This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well - We Are The Mighty
MUSIC

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well

If you’ve ever surfed the internet looking for military rap songs, chances are you’ve come across the unique sound of “The Marine Rapper.”


Known for sporting a red mohawk and wearing an American flag bandana, TMR served 10 years in the Marine Corps as a Combat Correspondent where he earned a Combat Action Ribbon and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals during his service.

After successful tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, TMR left the Marine Corps in February 2014. After entering back into civilian life, TMR began focusing on music as a profession and for cathartic expression.

 

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well
TMR has performed and hosted numerous live shows from Los Angeles to San Diego. (Source: The Marine Rapper)

 

Related: This incredible rap song perfectly captures life in Marine Corps infantry

Since then, TMR’s music has been featured on the Range 15 Movie Soundtrack, the Oscar Mike TV series on Go90 network, and Apple Music.

“Star-Spangled Banger has many meanings,” TMR tells WATM. “It is a new Star-Spangled Banner, it is my moniker and a way of saying veterans made a banger.”

TMR’s music recounts personal war stories over hip-hop and rock inspired beats. He strives to motivate others and to use his rhythmic talents to immortalize his fallen brothers and sisters through music.

Check out The Marine Rapper‘s music video to watch “Star-Spangled Bangar” for yourself.

(YouTube, The Marine Rapper)

Articles

This Marine wants to know what songs you’d put on your ultimate battle playlist

Look. Music is awesome. It can be motivating as hell, it can take you back to an important time in your life, or it can be comforting in dark times.


We made a series of playlists to keep you company during life’s moments and we call them Battle Mixes. In this video, U.S. Marine Weston Scott talks about a few of his favorites.

We love the part when he busts up talking about Chris Stapleton.

Check out the video, and let us know which songs you think we should put on our Ultimate Battle Mix:

Articles

That time Civil War soldiers stopped fighting and played music for one another

A few weeks after the bloody battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, an odd event took place at the front lines of the Civil War armies camped on the Rappahannock River in Virginia. The two sides — camped approximately a mile from one another — engaged in a battle of the bands.


This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well
A Union band in the Civil War poses for a photo. (Photo: CC BY-SA Jcusano)

According to University of Virginia Professor Dr. Gary W. Gallagher in his Great Courses lecture series on the war, the concert was begun by a Union band on one side of the field who played a patriotic northern song, likely “Yankee Doodle” or “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Just after they finished playing, the Confederate band opened with the song “Dixie.”

The two bands then continued playing songs for one another throughout the early hours of the night, until the Union band started playing “Home on the Range,” a song popular in both Union and Confederate camps throughout the war.

The Confederate band joined in during the song, and soldiers from each side sang along.

The entire event was captured in a poem “Music in Camp” by John Reuben Thomas.

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well
Thure de Thulstrup’s Battle of Gettysburg, showing Pickett’s Charge. (Scan: Library of Congress)

Like the later Christmas Truce of World War I, the peace between the warring sides was short-lived. The Civil War would rage for almost two more years before its official end in May 1865. Indeed, the bloodiest battle of the war, Gettysburg, would take place just a few short weeks after the impromptu concert.

Articles

Mat Best’s biggest battle yet

Ever wonder what members of Special Forces do in their free time?


We do, too.

Unfortunately they’re not too keen on disclosing information — go figure. But lucky for you we’ve found the next best thing; in fact, even his name backs that statement.

Meet former Army Ranger, Mat Best, best known for the Bikini Snap and Article 15 clothing apparel. And of course… the most epic of epic rap battles.

Image credit: Recoil Web

 

MUSIC

These are 6 of the most unforgettable military movie tracks

Hollywood has always found a way to connect music with visuals. This seamless blending is an art that has constantly evolved alongside filmmaking.

Legends by likes of James Cameron and Martin Scorsese have used hit songs like “Bad to the Bone” in Terminator 2: Judgement Day and “Stardust” in Casino to enhance the audiences’ experiences and bring their films to life.

Recently, a young director by the name of Edgar Wright has changed cinema with his revolutionary take on how to perfectly mold film editing with one’s favorite tune in Baby Driver.


