We sent our "Vet On The Street" to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY BRANDED

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans

Easterseals is committed to helping transitioning veterans, and you can help, too! Just shop at any Vons or Pavilions in Southern California through November 13th and donate when you check out!

Articles

Defense Secretary Mattis explains what war with North Korea would look like

Asked on Thursday by Rep. Tim Ryan of the House Appropriations Committee to explain why the US doesn’t just go to war to stop North Korea from developing the capability to hit the US, Secretary of Defense James Mattis painted a grim scenario.


“I would suggest that we will win,” Mattis said. “It will be a war more serious in terms of human suffering than anything we’ve seen since 1953.

“It will involve the massive shelling of an ally’s capital, which is one of the most densely packed cities on earth,” Mattis said of Seoul, South Korea, which boasts a metro-area population of 25 million.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
North Korea recently launched one of the nation’s largest military exercises, displaying a deadly barrage of artillery. (Photo from North Korean news service)

“It would be a war that fundamentally we don’t want,” Mattis said, but “we would win at great cost.”

Mattis explained that because the threat from North Korea loomed so large and a military confrontation would destroy so much, he, President Donald Trump, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had all made a peaceful solution a top priority.

Mattis said the topic of North Korea dominated Trump’s meeting in April with President Xi Jinping of China, North Korea’s only ally, and that the US intended to make China understand that “North Korea today is a strategic burden, not a strategic asset.”

China argues it has limited influence on Pyongyang, but as one expert explained, Beijing could at any moment cripple North Korea through trade means, forcing it to come to the negotiating table.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans

Mattis made clear that the US was nearing the end of its rope in dealing with North Korea, saying: “We’re exhausting all possible diplomatic efforts in this regard.”

North Korea recently taunted Trump by saying it was capable of hitting New York with a nuclear missile, but Mattis said a war today would hurt our Asian allies.

“It would be a serious, a catastrophic war, especially for innocent people in some of our allied countries, to include Japan most likely,” Mattis said.

Articles

Army ground-launched missile will hit targets at up to 500 kilometers

The Army is working to engineer a sleek, high-speed, first-of-its-kind long-range ground-launched attack missile able to pinpoint and destroy enemy bunkers, helicopter staging areas, troop concentrations and other fixed-location targets from as much as three time the range of existing weapons, service officials said.


The emerging Long Range Precision Fires, slated to be operational by 2027, is being designed to destroy targets at distances up to 500 kilometers.

“The Long Range Precision Fires Missile will attack, neutralize, suppress and destroy targets using missile-delivered indirect precision fires. LRPF provides field artillery units with 24/7/365 long-range and deep-strike capability while supporting brigade, division, corps, Army, theater, Joint and Coalition forces as well as Marine Corps air-to-ground task forces in full, limited or expeditionary operations,” Dan O’boyle, spokesman for Program Executive Office, Missiles Space, told Scout Warrior.

The new weapon is designed to replace the Army’s current aging 1980’s era MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System, a ground-launched missile able to fire at least 160 kilometers.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
Raytheon’s new Long-Range Precision Fires missile is deployed from a mobile launcher in this artist’s rendering. | Raytheon photo

“The LRPF will replace the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) capability, which is impacted by the age of the ATACMS inventory and the cluster munition policy that removes all M39 and M39A1 ATACMS from the inventory after 2018,” O’boyle added.

A key aspect of the strategic impetus for the long-range LRPF weapon is to allow ground units to attack from safer distances without themselves being vulnerable to enemy fire, Raytheon and Army officials explained.

LRPF missile will have a newer explosive warhead and guidance technology aimed at providing an all-weather, 24/7, precision surface-to-surface deep-strike capability, O’Boyle added.

In addition, the LRPF will fire from two existing Army launchers, the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System and the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System, O’Boyle added.

The new weapons system will fire two missiles from a single weapons pod and uses a more high-tech guidance system than its predecessors.

Although additional competitions among vendors are expected in future years, however the Army did award a $5.7 million risk-mitigation contract to Raytheon for the LRPF program.

“We’re looking to replace a design originally from the 1980s,” said Greg Haynes, a Raytheon manager leading the company’s campaign for a new long-range weapon. “Missile technology has come a long way.”

The US Army was among the first-ever to deploy land-fired precision weaponry such as the GPS-guided Excalibur precision 155m artillery round and the longer-range Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, or GMLRS. These weapons, which were first used in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2006 through 2009 timeframe, ushered in the advent of a new kind of weapon engineered to give Commanders more attack options and pinpoint enemy targets with great precision from long distances. In fact, among other things, GMLRS successfully destroyed Taliban targets in Afghanistan.

While precision fires of this kind would, quite naturally, be useful in full-scale mechanized force-on-force combat – they proved particularly useful in counterinsurgency attacks as Taliban and Iraqi insurgents deliberately blended in with innocent civilians among local populations. As a result, precision attacks became necessary, even vital, to US combat success.

Since the initial combat debut of these weapons, however, the fast pace of global technological change and weapons proliferation has fostered a circumstance wherein the US is no longer among the few combat forces to have these kinds of weapons. As a result, the US Army sees a clear need to substantially advance offensive ground-attack technology.

“Adversaries are already equipped with long-range weapons that could inflict substantial damage at distances beyond the Army’s striking power,” said former Army colonel John Weinzettle, now a program manager in Raytheon’s Advanced Missile Systems business.

Articles

US Navy fleet commander vows to solve collisions, says bodies found

The commander of the US Pacific Fleet said August 22 that divers found bodies inside a damaged destroyer and another was recovered by Malaysia’s navy, while he vowed the Navy will figure out the cause of four accidents involving American naval vessels in Asia so far this year.


Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the Hawaii-based fleet, told a press conference in Singapore that Navy and Marine Corps divers located remains in sealed compartments in damaged parts of the John S. McCain, which collided with an oil tanker east of Singapore early August 21.

Swift said Malaysia’s navy reported finding a body, possibly of one of the 10 missing U.S. sailors, but it remains to be transferred and identified. The Malaysian side, in a statement, said that the body will be transferred August 23.

“We will conduct a thorough and full investigation into this collision — what occurred, what happened, and how it happened,” he vowed.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
Adm. Scott H. Swift, the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks to Sailors during an all-hands call. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jermaine M. Ralliford

Noting that the collision occurred within two months of one involving another Navy destroyer, the Fitzgerald, off Japan that left seven US sailors dead, and there were two other accidents in the region this year involving warships, the admiral said, “One tragedy like this is one too many.”

The Lake Champlain, a Navy cruiser, hit a South Korean fishing boat in May and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, ran aground in Tokyo Bay in January.

Swift said naval authorities will “find out whether there is a common cause at the root of these events and, if so, how we solve that.”

He said the Navy has so far seen no indications of sabotage, such as cyber interference, but he did not rule out that possibility, saying, “We are not taking any consideration off the table and every scenario will be reviewed and investigated in detail.”

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
Damage to the portside is visible as the Guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain. Photo by US 7th Fleet Public Affairs.

Earlier, the Navy’s top officer, Adm. John Richardson, ordered the entire fleet to take an “operational pause” for a day or two.

The Navy said the collision caused significant damage to the hull of the destroyer, resulting in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms, but the crew managed to halt further flooding and the ship was able to sail under its own power to Singapore’s Changi Naval Base.

The John S. McCain was traveling to Singapore for a routine port visit when it collided with the Alnic MC, a Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker, in waters east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How to defer mandatory military service in Korea: Hit #1 on US Music Charts

BTS became the first Korean music act to have a #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 when the English-language single “Dynamite” topped the charts in August. They achieved another milestone this week with “Life Goes On,” their second #1 hit and the first record sung mostly in Korean to top the American charts.

And yet, a dark cloud loomed on the horizon. All males in South Korea are required to enlist in the military and complete either 18 months (Army or Marine Corps), 20 months (Navy) or 21 months (Air Force) service. They can complete their obligation anytime after they turn 18 but must start by the time they turn 28.

BTS is so hot right now, bigger than the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC added together at their peak. They’re undisputedly the most successful Korean music group of all time. Not only does their music sell, they’re generating millions of dollars in sales of BTS-branded shirts, hats, posters, card games, pillows, mugs, dolls, phone accessories, puzzles, tote bags, candles and other merchandise too numerous to list here.

Jin (first names only, please) is the group’s oldest member at age 27 and he’s turning 28 on December 4, so the singer was faced with having to leave the group at the height of their international popularity to complete his military service. Fellow group member Suga will also turn 28 on March 9, 2021 so the crisis was real for the seven-member group.

The South Korean parliament wanted to take action but had a tight needle to thread here. How could they keep the country’s #1 cultural export going while not appearing to cater to the decadent lifestyles of international popstars?

Their solution was to pass a law that allows entertainers who have received a government medal for global cultural impact to defer their service for an extra two years until age 30. That gives Jin 730 more days to pursue his career before duty calls.

Jin has long acknowledged his commitment to service. In 2019, he told an interviewer, “As a Korean, it’s natural. And some day, when duty calls, we’ll be ready to respond and do our best.”

BTS (also known as Bangtan Sonyeondan, which translates to English as Bulletproof Boy Scouts) has one of the most devoted fan bases in music history, rivaling the devotion that the Beatles or Michael Jackson inspired at their peaks.

Those fans may not be too happy about the compromise, since athletes like soccer player Son Heung-min (now playing in the English Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur) and more than a few classical musicians have been exempted altogether from service for their contributions to South Korea’s image around the world.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
Elvis Presley in Germany (Wikipedia)

Maybe BTS can keep the hot streak going and the government will grant a new waiver in two years. Or maybe Jin and Suga will complete their service and return triumphantly to their careers just like U.S. Army veteran Elvis Presley did back in 1960.

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

Articles

This is what made ancient Roman gladiators so fierce

/pp.go90mob{display: none;}br /@media only screen and (min-device-width:32px) and (max-device-width: 559px) {br /.go90video{display: none;}br /.go90mob{display: block;}br /}br /


  The sport of gladiator fighting in the arenas of ancient Rome was just as popular as boxing and MMA are today. Gladiator combat was slightly more gangsta, though, seeing as how those warriors fought to the death during brutal tournaments.

Some historians believe the gladiator games started as ceremonial offerings for the funerals of wealthy aristocrats. At the height of the sport, the fighters were mostly made up of prisoners of war, slaves, and sentenced criminals, but they could even be pitted against animals like tigers or crocodiles.

The Coliseum in Rome was even home to aquatic battles, when the arena was flooded and fighters attacked from boats.

They lived in privately-owned schools that doubled as their training and prison grounds. Reportedly, after Spartacus led an uprising in 73 B.C., the empire began to regulate the gladiator schools to prevent further rebellions.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
Gladiators from the Zliten mosaic.

During the games, each gladiator fought with various weapons and levels of armor.

A “Secutor” was a heavily armored fighter who competed using a short sword. A “Retiarius” battled his foes wearing light armor, a trident, and occasionally a weighted net. The “Vremea” wore a helmet with a stylized fish on the crest.

The gladiators ate a high energy diet consisting of barley, beans, oatmeal, dry fruit, and ash, which was believed to fortify the body. Very few of them fought in more than 10 battles or made it past the age of 30 before getting killed.

