How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

M&Ms, cheese spread with jalapeños, and the tasty chili mac are just a few of our favorite items that are included with the famous military meal plan known as the MRE.


At first glance, these items seem to be simple and not worth a whole lot to the average non-military person.

But after servicemen and women have been deployed to a small FOB or patrol base for months, some of the items in an MRE begin to take on a whole new value.

So why are some of the highly preserved and bland tasting snacks worth so much? Well, we’re glad you asked.

Related: This is the research and development that goes into producing MREs

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

It doesn’t look like much now, but give it a few months — it’ll look like freakin’ gold.

We trade the more popular items for other goods or services — if we don’t scarf them down first.

Like we mentioned above, a few of the items that come in the rations are tasty and sometimes hard to find. Troops have their favorites but they don’t necessarily get to choose which meal they get at chow time.

If you happen to come across a package of M&Ms and cheese spread with jalapeños, you could negotiate with a fellow troop to take one of your assigned duties in exchange for the item — it happens all the time.

 

Also Read: This is what Mongol MREs looked like

You can sometimes use an item or two to gain information.

In last decade, we’ve been in conflict with an enemy who isn’t known for their nutritious eating habits like most Americans are. In many cases, Taliban and ISIS fighters have quit their posts due to hunger.

When allied forces leave the wire for a short amount of time, we tend to bring the tasty snacks that come in the MREs, like the almond seed poppy cake or the First Strike Bar, to enjoy during a security halt.

When we come in contact with a potential bad guy who looks like they haven’t eaten in days, handing over the sweet cake could gain trust and lead to the whereabouts of a nasty IED before it goes off.

We gamble with them

When you’re on a patrol base that barely has any electricity, you have time to come up with some original games based on your environment. One of our favorites is good-natured wagers. Betting the strawberry shake you didn’t drink at lunchtime can make the game much more exciting and kill time.

Let us know what you’d barter your favorite MRE for, and check out the very first episode of Meals Ready to Eat above to see how military cuisine is created and tested in high-tech kitchens then shipped to the troops on the front lines.

Military Life

6 types of Afghan soldiers you’ll meet on deployment

When you’re forward deployed to the front lines of Afghanistan, you will experience a new culture, taste some delicious flatbread, and meet a variety of different people. Ever since the U.S. became involved with GWOT, we’ve teamed up with the Afghan National Army, training alongside Afghan soldiers and even teaching them in order to help make Afghanistan a safer place.

Afghan troops are a one-of-a-kind type of people and, like us, they all joined their military for a reason — but not all of them are necessarily patriotic. In fact, it’s pretty rare when they go above and beyond like our troops do.


Depending on where you are stationed, you can work with a squad of them or an entire company; however, within that group of soldiers you’ll notice a few surprising personalities that will easily stick out.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
(Photo by Master Sgt. Ann Bennett)

 

The English-speaker

Even though English-speaking Afghan soldiers are rare, you can usually find one or two of them out and about. Many of the troops who speak our language aren’t typically native to the front lines. Most come from a larger city like Kabul, where they went to school.

They probably aren’t fluent, but they can hold their own during a conversation.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

The ones who don’t want to listen

Unfortunately, many of the troops didn’t join to fight to help regain control of their country. They did it to earn some cash for their family, which we can respect. Now, because of their lack of patriotism, those guys are less likely to give a sh*t when a firefight breaks out or when one of their Afghan troops gets injured. Their brotherhood isn’t nearly as strong as ours becomes.

Most notably, they don’t listen to allied forces when it comes to making important suggestions because they flat out don’t want to hear what we have to say.

It gets annoying.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
(Photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder)

 

The one who legitimately cares

In contrast to number two on this list, this soldier does give a f*ck and wants to do his part. He takes initiative and wants to become a better soldier.

