In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Shannon, Tim, and O.V. discuss the interesting process of how Air Force pilots receive their callsigns.
In the military, callsigns are considered much more than just a name — they’re meant to capture the personality and spirit of the person.
When you think of the characters in “Top Gun,” you’re not thinking of Pete Mitchell or Nick Bradshaw — it’s Maverick and Goose, and they probably have hilarious stories that explain where those names came from. Those stories are told in a naming ceremony.
The details and traditions vary, but the rite of passage is usually met with drinks and shenanigans. Like a roast, the pilot sits front and center while his or her buddies one-by-one regale a story and propose a callsign related to it.
“It’s kind of like a roasting,” Air Force veteran Shannon Corbeil humorously explains. “This is where you get to make fun of your friends.”
The squadron then collectively debates and votes on the final name.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Tim, and O.V. talk with stand-up comedian and Marine veteran Mitch Burrow about a Communist Army cadet and a cannibal dictator, and they make a smooth segue into Ken Burns’ Vietnam documentary.
General Idi Amin dethroned the government of Milton Obote and declared himself president of Uganda. During his eight years of ruthless leadership, it’s estimated he massacred approximately 300,000 civilians.
Then it’s rumored the Ugandan president was a closet cannibal and liked munch on human remains.
Mitch is a Marine Corps veteran that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. He then started a career in manufacturing before realizing that it sucked. Now, Mitch has found his true calling in acting silly on a stage in front of strangers on a nightly basis.
To follow Mitch or check out one of his shows visit his website: Mitchburrow.com.
Rob retired from the Marine Corps in 2013 after 23 years of service, departing as a lieutenant colonel, but was recently promoted to full-bird colonel by virtue of his role as Colonel Sanders in the KFC commercials. (See what we did there?)
Outside of his movie roles — “The Hangover”, “The Other Guys”, and the “Jump Street” movies, to name a few — as well as appearances on Fox NFL Sunday — Rob is best-known from his time on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”
The veteran-celebrity golf tournament will raise money and awareness for Semper Fi Fund, one of our nation’s most respected veteran nonprofit organizations, in support of wounded, critically ill and injured service members and their families.
The tournament will take place at the world-class Valencia Country Club in Los Angeles on Dec. 5, 2016. During this exclusive golf tourney, veteran and celebrity teams contend for the lowest scores and most laughs to raise funds and awareness for the renowned Semper Fi Fund. Semper Fi Fund provides immediate and lifetime support to post-911 wounded, critically ill and injured service members from all branches of the military. Since inception, Semper Fi Fund has assisted over 16,800 service members and their families totaling more than $133 million in assistance to veterans and their families. Semper Fi (“always faithful”) is the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps. Semper Fi Fund’s goal is to always be there faithfully helping Heroes in need.
In this #DefendYourVote bonus episode of the WATM podcast, we catch up with our editor-in-chief Ward Carroll live from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ward also covered the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and so we asked him to compare and contrast the two.
Imagine being a prisoner of war (POW) at the hight of a major conflict. You’re hundreds of miles away from the closest allied territory and thousands of miles from home. Are you prepared for months or years of hardship and torture? Will you give into being a propaganda prop in exchange for food and better treatment? Will you plan an escape?
In this episode of the WATM podcast, the boys of the editorial team discuss how a handful of badass war prisoners handled their captors and made the best out of their terrible predicaments.
• [00:42] Horace Greasley, the ballsy POW who broke out of prison to visit his girlfriend overnight and then sneak back into his own camp. Editor’s Note: The original wording of our first post on Greasley incorrectly stated that he was Czech and our discussion in the podcast reflects this. In actuality, Greasley was a draftee in the British Army.
• [05:50] Nazi POWs in Arizona: Papago Park housed captured Nazi Kriegsmarine U-boat commanders and their crews. It was the POWs from #84’s compound 1A who would trigger the biggest manhunt in Arizona history.
• [08:40] The only prisoners who can be forced to work are junior enlisted under the Geneva Conventions.
• [12:25] The Nazi POWs made a boat in a U.S. prison camp.
• [16:05] Tibor Ruben: Holocaust survivor escaped his Korean War prison camp every night to forage for food for fellow prisoners.
