There is another maritime “service” you may not have heard much about, yet, the United States Merchant Marine is arguably incredibly important to the Armed Forces. They also help keep America’s economy moving. But what exactly is this?
6. It is civilian-manned ships
Merchant Mariners are not part of the military. Now, some of them run a number of ships that support the U.S. Navy, like the Henry J. Kaiser-class replenishment oilers and Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ships, as well as the sealift vessels like the Bob Hope-class vehicle cargo chips.
5. The United States Merchant Marine is small
The total civilian merchant fleet of the Untied States is 393 vessels, according to the CIA World Factbook. It ranks 27th in the world, behind Russia (11th with 1,143 merchant ships) and China (2nd, with 4,052 merchant ships). This includes privately-owned ships, as well as those owned by the federal government.
4. The United States has a special agency for the Merchant Marine
The United States Maritime Administration, under the Department of Transportation, handles programs that administer and finance the United States Merchant Marine. This includes supporting the United States Maritime Service, which helps to train officers and crew on merchant ships.
3. You can become an officer by going to one of seven “maritime academies”
To become the captain of a merchant ship, your best route would be to attend a “maritime academy.” There are seven of them located across the country: The United States Merchant Marine Academy, the California State University Maritime Academy, the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, the Maine Maritime Academy, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the State University of New York Maritime College, and the Texas AM Maritime Academy.
2. A lot of famous people were in the Merchant Marine
Some very familiar names have served in the Merchant Marine at one point or another. While today’s most famous merchant mariner is Richard Phillips, former captain of the Maersk Alabama, others include filmmaker Oliver Stone, writers Louis L’Amour and Jack Vance, as well as playwright and screenwriter David Mamet.
1. There is a merchant mariner’s equivalent to the Medal of Honor
While merchant mariners cannot receive the Medal of Honor or other military decorations, valor doesn’t go unrecognized. The Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal is awarded by the Department of Transportation to those who show “outstanding conduct or service in the line of duty.” A list of awardees from World War II can be seen here.
The Navy has now issued at least one-fourth of the design work and begun further advancing work on systems such as a stealthy “electric drive” propulsion system for the emerging nuclear-armed Columbia-Class ballistic missile submarines by 2021.
“Of the required design disclosures (drawings), 26-percent have been issued, and the program is on a path to have 83-percent issued by construction start,” Bill Couch, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Warrior Maven.
The Columbia class is to be equipped with an electric-drive propulsion train, as opposed to the mechanical-drive propulsion train used on other Navy submarines.
In today’s Ohio-class submarines, a reactor plant generates heat which creates steam, Navy officials explained. The steam then turns turbines which produce electricity and also propel the ship forward through “reduction gears” which are able to translate the high-speed energy from a turbine into the shaft RPMs needed to move a boat propeller.
“The electric-drive system is expected to be quieter (i.e., stealthier) than a mechanical-drive system,” a Congressional Research Service report on Columbia-Class submarines from early 2018 states.
Designed to be 560-feet–long and house 16 Trident II D5 missiles fired from 44-foot-long missile tubes, Columbia-Class submarines will use a quieting X-shaped stern configuration.
The “X”-shaped stern will restore maneuverability to submarines; as submarine designs progressed from using a propeller to using a propulsor to improve quieting, submarines lost some surface maneuverability, Navy officials explained.
Navy developers explain that electric-drive propulsion technology still relies on a nuclear reactor to generate heat and create steam to power turbines. However, the electricity produced is transferred to an electric motor rather than so-called reduction gears to spin the boat’s propellers.
The use of an electric motor brings other advantages as well, according to an MIT essay written years ago when electric drive was being evaluated for submarine propulsion.
Using an electric motor optimizes use of installed reactor power in a more efficient way compared with mechanical drive submarines, making more on-board power available for other uses, according to an essay called “Evaluation and Comparison of Electric Propulsion Motors for Submarines.” Author Joel Harbour says that on mechanical drive submarine, 80-percent of the total reactor power is used exclusively for propulsion.
“With an electric drive submarine, the installed reactor power of the submarine is first converted into electrical power and then delivered to an electric propulsion motor. The now available electrical potential not being used for propulsion could easily be tapped into for other uses,” he writes.
Research, science, and technology work and initial missile tube construction on Columbia-Class submarines has been underway for several years. One key exercise, called tube-and-hull forging, involves building four-packs of missile tubes to assess welding and construction methods. These structures are intended to load into the boat’s modules as construction advances.
“Early procurement of missile tubes and prototyping of the first assembly of four missile tubes are supporting the proving out of production planning,” Couch said.
While the Columbia-Class is intended to replace the existing fleet of Ohio-Class ballistic missile submarines, the new boats include a number of not-yet-seen technologies as well as different configurations when compared with the Ohio-Class. The Columbia-Class will have 16 launch tubes rather than the 24 tubes current on Ohio boats, yet the Columbias will also be about 2-tons larger, according to Navy information.
The Columbia-Class, to be operational by the 2028, is a new generation of technically advanced submarines intended to quietly patrol the undersea realm around the world to ensure second-strike ability should the US be hit with a catastrophic nuclear attack.