Unfortunately, in our experience, these motivators don’t stay around long. They end up getting promoted and leaving their frontline duties. It’s a bummer.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
(Photo by Gunnery Sgt. William Price)

 

The trigger happy one

This guy is cool in his own right but he is unpredictable. You aren’t quite sure when he will open fire. But rest assured, he will squeeze that trigger when the time comes.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
(Photo by John Scott Rafoss)

 

The one you’re convinced is a bad guy

It’s hard not to stereotype Afghan soldiers, especially when there have been documented times when friendly fire has broken out between them and us. Because of that, it’s hard to build trust. The truth is, it’s not unrealistic to suspect that the Taliban has infiltrated the Afghan National Army.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
(Photo by Spc. Theodore Schmidt)
 

The Afghan soldiers who are rarely ready-to-go

99.9 percent of the time, U.S. troops are ready for patrol once they step outside the wire. In contrast, many Afghan troops aren’t well-trained and therefore sometimes forget to bring specific gear or familiarize themselves with the mission route.

It’s annoying, but that’s the world we live in these days.

The most important thing when working with any foreign military is to reach across the divide and get to know the men and women who share your mission. Building trust is key.

Military Life

This is the Communists’ perfectly-bred military working dog

After the end of World War II, the Red Army was looking to create the “supreme” military working dog. After combining 17 different breeds, the Communists created a marvel of animal husbandry: the Black Russian Terrier.


The Soviet-run Red Star Kennel mated Giant Schnauzers, Airedales, Rottweilers, and Moscow Divers as the primary breeds. These were chosen for the Schnauzer’s agility and sharp guarding instinct; the Airedales’ happy disposition, perseverance, and staying power; and the Rottweiler for its massive make, shape, and courage.

Other breeds included Newfoundlands, Caucasian Shepherds, and others – including the now-extinct Moscow Water Dog.

They created the ideal working dog, a large breed that stays alert, is protective without being aggressive, and is able to withstand the extreme climates of Russia – which ranges from frozen Siberia to dry, hot desert. By 1983, it was declared a new breed worldwide.

As a result of the extremely selective breeding, the Black Russian Terrier is a big dog, upwards of three feet tall and 130 pounds – and needs a job to do in order to be happy.

 

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

While initially used to guard prison camps and against potential industrial sabotage, the dogs were needed at a time when the population of the Soviet military’s working dogs was on the decline. While not added to the American Kennel Club until decades later, the young breed was at work in the Soviet Union by 1954.

They love to run around in big spaces and a reportedly very lovable pets. But they need to be around people. Think of it: a specifically bred large, powerful dog with big teeth, who only wants to cuddle. Some owners report they will destroy your house like German Panzer Army if you leave them alone too long!

MIGHTY MONEY

Gary Johnson speaks out on California Guard repayment scandal

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Maj. Gen. William H. Wade, the adjutant general for the California National Guard administers the oath of enlistment to Soldiers of Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 143rd Field Artillery during a recent visit Victory Base Complex, Iraq in 2007.


Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson had strong words for the National Guard and the Pentagon after allegations emerged that the DoD is forcing California Guard troops to reimburse the government for enlistment bonuses it paid in error.

“It is beyond the bounds of decency to go after our veterans and their families a decade later,” he said in a statement obtained by We Are the Mighty. “These are rounding errors to the Pentagon, but these demands for repayment are ruining lives and causing severe hardships for service members whose sacrifices for the nation can frankly never be adequately be repaid.”

Johnson was referring to a Los Angeles Times story that alleges the National Guard is forcing nearly 10,000 guardsmen from California to repay reenlistment bonuses they were awarded 10 years ago.

According to the paper, more than 14,000 California Guardsmen were awarded the reenlistment bonuses as a result of the Army’s incentive program to retain soldiers during the height of the Iraq war.

The U.S. government investigated the California Guard reenlistment bonuses and found a majority of the requests had been approved despite the soldiers’ not qualifying for the bonus. There has been no suggestion that any of the Guardsmen who received the reenlistment bonuses were aware that they did not qualify for them.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Army Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe was the California Guard’s incentive manager at the time, and that after the Pentagon discovered the overpayments 6 years ago, Jaffe pleaded guilty to fraud. She was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Three other officers associated with the fraud also pled guilty, receiving probation after being forced to pay restitution.

Major Gen. Matthew Beevers, the deputy commander of the California Guard, accused the nearly 10,000 soldiers of owing a debt to the Army.

In his statement to The Los Angeles Times, Beevers claimed that the soldiers were at fault and that the Guard couldn’t forgive them. “We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law,” he said, not addressing whether the Guard was breaking the law by reneging on the contracts.

