7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

If you’re in the military, you’re going to move. It’s a fact of military life. Uprooting your life can be hard enough without government paid movers breaking all of your stuff. Yes, you can file claims for damaged goods and get reimbursed, but did you know that there’s a way to make some money and ensure your stuff gets to your next base intact? After all, if you want a job done right, do it yourself.

That’s right, you can choose to perform a Do It Yourself move. A DITY will earn you an incentive payment of up to 95% of what it would otherwise cost the government to move you and your stuff. Here are some tips and tricks to help ensure you have a smooth move to your next base.

1. Overkill is underrated

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Still a better ride than a Humvee (Uhaul)

Not sure what size truck to rent? Get the biggest one. The last headache you need while packing up your life is finding out that not everything will fit in the moving truck. Remember, you get reimbursed for the cost of rentals. As long as you feel comfortable driving it, go all out with that 26-footer. Once you get it out on the road, it’s really not that bad. Just be sure to use your mirrors.

2. Buy all the moving supplies

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
(military.com)

Boxes? Buy a ton. Tape? That’s not enough. Bubble wrap? Just take it all. With a similar mindset to the truck, a shortage of moving supplies while packing your place up is always an unwelcome surprise. Yes, you can always go out and buy more if you’re short, and you should. But that will cut into your moving time and when it comes to out-processing, time is so rarely on your side. Consumable materials like these are also reimbursed by Uncle Sam, so have plenty on hand. Plus, most major moving suppliers will allow you to return excess supplies. You’re covered either way.

3. You don’t have to do it all yourself

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Pizza is a great incentive (U.S. Army)

Willing to shell out for some pizza and drinks? Enlist the aid of some buddies to help you pack the truck. The military is a team environment and that includes help with moving. Plus it gives everyone a chance to hang out and say goodbye. Maybe you just have a few odd and/or heavy pieces of furniture that won’t fit in a moving truck (see tip #1 first). You can opt to do a partial DITY. That is, have the government move those difficult items free of charge and move everything else yourself. If the government movers get to the next place before you, no worries. The government authorizes up to 90 days of temporary storage at the receiving location. Just call to schedule a more convenient delivery day and time.

4. Stock up

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Yes, motorcycles count toward the weight of your household goods (U.S. Army)

The government will pay you based on the weight that you move and the distance that you move it. The more you pack the truck, the more money you get. Now, I’m not saying to cram it full of rocks or water barrels. That’s called fraud and will land you in some hot water. But what about that home gym set you’ve been eyeing? Or the motorcycle you’ve been meaning to treat yourself to. Heck, your cat always needs more litter, right? Better to get those things at your current base and move with them than get them at your next base and miss out on moving that weight. It’s also worth noting that it’s to your advantage to weigh the truck full with a full tank of gas too.

5. Save your receipts

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Those receipts are literally your money (U.S. Air Force)

If you’ve been in the military for a minute, you know that if it’s not on paper, it didn’t happen. The government will reimburse you based on the receipts of your expenses. That Uhaul rental receipt that you got in your email? Save it. The rope that you bought at Home Depot to tie stuff down in the truck? Save that receipt too. The gas pump won’t print you a receipt from your fill-up? You’d better go into the gas station and politely ask for your receipt, because a picture on your phone of the pump’s screen won’t do it.

6. Take the toll

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Hopefully your drive looks better than this (USDot)

On a weekend trip, that $5 toll to shave off 20 minutes might not be worth it. But if you’re cruising the highway all day for a few days straight to get to your next base on time, the toll road is worth the cost. Plus, the cost of those tolls can be reimbursed too. Just be sure to keep a record of what tolls you take so that you can claim them on your travel voucher. Receipts aren’t required unless it exceeds $75. Make your life easier and have some change and small bills on hand.

7. Know what doesn’t count

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Sorry, your Camaro doesn’t count for weight (Uhaul)

Unfortunately, not every DITY expense is reimbursed. While the cost of a truck rental is covered, the cost of an auto trailer rental is not. Moreover, the weight of an auto trailer and the car being towed on it cannot count towards your total move weight. Likewise, any optional insurance you purchase to cover rental equipment is not eligible for reimbursement. Although consumable moving materials like boxes and tape can be reimbursed, certain items like ratchet straps and padlocks are not considered consumables. Finally, Uncle Sam only reimburses the actual cost of rentals, supplies, and gas. Any sales tax paid on top will not be reimbursed.

Military Life

6 tips to help you survive the notorious ‘Crucible’

Since 1996, “the Crucible” has been the subject of Marine recruits’ nightmares. It serves as the final test you must complete in order to officially and finally earn the title of United States Marine. During this 54-hour event, your platoon is split into squads, each led by one of your drill instructors, and each recruit must take a crack at being squad leader.