The Roman empire housed more than 400-arenas and displayed over 8,000 gladiator deaths per year. Learn more about their fighting in the video at the top.

Watch More Elite Forces:

This is how piracy became totally legal during wartime

This is how Rome’s Praetorian Guard held so much power

This is why Cossacks are Russia’s legendary fighting force

These are the slave soldiers that defeated the Mongols

This is the legend of the Knights of the Round Table

MIGHTY TRENDING

How one US amputee is making his way back into an elite fighting force

When August O’Niell, a member of an elite special forces group, woke up from routine surgery, it only took one look at his mother’s face to tell something went horribly wrong.


She was with the doctor. “Are you awake? Are you able to talk now?” the doctor asked. “I have woken you up halfway through the surgery. There was so much scar tissue …”

O’Niell had already endured 19 grueling surgeries in the three-and-a-half years since a rifle round mangled his leg while he was on deployment in Afghanistan. He woke up hoping this 20th surgery would finally allow him to have a functional knee. But he quickly learned his left leg would never fully function again.

The entire left side was mostly scar tissue. The skin, tendons and muscle were all adhered straight to the bone in one solid layer. Given the extent of the damage, a knee replacement was going to give him less than 14 degrees of movement.

“You will be in less pain, and I can put it in there if you tell me that’s what you want,” the doctor told him. “But I didn’t feel right putting that in there without telling you that it wasn’t going to be what we thought it was going to be at first.”

“There’s so much scar tissue in there, it’ll be impossible for you to have a functional knee.”

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
Staff Sgt. August O’Niell, a pararescueman in the Air Force Wounded Warrior program, waits to take-off in a UH-60 Black Hawk from the 66th Rescue Squadron Feb. 27, 2015 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. O’Neil delivered the Air Force Wounded Warrior flag to the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Air Force Wounded Warrior Trials.The 66th RQS along with the 58th Rescue Squadron assisted in the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Air Force Wounded Warrior Trials. The Air Force Trials are an adaptive sports event designed to promote the mental and physical well-being of seriously ill and injured military members and veterans. More than 105 wounded, ill or injured service men and women from around the country will compete for a spot on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Wounded Warrior Team which will represent the Air Force at adaptive sports competitions throughout the year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. DeAndre Curtiss/Released)

O’Niell was an Air Force pararescueman, a para-jumper or “PJ,” as they are known in the service. He was the elite of the elite, in charge of rescuing the most drastically injured troops, and even top special operators, in dire circumstances. He loved being a PJ, and wanted nothing more than to be back in the field, jumping out of helicopters and saving wounded comrades. The diagnosis he now faced was tough, but without missing a beat, he made up his mind.

“Don’t worry about it, I’m gonna have it amputated,” he said.

Dumbfounded, the doctor asked if he was sure. O’Niell was sure. After 20 surgeries and years of unsuccessful treatment, he was done with experiments.

He allowed himself what he called a “ten minute boo-hoo session.” It wasn’t so much about losing the leg, as it was learning this particular surgery was a fail. He had been looking forward to some relief from the constant pain of his injury.

But none of that mattered now. It was time to move on. He had seen troops with major amputations make remarkable progress on prosthetics in a little as six months while he was in rehab, and here he was after more than three years barely hopping along on crutches. He thought of the amputees he had seen running on prosthetic legs and had a moment of inspiration, and it occurred to him that if he could run again, he could be a PJ again.

That was all the motivation he needed to greenlight the removal of his leg.

A Faucet Of Blood

It happened when O’Niell was halfway through his deployment to Afghanistan on July 15, 2011. The U.S. had begun drawing down forces two days before, but the notoriously violent Sangin Valley was as deadly as ever. O’Niell and his team got a call that a group of Marines were under fire. Two were injured, one critically, after taking a shot in the chest. O’Niell’s team was headed back to base after working all day, but immediately turned around to rescue the injured Marines.

The PJs came onto the scene in two Pavehawk helicopters, one leading the other. They circled in shifts. One would provide watch and draw the enemy’s attention, while the other went into the zone to rescue the wounded.

As O’Neill’s helicopter was about to take a turn going in for the wounded, his team got word that another Marine had been hit. O’Niell was lead medic for the operation, and told his team leader to let the team in the helicopter behind them go into the zone, since it had three PJ medics on board, while they provided cover.

“So it’s better patient care, you know, one medic per patient,” O’Niell told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

O’Niell’s helicopter then flew over the zone, dropped smoke grenades and popped back up so the second helicopter knew where to land. The tactic has the dual purpose of attracting enemy fire, and was successful in doing so.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. August O’Niell, Team U.S. athlete, and Airmen with the 301st Rescue Squadron, approach the landing zone in an HH-60G Pave Hawk at Discover Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports during the Invictus Games 2016 opening ceremony in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. O’Niell delivered the Invictus Games flag after hoisting down from the helicopter. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Matthew J. DeVirgilio/Released)

“It works like a charm,” O’Neill said. “We came up over the smoke and popped up and we caught all that fire. They started shooting up at our bird, and one of the rounds, when they shot up, bounced off the door where I was sitting in the left door. [It] bounced off the doorway and then went through both of my legs.”

O’Niell initially he thought a flare had bounced off the door and hit his knee. He looked over the edge of the chopper, and then the pain hit him.

“Ah, they shot me!” he yelled while grabbing the top of the Pavehawk to pull himself back. He saw a hole in the side of the leg of his pants where the bullet had entered. “It just looked like someone had turned a faucet on, it was pouring blood,” he said.

His team leader instinctively jumped towards him, putting one of O’Niell’s tourniquets on his legs. He was in critical condition, forcing the helicopter to return home. Fortunately, a second PJ team was deployed with Apache helicopters in tow when O’Niell returned. They were able to extract the Marines and take out the enemy forces in the area.

