West Point central to family legacy - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

West Point central to family legacy

In 1991, 18-year-old June Copeland was brushing her teeth when her twin brother, Jerry Copeland, asked her to join the Army with him. Her answer? A resounding “No.” After much cajoling, the two agreed to enlist together for maybe three to four years.

While Jerry served his commitment and entered civilian life, June ended up making a robust career of it. She would go on to graduate from West Point and become an adjutant general. Nearly three decades later, Col. June Copeland has made both education and the Army central to her family’s legacy. 

Currently, June is stationed at the Pentagon. When you ask her about her greatest accomplishment, she points to her three daughters  June Alyxandra, Jasmyn, and Jeilyn  all of whom have graduated from or are currently attending West Point. 

June’s drive for excellence and her grounding comes from family, particularly her mother. 

“When my ancestors were freed, we decided to stay on the plantation in Georgia. So, my grandmother was born there,” she said. Her mother grew up during Jim Crow and was one of 12 students who integrated schools in Savannah, Georgia. “She always talked about the benefits of education . . . Her biggest emphasis was always on getting a good education, making it count, and working towards a goal.” 

While at basic training, June was crestfallen to learn that her first assignment would be in Germany. She called her mother in tears worried that she wasn’t ready for such a big step. 

“When you are in basic training you see about five colors: brown, brick, dirt, tan, and green. All of a sudden, I saw all of these colors, pink, yellow, red, purple, just floating around and I was mesmerized,” she said. 

Suddenly, June realized that it was her mom dressed in the most beautiful floral shirt. While her brigade was performing drill and ceremony, her mother and 10 family members were there to cheer her on and encourage her. Her mother served as a literal bright spot in the drab world of basic training. 

Today, June serves as a mentor, cheerleader, and bright spot for her own daughters.

West Point central to family legacy

“Everyone loves our story,” June said. “The thing I love the most about the girls is that they are good people. They are amazing human beings. They are good people to their hearts,” she said. 

For June, the values of West Point just make sense for her family. “The values: don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Be an honorable person. Character matters. These are all things that my parents instilled in me and I made sure I instilled them in my children. It works,” she said. 

When her oldest daughter, June Alyxandra, was a sophomore in high school, the two mapped out a plan for her educational and career goals. 

“It wasn’t until we sat down and talked about the future that I really thought about West Point,” June Alyxandra said. 

A 2020 West Point graduate, 2nd Lt. June Alyxandra Copeland is now 23 and stationed at Fort Drum, New York, where she serves in the 10th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion of the Combat Aviation Brigade. 

Twenty-year-old twins Jasmyn and Jeilyn Haynes were eager to follow in their big sister’s footsteps. Both are currently juniors at West Point. Jasmyn, an IT major, is on the dance team and Jeilyn, a history major, is on the debate team. 

“I would have loved to make the debate team, and I think she would have loved to be on the dance team . . . but we had to part ways,” Jasmyn said with a smile. “There was a lot of teasing.” 

All three girls say that the institution provides a structure for success. 

“They teach you how to fail so they can figure out what you’re good at so they can help you discover where you need to work to succeed,” June Alyxandra said.  

Jeilyn says that West Point presented many challenges physically, academically, and in terms of time management. “However, the one thing where we never struggled with was the character and moral values because our mother raised us. She taught us character. She taught us courage.”

“Resilience!” Jasmyn interjected. “She taught us resilience! So when we did fail, we would always get back up.”

“Education is very important to our family,” Jeilyn added. “So are the values of duty, honor, country. What’s astounding about my mom is that she took those values and she raised us with them. So going into West Point, when people found out our mother was a lieutenant colonel in the Army, people looked at us like these West Point Simbas.”

“Yea, like we grew up low crawling to breakfast,” June Alyxandra interrupted with a laugh. 

June says that while there have been many lessons for the girls, education remains at the heart of her family’s priorities. 

West Point central to family legacy

“One thing my mother would always say is that the key to changing your life, the key to elevating yourself and your family, and [taking] your legacy to the next level is always making sure you have an education. Once you get that piece of paper, it can never be taken away from you,” June concluded. 

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

Military Life

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mission complete.