Several of the Guardsmen went on to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom sustained injuries as a result.

Military Times reports that the Pentagon is searching for ways to overcome the issue. “This has the attention of our leadership, and we are looking at this to see what we can do to assist,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said Monday.

A host of lawmakers have stepped forward to condemn the Pentagon for harassing the Guardsmen who received the reenlistment bonuses, calling for congressional investigations into the matter. Though as of publication, no presidential candidate other than Johnson had addressed it.

Calling on President Obama and Congress to act immediately on the impacted Guardsmen, Johnson said, “The Pentagon needs a good dose of common sense far more than it needs these dollars, and making our service members pay for the government’s incompetence is beyond the pale.”

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
In a statement obtained by We Are the Mighty, Governor Johnson called for immediate action to be taken to keep the faith with California National Guardsmen.

Military Life

This Marine walks off the battlefield after being shot in the neck

This video starts with Marines engaged in a firefight against the Taliban in the Afghan countryside in 2012. All of a sudden, around the 0:50 mark, shots are fired and the helmet camera scans to the left as a Marine goes down. The next thing you hear is him yelling, “aghhh, aghhh, I’m f–king hit!”


The Marine settles into a state of temporary frantic but is quickly calmed when his battle buddy comes to assist. Trained for this type of scenario, the assisting Marine methodically removes his buddy’s gear to get to the wound while yelling for a corpsman.

The corpsman arrives, treats the wounded soldier, and by the end of the video the he walks himself to the helicopter on his own for evacuation.

Watch:

Deadbolt1975, YouTube

MIGHTY TRENDING

4 ways airmen party while deployed to Afghanistan

Whether you’re on a small FOB — let’s face it, most airmen won’t be here — or a military base, Afghanistan deployments can either be the most boring or a little bit exciting, depending on how you play your cards. Okay, fine — it’s going to be a little boring no matter what.


How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
That reminds me, you will probably play a lot of cards.

Yes, deployments are most often filled with binge-watching TV on time off or working out multiple times a day, but these are some tips that can make time in the sandbox a little more exciting.

That is, if you can get away with them and not get an Article 15 or court-martial.

4. Alcohol in mouthwash bottles.

Everyone knows that drinking while deployed is against general orders — meaning this you could get in heaps of trouble if you’re dumb and get sh*t-faced. Tip: Don’t be dumb.

It’s easy to get alcohol into Afghanistan if you utilize everyday items to smuggle it in and send it through regular mail. Just don’t go around swigging out of the mouthwash bottle or else someone is going to figure out what’s up.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
It’s not just for cruise ships and prisons anymore!

And if you’re going to share, make sure the ones you share with don’t f*ck it up by opening their mouths to supervisors.

3. Befriend a loadmaster.

Okay, okay — this might only work if you have access to a loadmaster or if you work near the flightline, but networking saves the day in dire times.

Make friends with a loadmaster — or heck, even a pilot — and they’ll willingly bring you back anything you want from wherever they go, probably for a price. Obviously, you’ll pay the price of whatever they bring back, but you might find yourself owing them a favor later (No, not that kind of favor, sicko. Just be willing to help them when they need it).

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Spot the contraband in this photo. (Hint: It’s green). (U.S. Air Force photo)

2. Hang with the foreign military.

Any chance you can spend time with military personnel from different countries, do it. New Zealand is particularly delightful because they can drink on deployment and their accents are easy on the ears (ladies).

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
If David Boreanaz were in a military, he would join the New Zealand Air Force and fit right in. Just sayin’.

Besides the allure of alcohol and the accents, getting to know others from other countries just opens up new lines of communication, and meeting people kills time. You might also end up with some cool challenge-coin swag and squadron T-shirts by the end of deployment.

1. Last Resort: O’Doul’s at the BX and binge watch TV shows.

If you’re not daring enough to do any of the above for fear of a court-martial or an Article 15, stick with a couple of O’Doul’s non-alcoholic beers and watch movies on your laptop or smartphone. The Air Force Exchanges are notorious for selling almost anything you can get at a Walmart, so go wild, go crazy, and buy some fake beer.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
The only acceptable surrender.