The Gurkha warriors of Nepal are fearless soldiers who famously serve in the British and Indian militaries. Their reputation for bravery, fighting ability, and heroism dates back to the Middle Ages.
Staff Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw of the Indian Army, once said, “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha.” A fitting statement for a force who’s motto is, “better to die than to be a coward.”
NOTE: O.V. was wrong about the bull decapitation being part of a Gurkha ceremony. The animal sacrifice video he was referencing during the podcast is part of the Gadhimai Festival in Bariyapu, Nepal. But, the Kukri knife IS used during the animal beheadings.
Hundreds of heroes have emerged through the ranks of all service branches with remarkable stories of courage and selflessness.
And while some stories are well known, the ones we talk about in this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast are seldom told. You’d think these stories are made up, like the tale of airman “Snuffy,” or propaganda ploys to recruit more troops. Either way, every service member should know about these Air Force legends and their badassery.
Here’s a brief description of our heroes for reference:
1. Col. Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr., the Tuskegee airman who almost shot Muammar Qaddafi. Chappie was already a legend before calling out Qaddafi in 1968, having served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
2. Sgt. Maynard “Snuffy” Smith, the original airman Snuffy. Despite being an undisciplined slacker avoided by everyone, Snuffy rose to the challenge in the face of certain death to save his crew.
3. Douglas W. Morrell, the combat cameraman who lived the entire history of the Air Force.
5. Eddie Rickenbacker, the race car driver-turned airman who broke all of the Air Force’s records.
6. Charlie Brown, the B-17 Flying Fortress pilot who was spared by German ace fighter pilot Oberleutnant Franz Stigler. These two rivals became close friends after meeting in 1990.
With the conflicts in the Middle East and America’s tumultuous relationships with Russia and China, it’s not hard to imagine the final chapter in the World War trilogy. While fighting a conflict on the World War scale won’t be fun, there’s sure to be plenty of fireworks. Luckily, America and NATO-affiliated countries have prepared for such a scenario.
In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast, we discuss which American forces will be the first on the scene when World War III erupts.
When Doc Todd left the Navy after spending three years as a corpsman, he didn’t have any transition assistance or training. He lost friends. He lost Marines. After separating from the military, he saw even more of his Marines take their own lives through substance abuse and suicide. It’s wasn’t the ending he had expected when he joined.
He joined the Navy in 2007 after spending four years in sales and restaurant jobs. He wanted to experience some meaningful growth in his life and be part of something bigger than himself. That – to him – meant joining the U.S. Navy. Doc ended up spending the bulk of his time with Marines in “America’s Battalion,” 2nd Battalion 8th Marines. In 2009, he and his Marines were in Afghanistan in Operation Khanjar, the largest aerial insertion of Marine troops since the Vietnam War.
Though he experienced his own struggles upon leaving the military, he didn’t turn to music as a means of coping. He actually waited until he had the strength to better express himself instead.
“Honestly, from an artistic perspective, I didn’t know who I was yet. Or who I was becoming,” Doc says. “I found it very difficult to make a statement musically when I didn’t know what to say.”
When Doc picked himself up was when he was finally able to realize his purpose was helping others. Like a true corpsman, he never wanted to stop looking out for others. He saw too many overdoses, too many suicides. He decides to enter the veteran’s space, but to do it in his own way.
In June 2017, his album Combat Medicine dropped to widespread acclaim and national praise, not to mention a flood of personal stories from those who listened to it and felt the message.
Doc is currently working on a release titled “The Shadow Game EP,” on Runaway Train Records.
Mandatory Fun guest: Doc Todd is combat veteran who proudly served our country as a Fleet Marine Force Corpsman (combat medic) in the United States Navy. Since Doc’s honorable discharge in 2009, Doc moved to Atlanta and worked at restaurants and a premier hospital, while he pursed his college education on the G.I. Bill. Doc graduated from Georgia State University magna cum laude with an undergraduate degree in studying Economics and Public Policy in 2014. He then joined Northwestern Mutual where he began to build a financial management practice, before pursuing his music.
Doc resides in Atlanta with his wife Abby, two young daughters Savannah and Audrey, and dog Memphis, who Doc rescued shortly after coming home from war.