Once we see this kid start bumping “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion on his iPod, there’s no stopping him.

Baby Driver definitely had the moves, but the military has always had the attitude. The songs on this list capture the attention of audiences and pull them into the on-screen battles, parties and periods of mourning.

So, let’s kick the tires and light the fires, because this list is sure to have you on your feet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwBbrngafl0

www.youtube.com

“Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins in ‘Top Gun’

Let’s kick off this list with a classic. Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone set the tone for Tony Scott’s high-octane blockbuster and the song’s never been the same since. Now, when you hear Loggins start to croon, you immediately conjure up images of Maverick taking to the skies in Top Gun.

www.youtube.com

“Thunderstruck” by AC/DC in ‘Battleship’

To the tune of AC/DC, the USS Missouri can properly get underway in 2012’s Battleship.

This Australian rock anthem might be played often, but you can feel the intensity of the scene increase as the tempo gradually builds.

www.youtube.com

“Can’t Do Nuttin’ For Ya Man” by Public Enemy in ‘Three Kings’

Nothing starts a party like the hip-hop group with attitude by the name of Public Enemy. When the music starts bumping and the whiskey starts flowing, the soldiers in this film show that the military can party just as hard as anyone.

www.youtube.com

“Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix in ‘Black Hawk Down’

Next up on this list is the 2001 film that captures the true story of the Delta Force Commandos and Army Rangers who faced an entire militia in Mogadishu during the Gulf War.

In Black Hawk Down, Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child is the calm before the storm. Seriously, nothing pairs better than classic rock and the sound of chopper blades cutting through the air.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7E9cpRyqjI

www.youtube.com

“Fight the Power” by Public Enemy in ‘Jarhead’

Jarhead is a rendition of the Anthony Swafford’s 2003 memoir about the Gulf War that gives viewers a (slightly exaggerated) glimpse at the lesser-known elements of the Marine Corps.

The truth is, there are no better orders then the ones that get you home, which is why Public Enemy makes this list again. As “Fight the Power” blares on screen and the ground pounders fire rounds into the night air, the audience gets a taste of that sweet, sweet freedom.

www.youtube.com

“Heroes” by Peter Gabriel in ‘Lone Survivor’

Topping off the list is the true story of the Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrel, the sole survivor of Operation Red Wings. Lone Survivor revisits the unfortunate events of that day and reminds us of a grim reality: we are never truly out of the fight.

At the end of the film, as the credits role and the audience is shown a series of photographs of the real troops who gave their lives for the mission, “Heroes” by Peter Gabriel plays — and nothing else could’ve fit better.

MUSIC

7 killer songs that use Morse code

…_ _ _…

That’s Morse code for S.O.S.


Morse code was created by Samuel F. B. Morse in the 1840s to work with his invention of the telegraph. Both the Union and Confederate armies used it during the war between the States.

Wasn’t before long that it was used ingeniously by American POW Jeremiah Denton during the Vietnam war and in 2010 by the Columbian Army in their war with FARC guerrillas who had taken some hostages.

Also read: Why Johnny Cash was the first Westerner to learn Stalin was dead

The general of the Columbian Army reached out to an advertising executive who helped produce a pop song that contained a hidden Morse code message, which played on the radio, alerting the hostages to their upcoming rescue.

“What Hath God Wrought?” was the first message sent by Morse code in 1844 and some of these songs live up to it:

1. RUSH — “YYZ”

The opening riff is the Morse code for “YYZ”

InnerMusicLove | YouTube

2. ABBA — “S.O.S”

ABBA is allowed to be as literal as they want.

AbbaVEVO | YouTube

3. Five Americans — “Western Union”

Play this one on repeat.

zman291977 | YouTube

4. Cabaret Voltaire — “CODE”

Say what?

Eskild Trulsen | YouTube

5. Metallica — “One”

The debate continues as to whether Metallica did in fact use code in the song, but the kid in the “Johnny Got his Gun”  scenes uses his body to transmit Morse code.

