Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MOVIES

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know

The opening scenes of Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn introduce viewers to a charismatic and devoted father deep in the joys of parenthood. Crawling on the floor, swimming and blowing out birthday candles with his toddler and infant sons, he is right where he should be. Until the day he isn’t. Through interviews, reports and a thoroughly researched investigation, the filmmaker poses some incriminating questions.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Was it the mechanic who told him his helicopter was cleared for flight two hours before it slammed tail-first into the ocean? Was it the manufacturer who produced the faulty wiring blamed for the explosion? Was it the upper ranks of the Navy who disregarded multiple letters of concern purportedly choosing flight hours over safety? How about the Congressional and Executive branches of our government that teamed up with arms manufacturers and focused on new bloated defense contracts instead of investing in the people and machinery already in place?

Van Dorn’s wife, Nicole, living in the shadow of her husband’s unnecessary death, is on a mission to find out. Catalyzed by her and others’ search for answers, this gripping 2018 documentary investigates events leading up to Navy lieutenant J. Wesley Van Dorn’s death one month before his 30th birthday. His untimely demise occurred during a training exercise when an explosion killing three of the five crewmen aboard caused the crash-prone helicopter to fall from the sky into frigid waters below. Van Dorn was not the only one who had expressed concerns about the safety of this aircraft, nor was he the only one to die in it as a result of misguided leadership and mechanical failure.

Written, directed, and narrated by Zachary Stauffer as his first feature documentary, this film offers a sobering look into chronic institutional failings that have resulted in 132 arguably preventable deaths. Diving unforgivably into one family’s agonizing loss, Stauffer invites us to ponder heavy questions while constructing a wall of outrage in his viewers. What is the price of a life? How many lives does it take before change takes place? When will avarice and the “just get ‘er done” attitude stop undermining the American defense establishment?

Built by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin subsidiary, the MH-53E Sea Dragon is the Navy’s nearly identical version of the Marine Corps’ CH-53-E Super Stallion. Since entering service in 1986, it has never succumbed to enemy fire but holds the worst safety record in the Navy’s fleet making it the deadliest aircraft in military history. The 53-E is a powerful machine used by the Navy for dragging heavy equipment through water to sweep for mines while the Marine version is used for transporting people and gear.

Stauffer explains that due to issues with these aircraft that cropped up even in their initial test flights at the manufacturer and in training missions, the Navy tried to get away with using less powerful helicopters and alternate minesweeping tactics but nothing was as effective as the relic Sea Dragon. Since they were fated to be replaced at some point, the higher ranks avoided investing too much into them so funding for spare parts and maintenance was lean. Members of Congress allegedly chose the path of greed and corruption when defense contractors offered them flashy new weaponry and vehicles as well as comfortable retirement packages. The upper echelons flourished while those training, fighting, and dying on the ground, as well as the American taxpayers, suffered needlessly as top-down decision makers claimed their hands were tied.

With fewer and fewer resources, those maintaining the Sea Dragon had to do more with less. They began cutting corners and developing bad habits. When voicing their worries in person or through over a dozen letters and memos to the upper ranks, they were “belittled, humiliated and cut down,” as one pilot explained. More than 30 years before Van Dorn’s crash, Sikorsky recommended replacing the faulty Kapton wires on all Navy aircraft. This was suggested not once, not twice, but three times before the Navy decided to start looking into the issue. Eventually they named Kapton as the highest ranked safety risk in the fleet and devised a long-term plan to replace it in phases but claimed to never have enough funding to refit all the wiring in the 53s. Only months prior to Van Dorn’s crash the Pentagon re-budgeted funding away from this critical project. Thus, problems that had been escalating over decades while the issue was known and actively overlooked perpetuated, yet the birds were still allowed to fly.

By the time Van Dorn signed on the dotted line in 2010, the run-down helicopters that required about 40 hours of maintenance for a single hour of flight time should have been retired. He and his wife made the decision together to request a spot in the squadron flying 53s because others told them it was an ideal position for a family man who wanted to be home for dinner every night.

Van Dorn was one of those who voiced his opinions about the safety of this aircraft. In an ominous voice recording foreshadowing his own death, he stated “If anyone should care about what’s happening on that aircraft, it should be me and the other pilots, I think. It makes sense to me, because I’m the one who’s going to get in it and have something terrible happen if it doesn’t go right.” His wife Nicole later explained that, “He felt that no matter what he said or what he wrote or who he complained to, nothing was changing.”

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know

On a particularly cold morning in January 2014, Van Dorn’s own portentous sentiments were realized 18 nautical miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Chafing from a single nylon zip tie exposed naked wiring to a fine spray of fuel causing it to arc, sending a blast of fire into the cockpit. Hours later Nicole lay on her husband’s chest just before they pronounced him dead.

Dylan Boone, a Naval aircrewman and one of two survivors of the wreck declared, “You don’t expect to give up your life for this country because you were given faulty equipment.”

Dynamic cinematography combined with a subtly haunting score by composer William Ryan Fritch creates the backdrop for this solid investigative report. Crisp and flowing visuals paired with thrilling military footage complement the feelings portrayed by those interviewed. These primary sources include Van Dorn’s mother, wife, friends, and fellow airmen as well as a mechanic, pilots, a general, a Pentagon Analyst and a military reporter. Throughout the documentary they and the narrator explain the multifaceted issues connected to Van Dorn’s death and the trouble with the 53s from a variety of angles.

