This is the team that transports the wounded home from war - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war

Yes, there are jokes aplenty that tear down reservists for anything ranging from a lack of physical fitness to a disregard of regulations to even workspace cleanliness. If you were to judge solely from the bad rap they get from active duty, it’d be hard to fathom that the Reserves play any real role in the military.


The Reserves, for every military branch, require two days of duty a month (drill weekends) and two weeks of mandatory training per year. However, most of the time, reservists are called upon to come in and train more than just two days each month.

Stereotypically, reservists are thought of as “weekend warriors” or part-time military members, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, especially when talking about specific career fields (MOS/AFSCs). In fact, the majority of our fighting forces are made up of reservists that get activated or volunteer to deploy during conflict.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Members of the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 86th AES recently participated in a three-day training mission in which real-world troops and cargo were transported from Joint Base Charleston, S.C. to Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK. Missions like this highlight the Air Force Reserve’s commitment to getting the most value possible out of each and every flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by 1st. Lt. Jeff Kelly)

Although there is a multitude of career fields in every branch of the Reserves, it just so happens that the Air Force Reserves has been allotted one of the most sacred duties of them all: Transporting our wounded warriors back home to their families. Today’s aeromedical evacuation (AE) process is a far cry from what we have seen in the past American Wars.

The Air Force Reserves is mobile, efficient, and skilled in triage and, of course, organizing paperwork — yes, paperwork is important! When it comes to patient movement, especially when flying from base to base, flight nurses and medical technicians need to have correct patient diagnoses, medications, proper training, and medical equipment.

Related: 7 reasons why active duty hate on reservists

How else would they be able to ensure a 98% survival rate that is currently the highest survival rate among all American wars? Not too shabby for a bunch of reservists, right?

There are a total of eighteen AE squadrons under Air Force Reserve Command, nine under the Air National Guard, and four under active duty — two in the U.S. and two overseas.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
(U.S. Air Force photo by 1st. Lt. Jeff Kelly)

Training, training, and more training is a big reason the survival rate statistic has climbed recently. The Air Force Reserves trains to deploy and are always ready to go at a moment’s notice.

There are also aircraft attached explicitly to AE missions, such as the C-130, C-17, and KC-135, which are godsends to all of our injured troops. Training on each of these aircraft is mandatory for anyone attached to an AE medical crew.

Thanks to drastic improvements in technology and the specialized skills of AE medical crews, the wounded are no longer misdiagnosed due to incorrect paperwork, and they are not left in the field for months at a time, waiting for a plane to take them back to their families.

Next time someone cracks a joke about a reservist, even though some of the stereotypes ring a little true, remember the crucial role they play in the big operational puzzle that is our armed forces, especially in regards to bringing home our wounded warriors.

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This simple exercise will help determine if you really want to be a sniper

Quora is the ultimate resource for crowdsourcing knowledge. If you’re unfamiliar, you ask the Quora world a question and anyone with expertise (and some without it) will respond. One user asked the world what service he should join if he wanted to be a sniper. One Marine veteran gave him some necessary information.

Choosing what branch to join can be tough for anyone. Different branches have different lifestyles, they come with different job opportunities, and they each have their own difficulties. If you’re 100-percent sure you want to be a sniper, that doesn’t narrow your selection. At all.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Yes, the Air Force has snipers.

To be fair, the asker asked, “Which branch is better?” Many users thoughtfully answered his question with answers ranging from the Coast Guard’s HITRON precision marksmen to arguing the finer points about why Army snipers are superior to SEALs and Marine Scout Snipers (go ahead and debate that amongst yourselves).


Many answering users wondered if the original asker really wanted to be a sniper. Some answers were condescending, some were went as far as accusing him of simply wanting to kill people (this is still the internet, after all). But one Marine veteran gave the young asker an exercise. One that would help him see if it was something he really wanted to do.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Gunny Hathcock approves.
(Hathcock Family photo)

That Marine was a trucker, an artilleryman, and a Desert Storm veteran. He “wasn’t a sniper, but I served with them, and listened in awe to how they train.” He then gave the asker a 15-step exercise to see if sniper training was something he really wanted to do:

  1. Wait until the middle of summer.
  2. Get a wool blanket and three quart-size ziplock bags.
  3. Fill the bags with small meals.
  4. Get two one-quart canteens and plenty of water purification tablets.
  5. Locate a swamp that is adjacent to a field of tall grass
  6. Before the sun comes up on day one, wrap yourself in the wool blanket.
  7. Crawl through the swamp, never raising any part of your body above the one-foot level.
  8. Lay all day in the field with the sun bearing down on you.
  9. Eat your food while never moving faster than a sloth.
  10. If you need water, crawl back to the swamp, fill the canteens, and use your water purification tablets to hopefully not get sick.
  11. Put any bodily waste in the zip-lock bags as you empty them of food. This includes any vomit if you didn’t decontaminate your water well enough.
  12. Bees, fire ants, and any predatory animals are not a reason to move faster than a sloth or move any part of your body above the one-foot level.
  13. Sleep there through the night.
  14. When the sun rises crawl back through the swamp.
  15. Just before you stand up and go home, ask yourself if you want to be a sniper.