6.  The Clash — “London Calling”

Sampled Morse code at the end: V for victory during World War II.

theclashVEVO | YouTube

7. Alan Parsons Project — “Lucifer”

Not sure what the message is and don’t wanna know.

07constancia | YouTube

Morse code is actually still being used by the military. The last code classes were taught by the Army at Fort Huachuca in 2015. The Air Force is currently teaching this vital form of communication at Goodfellow AFB, Texas.

MUSIC

The top 5 military-themed songs that aren’t written by Toby Keith

Music is such a powerful tool in our society. It is absolutely crazy how lyrics on top of a melody can turn our brain into a mental time machine. For me, I can never listen to “Cherry Pie” by Warrant and not go back to that dive bar in Ohio where I slow danced the night away with a girl I assumed was my next ex-wife.


This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well

For many of us veterans, hearing a song might take us back to when we served or where we deployed. I spent many days in 2005 sitting by my tent in Iraq, enjoying one of those cold, delicious, non-alcoholic Busch beers while enjoying some fine tunes.

Music artists have usually gone out of their way to release one song “for the troops!” While many are not nearly as good as country music superstar Toby Keith when it comes to producing a ‘Murican tune, some have succeeded. Today we will honor 5 of those artists whose names don’t rhyme with Kobe Teeth.

1. Kenny Loggins — Danger Zone

You gotta be careful listening to this one, especially after watching the music video. Sometimes I think I’m Maverick and I’m getting ready to do a lot of cool things in an F-14. Then I look down at my Prius speedometer and see that I’m only doing 55. Kenny nails this song though. You cannot listen to it and not think of Tom Cruise and those other handsome flyboys in Top Gun.

2. Dixie Chicks — Travelin’ Soldier

Alright, before you go getting outraged and calling for my head because I included the Dixie Chicks on this list, hear me out! If you listen to the lyrics in this song and don’t get a little misty eyed, YOU might not be American! This is one of the greatest love songs ever written about the love between a deployed soldier and his lady back home. This is also one you have to be careful listening to. You might end up singing it at the top of your lungs while sitting in traffic, and it’s embarrassing the first four times it happens.

3. Creedence Clearwater Revival — Fortunate Son

I don’t even have to explain how great this song is to all members of the military. As an Iraqi veteran I am insanely jealous that this masterpiece was released during the Vietnam era. This is the song I listen to right before I get ready for an intense night of ping pong.

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well

 

4. Johnny Cash — I Won’t Back Down

The Man in Black brilliantly covered this Tom Petty song which saw heavy radio play following the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. Rumor has it that if you listen to this song three times in front of the mirror, you will actually re-enlist. You will probably also fail the urinalysis too which should have been expected if you were sitting in front of a mirror in your bathroom listening to this song.

5. Toby Keith — Brought To You Courtesy of The Red White and Blue (The Angry American)

OK, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make a list of military themed songs without listing Toby Keith. I mean it’s Toby Keith! Anyways, let’s get to the last, bonus song on the list.

BONUS: Lee Greenwood — God Bless the USA

This is the song every veteran should be listening to at their local Waffle House every single Veteran’s Day when they’re enjoying those sweet sweet waffles. If this song doesn’t hit you right in the feels then I just don’t know if there’s a place for you in this country.

Articles

9 of the most memorable pop songs from war movies

Nothing makes a war movie pop like its soundtrack. Films that are scored by famous composers stay with us forever. Hans Zimmer did “Black Hawk Down,” “Saving Private Ryan,” was scored by John Williams, and of course, the most famous war film score ever, Maurice Jarre’s work for the WWI epic “Lawrence of Arabia.”


But not every war movie needs to be scored. There are a few movies where a well-placed pop song is an epic use of screen time. When a director uses a “needle drop,” it can push the scene into something unforgettable.

1. “What A Wonderful World” from “Good Morning Vietnam”

In a movie full of great music and memorable scenes, how do you even choose the most poignant? Barry Levinson’s 1987 film juxtaposes Louis Armstrong’s classic song with imagery of the men fighting the war, the civilians caught in the middle, and the corruption of the South Vietnamese regime.