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

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)

Military Life

4 most annoying regulations for women in the military

It might seem that women would have it easy when it comes to regulations in the military — I mean, how hard is it to stick your hair in a bun, slip on your boots, and head out the door?


It’s actually pretty restricting once you realize how many regulations are placed on women in the military.

Granted, regulations are nothing new, and everyone has to follow them, but let’s take a look at a few that women in all branches of service have to abide by on a daily basis.

4. Hair

Women’s hair must be professional and steer clear of unnatural colors and eccentric styles. Yes, this means no fad hairstyles, no blinged out barrettes and bobby pins, which makes sense, to an extent. This regulation might be the hardest for women to comply with because the description is so broad and is ultimately up to the interpretation of supervisors to potentially escalate a breach of regulation (“No sir, my hair is not red — it’s Auburn”).

Heck, sometimes it might just be easier to chop it all off like GI Jane (newsflash that’s against regs too, no buzz cuts for women!). Looks like a bun it is!

West Point central to family legacy

3. Nails

Nails might seem like a menial regulation to gripe about, but it becomes tedious when supervisors are out to get you for anything that they can. Regulations call for natural nail polish, and the length must be no longer than ¼ of an inch. Imagine being called into a supervisor’s office for your nails being too long or wearing too pink of a polish. It happens to women in the military more often than you would think.

West Point central to family legacy
I like where your head’s at, but it’s still a no. (Photo via MarineLP)

2. Makeup

Women must not wear makeup that isn’t flattering to their skin tone or unnatural. Again, this regulation is so broad that it allows for misinterpretation or someone to deem others choice in makeup “unnatural.” Everyone has his or her own opinion of what natural and unnatural makeup looks like, and it’s hard to pin this one down.

Of course, there’s no blue eye shadow or purple eyeliner (duh), but there are many shades that are open to interpretation. Women usually adapt and figure out that no makeup, or close to no makeup, is the best way to stay out of trouble in this area.

West Point central to family legacy
Go with this look to play it safe.

1. Nametag/ Ribbon Rack Alignment

Nametag and ribbon rack alignment might be one of the most annoying regulations of them all. Men have pockets on their formal shirts to align their nametag and ribbon rack perfectly. Women don’t get pockets on their formal button-down shirts, and it makes it almost impossible to align because of the nuisance of, well, boobs.

West Point central to family legacy
Everyone should just wear flight suits.

Every woman has them and some more than others, which makes uniform wear, and abiding by small details frustrating. Women usually go to the lengths of sewing dots onto their shirts once they find the perfect alignment, because who knows if they’ll ever find that sweet spot again!

Props to all the women in the military who put up with these regulations and don’t let the details impede on their work performance, even though they might want to say shove it to their supervisors when they get called out for their eyelash extensions or the length of their fingernails.

Articles

This whiskey is a WWII victory, distilled

…I was goin’ over the Cork and Kerry Mountains…

Musha rain dum a doo, dum a da…
There’s whiskey in the jar, oh
— Thin Lizzy, Whiskey in the Jar

Whiskey is a mountain spirit. After a cold day on the slopes, are you thirsting for a Cosmo? A margarita? Nope. And we’re not even offering rum as an option. In the mountains, you long for an end-of-day bourbon, scotch, or rye to light your insides on fire. It’s tradition and it’s awesome.

West Point central to family legacy
You… ( Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

West Point central to family legacy
…complete me. ( Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

In Vail, Colo, there’s another mountain spirit that has to be reckoned with and unlike whiskey, it’s 100 percent military. It’s the legacy of the Army’s venerable 10th Mountain Division, the special alpine tactical force that trained at nearby Camp Hale during WWII.

West Point central to family legacy
Men of the 10th Mountain Division. Not a cocktail in sight.

Spirits, however, are made to blend. It’s tradition and it’s awesome.

Now, almost 75 years after 10th Mountain defeated the Germans in Italy, a Vail whiskey distillery is honoring the Division by taking its name. In the tradition of service, 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits Co. is distinguishing itself as an ardent supporter of area veterans.

Sensing the makings of a 90-proof military food story, Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl made the trek out to the Colorado mountains to meet the founders of the 10th Mountain Whiskey over two fingers of their best bourbon.