Throughout boot camp, you become accustomed to getting 8 hours of sleep and enjoying 3 meals per day, but during the Crucible, you’ll get just 6 hours of rest and three MREs to last you the whole 54-hour period. You’ll have to face down physical challenges throughout the day to test your mettle and see if you really have what it takes to be a Marine.

Here are some tips for surviving.


7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Remember — you’ll need this skill for the rest of your career.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Yamil Casarreal)

Work as a team

Most of the challenges you’re going to face are team-based. You and the other recruits have developing individual strengths throughout boot camp, but you may not yet have developed great teamwork skills. The Crucible will, essentially, force you to figure it out.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Don’t be a weak leader.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Jacob)

Take charge

When you’re selected to be the squad leader, be loud, be firm, and don’t be afraid to use the powerful voice you’ve spent the last three months perfecting.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Even if you plan ahead, be prepared to be hungry the whole time.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Carlin Warren)

Plan your meals

For the love of Chesty Puller, don’t scarf down your only meal for the day. Divide up your snacks and save the main meal. It sucks, but it’s better than going hungry in the second half because you ate everything during the first.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Just say, “f*ck it.”

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Pete Thibodeau)

Don’t be afraid to do anything

Hopefully, during boot camp, you’ve learned the importance courage since it’s one of the core values of the Corps. If you’re not brave yet, the Crucible is filled with challenges that will make sure you are before you become a Marine.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Just get back up and keep moving.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph Jacob)

Be resilient

You may fail some challenges, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get to try again. So, don’t get discouraged when you’re getting smoked by a drill instructor.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Embrace the suck and you’ll make it through.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Yamil Casarreal)

Have a positive attitude

A positive outlook will get you through any situation. Even if you’re sitting on the cold dirt at 3 am when it’s less than 30 degrees outside, if you can find a way to be positive, you’ll get through it. If you learn this during boot camp, the rest of your military career will be a piece of cake.

Military Life

7 do’s and dont’s of surviving toxic leadership in the military

The buzz word that seems to never leave the tips of the Big Military’s tongue is “toxic leadership.” It can be defined as the behavior of a leader who puts their own well-being first while destroying the well-being of everyone underneath them — the type of person who would stand on the neck of their troops if it meant a single “attaboy” from their own superiors.


Do not get this twisted. Toxic leadership is not “Sergeant said something mean to me one time!” It is not “Sergeant had to punish me when I messed up!” And it is not “Sergeant made me do military things!” Toxic leadership is like bad art. You can’t quite nail down how to perfectly define it, but when you see it — you know.

1. Do praise the good leaders

During my time in the Army, I’ve had the pleasure of serving under some damn fine officers and NCOs (a few of which I know read my articles years after I got my own DD-214 blanket.) Every single one of the good ones understand that respect is a two-way street. And every single one took strong stands against the toxic leadership that is “the scoliosis of the backbone of the Army.”

If you want to see the good leaders, shine a light on them. They’re out there. This is best and most effective means to cleaning the toxicity out of the military.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
And you’ll never forget the lessons the damn good ones taught you. (Author is on the far left. Image via Facebook)

 

2. When dealing with toxic leadership, don’t give up 

If you do find yourself under the boot of one of those slimy bastards, continue the fight. If you want to count the days until your blanket, that’s fine. If you want to put an end to that crap to help your brothers and sisters-in-arms, that’s better.

No one should ever hate their time in the military. We’re a family closer than most blood families.

 

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Good leaders aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty with their troops. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy Laboy)

 

3. Do respectfully and professionally communicate with them

The first sentence of the U.S. Army and Air Force Non-commissioned officer creed is: No one is more professional than I. The Marines have “I am the backbone of the Marine Corps” and is a sentiment shared by every branch. These are the words they swore to live by. If they are worth a damn, they prove it every day.

Find out if what they’re doing is truly toxic or if there’s just a bigger picture at play. Even if you don’t owe it to them, owe it to the rank they wear.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Never forget, your superiors are still human. They may make mistakes, but they will still have human moments with you. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Aaron S. Patterson)

4. Don’t disrespect their position or rank

That being said, even if every fiber of your being is saying they don’t deserve their rank, you can’t lose your military bearing. Keep the formalities. Stand at attention or parade rest. Refer to them by their rank and don’t use expletives in reference to them.

It’s much harder for your concerns to be taken seriously if you come across as complaining to their peers.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
If you lose your bearing, you lose the fight against toxicity. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade)

 

5. Do Command Climate Surveys

The most mind-numbing briefings and paperwork lower enlisted seem to do is a Command Climate Survey. They seem to get filled with a bunch of fluff that won’t change things — or fluff that can’t be changed. But what actually gets the hosts of the surveys to sit on the edge of their seats is signs of actual toxic leadership.