Formal production is scheduled for 2021 as a key step toward fielding of a new generation of nuclear-armed submarines to serve all the way into and beyond the 2080s.
General Dynamics Electric Boat has begun acquiring long-lead items in anticipation of beginning construction; the process involves acquiring metals, electronics, sonar arrays and other key components necessary to build the submarines.
Both the Pentagon and the Navy are approaching this program with a sense of urgency, given the escalation of the current global threat environment. Many senior DoD officials have called the Columbia-Class program as a number one priority across all the services.
“The Columbia-Class submarine program is leveraging enhanced acquisition authorities provided by Congress such as advanced procurement, advanced construction and multi-year continuous production of missile tubes,” Couch added.
This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.
Despite the ongoing cocktail revolution taking place in bars across the country, most innovations in the world of mixed drinks took place before your grandfather was old enough to drink. For this reason, most of today’s cocktails are simply riffs or variations on the classics. Below are five such cocktails, as well as modern day updates presented by Sother Teague, New York City barman, recent Wine Enthusiast Magazine Mixologist of the Year and author of I’m Just Here for the Drinks. This Father’s Day, make one or three for the dad on your list — even if that dad is you.
(Flickr / Sam Howzit)
1. The Old Fashioned and The Campfire Old Fashioned
A classic that’s name comes from the repeated request to have a cocktail made the way folks used to, the Old Fashioned is a pure presentation of the spirit/water/ sugar/bitters format that defined early cocktails. As such, it’s also easy to modify to your own tastes, as in this variation meant to evoke the experience of sipping whiskey by a campfire — something all dads deserve, but don’t all have time to enjoy.
Classic: The Old Fashioned
Dash Angostura bitters
2 oz rye
Spoon demerara or cane syrup
Directions: Add first three ingredients to an Old Fashioned glass. Add a large lump of ice and gently stir to combine. Garnish with lemon twist.
New riff: The Campfire Old Fashioned
Dash Angostura bitters
Dash Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub
1.5 tsp of cane syrup
.25 oz peated scotch
.75 oz rye
.75 oz bourbon
Directions: Add ingredients to an Old-Fashioned glass. Add a large lump of ice and gently stir to combine. Garnish with an orange twist.
2. The Negroni and The Secret Service
A classic with origins in Italy or Senegal depending on whom you ask, the Negroni is traditionally made with equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth and London Dry gin. Sother prefers double dose of gin to keep it punchy as the ice starts to melt, and his riff on the cocktail, the Secret Service, packs a wallop as well. It has notes of cinnamon and cocoa and is suitable for presidents or dads who always told you you could be commander-in-chief someday.
Classic: The Negroni
1.5 dashes Angostura bitters
1 oz Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 oz London Dry gin
Directions: Build all ingredients in a rocks glass. Add one large format ice cube. Stir to combine. Garnish with an orange twist.
New riff: The Secret Service
2 dashes mole bitters
1.5oz Plymouth gin
.75 oz Maurin Quina
.75 oz Ancho Reyes
Directions: Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass and add plenty of ice. Stir to chill and dilute. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange twist.
Among the most popular cocktails ever created, it’s hard to screw up a margarita, though if that were your aim you could start by buying that cheap mix they sell at your local grocery store. If an exemplary version is what you’re after, always opt for fresh lime juice, a better than average triple sec, and the best tequila you can afford. Sother’s riff on the classic marg is the Retox, which, as it’s name suggests, takes inspiration from the Master Cleanse. What better way to toast the health of dear old dad?
Classic: The Margarita
1 oz lime juice
.75 oz Cointreau
2 oz blanco tequila
Directions: Rim half a double rocks glass with kosher salt. Combine ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake to chill and dilute. Strain and serve over ice in salt-rimmed glass. Garnish with lime wedge.
New riff: The Retox
2-3 slices of fresh jalapeno
.75 oz grade B maple syrup
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
2 oz reposado tequila
Kosher salt for rim
Directions: Muddle jalapéno in base of tin, add syrup, lemon and tequila. Shake vigorously with ice. Double strain (to remove any pepper bits) into a half-salted rim glass of fresh ice. Garnish with lemon slice.
4. The Suffering Bastard and The Suffering Fools
Concocted by a chemist in Cairo as a specific for British soldiers dealing with both Nazis and hangovers during World War II, the Suffering Bastard features both gin and bourbon for a crisp cocktail that’s as bracing as it is refreshing. Sother’s take on this classic from the era of the Greatest Generation relies on Cognac from our allies in France and adds a touch of pineapple shrub for a Pacific Theater feel. Drink one with your war buff father-in-law, or after an assault from your own growing army.
Classic: The Suffering Bastard
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 oz Bourbon
1 oz London Dry gin
1 oz fresh lime juice
Directions: Combine first four ingredients in a Highball glass. Add ice and gently stir. Pour ginger ale down the spiral of a bar spoon to fill. Garnish with a lime twist.