The distillery was founded by Christian Avignon, the grandson of an 86th Mountain Infantry Regiment medic, and his friend and fellow Colorado ski obsessive, Ryan Thompson. Together, they made it their mission to honor the 10th, whose veterans are responsible not only for key victories against the Nazis, but also for the establishment and leadership of so many of America’s great mountain institutions.

The Northern Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), the Sierra Club, the Peace Corps chapter in Nepal, even the famous ski resorts at Vail and Aspen, all count 10th Mountain Division vets among their founding leadership. A storied fighting force inspires a whiskey maker determined to give back. It’s a potent cocktail of tradition, patriotism, and mountaineering that will absolutely warm your insides on a cold day.

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

Army food will make you feel the feels

This is what happens when you run your kitchen like a platoon

This is what it means to be American in Guam

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of December 2nd

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


Air Force:

Airmen from Los Angeles Air Force and March Air Reserve Base pilot battery-powered mini F-16 jets down the red carpet during the 86th annual Hollywood Christmas Parade in Los Angeles, Calif., Nov 26, 2017. The annual live parade is an American tradition, featuring 5,000 participants, attracting more than one million people on the streets of Hollywood and broadcasting to nationwide network televisions during the holiday season.

West Point central to family legacy
(Photo by Van Ha)

Smoke emanates from Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicolas Strickler’s M9 pistol during small-arms live-fire sustainment training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Nov. 29, 2017. During the live-fire training exercise, the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron Airmen honed their marksmanship skills, transitioning between firing the M9 pistol and M4 carbine. Strickler is a tactical air control party specialist assigned to the 3rd ASOS.

West Point central to family legacy
(U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña)

Army:

Paratroopers with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division wait to board a C-17 Globemaster III from the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., on Green Ramp here during a Battalion Mass Tactical Exercise Nov. 28. Airmen in the 43d Air Mobility Operations Group at Pope Field are supporting air and ground crews from several Air Mobility Command units during the exercise, providing operations, maintenance, Aerial Port, fuels, ground equipment and other support. Airlift here is provided through the Joint Airborne/Air Transportability Training program — or JA/ATT — giving Airmen opportunities to train for real-world airlift operations with other services.

West Point central to family legacy
(U.S. Air Force photo by Marc Barnes)

An M1A2 Abrams tank from 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division fires its main weapon, a 120mm canon, during Gunnery Qualification Table VI on November 28, 2017. Gunnery Qualification Table VI evaluates the tank crew on engaging stationary and moving targets in defensive and offensive postures. 1-8 Cav. has been training at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex since early November and will continue into December before returning to Camp Humphreys.

West Point central to family legacy
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Patrick Eakin. 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)

Navy:

Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Derrick Elliott from Bunnlevel, North Carolina, shoots a 9 mm pistol as his line coach, Lt. Andrew Spilling from St. Louis, watches during a small arms gun shoot on the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21). New York, components of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are conducting a Combined Composite Training Unit Exercise that is the culmination of training for the Navy-Marine Corps team and will certify them for deployment.

West Point central to family legacy
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lyle Wilkie)

U.S. Navy Sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and prepare to render honors to the USS Arizona Memorial as the ship departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Nov. 29, 2017, in the Pacific Ocean. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific region routinely for more than 70 years promoting peace and security.

West Point central to family legacy
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Emily Johnston)

Marine Corps:

Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force conduct a low-light deck shoot to maintain marksmanship proficiency while underway aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), Nov. 26, 2017. Marines maintain accuracy with the M16A4 assault rifle and M9 pistol. The 15th MEU and America Amphibious Ready Group are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, and to preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

West Point central to family legacy
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dusty Kilcrease)

Lance Cpl. David Gaytan, an aircraft ordinance technician with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 214, checks an AV-8B Harrier before the removal of ordnance during Exercise Winter Fury 18 at Marine Corp Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 29. Marines prepared several Harriers to support Winter Fury 18, which spans several locations including Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, MCAS Miramar and MCAS Yuma, Ariz.

West Point central to family legacy
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nadia J. Stark)

Coast Guard:

Coast Guard Station Islamorada boatcrew members observe a vessel fire in Tarpon Basin near Key Largo, Florida after arriving on scene with Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission marine units, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. The boatcrew assisted in putting the fire out by utilizing the wash from their propeller.