Woven skillfully together, a poignant story is told of decades of negligence that continues to result in tragedy. Wholesome home movies of a young involved father raising two sons with his lovely wife are contrasted with the aching void ripped into the Van Dorn family’s home after his death. Stirring visions of military life ignite the urge to join in viewers who have ever felt compelled to do so, whereas the deep frustration of stifled dreams and a scarred body and soul are almost tangible to someone who has been there before as hard truths are drawn out throughout the film.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know

Centering on the death of a handsome, beloved father, husband and seaman who was liked by all humanized an issue that might have otherwise been unrelatable. Utilizing the audience’s heartstrings as a focal point was a powerful way to bring attention to a predicament that could have been swept under the rug. Despite the fact that the C-53 airframes experienced serious accidents more than twice as often as the average aircraft and that internal investigations were performed with alarming results, the Navy continues to risk its servicemembers’ life and limb to keep these helicopters performing their critical mission in the air. With this in mind, this documentary might just put enough pressure on the Navy to make the changes necessary to save an untold number of lives.

Winner of the Audience Award in Active Cinema at the 2018 Mill Valley Film Festival, Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn is an intriguing and effective piece of military reporting presented in comprehensible terms for the layman. It is a successful examination of not only the serious failings of a controversial aircraft and the misled priorities keeping it aloft, but also hints toward the fact that anyone who brings up the disturbing issue of safety of these helicopters will be forced out of service. I would recommend this professional-level documentary, especially to anyone with interests in the military or national defense.

The Navy, the Pentagon, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin declined to participate in this well-researched film. Major funding to make this documentary possible was provided by supporters of the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and Investigative Studios.

After viewing this film, you can decide for yourself who killed Lt. Van Dorn. Regardless of the answer, his unwarranted death will not have been completely in vain if it successfully carries out his final mission: righting the deep and longstanding problems with the CH-53 helicopters, thus preventing the death and destruction of countless others just as it ultimately took him.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn is available for purchase or streaming through Amazon.


Articles

This poll shows women still see gender bias in military careers

Nearly two-thirds of women said they would not have the same opportunities for advancement as men if they joined the military, a major hurdle for recruiters seeking to increase the number of women in their ranks.


According to Gallup, 63 percent of women said men would have an easier time earning promotions and advancements in the military than they would. Overall, 52 percent of Americans agreed with that notion.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
US Army photo by Stephen Standifird

Part of that sentiment could be the lingering impression that women are prohibited from combat roles and other jobs, despite a 2015 Pentagon order prohibiting gender from consideration for all military jobs, including combat positions. The order opened some 220,000 combat positions, including elite fighting forces like the Navy SEALs and Army Rangers, to female enlistees.

The lingering sentiment otherwise presents a challenge for military recruiters seeking to expand the number of women in the ranks. And while the survey showed the public widely regards the military favorably, many respondents were less enthusiastic about the prospect of a loved one enlisting. Fewer than half of respondents said they would recommend a loved one join the Army, Marines, or Coast Guard.

Gallup surveyed 1,026 people from April 24 to May 2. The poll carries a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

MIGHTY TRENDING

New photos illustrate the large shows of force in disputed skies

The US military put on a show of force in China’s backyard on Sept. 26, 2018, as a US B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range bomber linked up with Japanese Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets in the contested East China Sea.

US bombers have been increasingly active in both the East and South China Sea recently following a pattern of behavior set in August 2018, when the US sent B-52 bombers through the disputed seas four times in total.

These flights come at a time of increased tension between Washington and Beijing over both economic and military matters.


Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know

A B-52H Stratofortress bomber and two JASDF F-15 fighter jets.

(PACAF photo)

The flight through the East China Sea was flown in support of Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence, Pacific Air Forces said in a statement on Sept. 27, 2018.

Source: Pacific Air Forces

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know

A B-52H Stratofortress bomber and two JASDF F-15 fighter jets.

(PACAF photo)

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know

A B-52H Stratofortress bomber and two JASDF F-15 fighter jets.

(PACAF photo)

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know

A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a routine training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, Sept. 23, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

B-52 bombers flew through the South China Sea once on Sept.23, 2018, and again on Sept. 25, 2018, showing off America’s capabilities over tense tides. Beijing warned the US against “provocative” military behavior in response.

Source: Business Insider and Reuters

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know

B-52H Stratofortress bomber taking off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis says that these flights are only an issue because China made these seas global hot spots. “If it was 20 years ago and had they not militarized those features there it would have been just another bomber on its way to Diego Garcia or wherever,” he explained on Sept. 26, 2018.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

8 veteran non-profit organizations you need to check out for #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is the global day of giving following Thanksgiving and the increasingly popular shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday kicks off the time of year when individuals and companies focus on giving.


This year, it falls on Tuesday, Nov. 28, and the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation is taking things up a notch by matching up to $2 million in donations raised on Facebook for U.S. nonprofits (the matching starts at 8AM Eastern — so set your alarms and hit donate early!). Facebook is joining in by waiving its fees for donations made to nonprofits on Facebook this #GivingTuesday.

(Also, the hashtag is a thing, in case you can’t tell; the whole point is to spread the word — and the charitable giving.)

For details on how to donate to your favorite organizations, click here.

Want to know some of our favorite organizations? We thought so. In no particular order:

8. GWOT Memorial Foundation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPv0wM63PoM
The Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation is THE Congressionally designated nonprofit whose mission is to provide the organizing, fundraising, and coordinating efforts to build a memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. to honor our fallen warriors, U.S. service members, their families, and all those who supported our nation’s longest war.