O’Niell was well known to the medical staff at the base. He and his fellow PJs would often help out with the injured between shifts in order to keep their medical skills sharp. The hospital pulled a surgeon to try to save O’Neill’s leg. He was woken up after the doctors fixed an artery, and informed he would be moved to Bagram air base.

“Not until I get my re-enlisting paperwork,” O’Niell said.

“Now that’s the type of dude we need!” a nearby officer said excitedly. O’Niell was told it was an Army general. The paperwork was there waiting for him when he got to Bagram. His brother, an Air Force officer who is now also a PJ, swore him back in while he was in Landstuhl, Germany for another round of surgeries.

“The Pipeline”

O’Niell wasn’t sure what he wanted to do when he joined the Air Force in 2005, but he was certain he didn’t want to be behind a desk. The Air Force occasionally gets chided as the “Chair Force” by the other services, and O’Niell knew he wanted to be doing something active. He became interested in the pararescue and combat controller jobs. A recruiter warned him that either would be tough, but assured him he wouldn’t see much of a desk.

The medical aspect of the PJs also appealed to O’Niell. His father, a retired Air Force major, had encouraged him to stay in college and become a doctor. He figured the PJs would keep him from a desk job and make his father happy.

“I just went with it,” O’Niell explained. “I joined it not really knowing anything about it except for we jump out of planes and do cool guy stuff.”

Most people have never heard of the PJs, even inside the special operations community. It’s a remarkably small force whose work is often overlooked.

They’re are a remarkable combination of expert shooters, skydivers and medics. A PJ can shoot with the top Marines, save lives like the best Navy medical corpsmen and jump out of planes like an Army Ranger. They even do their fair share of diving. This remarkable combination is why becoming a PJ is one of the hardest things you can do in the military.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos

“You need to be able to deal with all situations between the top of Mount Everest and 130 feet below the ocean — and in all environments, all weather conditions, all light conditions,” Nic McKinley, a former PJ, told TheDCNF. “And you need to be able to deal with them in a way that mitigates risk to the extent that you will live through those missions, because, you know, there is nobody to go get the PJs if the PJ’s gonna patrol.”

Training for the group, known as “The Pipeline,” has one of the highest attrition rates of any program in the armed forces. O’Niell started training in a class of 110. Nine would make it through. For McKinley, that was a big draw factor.

“I’m a big data guy,” he told TheDCNF. “I really like the numbers and the facts, and I don’t like your opinion.”

On the basis of data, McKinley found the PJs to be the toughest. “You know, they can get into arguments about why, or any of the subjective stuff, but the objective data shows that it’s harder,” he told TheDCNF.

Special operators often debate about who is the toughest, but one thing is clear: when the SEALs, Green Berets and Marines need saving in the worst conditions, they call the PJs.

The training puts a massive strain on your mental strength.

“You can’t just have a high level physical performance and ride on that, you also have to be able to think at a high level,” McKinley said. “Pararescue teams expect you to be able to do everything, and if you can’t do it at a high level, you need to go succeed elsewhere.”

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
Emerald Warrior 2017-special-operations-rapid-deploymentA U.S. Air Force pararescueman assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron conducts a combat search and rescue training mission during Emerald Warrior 17 at Hurlburt Field, Fla., March 4, 2017. Emerald Warrior is a U.S. Special Operations Command exercise during which joint special operations forces train to respond to various threats across the spectrum of conflict. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Haley D. Phillips)

The entire process takes between two and three years. After basic training, a would-be PJ starts “The Pipeline” with an indoctrination course at Lackland Air Force Base, which consists of ten weeks of intense physical training including obstacle courses, running and swimming.

“That’s where they test your mental and physical limits … push every button they can,” O’Niell told TheDCNF.

No aspect of indoctrination training so utterly punishes the mental toughness of a PJ than “The Pool.” Technically known as “water confidence training,” the Pool is known for chewing up even the most elite athletes in the program.

Would-be PJs are expected to swim laps under water, tie complex knots at the pool bottom, bob up and down with hands and ankles tied (an exercise known as “drown proofing”) and wrestle underwater with an instructor while not being allowed to fight back, according to former PJ Matt White. His solution? Just don’t breathe.

“When your fingers go number tying a knot, you can panic,” he wrote in a piece for Task and Purpose. “Or you can relax. When an instructor pushes you to the bottom of the pool and stands on your head, what can you do? You can quit. Or you can relax.”

PJs who survive indoctrination go on to a combat diver course in Panama City, Florida for six weeks, then to survival school in Spokane, Washington. Next they pay a visit to Army Airborne School, where they learn to jump out of planes, before heading to either Army or Navy free-fall skydiving school, located in Yuma, Arizona and San Diego, California respectively.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Callaghan

Once a PJ candidate is a honed warrior they attend 37 weeks of various medical courses. Trainees are expected to get their national paramedic certification within two months of medical training, a task which normally takes six months.

The Pararescue Recovery Specialist Course puts everything a PJ trainee has learned together in a 24-week course which includes shooting, jumping and full mock mission profiles. Upon completion, a PJ is given a maroon beret and assigned a team. A PJ is then expected to to do on the job training with his team to become mission qualified.

O’Niell deployed to Afghanistan with about 20 people rotating in six man teams. He recalled flying approximately eight missions per shift, all of them being worst case scenarios. He acknowledged that war is terrible, but said he loved Afghanistan because he got to do his job.

“It’s very satisfying when you have a guy [that] easily ten minutes later … would’ve been just dead, and you were able to get him, get pain meds onboard, get blood onboard, and see this guy who wasn’t even responding all of a sudden start blinking up at you and you’re like: ‘Hey man, you’re going to be good,'” said O’Niell. “And then you go and check with the hospital, they’re like ‘Yea, he’s on his way home,’ and it’s just awesome.”