2. “Danger Zone” from “Top Gun”

No opening sequence starts a movie better than the song that keeps Kenny Loggins in the money to this day. The Navy even used this movie as recruiting tool, with a full 90 percent of applicants reporting that they’d seen “Top Gun” the year it came out.

3. “The End” from “Apocalypse Now”

Did I say “Top Gun” has the best opening scene song? It has to compete with the first shots of “Apocalypse Now,” featuring the Doors’ “The End”.

4. “Tracks of My Tears” from “Platoon”

Charlie Sheen gives us a stark vision of his future, jamming with his friends to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ 1965 hit, smoking all manner of things while knocking back a few beers. This scene is just as iconic as the Sgt. Elias death scene or the end of the movie, where Sheen’s character looks back on his tour.

5. “Surfin’ Bird” from “Full Metal Jacket”

Sure there are many great musical moments in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 classic Vietnam War film. “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs playing when Joker and Rafterman meet Animal Mother is the start of something beautiful, not to mention the other iconic music scene that bridges the basic training and war sequences.

The Trashmen’s 1963 song “Surfin’ Bird” dominates as the Americans push the NVA back from Hué City.

6. “Do Wah Diddy” from “Stripes”

I think the YouTube commenter Brian Buchanan said it best about this scene from the Bill Murray and Harold Ramis comedy “Stripes” — “Funny scene, but these two morons would be doing push up ’til they died.”

7. “Dream Lover” from “Hot Shots”

Yeah, “Hot Shots” isn’t a real war movie in the sense that anything really happened but you can say that about “The Hurt Locker” too. Even so, I’ll never forget when Topper Harley sees Ramada Rodham Hayman for the first time.

“I was really impressed with the way you handled that stallion. You know, when I saw you dig your heels into his sides, tighten up the reigns, and break his spirit, I never wanted to be a horse so much in my life.”

8. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” from “Top Gun”

If this movie and Kenny Loggins prompted a bunch of people to join the Navy, I wonder how many late-80s women had to put up with guys singing to them in bars until the fall of Communism.

9. “Sgt. Mackenzie” from “We Were Soldiers”

While not technically a pop song, this song was written about the singer’s grandfather’s service in WWI and is undeniably awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

Articles

QUIZ: Who said it, Gen. Mattis or 50 Cent?

Did the retired Marine general say these things or did the rapper say these things?


On the surface, the two have nothing in common. The rapper-actor out of Queens, NY started his career selling drugs at age 12 during the crack epidemic. On the other hand, Mattis began his career as an enlisted Marine during 1960s.

As their careers progressed, 50 Cent left drug-dealing to pursue a music career. He quickly gained a reputation for being a shrewd businessman, becoming an actor, opening an apparel line, and eventually becoming an investor.

“Mad Dog” Mattis had a different path. He graduated to the officer ranks during the 1970s and became known as the “Warrior Monk” because of his bachelor life and lifelong devotion to the study of war. “Saint Mattis of Quantico, Patron Saint of Chaos” is the current secretary of defense.

Besides their different walks of life, the two seem to have a similar outlook. We gathered some of their most famous quotes to make this quiz. Can you guess who said what?

MUSIC

This Army vet started a company to entertain the troops and honor the fallen

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well
3 Doors Down perform for the troops. (Photo: Sean Gilfillan)


As far back as he can remember, Sean Gilfillan has had two distinct halves to his personality: a button-down, achievement-oriented practical side, and an artistic, musical side. And while most people with similar dualities accept that the former will most likely pay the bills while the latter is, at best, a hobby, Gilfillan never did. And that refusal has resulted in an unorthodox career path, one that generates income while nurturing his drive to be creative.

Gilfillan continued his family’s history of service in the U.S. Army by attending Norwich University on a ROTC scholarship and then accepting a commission as an artillery officer. After going through training at Fort Sill in 2003 he was assigned to the First Armored Division and deployed to Iraq. After two months in-country, he was assigned to A Co., 1/6 Infantry Battalion as their Fire Support Officer.