Here’s their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/gwotmf/

7. Semper Fi Fund

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Former Lance Cpl. Ben Maenza smiles as he and his team blaze down a Camp Pendleton road during the Ride for Hereos t fundraising cycling trip for the Semper Fi Fund, Aug. 9. The trip from Florida to California took nearly 3,000 miles to accomplish. The cyclists have earned more than $75,000 for the Semper Fi Fund. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Damien Gutierrez)

Semper Fi Fund provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post 9/11 combat wounded, critically ill and catastrophically injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. They deliver the resources they need during recovery and transition back to their communities, working to ensure no one is left behind.

Here’s their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/semperfifund/

6. The Mission Continues

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Volunteers rehabilitate a donated church building into a technology training and resource center for veterans allowing them a place to transition from military into civilian life. The new facility will provide veterans with instruction and skills training to preparing them for employment. The campaign launched by Home Depot and the Mission Continues, was created to enhance the lives of U.S. military veterans and to highlight the needs and opportunities they face. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade)

The Mission Continues empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. They deploy veterans on new missions in their communities, so that their actions will inspire future generations to serve.

Here’s their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/themissioncontinues/

5. Team Rubicon

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Former British Army gunner Christopher Lyon cleans up a local playground in Shermathang, Sinduhupalchok.(Team Rubicon photo)

Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.

Here’s their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/teamrubicon/

4. Pin-Ups for Vets

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
2nd Lt. Paganetti and Allison Paganetti in the 2018 Pin-Ups for Vets fundraising Calendar.

Pin-Ups For Vets raises funds to improve Veterans’ healthcare, donates funds to VA hospitals for medical equipment and program expansion, improves quality of life for ill Veterans across the United States through personal bedside visits to deliver gifts, promotes volunteerism at Veterans Hospitals, supports homeless Veterans with clothing and calendar gifts delivered to shelters, boosts morale for military wives and female Veterans with makeovers and clothing, and boosts morale for deployed troops through delivery of care packages.

Here’s their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pinupsforvets/

3. The Sam Simon Foundation

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
The Sam Simon Foundation launched its Service Dog program in response to the growing need of veterans coping with PTSD as a result of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict. A Service Dog is not a cure for PTSD, but whose skills and companionship can be an aid for managing the symptoms and promoting well-being.

The Sam Simon Foundation provides Service Dogs trained for veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Other tasks they may train for include assistance with hearing loss, TBI (traumatic brain injury), and moderate physical limitations due to injury.

Here’s their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SamSimonFoundationAssistanceDogs/

2. Operation Supply Drop

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Operation Supply Drop presented donated video games for Marines at the Central Area Recreation Center on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mark Watola)

Operation Supply Drop addresses Mental Health, Homelessness, and Employment for Veterans and their families accompanied by a global structure encouraging community service and commitment towards one another.

Here’s their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreOSD/

1. Fisher House

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Mike Helle and Chris Cannedy, local Biloxi business employees, decorate the Fisher House for Christmas Dec. 12, 2013, at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Every year a local business volunteers to decorate the house. The Fisher House Foundation is best known for a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Fisher Houses provide military families housing close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.

Here’s their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FisherHouse/ 

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Boeing wins contract to keep the A-10 flying

Boeing Co. will make the wings on the remaining A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft that are slated to receive an upgrade, the Defense Department announced August 2019.

The company on Aug. 21, 2019, received an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract worth a maximum of $999 million for A-10 wing replacements.

“This contract provides for up to 112 new A-10 wing assemblies and up to 15 wing kits,” the award stipulates.

Boeing, which is teaming up with Korean Aerospace Industries for the effort, said the service has ordered an initial 27 wing sets and will manage the production of up to 112 sets and spare kits.


Only 109 A-10s still need to be re-winged, and the contract will include up to three spares, according to service spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know

Three A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft from the 74th and 75th Fighter Squadrons fly in formation during a flight training session.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Wiseman)

“Our established supply base, experience with the A-10 structures, and our in-depth knowledge of the U.S. Air Force’s requirements will help us deliver high-quality wings to meet the customer’s critical need,” Pam Valdez, vice president of Air Force services for Boeing Global Services, said in a statement.

The wing replacement work will be performed at multiple U.S. subcontractor locations as well as one subcontractor location in South Korea; the work is scheduled to be completed in August 2030, according to the contract announcement.

The Air Force will allocate 9.6 million in procurement funds from past fiscal budgets for the effort, known as the “A-10-Thunderbolt II Advanced-Wing Continuation Kit,” or “ATTACK” program, the DoD said.

The Air Force had initially set aside 7 million for the effort, but the DoD has re-evaluated that estimate, Stefanek told Military.com on Aug. 21, 2019.

The news comes after the recent completion of Boeing’s first re-winging contract, awarded to the aerospace company in 2007.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know

An A-10 Thunderbolt II, assigned to the 74th Fighter Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, GA, returns to mission after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker, 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, over the skies of Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, May 8, 2011.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. William Greer)

As part of the id=”listicle-2639994851″.1 billion “Enhanced Wing Assembly” contract, the Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, earlier this month completed work on the last A-10 slated to receive the upgrade. The project began in 2011.

The Air Force in 2018 said it had begun searching for a new company to rebuild wings for the A-10, affectionately known as the Warthog, after the service ended its arrangement with Boeing. Nevertheless, the company has received the second contract.

Officials have not committed to re-winging the entire fleet.