Always remember: If you use the Quora world for advice, be sure to consider your source.

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5 tips to prepare potential boots to join the military

Preparing before you join the military is a great way to set yourself up for success once you take that oath.


To start your military career right from Day One, there are some vitally important factors for you to consider so you can be successful in your initial training as well as your follow-on or advanced training. This advice is for anyone planning to join any military service.

 

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
That’s a pretty good career.

 

5. Start talking to recruiters a year out.

If you are considering enlisting or joining an officer commissioning program, make a plan to go and speak to all the service recruiters. If you are set on the Marines, go and explore your options with the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and the Air Force anyway. If you are just interested in the Air Force, then talk to the Army, Marines, Coast Guard and the Navy. At this point, you “don’t know what you don’t know.”

 

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
For example, the Coast Guard is part of the military.

 

Speaking to recruiters from all military services will give you a very good idea of the full range of positions, training, and signing bonuses that are available to you. At any point in joining the military, there is a spectrum of opportunities that are and are not available based on the current size of the respective services. Speaking to all the recruiters gives you a good idea of what is truly available.

4. Drugs, legal violations, some tattoos, obesity and fitness ruin people’s military dreams.

There is a large group of people that want desperately to join the military but cannot due to violations of the military service standards that bar them from entering service.

 

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
And then there are people who just know the military isn’t for them.

 

As a broad rule, the use of illegal drugs; legal convictions of criminal activity; some tattoo’s on the face, neck, or hands; personal weight levels above the service standard; and the inability to successfully complete a basic physical fitness test are what remove candidates from consideration for military service.

The best advice is to avoid any and all activities that will disqualify you from military service.

3. Get in good overall shape. 

Your goal for fitness and bodyweight should be to get in the best overall shape that you can.

 

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Even if you’re joining the Air Force.

 

You want to balance strength training and cardiovascular fitness because too much strength training could hurt your run times and too much running may leave you susceptible to injury and could even cause you to fail the push-ups or pull-ups to military standard. There are a number of excellent fitness programs that you can pursue.

2. Do well on your high school GPA/ graduate.

After the fitness disqualifications to military service, a lack of a high school degree with a decent GPA is next. A high school degree and a good GPA that will help you do well on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) – a test that partially controls what military specialties that you can sign up to perform.

 

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Graduating high school on time and with a good GPA really will go a long way for your military career.

 

 

1. Prepare for times when military service is awful. 

At my first duty station in Korea, the January weather was so cold that the water buffalos froze inside of heated tents, which made serving hot food impossible. We had limited MREs because they were all in the Middle East so we ate beef jerky or nothing because the peanut butter sandwiches froze. It was a horrible time in the field.

 

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
That happens sometimes in Korea, FYI.

 

You can do all the physical preparations you want, but your mind has to be prepared to suffer — and suffer mightily. Military recruits that are not prepared to suffer and to perform their best while suffering are challenged to complete a term of military service.

Talking early to recruiters, staying away from activities that disqualify you for military service, being in good shape, possessing a completed high school degree and having your attitude focused on surpassing suffering while still serving well is how you succeed.

Have a successful military career and have fun.

This content provided courtesy of USAA.

Chad Storlie is the author of two books, Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States.

Military Life

20 important facts about military brats (backed up by research)

In the world of the United States military, April is the “Month of the Military Child.” It’s coming up sooner than you think. Military children (aka “Brats”) are a distinct sociological subculture and have been recognized as such for many decades. Children in military families obviously face a lot of challenges their civilian counterparts will never experience. This is not to say that one child is better than another, and while the challenges are important to realize, the resiliency of these children is just as important. Here are some facts and figures about modern military children and who they are likely to grow up to be.


 

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war

 

1. The term “Military Brat” is not intended as derogatory and isn’t just a slang term – Military brat is widely used by researchers and sociologists and was adopted by the military brat community.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war

2. Since 9/11, more than two million military children have had a parent deployed at least once.

3. Military families relocate 10 times more often than civilian families — on average, every 2 or 3 years.

4. When a parent is stationed without his family, the children of the military member experience the same emotions as children of divorced parents.

5. Children of active duty personnel often mirror the values, ideals, and attitudes of their parents more closely than children of civilians.