New riff: The Suffering Fools
1 dashes Angostura bitters
.5 oz pineapple shrub
.5 oz lime juice
1 oz London Dry gin
1 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
Directions: Combine first five ingredients in a Highball glass. Add ice and gently stir. Pour ginger beer down the spiral of a bar spoon to fill. Garnish with candied ginger
5. The Vieux Carre and The Guatemalan Square
Created at the historic Hotel Monteleone in the late ’30s by New Orleans great Walter Bergeron, this split-spirit Manhattan by way of the Big Easy is slightly more complex than the other cocktails presented here but is absolutely worth the effort. Sother’s riff swaps out the Cognac for Guatemalan rum for a cocktail swirling with notes of fresh orange, vanilla and dark chocolate. Both drinks are aces, and as close to a vacation as you can get without hopping on a plane.
Classic: The Vieux Carre
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
.5 tsp Benedictine
.75 oz sweet vermouth
.75 oz rye
.75 oz Cognac
Directions: Combine all ingredients into a shaker with ice and stir. Strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a cherry.
New riff: The Guatemalan Square
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
.25 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
.5 oz Carpano Antica
.5 oz Rittenhouse rye
1 oz Zacapa 23 Rum
Directions: Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass to chill and combine. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist
This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.
If the B-52 was a person it’d be old enough to retire and collect social security, but instead we’re using it to bomb America’s haters in the Middle East.
As the cliché saying goes — it’s like a fine wine, it only gets better with age. And in the case of the B-52, it’s true. Boeing’s B-52 Stratofortress was made in 1952 and was supposed to be in service for only a decade. But constant updates have made it a relevant weapon 60 years later.
Its low operating costs have kept it in service despite the advent of more advanced bombers, such as the canceled B-70 Valkyrie, B-1 Lancer and the B-2 Spirit.
With a payload of 70,000 pounds and a wide array of weapons, including bombs, mines and missiles, the B-52 has been the backbone of the manned strategic bomber force for the U.S. for the past 40 years, according to the U.S. Air Force. The B-52 is expected to serve beyond the year 2040.
Here’s the B-52 Stratofortress throughout the years:
The first B-52H Stratofortress delivered to Minot Air Force Base
B-52D dropping 500-lb bombs
A B-52H Stratofortress of the 2d Bomb Wing takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
The aircrew inside the B-52 cockpit
A view of the lower deck of the B-52, dubbed the battle station
On the same day he touted the “Space Force” to veterans, President Donald Trump’s plan to create a sixth military branch hit a roadblock in Congress.
A House-Senate conference committee working on the $716 billion defense budget for fiscal 2019, which begins Oct. 1, 2018, left out money to start building the Space Force.
Early July 24, 2018, in address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Kansas City, Trump cited the Space Force as part of an unrivaled military buildup under his administration.
“My thinking is always on military and military strength. That is why I’m proud to report that we are now undertaking the greatest rebuilding of our United States military in its history. We have secured 0 billion for defense this year, and 6 billion next year — approved,” he said to applause.
President Donald Trump
“And I’ve directed the Pentagon to begin the process of creating the sixth branch of our military. It’s called the Space Force,” Trump said to more applause. “We are living in a different world, and we have to be able to adapt, and that’s what it is. A lot of very important things are going to be taking place in space.
“And I just don’t mean going up to the moon and going up to Mars, where we’ll be going very soon,” he added. “We’ll be going to Mars very soon. But from a military standpoint, space is becoming every day more and more important.”
However, the conference report of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees left out funding for the Space Force in the National Defense Authorization Act. The conference report must still be approved by the full House and Senate.
Instead, the report directs Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to come up with a plan for how the Defense Department would organize for warfighting in space.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
(DoD photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)
The House version of the conference report was also leery of Trump’s vision for the creation of a new military branch for space, instead calling for the establishment of “a subunified command for Space under United States Strategic Command for carrying out joint Space warfighting.”
In June 2018, Trump appeared to give the job of creating a Space Force as a separate military branch to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford.
At a White House meeting of the National Space Council, the president said, “I’m hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”
“We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force — separate but equal. It’s going to be something,” he said.
Trump then looked around the room to find Dunford and said, “General Dunford, if you would carry that assignment out, I would be very greatly honored.”
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
Iran is negotiating a controversial 25-year agreement with China that has led to accusations that parts of Iran are being sold to Beijing.
Some critics — including the U.S. State Department — are comparing the proposed deal to the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay between Persia and tsarist Russia, under which the Persians ceded control of territory in the South Caucasus.
Iranian officials have dismissed the criticism as baseless while promising to make the text of the agreement public once it is finalized.
What Do We Know About The Agreement?
The pact was proposed in a January 2016 trip to Iran by Chinese President Xi Jinping during which the two sides agreed to establish their ties based on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, while announcing discussions would begin aimed at concluding a 25-year bilateral pact.
The announcement received the support of Iran’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was quoted by Iranian media as saying that the agreement reached between the two sides was “wise.”
The text of the agreement, which will need to be approved by parliament, has not been released. But in recent days an 18-page document has been making the rounds on social media that outlines future cooperation between the countries, including Chinese investment in Iran’s energy sector as well as in the country’s free-trade zones.
RFE/RL cannot verify the authenticity of the document, which has been cited by some Iranian and Western media as a leaked version of the planned pact between Iran and China.
Analysts note the agreement being circulated is very light on details and appears to be the framework of a potential deal.
