5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field

If you’re in the infantry, you know just how annoying field ops can be. It’s not because of the job or the self-loathing that comes with signing an infantry contract, it’s because of the bullsh*t you have to endure while you’re out there. And, since you’re outside the whole time and there’s no chance at privacy, there’s nowhere you can go to have a good cry.


The infantry experience is Murphy’s Law embodied — and hastened. Not only will every possible thing go wrong, it’ll all go to hell before you even start your hike or movement. Here are some of the most annoying things that somehow happen almost every time you go to the field.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Make sure you bring your rain gear.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tanner D. Casares)
 

Rain

If you’re in the infantry, this one isn’t even reserved for the field — it’ll rain no matter where you’re at. It can be a bright, sunny day without a cloud in the sky but the moment grunts are gathered in large numbers, clouds will suddenly appear and rain will come down like a biblical flood is on the horizon.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Rest assured, there’s someone out there who will cry hazing.
(U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Tanner D. Casares)

Hazing scandals

You don’t necessarily have to be in the field for this to happen but, typically, hazing scandals come up as a result of how a Boot is treated in the field. Hazing scandals will often come from field ops because there are Boots who don’t like having to carry their own weight or being tested by their seniors to earn trust and loyalty.

Lost serialized gear

It’s always a pain in the ass but you better prepare for some Boot, whether its a lieutenant or private, to drop their damn night vision goggles in the jungle or forget a radio in a vehicle. Now, everyone else has to search the area at 3 a.m.

For the love of showers and hot food, don’t be that grunt. Keep track of your gear.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
It’ll get old quick. Trust us.
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres)

Medical evacuation

There’s always that one person who gets to the field, somehow, without realizing there’s something horribly wrong with their body. Whether that’s the moment you start hiking out or the third day of the op, some piece of sh*t will cry about something so they can get taken out of there.

Real medical emergencies are less likely but, either way, it means that someone’s squad is going to be short-handed and others must pick up the slack.

Lost rifle

This one’s less frequent, but much more severe than losing serialized gear. Losing a rifle is the worst thing that can happen, but someone always manages to do it. Your rifle is your lifeline and, in theory, it should be difficult to lose since you should always carry it.

But, rest assured, there’s a moron somewhere who will do it. They’ll probably leave it in the porta-john or leaning against a tree somewhere. Hell, they might even somehow leave it on the range.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
When you get brought in for a formation like this, be prepared for bad news.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by LCpl Scarlet A. Sharp)

Extensions

Just when day fourteen rolls around and you think you’re heading back, your company commander informs you that your field op is being extended for another three days. You thought you’d soon be out of the rain; you were terribly mistaken.

Military Life

The Air Force just switched to the Army OCP uniform

The Airman Battle Uniform (ABU) survived a little over a decade before the Air Force decided to get rid of it. Today, the United States Air Force announced that they’ll be switching to the Army’s Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) uniforms.


According to a report by Military.com, the OCP will be available at four base exchanges: Aviano Air Base in Italy, MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, and Shaw Air Force Base and Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina. The OCP will fully replace the ABU by April 2021 at a total cost of $237 million. To put price that into perspective, that’s enough to buy roughly two and a half F-35A Lightning II multirole fighters.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field

Air Force personnel wearing the ABU in hot climates, like these Airmen in the Nevada desert, were often feeling the heat.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class George Goslin)

“The uniform works in all climates — from Minot [North Dakota] to Manbij [Syria] — and across the spectrum of missions we perform,” Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force Chief of Staff said in an Air Force release. “It’s suitable for our Airmen working on a flight line in Northern Tier states and for those conducting patrols in the Middle East.”

So, why spend so much money on a new look when you could spend it on couple extra F-35As? It turns out, the Airman Battle Uniform wasn’t quite hitting the mark in some areas. First and foremost, it’s fairly uncomfortable in hot climates. In fact, some Air Force personnel were already using the OCP over the ABU on deployment.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field

Airmen were already wearing the Army’s Operational Camouflage Pattern in a number of instances on deployment.

(US Army)

A few notes for Airmen with this rollout: It will take time for the OCP to be fielded across the entire Air Force. Additionally, as noted in the “frequently asked questions” document, mixing ABU items (like cold-weather gear) with OCP items is not authorized. Also, some ABU items must be returned, like flight suits and tactical gear. Uniform disposal boxes will be available and any items put in there will be burned or shredded, so dispose carefully.

The Air Force expects that all Airmen will be wearing the OCP by April 1, 2021.

Military Life

Grunt Style now runs the best air shows in America

The launch of the inaugural 2018 Grunt Style Air Show Majors tour was just announced at the International Council of Air Shows annual convention in Las Vegas. Grunt Style Air Show Majors is a collection of America’s most prestigious air shows: SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In Expo in Lakeland, Florida, the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, Cleveland National Air Show, and the Commemorative Air Force “Wings Over Houston” Airshow.