They won’t bother listening to gripes and complaints. However, if you point out specific events and provide actual solutions: they do listen.

 

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Command Climate Surveys really are the most effective means, even if it doesn’t seem feel it. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James Vazquez)

 

6. Don’t put toxic leadership on blast

Keep your bearing. If you know the reason they’re not at morning formation isn’t because they’re “at Dental,” you don’t need to shout it out in front of the platoon. And whatever you do, don’t put a photo out of context on social media.

Use the open door policy to their superior. Explain the situation in a more controlled environment that won’t put a target on your back.

 

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
That, and blasting them on Social Media is an offense under UCMJ of online misconduct (Dog used to not single anyone out.) (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class Devin N. Boyer)

 

7. Do strive to be better than toxic leaders

To avoid sounding like one of those knitted pillows on Grandma’s couch, everything is a learning experience. It’s easy to look at the good leaders and follow their footsteps. But it’s much more critical to look at a toxic leader and say “When I’m that rank, I will never be like them.”

Watch them burn, hold your head up high and march forward. Right now, you’re the leader your unit needs.

 

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
These words stuck with me and can be found on the walls of the 7th Army NCO Academy. Never forget them.(Image via AZ Quotes)

When in doubt, make sure they receive this link: How to not be a dirtbag CGO

Military Life

What to expect from a job search after leaving the Army

Before starting his job search, Robert People enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with his family.

I retired from the Army in 2018 after serving for 21 years. While I immensely enjoyed my career, people I met, relationships I developed, and lessons I learned, I was ready for the next chapter of my life.

The Army prepares soldiers for this next stage of their life through SFL-TAP (Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program). This is a program in which soldiers transitioning from the military to a civilian career receive assistance with resume writing, interview preparations, and schooling options, such as mechanics training or commercial driver’s license school (CDL), along with much more. I felt that I was set to be just fine and ready to work once I spent some time on vacation.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Robert People retired from the US Army after 21 years of service.

I enjoyed the first few months after I retired. I was able to spend some time traveling all over the country and visiting my family. I kept in mind all the opportunities that I believed would be available for me as a veteran, along with having obtained my CDL prior to leaving the military.

Because I remembered what I heard from my recently-retired military friends and other retirees who found work shortly after their military careers ended, I thought finding a job would be relatively simple. However, my personal circumstances made that search a little more difficult. Along with this, there were a few other areas I was a little surprised by during my job search.

For those who are following this or a similar path, here are just a few tips I learned that may be helpful:

1. Have a backup plan

Despite all of what was available, flexibility was important. I learned that there were not too many trucking companies where I lived at the time that immediately offered the option of working and coming home every evening, which is something I thought was possible as I went through school. Due to that and other personal circumstances, truck driving was not an option for me at that time. You may have to be prepared to go a different route in a certain area than you initially expected.

2. The devil is in the details

Pay attention Asking specific questions is also necessary and will help in the long run. I was not fully aware that businesses required applications to be completed strictly online, as cover letters were either mandatory or extremely beneficial to be submitted with a resume, depending on the career. I do not blame SFL-TAP for this, because in hindsight I realized that I could have asked better questions or paid better attention to what I saw as “smaller” details back then.

3. Research locations

If you are moving from the area of your last duty station, it is important to learn what you will need for the area you are moving to, along with any changes that you may need to make. I moved from Killeen, Texas, with a population of about 140,000 to the Tampa Bay area in Florida, with a population of nearly 3 million. I thought this might be helpful due to the larger area and population. However, as I wanted to continue working with the military in some capacity, I did not consider that I was moving from a military community to an area where the nearest military base is about a 45-minute drive from where I live.

Shortly after getting settled in Florida, the COVID-19 pandemic happened. For most of 2020, this greatly reduced job opportunities as many businesses had to shut down temporarily and permanently. I looked for opportunities to work from home and saw limited success. I would estimate that I was able to land one interview for about every 25 jobs I applied for, until I was fortunately able to earn a temporary job — with the potential for full-time employment in the future — working for a not-for-profit company that supports the children of fallen special operations troops.

Military retirees often have not worked many jobs, if any at all, before enlisting, since initial enlistments frequently happen during the teenage years. I worked at one fast-food restaurant before joining the Army. Many of us learn this job search and interview process for the very first time in our late 30s to early 40s, or even later. Transitioning from the military to civilian life can be tough, especially when the unexpected happens. But persistence, flexibility and adapting to change can make that process a lot less stressful.

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MONEY

6 ways veterans and service members can get their taxes done for free

It’s time for taxes! Whether you are a single service member living in the barracks, a retired four star spending your days fishing in Hawaii, or a veteran with a family working your way through college, taxes have to be done.