It might sound boring and pointless, but at least there are no general orders being broken. So, airman, crack open that O’Doul’s and re-watch Dexter for the third time, because that might be as good as it’s going to get.

Military Life

Report says troops wouldn’t recommend military service to their own kids

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Spc. Yemima Tarber extended her commitment to the Army during a reenlistment ceremony that was presided over by her mother, Capt. Lisa Campbell at Fort Lee, Va. A new survey by military advocacy group Blue Star Families says most service members with multiple deployments wouldn’t want their kids to go through the same hardship. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class John Brown)

 


A new report from military family support organization Blue Star Families shows more than half of service members would not recommend military service to their own children. Additionally, slightly less than half of the respondents would not recommend it to other young adults who aren’t related to them.

Blue Star Families has compiled the so called “Annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey” reports since 2009, which are widely used by government officials from the White House, Congress, the Department of Defense, and state and local officials to help understand the unique needs and challenges of military families. Data collected from the annual survey often impacts legislation.

This year’s survey respondents consisted of a mixture of 8,390 active duty personnel, military veterans, and military and veteran spouses — a 130 percent increase over last year’s survey.

Of those surveyed, enlisted service members who had been deployed more than three times were the least likely to recommend military service to their own children.

Among officers, those with less than two deployments and an employed spouse were more likely to recommend military service to young people who are not their children, but only if benefits they’d been promised when they commissioned were still in place — and generally only to those who might become officers.

Less than 20 percent of respondents said they would recommend service to anyone if the current trend of cutting benefits continued.

This could be bad news for those who consider military service to be a “family business.”

“The past year has seen new and emerging security threats in numerous regions while Department of Defense budget cuts and personnel downsizing continues,” Blue Star Families said in their summary of this year’s findings. “The resulting operational tempo is very concerning to service members and their families.”

According to the report, almost 60 percent of veterans had at least one parent who served in the military before them, but only 45 percent of currently serving military members had a parent who served prior.

The 2015 report noted that 80 percent of veteran respondents would be “happy” if their children joined the military. While that specific detail about happiness isn’t reported in this year’s survey, when compared to this year’s 67 percent who would not recommend service to their children, it does appear to show a downward pattern of service members who want their children to follow in their footsteps.

“Extended family separations, frequent moves, and outdated expectations that military spouses sublimate their personal, professional, and familial priorities to support their service member’s military service are the most prevalent topics identified as substantially reducing the quality of life and attractiveness of martial service,” Blue Star Families said. “Military families understand that serving may mean making sacrifices in support of service; however, DoD must also examine the military necessity of the burdens it asks military families to bear.”

The survey isn’t all bad news for the family business of military service. Military spouses who are able to maintain a career were 36 percent more likely to recommend it, and a whopping 76 percent of all spouses surveyed who felt that the military had a positive or neutral career impact were likely to recommend service.

There were two surprising findings elsewhere in the report: almost 80 percent of respondents were satisfied with the military lifestyle, and over 80 percent were satisfied with Tricare Standard.

You can view the Executive Summary on Blue Star Family’s website.

 

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Blue Star Families 2016 Military Lifestyle Survey at a glance.

 

“This year’s survey results show a military community at a point of inflection. It shows the country needs to get smarter about what a healthy All-Volunteer Force really looks like—and what it needs it to look like to ensure future success,” Blue Star Families argued. “The All-Volunteer Force was not designed for our current security environment of protracted low-level conflict, nor was it designed for the modern service member—who is better educated, married with children, and living in an increasingly diverse and inclusive society.”

Articles

Get your tissues — The Rock just surprised a combat vet

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a big supporter of the troops, and this isn’t the first time he’s surprised a vet, but his sincerity and flare always make for a heart-catching watch.


He partnered with Ford to unveil the 2018 Ford Mustang, and he decided to take it one step further by giving the car to combat Army veteran Marlene Rodriguez, who earned the Purple Heart for injuries received from an RPG while serving in Mosul.

Her reaction was stunned as she said, “I don’t deserve all this.” Johnson replied with, “You deserve more,” and we all lost our sh**.