“We re-evaluate every year depending on how many aircraft we will need; the length of the contract goes through 2030 so it gives us options as we go forward,” Stefanek said.

The service has 281 Warthogs in its inventory. Two A-10s were destroyed in a collision in 2017. One of them had received the upgrade.

The planes, which entered service in 1976 and have deployed to the Middle East, Europe and the Pacific, have played an outsized role in the air campaign that began in 2014 against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, helping provide close-air support for Iraqi and U.S. partner forces on the ground.

The A-10 has also been instrumental in air operations in Afghanistan.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why Revolutionary War musicians wore different colored uniforms

We’ve all seen the famous painting, Spirit of ’76. In it, a young Revolutionary War drummer boy is marching alongside two other musicians. The boy is in his Continental Army uniform, looking up to an older drummer who is not in uniform. Another uniformed musician is wounded, but marching and playing the fife.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
That is what a ‘game face’ looks like.
(Painting by Archibald Willard)

Today, Civil War veteran Archibald Willard’s 1875 painting still evokes patriotism in many Americans. It was, after all, painted on the eve of the United States’ centennial. Willard was the grandson of one of the Green Mountain Boys who, led by legendary patriot Ethan Allen, invaded Canada and captured Fort Ticonderoga during the Revolution. But there are a few errors in the painting: The scene it depicts never happened, the flag in the background wasn’t approved by Congress until much later, and the musicians are not wearing the right uniforms.

None of that really matters, it’s still a painting that resonates with Americans 100 years later. However, questions remain. What did the musicians wear in the Revolution? And why was it a different uniform from their fellow colonials?

It turns out it was both a tactical decision and an economic one.


In those days, musicians in an army existed to expedite communications on the battlefield. Music was loud enough to be heard over the din of combat and varied enough so that American troops would be able to respond to orders given from battlefield commanders without confusing them for other orders. They could even tell the enemy that the rival commanders wanted a parley. Incredibly (and accurately depicted in the painting), these communications were done by old men and boys who were either too old or too young to fight.

Related: This drummer boy was 12 years old when he became a Civil War hero

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know

(Copyright 2010 by Randy Steele)

Boys that were younger than age 16 and men older than age 50 were enlisted as musicians. At the time, the average life expectancy for an American colonist was around 36 years, so a man older than 50 was both honored for his longevity and hard to find. Finding them on a dirty, smokey battlefield was just as difficult, so the uniforms they wore needed to be slightly more visible. There was also an economic component involved with the decision.

The regular Continental soldier wore a blue coat with red cuffs. Musicians, on the other hand, wore a red coat with blue cuffs. The red made them stand out on a battlefield where visibility was limited. It also made them stand out to the enemy, so if they were discovered, it was immediately clear that the small figure ahead was a musician — unarmed and not a threat (drummers were considered noncombatants). As an added bonus, the inverted uniforms were made from leftover materials in creating soldiers’ garb.

By the time Ohioan Archibald Willard was serving in the Civil War, musicians were wearing the same uniforms as their armed, regular battle buddies. Their purpose on the battlefields and in camp were the same — and Civil War armies still, by and large, used young boys (some as young as age 9) as drummers and buglers, but many also included full bands, with as many as 68 members in some units.

Now Read: Civil War musicians served as battlefield medics

As battlefield communication methods improved, drums soon gave way to the bugle and, eventually, musicians disappeared from the battlefield altogether. Their role has since been replaced by radio and satellite communications, but for the time that musicians served in their battlefield communications role, the boys and men that filled those ranks were some of the bravest who ever marched with an army.

Articles

Nate Boyer climbing Kilimanjaro with wounded warrior to help thousands get clean water

Just one day after Nate Boyer entered the Guinness World Record book for the longest football long snap, former Texas Longhorn, Seattle Seahawk, and U.S. Army Green Beret Nate Boyer embarks on a mission to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with disabled veteran Blake Watson to help 10,000 people gain access to clean water.


Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Nate Boyer

The charity is called Waterboys. It was started by Chris Long, a former defensive end for the Rams who rallied NFL players to digging clean water wells in Tanzania,” Boyer says. “His initial goal was to find thirty-two players from thirty-two teams and to have thirty-two wells dug.”

The effort now has 21 NFL players involved, including the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson, the Steelers’ Lawrence Timmons, and the Eagles’ Sam Bradford, who currently has raised the most money for the campaign.

“Chris went out there a couple years ago and did Kilimanjaro himself,” Boyer recalls. “But he was leaving and he felt like he wanted to do more for those people. They walk five miles a day for clean water for their villages; they can cook and drink water and try to live healthy.”

Tanzania is currently suffering from a devastating water crisis. In a country where one-third of the land is semi-arid, access to clean, sanitary water is a daily struggle. Many of the country’s current wells are dug near toxic drainage systems and are contaminated by runoff. Water-borne illnesses, such as malaria and cholera, account for over half of the diseases affecting the population.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Aid agencies struggle to build clean water wells like this UN-built well in Tanzania. (UN photo)

“Long went out there last year and dedicated the first clean water well” says Boyer. “It’s pretty cool because the people, they come out of the woodwork for this thing. It’s a huge deal to them.”

That’s what brings Boyer to Kilimanjaro. When Long recruited him for the charity, Boyer was at the gym, working a stair climber machine, on the “Kilimanjaro” setting. Boyer spoke with Dave Vobora, who runs Dallas, Texas’ Performance Vault Inc., a sports performance training center for elite athletes and U.S. Special Forces.