West Point central to family legacy
(U.S. Coast Guard Photo courtesy of Coast Guard Station Islamorada )

Heavy snowflakes fall around a pair of Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters in Kodiak, Alaska, Nov. 29, 2017. Alaska-based Coast Guard aircrews train to respond even in snowy conditions.

West Point central to family legacy
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Charly Hengen.

Articles

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

This is how the Army teaches you to ‘see green’ — not brown, black or white

Recently, the Huffington Post article “Becoming A Racist: The Unfortunate Side Effect Of Serving Your Country?” has been making its rounds across the veteran community.


Basically it’s a story about how a small group of veterans who were radicalized in Iraq and Afghanistan provide security for fringe Neo-Nazi groups. It continues with an anecdote about the author’s NYPD lieutenant uncle and his prejudice.

The piece argues that not enough is being done to aid returning veterans with Post Traumatic Stress from becoming racists. To the article’s defense, it does say the percentage of veterans pulling security for the Right Wing groups is a small one. And I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t heard a racial slur used by a piece of sh*t during my time in the U.S. Army.

However, it glosses over the U.S. military’s extremely hard stance against those ****heads and the astronomical percentage of troops who learned to see their fellow service member as not white, brown, or black, but “green.”

All the Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces have unequivocally denounced racism and hatred within their branch. Every value within each branch goes directly against what we all stand for. There is no way in Hell any soldier can truly live by the Army values if they are not loyal to and respect everyone on their left and right.

The Army’s diversity mission statement is: “To develop and implement a strategy that contributes to mission readiness while transforming and sustaining the Army as a national leader in diversity.” In every sense, we are.

The term “seeing green” refers to removing your view on another troop’s personal identity and welcoming them as a brother or sister in arms who also swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Of course, we still understand that they are of a different ethnicity. We’re not blind. We only place importance on their rank and position.

West Point central to family legacy

We just assume that no matter what race you are, wherever you comes from, whatever religion, gender, or orientation: if you’re a young private – you’re probably an idiot no matter what. And if you’re a second lieutenant, you’re probably an idiot who’s also in the chain of command.

Troops come from all walks of life. I’ve served with former surfers from California, ranchers from Texas, and computer analysts from Illinois. Troops who grew up in the projects of Harlem to the high rises of Manhattan to trailer parks outside Atlanta to the suburbs of Cleveland.

I will forever be honored knowing they all embraced me as a brother. The life story of my friend, Spec. Allam Elshorafa, is proof that serving in the military will make you “see green” far more than the minute group of f*ckfaces that do radicalize.

West Point central to family legacy
Still one of his coolest photos was when he was a Private First Class. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Arriving at my first duty station in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, I wasn’t the most popular guy in the unit. I quickly realized that awkwardly talking about World of Warcraft wasn’t doing me any favors with avid fishermen and party guys, yet they still always looked out for me as one of their own.

In Afghanistan, I got to know Elshorafa. He was a Muslim born in Jerusalem. His family moved to Dallas when he was younger and as an adult, he enlisted to defend his new American home.

We quickly became friends. We’d talk about cartoons we saw as kids, video games we played as teens, and movies we hated as adults.

Things shifted when the topic of “why we enlisted” came up. He told me it was his life’s goal to help teach others that “not all Muslims are terrorists.” They are a fringe group that preys on other Muslims and are a blight on his religion.

One of radical Islam’s recruitment methods is to point at racism of westerners to rally disenfranchised Muslims. Yet, for all of the vile hatred those sh#tbags spew against the West, the largest target of Islamic terror is still other Muslims.

West Point central to family legacy
A little compassion goes a long way. (Photo via Military.com)

Islamic terror to Elshorafa was the same as how every group deals with the radical sh*theads. Not all Christians are Branch Davidians, and not all Republicans are in the Alt-Right. To him, America was his home and we were his family. I, and everyone else in the platoon, embraced him as such.

My brother-in-arms ended his own life in June 2017. He joined the staggering number of veterans that still remain one of the most tragic concerns within our community. The loss still pains me, and I wear the memorial band every day.