6. A high percentage of military children find difficulty connecting with people or places, but very often do form strong connections with bases and military culture.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war

7. Military children have more emotional struggles when compared with national examples. These struggles increase when the military parent deploys. Military children can also experience higher levels of anxiety, depression and withdrawal.

8. Research has consistently shown military children to be more disciplined than civilian peers.

9. The perception that the country supports the wars their parents deploy to fight has a positive effect on the mental health of military children.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war

10. Military children are usually under constant pressure to conform to what military culture expects; sometimes this is perceived as being more mature, even if its only their outward behavior.

11. Strict discipline can have the opposite effect: children in military families may behave well beyond what is normally acceptable. Some develop psychological problems due to the intense stress of always being on their best behavior.

12. The bonds connecting military communities are normally considered stronger than the differences of race. Military children grow up in a setting that actively condemns racist comments. The result is a culture of anti-racism.

13. In studies, eighty percent of military children claim that they can relate to anyone, regardless of differences such as race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war

14. Because military brats are constantly making new friends to replace the ones that they have lost, they are often more outgoing and independent.

15. On the other hand, the experience of being a constant stranger can lead them to feel estranged everywhere, even if later in life they settle down in one place.

16. A typical military school can experience up to 50 percent turnover every year.

17. Grown military children are very monogamous. When they marry, it is generally for life; over two-thirds over age 40 are married to their first spouse.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
US Navy photo by Tucker M. Yates

18. Military children have lower delinquency rates, higher achievement scores, and higher median IQs than civilian children.

19. Military children are more likely to have a college degree and are more likely to have an advanced degree.

20 Over 80 percent of children raised in military families now speak at least one language other than English, and 14 percent speak three or more.

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This is why ACUs have buttons on their pants and a zipper on the blouse

The U.S. military’s uniform history is one of tradition and tactical purpose. Many tiny details on our uniforms date back centuries. The different colors in the Army’s dress blues are a call back to the days when soldiers on horseback would take off their jacket to ride, causing their pants to wear out at a different pace. The stars on the patch of the U.S. flag are wore facing forward as if we’re carrying the flag into battle.


This is the team that transports the wounded home from war

 

Something that always stuck out was why the ACUs have the button and zipper locations opposite of civilian attire. All Army issued uniforms had buttons until the M1941 Field Jacket added a zipper with storm buttons on the front. Shortly after, many other parts of the uniform including pockets, trousers and even boots would start using zippers as a way to keep them fastened. The zippers, like many things in the military, were made by the lowest bidders until the introduction of the Army Combat Uniform or ACUs in ’04.

 

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war

 

The zipper on the ACU blouse is heavy duty and far more durable than zippers on a pair of blue jeans. The zipper is useful on the blouse for ease of access but it also has a tactical reason for its use. A zipper allows medical personnel to undo the top far easier than searching for a pair of scissors or undoing all of the buttons. The hook-and-loop fasteners (Velcro) is to help give it a smooth appearance.

 

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Even OCP still kept the buttons, but added the sh*tty velcro back to the cargo pocket (Photo via Wikimedia commons)

 

Buttons on the trousers serve a completely different purpose. The buttons keep them sealed better than a zipper. Think of how many times you’ve seen people’s zipper down and you’ll get one of the reasons why they decided to avoid that. Buttons are also far easier to replace than an entire zipper and a lot quieter when you need to handle your business.

Dress uniforms take the traditional route to mirror a business suit. The Army Aircrew Combat Uniform is on it’s OFP.

Military Life

4 things you didn’t know about the USO

The United Service Organizations, or USO, has gone above and beyond to serve those in uniform. It’s their mission to strengthen America’s military by keeping service men and women happy and connected to their families back home.

The USO has been the driving force behind entertainment programs and families service for nearly 80 years across more than 200 locations worldwide, including Germany, Djibouti, and Afghanistan.


“When we were off-mission, the USO tents were the go-to spot for all the troops.” Army veteran Eric Milzarski says.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
A Soldier with the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, poses with comedian Iliza Shlesinger during a USO tour, Dec. 16, 2012, at Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar, Afghanistan.
(Photo by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth, 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs Office)

1

With all the great press the private organization has earned, a lot of little things get lost in the shuffle. Here are a few things you might not know about this highly patriotic service.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war

Their unique history

In 1941, President Roosevelt wanted to bring together several service associations to boost U.S. military morale and bring some of the comforts of home to the front. Those associations included the Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association, Young Women’s Christian Association, National Catholic Community Services, National Travelers Aid Association, and the National Jewish Welfare Board.

Together, they formed the USO.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war

Bette Davis doing her part at New York City’s famed USO the Stage Door Canteen .