According to the text, which is labeled “final edit” on its front page and dated the Iranian month of Khordad — which starts May 21 and ends June 19 — the two sides will also increase military and security cooperation while working on joint-projects in third countries.
Iran has in recent months increasingly reached out to China in the face of growing U.S. pressure to isolate Tehran. China remains Iran’s main trading partner but trade between the two sides has dropped due to U.S. pressure in recent years.
Analysts say China is not ready to give Tehran the support it seeks while also suggesting that some of the cooperation envisaged in the pact may never materialize.
Ariane Tabatabai, a Middle East fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said, given its importance, the U.S. will always trump Iran for China.
“Iran is a small, risky market, sanctions have severely impeded business [there], and the regime is isolated,” she told RFE/RL. “Meanwhile, China has major economic interests in the U.S. and the trade war is still an important concern for China, which will inevitably shape its relationship with Iran.”
“If we look into what we know about the document and make some educated guesses, we see that the agreement is little more than a comprehensive road map based on the 2016 framework, which does not resolve the main issue of the China-Iran partnership — its implementation,” Jacopo Scita, an Al-Sabah doctoral fellow at Durham University, told RFE/RL.
Why Is The Treaty Controversial?
The pact is being discussed at a time when Iran is under intense pressure due to harsh U.S. sanctions that have crippled the economy and a deadly coronavirus pandemic that has worsened the economic situation.
The timing as well as the scope and duration of the agreement has led to increased concerns that Tehran is negotiating with China from a position of weakness while giving Beijing access to Iran’s natural resources for many years to come.
A distrust in the Iranian authorities that intensified after a deadly November crackdown on antiestablishment protests and the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet — which was initially seen as a coverup — has also contributed to the criticism of the proposed deal.
A lack of trust in China, as well as rising anti-China sentiments due to the coronavirus pandemic, has also contributed to the controversy surrounding the pact.
Tabatabai, the co-author of a book on Iranian ties with Russia and China, says the relationship between Tehran and Beijing has long been perceived as benefiting China far more than Iran.
“The perception isn’t fully inaccurate,” she said. “From the elite’s perspective, China makes big promises and delivers little. And from the population’s perspective, China has been benefiting from the sanctions on Iran, it’s flooded the Iranian market, pushed out Iranian businesses, and has delivered products that are subpar.”
She added: “Many Iranians feel like this deal will cement this unbalanced relationship.”
What Are The Critics Saying?
Criticism of the planned pact appears to have increased following comments by former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who warned in a speech in late June that a 25-year agreement with “a foreign country” was being discussed “away from the eyes of the Iranian nation.”
Others have since joined the criticism, including former conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari, who appeared to suggest on Twitter that before signing the pact Iran should raise the fate of Muslims who are reportedly being persecuted in China.
Scita, who closely follows Iranian-Chinese relations, says some of the hype and anger surrounding the agreement were boosted by public figures with political agendas, including Ahmadinejad, who is said to be eying the 2021 presidential election.
The exiled son of the shah of Iran, the country’s last monarch who was ousted following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, has also criticized the pact.
Reza Pahlavi, who’s taken an increasingly active role against the Islamic republic, blasted the “shameful, 25-year treaty with China that plunders our natural resources and places foreign soldiers on our soil.” He also called on his supporters to oppose the treaty.
The Persian account of the U.S. State Department referred to the planned agreement as a “second Turkmenchay” and said that Tehran is afraid to share the details of the pact because “no part of it is beneficial to the Iranian people.”
What Are Iranian Officials Saying?
Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirmed that Tehran was negotiating an agreement with China “with confidence and conviction,” while insisting there was nothing secret about it.
Since then, officials have defended the deal while dismissing claims that Iran will sell discounted oil to China or give Kish Island to Beijing.
President Hassan Rohani’s chief of staff, Mahmud Vaezi, said over the weekend that the framework of the agreement has been defined, adding that the negotiations are likely to be finalized by March 21.
Vaezi also said the agreement does not include foreign control over any Iranian islands or the deployment of Chinese military forces in the country.
The embattled Zumwalt-class destroyers still don’t have any ammunition, but the US Navy has an idea, or at least the beginnings of an idea.
The Navy has invested hundreds of millions of dollars and more than a decade into railgun research, which has run up against several technological roadblocks. But while the railgun may not turn out to be a worthwhile project, the railgun rounds seem to show promise.
The Navy fired nearly two dozen hypervelocity projectiles (HVPs) — special rounds initially designed for electromagnetic railguns — from the Mk 45 5-inch deck gun aboard the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Dewey at one point during 2018’s Rim of the Pacific exercises, USNI News first reported. The guns are the same 40-year-old guns that come standard on cruisers and destroyers.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) fires its Mk 45 5-inch gun.
(U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Intelligence Specialist Matt Bodenner)
The same concept could presumably be applied to the 155 mm Advanced Gun Systems (AGS) aboard the Zumwalt-class destroyers. “That is one thing that has been considered with respect to capability for this ship class. We’re looking at a longer-range bullet that’s affordable, and so that’s one thing that’s being considered,” Capt. Kevin Smith, a program manager for the Zumwalt, revealed at the Surface Navy Association Symposium, USNI News reported Jan. 22, 2019.
