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, we speak with respected book author, speaker, publisher, and Vice President of Production at Warriors, Inc., Julia Dye, Ph.D.Warriors, Inc. is a unique organization that provides technical advice to the entertainment industry.
Dr. Dye is the daughter of a World War II bomber pilot and is married to Hollywood’s drill instructor, Capt. Dale Dye — who is featured in episode 37 of the Mandatory Fun podcast.
Although growing up as a military brat has its issues, it can instill several unique, advantageous traits within an individual.
“Many of them speak more than one language, know more cultures, have seen more of the world, which is great for any kid,” Dr. Dye said.
Dr. Dye’s book, titled Through My Daughter’s Eyes, is a one-of-a-kind, much-needed look at what it means to come of age in a military family today.
Dad wasn’t feeling the emptiness like we were. He was busy, I’m sure, fighting the war and leading his soldiers.
You’re probably wondering what it’s like over there, so let’s see if I can make it real for you, like it was for my dad. Start by finding the vacuum cleaner.
Pop that sucker open and grab the dust bag. OK, now pour that over your head. Get it good in your nose and eyes. Hit yourself in the chest and make sure that you cough up a good cloud. It’s a start. I’m sure you think it’s hot, and yeah, that’s true, during the day. At night try walking over a frozen rock garden.
You have to walk over that to get to the bathroom in the dark. And the during-the-day hot isn’t like a warm summer day, even here in Texas.
Think living inside a blow dryer. On high. While wearing a suit of armor. We’re getting closer. Oh, yeah, and while all that is going on, people are trying to kill you. While you are breaking into their houses.
A percentage of the book’s profits goes to Our Military Kids, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports children, ages 5-12th grade, of deployed National Guard and Reserve service members and children of wounded warriors from all service branches. Grants pay for participation in activities that help children cope with stress and anxiety while their parents are recovering or absent.
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.
Bad back, knee sprains, and other injury claims ISIS militants are using to scam out of duty are child’s play compared to excuses deployed by the finest members of the E-4 Mafia.
“For starters, headaches and stomachaches are rookie excuses,” says Tim Kirkpatrick, a former Navy corpsman and newest member of the We Are The Mighty Team. “There’s no way to diagnose these ‘chief complaints’ because they’re subjective.”
As a veteran with multiple deployments, Tim has heard every excuse in the sick call commando’s manual and can tell you what works and what doesn’t.
“A Marine rarely gets out of a hike,” he says. “He has to be dead or dying to get out of it, but there are ways.”
In this episode of the “Mandatory Fun” podcast, Tim and reformed members of the E-4 Mafia — your hosts, O.V. and Blake — divulge their ‘skating’ tips to ISIS fighters looking to file a proper jihad-ache.
The thin line between brilliant and crazy cliché couldn’t be truer than for the military leaders in this entertaining episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast. While they accomplished incredible feats and heroics on the battlefield, they have another side the history books leave out.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we once again speak to General Merrill A. McPeak, who served as former Air Force Chief of Staff, National Security Council, a military adviser to the Secretary of Defense, and to the President.
The General currently has three books out,Below The Zone, Roles and Missions, and Hangar Flying, about his time being ringside during one of the most tumultuous moments in recent history: the Vietnam War, where Gen. McPeak was an attack pilot and high-speed forward air controller.
During his impressive career as a fighter pilot, the general logged in more than 6,000 hours of flight time, including a period where he was a solo pilot with the elite Thunderbirds.
Directed by Nicolai Fuglsig, the film chronicles one of the first Special Forces teams to deploy to Afghanistan after the attacks on 9/11. The SF team joins forces with the Afghan Northern Alliance and rides into battle against the Taliban on horseback.
12 Strong brilliantly captures how difficult it is for ground troops to work and fight alongside Afghan freedom fighters against the insurgents due to the language and cultural barrier.
The film stars WATM friend Rob Riggle, Chris Hemsworth, Michael Pena, and Michael Shannon.
2. The 15:17 to Paris
Directed by Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood, the film focuses on the American soldiers who discover a terrorist plot on a train headed to Paris.
Interesting enough, the three Americans who thwarted a terrorist attack play themselves in the film alongside actress Jenna Fischer — and we like Jenna Fischer.