They work with tons of celebrities, but…

Mark Wahlberg, Gary Sinise, and Scarlett Johansson have all donated their time to visit deployed troops and have toured bases overseas — which we think is badass.

But back in the 1940s, many celebrities acted as waiters for deployed troops and, sometimes, enjoyed a dance or two with their favorite Marine, sailor, or soldier.

Their outstanding outreach

With more than 200 location worldwide, the not-for-profit organization has catered to the needs of roughly seven million service members and their families. Currently, there are four USO centers located in Afghanistan that average more than 25,000 visitors per month.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war

USO is mobile

In 1942, mobile USO canteens (which were, basically, trucks with generators) toured throughout the 48 contiguous states. These trucks carried screens, projectors, and speakers to play the popular films and records of the time. In 2017, Mobile USO delivered programs and services to 26 states, covering 50,000 miles and impacted more than two million service members and their families.

To those who work at the USO as volunteers, we salute you.

Military Life

How to properly retire an American Flag

The American flag, also lovingly known as “the Stars and Stripes” and “Old Glory,” is one of the most famous patriotic symbols in the world. Over the years, it’s been modified to reflect our country’s growth and waves triumphantly across our great nation. We associate our nation’s emblem with the freedom and democracy the US champions.


The flag has been raised on various battlefields throughout the world and many Americans hoist it outside of their homes as a badge of loyalty. But nothing lasts forever and, eventually, flags need to be removed from operational service. When an American flag can no longer be used, the symbol must be removed from service in a dignified way.

So, how do you properly dispose of our nation’s flag?

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Members of the Dover Air Force Base Honor Guard prepare the American flag by properly folding during a retreat ceremony.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization, first, the flag should be folded up in the customary manner. This means holding the flag waist-high and folding the lower half of the stripe section lengthwise over the field of stars. Then, folded again, keeping the blue stars facing up.

Next, triangularly fold the striped corner of the already-folded edge to meet the open side of the flag. Continue making triangular folds until you’ve covered the entire length of the flag. Once the flag is prepared, it’s to be placed in a fire. Any individuals in attendance must stand at the position of attention, salute the flag, and state the Pledge of Allegiance, which is to be followed by a period of silence.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Lt. Earl Wilson, from the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) places an unserviceable American flag into the fire during an American flag retirement ceremony.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brandon Cyr)

Once the flag is consumed by the flames, its ashes are to be buried.

Note: Please check with local fire codes before choosing your fire and bury sites.

Military Life

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

 


Here was my experience at Marine Corps Boot Camp in San Diego, California.

As has been said there is no way to describe boot camp or even the Marine Corps accurately enough to really make them feel what it is like. But, I will give it a shot. I began writing this and realized it was turning into a short story, so I will shorten it to the first 36 hours of boot camp, and it will give you some idea of how it is in boot camp.

Boot camp is the time when a teen, or young adult, is taken and slapped in one of the worst places to be. That kid is broken down to that of a whimpering boy, then rebuilt into what the Marine Corps wants in its warriors.

The first time I asked myself “what am I doing here?” was basically my first run in with a drill instructor. This was at the USO in San Diego’s Airport, yep that’s right an airport. All recruits are flown to the airport and staged in the USO, effectively out of ear shot, or sight from the flying passengers. Everyone there is basically thinking the same thing, holy crap what is about to happen! There will be people there who pretend to act calm and collected, that’s fake. Everyone is terrified, and waiting for that minute to get there. They told you the time, I assume to mess with your head! 7:25 p.m. I will never forget it.

So, there I was, 17 years old, one month out of high school, sitting on the couch watching T.V. I have no idea what was on because that wasn’t what I was worried about. There were other soon to be recruits playing pool, drinking soda, eating the free food that was given. All of the workers at the USO had a look of “oh honey, you are about to have a bad three months.”

 

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

7:25 p.m. on the dot I heard, “Everyone going to MCRD get on your feet and get outside!” Not a scream, but just enough fire to make your heart race. I jumped up, and saw the drill instructor, about 6 feet tall, service charlie uniform perfect to every thread, that iconic campaign cover aka. smokey bear, and wouldn’t you know it, an eye patch! This dude was scary.

I ran outside as the Drill Instructor (DI) signed the paper work for the USO. We were all just standing around with no direction, or any idea of where or what to do. Then there was that voice again, “Get in a single file line at the side of the bus, have your SRB (service record book) ready to give me when you get on, do you understand?!” There were a lot of reserved “yes sir’s,” some said nothing, other’s snickered. “THE CORRECT RESPONSE IS YES SIR, DO YOU UNDERSTAND!” This time we all said it!