The mission of Grunt Style Air Show Majors is to celebrate aviation, honor the military, and increase

mainstream awareness of the air show industry. By becoming an official tour stop, the four selected air shows will receive national promotion through a variety of marketing efforts, visibility for their air show at the other participating air shows, and additional mainstream recognition and benefits through partnering with tour creators, with Red Frog Events, and with the title partner, Grunt Style.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field

Grunt Style is a military, patriotic apparel company-meets-lifestyle brand with a perennial goal of instilling a sense of pride in everyone they reach through their products. More than 50% of their employees are veterans and they are known for their strong philanthropic values.

“Partnering with the inaugural Air Show Majors tour was an easy decision for us as our core values are very similar,” says Mike Birt, Chief Marketing Officer at Grunt Style. “We’re looking forward to boosting the aviation industry to a larger demographic and working with the participating shows to continue to honor our military.”

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field

Red Frog Events, a Chicago-based, large-scale event production company, is the creator and promoter of Grunt Style Air Show Majors. The company’s background in the air show space varies from providing concessions, operational expertise, and ticketing for air shows across the country. They are a supporter and member of the International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) and are well-known for their nationwide Warrior Dash obstacle race series, as well as Firefly Music Festival, the east coast’s largest music festival.

“The launch of the Grunt Style Air Show Majors tour provides an opportunity to showcase the aviation industry and the selected shows to a new and broader audience,” says Scott Howard, Chief Marketing Officer at Red Frog Events, creators of the Grunt Style Air Show Majors tour. “We look forward to collaborating with these established and respected shows, as well as our partners at Grunt Style, for our inaugural year and during the exciting evolvement ahead.”

The four 2017 Grunt Style Air Show Majors shows will attract over 1.3 million total spectators. These shows have demonstrated their commitment to advancing the air show industry by participating in the nationwide tour.

The 2018 Grunt Style Air Show Majors tour dates and locations (in order of occurrence):

  • April 10 – 15, 2018: Sun’N Fun International Fly-In Expo, Lakeland, Florida
  • May 26 and 27, 2018: Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach, Wantagh, New York
  • Sept. 1 – 3, 2018: Cleveland National Air Show, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Oct. 20 and 21, 2018: CAF Wings Over Houston Airshow, Houston, Texas

For more information on Grunt Style Air Show Majors, visit their website.

Military Life

3 myths about females in combat positions, dispelled

Women have always been present in war, whether it be as nurses tending to the wounded or in other career fields not typically exposed to combat. The truth is, even women who are not designated in combat positions still experience run-ins with enemy fire and combat situations and continue to do their jobs.


The recent lifting of the restriction that kept women out of combat positions stirred a flurry of controversy. Even still, some wonder if this was the best choice for the military because of the “myths” that have surrounded women and their military service.

Let’s dispel a few of those myths.

3. Myth: Women are too nurturing to pull the trigger.

Yes, women have children, and yes, women often are nurturing, but saying a woman wouldn’t pull the trigger to save herself and her fellow service members just because it’s not thought to be in “her nature,” is obviously false. Women who choose to be in the military and sign up for a combat position know what’s at stake and are aware they’re not out there to play house or coddle babies.

Although you may not think of your mother going out and kicking some ass on the front line, there are women out there who would love to take a stab at it (literally). That’s why the military decided to allow women to choose if they think they have the ability to fight alongside their male counterparts in combat.

Not every woman has children but, even if motherhood instills a nurturing disposition, you can bet that it only would further drive a woman to accomplish the mission and destroy whatever lies in her path to keep her children, and her team for that matter, safe.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Do animals coddle enemies trying to attack their family? Think about that.

2. Myth: Women are not strong enough.

Long before the U.S. military allowed women to enter career fields other than nursing, there was a stigma centered on females’ physical capabilities. To date, standards in every military branch are separated and women’s qualifications on PT tests are lower than men’s.

But just because women perform their PT tests at a lower standard than men doesn’t mean that some women have not exceeded the minimum, and even surpassed men in their ability.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Or literally carried them. (U.S. Army photo)

Combat position requirements will not be lowered for women but that doesn’t mean some can’t rise to the challenge. The women who have broken the stigma of weakness by meeting the physical qualifications of combat positions led the way for others to break free and challenge themselves.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
All the way. (U.S. Army photo)

1. Myth: PMS will get in the way of completing duties

The biggest myth is about the mood swings that spring out of the blue, making the work environment tense. If this is the case, then every workplace in the U.S. is always tense because women work everywhere and, surprisingly, still do their jobs — and do them well.

When it comes down to it, women know being in the military is not about being pretty, smelling nice, or letting emotions go wild on those around them. How do you think women in the military are doing their jobs right now? Women are professionals and can handle day-to-day stressors and the deployment conditions just like men. PMS is more of an issue for some of the men in the military than the women who serve.