West Point central to family legacy
I’ll never take it off, brother. I even argue with the TSA over taking it off.

It didn’t matter what race or religion either of us was, Elshorafa had my six and it will always hurt that I didn’t have his in his time of need.

He taught me about his faith and never attempted to convert me. He invited me to join him at an Eid al-Fitr celebration and the food was amazing. Just as you learn the players of every other football team other than your own by hanging out with their passionate fans, you learn in the military about others’ ways of life by bullsh*tting with them.

Everyone embraces the same suck on a daily basis. We all bleed the same red. And we all wear the same ‘green.’

Articles

These are the differences between Airborne and Air Assault

Short answer: One is still used as a tactically viable way of getting troops into the fray and the other is more ceremonial.


Benjamin Franklin once said “Where is the prince who can afford to cover his country with troops for its defense, so that ten thousand men descending from the clouds might not, in many places, do an infinite deal of mischief before a force could be brought together to repel them?”

Both of these troops fit that bill over two hundred years later.

Out of all of the current military rivalries, this one still ranks pretty high on the list. As someone who’s Air Assault and let his personal rivalry simmer a bit, there’s no reason to keep it up. The differences between the two just keeps growing with each conflict.

West Point central to family legacy
(U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Sean McCollum, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

By World War II, many forces developed their own form of Airborne infantry that soared into combat. Allied forces captivated folks back home with the tales of jumping into the European theater. Over the years, airborne operations can be performed in essentially two ways: static jumps (think of the age-old cadence “Stand up, Hook up, Shuffle to the door! Jump right out on the count of Four!”) and HALO/HAHO, or High Altitude, Low Opening and High Opening (free-falling).

Air Assault rose in the Cold War and became more prominent in the Vietnam War. There are usually two means for getting troops into combat, FRIES, or Fast Rope Insertion/Extraction, where you grab a piece of rope and slide out of a hovering helicopter and just Air Insertion, where the helicopter lands on the ground and troops hop out. Technically, there’s also Sling Load operations, where you attach things underneath a helicopter, but that’s more of a special task that’s assigned to Air Assault qualified troops.

West Point central to family legacy
There’s several more ways of leaving a helicopter. Like SPIES and Helocasting, as seen above (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Codie Mendenhall)

But in the wars since 9/11, you can count on one hand the number of combat jumps performed by US troops. They were done twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan — and all three to command and control airfields.

Making a combat jump authorizes you to wear a Combat Jump Device. It’s a gold star that adorns the Parachutist Badge and is often referred to as a “mustard stain.” Finding one of these bad asses outside of Jump School is like finding a CW5 — you know they have to exist somewhere because you’ve seen the badges at the PX, but it still sounds as plausible as any other barracks rumor.

There isn’t as comprehensive list on total Air Assault missions because it’s far more common. It’s just another way to get around.

Many combat arms guys can tell you that they never went to Air Assault school, but still do Air Assault operations in country. The only Air Assault task restricted to someone who actually went to the school is the previously mentioned sling load operations. Even that has its “volun-told” feel to it. Sling loading has a risk to it that could be deadly if not done properly. Only Airborne school qualified personnel are allowed to complete airborne jumps (because of the weeks they spend just learning how to fall properly).

West Point central to family legacy
(U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Jason Johnston)

Sure. We have our disagreements and will probably flame each other in the comment section. They’re both ways to get men out of a perfectly good aircraft.

We both deal with a heavy amount of prop / rotor wash that training can never prepare you for. And both of our badges are still highly sought after by badge-hunters — usually a staff lieutenant or junior NCO. And they both will probably correct you by saying “well actually, according to Army regulation…”

Wear your blood wings proud, my brothers and sisters.

Articles

These are the best military photos for the week of August 5th

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


Air Force:

A B-52H Stratofortress is parked on the flightline at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., July 31, 2017. The B-52 has an unrefueled combat range in-excess of 8,000 miles.

West Point central to family legacy
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman J.T. Armstrong

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Capko, pilot, 19th Operations Group, and Capt. Caitlin Curran, pilot, 61st Airlift Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., land a C-130J Super Hercules on the ramp at Yakima Airfield, Wash., in support of Exercise Mobility Guardian, Aug. 03, 2017. More than 3,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and international partners converged on the state of Washington in support of Mobility Guardian.