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Photo: Lance Cpl. Rodion Zabolotniy/USMC

As I stood in line something caught my attention to my right (at this point any Marine reading this is probably saying don’t do it man, don’t do it), but I looked over to see what it was, and quickly looked forward. “HEAD AND EYE BALLS TO THE FRONT!” I said nothing, because I didn’t know he was talking to me.

Side note: Every single person who goes through boot camp is, at some point, a blubbering idiot. All common sense leaves!

“YOU, OPEN YOUR MOUTH!” Still I said nothing, and now he was approaching. This was about to be my first, to put it into Marine jargon, ass chewing of my new career.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

The DI was directly in front of me, slightly at a 45 degree angle, seeing as there was another recruit in front of me. “I GUESS I DON’T RATE A RESPONSE, IS THAT RIGHT RECRUIT!” Then I looked at him, you are taught to look at anyone who is speaking to you, in boot camp this is suicide. As I looked I answered with a “nyes sir” Yep, a no and a yes combined so elegantly into recruit words. “I GUESS I SAID LOOK AT ME RIGHT, KEEP YOUR HEAD AND EYE BALLS FRONT, AYE AYE SIR!” DI’s would sometimes give you the correct response at the end of their belittlements. So I shouted “Aye aye sir.”

Finally on the bus were we could take a simple breath, still too petrified to look anywhere but forward, my eyes burning from fear of closing them. “PUT YOUR HEAD IN YOUR LAPS!” We did without saying a word. “THAT RATES A RESPONSE, AYE AYE SIR!” We all shouted “aye aye sir” as we kept our heads in our laps.

“You will keep your heads in your laps until you are told otherwise, do you understand?” “Yes sir” we all shouted. The bus started driving to our new home, MCRD San Diego, California. The drive was probably only about 5 minutes, seeing as the airport is literally attached to MCRD. Not one person dared raise their head in defiance, even though the DI wasn’t on the bus with us, we wouldn’t even chance it.

The bus stops, and the air being released from the brakes was almost deafening. My senses were all in over drive, my body telling me to get the hell out of there. There was a squeak from the door and footsteps up the ramp. “EYEBALLS!” This was the command given to recruits that instructed them to look at the DI. We all somehow figured that out without any prior knowledge because we all looked. This started the phase known as receiving.

Receiving:

“You will stand up and quickly exit the bus, you will find yellow footprints on the pavement outside, you will fall in on those footprints from front to back, you will do this as fast as humanly possible, DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME!”

“YES SIR!”

“GET OFF MY BUS!”

The iconic yellow footprints, you hear about these things in tales of the past, this is the same spot where every Marine has stood. You never knew if you were standing on the same prints as any of the hero’s of old. Perhaps these belonged to a Medal of Honor recipient. You are told so much about these footprints that you expect you will be on them for three months. NOPE!

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Photo: Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple/USMC

As soon as every recruit was on the foot prints we were taught the position of attention. Once that was accomplished we were gone. After being taught Article 86 of the UCMJ, dealing with hazing, we were off into the building. We had numbers written on our arms, our head was shaved, any and all personal belongings were taken, excluding money, credit cards, IDs, etc., we were issued our gear, and our identities were effectively removed. From this point on I was recruit Evans, the lowest of the low. There wasn’t one thing on the planet that I was above. Trash was more important than me, or so this is what they make you believe. We were turned over to our receiving DI’s, these would not be our permanent ones of course, that is later.

The first 36 hours are the worst, well the worst part of receiving, because you don’t sleep, and are herded around so quickly you don’t have time to even think. From line to line, desk to desk, room to room, the DI’s had us processed in every system, on every piece of paper, and in every way attached to the United States Marine Corps. By hour 30 I was closing my eyes just to wish I could sleep, but I was standing most of the time. You dare not fall asleep. I guess the recruit next to me didn’t get that memo because he fell asleep, while standing, fell over, and didn’t wake up until he hit the ground. I didn’t even know that was possible.

Finally, FINALLY a bed. In the deep recesses of MCRD, in squad bays that looked, and probably were, condemned. This was the time when you go to sleep and think, tomorrow will be better. It can’t be this bad the whole time.

The next morning, Wednesday, we were awaken in a very peaceful way, by our drill instructor throwing metal trashcans, shaking the beds, screaming things I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy, and banging anything that made noise. It was 3 a.m. or at least that is what I assume because we didn’t have watches, and I felt as though I had slept for about an hour. We got dressed as quickly as possible in the very noticeable attire of a Marine Corp recruit.