Recently, a survey taken by SOCOM on the opinion of male special-ops personnel included statements such as, “I think PMS is terrible, possibly the worst. I cannot stand my wife for about a week out of every month. I like that I can come to work and not have to deal with that (E-6, SWCC).”

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
PMS: Worse than ISIS.

Apparently, women are men’s worst nightmares during PMS.

Military Life

4 tips for dating your fellow military members

You’d figure service members dating each other would be way easier than service members dating civilians because of the shared connection and a mutual understanding that service comes first, but it’s actually the opposite. There’s a laundry list of expectations and rules pressed on a relationship in the service that don’t exist for dating a civilian.


Don’t get me wrong, some military members weather the storm and make long-lasting relationships from serving together, but it takes more attention to detail than a non-military/military courtship.

1. Just don’t go there.

Okay, I know this is supposed to be about advice on how to date other military members, but there needs to be a disclaimer up-front because things can get real messy. First off, it’s probably best not to date anyone from your same unit. If the relationship sours, you will have to see that person every day for who-knows-how-long until one of you moves workplaces or duty stations.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Whoa.

The military is small and the chances of seeing your ex again or having them as a supervisor sometime in your career are pretty high. Imagine that: Your ex could be your supervisor. Admittedly, there are military couples out there that make it work, but they probably followed the other tips on this list.

2. Keep it on the down low.

If you end up dating the cute blonde in the orderly room, just know that you are not dating a civilian and this is not the time or place for announcing your courtship. No one likes workplace drama, but relationship workplace drama is even worse. Fights about who left the towel on the floor shouldn’t impede the work environment — keep all of that at home.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
HEY. Get back to work.

Don’t make it evident you’re dating each other because it will just stir the pot and amplify anything you do wrong. Everyone already assumes you’re unprofessional due to your inter-squadron relationship; keeping it secret just keeps everything professional.

You need to separate work from play.

3. No PDA in the presence of co-workers or in uniform.

There is a mission to attend to and sucking face with Senior Airman Smith isn’t on the checklist. Plus, PDA is never allowed in uniform, so don’t get caught even grazing each other’s hands or you will get torn a new one by anyone who sees you.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
The real response is usually much louder.

Undoubtedly, to some service members, this is just common sense, but some new enlistees may make the mistake of showing affections merely because they’re wet behind the ears. Don’t worry; they will get corrected, eventually. The majority of mil-on-mil relationships learn to deal with this aspect of dating and, most times, it’s a non-issue.

4. Don’t date a supervisor, commanding officer, or anyone who gives you orders.

This needs to be said because some still do it even though they know they shouldn’t. It’s against the fraternization laws of the military and it’s in place for good reason: There can be no preferential treatment in your chain of command.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field

All kinds of disasters take place when others find out about a relationship between a subordinate and their superior. Plus, who could stand their significant other giving them orders at work and home anyway?

Articles

5 crazy games you played while in the military

As kids growing up, we played games to pass the time, entertain ourselves, and meet other youngsters our age. It was an innocent time.


In the military, it’s sort of the same — except the games are much darker.

Spending the majority of your day either stuck on a ship, humping a pack in the field, or just bored as hell in the barracks, tends to give service members ampul time to come up with simple, low-cost games to play.

Warning: these do not necessarily reflect the most noble moments of our military heritage — but they sure are entertaining!

1. Don’t Fall Asleep

You could consider this a prank or a game.

The military grants you at least 8 hours of rest per night, supposedly. Don’t be so sure that when you manage to sneak a cat nap here or there that someone isn’t out to get you, even if they’re on your side.

These service members found out the hard way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbDoBBTHZtA
 

2. F*ck, Marry, Kill

This one is probably self-explanatory, but Dale Doback from 2008’s Step Brothers (played by John C. Reilly) is going to explain.

 3. No Balls

This game is almost like truth or dare, minus the truth option.

It’s no secret that men and women sometimes talk themselves up in front of their comrades to boost their image to gain respect. We’ve all experienced it at some point or another and maybe even done it ourselves.

The best time to call out “no balls” is after a tough talker makes a strong arm claim and no one else expects it. Seeing everyone’s shocked reaction of “will they do it?” could be priceless.

4. Nut Tap/ The Gator/ Nut Check

The various names of this game are endless.

Out of all the games, this is probably the most dangerous and most painful one. It can leave your fellow gamers fuming at you for extended periods of time, but who cares. It’s hilarious!

This game is typically controlled under false pretenses as getting you mark into proper position can be challenging.

5. Playing Picasso

You’re the last man in the office, as you secure the spaces you notice John Doe has left his CAC inserted (so to speak) into a government computer and he’s gone for the day. Game on!

A Common Access Card (or CAC — please don’t call it a CAC card) is just as important for civilians and active duty members to have in their possession while on base as a driver’s license while operating a motor vehicle. Once you’ve retrieved the CAC, its time to teach the forgetful service member a small, but useful lesson.

Time to create your masterpiece!

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field

These games are meant to be conducted out of good wholesome fun. So don’t be that guy who goes overboard.