When asked how many people he’s saved, O’Niell said he never kept count.

Road To Recovery

His job cost him a leg and years of pain and surgeries, but O’Niell is laser focused on returning to the fray. There was not a hint of regret or doubt in his voice when he recalled his harrowing experience to TheDCNF. He detailed his injury like the challenges presented by one of his missions, by focusing on solutions to problems.

Step one of O’Niell’s road back to the PJ teams was to get acquainted with his new prosthetic leg. Fortunately, the Center for the Intrepid fitted him with one of the most advanced models available.

“It’s an Ottobock X3, and it’s awesome,” he said.

The leg is completely waterproof, and comes with an app that lets O’Niell switch between four modes suited for various kinds of situations. He detailed it like a piece of high-tech military equipment.

“I’ve got a boxing mode, which basically doesn’t allow the knee bend more than 14 degrees, that way I can throw a punch and don’t have to worry about the knee buckling. And I can, you know, bob and weave on it,” O’Niell said. “I’ve got a running mode, I’ve got the basic walking mode which is just the everyday mode, and I’ve got a jump mode, which keeps the knee from bending past ninety degrees while I’m jumping so that way I can fly flat dumb and happy, as we say, and not worry about backsliding.”

WATCH:

His injury was not the least bit apparent when I met him for the first time in an Air Force office in Manhattan, except for the presence of his service dog, Kai. O’Niell walked through the door and shook hands much like he probably did before the injury.

Most amputees usually require approximately six weeks of walking on their new prosthetics before they take them home. But O’Niell was taking his home in only two. He noted that’s because most amputees have trouble trusting the devices to hold their weight.

“I attribute it to the fact that I’ve trusted my life on much sketchier pieces of equipment,” O’Niell joked. Falling to his knees due to a prosthetic is nothing when you’re used to jumping from planes with parachutes made by the lowest bidder.

O’Niell’s sense of relief after the amputation and prosthetic was practically immediate. Even before the prosthetic was fitted, he recalled his fellow PJs looking at him strangely after the amputation when they found him moving around his thigh. He hadn’t been able to move the leg for years before, so this was a victory.

“The pain I was living with was awful,” he said. “I don’t take pain meds so it became a normal way of life, just living with pain all the time and it’s miserable. It’s miserable. So yeah, it was definitely awesome waking up and immediately not feeling that pain.”

The next step to getting back to the job he loved was requalification. By November 2016, O’Niell had qualified in calisthenics, swimming, parachuting, ropes, alternative insertion, diving and was close to reaching the requisite run time. He has been working on mission profiles as well, in order to learn how to adjust to his new leg.

O’Niell’s fellow PJs have been extremely supportive during his recovery. They’ve kept him up to date on any new tech or kit that has been incorporated since his injury, and asked him when he is coming back to the teams. He even had training plan offers from five or six team chiefs. He noted he’s unsure about their motivations, but nevertheless, he remains focused on his goal.

Fellow injured airmen have also been a source of strength and friendship. Thanks to the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program, O’Niell has developed a close-knit group of friends who refer to themselves as “The Order of the Pineapple.” He noted the origin of the name is a long story, but that not a day goes by that they don’t talk to each other.

Additionally, his service dog Kai has served a crucial role in his recovery. K9 Soldiers in New Jersey gave him the German Shepherd on Veteran’s Day 2013, and he has relied on him ever since.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. August O’Niell’s service dog, Kai, runs out to meet him during the opening ceremony of Invictus Games 2016 in Orlando, Fla. May 8, 2016. O’Niell delivered the Invictus Flag after hoisting down from a 920th Rescue Wing HH-60G Pave Hawk.(U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts/Released)

“Mentally, I was in a real crappy place when I started reaching out to get him, and then after getting him, he’s just made my outlook almost one-eighty,” explained O’Niell. “I’m inherently a really happy person anyway, so when I’m depressed, I’m very depressed … because a lot of things have happened to make me very depressed.”

Kai can sense when O’Niell is depressed or angry, and will come put his head on his lap or go for a walk with him, immediately putting O’Niell in a better mood. He also helps with bracing and stability and will block people from invading his personal space. Kai also can do smaller tasks, like getting O’Niell his phone and keys when he doesn’t have the prosthetic attached.

“He’s not a retriever and he absolutely hates doing it, but he will do it,” joked O’Niell.

Kai goes to work with O’Niell, and has become a big hit with the other PJs. He inspired a team in Alaska to buy their own dog so they can keep up morale abroad. O’Niell hopes to bring Kai on his next deployment. The German Shepherd won’t be tagging along on missions, but he would be waiting for him when he gets home.

The First Of His Kind

Other special operations forces have rejoined their units after an amputation, including members of the Army Special Forces, Marine Special Operations Command and Navy SEALs. Advances in medical science and prosthetics have allowed many troops to return to duty after amputations. More than 16 percent of amputees had returned to combat in the early 2000s, up from 2.3 percent in the 1980s. But O’Niell would be a first for the PJs and the Air Force.

He has every intention of getting back in, and he doesn’t plan to leave any time soon. He reenlisted in the beginning of 2015, and plans to do at least another five years after his contract runs out.

