Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead - We Are The Mighty
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Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

While he’s more famous for being “The Man In Black,” Johnny Cash served in the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War and was the first man outside of the Soviet Union to learn of Premier Joseph Stalin’s death.


Cash was born J.R. Cash and was raised in a hardscrabble family in Arkansas. He was forced to begin working at the age of 5 and he began playing and writing his own songs at the age of 12 after one of his brothers was killed in a farming accident.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead
(Photo: U.S. Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Gary Rice)

At the age of 18 in 1950, J.R. Cash joined the Air Force and was forced to change his name to John. He rose through the ranks and served as a Morse code operator. He spent much of his time quickly decoding communications between Soviet officials.

On March 3, 1953, he was a staff sergeant manning his post in Landsberg, Germany, when a surprising message beeped into his ears. Soviet Premier Josef Stalin, who had suffered from ill health for years, had died.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead
(Photo: U.S. Navy Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Gary Rice)

The leader of Russia had suffered a massive heart attack that day and died quickly.

The Man In Black passed the message up the chain and returned to work. Cash’s job already required that he have limited off-post privileges and contact with locals. Still, he couldn’t discuss what happened with even his close friends.

The rest of the world would soon learn of Stalin’s death and the ascent of Georgy Malenkov.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead
Johnny Cash as a newly signed musician at Sun Records in 1955. (Photo: Sun Records. Public Domain)

Cash, meanwhile, would leave the service honorably just over a year later and return to Texas where he had trained. He married his first wife the same year and signed with Sun Records in 1955.

He played the Grand Ole Opry stage for the first time the same year.

Over the following 48 years, Cash wrote thousands of songs and released dozens of albums before his death in September 2003 at the age of 71.

Articles

Time-tested U-2 cameras are getting new life on drones

A major defense corporation has announced that their RQ-4 Global Hawk drone has successfully flown test missions carrying the Optical Bar Camera broad-area synoptic sensor, an imaging device originally deployed on the U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane.


Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead
An RQ-4 heads back to its hangar. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Boitz)

Northrup Grumman has been testing the RQ-4 with new sensors in an attempt increase the types of missions for which the aircraft can be deployed. The SYERS-2 intelligence gathering sensor, another item commonly deployed on U-2 missions. The SYERS-2 collects multiple sources of energy and can detect teams burying explosives or dismounts on the move, even from high altitude.

Adding U-2 equipment to the Global Hawk makes a lot of sense because the two aircraft are both focused on high-altitude, long-endurance surveillance. The drone can fly for 30 or more hours on a mission with ground-based pilots and sensor operators switching control in shifts.

With the new cameras, the RQ-4 could become an even more valuable eye in the sky for the Air Force. And it might allow the Global Hawk to take over some of the U-2’s missions at a fraction of the cost.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead
A U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane comes in for a landing. (Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt Aaron Oelrich)

“The successful flight of the Optical Bar Camera is another significant step in the evolution of Global Hawk,” said Global Hawk’s Northrup Grumman Program Manager, Mick Jaggers. “It’s the result of our focus on increasing capability, reducing sustainment costs and fielding the open mission systems architecture that enables faster integration of cutting edge sensors at lower costs.”

Northrup Grumman is also looking at testing the MS-177 multi-spectral sensor on the RQ-4. The MS-177 has similar imaging capabilities to the SYERS-2B and is often deployed on the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, the JSTARS.

The MS-177 does provide a significant advantage over the SYERS-2B. While the SYERS is a “wet-film” camera that requires film processing before the image can be analyzed, the MS-177 uses an electro-optical sensor, which allows digital files to be sent to the ground station while the drone is still in flight.

MIGHTY HISTORY

5 things you didn’t know about firing squads

Throughout history, executions have been controversial ways of punishing heinous crimes against individuals, institutions, and governments. From hangings to lethal injection, executions have spanned the gamut of cruelty and, at every point, there has raged a debate over the moral grounds of taking a life for justice.

Historically, one form of execution has been reserved for military personnel: the firing squad. The concept is elementary: a prisoner stands against a brick wall or study barrier and is gunned down by a handful of soldiers. It might sound simple, but there are a few things about this deadly punishment that you might not know


The final walk

Out of grim curiosity, we’ve watched several videos of firing-squad executions found in the war archives. We noticed that the majority of criminals sentenced to die conducted their last walks under their own accord. Although this was likely their last moment of life, criminals weren’t dragged to their position.

We thought that was interesting.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

A firing squad in Cuba.

The crimes committed

Throughout many parts of the world, if a troop or civilian was convicted of cowardice, desertion, espionage, murder, mutiny, or treason, they would be sent up in front of a firing squad as punishment.