I used to have this elementary school teacher, Mrs. West.

I remember Mrs. West standing in front of our class and telling us with extreme seriousness that only two things in America were guaranteed: eventual death and taxes.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Holden Smith, 633rd Air Base Wing Judge Advocate paralegal, assists Senior Airman Terrence Eaton, logistics readiness squadron vehicle maintenance journeymen, in filling out a form at the Langley Air Force Base, Va., tax center Feb. 5, 2013. Joint Base Langley-Eustis tax centers are set to open Feb. 2 for the 2015 income tax season. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Senior Airman Aubrey White/ Released)

I remember that half of my class got super interested in science in hopes of figuring out how to one day live forever, and the rest of us just kind of groaned and decided that our parents were going to do our taxes forever if the other kids figured out that whole science thing.

And so far those damn science kids still haven’t come through for us, and we still have to pay taxes.

Adulting is hard AF, amiright?

Don’t have a heart attack yet, because there is hope — not for science, they still haven’t come through — but for taxes.

There are a lot of ways and places to get your taxes done for free or almost free, and this is really great because math and I got a divorce in my freshmen year of college and we haven’t spoken since.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Army Spc. Coltin Jenkins, tax preparer, works with customers of the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Consolidated Tax center in Building 205 on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base March 17, 2015. (Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAO photo by Rachel Larue)

1. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

VITA, is sponsored by the IRS. Most larger military installations have a VITA office on base during tax season. VITA isn’t military specific, but they generally help tax payers who make less than $54,000. Check out VITA, what you need to take with you on a visit, and where their offices are.

2. Military OneSource

This outfit prepares and files taxes for free for active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve, and their spouses; retirees who were honorably discharged and are within 180 days past their discharge date, eligible survivors of active duty, National Guard and Reserve deceased service members, and family members who are in charge of the affairs of eligible service members are also eligible.

3. IRS Free File

Get this, the IRS lets you do your own taxes. For free. Sweet deal? Or worst nightmare. You decide. Either way, the IRS will allow you to download software to do your taxes for free if you make below $64,000, and they’ll give you a free form if you make above $64,000. I guess the folks sitting right on $64,000 are just SOL.

4. TurboTax

Uber popular TurboTax has a sweet deal right now. You can download their 1040EZ or 1040A for free, and the rest of their products are fairly well discounted. E1 – E5 can get the Deluxe Edition from TurboTax for free (normally $54.99), and E6 and above get a discount on all products. The best thing about TurboTax is if for any reason the IRS comes back and says “You done effed up,” TurboTax will pay you for the IRS penalties.

5. TaxSlayer.com

This service has a great military discount. Currently, its website advertises 50 percent off classic or premium editions. They have free email and phone support, and boast about being 100 percent accurate. They do not, however, guarantee no penalties from the IRS if there is a mistake.

6. H&R Block

These guys have a cool thing for filing online for anywhere from free to $38.49. The program is called H&R Block More Zero (because “Taxes are Lame” and “You Think These Taxes are About You” was apparently taken). H&R Block does offer peace of mind. For a fee. And it really is called “Peace of Mind.”

Here’s how it works: You get your taxes done. You pay an additional fee, and they promise that if you’re audited, they’ll send one of their lawyers to court with you and pay up to $6,000 in fees if they lose. If you don’t pay the extra… no peace of mind for you.

Also, they don’t offer any kind of discount for military.

Articles

This is what happens to military working dogs after retirement

After about ten to twelve years, it’s usually time for a military working dog (MWD) to retire.


Unlike us, they don’t get out and start celebrating life immediately. Hundreds of them are sent to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas every year. Before November 2000, most of the dogs were euthanized or just left in the battlefield troops just left (because despite the rank and funeral honors, they’re listed as equipment).

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Military Working Dog Ttoby, 23d Security Forces Squadron, prepares for an MWD demonstration, Feb. 2, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ttoby is a Belgian Malinois and specializes in personnel protection and detecting explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

Thankfully, “Robby’s Law” opens up adoption to their former handlers, law enforcement, and civilian families.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Five puppies cloned from Trakr, a German shepherd, who made headlines by rescuing victims from the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, mug for cameras. (Yonhap News photo)

When a dog is retired out, it is usually because of injury or sickness and the best person to care for the puppy is the handler. More than 90% of these good dogs get adopted by their handler. Makes sense — calling a military working dog your “battle buddy” seems less awkward when the context is with a Labrador Retriever.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Senior Airman Jordan Crouse pets his MWD Hector during a patrol dog certification qualification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mozer O. Da Cunha)

Next on the order of precedent in MWD adoption is law enforcement. Their services would be invaluable within police forces because they are trained to do exactly when the police would need them to do. However, the dogs are contractually agreed to belong to the department. They are the only ones allowed to allow the dogs to perform patrol, security, or substance detection work and the DoD has strict restrictions otherwise.