“The surface Navy is really excited about this capability,” he added, saying that nothing has been decided.
This is apparently only one of several possibilities. “There are a lot of things that we’re looking at as far as deeper magazines with other types of weapons that have longer range,” Smith said. Previous considerations have included the Raytheon Excalibur 155 mm guided artillery, but that plan was abandoned.
USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000).
(U.S. Navy photo)
The Zumwalt’s 155 mm AGS guns, intended to strike targets farther than 80 miles away, are ridiculously expensive to fire — a single Long Range Land Attack Projectile costs almost id=”listicle-2626896386″ million. Procurement was shut down two years ago, leaving the Zumwalt without any ammunition.
Since then, the Navy has been looking hard at other alternatives.
The Navy “will be developing either the round that goes with that gun or what we are going to do with that space if we decide to remove that gun in the future,” Vice Adm. William Merz, the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems, told the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee in November 2018, Breaking Defense reported at the time.
So, if the Navy can’t find suitable ammunition for the stealth destroyers, it may end up scrapping the guns altogether to be replaced with something else down the road.
Despite repeated setbacks, which include everything from loss of stealth to engine and electrical problems, the Navy said “the ship is doing fine.” Merz told Congress that the vessel should be operational by 2021.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Consider the values that military service instills. Honor. Purpose. Prestige. Service members wake up with a daily mission to embody those values and while on active duty, they are provided the means and the circumstances to do so.
But when they leave the service, does the drive to live by military values diminish? Veterans across the country will assure you, it does not. That’s why the transition back to civilian life is such a hot topic. Finding a new outlet for warrior values is a bear that every veteran has to wrestle and tame.
So what if there was a school whose founding mission was to teach returning veterans the skills necessary to put those values to work? As it turns out, that school exists. It’s the Culinary Institute of America and it was founded to teach returning WWII vets the fighting arts of gourmet cooking.
The troops, lined up for inspection. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)
Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl visited Hyde Park, NY, to get a first hand taste of daily operations at CIA.
It sure beats latrine duty. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)
What he found there was an atmosphere of rigor, discipline, and sky high expectations — in other words, a culinary boot camp. And why not? A busy kitchen is its own kind of battlefield and cooks are the troops who serve there. At CIA, students, including notable veterans, learn what it takes to become a new generation of American chefs.
My great uncle deployed to Vietnam when he was around 21 years old. I didn’t know about his deployment until I found out I was deploying to Afghanistan in 2009. My uncle, unlike most of the friends and family I had, knew the reality of what was coming. He had already supported me as a military service member, but when the word deployment became a part of the conversation, everything changed.
It wasn’t until my first care package from my uncle arrived that I realized how deeply our paths were connected. The care packages he sent were different from all the other care packages I received. Each one told a story. It could have been the contents of the box or the letter it contained. But no care package was sent without thought and care of what he would have liked to have opened while serving overseas. It was different from all the other care packages because he had been on the receiving end before.
One care package he sent had the book, The Pearl by John Steinbeck. The book on its own would have been nice to have something to read, but there was a story that went with it. In one care package he received from a family in Coos Bay Oregon for Christmas in 1967, he received The Pearl and read it throughout his deployment. I read it too. And sitting on my bunk in my tent, I felt a connection. That book, unlike most of the books I received, made it home with me and sits on my shelf. And every time I see it, I think of my uncle and the bond we share.
Years later after coming home I wanted to do a series for my blog focused on deployment stories. I loved reading the stories in the letters from my uncle and it inspired me to search out more stories and create a series with stories from the past and present-day wars. Not surprisingly, I was excited to include my uncle in this series. So, I sent off my questions and waited for a response. To my surprise, the response was not full of distant stories and fond memories. Instead, I could feel the hurt and pain that deployment can sometimes bring when hidden inside for years. It was something I had struggled with at times as well. Dark memories are sometimes easier to keep hidden.
I was disappointed with his short answers, but I understood his pain. Even though I write and talk about my deployment, sometimes questions can hit me off guard and a wall can go up so fast. And so, I quickly expressed an apology for bringing up pain and thanked him for the answers I received while I also worked to change my questions to focus on the story and not the combat. I was not giving up hope that a story was there.
He responded with an apology and a chance to start again. He said he had reread his answers and realized he was blunt and grumpy. Instead of receiving one-word answers and angry responses I received pieces of history gifted to me through his words and photos. It was a treasured gift and opened my eyes to the history of the Vietnam War and the struggles and challenges he faced. You can read the full interview here.
And it may seem silly or trivial to say that one interview, one group of questions, could help someone who had been hurt so deeply from war and then by those who treated him with indifference on his way home, heal. But there is power in telling your story. There is power in bringing the darkness to light. He once told me, “Until you asked about it, it never occurred to me that anyone would be interested in my story because I made it home in one piece when so many of my buddies didn’t…”
But the story isn’t over. My uncle continues his healing journey and is signed up and waiting for his turn to attend an Honor Flight to Washington DC. He talked about the excitement, anticipation and so many other emotions of going to the Vietnam Memorial and what that trip means to him. He knows it is the next step in his journey and knows it will mean a lot to him.