That doesn’t happen too often today.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

What it’s like facing a Spanish firing squad without a blindfold.

Blindfolds

In many cases, the prisoner was blindfolded before stepping in front of his executioners. However, some requested the opportunity to face the men who were about to unload their barrels.

That’s pretty ballsy.

According to the Crime Museum, when the condemned person was able to look into the eyes of their executioners, it diminished their anonymity. This made the event stressful for the shooters who were following orders.

The firing squad

Once given the cue by a superior, each soldier pulled the trigger of their rifle simultaneously, resulting in a kill shot by multiple rounds.

In some cases, only a handful of the executioners were given live rounds. The rest would receive blanks. This way, nobody could know who, exactly, was responsible for the kill.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

Ronnie Lee Gardner in the the courtroom

(National Public Radio)

The last use of a firing squad for a convicted criminal.

According to NPR, the last person to be executed by firing squad was convicted murderer, Ronnie Lee Gardner, in 2010. While already faced with a murder conviction in Utah, Gardner attempted to escape and, in the process, killed an attorney.

Gardner’s conviction came through before the state abandoned the use of the firing squads in 2004. He elected to be killed this way.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The SMS Wien sunk twice — during both World Wars

There’s a such thing as bad luck and then there’s defying the odds. When looking at the SMS Wien, its luck was so considerably horrible, so tragically unthinkable, it seemingly defied the odds. The ship that was sunk not in one world war, but in both of them. Resurrected and put back into commission, only to sink to the bottom of the ocean once more.

Here’s how it all went down:

SMS Wien in WWI

The SMS Wien, His Majesty’s Ship Vienna, originated as an Austrian ship in the 1890s. (At the time, Austria was a large territory with ample coastline.) It served the Austro-Hungarian Navy as one of three Monarch-class coastal defense ships. The ship fought in the Greco-Turkish War in 1897, made multiple trips in the Mediterranean Sea, and was retired as newer style battleships were built and cycled into the local Navy. (There are historical discrepancies, some citing the ship being built on different dates.) 

SMS Wien
SMS Wien

However, at the start of WWI, the SS Wien was recommissioned, along with its two sisters, to work within the 5th Division AKA the German Empire. 

From 1914-1917, she was sent to modern-day Montenegro to fight French forces. Then, in August of 1917, Wien traveled to Northern Italy, where it was hit with two torpedoes in a sneak attack. She sunk in less than five minutes, after a 34-foot hole was blown into its boiler room. All of the ship’s 46 crew members were killed. 

The boat is salvaged

An initial rescue mission was planned by the Austrians 1918, but stopped by court orders. The boat was ultimately salvated by Italians in 1921 — after the war had ended.

Raised and renamed to Vienna, it was refurbished; little is known about its stint in peaceful times. 

But then in 1935, the ship was renamed once more to Po and converted to a hospital ship for WWI. (Some accounts say it was also a hospital ship as Wien, before converted for living quarters.) More than 200 passengers boarded the vessel at a time, being sent to various locations and offering a nursing staff at-the-ready.

Po was attacked once more, and was sunk on March 14, 1941 after being hit by a British torpedo. (It’s safe to say, torpedoes are not this ship’s friend). Hit at night, British pilots said they could not tell they were aiming for a hospital ship. Italian sources agree that, because lights were partially turned off, it would have not been recognized as a hospital ship. 

On board, 21 inhabitants were killed, with survivors making their way to shore. Among them included Mussolini’s daughter, Edda Ciano, who was a nurse with the Red Cross. She was rescued by another ship and went on to continue with the Red Cross until the fall of her father’s rule and the fascist regime in 1943. 

The fate of the ship

The second sinking proved to be the ship’s last. It still remains underwater near Albania, 35 meters deep. 

Articles

Warplanes attacked a rebel-held town in Syria with suspected toxic gas

Warplanes carried out a suspected toxic gas attack that killed at least 35 people including several children in a rebel-held town in northwestern Syria on April 4, opposition groups and a monitoring group said.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said those killed in the town of Khan Sheikhun, in Idlib province, had died from the effects of the gas, adding that dozens more suffered respiratory problems and other symptoms.

The Britain-based monitoring group was unable to confirm the nature of the substance, and said it was unclear if the planes involved in the attack were Syrian or those of government ally Russia.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead
Syrian girls, carrying school bags provided by UNICEF, walk past the rubble of destroyed buildings on their way home from school on March 7 in al-Shaar neighborhood, in the rebel-held side of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. (IZEIN ALRIFAI/AFP/GImages)

The reported gas attack comes at the start of a two-day conference on Syria’s future hosted in Brussels by the European Union and the United Nations.

The Observatory said medical sources in the town reported symptoms among the affected including fainting, vomiting, and foaming at the mouth.