“I told him I’m doing this climb and asked if he had anybody in mind that would be a good counterpart,” Boyer said. “I wanted to go with a guy who was going to spend the next four months working towards this goal and grinding. He’s like, ‘I got just the guy.'”

Vobora linked Boyer up with Marine veteran Blake Watson, a single leg amputee. During Watson’s first deployment he accidentally knelt down onto an IED. Watson lost his leg and his pulse rate went to zero on the helicopter during the flight to the hospital, but the medics were able to resuscitate him.

“I approached Blake and started explaining what we were doing, what I wanted to do with him and why,” Boyer remembers. “I talked about the clean water wells and before I could even finish my pitch he was like, ‘I’m in, dude. I’m in.’ He was excited about was not only the challenge and the climb and all that but what we would be doing for those people.”

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Watson training for Kilimanjaro

Blake struggled for three years with dependency, depression, and thoughts of suicide. With the help of others and his Marine mindset, he pulled himself out of a rut, started training again, and got back in shape. Got involved at this gym called Adaptive Training Foundation in Dallas, also run by Vobora. A gym for adaptive athletes, many of them amputees. They all have a goal they’re pursuing.

“It’s not just, ‘I want to work out. I want to get in shape,'” Boyer says. “It’s like, ‘I want to go climb Kilimanjaro,’ or ‘I want to be on the Paralympic bobsled team.’

Those wounded warriors led Boyer to another goal. The clean water initiative is important, but for Nate Boyer and Blake Watson, it’s also about inspiring veterans and current service members who might be struggling back home.

“We’re people of service. Whether we joined because we had no other options or because we wanted to serve our country, at the end of the day, we became men and women of service. If we don’t have that element in our life moving forward, working towards a mission, something bigger than us, then it’s really easy to get lost and feel like you’re never going to do anything as important as what you did when you served. That’s the impetus behind this whole thing.”

To help Boyer and Watson raise money and awareness for the people of Tanzania and American wounded warriors donate here. Donations will go toward digging more clean water wells for the people of an important U.S. friend and ally.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia wants America’s spot on the Human Rights Council

Russia wants a spot on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) following the US’s withdrawal on June 19, 2018.

Russia quickly swooped in on the empty seat and put forward its candidacy for a three-year term starting in 2021.

“The UNHRC operates on the basis of the principles of impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity, constructive dialogue and cooperation. It is a UN body that, like the entire UN system, is called upon to serve all Member States, not just one country or group of countries,” Russia’s UN mission said in a statement. “Unfortunately, our colleagues in Washington do not understand this or do not recognize it.”


Russia added that the US had attempted to use the council as an “obedient tool to promote only their interests” and punish unfavorable countries.

“Against this background, attempts by the US to blame the politicization of the work of the Council and the failure of its initiative by almost the whole world, including its traditional allies, seem cynical,” it said.

The US officially pulled out from the UNHRC on June 19, 2018, for being a “cesspool of political bias,” particularly against its ally Israel.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a press conference that the move was “not a retreat from human rights commitments,” and blasted the 47-member council as “a hypocritical and self serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
US Ambassador Nikki Haley

The human rights arm of the United Nations was established in 2006. Members grouped by region are voted in by the General Assembly for three year terms, and can be suspended if they are found to grossly violate human rights during their tenure.

Russia previously served one term on the council but lost its reelection in 2016 because of its support for the Assad regime’s war in Syria.

Other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Cuba, and China, have been criticized by rights groups for their places on the council despite their systematic violations of human rights.

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

Articles

6 tips we learned from ‘Ferris Bueller’ on how to ‘skate’ in the military

Ferris Bueller is the ultimate skater.


Skating is an art form which most people will never fully learn — until now. In 1986, Paramount pictures released “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” which taught countless teens how to play sick and get out of school.

Written and directed by the legendary John Hughes, the film focuses on a teenager who embarks on an incredible journey throughout Chicago while being unknowingly stalked by his high school principal.

While taking the day off, Bueller and his two friends learn more about themselves in a day than they would ever expect.

Related: 8 tips for ‘skating’ in the military

So check out our list of how Bueller taught us the art of the skate.

1. Be convincing

First, come up with an epic excuse why you’re unable to partake in a military activity (like going to work), and make sure you sell that sh*t like Bueller sold being sick to his parents.

Getting a “Sick in Quarters” slip is the goal if you’re in the military.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
I hope I look sick enough. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

2. Use your assets properly

Unfortunately, Bueller doesn’t have a car to drive himself around. So once he officially earns his day off via his parents, it’s time to get on the phone and find someone to pick you up.

Skating should be a team effort, but make sure you repay the favor and help someone else skate on another day.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Come over to the barracks and pick me up. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

3. Know the loopholes

Here, Bueller hacks the school’s computer absence program and changes how many days he has been absent. You probably won’t have this ability unless you have a special security clearance, but the moral of this story is to understand your limits.