Basically it is hell, and anyone who says it isn’t or wasn’t is lying. Or just had a really easy time in boot camp. Also, anyone who says that they couldn’t do boot camp because they would just laugh at the DI’s yelling at them is ignorant in every way. These are US Marines who are trained to destroy your soul. We had a couple of those people in my platoon, they didn’t last long with their laughing. Only a drill instructor can make holding a pen the worst experience of your life.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis

 

To give some examples of life in boot camp I will list a few of my experiences.

– My shortest shower was 4 seconds long. Impossible? DI’s made it work.

– House turnover . . . I just cried a little. Imagine someone coming into your house with the soul intention of destroying it completely. This means taking clothes and putting them in the shower, moving 100 pound bunk beds from one side of the room to the other (the room being big enough to hold 130 recruits), pouring anything and everything they want on any clothing or gear, throwing everything in every drawer or cabinet anywhere they wish, pouring soap, detergent, or anything else they could get their hands on all over the place. Just imagine walking into that mess. Now, imagine someone forcing you to do it all the while screaming at you, then imagine having to clean that up.

I lost things I never got back, I had someone else’s shoes for the remainder of boot camp. It was a mess. Thankfully this only happened only 3 times.

– Pushing the Nile:

My DI came up with this one. There were two rooms: The squad bay, and the head (bathroom). No door separated the two rooms, just a 6 foot wide opening. The tiles on the bathroom floor were different from the cement on the squad bay floor. In the bathroom there were two nozzles on which hoses could be attached. Why? I HAVE NO IDEA! The DI would turn the nozzles on and pour buckets of dirt on the floor. The recruits job? Never allow the water or dirt to touch the squad bay floor.

 

– My shortest meal was on graduation day; I sat in my chair, and got back up immediately. That was the meal.

– How many people do you think can fit in one standard Porta-John, now imagine how many can fit wearing a flak-jacket, and a kevlar helmet? Got your number? Our DI accomplished 9. He once made a platoon of 89 recruits disappear in 10 porta-johns.

Now, this may all sound harsh and unnecessary, but I wouldn’t have had it a different way. It teaches you more than you can imagine. Including showing you that your limits are in your mind. There are tons of experiences any Marine can offer, but as I said it is impossible to know what it is like unless you live it.

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This incredible rap song perfectly captures life in Marine Corps infantry

Serving in the Marine Corps infantry is one of the most taxing occupations the military has to offer. Whether you’re out patrolling in a hot zone, calling in mortars on an enemy position or just humping hundreds of pounds of gear, it’s tough.


For one former Marine, military service fuels his music and reflects his experiences in the Corps.

“So you’re the newest PFC? Well, welcome to the infantry. Around here we like to do things a little differently. I know your drill instructor taught you those morals and ethics, but you got to put that to the side to kill more efficiently. ”

These are the opening lyrics of “Welcome to the Infantry” performed by Marine rapper, Fitzy Mess, and they couldn’t be more truthful.

Related: 7 things you should know before joining the infantry

Check out Fitzy Mess‘ video below for his cathartic rap song about life in the Marine infantry. And turn your sound up!

(Fitzy Mess, YouTube)
Articles

5 things military spouses need to know about PTSD

You never invited combat stress or post-traumatic stress disorder to be a part of your marriage. But there it is anyway, making everything harder.


Sometimes you want to give up. Why does everything have to be so, so hard? Other times, you wish someone would just give you a manual for dealing with the whole thing. Surely there’s a way to know how to handle this disease?

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Understanding PTSD is critical for both members of a military marriage. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay)

Like the rest of marriage, loving someone who suffers from PTSD or who is trying to work through the ghosts of combat doesn’t come with a guidebook. And although the whole thing can feel very isolating (everyone else seems fine! Is my marriage the only one in trouble?) that doesn’t mean you’re alone.

Therapists who specialize in PTSD know that while some couples may put on a good show for the outside world, dealing with trauma is hard work and, no, everything is not perfect.

If you’re dealing with PTSD at home, you are not alone.

Also read: Not all PTSD diagnoses are created equal

Husband and wife team Marc and Sonja Raciti are working to help military couples work through how PTSD can impact their marriages. Marc, a veteran, has written a book on the subject, “I Just Want To See Trees: A Journey Through PTSD.” Sonja is a licensed professional counselor.

The Racitis said there are five things that a spouse dealing with PTSD in marriage should know.

1. It’s normal for PTSD to impact the whole family.

If you feel like your life has changed since PTSD came to your home, you’re probably right. The habits that might help your spouse get through the day, like avoiding crowded spaces, may become your habits too.

“PTSD is a disease of avoidance — so you avoid those triggers that the person with PTSD has — but as the partner you begin to do the same thing,” Sonja Raciti said.

Remember that marriage is a team sport, and it’s OK to tackle together the things that impact it.