The victims were mostly civilians, it said, and included at least nine children.

The pro-opposition Edlib Media Centre (EMC) posted a large number of photographs of people receiving treatment, as well as images showing what appeared to be the bodies of at least seven children in the back of a pick-up truck.

Photographs circulated by activists showed members of the volunteer White Helmets rescue group using hoses to wash down the injured, as well as at least two men with white foam around their mouths.

The Syrian National Coalition, an alliance of opposition groups whose leaders live in exile, accused President Bashar al-Assad‘s government of carrying out the gas attack and demanded a UN investigation.

“The National Coalition demands the Security Council convene an emergency session… to open an immediate investigation and take the necessary measures to ensure the officials, perpetrators, and supporters are held accountable,” the body said in a statement.

Chemical arsenal

Idlib province is largely controlled by an alliance of rebels including the Fateh al- Sham Front, a former al Qaeda affiliate previously known as the al- Nusra Front.

It is regularly targeted in strikes by the regime, as well as Russian warplanes, and has also been hit by the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, usually targeting jihadists.

Syria’s government officially joined the Chemical Weapons Convention and turned over its chemical arsenal in 2013, as part of a deal to avert U.S. military action.

But there have been repeated allegations of chemical weapons use by the government since then, with a UN-led investigation pointing the finger at the regime for at least three chlorine attacks in 2014 and 2015.

The government denies the use of chemical weapons and has in turn accused rebels of using banned weapons.

The attack on April 4 comes only days after forces loyal to Assad were accused of using chemical weapons in a counter-offensive in neighboring Hama province.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead
U.S. Army Soldiers clean the outside of a CH-47 Chinook during detail aircraft decontamination training near Erbil, Iraq, Mar. 1, 2017. This training is part of the overall Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve building partner capacity by training and improving the capability of partnered forces fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Josephine Carlson)

On March 30, air strikes on several areas in the north of Hama province left around 50 people suffering respiratory problems, according to the Observatory, which could not confirm the cause of the symptoms.

The monitor relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its information, and says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns, and munitions used.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

The April 4 gathering in Brussels has been billed as a follow-up to a donors’ conference last year in London, which raised about $11 billion for humanitarian aid programs in the devastated country.

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 of the best slow-motion action scenes ever

Powerful punches, smooth moves, and acrobatic stunts are just some of the elements that make for an impressive action scene. To amp up a film’s imagery and add intensity, some filmmakers go a little beyond the standard fight and employ one of the most dramatic visual techniques: slow motion.

For years, movie directors have altered the frame rates on their cameras to either slow a sequence down or speed it up, based on how they want to tell a story.


Film historians credit August Musger, an Austrian priest and physicist, with inventing the slow-motion effect back at the beginning of the 1900s and, if you’ve been to the movie theater in the last decade, you’ve seen it employed today.

Now, filmmakers use the art of slow motion to allow audiences to pore over every detail of every frame of an intense sequence, to see the intricacies and beauty of an action in a different light. Sometimes, the technique doesn’t land well with audiences and comes across as trite and overplayed. In rare cases, however, the result is so badass that we end up watching the same few, magical seconds over and over again.

www.youtube.com

The exploding IED ‘The Hurt Locker’

Although The Hurt Locker wasn’t a hit among many service members and veterans, director Kathryn Bigelow captured an epic opening sequence that involved cool camera work and a detailed explosion that ripples outward over a rugged landscape.

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Battling it out with the Persians in ‘300’

Who doesn’t like watching an awesome brawl between well-trained armies? That’s what Zack Snyder thought when he directed the combat-rich classic, 300. Although the film is filled with various slow-motion shots, it was best used when the audience runs alongside King Leonidas as he shreds members of the Persian army like it isn’t sh*t.

www.youtube.com

Kim Jong-un dies in ‘The Interview’

When the ultra-controversial action-comedy The Interview premiered in theaters, it drew in curious crowds who wanted to see if the film’s main characters were actually going to assassinate a fictional version of Kim Jong-un.

What we got was a slow-motion death scene so graphic that nobody could’ve predicted it.

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Blowing up everybody in the street in ‘Swordfish’

A year after Hugh Jackman played Wolverine in X-Men, he played a computer hacker who was willing to break the law to reunite with his daughter. After being recruited to assist in a heist, the quickly goes awry, and filmmaker Dominic Sena gave us an explosion that the Wachowskis would be proud of.

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Inside the lobby in ‘The Matrix’

Speaking of the Wachowskis, they directed a late-90s movie you might have heard of, called The Matrix.

This legendary film took special effects to another level. The epic fights, gravity-defying stunts, and over-the-top gun play made f*cking history.

Watch the clip below to see mastery over the art of slow motion.