What military games did you play? Asking for a friend…

Articles

This is the competition for special operations experts

Who are the best commandos in the Western Hemisphere? Throw Navy SEALs, Green Berets, Rangers, Marine Force Recon, the Marine Special Operations Command, or even Air Force Special Tactics airmen into a ring and find out. Sort of.


Which is kind of what happens during an annual competition called Fuerzas Commandos. It’s been held 13 times. In 2017, Honduras took the trophy from Colombia, an eight-time winner of the 11-day event.

So, what, exactly goes down at these commando Olympics?

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Team Colombia, winners of Fuerzas Comando 2016, return the trophy to Paraguayan Brig. Gen. Hector Limenza at the opening ceremony for Fuerzas Comando 2017 in Mariano Roque Alonso, Paraguay, on July 17, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christine Lorenz)

First, there is an opening ceremony during which the trophy is returned to an officer of the host nation.

This year, 20 countries (Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, and Uruguay) competed, sending over 700 commandos.

Participants take part in both an Assault Team Competition and a Sniper Team Competition.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
A member from Team Uruguay during the physical fitness test, which includes push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and a 4-mile run. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elizabeth Williams)

The Assault Team Competition features a number of challenges. One is a physical fitness test.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Colombian competitors sprint through the finish line of the obstacle course event, taking a step closer to securing the Fuerzas Comando 2017 championship, July 24, 2017 in Paraguay. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Chad Menegay)

There is a “confidence course” and an obstacle course is run as well.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Peruvian competitors run the 14-kilometer ruck march while picking up and moving various objects, ending with team marksmanship at a firing range. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class James Brown)

Close-quarters combat skills are tested and there is a rucksack march.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Costa Rican competitors clear a room in a live-fire shoot house where they must clear a building and rescue a simulated hostage as efficiently as possible. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class James Brown)

Don’t forget the aquatic events or the hostage rescue events.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
A Guyanese sniper loads a round into his rifle while his teammate scans the range for targets. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Elizabeth Williams)

The Sniper Team Competition features marksmanship.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
A Mexican soldier looks over his ghillie suit before the beginning of a stalk-and-shoot event July 20, 2017 during Fuerzas Comando in Ñu Guazú, Paraguay. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Tonya Deardorf)

Then there is concealment.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Competitors drag litters 100 meters then work together to haul them onto a platform. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class James Brown)

They also have a physical fitness test and there’s a mobility event.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Honduran, Colombian, and U.S. Soldiers commemorate a successful Fuerzas Comando on July 27, 2017, in Mariano Roque Alonso, Paraguay. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joanna Bradshaw)

This year, Honduras won the title, Colombia finished second, and the USA took third place. Next year, Panama will host Fuerzes Commandos. Will Honduras defend their title, will the Colombians make it nine out of fourteen, or will there be a surprise winner?

Military Life

5 reasons a draft is a terrible idea

You’ll meet people, both on social media and in real life, who argue that a solution to a widespread lack of discipline is to start drafting citizens right out of high school to serve in the military in some capacity. Whether you think there really is a discipline problem today or not, the truth remains the same — a draft outside of a wartime is unnecessary and extremely toxic.


The thing people don’t realize is that the United States military thrives on the fact that its members are volunteers. The reason our military is so efficient is because the people who join want to be there. While that may not remain the case for every service member for the entire duration of their contracts, you’ll still find most of them serving with honor until the job’s done.

Related video:

 

Here’s why having a draft would ruin that.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field

Each of these recruits may run the Department of Defense around ,000.

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

The cost

The cost of training a single service member is pretty high already. Spending tons of money training people who don’t want to be there only to have most of them leave the service as soon as humanly possible is just not worth it. We already have plenty of people who join voluntarily and, in boot camp or somewhere else along the line, decide they made a wrong choice. Suddenly, the tons of money spent training them goes down the drain.

It’s all the people who make it through training and complete their service honorably that justify these losses.

A draft is basically indentured servitude

People who serve today feel like they’re overworked and underpaid. When the government is faced with absorbing tons of money lost due to wasted training expenses, where do you think the cuts will start?

If you felt a sharp pain in your wallet just now, then you already know.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field

There are people relying on others to do their jobs so they might stay alive.

A draft is dangerous

A problem with forcing people to do a job is that they won’t care about doing it well. When those aloof people play key roles in the infantry, failing to do the job well might be fatal. These people may not care about holding security or staying awake on watch, which can needlessly endanger the lives of all the people who want to do their job the right way.

You’ll have a lot more sh*t bags

There are tons of people who “slip through the cracks” in the military already. They have no business being in the service, but somehow manage to avoid discharge. Forcing people, against their will, to serve is going to increase those numbers.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field

The volunteers are what make the military great. Let’s not mess that up with dumb ideas.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matt Britton)

An all-volunteer force is much better

As stated before, our military is as good as it is because the people who serve chose to be there. They want to do a good job. Furthermore, it’s a good feeling to know that you’re doing the hard work that not everyone is cut out for. By enacting a draft, we would lose the very thing that makes the military great: pride.