Sadly, even the police force won’t take the rest of the military working dogs because of their age or injury. This is where civilians come in. Bare in mind, adoption isn’t a quick process and applicants are carefully screened. It may take about a year on the waiting list to get your first interview.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
(Official Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Margaret Gale)

They are not some goofy pug you can just adopt and take home. These dogs have usually deployed and show the same symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress. These dogs were trained to sniff out roadside bombs and to fight the Taliban and now have trouble socializing with other dogs and aren’t as playful as they were before.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ramon A. Adelan)

The MWD selection process demands that the most energetic and playful puppies are needed for combat. After years of fighting, these old dogs show signs of nervous exhaustion and distress. If that pulls at your heart strings because it hits close to home, it is scientifically proven that dogs (including these MWDs) can aid and benefit those with Post Traumatic Stress.

Related: A dog’s love can cure anything – including PTSD

If you don’t mind the wait, have an appropriate living space for a large dog, and are willing to aid these four legged veterans, there are organizations that can help. Save-A-Vet and Mission K9 Rescue are great places to start.

MIGHTY TRENDING

An American is now a senior ISIS commander in Syria

In April, 2015, the son of a New Jersey pizza shop owner left the United States. His destination was an Islamic State training camp in Syria. Shortly after arriving, he allegedly emerged in a video posted to social media, beheading Kurdish fighters captured by ISIS. Now, Zulfi Hoxha may be in command of ISIS fighters in the country.


How Islamic State fighters survive the onslaught from American, Kurdish, Syrian, Russian, Iranian, and/or Turkish forces is baffling to many, but Zulfi Hoxha has managed to stay alive through it all, even after the fall of the ISIS capital at Raqqa and the subsequent collapse of the terrorist “caliphate.”

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Hoxha now goes by the name Abu Hamza al-Amriki, the last being a nod to his country of origin. He’s been seen in a number of pro-ISIS jihadist propaganda videos, doing everything from encouraging “lone wolf” attacks in the United States to actually beheading enemy soldiers captured in combat. At just 26, he’s being touted as one of the most dangerous recruiting tools of the declining Islamic State.

We used to joke around like, ‘We know you can’t stand us Americans.’ And he would laugh like, haha, ‘Yeah, we can’t stand you Americans,'” former coworker Joseph Cacia told Philadelphia’s NBC10. “But you didn’t think he was serious. You thought he was playing along.”
7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Only a few dozen Americans have left the U.S. to join international terrorist organizations. Hoxha is significant in that he is now a major propaganda star and is featured as a senior commander of the Islamic State forces. But since the apogee of ISIS’ rise to power in 2014, the group has lost the kind of success that would attract followers like Hoxha.

Having graduated from an Atlantic City, N.J., high school in 2010, youth like Hoxha saw ISIS in control of some 34,000 square miles of territory cut out of Iraq and Syria – a territory roughly the size of Maine. In the years since, the group has lost most of that territory, along with the prestige, money, and followers that kind of success attracts. In previous years, ISIS members like Hoxha were propaganda stars on social media, but after the worldwide effort to curb ISIS recruiting, jihadists are more likely to be found on dark websites than on Twitter.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Iraqi Federal Police hold an upside-down ISIS flag after retaking streets in Mosul.

Hoxha has had minimal contact with former friends and family back in New Jersey. He sent a message to one friend shortly after leaving the United States to tell him that he had arrived in “the Safe House.” He also told his mother that he was going to be training for three months. Now he is one of just a few Americans who rose to a leadership position in the Islamic State and other jihadist organizations.

Many of the others are dead, most killed by U.S. airstrikes.

Military Life

How a pilot in one of America’s least stealthy aircraft saved a downed pilot from one of the stealthiest

In March 1999, NATO announced that coalition forces would begin a massive air war and bombing campaign against Serbia. Within hours after the first round of strikes, an A-10 squadron received an urgent call that one of America’s stealthiest aircraft had been shot down — the F-117 Nighthawk.


It was reported the stealth pilot managed to bail out in time but was trapped deep behind enemy lines.

As rebel forces assembled to hunt down the American pilot, allied forces gathered and quickly began designing a search and rescue mission to locate their missing brother.

“One of the things I have to do as the on-scene commander is figure out if he’s ready to be picked up,” Air Force pilot John Cherrey explains.

Related: 5 countries that tried to shoot down the SR-71 Blackbird (and failed)

Since landing an A-10 in enemy territory was impractical, using Black Hawks to pick up the missing pilot was the only option. But with Serbian missiles on high alert, there was no way helicopters could outrun enemy defenses.