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Markie’s death scene in ‘Killing Them Softly’

Although this isn’t one of Brad Pitt’s most notable films, it does showcase one of the best up-close assassination scenes ever recorded.

The beautiful scene takes place on a moonlit, rainy night and gives the viewer the chance to watch every mechanical detail of a pistol firing rounds. Viewers watch tiny shards of glass fly through the air and see the wrinkles move on Markie Trattman’s (as played by Ray Liotta) face as he gets killed.

It’s f*cking epic!

MIGHTY HISTORY

These ax murders almost started another Korean War

It must have seemed like a relatively harmless work detail, in the way that any detail in the world’s most heavily armed border area can be harmless. When Captain Arthur Bonifas and Lieutenant Mark Barrett reported for duty to chop down a tree in the Korean DMZ, they probably never thought they’d be hacked to death by North Korean soldiers.


The two officers were leading a South Korean work detail with a South Korean officer on August 18, 1976. A 100-foot tall poplar tree blocked the view between the U.N. observation post and U.N. Command Post No. 3. North Korean soldiers were known to drag unsuspecting U.N. personnel across the North-South Korean border in this area. Bonifas himself once defused a tense situation at CP No. 3, after several Americans were held at gunpoint by Northern troops.

Bonifas was one of 19 people assigned to help take down the tree that afternoon. He led Lt. Barrett, the South Korean officer, five workers, and 11 enlisted personnel into the joint security area to trim the tree. They did not wear sidearms, as regulations restricted the number of armed people that could be in the area at one time. The workers brought axes to trim the tree.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

As soon as work began, 15 North Korean soldiers appeared, led by a Northern officer, Lt. Pak Chul, who was known for being confrontational. The North Koreans watch the crew work for roughly 15 minutes before demanding they stop because North Korean President Kim Il-Sung had supposedly planted the tree. Capt. Bonifas ordered the work to continue and then turned his back on the North Koreans.

That gesture set Lt. Pak “The Bulldog” Chul over the edge. He sent a runner to get 20 more North Korean soldiers, who came carrying clubs and crowbars in the bed of a truck. He then ordered his men to “kill the bastards.” The Communists picked up the axes dropped by the work party and beat Capt. Bonifas to death on the spot.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

Lt. Barrett jumped over a wall and fell into a ravine across the road. Everyone else was wounded. The U.N. Observation Post could not see where Barrett was but only that North Korean guards were taking turns going into the ravine with an axe. This continued for 90 minutes.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

A search team was dispatched. They found Barrett still alive but badly hacked with the axes. He died on the way to a hospital in Seoul.

The entire incident was recorded on film.

Kim Jong-Il, speaking at a conference of Non-Aligned Nations in Sri Lanka denounced the attack as North Korean troops defending themselves from U.S. aggression.

Around 10:45 a.m. today, the American imperialist aggressors sent in 14 hoodlums with axes into the Joint Security Area to cut the trees on their own accord, although such a work should be mutually consented beforehand. Four persons from our side went to the spot to warn them not to continue the work without our consent. Against our persuasion, they attacked our guards en masse and committed a serious provocative act of beating our men, wielding murderous weapons and depending on the fact that they outnumbered us. Our guards could not but resort to self-defense measures under the circumstances of this reckless provocation.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops went to DEFCON 3 as a military response was weighed by the Pentagon and South Korean President Park Chung-Hee.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead
The repatriated American officers.

Instead of an assault, the U.S. launched Operation Paul Bunyan. Three days after the killing, 23 American and South Korean vehicles drove into the the Joint Security Area without alerting the North. They then dispatched 8 two-man teams of engineers with chainsaws to take out the tree. Two platoons of 30 men each came armed with clubs and were accompanied by South Korean Special Forces with axe handles.

The South Koreans had Claymore Mines strapped to their chests, detonators in hand, as they walked across the bridge of no return that separated the two countries. They yelled at the North Korean soldiers, daring the Northerners to cross the bridge and meet them in combat.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

Meanwhile, the massive show of force operation, also had 20 helicopters in the air in the area, as well as B-52 Stratofortress Bombers flying overhead. The bombers were accompanied by F-4 Phantom IIs, South Korean F-5s and F-86s, and a number of F-111 bombers. The USS Midway Task Force was also just offshore.

North Korea deployed 200 troops to meet the force of more than 800 the U.S. and South Korea fielded. The Northerners watched the allied forces vandalize their guard posts from some buses. They eventually filed out and set up fire positions, but by then the Americans were on their way out of the JSA.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

The tree was gone in 42 minutes.

While North Korean President Kim Il-Sung sent a message of regret over the incident, he never took responsibility. The ax used to kill Bonifas and Barrett is now in the North Korean Peace Museum.