“I was fire support, but I didn’t have much to do with that specialty in central Baghdad,” he said. “So I kind of morphed into infantry.”

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well
Sean Gilfillan in Baghdad in 2003. (Photo: Sean Gilfillan)

He worked closely with the locals performing what he described as “hybrid civil affairs” in the crucial Korada district. Right as his unit was due to rotate back to the states, they were extended for an additional three months. And the day they were extended seven of his fellow soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber driving a car loaded with explosives.

That loss affected him deeply. “You start questioning the randomness of war,” he said. “But at that point, I decided I always wanted to be connected to the military in some way.”

After rotating out of the war zone he spent a year in Germany. During that time, he figured he’d done what he’d set out to do as an Army officer, and in 2006 he transitioned to the civilian world and wound up back his hometown in Rhode Island.

“I literally had no idea what I wanted to do beyond something cool in entertainment,” he admitted.

Gilfillan went on unemployment for a few months as he hatched a plan, one driven by the attitudes of the civilians with whom he came in contact.

“People were asking me crazy questions about going to war,” he said. “And when I answered I could see they couldn’t have been less interested.”

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well
Tattoo on Sean Gilfillan’s back, a tribute to the soldiers he served with who were killed in Iraq. (Photo: Sean Gilfillan)

So, with the encouragement of his new wife Sidney, he did something suitably unorthodox: He launched To The Fallen Records [now To The Fallen Entertainment], “the world’s first military record label,” as he put it. The name came from a large tattoo he’d had inked across his back a few years before in remembrance of the seven soldiers his unit lost on that tragic day in Iraq.

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well
To The Fallen Records official logo.

To The Fallen (TTF) exclusively featured veteran artists, primarily in the hip hop and country genres. The company was featured in Rolling Stone, Billboard, and The New York Times. The word was getting out, and Gilfillan was confident he’d started a viable business.

TTF released a couple of compilation CDs and sold them online. Orders were brisk at first, but then the bottom fell out.

“Turns out 2009 was the absolute worst time to start a record label,” Gilfillan said.

Social media and streaming services like Spotify and Pandora were radically changing how consumers purchased music. Nearly overnight CDs became an archaic format.

TTF’s distributor went bankrupt, so even if orders came in, Gilfillan had no way to get the CDs out. He was shouldering a massive amount of debt and running out of time.

Help came in the form of a phone call out of the blue from a sergeant major he’d served with in Iraq. The Pentagon had a reserve billet open for a counter-insurgency expert. Gilfillan was qualified by virtue of the civil affairs work he’d done during the war, and he needed the job. He said yes.

Gilfillan worked in the U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Office, learning the government’s budgeting process. In the course of doing the job he also learned a lot about how Morale, Welfare, and Recreation works, both good and bad.

From his experience with TTF Records, Gilfillan knew what it took to book top-flight talent. He saw that because there wasn’t any centralized way for commands to put their local events together, troops weren’t always getting the talent they deserved and the government was paying too much for the acts they were getting.

“Only a few active duty people understand it even though it’s a $10 billion industry,” he said.

In 2010 Gilfillan left the Pentagon job, and, after consulting with several financial experts, he put his learnings into action as To The Fallen Entertainment.

TTFE pursued two main missions at once: Convincing installations that centralizing the way they booked entertainment would get them higher levels of talent at less cost, and becoming an approved DoD contractor.

The latter happened, and soon thereafter TTFE was contracted to provide the U.S. Marine Corps with 50 shows across the world. Gilfillan landed acts like David Allan Grier, Gabriel Inglesias, Iliza Shlesinger, and Bubba Sparks.

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well
Comedian George Lopez with Air Force airmen. (Photo: Sean Gilfillan)

Along the way, TTFE incorporated best practices for the company while doing the same for clients. At the same time, Gilfillan had his eye on bigger deals like the U.S. Army’s 5-year entertainment contract.

“We checked all of the boxes to land that contract,” Gilfillan said. “Diversity, size, scope — that’s what TTFE’s first four years were all about.”

TTFE won the Army’s contract, and that gave Gilfillan the confidence to hire four employees and set up his headquarters in San Antonio.