The rescue mission must be handled with extreme caution or risk losing more men, so developing a clever plan was in order.

The Warthog’s commanders decided to create a diversion that would prompt Serbian anti-air missile radar to look in one direction, while the slower Black Hawks swooped in through the enemies’ back door.

Also Read: That time American POWs refused a CIA rescue mission in Vietnam

Their plan worked as the two Black Hawks managed to sneak their way to the downed pilot and egresses out of the Serbian air space. Once the A-10s were notified the pilot was safe, they bugged out and went home. No additional casualties were reported.

Mission complete.

Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video to see how Allied forces went on this daring rescue mission for yourself.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)

Articles

6 reasons why it’s not a good idea to attack a Marine FOB

Being forward deployed in a foreign country has many dangers. No matter how well you fortify your Forward Operating Base, it’ll never be safe — only safer.


But for months or even years, it’s home for hundreds of service members…surrounded by an enemy on all sides who want to bring harm to them on a daily basis.

One thing Marines take seriously is making sure that while their brothers and sisters rest inside the wire — they’re safe. With different security levels in place, check out six obstacles that the enemy has to breach before even getting inside.

1. Hesco barriers

One aspect of fighting in the desert is the massive amounts of sand, dirt, and rocks that are available. Filling the natural resources in the encased barriers provides excellent protection against most types of enemy fire.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Marines from 1st CEB, fill Hesco barriers at a combat outpost in Musa Qal’eh, Afghanistan. (Photo via 1stMarDiv)

2. Heavy guns in the nest

Occupying the high ground gives allied forces the best vantage possible. Add in a few Marines with big guns waiting for the bad guys to feel froggy — that’s protection.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
The bad guys may want to rethink how they attack with these Marines on deck. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

3. Serpentine

Even if granted permission to access the FOB, entering should be difficult. Serpentine belts force incoming vehicles to slow down and maneuver through the barrier maze.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
If you don’t have permission to enter, the Marines will definitely open fire.  (Photo via Global Security)

4. Security rounds

Marines carry hundreds of rounds on their person at any given time. Carrying a full combat load on patrol can wear the body down. Inside a FOB, you can ease up on your personal security — a little.

Instead of carrying 210 rounds, they’ll have the 30 security rounds inserted in their magazine.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
(Photo via Gun Deals)

5. Surveillance

In warfare, it’s essential to have cameras positioned everywhere and that see everything.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Dear bad guys, we totally see you. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

6. Claymores

Over time, the gravel inside the Hescos will settle, causing separation between the individual barriers. When FOB security notices this interruption, they frequently place and conceal claymore mines in between the Hescos until the issue is patched up.

If the enemy tries to and squeeze through — boom!

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Lance Cpl. Timothy W. Literal sets up a claymore anti-personnel mine. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

Military Life

6 ways to kill time while at ‘Mojave Viper’

If you’re a Marine or sailor and your unit receives orders to deploy, then you’re also looking at spending a little over a month training in the Mojave Desert. Every year, Marines from all over the U.S. and Japan take a trip to Twentynine Palms, California, where they eat, sleep, and sh*t war games against role players pretending to be the bad guys.

During your stay at “29 stumps,” you’ll get to blow up a lot of stuff, eat plenty of MREs, and sweat your ass off in the process.


Although you’ll have plenty of training to do, you’ll also find yourself bored as hell between activities as you sit in the middle of the desert at Camp Wilson.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
This isn’t an establishing shot for the next Transformers movie,t’s your home during your stay in Mojave Viper.
(Photo by Marine Cpl Michael Dye)

Instead of twiddling your thumbs, try the following to keep your mind occupied. You’ll thank us later.

www.youtube.com

Play “knock down the other guy”

Between training revolutions, you’ll have no form of entertainment. Idle minds wander — this is when you’ll come up with new games to play with your fellow brothers. Everyone has a flak jacket and SAPI plates, right? It might be time to enjoy a semi-violent game of “knock down the other guy.”

Sleep, sleep, and then sleep some more

Do you really need any more explanation?

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Search for cell service

Cell towers don’t cover most areas of the camp. However, there are a few cell-phone companies that extend service into select spots. We’ve discovered tiny, three-square-foot pockets of service and, once we left that magic spot, we got nothing.

It’s possible to find a signal, you just have to hunt for it.

Work on your six pack

While in Twentynine Palms, you’re going to sweat, which also means you’re losing weight. While you’re waiting to do whatever your platoon commander has planned for the day, you should knock out some crunches and planks. After a few weeks of training, you’re going to rotate home — those six-pack abs will be good for your dating life.

www.youtube.com

Document how much fun you’re having with a funny YouTube video

Marines can have fun just about anywhere at any time because of the dark sense of humor they proudly inherit from the grunts who came before them. To pass the time while you’re out in the blistering heat with nothing to do, make a video. Document how much fun you’re having.