3. Tough As They Come
Starring and directed by Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone, the film tracks Travis Mills (played by Marine veteran Adam Driver), a quadriplegic soldier returning from Afghanistan after his horrific injury.
Back in the U.S., Mills has to reconcile with his stepfather while coping with his new life using prosthetic legs and arms.
Directed by Todd Robinson, the film showcases a Pentagon investigator who teams up with a few veterans of “Operation Abilene” to persuade Congress to award deceased Air Force medic, William Pitsenbarger, the Medal of Honor 35 years later.
Pitsenbarger is accredited with saving over 60 ambushed service members in one of the bloodiest campaigns of the Vietnam War.
The film stars Sebastian Stan, William Hurt, and Samual L. Jackson.
Directed by Justin Kurzel, the film chronicles a nameless ex-Nazi captain who navigates the ruins of post-WWII Germany to atone for the crimes he committed during the war by hunting the surviving members of his former SS Death Squad.
Gal Gadot is rumored to have a role, but additional information hasn’t been released.
6. The 34th Battalion
Directed and produced by Luke Sparke, the film follows four friends from Maitland, New South Wales who join the 34th Battalion to serve on the Western Front. The film depicts the experiences of the unit, which was recruited in 1916.
“It was like walking onto the surface of the moon,” Graham Elwood says of his first experience walking off of a C-17 in Afghanistan.
His experience was not unlike many of our own first times deploying to a far-off edge of the world. We take a long, long C-17 (or god help you, C-130) ride for seemingly endless hours. There are no windows. The plane is packed. Forget about an in-flight movie or looking out the window. And when you walk off, it’s invariably the middle of the night and you and the hundred or so people you’re with walk off the flightline in a single file.
From there, who knows? There’s a good chance the “hurry up and wait” has just begun. For civilians visiting war zones for the first time, it’s no different – except they have no idea how to speak the acronym language.
“They said ‘When your bird hits the LZ, find your POC, they’ll take you to the MWR tent then you can go to the DFAC,'” he jokes. “It’s like… what are you saying to me right now, man?”
Elwood is a Los Angeles-based comedian with appearances in comedy clubs across America, on college campuses, and even CBS’ Late Late Show. He’s also a veteran podcaster with shows like Comedy Film Nerds, and The Political Vigilante, and he’s a co-creator of the Los Angeles Podcast Festival.
None of that prepared him for performing for U.S. troops deployed in combat zones. His first documentary, Laffghanistan: Comedy Down Range, is about his first time volunteering to go do just that. It’s amazing how fast you can go from playing the Hollywood Improv to playing Bagram Air Base.
Elwood’s film documents his personal journey from the sunny beaches of Southern California to the sun-baked moonscape of Afghanistan, where the military’s Department of Morale, Welfare and Recreation enlisted him to entertain the troops. Elwood’s psychedelic travels through a war zone are simultaneously hilarious, harrowing, and heartbreaking. His journey becomes unpredictably personal, creating a documentary that no one expected, least of all Graham.
For someone who admits he’s pretty far removed from the Global War on Terror, it all came home to him when went around the small firebases of Afghanistan. It was his first time in helicopters, driving in unarmored vehicles on the ground in Afghanistan, and seeing minefields. It got real for him for him real fast.
“What was said to me and what I’ve said to other comedians,” he says. “Well don’t go over there if you don’t want to be changed. It will change you. You have no idea. This is no joke.”
Now that Elwood has done a number of these shows and tours around deployed military bases, he looks back at his first experience in this episode of Mandatory Fun.
Nothing could adequately prepare him for performing a comedy act in Afghanistan. All the dive bars and sh*t holes he played as a young comedian is the best thing he could do to prepare. He was still freaking out but couldn’t help but put himself in the shoes of young troops.
“I’m here for two weeks,” Elwood says, “and MY family is freaking out. Imagine them and their families and how much they’re freaking out.”
But they quickly realized that they need to be the comics. They were there for a reason: to give American troops fighting overseas a few laughs, a taste of a normal night, and a show to help ease their tension, even if it was only for a short time.