“We’re still small, but we want to be big,” he said. “The trick for us is to simultaneously be trusted insiders and expert outsiders.”

Gilfillan’s goal is to grow TTFE into a $25-50 million company by proving its worth to more installations, showing how they can gain efficiencies across DoD.

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well
Country mega-stars Little Big Town play for the troops. (Photo: Sean Gilfillan)

“[DoD] has a massive enterprise advantage,” he said. “TTFE wants to help them leverage it.”

The future is bright, but in the face of business success, Gilfillan is careful to maintain his focus.

“The sole mission of TTFE is to boost the morale of troops and families on installations,” he said. “We want bigger talent and bigger shows for them.”

TTFE has now done hundreds of shows across all of the services. Next year the company is launching their “BaseFEST Program” a partnership between TTFE and installations to create what Gilfillan calls “their own unique versions of Coachella.”

Gilfillan’s advice for veterans transitioning behind him is to think big.

“In your own vision of where you want to be in life it’s important to have an end state in mind,” he said. “I wanted to be someone who’s doing big stuff in the entertainment industry.”

As well as a general goal, Gilfillan also says that vets in the process of getting out need to cultivate skills relevant to the industries they’re pursuing.

“If you want to go into tech, you have to know how to code,” he said.

And more than anything, Gilfillan recommends that vets not give into the fear that comes with leaving the structure of the military.

“I was half a million dollars in debt at one point,” he said. “But I succeeded because I was willing to fail.”

Editor’s Note: To The Fallen Entertainment is proud to present Base*FEST Powered by USAA, a new music festival that launched this Independence Day weekend at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. It’s hitting NAS Pensacola next, and it prides itself on providing a free music festival experience to active duty military, veterans, and their local community.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How a sailor remembered 250 prisoners of war through song

Douglas Hegdahl walked freely around the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison camp, one of many American prisoners of war held there in 1967. He was sweeping the courtyards during the prison guards’ afternoon “siesta.” The American sailor that fell into their laps was known to the guards as “The Incredibly Stupid One.” They believed he could neither read nor write and could barely even see. But the “stupid” Seaman Apprentice Hegdahl was slowly collecting intelligence, gathering prisoner data, and even sabotaging the enemy.

He even knew the prison’s location inside Hanoi.


Hegdahl was a South Dakota native who was blown off the deck of the USS Canberra as the ship’s five-inch guns fired on nearby targets of opportunity. Once overboard, he floated in the South China Sea for 12 hours before being picked up by fishermen, who turned him over to the North Vietnamese.

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well

Hegdahl’s enlistment photo and a photo of the sailor in captivity.

Certain he could be tortured for information, the Communists tried to get Hegdahl to write anti-American and anti-war propaganda. They showed him similar documents that other captives – higher ranking captives – wrote for the North Vietnam. Hegdahl thought about it for a moment, then agreed. The Communists were amazed. No other captured American did this voluntarily. They went off to get ink and paper.

The young sailor was thinking quickly. He figured the officers who wrote the propaganda material were probably coerced into doing it. He decided the best thing he could do was play dumb. He was very, very successful. The North Vietnamese thought Doug Hegdahl was a developmentally challenged “poor peasant” and set out to teach him to read and write. After failing at that, they decided to write a confession for him to sign, which he did:

“Seaman Apprentice Douglas Brent Hegdahl III United States Navy Reserve, Commanding Officer, USS Canberra.”

The sailor was first put into a cell with Air Force officer Joe Crecca, who taught Hegdahl 256 names of other POWs and then taught him how to memorize the information to the tune of “Old McDonald.” After that, Hegdahl was imprisoned with Dick Stratton, who was the ranking officer for a time.

Because they thought Hegdahl so developmentally challenged, the Hỏa Lò Prison guards essentially gave him free reign to do a lot of the cleaning and sweeping around the prison yard. He was even allowed to go and clean up around the front gates of the prison itself. That’s how he was able to later tell U.S. intelligence where the prison could be found within the North Vietnamese capital.