“The majority of people who want an amputation, they aren’t very crazy like I am, so they’re just kind of like ‘Yeah, I’m done,’ and rightfully so,” he said.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
August O’Niell 2014 Warrior Games athlete profile trading card. The Air Force designed these player cards to highlight the participants in the 2014 games. Warrior Games is a competition for wounded, injured and ill service members and veterans to create competitive sports opportunities for injured service members. The games will take place Sept. 28 – Oct. 4 utilizing venues at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. View each athlete’s full profile and other Warrior Games news on www.af.mil. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Corey Parrish)

O’Niell’s remarkable story has also come with a great deal of unexpected fame. He has competed in both the Warrior Games and Invictus Games, the latter of which earned him a profile in ESPN. He also led the Atlanta Falcons onto the field during the Super Bowl, carrying an American flag as he ran in front of thousands on his prosthetic. And Paramount Pictures bought a pitch on O’Niell’s story in March, so a feature film could be in the works.

O’Niell told TheDCNF he’s “excited” for the press coverage to end, but he’s also pleased his story brings attention to PJs. “I don’t mind doing this type of stuff because it highlights the career field and that’s awesome,” he said.

For now, he is continuing strength training and Pararescue qualification training at Hurlburt Field Air Force Base in Florida, where he is expected to join a team sometime next year if all goes well.

has been sent to begin requalifications so he can join a team at Hurlburt Field AFB, hopefully sometime next year. Assessments with the teams have been positive, and aside from some issues with stress fractures, he has no complaints.

O’Niell hopes to be back to jumping out of planes and saving lives as early as the end of 2017.

Articles

US troops reach out to scared Muslim child with ‘#IWillProtectYou’ hashtag

Amid a recent wave of anti-Muslim sentiment, current members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces are using social media networks to reassure all Muslim Americans, and specifically Sofia Yassini, a Texas-based 8-year-old, they will fight for the rights of all U.S. citizens.


We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
Little Sofia Yassini outside a mosque in her hometown.

Inspired the social media story of Sofia’s mother reacting to her daughter’s fear of being deported, the hashtag #IWillProtectYou started trending on Facebook and Twitter.

Sofia’s mother, Melissa Chance Yassini, originally took to Facebook to write about her daughter’s reactions to Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States:

She had began collecting all her favorite things in a bag in case the army came to remove us from our homes. She checked the locks on the door 3-4 times. This is terrorism. No child in America deserves to feel that way.

The post was shared more than 20,000 times. The story was picked up by the Associated Press and Army veteran Kerri Peek of Colorado, also a mother, saw the story.

“I was up all night, it bothered me,” Peek told ABC News. “I’m a mom, for mother to mother … I know you want to protect your children from everything.”

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans

She posted a photo of herself in her Army uniform with the message “Here’s a picture of me as a mom and soldier and I’ll come to protect you.” Peek then asked her veteran friends to do the same.

“Post on Facebook or Twitter with the #IWillProtectYou and your picture of uniform. Make this go viral so that these children see this.”

It wasn’t just Peek’s Army friends who responded. Current and former military service members from all branches and eras are re-affirming their oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Follow the trend on Twitter and Facebook.

MIGHTY TRENDING

How Aegis shore defenses will protect the US from missile threats

Defense Secretary James Mattis told lawmakers that the emerging Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system, established for Poland and Romania, could also now possibly help protect U.S. Pacific theater assets and allies from possible Chinese or North Korean attacks.


“We are looking at Aegis Ashore to protect our Pacific areas,” Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee, suggesting a fixed site could augment existing BMD-capable Navy ships on patrol in the region.

Aegis Ashore technology builds upon the success of Aegis missile defense at-sea by establishing land sites that can detect and destroy incoming enemy ballistic missile attacks. An Aegis Ashore site became operational in Romania in 2015, and another is slated to stand up in Poland sometime later this year. The system uses Aegis radar in tandem with SM-3 interceptor missiles to track and destroy ballistic missile attacks.

Adding a land-based Aegis BMD technology brings a potential range and target envelope advantage, as it could defend areas less reachable to Navy ships. While ship-fired Aegis BMD does have quite a range and is able to destroy approaching threats from beyond the earth’s atmosphere, a land site could naturally, in some circumstances, preclude a need for Aegis BMD capable ships from needing to patrol certain areas at certain times.

 

(USNI News Video | YouTube)

Thus far, going back to the Pentagon’s previously established European Phased Adaptive Approach Aegis Ashore has primarily been oriented toward protecting the European continent from potential future ballistic missile threats such as Russia and Iran, among others. Secretary Mattis is now suggesting the shore-based SM-3 interceptors could migrate to Aegis as a compliment to the existing Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon now protecting the region.

The prospect for Aegis Ashore in the Pacific emerged during a HASC hearing on the Pentagon’s newly released Nuclear Posture Review when Guam Congresswoman Rep. Madeleine Bordallo asked Mattis about plans to protect assets based in Guam such as B-2, B-52 and B-1 bombers.

“Guam holds vital strategic bases to aid our defense, and in your strategy, you call for investment in layered missile defense,” Bordallo said.

Bordallo’s concern resonates alongside of the consistently discussed threat that North Korean short and intermediate range ballistic missiles pose to the region; it is often cited as a reason to hesitate about striking North Korea given the knowledge that the North would be expected to immediately fire its arsenal of missiles toward South Korea and Guam.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
The Aegis Ashore Weapon System launched an SM-3 Block IB guided missile from the land-based Vertical Launch System during a Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test from Kauai, Hawaii. (DoD photo by Chris Szkrybalo)

It was in response to this that Mattis raised the prospect of bringing Aegis Ashore to the Pacific to, along with THAAD and Navy Aegis BMD ships, provide the layered defense system Bordallo referred to.

Missile Defense Agency developers explain that the Aegis Ashore program, which has been successful thus far, is preparing to fire a longer-range and more advanced SM-3 IIA missile for the first time in coming months.

A follow on to the SM-3, the SM-3 IIA is a larger and more high-tech interceptor missile able to destroy threatening targets at longer ranges; the weapon, being developed as part of a cooperative arrangement between the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Japan, is designed to work in tandem with Aegis radar systems to track and destroy approaching enemy missiles – by knocking them out of the sky.