Articles

The complete hater’s guide to the Warthog

So, we are back with another complete hater’s guide to one of the Air Force’s aircraft. Last time, we discussed the F-16 Fighting Falcon.


This time, we will go to the plane that everyone in the Air Force loves…and yet, it keeps ending up on the chopping block. That’s right, it’s time for us to discuss the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron out of Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, takes off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Oct. 10, 2016, during the first combat training mission of RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 17-1. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik)

Why it is easy to make fun of the A-10

Let’s see, it’s slow. It doesn’t fly high, if anything, the plane is best flying very low.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
As any of its pilots will tell you, it’s ugly — but well hung. (U.S. Air Force photo)

It’s not going to win any airplane beauty pageants any time soon due to being quite aesthetically-challenged. Also, when it was first designed, it was a daylight-only plane with none of the sensors to drop precision-guided weapons.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Corey Hook

Why you should hate the A-10

Because it has this cult following that seems to think it can do just about anything and take out any one. Because its pilots think the GAU-8 cannon in the nose is all that — never mind that a number of other planes took bigger guns into the fight — including 75mm guns.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field

Because that low, slow, flight profile means it is a big target. Because you’d rather claim that a relative died in a motorcycle accident than admit they fly that ugly plane.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Retired Air Force Gen. Charles Horner had a major role in the air power strategy of the Gulf War of 1990-1991. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Because that plane always seems to stick around when the Air Force wants to retire it. Because it is useless in a dogfight.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Representative Martha McSally, pictured in her office during her Air Force career, preparing to distribute BRRRRRT. Helps explain why the A-10 will be around indefinitely. (Photo credit unknown)

Why you should love the A-10

Because this plane can bring its pilot home when the bad guys hit it — just ask “Killer Chick.” Because it also has a proven combat record in Desert Storm, the Balkans, and the War on Terror.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Kim Campbell looks at her damaged hog, which she landed at her base after a mission over Baghdad in 2003. (Photo via National Air and Space Museum)

Because it not only has a powerful tank-killing gun, it can carry lots of bombs and missiles to put the hurt on the bad guys.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
An A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft takes part in a mission during Operation Desert Storm. The aircraft is armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, AGM-65 Maverick missiles, and Mark 82 500-pound bombs. (Air Force Photo)

Because while it is designed for close-air support, it also proved to be very good at covering the combat search-and-rescue choppers.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
An A-10 Thunderbolt II, from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., approaches the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., for refueling Sept. 12, 2013, over southern Arizona. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin)

Because, when it comes right down to it, the A-10, for all its faults, has saved a lot of grunts over the years.

Military Life

This Army therapist uses video games to help wounded warriors

Army occupational therapist Maj. Erik Johnson will use anything that works to help wounded warriors. One of the big problems he faces is how to get his patients involved in their own therapy.


Therapists have historically used activities like working with leather and copper tooling to engage patients, but that doesn’t appeal to soldiers from the Xbox generation. Johnson, a gamer and former Army rehabilitation patient himself, found a way to incorporate games into therapy.

 

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Army Maj. Erik Johnson plays video games with patients at the Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Photo: courtesy Maj. Erik Johnson

“If I threw, you know, macrame in front of a soldier he might laugh at me,” Johnson said in an interview with WATM. “But if I threw him at a video game, he’d be like, ‘Yeah man. I love this dude. Hell, I’m gonna go like do everything I can to optimize my treatment.'”

The games used in therapy are carefully curated by Johnson who identifies what needs each could fulfill. DJ Hero and Big Brain Academy, for instance, are good for soldiers who have suffered brain traumas.

“One of the biggest things with concussions is that you have what we call executive dysfunction or basically, a big issue with cognition,” Johnson said. “So like, your memory is not as good as it was. Or you have issues with problem solving. Or maybe you have issues with delayed response with your brain thinking to your hands moving.”

So, Johnson can put soldiers recovering from a concussion or another brain injury in front of DJ Hero, which requires that the player keep to a rhythm, watch symbols on a screen, and anticipate the actions of others.

Big Brain Academy allows players to work on memory, statistics, analysis, math. And, it allows them to measure their progress.

“And the thing with Big Brain Academy is that it kept a record of everything you did,” said Johnson. “So, if you built a profile, and you’re like, ‘Okay, yesterday was the very first time I worked on this, I was terrible. Today I’m a little bit better and in a week I’m doing fantastic.’ Even if that’s not standardized, you can still see them improving.”

Big Brain Academy payed off big for Johnson and the soldiers under his care when he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 to set up a brain injury program inside a deployed brigade combat team. Stuck on an austere forward operating base, a simple game that could be set up in a hooch was a good tool to help soldiers recovering from a concussion or TBI.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Photo: Courtesy Army Maj. Erik Johnson

When Johnson got back to the states, systems like the Xbox Kinect and Nintendo Wii allowed him to target physical therapies with video games as well. For amputees who lost one or both legs, cardio is an issue.