Watch a movie on your phone

You better have the entire film downloaded to your iPhone or Andriod. Even if you find a little pocket of signal out there, it won’t be enough to download an entire movie — just sayin’.

Military Life

6 things not to do while getting an Article 15

For better or worse, non-judicial punishment (NJP) is exactly what the name implies. As authorized by Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a commander may discipline their troop without the need for a court-martial.

On the one hand, a commander is keeping things at the lowest level possible and punishments can only be so extreme (depending on the type of NJP, of course). On the other, due process is sidestepped and the judge, jury, and executioner is a single person.


But there are a few ways to make sure your Article 15 process goes as smoothly as possible. Here’s what you shouldn’t do:

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Why the hell would there be such a glaring loophole that says you can’t be in trouble if you don’t want to be?

(Photo by Naoto Anazawa)

Don’t think not signing means you’re in the clear

It’s an embarrassingly common misconception. Some people think that signing an Article 15 is an admission of guilt. It’s not. It’s just saying that you agree to go down that route. More often than not, depending on the circumstances, you’ll want to just take the NJP.

Escalating the hearing to court-martial means that you’re putting yourself at risk of confinement and possibly an administrative discharge. If you are facing just a summarized Article 15 (the least severe of NJPs), the most you can get is 14 days of extra duty, 14 days of restriction, and an oral reprimand.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Every situation is unique, but it’s more than likely that you want to stay at just the NJP level.

(Photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Carter)

Don’t cry for a lawyer

Your civil rights are still a thing when facing a NJP, but it’s not always the best course of action to call for a lawyer when the punishment can be kept in house. You are allowed legal representation (if you’re not facing the extremely light summarized), but remember, you’re not convincing a military judge who has heard many trials.

Instead, you’re trying to convince your commander who has long been with you and should (probably) know who you are as a troop by now. You may bring spokesmen, evidence, and witnesses and you should probably let the person who knows the commander best do all the talking.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Why would you want to upset the one person who holds your career in their hands?

(Photo by Lance Cpl. Donte Busker)

Don’t mouth off to your commander

Now is not the time to pop off with an attitude. If you know with 100% certainty that you are innocent, explain the situation as calmly and soundly as possible. If you know you’re guilty and the commander has you dead-to-rights, then don’t dig your grave deeper.

Actual judges and justices must hide emotion and let the facts do the talking. Your commander doesn’t want the unit to look bad and is doing what they must. The fact that they allowed you to just take an Article 15 instead of automatically going to court-martial means they’re at least a little bit on your side.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Just hide back in the formation and keep your nose clean.

(Photo by Cpl. Justin Huffty)

Don’t scoff at the chance of a suspended punishment

Another element unique to an Article 15 is that the commander may suspend the punishment. Meaning, if they choose, a commander can put you on probation without any actions taken against you. This probation can last up to six months and, at the end of those six months, the commander may believe your punishment was paid for with a very stern lecture (if your behavior’s been good).

Thank your commander if they give you this option and keep your word when you say, “it’ll never happen again.” One slip up and your actual punishment begins. This could even happen for something small, like being a minute late to PT formation.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Each link on the chain may be more and more time consuming…

(Photo by Master Sgt. Joey Swafford)

If you feel you were unjustly punished, don’t forget to appeal

But let’s not give every single commander the benefit of the doubt. We’ll admit it; there are bad apples who may drop the hammer for a slight infraction because they hold a grudge against you. You always have the right to appeal the verdict, escalating the issue to the next highest level.

If you appeal within five days, your case will be brought higher. Worst case scenario, your appeal gets denied. If it gets accepted, then the worst case is that your punishment stays the same. You don’t really have anything to lose by appealing.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

But your buddies will still laugh with you. Or at you, depending on what you did.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo)

After two years (or you PCS/ETS), don’t bring it up again

This final tip is for E-4 and below. After two years (or if you PCS/ETS), an Article 15 is destroyed and can’t be used against you.

E-5 and above, unfortunately, have the Article 15 on their record forever (unless you have it expunged). If you messed up as an E-3, took it on the chin like an adult, and now you’re thinking of staying in, just keep that embarrassing blemish on an otherwise clean career to yourself and nobody will give a damn.

Military Life

5 types of first sergeants you’ll face in the infantry

It’s the first sergeant’s job to assist the commanding officer in matters of discipline, administrative work, and the unit’s morale and welfare. Regardless of how well this mission is completed in the eyes of the lower-enlisted, earning the rank of first sergeant takes many years of hard work and dedication to the Marine Corps.