The exercise is intended to test the abilities of the Mobility Air Forces to execute rapid global mobility missions in dynamic, contested environments. Mobility Guardian is Air Mobility Command’s premier exercise, providing an opportunity for the Mobility Air Forces to train with joint and international partners in airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation and mobility support. The exercise is designed to sharpen Airmen’s skills in support of combatant commander requirements.

West Point central to family legacy
U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook

Army:

U.S. Soldiers assigned to Alpha Battery, 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery conducted an M4 Range at the 25 m Range Baumholder Local Training Area, Baumholder, Germany on Aug. 2, 2017.

West Point central to family legacy
U.S. Army Photo by Visual Information Specialist, Erich Backes

Paratroopers of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, move to a firing position during a live fire exercise at the High Altitude Military Marksmanship Range at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 3, 2017.

West Point central to family legacy
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Love

Navy:

Fire Controlman 1st Class Zachary Gehrig fires a M240B machine gun on the starboard bridge wing of Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) during a live-fire exercise. Rushmore is underway off the coast of Southern California participating in a series of qualifications and certifications as part of the basic phase of training in preparation for future operations and deployments.

West Point central to family legacy
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse Monford

Henry J. Kaiser-class underway replenishment oiler USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO-199) (middle) conducts replenishment at sea operations with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) (front) and Takanami class destroyer JS Sazanami (DD-113) July 30, 2017.

West Point central to family legacy
Photo courtesy of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force

Marine Corps:

A Marine with 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Scout Sniper platoon from Fort Devens, Massachusetts, participates in battle drills by firing his M4 at a 25 meter target Aug. 3, 2017 in preparation for a training exercise during Northern Strike 17 at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center.

Northern Strike 17 is a National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise uniting approximately 5,000 service members from 13 states and five coalition countries during the first two weeks of August 2017 at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, both located in northern Michigan and operated by the Michigan National Guard.

West Point central to family legacy
Michigan National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Ames

Marine Corps Body Bearers with Bravo Company, Marine Barracks Washington D.C., fold the National Ensign during a funeral for Marine Sgt. Julian Kevianne at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Aug. 3, 2017. Kevianne, 31, was one of the 15 Marines and one Navy sailor who perished when their KC130-T Hercules crashed in Mississippi, July 10, 2017. He was part of the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452, Marine Aircraft Group 49, 4th Marine Air Wing, based out of Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY.

West Point central to family legacy
Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Robert Knapp

Coast Guard:

The Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a medium icebreaker, sits in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska during an Arctic deployment in support of scientific research and polar operations, Saturday, July 29, 2107. The Coast Guard’s leadership role in providing a continued Arctic presence is essential to national security, maritime domain awareness, freedom of navigation, U.S. sovereign interests and scientific research.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Meredith Manning

A U.S. Coast Guard MH-60T Jayhawk Helicopter from Air Station Astoria performs a mock rescue during a search and rescue demonstration with a 45-foot response boat -medium from Coast Guard Station Seattle over Elliott Bay as part of the 68th annual Seafair Fleet Week Aug. 2, 2017. Seafair Fleet Week is an annual celebration of the sea services where Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from visiting U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Canadian ships make the city a port of call.

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ayla Kelley.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Abraham Lincoln’s wrestling skills made him the John Cena of his time

You know Abraham Lincoln as the emancipator and one of America’s greatest presidents, but a wrestler?


At 6-feet-4, 180 pounds, the frontier man was a highly regarded grappler who went 12 years with only one defeat in approximately 300 matches. According to Lincoln biographer Carl Sandberg, Abe was also an accomplished trash talker once challenging an entire crowd of onlookers after beating a foe: “I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.”

Related: Here’s what America’s 6 sailor presidents did when they were in the fleet

Historians recount Lincoln’s badassery to as early as his teenage years. At age 19, he defeated the Natchez thugs by throwing them overboard during their attempted to hijack Lincoln’s stepbrother’s river barge. Ten years later, while working for an enterprising storekeeper in New Salem, Illinois, he doubled as a prize fighter for his boss who promoted his famous match against county champ, Jack Armstrong. Lincoln won by knockout when he threw Armstrong off his feet.