The attack on the Alamo in 1836 was not a 13-day siege and slaughter as often portrayed in film and television. Don’t get me wrong – the defenders of the mission-turned-fortress were killed en masse as Mexican troops stormed the structure. It’s just that not everyone inside the Alamo died that day.
That’s how we came to know of Joe — just Joe, any other names he had are lost to history now. Joe was the slave of William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo during Mexican dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s siege of the Texian fort. But no one knows exactly how Joe got there. No matter how he ended up there, he was one of many slaves and free blacks who fought or died at the Alamo.
Joe was a stalwart defender alongside Travis and other Texians. When the din of the fighting died down and the Mexicans firmly controlled the fort, Joe was shot and bayoneted, only to be saved by a Mexican field officer. Because Joe could speak Spanish, he was able to be interrogated afterward.
That’s where attorney-turned-author Lewis Cook picked up the story. His first book, called Joe’s Alamo: Unsung, is a fiction-based-on-history account of what came next, after the Alamo, and after Joe escaped.
Cook was waiting to go to medical school when he discovered Joe’s story and was compelled to write about the Alamo. Cook discovered the Alamo was more than a bunch of white, male landowners fighting for Texas. The fort was full of women, minorities of many color, and followers of many religions. So, he set out to tell the story of the Alamo, a story that, he believes, belongs to all of us through the diversity of its defenders.
In his book, Cook tells a different story from what is commonly told in textbooks, film, and TV shows. It includes recently discovered facts about William Travis, Susana Dickinson, Davy Crockett, and Joe himself.
Audible: For you, the listeners of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out some of the books and authors featured on Mandatory Fun. To download your free audiobook today go to audibletrial.com/MandatoryFun.
Whether they inspired you to join the military or remind you of your time in service, one thing is for sure: In the history of film, there’s a movie character that resembles a buddy or you. Just like in real life, some are lovable, some are righteous, and some are up to no good.
In this episode of the WATM podcast, the boys of the editorial team talk about their favorite characters from iconic military movies.
For over a decade, actor Stephen Lang has performed a one-man show based on the real-life stories of eight Medal of Honor recipients. The play has taken him to U.S. military bases and ships around the world performing for the troops and even before the people he portrays. Recently, footage from his performances was stitched together for the film “Beyond Glory.”
For this episode of the We Are The Mighty Podcast we invited Lang to discuss “Beyond Glory” and three Medal of Honor stories from the film.
Lang is an acclaimed stage, TV and film actor; you may know him for his role as Ike in “Tombstone” or as Miles Quaritch, the badass Marine colonel with the scars across his face in the movie “Avatar.” Lang began his career in theater. Broadway roles include his Tony-nominated performance as Lou in “The Speed of Darkness,” Happy in the Dustin Hoffman revival of “Death of a Salesman,” Colonel Jessep in ”A Few Good Men,” and Mike Tallman alongside Quentin Tarantino and Marisa Tomei in “Wait Until Dark.”
Selected links and show notes from the episode:
[01:40] Lewis Millett’s Medal of Honor story – Millett was an Army officer who received the Medal of Honor during the Korean War for leading the last major American bayonet charge.
[05:40] Discussion with Lang about Lewis Millett.
[08:05] Discussion with Lang about James Bond Stockdale.
[10:55] James Bond Stockdale’s Medal of Honor story – Admiral Stockdale was the highest-ranking naval officer held prisoner during the Vietnam War. He received the Medal of Honor for his leadership among the prisoners and work to galvanize the resistance to their captors.
[20:40] Lang’s experience performing for the troops
[22:05] Preparing for a “Beyond Glory” performance.
[26:05] From Navy warships to the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, Lang discusses the unique locations he has performed for the troops.
[28:15] Lang’s drunken experience with Marines during a performance in Bahrain.
[31:15] Common questions from the troops after a “Beyond Glory” performance.
[34:15] Meeting the Medal of Honor recipients Lang portrays in his show.
[36:30] Lang’s painting versus photograph analogy of his performance.
[39:15] Lang’s recognition by the Medal of Honor Society.
[40:50] Avatar sequel and other projects Lang is currently working on.
[45:00] Nick Bacon’s Medal of Honor story – Bacon was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat during the Vietnam War.