Members of the E-8 pay-grade are some of the most interesting and badass Marines you’ll ever meet as you climb through the ranks. They come in several varieties:


7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Good luck getting your original voice back after all those years of screaming at young recruits.

The former drill instructor

You can easily identify this type of first sergeant. First, listen to how raspy their voice is from years of yelling at recruits during training. This type of first sergeant is outstanding at calling cadences during PT and formation marches — for good reason; they’ve had plenty of practice.

The one that everyone respects

Once you enter the infantry, you’ll begin to judge other Marines and sailors based purely on they the way they look. There’s tons of competition within infantry houses; it’s our way of sizing up those we must outperform. However, there are a few senior-enlisted Marines whose appearances alone will tell you that they’re complete badasses.

You’ll look up to these guys.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

1st Sgt. Ambroga Carson Jr, addresses guests during his retirement ceremony on Camp Johnson N.C.

The speech-giver

Some Marines hold audiences captive with riveting speeches while others send people drifting off to sleepyland. Those who can keep your attention speak from their diaphragms and sound off like they have a pair. These vocal commanders are used to addressing whole companies of Marines and have tons of epic stories to tell.

The one who knows every freakin’ regulation in the book

An excellent first sergeant knows all the ins-and-outs their job — which is hard. Some troops will (foolishly) try to pull a fast one on the Marine who controls all the administrative work for the entire infantry company. However, these types of first sergeants don’t even have to bat an eye when it comes to Marine Corps policy.

They will rattle off nearly every regulation in the book if you try and test them.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

Haters will say this is photoshopped. It’s not.

(Photo by Joe Loong)

The one you can never find

When you need some paperwork signed, this type of first sergeant is never in his office when you go looking for them. So, where the hell do they go? Who the F knows…

Military Life

5 of the rarest unofficial US Navy ‘certificates’

The Navy has plenty of interesting and unique milestones for its sailors to strive for. Though they never appear on official paperwork and not all of them have ceremonies, they’re a fun bragging-rights challenge that sailors can use to flex on the uninitiated (aka ‘pollywogs’).


By accomplishing one of several feats, sailors are inducted into an unofficial ‘order’ and, with that order, typically comes eligibility for a specific tattoo. While not every order is represented by a tattoo, sailors with these markings are either full of sh*t or are undeniably badass.

Check out these 5 unofficial Navy ‘certificates’ for the seasoned sailor.

5. Shellback variations

The shellback is simple enough: a sailor on official duty “crosses the line” of the equator. A golden shellback is more impressive; it means they’ve crossed at or near the International Date Line. Even rarer, crossing at the Prime Meridian grants you access into the Order of the Emerald Shellback.

There is also the ebony shellback for crossing the Equator at Lake Victoria (which is almost entirely in Ugandan waters) and a top-secret shellback for submariners who cross the equator at a “classified” degree of longitude.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
So, if you see a Shellback tattoo, they’re either a Navy vet or they just really like turtles. (Image via Imgur)

4. Order of the Sparrow

To be initiated into this order, one must sail the seven seas. While the ancients had a different idea and classification of the term, “seven seas,” it is used in context of sailing the seven largest bodies of water. They are the four oceans (Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Indian), the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Checking a few off a sailor’s list isn’t hard — stay in long enough and you’ll get them. The challenge is getting on a voyage that goes through the last one you need.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Not to be confused with a swallow tattoo for every 5k nautical miles… or the Disney Pirate. (Image from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean)

3. Order of Magellan

This order goes out to every sailor that completes what Ferdinand Magellan couldn’t well, alive anyways, circumnavigating the world.

The Navy doesn’t really care or recognize fun ceremonies like these. They typically have a mission to set out, so we go from point A to point B efficiently. There is some leeway for morale purposes, which is why most ship Captains don’t mind taking some time out to go through the “Golden X.” Circumnavigating the world, on the other hand, requires a specific mission to do so.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

2. Order of the Square Rigger

Square Riggers just need to serve on a ship with square rigs.

Sounds simple enough — until you realize there’s only two left in the entire Armed Forces. One in the Navy, USS Constitution, and one in the Coast Guard, USCGC Eagle. Serving on either of those ships requires you to be the best of the best at looking pretty for tourists.

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move
Still the only active ship that sank another enemy ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas Rooney)

1. Double Centurions

While the Century Club exists for pilots who’ve made their 100th carrier landing or flown through hurricane winds over 100 mph, you’ll need to double it to get into the Double Centurions.

It’ll take a long time to reach that number and hurricane hunters usually aren’t willing to fly in CAT 5 winds that could shred their aircraft in seconds.

Usually…

(YouTube | News7)

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