In the South, the JSA’s advance camp was renamed Camp Bonifas for the fallen officer. General William Livsey, who commanded the 8th Army at the time, fashioned a “swagger stick” carved from the poplar tree’s wood. He passed it on to his successor.

Articles

Japanese Twitter Users Are Mocking ISIS With Photoshopped Memes

Hours after the Islamic State (IS) group released a video threatening to behead two Japanese hostages, Japanese Twitter users were defying the militant’s threats by creating and sharing images mocking the militants.


In a January 20 video, a British militant believed to be the infamous “Jihadi John” demands that Tokyo pay $200 million within 72 hours to spare the lives of the two hostages.

If the Japanese public does not pressure the government to pay the $200 million ransom, the militant warns, then “this knife will become your nightmare,” referring to the serrated weapon he brandishes in the video, and with which he is believed to have beheaded several Western hostages.

It is reasonable to assume that “Jihadi John” was not expecting that the “Japanese public” (or at least Japanese social-media users) would react to his threats in quite the way they have — with a Photoshop contest.

Using a Twitter hashtag that translates roughly as “ISIS crappy photoshop grand prix,” the Japanese Twitter meme has gone viral, with hundreds of images being shared. On January 20, there were around 40,000 mentions of the hashtag on Twitter.

Some of the photoshopped images poke fun at what is now an all-too familiar image — that of the black-clad “Jihadi John” flanked by hostages dressed in bright orange jumpsuits designed to evoke images of Guantanamo Bay inmates.

Some images mock “Jihadi John” directly, such as this photoshopped picture that shows the British militant using his knife to make a kebab:

Some of the images are slightly surreal, such as this one showing “Jihadi John’s” head photoshopped onto the front of the beloved British children’s character Thomas the Tank Engine:

In this image, several “Jihadi John” clones are falling through space:

Others used the hashtag to express that the the Japanese share common ground with Muslims:

Some of the images shared under the hashtag can be seen as a subversion of a trend popular among IS supporters on social media — that of using Photoshop to create an imaginary and fantastical world in which IS militants and ideology are dominant.

Islamic State supporters have shared photoshopped images that show militants from the extremist group destroying key Western landmarks such as London’s Big Ben and riding victorious on white steeds.

In one image mocking this genre, IS militants — including “Jihadi John” — are photoshopped invading a city in spacecraft. One militant laughs as he holds aloft an IS flag:

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

While it is the largest and most popular phenomenon to date of using humor as a counter to the Islamic State group’s propaganda, the Japanese “Photoshop grand prix” is not the first case of its type.

A group of anonymous Russian Internet users have been mocking the Islamic State group — and Russian-speaking militants in Syria and Russia in general — for months via a parody group known as TV Jihad, which claims to be a “joint project of Kavkaz Center (the media wing of the North Caucasus militant group the Caucasus Emirate) and TV Rain (a liberal Russian TV channel).”

“We fight against infidels, apostates, polytheists, Shabiha (pro-Assad militia), harbis (non-Muslims who do not live under the conditions of the dhimma, i.e. those who have not surrendered by treaty to Muslim rule), hypocrites, and rafidis (a term used by Sunni militants to refer to Shi’ite Muslims),” the Twitter account says, parodying terms used frequently by Russian-speaking Islamic State and Caucasus Emirate militants.

This tweet shows an image of IS military commander Umar al-Shishani in the snow and asks, “Motorola?” — a reference to Arseny Pavlov, a pro-Russian separatist in the Donbas:

Not everyone has appreciated the efforts of TV Jihad to mock militants, however. Last year, the group was banned from the Russian social networking site VKontakte, where it had a large following.

Also from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

This article originally appeared at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Copyright 2014.

Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Black Knights use Army-Navy uniform to tell story of division

When the players on the Army West Point football team take the field, they do so for more than themselves.

They represent the U.S. Military Academy and the generations of graduates who make up the Long Gray Line. They play for the U.S. Army and those who have fought and died protecting America. And each week during the season, they play for a particular division of the Army and the soldiers currently serving and who have served in it.

For most of the regular season, the division is honored by a patch on the back of the players’ helmets. But for the past three years during the Army-Navy Game, the Black Knights have honored one of the Army’s divisions by wearing an entire uniform telling the division’s story.


The new uniform tradition started with a design telling the story of the 82nd Airborne Division. So far, the 10th Mountain Division and 1st Infantry Division have also been honored.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

This year, Army will take the field in honor of the 1st Cavalry Division and tell the story of the soldiers’ role in the Vietnam War as America’s first airmobility division.

(Danny Wild, USA Today)

This year, Army will take the field in honor of the 1st Cavalry Division and tell the story of the soldiers’ role in the Vietnam War as America’s first airmobility division.