2. Get professional help

. The avoidance that comes with PTSD doesn’t just mean avoiding certain activities — it can also mean avoiding dealing with the trauma head on. But trying to handle PTSD alone is a mistake, the Racitis said.

“We both are really big into seeking treatment, getting a professional to really help you and see what treatment you’re going to benefit from,” Sonja said. “Finding a clinician who you meet with, and click with and really specializes in PTSD is so, so important.”

3. No, you’re not the one with PTSD. But you may have symptoms anyway.

The Racitis said it is very common for the spouses of those dealing with PTSD to have trouble sleeping or battle depression, just like their service member. That’s why it’s important for everyone in the family to be on the same page tackling the disease — because it impacts them too.

4. Be there.

As with so many issues in marriage, communication is key, the Racitis said. But also important is being supportive and adapting to whatever life built around living with PTSD looks like for you.

“You have to adapt — the original man you married has changed. The experience has changed him and that’s part of life,” Sonja says. “He has gone through something that has been horrific, and life altering and life changing, and together you’re going to adapt to that and you’re going to help support each other in that.”

5. Don’t give up.

It can seem very tempting to just give up and walk away, they said. After all, the person you married may have changed dramatically. And while splitting may ultimately be the right answer for you, it doesn’t have to be only solution on the table.

“Don’t give up,” Marc said. “It’s so easy to do. It’s the path of least resistance. But people who engage, people who actively engage — these are the marriages that survive.”

— Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

Articles

The Army’s very own Sagen Maddalena is headed to Tokyo for the women’s 3×40 event

“It’s a sport of millimeters,” said Specialist Sagen Maddalena of her upcoming Olympic debut.

The seasoned shooter is slated to compete in the women’s 3×40 rifle event – three positions, 40 shots each. That’s standing, sitting, and prone – all at 50-meters away. She also made the Olympic team as an alternate in the air rifle event, pictured above. 

“The target isn’t moving, so we try to be as accurate as possible,” she said. Even the slightest change in how she stands, her sights, could throw the shot off by, well, millimeters. And in the 3×40, it’s a change that could make all the difference.

This month, she’ll be representing the U.S. and the Army’s Marksmanship Unit as she heads to Tokyo. Shooting a .22 caliber Bleiker, Maddalena comes prepped with three sights – one set for each position – three rests, and specialty-wear galore. Depending on the position, she also adds various weights and cheek pieces. Because of the length of time it takes to shoot all 120 shots, 3×40 athletes ready their entire bodies with a thick, leather-like suit, shoes with plywood bottoms so the soles are completely flat and visors to block glare.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
(U.S. Army)

It’s layers of gear, and a long-lasting event.

“One of the challenges for the sport is that you’re competing against yourself. The mind and the conditions can be huge for handling pressure,” she said.

Adding that keeping up a strict routine is key for her to remain in focus. By getting to the range early, she’s able to set up equipment, practice mindfulness and perform relaxation exercises, all while keeping her mind clear and heart rate down.

Maddalena’s routines aren’t just present on competition day. She trains that way most days of the week. Scheduling her shooting drills, looking at her shot data (yes she tracks where each round lands on target), physical training, carb-loading and icing her muscles — it’s all planned by the day. Much of her shooting, she said, is muscle memory. Maintaining those daily habits allows her body to do what it needs to when it matters most.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
(USA Shooting)

“It’s action, perform and do. You have to just do it. You can’t stop and think,” she said. “It’s almost like a dance; I’m in tune with the wind and how it affects the bullet. My mind is sharp and I can adjust. It just flows. To be able to sustain that kind of dance with the mind and the flow of the body, it’s kind of an addiction.”

Maddalena took second in the 2016 Olympic trials, when the U.S. only brought one female air rifle athlete to compete. This time around they’re taking two and she nabbed the top spot.

She began shooting at 13 in her hometown of Groveland, California and went on to compete collegiately with the University of Alaska- Fairbanks, where she also switched specialties. Formerly a service rifle shooter, she transferred to the Smallbore/three-position rifle.

“I got the realization that I could shoot internationally and go further in the sport,” she said. “I had coaches telling me that I had options, and I wanted to travel. I wanted to see new places and see how far I could go.”

A dream which she’s now made a reality. Maddalena has traveled to India, Korea and Europe many times over.  

“I think that’s my favorite part of going to these different countries; you’re not just a tourist and you get to become more involved,” she said.

Soon she’ll add one more country to her checklist, as she heads to Japan as an Olympic athlete.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
(USA Shooting)

After earning a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management, she enlisted in the Army in 2019 and joined their Marksmanship Unit. She came with an impressive shooting background: an eight-time All-American with the Alaska-Fairbanks Rifle Team, a two-time World Championship team member, and breaking two national records in 2020, at the Blackhawk Championships and the ASSA National Championships.