His Instagram caption of the reveal was perfect (including the emojis–we’ve kept them intact for you):

This one felt good. Very good. ?? Our Ford partners asked me to unveil the never seen before, brand new 2018 FORD MUSTANG to the world. As their Ambassador, I’m happy to do.

With a twist.

Myself and Ford compiled a big list of US veterans and from that list, I chose Army combat vet Purple Heart recipient, Marlene Rodriguez to surprise and give it away to her.

It was such a cool moment that all of us in the room will never forget.

When Marlene, stopped and just looked at me and asked “Why?”, well that’s when I may or may not have gotten a lil’ emotional with my answer – in a bad ass manly way of course.

Why? Because of the boundless gratitude and respect I have for you, Marlene and all our men and women who’ve served our country. Just a small way of myself and the good people of FORD of saying THANK YOU.

A HUGE thank you to FORD, our SEVEN BUCKS PRODUCTIONS and everyone who was involved in making this awesome surprise come true.

Finally, thank you FORD for making the new 2018 Mustang straight ?, completely customizable for the world to enjoy. Thanks also for making sure I fit in it as well.

Marlene, fits better. ?. Enjoy your ride mama. Enjoy that Dodger game. You deserve it. 

It’s okay if you get a little misty-eyed over this one. We did.

Military Life

7 of the worst phrases to hear from your leadership

There’re certain things that come down the chain of command that hurt your very soul when you, the lowest “link,” hear about them. Of course, “deployment extended” and “Dear John” have firmly secured their place on the podium of most-hated phrases, but these ones burn the ears, regardless of circumstance.


Nothing good ever comes from these 7 phrases.

1. “Make it happen.”

Every now and then, an impossible task becomes an imperative in someone’s eyes. This leads to the phrase that shuts down all conversation.

Doesn’t matter. You’ll have to beg, borrow, or steal whatever you need to, well, “make it happen.”

 

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

 

2. “We’re expecting little-to-no resistance.”

While you’re deployed, this one sentence seems to jinx everything.

The platoon could just be out doing ‘atmosphericals’ (basically, you roll around an area of operations and just poke around to see if anyone wants to come play) for months and nothing will happen. The moment your platoon leader says this phrase, every enemy decides to make an appearance.

 

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

 

3. “Why didn’t you square away your battle buddy?”

This is always uttered when your squadmate does something stupid, unsafe, criminal, or a combination of the three.

And yet, blame gets shifted from the one who’s actually at fault or the NCO in charge on to the battle buddy who was probably in their barracks playing video games.

 

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Because yeah, military regulations are what troops talk about in the ‘Bs’ (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian Morales)

4. “It’s time to embrace the suck.”

Things are about to get real and the sh*t is about to hit the fan.

Oddly enough, and not to pass judgment or anything, but the staff officer who jokes about the imminent sh*tstorm usually seems to make it out squeaky clean.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Don’t worry though. That staff officer will at least hand out water at the end of the ruck march! (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Anthony Zendejas IV)

 

5. “This shouldn’t take that long.”

This has two different meanings depending on when it’s said.

If it’s used when you’re told to go empty a shipping container (connex), that means they don’t understand shipping containers. If it’s while you’re sweating your ass off while emptying that Connex and they come out of nowhere to say it, they’re as**oles.

 

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

 

6. “Weapons draw at zero too-f*cking early hundred.”

This always comes down the moment before the range, field op, or something similar.

Sure, weapons draw may be at 0400, but the armorer won’t show until 0635, you won’t get to the Motor Pool until 0830, and, just to put a bit more salt on that wound, the command team already planned on SPing out at 1030. All the while, you probably didn’t roll into bed around midnight and didn’t get a lick of sleep.

 

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

 

7. Anything involving “100% accountability” when off-duty.

This means that something terrible happened or that someone did something terribly stupid.

It comes in all shapes and sizes — “Ladi dadi, everybody” and “All-hands on deck.” This always sucks because your leadership probably aren’t heartless machines. They enjoy weekends and time off, too.

 

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Even your First Sergeant wants to spend the weekend NOT at their desk yelling at idiots. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Dana Beesley)

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how John Kelly shut down speculation on President Trump’s gold star family call

Florida Congresswoman Rep. Frederica Wilson claimed she was with the wife of a fallen Special Forces soldier when the woman received a phone call from President Donald Trump. Wilson claims the president had some insensitive words for the grieving young woman.