Mandatory Fun guest: Graham Elwood has been a stand-up comic for over 20 years working comedy clubs, colleges, TV shows, Holiday Inn Lounges, war zones, dive bars, and one time on the top of a double-decker tour bus in Chicago (not joking) . You’ve probably seen him on the TV as the host of the socially relevant game shows “Cram” (GSN) and “Strip Poker” (USA), along with making the world a better place by appearing on shows like “Best Bodies Ever” on VH1. Don’t forget the time when he told jokes on “The Late Late Show” (CBS). He has also starred in the theatrical plays Speed the Plow, Light Sensitive, and Cash Flow, and co-wrote the one act play Brothers. Learn more about Elwood:
Bryan Anderson is an Iraq War veteran turned model, actor, motivational speaker, book author, and more. He achieved all of these noteworthy accomplishments while dealing with life as a triple amputee.
Bryan enlisted in the Army in early 2001 and shipped out to his duty station on September 11, 2001. He served two tours in Iraq as an MP (Military Police) Sergeant before being injured by an IED that resulted in the loss of both legs and his left hand. He was awarded a Purple Heart and spent over a year rehabilitating at Walter Reed Hospital.
Bryan’s story has received extensive media coverage including features in Esquire Magazine and articles in major publications, such as LA Times, New York Times, and Chicago Sun. He appeared in the HBO documentary, Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq with the late James Gandolfini, CSI: NY, The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke, and American Sniper with Bradley Cooper.
As you’ll hear in this special edition of the WATM podcast, Bryan’s energy is contagious.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with standup comedian turned actor Tone Bell.
Tone isn’t a veteran, but on the Netflix show Disjointed he plays a soldier with multiple combat deployments under his belt who deals with everyday veteran issues like trauma and transitioning out of the military.
You may remember Tone from a few other shows he’s been on like 9JKL, The Flash, Truth Be Told, and Bad Judge with Kate Walsh.
Disjointed’ s producers and creative minds went to great lengths to develop his character and to get the veteran portion right. One of his character advisors on the show is WATM’s resident Green Beret Chase Millsap.
Tone Bell as Carter in Disjointed doing what he does best — create comedy.
In the show, “Carter” works as a security guard in a marijuana dispensary at Ruth’s Alternative Caring owned by Ruth Feldman (played by Kathy Bates).
To play the role, Tone spent countless hours prepping the character by talking with veterans throughout his creative process and combing through the script with Chase.
In the event, Tone reads a portion of the script where he felt the “Carter” character felt synthetic — he’d immediately voice his concerns with the producers.
Tone receives several direct messages daily on social media from veterans who respect how he has portrayed the veterans on the screen. This notion promotes that aspect that showcasing veteran issues in a witty and comedic way is possible without the actor going too over-the-top with their performance.
This unique process of prepping for a military role with the help of veterans will hopefully create a shift throughout the entertainment space that departs from Hollywood’s version of the armed forces.
All of Disjointed episodes are currently streaming on Netflix — so check it out. It’s freakin’ hilarious.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake speaks with The Marine Rapper a.k.a. TMR about how he went from wrapping tacos to rapping music lyrics.
“I joined the military because I was working at Taco Bell and ironically as a [taco] wrapper,” TMR recalls. “I wanted more, so I became the manager. I [wanted to go] the same route as the [Taco Bell] founder did and become a Marine.”
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.
The Marine Rapper ‘s Action Figure is a bouncy, hyper, fast-paced journey that chronicles the making of his identity. Each song is accompanied by a music video that will be released weekly on YouTube starting Sept. 29.
TMR’s Action Figure will be available for purchase on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Tidal and everywhere where digital music is sold Sept. 29. In addition, a limited run of signed physical copies and merchandise will be exclusively available on TMR’s website: themarinerapper.com
Check out The Marine Rapper‘s video below for a taste of what you can expect when his record drops Sept. 29 for yourself.
Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) can be a debilitating condition and often referred to as the silent killer of veterans. Alarmed by the 22 veteran suicides per day statistic, Jake Clark founded Save A Warrior, a warrior-led healing experience to save active duty service members, veterans, and first responders from committing suicide and improve their lives.
In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast Jake Clark and Raychad Vannatta—Save A Warrior’s executive director—stop by to discuss their mission and tactics for curbing PTS.
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.