“Our lower extremity amputees have a big issue with cardio. They haven’t been able to run, and they start gaining weight and running is a lot more challenging for them. How are we going to engage them in a good cardio regimen?

“One of the things we noticed was we could put them on Wii Boxing and set them up on a therapy ball and they have to balance on the therapy ball which would strengthen their core and then also, they are doing a lot of engagement with  their upper extremities. And, anybody that has played any kind of Wii sport-type game that takes a lot of that effort knows that real quickly it gives you a good workout.”

Amputee patients also got help from Ken Jones, an engineer who runs Warfighter Engaged and builds custom controllers for amputees.

“He’ll modify game controllers or systems so that anybody could play on them,” Johnson said. “Let’s say you lose your left hand, well, he’s going to bring all those buttons on your Xbox controller over to the right side.”

Jones even made a custom controller for a quadruple amputee.

“Just by like pushing switches and big toggles and different elements like that, he basically made it to where anybody could engage in therapy. Well, I call it therapy, they call it gaming.”

Building a gaming center for wounded warriors isn’t easy. Luckily, Johnson got help from Operation Supply Drop, a charity that engages veterans and deployed service members through video games.

Glen Banton, the CEO of OSD, met Johnson and asked for his wish list, everything Johnson would need to create the perfect setup for treating wounded warriors with video games.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
In Operation Supply Drop’s largest single donation, they gave six video game consoles and plenty of other gear to Brooke Army Medical Center. Photo courtesy Operation Supply Drop

“So I started to do a lot more writing down, research on games. I would want this particular game for this application. I would want this for this application. And I started going down this list of different games that would do different things.” 

“So Glen and his team, they came with OSD last week and blew me away,” Johnson said. “I mean, like way more than I had asked for, way more than anticipated. My office is full of gaming stuff right now that I’m now trying to build an entire huge gaming center within out therapy gym so that it’s actually almost a piece of medical equipment, that is its intended use. Before, we had roving televisions and we’d throw a system on it. Now it’s like, I’m going to actually have a specified space where we go and do therapeutic gaming.”

Of course, not all of Johnson’s patients are video gamers. But for the ones that are, they have a therapist who not only wants to engage them with their chosen hobby, but has an awesome suite of tools to do it with.

Military Life

Forget multitasking, this Navy squadron has only one mission — rescue people

The smell of crisp pine in the air and the peaceful quietness of nothing but the rushing of emerald green glacial rivers as they flow down the side of a mountain describes most of the state of Washington. However, this heart-stopping landscape has a potentially lethal side that can claim even the most experienced hikers. But, luckily for those in northern Washington, there’s a highly trained group of Sailors ready to answer the call.


Video produced by Jonathan Snyder, Defense Media Activity

From the frigid waters of the Puget Sound to the dense tree canopies of the Olympic forest to the towering rock facades of the Cascade Mountain Range, Sailors from the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Search and Rescue (NASWI SAR) team provide 24-hour SAR for the fixed winged assets in the area, as well as the civilian population. While most squadrons in the fleet have multi-mission platforms, Whidbey Island SAR’s one focus is rescue.

“Generally, helicopter squadrons around the fleet, whether they’re a Romeo or Sierra Squadron, they’re going to have a multi-mission platform. Those helicopters, pilots and flight crews need to be able to do a multitude set of missions, from the Romeo side, which is hunting subs and possible rescues, where the Sierra side could go from rescue, logistics and anti-mine warfare. Unfortunately, they don’t get to really ever focus on one,” said Lt. Chris Pitcher, NAWSI SAR operations officer. “Our job is to go out and save people, whether it’s pulling them out from the water or from the side of a mountain, and we train almost every day for those different scenarios. So when those scenarios do pop up, we’re not surprised, and we can get the job done and get that person to a higher level of care.”

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Francisco Toledo assigned to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Search and Rescue shuts the door to an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter prior to take off during a high altitude training evolution at NAS Whidbey Island, Sept., 26, 2017. NAS Whidbey Island Search and Rescue’s primary mission is to be the first responder for the aircraft and personnel stationed at NAS Whidbey Island. Secondary to that, they work closely with local agencies in order to be a responder to anyone in legitimate danger. ( U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Ignacio D. Perez)

Because of this, NAWSI SAR is the only squadron in the fleet that is outfitted with an advance life-support helicopter platform. It allows crews to not only save pilots in case of emergencies, but also work with local hospitals and emergency rooms to provide care for anyone in need of medical attention.

“We are a fully outfitted, advance life-support helicopter platform,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Wayne Papalski, NAWSI SAR’s flight paramedics lead chief petty officer. He explained that the team operates the same way as first responders who save lives after someone calls 911 for a family member. “We strive to mirror ourselves with the civilian community, so that way we can have that continuum of care that started in the civilian community and continue to a local hospital.”

