waters

In what a Chinese official deemed a “provocation,” the US sent one of its guided-missile destroyers through Chinese claimed waters on Jan. 7, 2019, as the two nations kicked off trade talks in Beijing.

Reuters reported Jan. 3, 2019, that the talks, held between trade representatives from both countries, are meant to begin “positive and constructive discussions,” ultimately aiming to ease an ongoing and increasingly devastating trade war.

But just as the talks began Jan. 7, 2019, guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell sailed by the Paracel Islands, one of several hotly contested chains in the South China Sea, according to Reuters.


The same day, Chinese media aired a clip depicting a Chinese air force pilot issuing a warning to an unidentified aircraft in the air defense zone they imposed, although it is unclear when the encounter occurred.

Both encounters took place in areas where China has made sovereignty claims that are not internationally recognized. Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines have all made competing claims in the South China Sea; the air defense zone was claimed in 2013 in an attempt to justify China’s grasp for control of the East China Sea, which has been disputed by Japan, according to the South China Morning Post.

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A still image from footage of a Chinese fighter jet engaging a foreign aircraft over the East China Sea.

(China Central Television/YouTube)

Lu Kang, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said Jan. 7, 2019, that China had sent warships and aircraft in response, calling the McCampbell’s transit a violation of international law.

“We urge the United States to immediately cease this kind of provocation,” he said.

In a statement emailed to Reuters, Rachel McMarr, spokeswoman for the US Pacific Fleet, said the operation was not meant as a political statement or directed at any one country, but designed to “challenge excessive maritime claims.”

Known as “freedom of navigation” operations, ships and aircraft challenging excessive claims is not a new concept, nor one exclusively practiced by the US. In August 2018, a British amphibious ship sailed close to the Paracels, sparking a confrontation by a Chinese frigate and two aircraft. That same month, the US Defense Department published a map showing instances of Chinese vessels operating in established economic zones of other countries.

While US officials said there is no connection between the transit and the trade talks, Chinese spokesman Kang took a different approach.

“Both sides have a responsibility to create the necessary positive atmosphere for this,” he told state media, according to Reuters.

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

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

An Iraqi interpreter saved his life, now he’s trying to save the family

The last words of a heroic Iraqi interpreter who sacrificed himself to save American soldiers from a suicide bomber were: “Take care of my son. Take care of my wife.” US Special Forces troops are now fighting to honor that dying request.

When a suicide bomber detonated his vest during a vehicle inspection near the Syrian border in September 2007, Barakat Ali Bashar put himself between the bomber and then-Staff Sgt. Jay McBride. Bashar, a new father of only a week, was critically wounded in the attack, and he died at a military hospital in Mosul.


Bashar “had dozens of ball bearings in his body causing injuries that nobody could have survived,” McBride, a former medic, told Stars and Stripes, adding, “I owe him my life.”

Bashar, described as “kind of young and a little more western than your typical Iraqi,” served as an interpreter for US Special Forces fighting Al Qaeda in northern Iraq. After his death, his family received some financial compensation from the US government, but they remained in Iraq, a country later overrun by the Islamic State.

The family, already a target because of their Yazidi heritage, was also in danger because of Bashar’s work with the US military. They fled their home near Mount Sinjar, leaving behind their personal possessions and all evidence Bashar had served with the US Army, and headed to a refugee camp in Kurdistan, where they still live today. Bashar’s family emailed Stars and Stripes and revealed that they live in constant fear.

One of the problems encountered during the visa application process was the lack of proof that Bashar had served with the US military. The family has since obtained written proof that Bashar “was declared dead in a U.S. Army hospital and he was an interpreter who served with [U.S. forces].” They are awaiting a follow-up interview with the State Department.

McBride and other US veterans have been writing letters and petitions in support of the family’s special visa application since 2015. “Is this how you treat a family of someone who worked five years with the U.S. Army; someone who was loyal to the U.S. and Iraq; someone who gave his life serving with U.S. Army soldiers and trying to protect them?” McBride told Stars and Stripes, adding that he would happily put the family up at his house if that was an option.

Bashar “never faltered in his commitment to help American forces, even after his family was threatened and their names were placed on a list that was circulated around the region describing him as a traitor for supporting American forces,” Sgt. 1st Class Michael Swett, another Special Forces soldier, wrote in support of the family. “He believed in the American dream even more than we did. Unfortunately, [Bashar] never realized his opportunity to see the country that he sacrificed so much for.”

“We, the people of the United States of America, put this family at risk and I feel it is our duty as a civilized nation to [ensure] their safety,” Army Master Sgt. Todd West wrote in a separate letter.

Featured image: U.S. Army Pfc. Jacob Paxson and Pfc. Antonio Espiricueta, both from Company B (“Death Dealers”), 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, attached to Task Force 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, provide security from a street corner during a foot patrol in Tameem, Ramadi, Iraq.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

China celebrates 70 years of Communist rule with a military flex

In 1949, Chinese Communists under Mao Zedong finally managed to chase the Chinese Nationalists off the mainland and to Taiwan, where they remain to this day. After 70 years of communism and varying degrees of personal and economic freedom for the Chinese people, the Chinese are finally able to call Chinese Communism something of a success – and China doubled down on the formula, celebrating its platinum jubilee with a military parade, unlike anything it threw before.