Aegis radar works by sending electromagnetic “pings” into space to identify the location and trajectory of an approaching missile threat – and then works with an integrated fire control system to guide the SM-3 interceptor to its target, with the intent of destroying it or knocking it out of the sky.

At sea, integrated technologies and electronics on the ship, including fire control systems, link information from the Aegis radar with a ship’s vertical launch tubes able to fire out SM-3 interceptor missiles.

Also Read: The Aegis Combat System is successfully plucking enemy missiles out of the sky

In existence since 2004, Aegis BMD is now operating on 28 Navy ships and with a number of allied nations. U.S. allies with Aegis capability include the Japan Self Defense Forces, Spanish Navy, the South Korean Navy, the Royal Australian Navy, Italy, Denmark and others, MDA officials said.

Using various guidance technologies, the SM-3 flies up into space to destroy approaching ballistic missile threats. The SM-3 missile uses an enhanced two-color infrared seeker and an upgraded steering and propulsion capability, Raytheon weapons developers have told Warrior Maven. These technologies use short bursts of precision propulsion to direct the missile toward incoming targets, they added.

A Missile Defense Agency official told Warrior Maven that “the SM-3 Block IIA missile is a larger version of the SM-3 IB in terms of boosters and the kinetic warhead, which allows for increased operating time. The second and third stage boosters on the SM-IIA are 21″ in diameter, allowing for longer flight times and engagements of threats higher in the exo-atmosphere.”

The Pentagon is hoping to increase production quantities of the SM-3 IIA as well; they are waiting to see whether Congress succeeds in allocating additional funding for the missiles.

SM-3 IIA Technology

Now that it is being prepared for Aegis Ashore, it seems clear that a longer-range SM-3 IIA weapon could prove relevant in any defense against North Korean or Chinese ballistic missile attacks. The Missile Defense Agency and Raytheon have configured the emerging SM-3 IIA missile with a more “sensitive” seeker and software designed to accommodate new threat information.

Amy Cohen, SM-3 Program Director, told Warrior Maven in an interview a few weeks ago that the SM-3 IIA program is on track.

“We’ve also brought in some capability advancements into our kinetic warhead, so we now have higher sensitivity,” Cohen explained.

By adding new software, industry developers create the technical framework necessary to upgrade or “reprogram” new threat information into the missile over time, Cohen explained.

“We can improve the performance through software algorithms. We are not only able to increase the threat space but bring in new threats as they emerge through software upgrades,” Cohen added. “We work with the MDA to define how we’re going to make improvements and what threats we want to incorporate.”

The SM-3 IIA also incorporates sensor technology improvements designed to enable the missile to see or detect targets farther into space, developers explained.

 

(LockheedMartinVideos | YouTube)

The SM-3 is a kinetic energy warhead able to travel at more than 600 miles per hour; it carries no explosive, but instead relies on the sheer force of impact and collision to destroy an enemy target. While many details of the advanced seeker are not available, Cohen did say it includes infrared technology.

“We can see a threat that we are engaging much sooner. As soon as we open our eyes, we can see threats much earlier and we have the ability to track them. This helps us with how we need to maneuver the kinetic warhead to ensure that we have a kinetic engagement with the threats that we are flying against,” Cohen added.

The Aegis ashore deckhouse in Romania was engineered with Aegis BMD Weapons System 5.0 — an integrated suite of technologies which provide multi-mission signal processing capability, Lockheed officials said.

For instance, the multi-mode signal processor provides the ability to simultaneously track air and cruise missile threats as well as ballistic missile threats, officials added.

Articles

Pyongyang says North will talk to Trump

A top North Korean diplomat said Saturday that Pyongyang would be willing to meet with the Trump administration for negotiations “if the conditions are set.”


Choi Son Hui, director general for North American Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, spoke briefly to reporters in Beijing en route to Pyongyang. She was traveling from Norway, where she led a delegation that held an informal meeting with former U.S. officials and scholars.

Choi did not elaborate on what the North’s conditions are, but her comments raise the possibility of North Korea and the U.S. returning to negotiations for the first time since 2008, when six-nation talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program fell apart.

President Donald Trump opened the door this month to talks, saying he would be “honored” to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Tensions have mounted in recent months after the Trump administration said it would keep “all options on the table” to halt North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, including a military strike. The North responded by pledging to retaliate with a devastating nuclear counterattack, a threat it has made in the past.

In recent weeks, North Korea has arrested two American university instructors and laid out what it claimed to be a CIA-backed plot to assassinate Kim. Choi did not address the matter of the detained Americans on Saturday.

In Norway, Choi met with former U.S. officials and scholars for what are known as “track 2” talks. The talks, which cover a range of nuclear, security and bilateral issues, are held intermittently, and are an informal opportunity for the two sides to exchange opinions and concerns.

WATCH

That time US troops called for air support from Grenada with a payphone

In October 1983, the Caribbean nation of Grenada experienced a series of bloody coups over the course of a week, threatening U.S. interests as well as U.S. citizens on the island. In a controversial move, President Ronald Reagan decided to launch Operation Urgent Fury, an invasion of the island nation — and the first real-world test of the all-volunteer force in combat.


The list of Urgent Fury mistakes is a long one, but one snafu in Grenada was so huge it became legend.

The basic story is that a unit on the island was pinned down by Communist forces. Interoperability and communications were so bad, they were unable to call for support from U.S. forces over the radio.

So a member of the unit pulled out his credit card and made a long-distance call by commercial phone lines to their home base, which patched it through to the Urgent Fury command, who then passed the order down to the requested support.