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well

Hegdahl on sweeping duty at “The Plantation,” Hanoi.

But the sailor didn’t stop there. As the sailor swept the prison grounds, when the single guard assigned to him took his afternoon siesta, Hegdahl would add a little bit of dirt to the gas tank of the nearest truck. Over the course of his captivity, he managed to disable five NVA prison trucks this way.

Eventually, it came time for the NVA to offer early releases to some of the prisoners of the Hanoi Hilton. Even though there was a strict order among the POWs to not accept any early releases, Hegdahl was ordered to accept an early release — the only Hoa Lo prisoner ever ordered to do so — by his senior officer, Lt. Cmndr. Dick Stratton. He was not only the most junior prisoner in the camp, he also had all the information the U.S. government needed to expedite the release of the POWs — all of them. He didn’t want to, but someone needed to tell the U.S. about the torture they were receiving there.

When he was released, not only did Hegdahl recite the names of the 256 men who were shot down or captured in North Vietnam, he could say their dog’s name, kids’ names, and/or social security numbers. These were the means by which other POWs verified the information given. He picked up all of this information through tap code, deaf spelling code, and secret notes.

Released in 1969, Hegdahl was able to accuse the North Vietnamese of torture and murder of prisoners of war at the Paris Peace Talks in 1970. Flown there by H. Ross Perot, he accused the North Vietnam delegation of murdering Dick Stratton, assuring Lt. Cmndr. Stratton would have to be repatriated alive at the war’s end.

But the prisoners back in Hanoi didn’t have to wait long for treatment to change. Once Hegdahl described the treatment of POWs in public and to the media, the ones he left behind saw their treatment improve, receiving better rations and less brutality in their daily life.

In his memoirs, Stratton wrote of Hegdahl:

“The Incredibly Stupid One,” my personal hero, is the archetype of the innovative, resourceful and courageous American Sailor.
MUSIC

A famous Russian composer re-arranged the Star-Spangled Banner

When Igor Stravinsky was born, it was the Russian Empire who had a “special relationship” with the United States, not Great Britain. By the time he emigrated to Switzerland, the Russian Empire was the Soviet Union and Stravinsky was a global nomad. The talented composer had a knack for arranging and re-arranging the national anthems of his adoptive countries. Russia, Switzerland, and France all had Stravinsky versions of their national anthems.

It was while living in the United States in 1941 that Stravinsky decided to make a contribution toward “fostering and preserving the spirit of patriotism” in America. He re-arranged the national anthem of the United States, most notably to make it easier to sing.


Stravinsky moved to the U.S. in 1939 at the outset of World War II. The U.S. didn’t adopt the Star-Spangled Banner as its official national anthem until 1931, just in time to give Stravinsky a new home and a new anthem to arrange. During both World Wars, orchestras were encouraged to play the song and audiences were encouraged to sing along. There could be stiff penalties for noncompliance — especially for foreigners.

This Marine rapper spits lyrics that veterans know all too well
Stravinsky in 1903, age 21

But Stravinsky didn’t need to be pushed to play the anthem. He was more concerned about the structure of the anthem.

He opened his first show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Calif. in 1940 with the traditional, well-known version. This version was arranged by Walter Damrosch, a New York musician and composer. The problem with that version is in its harmonization, according to the Marine Corps Band at the time. But concerns about harmony were pushed aside and Damrosch’s version became the norm across the country.

But not for Stravinsky. He heard a number of re-harmonizations of the tune in his time and decided to arrange his own. He even wrote to President Roosevelt about his intentions in editing the music.

Mr. President:

Searching about for a vehicle through which I might best express my gratitude at the prospect of becoming an American Citizen, I chose to harmonize and orchestrate as a national chorale your beautiful sacred anthem the Star-Spangled Banner. It is a desire to do my bit in these grievous times toward fostering and preserving the spirit of patriotism in this country that inspires me to tender this my humble work to you as President of this Great Republic and to the American People. Believe me.

Faithfully yours,
Igor Stravinsky

Playing his arrangement in the Boston Symphony Hall at the height of World War II in 1944 was another story.