The 1st Cav’s role as the honored division was kept secret until the uniform was unveiled Dec. 5, 2019, in front of the assembled Corps of Cadets, but the process of designing the uniform for the game each year is an 18-month collaboration between Nike and West Point’s Department of History.

The cycle of divisions is decided three to four years in advance by West Point’s Athletic Department, and each design process starts about a year and a half out from the game. This year’s uniform hasn’t been unveiled yet, but most of the work is already done on 2020’s uniform and the process for 2021 will start to ramp up in the near future.

After the division is selected, step one of the process is determining the timeline that will be honored. For the 82nd Airborne it was World War II and for the 1st Infantry Division they highlighted World War I for the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice.

Then, Nike’s designer in partnership with the USMA history department starts doing research and crafting the story the uniform will tell.

“It is almost like a method actor preparing for a role,” Kristy Lauzonis, senior graphic designer for Nike college football uniforms, said. “I just go as deep as humanly possible with the research. I order books, read everything I can under the sun and then that is when I start hitting the history department back with all kinds of crazy questions.”

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

In 2017 Army represented the 10th Mountain Division with its Army Navy uniform.

(Photo by Cadet Henry Guerra)

With help from the Department of History, Lauzonis goes through photos and artifacts of the unit from the chosen timeline and starts working to craft a uniform that will authentically tell the story of the unit. Some elements are predetermined by NCAA rules such as whether the uniform is light or dark depending on if Army is home or away, but everything from colors of elements to fonts are built from scratch in order to make them historically accurate.

On the first uniform, the flag on the players’ shoulder may have looked backward to a casual observer, but it was placed the way it was worn in World War II. On the 10th Mountain Uniform, the popular Pando Commando logo wasn’t something created by Nike, but was instead a little used logo found during the research process. On last year’s uniforms, the Black Lions were to tell the story of the 28th Infantry Regiment and the first major combat for American forces in World War I.

“I think one of the great things about being authentic to history is you will have those moments like where you’ve done something where it is 100% authentic and people aren’t aware of it,” Lauzonis said. “That is that bonus element where everyone is saying the flag is backward and we are able to say it pre-existed flag code and this is exactly how it was worn on the uniform and we purposely did it that way. It is not just a company woops we flipped the flag the wrong way. We are never going to do that.”

Throughout the entire process, the USMA history department is fact checking elements on the uniform and making sure they accurately represent the division’s history and the timeline being depicted. That includes checking colors such as the red used in last year’s Big Red One on the helmet and making sure each insignia used is authentic and historically accurate.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

In 2016 the Black Knights honored the 82nd Airborne Division.

(US Army photo)

“We provide historical context and then of course, the Nike designers are amazing,” Steve Waddell, an assistant professor in the Department of History, said. “They’ve got to kind of translate a historical idea concept to actually make it work on a real uniform and have the color contrasts and everything work … I’m a World War II historian and we did the 82nd Airborne for the first one. It’s just exciting that they’re tying the sport of football to military history and military history is always popular.”

Along with assisting in the uniform design, the USMA history department helps tell the story of the uniform and the division through the athletic department’s microsite, which is created as part of the unveil each year.

There the elements of the uniform are explained, and the story of the division is told in detail.

“The Army’s business is people,” Capt. Alexander Humes, an instructor in the Department of History, said. “That’s why it’s also important to tell the story of this unit and the people that were part of this unit and to take this as an opportunity to do that. This presents the Army a great opportunity in something as highly visible as the Army-Navy Game to be able to tell its story to the American public.”

This year’s uniform pulls elements from the 1st Cav’s Vietnam War era uniforms and the pants were designed to resemble the motif of the UH-1 “Hueys” the soldiers flew during the war.

“I hope that for the folks that are in or have a relationship to the unit, that they feel like their story is being told authentically,” Lauzonis said of her goal when designing the uniform each year. “That they feel like they now have something they can wear with pride and that we’ve done right by them with the storytelling.”

The annual rivalry game against the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis will take place Dec. 14, 2019, in Philadelphia.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Unicorn made famous by shark incident floats into history at Coast Guard Museum

In the video, it can be seen drifting at sea, a rainbow-bright mythological Equus cast aside as swimmers from the Coast Guard cutter Kimball clambered out of the water and away from an uninvited shark.

Despite calls for the swim watch to “sink the unicorn,” the giant inflatable darling of the Kimball’s now-infamous Aug. 26 swim call was retrieved from the Pacific Ocean and will have a new home at the U.S. Coast Guard Museum in New London, Connecticut.