I never thought my deployment experience would have such an impact on my uncle’s life. I did not realize that the path to my deployment would cause me to want to hear more stories and share more experiences with others. How many people are out there thinking no one wants to know about their experience because they came home alive? But it is through the stories of those who are still alive that we can honor the legacy of those we lost.
There is so much power in telling your story and it is part of the healing journey. It likely won’t be easy but it is so important to share.
Do you know someone who has deployed to Vietnam?
Be sensitive, open and sincere and ask them about their story. Know that they might not be ready to tell their story, but you will never know if you don’t ask. And even if you never hear their story the power of asking one question can help them realize they do have a story to share and that might just be the first step in their journey that they need.
President Donald Trump appealed to Turkey for the release of the American pastor, Andrew Brunson, who is being held on accusations that he supported a failed military coup in 2016.
Brunson is originally from North Carolina, but has lived in Turkey for 25 years, serving as leader of a Christian church in the town of Izmir, about 360 miles southwest of the capital Ankara.
He has remained in custody for the last 18 months, facing charges that he helped support Turkish soldiers who tried to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016. Brunson has denied any wrongdoing.
“Pastor Andrew Brunson, a fine gentleman and Christian leader in the United States, is on trial and being persecuted in Turkey for no reason,” Trump said in a Twitter post on April 17, 2018.
“They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is,” the US president said. “Hopefully he will be allowed to come home to his beautiful family where he belongs!”
Trump’s declaration that “I am more a spy” than Brunson is hits at the crux of Turkey’s argument about Brunson and the vast swath of the Turkish population arrested and accused of subverting Erdogan’s government.
Some people did a double-take on Trump calling himself a spy.
In an apparent gesture to coax Turkey into freeing Brunson, the US dropped charges against members of Erdogan’s security detail who were accused of brawling with protesters during the Turkish president’s visit to the US in 2017.
The world of surplus firearms is an ever-changing one. Remember when you could buy a Tula Mosin-Nagant M91/30 from a sporting goods store for $80 or a spam can of .30-06 M2 for…heck, when you could find a spam can period? The problem with surplus is that when the supply dries up, that’s it. On the flip side, it also means that new supplies will (eventually) hit the market. In the gun market of 2020, suppliers are having a hard time keeping anything in stock. It seems like everyone walked into their nearest shop and asked to buy something that goes pew. Naturally, the first things to go were the AR-15s and 9mm semi-autos. Soon, the odd stuff like Mini-14s and 9mm Makarovs started going too. Where people tend not to look is military surplus and police trade-in. While these firearms have usually seen a fair amount of use and can be found in varying conditions, their price reflects this and most are extremely affordable. Here are some of the best ones that you can still buy…for now.
Try to find an M9 in as good a condition as this.
1. Beretta Model 85BB Cheetah
Starting this list off strong, how does a compact Italian-made police pistol sound? Oh, and they’ve barely been shot. Currently on the market is a large supply Beretta Model 85BB Cheetah police surplus pistols from Italy. Chambered in .380 ACP, the Cheetahs feature alloy frames, steel slides, and 3.81″ barrels. In typical Beretta fashion, they use a DA/SA trigger and a manual thumb safety. Despite its compact size, the heavy weight of its metal construction and limited 8-round magazine mean that the Cheetah isn’t exactly the best option for a carry gun. However, the weight does help to mitigate recoil, of which there isn’t too much thanks to its .380 ACP cartridge. Costing between 0-400 depending on the condition, these pistols are a great choice for collectors and shooters alike. Did we mention that they are also California-legal?
Yup, the mag release is on the bottom of the grip on the other side.
2. Beretta 92S
Yes, another Beretta, another Italian police surplus. If you’ve spent any time at all in the U.S. military, you’ll be familiar with the Beretta 92 as the M9 pistol. Recently, the armed forces have begun the transition to the more modern M17 weapon system, so it’s entirely possible that we’ll eventually see an influx of mil-surp M9s on the market. In the meantime, the 92Ss are nearly identical. The supply that’s currently on the market is older, so you could see almost as much wear and tear on them as the M9 that you qualified with depending on the one you get…almost. The big difference is the magazine release which is the antiquated European style located on the bottom of the left side of the grip. Who thought that was a good idea? Can you imagine John Wick fiddling with that button? But, at under 0 for a full-size duty gun, these Berettas are a good choice for someone who wants a 9mm Parabellum over the .380 ACP of the aforementioned Cheetah.
In Soviet Russia, one out of two gets a rifle. (Paramount Pictures)
3. Mosin-Nagant M91/30
I didn’t say you couldn’t find them anymore. Trending around 0-300, the Mosins on the market today are in decent shape and tend to be the less sought after Izhevsk models. That said, they seem to shoot just as well as the Tula models, not that you can find a Tula these days. Weighing 8lbs and measuring nearly 50″ long, a Mosin is a good choice for a wall gun or a piece of Soviet-era memorabilia. With its 5-round stripper-clip fed magazine, bolt-action mechanism, and the rising cost of 7.62x54mmR, the idea of a bug-out Mosin is a thing of the past. That said, if you’re willing to shell out the extra cash, you can pick up arsenal refinished Mosins with original wood stocks that are in excellent condition. These rifles can range anywhere from 0-600 and generally include the proper kit of a sling, oiler, tools, and bayonet. The bayonet is actually an important accessory since Mosins were zeroed at the factory with the bayonet attached. Just don’t expect to pick one up and shoot like Lyudmila Pavlichenko or Vasily Zaitsev.