For instance, if your boss isn’t going to be around — you’re not going to be around. Get it? Good.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Knowing the loopholes will get you far in life. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

4. Have an epic backstory

During roll call, Bueller’s name is called out several times before this hot girl (Kristy Swanson) gives the teacher a bullsh*t reason why he isn’t in school. It works well during military roll call when the service member calling out names just wants to get on with the day and not hear any excuses — another loophole.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
How could you not trust this face? (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

5. Play the role

In the event you get an unknown phone call or run into someone outside your skating circle, divert into the sick mode ASAP.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Remember act sick. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

Also Read: 11 hiding spots for an E-4 to sham

6. Make it a team effort

Ferris uses his best buddy Cameron to impersonate his girlfriend’s dad to get her out of school. Now, you probably won’t have to do all that, but it’s awesome to have military friends who are willing to skate alongside you that you trust.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Our favorite hypochondriac, Cameron Frye. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

Articles

The first American air-to-air kill in 20 years wasn’t a manned aircraft

On June 8, 2017, an American pilot scored one of the first American air-to-air kill since the 1999 Kosovo War, shooting down an armed drone being used by the Syrian government. Details of what plane scored the kill and how it was executed were not immediately released.


According to a statement released by the headquarters of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the drone — said to be similar in size to the MQ-1B Predator — had “dropped one of several weapons it was carrying near a position occupied by coalition personnel who are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIS” prior to the coalition aircraft downing it.

Previously, a U.S. aircraft reportedly shot down an Iranian surveillance drone in 2009 over Iraq.

The statement also reported that in an incident earlier that day, two “armed technical vehicles” were destroyed after entering a “de-confliction zone” and approaching coalition troops.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
A MQ-1B Predator from the 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron takes off in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom here July 9, 2008. Through the use of advanced capabilities, focused doctrine and detailed training the predator provides integrated and synchronized close air combat operations, to include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Sabrina Johnson)

“Coalition forces have been located at At Tanf for more than a year. The garrison is a temporary coalition location to train vetted forces to defeat ISIS and will not be vacated until ISIS is defeated,” the allied statement added.

This was not the first incident near the base. A statement released the day before the strike by the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve headquarters reported that pro-Assad forces in Syria had sent troops toward the temporary coalition base at At Tanf that included a tank, artillery, and 60 personnel. After repeated warnings via an emergency communication line were ignored, coalition forces carried out strikes that destroyed two artillery pieces and an anti-aircraft gun, while damaging a tank.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
A fighter with the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces sits atop a vehicle before a battle. (Photo from SDF via Facebook)

“As long as pro-regime forces are oriented toward Coalition and partnered forces the potential for conflict is escalated,” the statement by the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said.

Despite the incidents, the release from the headquarters did not seek a fight with the Assad regime or those backing it. However, the statement declared said Syrian army probes “continue to concern us and the Coalition will take appropriate measures to protect our forces.”

Articles

Green Beret who beat up accused child rapist will be allowed to stay in uniform

Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland will be allowed to stay in the Army after the service reversed its decision to kick him out. Martland was being forcibly discharged over a 2011 incident in which he confronted an Afghan police commander who had brutally raped a local boy.


Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland (Photo: Duncan Hunter)

Late Thursday night, Martland won the fight against the Army’s Qualitative Management Program, which gives the boot to soldiers with black marks on their records. The Army Board for Correction of Military Records reviewed the Green Beret’s performance history and pulled his name from the QMP list.

Martland admitted that Capt. Dan Quinn and he assaulted the Afghan official during his 2011 deployment to Afghanistan’s Kunduz Province. The commander was engaging in “bacha bazi,” or “boy play” — an Afghan practice where young boys in sexual slavery are often dressed up as women and forced to dance and serve tea. The practice was forbidden under the Taliban, but experienced a rebirth after the Taliban’s ouster by NATO forces and U.S. troops were ordered by their commanders not to intervene. When the Afghan confessed to raping the boy and beating the child’s mother for telling local authorities, Quinn “picked him up and threw him,” Martland said in his official statement. “I [proceeded to] body slam him multiple times.”

The line removed from his Army record read: “Demonstrated poor judgment, resulting in a physical altercation with a corrupt ALP member. Judgment and situational awareness was lacking during an isolated instance.”

Hundreds of veterans and other concerned citizens wrote letters and started petition drives in Martland’s defense. Even actor and Marine veteran Harvey Keitel got involved and urged California Congressman Duncan Hunter to intervene.

Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran and San Diego-area congressman, immediately came to Martland’s defense, calling the Army’s actions “totally insane and wrong,” and adding that Martland’s case “exemplifies the problems with the Army.”

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Martland (second from left) during a visit with General David Petraeus

An Army spokesman confirmed to Fox News that Martland will no longer be forced out.

“In SFC Martland’s case, the Army Board for Correction of Military Records determination modified a portion of one of SFC Martland’s evaluation reports and removed him from the QMP list, which will allow him to remain in the Army,” Lt. Col. Jerry Pionk said.

Quinn, now a civilian, said, “Charles makes every soldier he comes in contact with better and the Army is undoubtedly a better organization with SFC Martland still in its ranks.”

“I am real thankful for being able to continue to serve,” Martland told Fox News.  “I appreciate everything Congressman Duncan Hunter and his Chief of Staff, Joe Kasper, did for me.”

popular

5 ways US military combat uniforms have changed since Vietnam

When you’re asked what’s the most important tool for any U.S. service member who’s facing down a bad guy in battle, the most obvious response is his or her weapon.


When it comes down to it and the shots are flying, it’s the rifle or handgun that can make the difference between victory and defeat. But there’s a lot more to it than that, and oftentimes it’s what the trooper is actually wearing that can determine whether the bullets start flying in the first place.

Military uniform designers and suppliers over the last half century have been developing new ways to help soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines avoid fights if they want to and to survive them when things go loud. From things as simple as pocket placement and camouflage, to fabrics that won’t burn or show up in night vision goggles, the folks who build combat uniforms for America’s military have taken the best of material science and matched it with the conditions and operations troops are facing in increasingly complex and austere combat environments.