Museum staff posted a photo Thursday of their latest acquisition, which will join the museum’s collection of mascots. The Kimball’s unicorn swim floatie will be displayed alongside such objects as a lighthouse keeper’s Salty Rabbit and Capt. Cluck, the mascot of the service’s aviation forces.

Unicorn Made Famous by Shark Incident Floats into History at Coast Guard Museum

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According to Museum Curator Jennifer Gaudio, the collection helps document Coasties’ off-duty time, and the inflatable unicorn, which has been signed by the Kimball crew, is the rare artifact clearly associated with recreation time — a swim call interrupted by a shark in Oceania this year.

“We like to find objects that represent an event but it’s often difficult to find one that is so recognizable,” Gaudio said. “When I saw the video, I reached out to the other curator and the chief historian to see if it was something we wanted.”

The Kimball crew was taking an afternoon swim break Aug. 26 during Pacific operations when an 8-foot visitor — either a longfin mako or pelagic thresher — showed up to join the fun.

Not knowing the shark’s intentions as it swam toward crew members, the designated shark watch, Maritime Enforcement Specialist 1st Class Samuel Cintron, opened fire between the fish and the Coasties to deter the creature from getting closer.

Cintron fired bursts into the water at least three times, giving the swimmers time to reach the ship or the ship’s small boat.

The only injury to a crew member was a scrape to a knee, obtained as the Coastie climbed to safety.

But if the inanimate unicorn had feelings, it would have been devastated by the treatment it received that day. After landing a safe spot on the ship’s response boat, the floatie was tossed overboard to make room for the humans and subjected to the dual indignities of being discarded and hearing crew members tell Cintron to shoot it.

What a relief it must have been when it was lifted out of the water for return to the ship. And now, to live in a museum.

“I wasn’t sure we had room. We are still in a 4,000-square-foot space. And it’s big. Much bigger than I expected,” Gaudio said.

The U.S. Coast Guard Museum is housed in a portion of the library at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Construction of a National Coast Guard Museum was slated to begin this year in downtown New London, but the project has been delayed by other initiatives in the area, according to National Coast Guard Museum Association officials.

The museum is expected to house much of the collection from the current Coast Guard Museum, and the unicorn is likely to make the move when the new facility is built, Gaudio said.

“They have expressed interest,” she said.

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

Articles

Today in military history: Marine Corps aviation is born

On May 22, 1912, Marine Corps aviation was born when Lt. Alfred A. Cunningham reported to the U.S. Naval Academy’s aviation camp for instruction.

Cunningham dreamt of the skies since he went aloft in a balloon in 1903 — the same year the Wright Brothers made the first controlled, sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft. 

On May 22, the first of the officers arrived at the aviation camp at the U.S. Naval Academy for training. Cunningham was a former soldier and huge aviation enthusiast who had lobbied for a Marine Corps air arm for months before becoming its first pilot.

Cunningham’s orders were changed soon after his arrival and he was sent elsewhere for “expeditionary duty,” but he returned in July only to find that no aircraft were available for him to train on. 

Undeterred, he got the Corps to give him orders to the aircraft factory and obtained instruction from the civilians there. He obtained less than three hours of instruction before taking off solo on August 20. Improvise, adapt and overcome, right, Marines?

Cunningham thus became the Marine Corps’ first aviator and the fifth pilot in the Department of the Navy. In 1913 he participated in the first Naval Aviation exercises with the fleet in Cuba, demonstrating the first use of airplanes in scouting missions.

As Assistant Quartermaster of the Washington Naval Yard, he recommended the establishment of a Navy Air Department, a Naval Air Station at Pensacola, and the placement of an airplane aboard every battleship. He would also go on to become the first pilot to fly a catapult takeoff from a warship under way.

His actions would lead to the success of early aerial combat during the first World War and his contributions to military aviation remain immeasurable. The First Marine Corps Aviator and First Director of Marine Corp Aviation died May 27, 1939 in Sarasota, Florida. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

MIGHTY TRENDING

MARSOC is getting a new commander—here’s what you need to know

The MARSOC (Marine Forces Special Operations Command) Communication Strategy and Operations office has confirmed that current MARSOC Commanding General, Major General Daniel Yoo, will be retiring and relinquishing his command and during a ceremony currently scheduled for June 26, 2020. MajGen Yoo assumed command of MARSOC, headquartered at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on August 10, 2018.

The Marine Corps Manpower & Reserve Affairs office confirmed with SOFREP that, at this time, incoming MARSOC commanding officer, Major General James Glynn, is scheduled to move in from his current post as Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and Eastern Recruiting Region. According to Glynn’s official bio, he “served at Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC)—first as the Military Assistant to the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps and then as the Director of the Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication. A native of Albany, New York, his service as a Marine began in 1989 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering.”


Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

Major General James Glynn. Official USMC photo.