A Russian-made SKS from 1945.
Yes, it’s another Communist-produced rifle, but this time you have a choice of Russian or Chinese surplus. Designed in 1944, the semi-automatic SKS was a step up from the bolt-action Mosin. Chambered in the intermediate 7.62x39mm cartridge, more ammo can be carried for the SKS compared to the Mosin. However, the SKS was quickly overshadowed by the venerable AK-47. With its full-automatic fire capability and 30-round detachable magazine, the AK made the SKS obsolete by the 1950s. Of course, this didn’t stop Communist countries from churning out over 15 million SKS rifles. Like the Mosin, the supply of SKSs is starting to dry up, so prices are starting to rise as availability drops. 5-round magazine versions can be had for under 0, and even the 10-round versions are legal in California thanks to the non-detachable magazine.
You might buy one just for the iconic ping, and that’s ok.
5. M1 Garand
It wouldn’t be a surplus list without the good old M1 Garand. Called the greatest battle implement ever devised by none other than General George S. Patton himself, the Garand was carried into battle across the war-torn cities of Europe, through the swampy jungles of the Pacific, and into the frozen hills of Korea. With its semi-automatic action and 8-round capacity, the Garand gave our troops an edge over the 5-round bolt-action rifles that their enemies carried in WWII. Today, M1 Garands can be purchased through the Civilian Marksmanship Program at their physical locations in Alabama and Ohio or online. While supply has started to dry up on these once plentiful rifles, they can still be had in Field Grade, Service Grade, or CMP Special conditions at prices between 0-1080. While surplus .30-06 Springfield has just about dried up and new ammo designed for the M1 seems to be out of stock everywhere, it is possible to shoot commercial loads safely with a gas plug accessory.
Whether you’re looking for a collector piece or just want to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights, surplus firearms are an excellent option to consider. Because of the ever-evolving landscape of the surplus market, it pays to keep your eye on it so that you can hop on deals as soon as they spring up.
Plastic surgeons at William Beaumont Army Medical Center successfully transplanted a new ear on a Soldier who lost her left ear due to a single-vehicle accident.
The total ear reconstruction, the first of its kind in the Army, involved harvesting cartilage from the Soldier’s ribs to carve a new ear out of the cartilage, which was then placed under the skin of the forearm to allow the ear to grow.
“The whole goal is by the time she’s done with all this, it looks good, it’s sensate, and in five years if somebody doesn’t know her they won’t notice,” said Lt. Col. Owen Johnson III, chief, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, WBAMC. “As a young active-duty Soldier, they deserve the best reconstruction they can get.”
The revolutionary surgery has been over a year in the making for Clarksdale, Mississippi native, Pvt. Shamika Burrage, a supply clerk with 1st Battalion, 35th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.
In 2016, while returning to Fort Bliss, Texas, after visiting family in Mississippi, a tire blowout changed Burrage’s life in an instant.
“I was coming back from leave and we were around Odessa, Texas,” said Burrage, who was traveling with her cousin. “We were driving and my front tire blew, which sent the car off road and I hit the brake. I remember looking at my cousin who was in the passenger seat, I looked back at the road as I hit the brakes. I just remember the first flip and that was it.”
The vehicle skidded for 700 feet before flipping several times and ejecting the Soldier. Burrage’s cousin, who was eight months pregnant at the time, managed to only suffer minor injuries while Burrage herself suffered head injuries, compression fractures in the spine, road rash and the total loss of her left ear.
“I was on the ground, I just looked up and (her cousin) was right there. Then I remember people walking up to us, asking if we were okay and then I blacked out,” said Burrage, whose next memory was waking up in a hospital.
She was later told by doctors that if she would not have received medical attention for 30 more minutes, she would have bled to death. After several months of rehabilitation, Burrage began to seek counseling due to emotions caused by the accident and its effects on her appearance.
“I didn’t feel comfortable with the way I looked so the provider referred me to plastic surgery,” said Burrage.
“She was 19 and healthy and had her whole life ahead of her,” said Johnson. “Why should she have to deal with having an artificial ear for the rest of her life?”
When explained her options for reconstruction, Burrage was shocked and initially resistant to go through with the total ear reconstruction.
“I didn’t want to do (the reconstruction) but gave it some thought and came to the conclusion that it could be a good thing. I was going to go with the prosthetic, to avoid more scarring but I wanted a real ear,” said Burrage, who is now 21. “I was just scared at first but wanted to see what he could do.”
In order to avoid any more visible scarring, Johnson selected prelaminated forearm free flap, which involved placing the autologous cartilage into the patient’s forearm to allow for neovascularization, or the formation of new blood vessels. This technique will allow Burrage to have feeling in her ear once the rehabilitation process is complete.
“(The ear) will have fresh arteries fresh veins and even a fresh nerve so she’ll be able to feel it,” said Johnson.
In addition to the transplant, epidermis from the forearm, while attached to the ear, will cover up scar tissue in the area immediately around Burrage’s left jawline.