While the “modern” battle uniform traces much of its lineage to the Vietnam War, a lot has changed in the 50 years since that utilitarian design changed the course of what U.S. service members wear when they fight.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
The Vietnam war saw the first major evolution in combat uniforms since World War II. When troops needed better access to their gear, clothing manufacturers answered the call. (DoD photo)

1. Combat uniform pockets

It was really the Korean war that introduced the pant-leg cargo pockets we all know today, according to an official Army history. But combat uniforms issued to troops in Vietnam took those to another level.

With bellowed pleats and secure flaps, there were few items the side cargo pocket couldn’t handle. Vietnam-era combat blouses also used an innovative angled chest pocket design that made it easier to reach items in the heat of battle.

In the 1980s, the U.S. military ditched the angled chest pockets for vertical ones, mostly for appearance, and the combat trousers maintained their six-pocket design until the 2000s.

But when America went to war after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, pocket placement and design took a quantum leap. Way more “utilitarian” than combat threads of Vietnam and the Cold War, the new battle rigs are like night and day — with everything from pen pockets near the wrist of a combat blouse, to ankle pockets on the trousers to bellowed shoulder pockets.

Interestingly, it was special operations troops that developed the shoulder pocket later adopted by both the Marine Corps and Army for their combat uniforms. During the opening days of the Global War on Terror, spec ops troops cut cargo pockets off their extra trousers and sewed them onto the arms of their combat jackets, giving them extra storage within an arm’s reach.

Modern combat uniforms now also incorporate internal pockets for knee pads and elbow pads, so when a trooper has to take a knee or go prone in a hurry, he’s not banging his joints on the dirt.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Marines in Iraq were issued fire-resistant flight suits to guard against burns from IED strikes.
(U.S. Marine Corps)

 

2. Combat uniform material

By Vietnam, the heavy cotton and polyester of the Korean War-era uniform were replaced with a tropical-weight cotton ripstop that was wind-resistant yet cooler for troops operating in the sweltering heat of Southeast Asian jungles.

Both trousers and jackets were made of this cotton-poplin material for years, until the Army adopted the so-called “Battle Dress Uniform” in the early 1980s. That uniform was made with a nylon-cotton blended material with was more durable and easier to launder than the Vietnam-era combat duds.

But the military was forced to offer a variation of the BDU in cotton ripstop after operations in Grenada proved the nylon-cotton blend material too hot in warmer climates.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Looking for more patriotic content, from sea to shining sea—and beyond? Military service members and veterans can get a FREE FOX Nation subscription until for a year! Sign up for your free subscription here!

Though today’s combat uniforms are made with similar materials to those of the BDU-era, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan proved that some front-line troops need kit that’s resistant to the flame and flash of roadside bombs and IEDs.

Early on, some troops — including Marines deployed to Iraq — wore flight suits manufactured with flame resistant Nomex during combat operations. But that fabric wasn’t durable enough for the rigors of battle on the ground. So companies developed new, more durable flame-resistant fabrics for combat uniforms like Defender-M and Drifire.

Now all the services offer variants of their standard combat uniforms in flame-resistant material that protects troops against burns from improvised bombs.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
American Special Forces soldiers adopted the camouflage pattern of ARVN Rangers dubbed “tiger stripe” to blend into the Southeast Asian jungles.
(Image by Bettmann/CORBIS by Shunsuke Akatsuka via Flicker)

 

3. Combat uniform camouflage

Ahhh, camouflage.

It’s like the 1911 vs. (everything) debate, or the M-16 versus the AK-47 argument.

For decades, the question of camouflage patterns has been as much art as it was science. And over the last half century, the U.S. military has seen no fewer than 11 different patterns bedecking America’s warfighters.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
The six-color Desert Combat Uniform is the iconic look of Operation Desert Storm.
(U.S. Military photo via Propper)

 

Most Joes in the Vietnam War were clad in olive drab combat uniforms. But special operations troops began using camouflage garments in greater numbers during the war, and acted as the bleeding edge for pattern development within the wider military.

From ARVN Ranger “tiger stripes” to old-school duck hunter camo, the commandos in The ‘Nam proved that breaking up your outline saved lives. With the adoption of the BDU in 1981, the military locked into the service-wide “woodland” camouflage pattern.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
The Marine Corps was the first service in the U.S. military to dramatically change its uniforms from the BDU design. The service also was the first to adopt a “digital” camo pattern.
(U.S. Military photo via Propper)

 

In the early ’90s, the services developed desert combat uniform with a so-called “six-color desert” pattern (also known as “chocolate chips”). These uniforms were issued to troops conducting exercises and operations in arid climates and were more widely issued to service members deployed to Operation Desert Storm.

The woodland BDU dominated for more than 20 years until shortly after 9/11. And it was the Marine Corps that took the whole U.S. military in an entirely different direction.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Soldiers complained that the UCP didn’t really work in any environment
(U.S. Army)

 

The Corps was the first to adopt a camouflage pattern with so-called “fractal geometry” — otherwise known as “digital camouflage” — that diverges from the curvy lines and solid colors of woodland to a more three-dimensional scheme designed to literally trick the brain. While the Marines adopted a digital woodland pattern and a desert version in 2003, the Army decided to try a single pattern that would work in a variety of environments a year later.