Lincoln was neither the first nor last president to succeed in wrestling. At age 47, George Washington famously defeated seven members of the Massachusetts militia during the American Revolution, Teddy Roosevelt cross trained in boxing and Jiu-Jitsu. Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant and William Taft were also champions, wrote Jennie Cohen for History.

Legend has it that Lincoln once beat a man by picking him up and tossing him 12 feet during a campaign speech. This American Heroes Channel video perfectly shows why you don’t want to get into a scuffle with honest Abe.

Watch:


American Heroes Channel, YouTube
Military Life

Why May 2nd, 2011, was one of the greatest days in the military

Shortly after 1 a.m. PKT on May 2nd, 2011, Operation Neptune Spear was a go and the founder of al-Qaeda and mastermind behind the September 11th attacks, Osama bin Laden, was killed by SEAL Team Six in a CIA-led and 160th Special Operations Airborne Regiment-assisted mission.


President Obama announced the success to the world at 11:35 p.m. EST on Sunday, May 1st. The world cheered and the expression “tears of joy” doesn’t even come close to conveying the magnitude of emotions felt by the entire military community. To post-9/11 troops, this was our equivalent of V-J Day.

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No tickertape parades. No randomly grabbing nurses and kissing them. But we did party a lot.
(Photo by Lt. Victor Jorgensen)

I was still in the Army at this point and this is my story.

It was 10:35 p.m. CST when we got the news at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. My unit had just returned from Afghanistan two months prior and I was still living off-post in an apartment I shared with my ex-wife. I get a text from my NCO that read, simply, “turn on the news.”

Out of context, you always assume the worst. I was wrong. I caught the last part of President Obama’s speech but the ticker that ran across the bottom of the screen read, “Osama bin Laden Killed” and I couldn’t focus on anything else.

My phone started blowing up saying everyone was basically throwing a party — despite the fact that it was a Sunday night before a 12-mile ruck march. Not a single soldier in that barracks was sober that night. Music was blasting, horns were being honked, everyone was screaming, and the MPs joined in instead of crashing the party.

A few hours later, at PT, the formation reeked of alcohol. Our normally salty first sergeant didn’t complain and broke the news to us (as if any of us hadn’t yet heard) with a big ol’ grin. He was one of the first conventional soldiers to step foot in Afghanistan back in 2001. Almost ten years later and he’s barely standing on his feet. Ruck march was cancelled and we were released until work call at 0900.

At the motor pool, no one was actually servicing their vehicles. This was the one day the E-4 Mafia got its way. Everyone just kicked the tires and checked off that it was good to go. No one cared enough to work… except the motor sergeant who, understandably, lost his sh*t (but took it in stride).

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I was commo. It’s not like we did motor pool maintenance anyways.
(Weapons of Meme Destruction)

No one was training back in the company area. We just shared war stories to the new guys that didn’t deploy with us, stories we hadn’t heard on deployment, and stories we’ve all heard a million times.

Keeping in line with how we spent our day, joyfully sharing stories with one another, let us know in the comment section about what you were doing on May 2nd, 2011.

Articles

Here’s what it takes to be on the Marine silent drill team

Discipline, self-control, and honor are just some of the defining characteristics of a U.S. Marine who serves as a member of the 24-man silent drill team. Also known as the “Marching Twenty-Four,” the drill team’s function is to demonstrate the outstanding professionalism of the Marine Corps.


In 1948, they first performed at the Sunset Parades at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. Their perfectly executed movements received such an amazing response from the crowd, the drill team was born.

Serving on the team requires extensive discipline, so finding new recruits is a challenge.

Related: 21 photos showing the awesomeness of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon

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The Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon executes their refined movements with hand-polished, 10.5 pounds, M1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets during the Sunset Parade at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Each fall, the drill team prospects are hand-selected from the School of Infantry located in Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Pendleton, Calif. After a detailed interview process and rifle drill audition conducted by experienced personnel, those Marines who are selected are assigned a position and will serve a two-year ceremonial tour.