Read more about Operation Urgent Fury and how a payphone came to the rescue here.

Articles

This K-9 ‘battle buddy’ is helping a Marine veteran at home

Kenny Bass liked his job. As a 22-year-old Marine participating in the initial invasion of Iraq, life couldn’t have been more exciting.


“I was part of the combined anti-armor platoon,” he explained. “It was the ‘CAAT platoon.’ We were doing a lot of counter-ambush patrols, the insurgents were attacking Red Cross personnel, civilian contractors and other non-combatants. So we were tasked with going out and trying to solicit an attack. We were Infantry Marines, and young, so most of us were pretty excited about doing that kind of work. We had heavy-duty machine guns and anti-tank missiles.”

Nothing Major

About four months into his tour, the odds caught up with the young Infantry Marine. The unarmored Humvee he was riding in struck an IED.

“I was sitting in the passenger side rear, and the IED blew up by the right front bumper,” he said. “Nobody got killed, and I just took a couple pieces of shrapnel to my face, nothing major. I think the blast wave injury was the major thing.”

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
When Veteran Kenny Bass was at the Dayton VA, receiving medical attention for a kidney stone, Atlas was there by his side.

Nevertheless, by the time he returned home from Iraq in early 2004, Bass was a different man.

“My friends noticed a change in me,” he said. “I was depressed. And I was anxious. I remember going to a flea market one time and that’s when I had my first panic attack, because of all the people there. It was like I was still in Iraq, where just about everyone you see is a potential threat. I hated going out to eat or going to the mall or anything like that.”

104 in a 65 Zone

As if depression, anxiety and panic weren’t enough, another symptom began to surface.Anger.

“I was walking around with an anger level of about seven or eight,” Bass explained. “One time I got pulled over by the California Highway Patrol for doing 104 mph. I got mad at the cop for pulling me over. I was such a jerk. It didn’t take much to tip me off.”

At home, the 33-year-old Veteran’s garage became his haven.

“I’d sit out there all day smoking cigarettes,” he said. “I could see the street from there, which made me feel safe, and I could also hear what was going on in the house. So I had everything covered.”

From Bad to Worse

To dull the anxiety and the fear, the former Marine turned to alcohol.

I started drinking a lot,” he said. “Of course the alcohol just made things worse. I got to the point where I hated to wake up in the morning. I hated my life. I wanted to be healthy again. I wanted to work again and not be on disability.”

In an effort to get his life back, Bass headed over to the Dayton VA Medical Center in 2007. There he began therapy sessions with Bill Wall, a clinical social worker who had served in the military for 30 years.

“Kenny went through our therapy program here at Dayton,” Wall explained, “but it was clear that he was still having some issues with personality changes, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, depression, anger and other symptoms related to post traumatic stress. When he would go out in public, he just didn’t feel safe or in control. I thought maybe a psychiatric service dog might be a good next step for him, so I recommended he look into it.”

Safety Net

Wall, a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, had good reasons for thinking a service dog might be the game-changer Kenny Bass was desperately in need of.

“You can feel a lot more safe with a dog around you,” the social worker observed. “The dog has been trained to pick up on any fear or anxiety you might be feeling. They can actually smell it. The dog then does something to distract you or make you feel less anxious. When you become overloaded, the dog knows it and helps you refocus. Even before you realize you’re overloaded, the dog will pick up on it. For example, if you’re in a crowd of people and you begin showing subtle signs of distress, your dog will try to create a buffer zone around you. The dog is trying to give you a sense of safety.”

“A psychiatric service dog is…always focused on taking care of you.”

And when the world seems like a safer place, chances are you’re more likely to get out there and participate in it, Wall observed.

“The dog can help you have successful outings,” he said, “and the more successful outings you experience, the better you get at it. Your new experiences gradually begin to replace your old, traumatic experiences. You’re re-learning your behavioral script.”

Back From the Brink

In 2012, after doing a little research, Kenny Bass was able to get himself paired up with an 18-month-old German Shepard named Atlas, a highly-trained service dog provided by a non-profit called Instinctive Guardians.

We sent our “Vet On The Street” to Vons to help raise money for transitioning veterans
Kenny Bass and his dog Atlas

“If you’re a Veteran, and suicidal, a little thing like that can be lifesaving,” Bass continued. “Atlas definitely brought me back from the brink. He’s such a character now. He gets me laughing.”“Atlas became my support system,” Bass said. “He could tell when I was having nightmares. He’d jump on the bed, lick my face and wake me up. A few weeks after I got him I was sitting alone in my garage, as usual. He came over and dropped his ball in my lap. Five minutes later I was out in the backyard with him, in the sunshine, throwing the ball for him.

The Watcher

Aside from being a natural comedian, Atlas also serves as a competent body guard.

“When we’re out, I can trust Atlas to be vigilant for me,” Bass said. “I’m experiencing more things now because of him. When we’re somewhere crowded, he’ll block for me. He’ll walk back and forth behind me to keep people from getting too close.

“And when I tell him to ‘post,’ he sits down on my right side, facing the other way. If somebody approaches me from behind, he’ll nudge me. He’s alerting me. It’s a good feeling knowing he’s watching and that I don’t have to.”

Having turned his life around two years ago with the help of Atlas, Bass decided it was time to start giving back. In 2013 he helped found The Battle Buddy Foundation, a non-profit that trains service dogs for Veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress.

“When you’re in combat, you don’t go anywhere without a buddy, someone to watch your back,” Bass said. “That’s where the term ‘Battle Buddy’ comes from.”

He added: “It’s a good feeling to know someone always has your back.”

To learn more about how VA is helping Veterans with PTSD, visit the VA National Center for PTSD Website at www.ptsd.va.gov

Do Not Sell My Personal Information