Communists love a parade. Dictators do too. Few events are more associated with Communist dictatorships than a good ol’ fashioned parade of ground troops, tanks, and maybe some nuclear missiles. This trait was on full display in China on Oct. 1, 2019, as Chinese President Xi Jinping watched the armed forces of the People’s Republic of China goose step their way into the world headlines on China’s 70th birthday.

The Chinese President was dressed for the occasion, wearing the distinctive “Mao Suit,” popularized by the Chairman and founder of the PRC, a simple button-down tunic with baggy pants. The suit is a functional form of dress, encouraged by Mao for citizens of all social strata to wear. It soon became a symbol of Chinese communism. He spent part of the parade in a limousine, shouting encouragement at Chinese soldiers, who shouted catchphrases back at the leader.

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha

A float featuring China’s national emblem travels past Tian’anmen Gate during a parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, on its National Day in Beijing, China Oct. 1, 2019.

(China Daily)

The parade itself was a showcase of Chinese capabilities, engineered to remind the world just what China’s capabilities are. Along with the standard presence of Chinese-built tanks, missiles, and even drones, the parade included China’s homebuilt DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, a first for any Chinese parade. The ICBM is the world’s longest-range nuclear missile, capable of reaching the United States in 30 minutes with six to ten warheads per missile.

Also on display for the first time was China’s JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile, which is not capable of reaching the United States from Chinese waters, but provides China with its own complete nuclear triad. The two missiles are the most powerful weapons in the PRC’s arsenal. Also marching in the parade were 15,000 Chinese communist troops and 70 floats describing the history of China and the different cultural parts of the country.

Notably missing from the parade were any of the billion-plus average Chinese citizens who were shut out of the parade. Despite the celebrations, China isn’t the unified bastion of communism it appears to be, as it faces opposition in areas nominally under its control, including the Muslim Xinjiang Province, as well as Tibet and Hong Kong, where the Communist leadership is facing a mountain of protests to Beijing’s rule.

Taiwan, which China claims as an inseparable part of China, condemned the parade and the Chinese “dictatorship.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Any Trump-Putin summit ‘would be a ways off’

The U.S. ambassador to Russia says any meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin “would be a ways off.”

Jon Huntsman suggested June 3, 2018, on “Fox & Friends” that if a summit were to occur, “the president, at the right time, will say what needs to be said.”


Huntsman’s statement comes after a report that White House officials were working toward setting up a meeting.

Trump has said he was open to having a summit with Putin, who U.S. intelligence officials have said directed Russian meddling in the 2016 election to help Trump win.

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha
President Donald Trump
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

The president has repeatedly said he wants to improve relationships with Moscow.

Huntsman says Trump would not sit down with Putin unless he had issues to discuss “that were aligned with our national interests.”

This article originally appeared on The Voice of America News. Follow @VOANews on Twitter.

MIGHTY MOVIES

5 of the top reasons you should know this operator

It has been said that all men are created equal. If you have spent any time in uniform, then you know that just simply isn’t true. Some of us are just better, faster, smarter, stronger individuals.


Such is the case with August O’Neil. Not only is he one of the world’s elite as an Air Force Pararescueman, he has multiple gold medals from multiple international events that he won after he lost a limb in Afghanistan.

His life is the stuff that movies are made about, literally. Here are the top five reasons you should know August O’Neil.

Related: This is the Air Force’s lowest ranking Medal of Honor recipient

5. Well, he’s literally an operator

August O’Neil joined the Air Force in 2005 and graduated from his pipeline training in 2008. If you aren’t aware of the level of elite physical ability and mental capacity you need to become a PJ, here’s a quick rundown:

First, you have to pass what was once known as the Indoctrination Course. Indoc alone has a fail rate north of 80% and that is just the door to get through to more training. That ‘more training’ equates to literal years spent learning the job.

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha
It doesn’t get much more operator than August O’Neil… It just doesn’t. (Photo by Matthew J. DeVirgilio)

4. First amputee to return to USAF

After suffering such an injury, many of us would go to some dark places. O’Neil has made it his complete life’s mission to get back to his team.

As of late 2017, he was medically cleared and re-certified on many of his required tasks. O’Neil will likely be the first amputee ever to return to active duty in the Air Force.

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha
Just about back to a new normal (Photo by Taylor Curry)

3. Warrior Games

O’Neil reportedly kept his injured leg just so he could compete at the Warrior Games. He ended up winning 5 golds in various swimming events.

Yes, that’s correct. With one functional leg and the other having been through 20 surgeries, he won five different medals.

For added sh*ts and giggles, O’Neil also won gold for Kayaking at the Valor Games in 2013.

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha
Kai has really been man’s best friend to O’Neil. (Photo by Senior Airman Justyn M. Freeman)

2. Invictus Games

The Invictus games are right up there with the Paralympic Games and were created by Prince Harry. They are coming up on their third games this year and you can be certain that amazing things will happen there, too.

The games are aimed directly at the global injured veteran community, so it should be no surprise that O’Neil participates.

Also Read: ’12 Strong’ showcases the best of America’s fighting spirit

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha
Just before the opening moments at the Invictus Games in 2016 (Photo by Joshua L. DeMotts)

1. Immortalized in film

A feature film, That Others May Live, about O’Neil’s life from the moment he was injured to the present, has begun to gain some real traction. It is currently in pre-production with Paramount Pictures attached.

Watch: a Marine on Mt Everest, Syrian rebels taking on ISIS, and a badass Gurkha
The proposed film will chronicle O’Neil’s life following the incident (Photo by Krista Rose)

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