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These Marines spend hours practicing their drill to craft perfectly executed movements. (Source: US Military Videos and Photos/YouTube/Screenshot)

In addition to their ceremonial duties, the drill team members train alongside infantry Marines in the field to maintain their skills during the offseason.

When experienced team members request to move up in ranks and become rifle inspectors, they will go through a series of inspections graded by rifle inspectors who served in the previous season.

Also Read: 5 military training drills that’ll blow your mind

Although the team practices using verbal communication, not a single word will be spoken during their exceptional performance.

Military Life

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever

When you first enlist, there isn’t much room in the process for you to get what you want. Yeah, you can choose your MOS and you’ll probably get lucky with an enlistment bonus and some school options, but there’s only so much a recruiter can get you. Once you’re in for a few years and your reenlistment window opens, however, the retention NCO is the person you really want to sweet talk. Retention NCOs hold the real power — they’ll move heaven and earth to keep troops in the unit and the military.


Keep in mind, the retention NCO isn’t a wizard who can fix all your problems with a whisk of a pen. Whatever you do, don’t ever confuse their willingness to work with you as an invitation to make demands. If you start holding your enlistment for ransom, you will get laughed out of the office.

Think of these more as poker chips for retention to ante up in exchange for you putting up more time in the military. The more valuable you are and the more time you are willing to give to the unit, the more “chips” they’ll put down. If you’re just Joe Schmoe hiding in the back of the platoon, don’t expect more than a few of these.

6. Get into a school

An easy win you can score is the option to get into a school whenever the slot opens up. This is a pretty simple request since it doesn’t involve HRC.

When a commander is notified that there’s room in a school opening up, the retention NCO can shuffle your name up to the top of that list.

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Just a tip: If you go to The Sabalauski Air Assault School, don’t wear an 82nd patch. Just throwing that out there — but it will be hilarious for every 101st guy there. (U.S. Army Photo by Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)

Related: These are the difference between Airborne and Air Assault

5. Choice of duty station

A key goal of the retention NCO is to keep the good troops in the unit, but if you request a change of duty station, they’ll understand the bigger picture here is keeping you in the military.

A change of scenery might also give you a new perspective on the military as a whole.

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You, too, can join in on the military tradition of hating your new duty station, loving your old one, and looking forward to the next one! (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Daylena S. Ricks)

4. Have fun with the ceremony

There are very few moments in anyone’s military career where they have the power to dictate what they want and have it happen. Troops can have fun with where the reenlistment takes place, invite friends and family, and, for a brief period during the ceremony, you’re technically “honorably discharged,” so the enlistment period timer is set back to zero.

Of course, you can’t do anything stupid because the ceremony isn’t done yet and the command and retention will hem your ass up if you make a fool of yourself, but briefly “discharged” troops can laugh at the fact that they can finally put their hands in the pockets of their uniform for a whole ten seconds.

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A CS Chamber sounds funny until you have to take your mask off to say the oath… (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Caleb Barrieau)

3. Help with promotion

This one is especially helpful for lower enlisted troops looking for a way to prove to the commander that they’re ready to take the next step in the military.

Reenlisting indefinitely won’t make your name appear on the Sergeant First Class List, but it can help an Army Specialist or Corporal get into the Sergeant board.

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Retention can help you get to the board. You’re on your own when you’re there. (U.S. Army Courtesy Photo)

2. Change of MOS

Recruiters (usually) don’t lie, but they don’t shine a light on the reality of certain MOS. If you enlisted hoping for a fun and exciting time in that obscure MOS and now you’re feeling some buyer’s remorse, you can finally reclass.

I mean, you can finally learn that everyone has to embrace the suck: just some more than others.

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1. The money

Nothing sounds better than pure, hard-earned cash. The amount you can earn is dependent on a lot of factors, including available funds, time during the fiscal year, your MOS (or what MOS you want), and your time in service. But you can at least squeeze something out of Uncle Sam if you know how and when to push for a reenlistment bonus.

If you don’t want to haggle for anything else on this list, at least get yourself some zeroes on that paperwork. Just be sure to reenlist while you’re deployed in a combat zone so you can get that money tax-free.

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Hey! You might finally be able to pay off that ’69 Camaro you got at a 24% interest rate! (Photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder)

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