Excluding any potential COVID-19-related delays or a last-minute change of plans by Headquarters Marine Corps, the timing of Yoo’s departure is in line with the historical two-year period that commanders spend in charge of the Marine Corps’ elite Special Operations component. However, in Yoo’s case the timing is leading many to question his public silence over supporting three of his own Marine Raiders whom he ordered to be sent to a general court martial for multiple charges related to the death of a defense contractor in Erbil, Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) on New Year’s Eve, 2018.

Video evidence would surface, confirming that the defense contractor (Rick Rodriguez) was highly intoxicated and clearly the aggressor in the situation and that Gunnery Sergeant Joshua Negron, Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Draher, and Chief Petty Officer Eric Gilmet did not use excessive force when defending themselves.

Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

Major General Daniel Yoo. Official USMC photo.

Yoo attended the funeral of Rick Rodriguez, but up to this point he has not once spoken a word of support for his men in spite of the fact that video proves they are innocent. Command silence on matters like this fuels speculation that the accused are guilty and mischaracterizes them of committing a drunken murder, yet Marine Corps and MARSOC leadership still choose to remain silent.

MajGen Glynn will soon be assuming the role of convening authority for the upcoming court-martial involving the MARSOC 3. As the new MARSOC Commanding General, Glynn will have the authority to review the MARSOC 3 case and determine whether to make changes to any aspect of it – including the ability to dismiss the charges. There is still time for him to take a fresh look at this case and do the right thing for his men. Marine Corps offices contacted by SOFREP have indicated that MajGen Glynn does not wish to provide comment at this time.

This article originally appeared on SOFREP. Follow @sofrepofficial on Twitter.


MIGHTY HISTORY

How Ben Franklin helped establish the Post Office to win the Revolutionary War

The Post Office is in dangerous peril right now, and like most Americans, you might be wondering what you can do to help. Well, the most obvious thing is to send more mail. Buying a pack of Forever stamps helps, and so does sending little notes in the mail. It’s fun to send postcards and notes and equally exciting to receive something besides junk mail or bills, plus you’re doing your civic duty in helping prop up a bona fide American institution. One other thing you can do is get a clear understanding of how our post office came to be and what factors contributed to its formation.

The USPS got its start in 1775 during the Second Continental Congress. During the Revolutionary War, American colonies relied on communication via horseback riders who transported messages between cities, towns, and the battlefields. Making sure the mail was delivered quickly and efficiently was difficult. Still, it was also critical to the survival of the colonists and the service personnel who were fighting the Revolutionary War. Because of its vast importance to the earliest days of America, it’s often said that the post office helped create American democracy. Though the earliest Americans might not have realized it at the time, introducing a standardized postal service was the first step in creating a connected and unified country.


Three months after the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Concord, the Continental Congress looked to Benjamin Franklin to formally establish a postal service. As the first Postmaster General, Franklin had a lot of work to do, with limited time and a limited budget. But one thing he did have on his side was the support of leadership and the early American public’s support. Everyone understood that there was something very important to be gained by establishing a national postal service and something critical that would be lost without it.

Franklin was the publisher of The Pennsylvania Gazette, and the year he was appointed postmaster, he leaned into a distinct fringe benefit of his new role. He was able to send his newspaper to readers at no cost. This helped the Pennsylvania Gazette gain a large circulation and helped serve another purpose as well – it educated the public on what was happening with the war. In 1753, Franklin was appointed the postmaster of all 13 colonies. During his tenure, he traveled extensively along the postal routes to find the most reliable and efficient route for riders. This helped lay the groundwork for our current post office, and it helped create a system of communication for everyone living in the country at the time.

The connections Franklin created on postal routes also allowed battle messages to reach leadership faster. Being up to date on troop movements, morale, and supply needs helped command chains stay ahead of the British and contributed greatly to the Revolutionary War effort.

Of all the founding institutions introduced during the earliest days of forming America, the Post Office is incredibly overlooked and undervalued, underappreciated, and unstudied. For many decades, the post office served as a de facto connection between citizens and the government. Prior to introducing the post office, knowledge of public affairs had always been limited to a specific and elite population. America needed something new, something that would allow news to be circulated throughout the entire country. The founding members of the Continental Congress wanted something different for the country they were creating and realized early on that a post office would be the central network by which they could spread information and provide access to knowledge.

Unlike other post offices in mainland Europe, Franklin wanted the American post office to transport not just mail but also ideas. In addition to delivering letters and cards, the post office creation subsidized the delivery of newspapers, which helped create an informed electorate. This was unmatched at the time and helped bind together the early colonists and set the expectation that Americans should always have open access to information. Now more than ever, that open access to information is important, just as Franklin knew two hundred years ago.

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