Legend has it the Boston Police Department wasn’t thrilled with the changes to the national anthem and that the composer was breaking a Massachusetts law by “tampering with national property” and that he was to be arrested. Though the arrest never happened, the police did cite a state law about how the anthem should be played. The police misapplied the law, however. The law was made against using the Star-Spangled Banner “as dance music, as an exit march, or as a part of a medley of any kind.”

Instead of being fined or arrested, he simply removed the song from his set list.

Stravinsky would play his rearrangement for years after World War II ended, right up until his death in 1971. At his last show at the Hollywood Bowl in 1966, he closed with his version of the anthem, his own exit march. No one fined him.

Articles

4 times armies blasted music to intimidate and infuriate their enemies

What an awesome scene.


Army military helicopters flying in on the North Vietnamese, guns blazing, as Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” plays from loudspeakers. This wasn’t reality – though rumor has it tankers in Desert Storm did the same thing – it was from the film “Apocalypse Now.”

But music has been a part of war for a long time. Horns, buglers, and drummers sounded orders for entire armies from the Classical era until as late as the Korean War. Even in psychological operations, the use of music is not a novelty – Joshua is said to have used horns as a weapon when he captured Jericho.

So from biblical times to post-9/11, here are few contemporary examples of armies using music against the enemy.

1. Metallica, “Enter Sandman” – Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Clive Stafford Smith, the founder of the Human Rights Group Reprieve, detailed the use of music on detainees in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The group says music was used at “earsplitting” volume and on repeat to shock and break prisoners into confessing crimes, and it worked. The detainees allegedly confessed to crimes they couldn’t physically have committed – anything to make the music stop.

Among these were Barney the Dinosaur’s “I Love You” song, “Bodies” by the band Drowning Pool, and “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.

“Part of me is proud because they chose Metallica,” frontman James Hetfield said in an interview with 3SAT, a German media outlet. “And part of me is bummed that people worry about us being attached to some political statement because of that… politics and music for us don’t mix.”

2. 4Minute, “HUH (Hit Your Heart)” – Korean DMZ

The main feature of the Korean Demilitarized Zone are the thousands of North and South Korean (and U.S.) troops literally staring each other down, daring each other to try something cute. It’s an intense area and you can cut through the tension with a knife. Each has tried a number of “cute” things to irk the others, including fake cities, propaganda billboards, and ax murders. In 2010, the weapon of choice became Korean pop music.

When North Korea sunk the South Korean warship Cheonan that year, The South responded by blasting propaganda messages across the border using 11 enormous loudspeakers aligned in the DMZ. They also used the song “HUH (Hit Your Heart)” by the Kpop group 4Minute, over and over. It got to be so much that the North threatened to turn Seoul into a “Sea of Flame” if the music didn’t stop.

3. Britney Spears, “Oops! I Did It Again” – Horn of Africa

By 2013, the Somali pirate fleet operating in the Horn of Africa was such a problem, the UK’s Royal Navy had 14 warships on alert in the area. Attacks have decreased since then, thanks to increased attention by international naval patrols. But there are a few merchant mariners who think Britney Spears might have had a hand in it as well.

The UK’s merchant navy told the Mirror in 2013 that they found blasting Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again” and “Baby One More Time” at pirate skiffs warded off the pirates.

“They’re so effective the ship’s security rarely needs to resort to firing guns,” one merchant told the Mirror. “As soon as the pirates get a blast of Britney they move on as quickly as they can.”

 4. Martha and the Vandellas, “Nowhere to Run” – Operation Just Cause

In December 1989, the United States invaded Panama after its leader Gen. Manuel Noriega discarded the results of a national election and Panamanian troops killed a U.S. Marine and wounded another. American troops were sent to safeguard its citizens lives, enforce the election results, and capture and extradite Noriega to the United States.

Noriega took refuge in the Vatican City diplomatic mission in Panama City, and the U.S. military kept up physical pressure on him to surrender by blasting songs like “Nowhere to Run,”  Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog,” and the Clash’s “I Fought the Law.”
Do Not Sell My Personal Information