“He said to the wife, ‘Well, I guess he knew what he was getting into,’ ” said Wilson. “How insensitive can you be?”

The call was to Sgt. La David Johnson’s widow Myeshia after her husband was killed in an ambush in Niger with three other soldiers on Oct. 4. The couple had two children and were expecting a third.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Sergeant La David Johnson and three other soldiers were killed in action in Niger on Oct. 4, 2017.

President Trump denied the accusation via Twitter, while the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders described the call as “respectful” and “sympathetic” but asserted that no recordings of the calls exist.

Johnson’s mother, who was also listening to the call, then stepped into the media spotlight by affirming Wilson’s story.

The White House has since criticized the Florida Congresswoman for politicizing the practice of calling Gold Star Families on the event that their loved one was killed in action. But President Trump opened himself to criticism on this issue as well, by falsely claiming that his predecessors never did anything like it

Enter former Marine Gen. John Kelly, now the White House Chief of Staff.

Read: Everybody should read General John Kelly’s speech about two Marines in the path of a truck bomb

President Trump told reporters President Obama  never called then-Gen. Kelly when the General’s son was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. The White House claims Kelly was on hand for Trump’s call to Johnson and saw the conversation as “respectful” and appropriate.”

On Oct. 19, Kelly himself took the podium during the White House Press Briefing to explain to reporters what happens when American troop are killed in action, how the remains are transported, how the family is notified, and who sends their condolences.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

Kelly set the record straight with how Presidents send their condolences and how it should be done. He confirmed that President Obama did not call his family – not as a criticism, just a fact. And Kelly advised Trump against calling too.

“I recommended that he not do it,” Kelly said. “It is just not the phone call they’re looking forward to. … It’s not a negative thing.”

When Trump decided to call he asked Kelly how to make the call and what to say. He told the president there’s no way he would ever understand how to make that call.

“If you’re not in the family, if you’ve never worn the uniform, if you’ve never been in combat, you can’t even imagine how to make that call,” Kelly said.

As he continued, Kelly emotionally recalled what Gen. Joseph Dunford, the casualty officer assigned to the Kelly family, told him when Kelly’s son was killed in action.

“He [Kelly’s son] knew what he was getting into… he knew what the possibilities were, because we’re at war,” Kelly recalled. “When he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this earth, his friends. That’s what the president tried to say to four families the other day.”

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
U.S. Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, left, and Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stand at attention. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Related: This is why John Kelly could comfort families of fallen troops

Kelly then lashed out at Rep. Wilson for tarnishing what he believed was one more formerly sacred institution in America. He said he had to go walk among “the finest men and women on this earth. … You can always find them because they’re in Arlington National Cemetery.”

Watch the full press briefing below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ps5ttDzWBaY
Articles

Here are the best military photos of the week

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


AIR FORCE:

Firefighters from the 151st Civil Engineer Squadron extinguish a simulated airplane fire June 7, 2016, at the Salt Lake City Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters Training Center. The state-of-the-art facility is equipped with a simulator, which allows for interior and exterior training and includes a multitude of various fire scenarios.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Colton Elliott

An A-10C Thunderbolt II assigned to the 75th Fighter Squadron performs a low-angle strafe during the Hawgsmoke competition at Barry M. Goldwater Range, Ariz., June 2, 2016. The two-day competition included team and individual scoring of strafing, high-altitude dive-bombing, Maverick missile precision and team tactics.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chris Drzazgowski

ARMY:

U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, carry equipment through a pond during the team obstacle course at the French Jungle Warfare School near Yemen, Gabon, June 9, 2016.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Yvette Zabala-Garriga

A U.S. Army Soldier, assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, provides security during Decisive Action Rotation 16-06 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., May 16, 2016.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Blanton

NAVY:

DILI, Timor Leste (June 8, 2016) Crew members assigned to the Blackjacks of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 move an MH-60S helicopter into the hangar aboard hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19). Deployed in support of Pacific Partnership 2016, Mercy is on its first stop of the 2016 mission. Pacific Partnership has a longstanding history with Timor Leste, having first visited in 2006, and four subsequent times since. Medical, engineering and various other personnel embarked aboard Mercy will work side-by-side with partner nation counterparts, exchanging ideas, building best practices and relationships to ensure preparedness should disaster strike.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam

PACIFIC OCEAN (JUNE 4, 2016) An F/A-18E from the Flying Eagles of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA-122) launches from the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) flight deck during night flight operations (left) while an EA-18G Growler from the Vikings of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ-129) taxis onto a catapult (right). The ship is underway conducting command assessment of readiness and training (CART) II off the coast of Southern California.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Daniel P. Jackson Norgart

MARINE CORPS:

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division conduct military operations on urban terrain during a field exercise (FEX) at Camp Pendleton, California, May 24, 2016. FEX is designed to sharpen the battalion’s combat capabilities.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Eryn L. Edelman

Marines with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division advance down range during the Eager Lion 16 final exercise in Al Quweyrah, Jordan, May 24, 2016. Eager Lion is a recurring exercise between partner nations designed to strengthen military-to-military relationships, increase interoperability, and enhance regional security and stability.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez

COAST GUARD:

Flight Mechanics serve a dual role in the aircraft. First, they help the pilots monitor performance and flight instruments. Their knowledge of the aircraft and technical expertise make them invaluable resources for identifying and troubleshooting aircraft malfunctions. Second, they are responsible for operating the helicopter’s hoist. This entails both physically manipulating the hoist as well as providing conning commands to the pilot at the controls.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
U.S. Coast Guard photo

The pilots at Air Station Savannah come from a myriad of backgrounds. For some, this is their first operational aviation tour. Others have completed multiple tours around the country in places like Kodiak, AK and Puerto Rico. We also have a large number of Direct Commission Aviators who transferred over to the Coast Guard from other services such as the Army and Marines.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
U.S. Coast Guard photo

Military Life

How Silly Putty got its start in the military

It’s the crazy compound that bounces, molds, stretches, snaps — the non-Newtonian fluid that seemingly takes on new properties with each shape. It’s a beloved toy that has been around since the 1940s, but didn’t make its way into the hearts and hands of families until years later. Why? The substance’s original use wasn’t to become a toy at all, in fact, it was created to have tactical uses in World War II. 

Years later when the viscoelastic liquid silicone was rediscovered, it was repurposed into a toy and remains a best seller for Crayola to this day. The business was a slow start, but after a mention in the New Yorker put Silly Putty on the map, more than 250,000 units were sold in three days. Originally intended for adults, manufacturers realized their biggest market was in kids aged 6-12. They went on to create its first commercial, airing during the Howdy Doody Show in 1957. 

The history of Silly Putty

In the midst of WWII, the U.S. was rationing its rubber sources to keep up with production of boots, tires, and other necessary war supplies. This was due to Japan’s invasion of countries that produced rubber in the Pacific Rim. During this time, Americans were encouraged to make their rubber items last as long as possible, and donate any extras they might have on hand.

At the same time, the government began researching rubber alternatives that could be used instead. Synthetic compounds that could be used in its placed were sought after in labs, including General Electric, which was located in New Haven, Connecticut. 

In 1943, researchers combined boric acid with silicone oil to create a “gooey, bouncy material with unique properties.” It’s disputed as to whether James Wright with General Electric, inventor Harvey Chin, or Rob Roy McGregor of Earl Warrick was the original scientist to do so. However, Wright is given credit in Crayola’s history, while Mcgregor received a patent. 

During this time, workers were impressed with Silly Putty for several reasons. It didn’t mold, it had a high melting temperature, it was extremely stretchy and versatile, and it was non-toxic. However, it would not work as a viable replacement for rubber. 

Silly Putty becomes a toy

Silly putty
If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can still buy the original Silly Putty on Amazon.

Years later, in 1949, Silly Putty was re-discovered by Ruth Fallgatter, who owned the Block Shop Toy Store. She got in touch with Peter C.L. Hodgson, a marketing consultant, and the pair began marketing it as a toy. It made its debut at the International Toy Fair in New York in 1950. 

Hodgson put himself deeper into debt to purchase extra product and packaging. He’s credited for coming up with the name Silly Putty and putting it into plastic eggs. They sold for $1 a pop. 