“I didn’t lose any hearing and (Johnson) opened the canal back up,” said Burrage, whose left ear canal had closed up due to the severity of the trauma.
“The whole field of plastic surgery has its roots in battlefield trauma,” said Johnson. “Every major advance in plastic surgery has happened with war. This was trauma related.”
With only two more surgeries left, Burrage states she is feeling more optimistic and excited to finish the reconstruction.
“It’s been a long process for everything, but I’m back,” said Burrage.
The Air Force and Lockheed Martin have now “validated” several new weapons on the F-22 Raptor to equip the stealth fighter with more long-range precision attack technology, a wider targeting envelope or “field of regard,” and new networking technology enabling improved, real-time “collaborative targeting” between aircraft.
The two new weapons, which have been under testing and development for several years now, are advanced variants of existing weapons — the AIM-9X air-to-air missile and the AIM 120-D. Upgraded variants of each are slated to be operational by as soon as 2019.
The new AIM-9X will shoot farther and reach a much larger targeting envelope for pilots. Working with a variety of helmets and display systems, Lockheed developers have added “off-boresight” targeting ability enabling pilots to attack enemies from a wide range of new angles.
“It is a much more agile missile with an improved seeker and a better field of regard. You can shoot over your shoulder. If enemies get behind me in a close-in fight, I have the right targeting on the plane to shoot them,” Ken Merchant, Vice President, F-22, Lockheed, told Warrior Maven in an interview.
Raytheon AIM-9X weapons developers have told Warrior that the Block 2 variant adds a redesigned fuze and a digital ignition safety device that enhances ground handling and in-flight safety. Block II also features updated electronics that enable significant enhancements, including lock-on-after-launch capability using a new weapon datalink to support beyond visual range engagements, a Raytheon statement said.
Another part of the weapons upgrade includes engineering the F-22 to fire the AIM-120D, a beyond visual range Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), designed for all weather day-and-night attacks; it is a “fire and forget” missile with active transmit radar guidance, Raytheon data states.
An F-22 flyover.
(US Air Force photo)
The AIM-120D is built with upgrades to previous AMRAAM missiles by increasing attack range, GPS navigation, inertial measurement units, and a two-way data link, Raytheon statements explain.
“The new AIM-120D uses a better seeker and is more maneuverable with better countermeasures,” Merchant said.
As the Air Force and Lockheed Martin move forward with weapons envelope expansions and enhancements for the F-22, there is of course a commensurate need to upgrade software and its on-board sensors to adjust to emerging future threats, industry developers explained. Ultimately, this effort will lead the Air Force to draft up requirements for new F-22 sensors.
F-22 lethality is also getting vastly improved through integration of new two-way LINK 16 data link connectivity between aircraft, something which will help expedite real-time airborne “collaborative targeting.”
“We have had LINK 16 receive, but we have not been able to share what is on the Raptor digitally. We have been doing it all through voice,” Merchant explained.
Having a digital ability to transmit fast-changing, combat relevant targeting information from an F-22 cockpit — without needing voice radios — lessens the risk associated with more “jammable” or “hackable” communications.
Newer F-22s have a technology called Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, which uses electromagnetic signals or “pings” to deliver a picture or rendering of the terrain below, allowing better target identification.
The SAR technology sends a ping to the ground and then analyzes the return signal to calculate the contours, distance and characteristics of the ground below.
An F-22A Raptor from the 27th Fighter Squadron “Fighting Eagles” located at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, fires an AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile and an AIM-9M sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missile at an BQM-34P “Fire-bee” subscale aerial target drone over the Gulf of Mexico during a Combat Archer mission.
(US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael Ammons)
The F-22 is also known for its “super cruise” technology which enables the fighter to reach speeds of Mach 1.5 without needing to turn on its after burners. This enables the fighter to travel faster and farther on less fuel, a scenario which expands its time for combat missions.
The fighter jet fires a 20mm cannon and has the ability to carry and fire all the air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons including precision-guided ground bombs, such Joint Direct Attack Munitions called the GBU 32 and GBU 39.
It also uses what’s called a radar-warning receiver — a technology with an updateable database called “mission data files” designed to recognize a wide-range of enemy fighters, much like the F-35.
Made by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, the F-22 uses two Pratt Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles, an Air Force statement said. It is 16-feet tall, 62-feet long and weighs 43,340 pounds. Its maximum take-off weight is 83,500.
The aircraft was first introduced in December of 2005; the F-22 Raptor fighter jet delivered some of the first strikes in the U.S.-led attacks on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, when aerial bombing began in 2014, service officials told Warrior.
After delivering some of the first strikes in the U.S. Coalition-led military action against ISIS, the F-22 began to shift its focus from an air-dominance mission to one more focused on supporting attacks on the ground.
For the long term, given that the Air Force plans to fly the F-22 well into the 2060s, these weapons upgrades are engineered to build the technical foundation needed to help integrate a new generation of air-to-air missiles as they emerge in coming years.
“Our intent is to make sure we keep our first look, first shot, first kill mantra,” Merchant said.
This article originally appeared on Warrior Maven. Follow @warriormaven1 on Twitter.