With the millions of visitors the Pacific Northwest sees every year, NAWSI SAR has not only performed rescues in the Cascades and Olympic National Parks, but also in Idaho, Oregon and even Canada. This has made the Sailors learn to quickly adapt to changing environments.

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Chief Hospital Corpsman Wayne Papalski assigned to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island Search and Rescue gives the signal to Sailors to safely enter an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter during a high altitude training evolution in the North Cascades National Park. NAS Whidbey Island Search and Rescue’s primary mission is to be the first responder for the aircraft and personnel stationed at NAS Whidbey Island. Secondary to that, they work closely with local agencies in order to be a responder to anyone in legitimate danger. ( U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Ignacio D. Perez)

“The terrain here is pretty diverse. You have the ocean that can range from mid 50s to high 40s. You have mountain ranges that can have some of the densest forest with 200-foot firs to some the rockiest sheer rock cliff faces that you can imagine. And once you get past the other side of the Cascades, it turns from this nice coastal 60 degrees here in Whidbey Island into this dry desert that reaches 110 to 112 degrees,” said Pitcher. “It just depends on what the mission calls for, and to be ready to be able to respond to any kind of situation, because, obviously, if the jets go that far, we need to be able to respond.”

The unpredictable landscape has made Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Francisco Toledo learn to be uncomfortable, he said. But he also said that the only way to become comfortable is by constant training.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, we kind of check your ego at the door. We have our own training syllabus, so when you check in, you start from scratch using what you learned previously in the fleet to come up here to make yourself a better aviator or crewman,” said Papalski. “We have a pretty robust training syllabus that takes you throughout the entire state to all of our local working areas. Pretty much any situation that you will probably face as a qualified crewman or pilot, we try to put you in.”

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
LT Chris Pitcher and Lt. Cmdr. Dillon Jackson assigned to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Search and Rescue review mission operations in an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter during a high altitude training evolution in the North Cascades National Park, Sept., 26, 2017. NAS Whidbey Island Search and Rescue’s primary mission is to be the first responder for the aircraft and personnel stationed at NAS Whidbey Island. Secondary to that, they work closely with local agencies in order to be a responder to anyone in legitimate danger. ( U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Ignacio D. Perez)

Because of the level of difficulty and danger of the job, Sailors said it leaves a lasting memory. Most believe that when they look back at their careers someday, they will consider their time at Whidbey to be some of the best years they have had.

“Looking back at my four years here, I’ll tell you this is the best command I’ve been at. It’s just been an amazing and humbling experience, getting to do what I got to do up here, and what some of my brothers and sisters in the other room got to do to help people,” said Papalski. “When you look back at your career 20 or 30 years from now and know that you actually did something that was giving more than you were taking, it means a lot.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

King Neptune cleanses sailors as they cross the Equator for the first time

Nearly 900 sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp were “cleansed of their slime” Nov. 25 after participating in the age-old ceremony of crossing the equator.


The “crossing-the-line” ceremony is an exclusive maritime experience from the days of hardened sailors aboard wooden ships courageously venturing out into the unforgiving environment of the open ocean.

Also Read: These are weird Navy traditions and their meanings

The tradition holds that when King Neptune, a mythical god of the sea, detects an infestation of “pollywogs” — those who have not crossed the equator before — he deems it necessary to take control of the ship to rid it of this plagued condition. A “shellback” is a sailor who has previously crossed the line, and the most senior shellback aboard the ship plays the role of King Neptune in the ceremony.

Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Thomas Kreindheder, who earned the title of shellback in 1993, was King Neptune for the Nov. 25 ceremony.

Ceremony Has Evolved

“The ceremony has changed a lot since I went through,” he said. “Our ceremony lasted 48 hours, and it was more of an initiation than a camaraderie event. Our goal with this ceremony was to make sure the sailors were challenged both mentally and physically, but were also smiling and laughing the whole way through. The photos of the event prove that we accomplished that goal.”

5 annoying things that always seem to happen in the field
Sailors participate in a crossing the line ceremony aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Sean Galbreath)

Wasp pollywogs were guided through a series of physically and mentally challenging obstacles, led by the 137 shellbacks aboard. Upon completion, pollywogs were summoned by King Neptune and his royal court and relieved of their slime, successfully completing their journey to shellback.

‘A Cool Experience’

“It was a cool experience,” said Navy Airman Apprentice Skyler Senteno. “I was skeptical at first. But there were a lot more events than I thought, and I really enjoyed it. It was an honor to be part of the tradition and become a shellback.”

The crossing-the-line ceremony traces its origin to a time when such a feat was a grave undertaking. Today’s technology allows sailors to be more at ease with their sea travels. Even then, the time away from family, especially around the holidays, can take its toll.