Sales were steadily growing, but with the Korean War, silicone was on short supply — one of the main ingredients to Silly Putty. A year later the shortage was gone and Silly Putty was back on the market.

In 1961 Silly Putty made its way outside the U.S., being sold in the Soviet Union and in Europe, becoming hits in both countries. It also made it into outer space when astronauts from Apollo 8 took it on a lunar orbit in 1968. The surge of popularity turned Hodgson into a multi-millionaire, due to ongoing publicity and sky-rocketing sales. 

After Hodgson’s death in 1976, Crayola obtained the rights and began selling it as part of their line of toys. It was introduced to the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2001, and to-date,  more than 300 million eggs — that’s 4,000 tons — had been sold.

Today, Silly Putty comes in many colors and scents, including offensive scents for the class clowns among us (vomit and puke), and aromatherapy options that target older users. Small eggs start at $1.99, topping out at $99.99 for a five-pound block. 

Military Life

7 little life tips troops can pick up from their NCOs

Troops are a direct reflection of their NCO. A good NCO will always try to impart whatever bits of information they can whenever possible. Now, this doesn’t mean they need to be constantly teaching their troops the benefits of proper sight alignment (even though this is important). Sometimes, troops benefit from the little, practical lessons, like “it’s a bad idea to drink heavily the night before a ruck march.” Other times, troops learn best by example.


Whatever the teaching style, this is what troops can learn from a good NCO.

1. Get a head start on the right schools.

The military is ever changing — new equipment gets fielded daily and old techniques are retired. There’s always something new to learn.

If an NCO is trying to pick up a skill later in their career, chances are it’ll be important to a younger troop, too. Take note.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
If they’re trying for a physical school — go for it. (U.S. Army Photo by Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)

2. Don’t request a duty station your NCO hated.

The old saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side” applies to every single military base. Your current unit is usually seen as sub-par, your last duty station is the best, and the next one will be better. If anyone thinks any differently, that’s an immediate red flag.

If your NCO hated their last duty station, they’re speaking from experience. You’ll probably hate it, too.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
If they say they’d kill to go back, put it on your wishlist. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Pablo Piedra)

3. What’s actually needed on a packing list.

Packing lists in the military are pointless. If the packing list says to bring seven pairs of underwear for a three-day field op, you can probably leave a few at home.

NCOs have been on more field ops than the average Joe, so, if you see them bringing something else, it’ll probably be a good idea to bring it along yourself.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
They probably also have a better insight on what’s actually going to happen on the field op, too. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Spradlin)

4. Don’t go where they won’t go off-post.

It’s almost always a joke when an NCOs tell their troops, “have a good weekend, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” But seriously, if you have a by-the-books NCO, they’ll hem your ass up for doing dumb sh*t.

Down-to-Earth NCOs, however, will probably show you some leniency if you get caught up doing something stupid that they’ve already done dozens of times before.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

5. Pay attention to who is most “useful” in the unit.

Let’s be completely real for a moment: There are idiots in the service. But, as stupid as they are, you still have to treat them with courtesy deserving of their rank.

NCOs who need to get things done will professionally avoid the troops that probably needed an ASVAB waiver and go straight to the ones that can help them out in a snap. Remember who your NCO trusts.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
If they sigh because it’s that guy working the armory that day, you won’t be out of there by 1700. (Photo by Sgt. Emily Greene)

6. Don’t fake stories they can fact check.

There’s a huge difference between embellishing and outright lying. You can easily spot the outrageous stories — like someone claiming they fired two AT-4s at the same time. But no one bats an eye if you claim that summers on the deployment are a little hotter than they actually are.

NCOs impart great knowledge through stories from previous deployments — but even their stories aren’t free from embellishment. Read between the lines and use common sense as a filter and you’ll quickly learn the difference between an insightful story and a complete fabrication.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

7. If they can get away with something, know how and why.

Nobody is perfect and corners get cut. It all comes down to figuring out why you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.

For example; if an NCO knows that they can be late to something by a few minutes, you probably can, too, but don’t overdo it.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
If it’s a medical or dental appointment, they’ll never be later than fifteen minutes early. For a good reason. (Photo by Brandy Gill).

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