On why she chose such a difficult practice, Maddalena said she enjoys the pressure, and improvements over time, even if they are slight.

“I like the progression of it. It slows down incredibly once we get to the top of our game, to see that improvement and progress. It keeps you going back for more,” she said. “When I first started shooting, the scores were not even close to what you needed to win. And now I’m here to test myself amongst the best in the world.”

Feature image: U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit

Military Life

Why Sergeant Major doesn’t want you walking on the grass

The military is known for its rules. There are books upon books filled with them. But even when there’s no official documentation to back them up, troops adhere to rules laid out before them (usually). No unofficial rule is followed by as many troops as not walking on grass.

It’s so prevalent in military culture that most NCOs don’t even know why they’re yelling at a private for walking on grass — they just know that first sergeant is looking.

To any civilian or new recruit, it’s mind-blowing. Troops will do PT on the grass in the morning but once they’re told to shower for work call, they’re not allowed back on the grass until the following day (unless they’re cutting it).

But why? A few footsteps aren’t going to hurt anything.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
If Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dan Dailey can come lead your unit’s morning PTu00a0on the grass, chances are it’s okay.
(Photo by C. Todd Lopez)

To be completely straightforward: Your sergeant major doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the grass itself. The grass will still grow all over the world with or without “blood, bright red blood.”


The restriction is symbolic and it’s about not taking literal shortcuts. The idea is that if a troop takes a shortcut once, they’ll see no problem cutting corners the next time.

Since military sidewalks are usually straight lines that intersect each other at 90-degree angles, a young private may save a half of a second by cutting through the grass. If enough troops cut that same corner, then the grass will die and become a path, thus destroying the need for the sidewalk to begin with.

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Somewhere, there’s a retired Sgt. Maj. knife-handing this photo.

Another reason for the rule is that it requires a level of attention to detail. If you’re not capable of noticing that you’re now walking on soft grass instead of the sweat-stained concrete, then this is very likely not the only ass-chewing you’ll see in your career.

Your sergeant major probably isn’t a staunch environmentalist who’s trying to preserve the sanctity of poor, innocent blades of grass. They and the NCOs below them have ten million more important things to do than to knife-hand the fool who’s careless enough to do it — but they will. Stepping on the grass and spending the half-second required to stay on the pavement is symbolic of a troop’s discipline.


H/T to the Senior NCOs at RallyPoint for clarifying this mystery.

Military Life

What science says about the ‘marching on bridges’ myth

The military community is fond of its little myths and urban legends. Some of those repeated tall tales get so shrouded in mystery that, eventually, nobody questions them. On occasion, these unfounded urban legends get so widely accepted that they get written into regulations.

It is because of this phenomenon that the British Army has had a standing order since 1831 to never march in-step on a bridge.


At first glance, the reasoning seems silly. On April 12th, 1831, 74 soldiers were marching across the Broughton Suspension Bridge near Salford, England. The bridge, which was completed in 1826, was one of the first suspension bridges ever built in Europe.

 

This is the team that transports the wounded home from war
Keep in mind that this is a 1883 version, but it was rebuilt to be exactly the same. (Courtesy Photo)

According to the story, the troops’ synchronized march caused the bridge to vibrate at just the right frequency which, in turn, caused it to collapse. Thankfully for all the troops involved, no one was killed and only a few had broken bones, but ever since then, troops are given the command of “Break Step” (the British equivalent of the command “Route Step, March”) when they cross a bridge.

As unbelievable as that might sound, there’s strong scientific evidence to corroborate the story. The conditions need to be exactly precise for it to happen — but it is possible. When the Mythbusters first took on this story, they deemed it false. However, in a rare redaction, the dynamic duo reclassified this myth as “plausible.”

This is because of the power of resonance. Think of an opera singer who can break a wine glass just by singing. Repeated vibrations at an object’s resonant frequency will weaken the structural integrity of a solid object and, in some rare cases, even break it. Fragile objects, like a wine glass or, in this case, a flimsy bridge, are most susceptible.

A resonant frequency can only be hit if several conditions are met: The source must be extremely powerful, the pulses of force must be sent out a very precise frequency, and there must be no other frequencies interfering it. All of those requirements were met when the soldiers marched on the bridge while remaining completely in-step. There’s a one-in-a-billion chance of the soldiers’ march hitting that perfect the frequency, but in this case, it seems they did.

This was, in essence, a much smaller-scale version of what happened on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940.

The workaround, thankfully, is really simple: If troops aren’t marching at exactly the same frequency, everything’s fine. Bridges built by today’s standards are far more sturdy than the Broughton Bridge, but little oddities like this are fascinating nonetheless.

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