Also Read: Here are the meanings behind 19 classic sailor tattoos

“Ceremonies like crossing the line are invaluable for the crew. They instill pride and a sense of accomplishment that links Sailor to those that have gone before us,” said USS Wasp Command Master Chief Petty Officer Greg Carlson. “The ceremony has evolved to over the years to one of teamwork and unity, which allows sailors to craft memories that they will cherish forever.”

Wasp is transiting to Sasebo, Japan, to conduct a turnover with the USS Bonhomme Richard as the forward-deployed flagship of the amphibious forces in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

Military Life

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

Serving in the military is often portrayed as a challenging task and with the right reasons. Nevertheless, there are undoubtedly many advantages — embracing mother nature while serving is the one we’ll focus on. A lifestyle (what I’ve become to understand what the service actually is!) that offers you the chance to travel worldwide is unique and rewarding. The military has created this long culture of moving around, which means more opportunities for soldiers to experience outdoors in different countries and continents. Acknowledging the hardship of continuous relocations for military families, I will emphasize my personally-identified outdoor benefits in serving in the military.

  1. Soldiering up while learning to live in the field

Whoever has been in the army still has vivid memories of their first Field Training Exercise. There’s always that guy or gal who forgot his one piece of equipment he shouldn’t have forgotten leading up to a long, cold, freezing night. I have great stories about the rookie mistakes my buddies and I made in our first days in the field. Yet, this was all part of the learning process, and as time went by, we all learned how to gear up and started to relish mother nature every time. 

If you’re a morning person (well, no one cares if you are or not, you’re still waking up early), you can see the morning mist slowly vanishing into nothing. At these times, we enjoyed sharing a cup of coffee and having small talk with our fellow soldiers. 

If you like sunsets, there’s nothing like watching them as you eat an MRE with your friends (the MRE is not a must). 

  1. Enjoying outdoors all over the world

Having served in the military in Europe, I was fortunate to train with many countries worldwide. I was attached to a Royal Commando Company from Great Britain. We trained together on the beautiful beaches of Albania. Having the sea breeze cool us off after strenuous exercises was something we all craved. The mixture of the Adriatic Sea combined with Commando Fighting Tactics was a combo made in heaven.

outdoors
NATO Snipers Practice High-Angle Shooting in Austria

On the other side of the world, in Wisconsin, I enjoyed one of the most beautiful spring weather ever. My unit was attached to a National Guard Unit from the Midwest and drove to this beautiful Army Base near the Canadian border. The trees, the air and the scenery were something I’ll never forget.

One of the best pieces of training I’ve ever completed was Winter Survival Training with Austrian, German and Swiss Alpine Infantrymen. My fellow cadets and I attended the two-week training in the Sharri Mountains near the trijunction between Kosovo, North Macedonia and Albania. If you wanted to see the power of nature, this was the place. We would start our morning hikes in beautiful sunny weather, wearing only shirts. As we approached the peak, an immense cloud with atrocious wind would cover us in no time. We would have to rush back to our shelter to survive — the beauty, unpredictability and mercilessness of nature-all within 30 minutes. No other profession offers this opportunity!

There have certainly been times of heavy rain and freezing cold, which I didn’t enjoy and that I’ll never forget. However, having had the opportunity to travel to more than 30 countries and four continents, I have enjoyed the outdoors everywhere I trained and traveled in the military capacity. These travels have made me appreciate nature so much more!

3. Hiking while completing mandatory ruck marches

If you serve in an infantry unit, you will probably have frequent ruck marches. Such activities can certainly be challenging and tedious, but if you’re into hiking and outdoors, they will feel less like work. The opportunity to patrol in mountains and hills with no signs of human construction feels more like a movie from WWII. 

The remote areas where this training takes place more often than not offer a fantastic escape from urban stress. This is undoubtedly a factor not to be ignored since today’s world is defined by a fast-paced life with a rapid decrease in outdoor activities. Going out in ruck marches and FTXes will allow you to enjoy nature and fulfill your professional duty while getting paid to do so. Having a few beers and barbeque would be excellent, but we all know that’s not going to happen!

4. Working out in the outdoors with passion and camaraderie

One of the leading military activities known to occur in the outdoors is physical training. Whether soldiers are training with their platoon or in large running formations with their Battalion Commander, they’re undoubtedly enjoying the camaraderie. 

As soldiers test their limits in developing their physical stamina, they learn how to cope with the weather and the environment. The all-weather training regimen gives the soldier a challenging task but also prepares them for any engagement. The CrossFit culture has dramatically shifted the culture from gyms to out-of-doors while achieving better results.

Serving in the outdoors and appreciating it

serving in the outdoors

The military profession is essentially defined by the outdoors. All soldiers seem to enjoy it since it gives them an excellent opportunity to develop personally and savor nature. At the same time, they can travel around the globe while experiencing sceneries from all over the world. While this may appear as an unorthodox way to defend your country’s freedoms, it comes with difficulty and risk to soldiers’ lives. 

Yet, true warriors overcome all obstacles and learn to appreciate the beauty of nature, wherever they may be.

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