Dubbed the Universal Combat Pattern, or “UCP,” the green-grey pallet flopped, with most soldiers complaining that instead of working in a bunch of environments, it made Joes stand out in all of them. As in Vietnam, special operations troops engaged overseas adopted a commercial pattern dubbed “Multicam,” which harkened back to the analog patterns akin to woodland.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
The Navy recently adopted a new camouflage uniform in a pattern developed by the SEALs.
(U.S. Navy)

 

Pressure mounted on the Army to ditch UCP and adopt Multicam, and by 2015, the service abandoned the one-size-fits all digital pattern and adopted Multicam for all its combat garments.

Likewise, the Air Force and Navy experimented with different patterns and pallets since the Army adopted UCP, with the Sea Service issuing a blue digital uniform for its sailors and the Air Force settling on a digital tiger stripe pattern in a UCP pallet. In 2016, the Navy ditched its so-called “blueberry” pattern for one developed by the SEALs — AOR 1 and AOR 2 — which looks similar to the Marine Corps “MARPAT” digital scheme.

The Air Force still issues its Airman Battle Uniform in the digital tiger stripe pattern to all airmen except those deploying to Afghanistan and on joint missions in the combat zone.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
New uniforms incorporate innovative technology from the outdoor sports industry.
(DoD)

 

4. Combat uniform design

Aside from the rapid development and deployment of new camouflage patterns, some of the most impressive changes to U.S. military combat uniforms have been with their overall design.

Gone is the boxy, ill-fitting combat ensemble of troops slogging through the rice paddies and jungle paths of Southeast Asia. Today’s battle uniform traces its design to the high-tech construction of the extreme outdoor sports world, from high-altitude climbing to remote big game hunting.

Troops in the services now have uniforms that have pre-curved legs and arms, angled and bellowed pockets that stay flat when they’re empty, Velcro closures and adjustable waists. The services even use specially-designed combat shirts that ditch the jacket altogether and use built-in moisture-wicking fabric to keep a trooper’s torso cool under body armor yet provide durable sleeves and arm pockets for gear needed in the fight.
With integrated pockets for knee pads and elbow pads, the new combat uniforms’ design takes “utilitarian” to a whole new level.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
US Marines inside the Citadel in Hue City rescue the body of a dead Marine during the Tet Offensive.
(Photo via Flickr)

 

5. Combat armor

Aside from the actual clothing an American combat trooper wears, there are a host of new protective items that make up his or her battlefield loadout. These items have evolved exponentially over the last half century, and many uniform manufacturers have supplied protective accessories to integrate with their clothing.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Students from the Saint George’s University of Medicine pose with a member of the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Urgent Fury.
(U.S. Military photo via Flickr)

 

Late in the war, the Vietnam-era soldier or Marine was issued a body armor vest that would protect him against grenade fragments and some pistol rounds. Made of ballistic nylon and fiberglass plates, the armor was best known as the “flak jacket.” It was heavy and didn’t protect against rifle rounds.

In the 1980s, the U.S. military developed a new body armor system using steel plates and Kevlar fabric that could stop a rifle round. First used in combat during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada, the so-called Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops, or PASGT, was a revolution in personal protection.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know
Today’s armor and helmets are lighter, more protective and offer a host of methods to modify the loadout for specific missions.
(Photo courtesy Propper)

 

Still heavy and bulky, armor evolved over the years since 9/11 to be lighter, with a slimmer profile and much more protective than the flaks of yore. Today’s vests can protect against multiple armor-piercing rifle rounds, shrapnel and pistol shots — all in a vest that weighs a fraction of its PASGT brethren.

Like the armor vest, the “steel pot” of Vietnam has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. The new Army Combat Helmet and Marine Corps Lightweight Helmet can take multiple bullet strikes and shrapnel hits, allow for greater mobility than the Vietnam-era one or the PASGT and now incorporate various attachment points for accessories like night vision goggles, IR strobes and cameras.

 

MIGHTY MOVIES

How to build your own Lego Baby Yoda

The Mandalorian is a big hit for Disney+, largely because of the popularity of “The Child,” better known by the malapropism Baby Yoda. It’s the cutest, most memorable thing we’ve seen in a while, but the need to keep it a secret (Baby Yoda is revealed at the end of the first episode) meant Disney couldn’t have Baby Yoda toys ready to go from day one.

The only Mandalorian Lego set is the AT-ST Raider from episode four, which sadly does not come with a Minifigure of “The Child.” Thankfully, Reddit user u/hachiroku24 stepped in to fill the void with an impressive custom-designed and built Baby Yoda model (complete with a floating carriage!) that’s so accurate that it’s actually pretty damn cute.


Every piece is 100 percent unaltered Lego, even the cloth (from a posable Obi-Wan buildable figure released in 20TK) and Baby Yoda’s signature ears (from a Goblin-themed set released in 2017).

Hachiroku24 also posted a video to YouTube showing the build process.

Lego Baby Yoda from The Mandalorian

www.youtube.com

Reddit being Reddit, another user, u/00squirrel, modeled the build in Bricklink Studio, an online 3D modeling software for Lego designers. It also has Easy Buy, a feature that makes it simple to order all of the necessary pieces from Lego parts purveyors around the world, which definitely beats buying whole sets just for one or two esoteric pieces.

Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Here’s why you should know

(BrickLink)

That’s kind of pricey for a 123-piece set, for sure, but considering the DIY origins and lack of any kind of official Baby Yoda set, it’s a great option for builders who just can’t wait to bring “The Child” to life in brick form.

And once you have all of the necessary pieces, the software also has step-by-step building instructions that are as easy to follow as anything Lego has ever printed.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information