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.
Now that the conventions are over and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the official presidential nominees for their respective parties, how will the incoming Commander-in-Chief handle the turmoil around the world? Will America be led down the path of imminent war, or will the new president avoid these chaotic scenarios?
Join us for part two of the potential wars that could break out in the next four years.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we speak with actor, TV host, and former U.S. Army Green Beret, Terry Schappert. You may remember Terry from the popular History Channel show Warriors and, more recently, Hollywood Weaponson the Outdoor Channel with Israel Defense Forces reconnaissance man, Larry Zanoff.
Terry was a Special Forces Team Sergeant who happened to serve alongside WATM’s own, Chase Milsap.
Larry and Terry smash Hollywood’s biggest myths in the Hollywood Weapons. (Image source: Outdoor Channel)
Hollywood Weapons gears up to take on the most insane challenges to accurately reproduce our favorite action movie stunts while breaking the myths that movies perpetuate. From breaking through the glass of a tower window, like that of the Nakatomi Plaza in Die Hard, to blowing up a Great War shark with a single shot, like in Jaws, this show recreates all your favorites using only practical effects.
“I have to make those real shots, with those real guns, under real conditions,” Terry pridefully states.
The show breaks everything down using high-speed cameras to catch all the little details that audience members might miss as a movie’s action sequence flies across the screen.
Terry and the team literally break it all down. (Image via GIPHY)Although the show’s primary objective is to entertain, the talented and creative minds behind Hollywood Weapons have a unique way of educating their loyal viewers by scientifically breaking down what it would take to pull off our favorite stunts in the real world.
If you’ve ever moved to a new city or transitioned to a different school as a kid, you may have experienced culture shock. The ordeal could be disorienting, but it probably wasn’t long before you made new friends and adjusted to your environment.
Now amplify that times 100, that’s what it’s like for some troops visiting foreign countries for the first time.
In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast, we discuss why partying in the Middle East is so darn hard.
August Dannehl: Navy veteran, WATM show producer and chef – Augie is the host of our popular video series, “HURRY UP AND WATCH!” where he breaks down some of our favorite military movies in three minutes. He also cooks, hosts and produces “Meals Ready To Eat” a show that takes him around the world to bring people together with food. More about Augie:
Steven Briggs: Comedian, actor, and USO entertainer – Briggs is an LA-based comedian and performer having appeared on TV, clubs, and theaters across the US. He’s also a USO entertainer and has traveled abroad to deliver laughter and entertainment to the troops through the ‘Apocalaughs’ tour. Learn more about Steven:
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, the gang comments on some of the biggest challenges the U.S. military will face in the coming days.
Because external challenges are easy for a fighting force like ours, the internal struggles are the ones we really want to talk about. These affect not only the troops themselves, but potentially their families, friends, and morale as well.
1. New physical standards for all
The recent years have been huge for the military community in terms of change. The most important changes include who can join, who can serve openly, and how they can all serve. Even the service chiefs are trying to understand how this will affect everyone.
But at a junior-enlisted or NCO level, we know we’re just going to deal with it, no matter what. Women are going to be in combat, along with transgender troops serving openly. What will the new fitness standards look like? Should there be a universal standard?
2. Mattis is cleaning house
The Secretary of Defense, universally beloved by all service members of all branches, wants the military to become a more lethal, more deployable force. To this end, he wants to rid the branches of anyone who is not deployable for longer than 12 months.
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis hosts with Montenegro’s Minister of Defence, Predrag Bošković, a meeting at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Feb. 27, 2018. (DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith)
Those numbers are significant, too. Experts estimate up to 14 percent of the entire military is non-deployable in this way, which translates to roughly 286,000 service members. It’s sure to make any military family sweat.
3. Okinawa’s “labor camp”
The Marine Corps’ correctional custody units want to open a sort of non-judicial punishment camp on the Japanese island of Okinawa. The purpose is to give commanders a place to send redeemable Marine who mess up for the first time in their career.
In the military, we joke (sometimes not so jokingly) about the idea of “turning big rocks into little rocks” when we talk about getting caught committing a crime while in the service. Don’t worry — no one actually commits the crime they’re joking about. But what isn’t a joke is hard labor imposed by a military prison sentence. Now, even troops with Article 15 can be forced to turn big rocks into little rocks.
4. A new military pay raise
Yes, the military gets a raise pretty much every year. Is it ever enough? No. Do service members make what they’re worth? Absolutely not. Is Congress even trying? Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Well, this year they’re getting the biggest bump yet after nine years of waiting. Are they worth more? Of course they are.
5. Marine Corps blues face a real challenge
For years (actually, decades), the Marines’ dress uniform has been the uncontested, drop-dead sexiest uniform in the American armed forces. Now, they face a usurper that really does have a shot at challenging their spot at the top of the rankings.
The Army is reverting to one of its classic uniforms from the bygone World War II-era: the pinks and greens. The decision was met with near-universal jubilation from the Army (it was a golden age for the U.S. Army in nearly every way).
Now, former airman Blake Stilwell demands the Air Force develop its own throwback jersey.
Noah Galloway is a veteran who sustained injuries in an IED attack on his second deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. He lost two of his limbs and sustained severe injuries to his right leg and his jaw.
Like many disabled veterans, Galloway became withdrawn, out of shape and depressed. The former fitness fanatic and athlete was drinking, smoking, and sleeping his days away. But late one night, Galloway realized that there was more to him than the injuries. He walked out of his room realizing that he was setting the example for his boys of what a man is. And for his little girl, the example of how a man should act and it terrified him.
He needed to make a change, and he needed to do it fast. He joined a 24-hour gym and started eating right. He participated in obstacle races and adventure races around the country, such as Tough Mudder, Spartan events, Crossfit competitions plus numerous 5K and 10K races.
Now a personal trainer and motivational speaker, Galloway doesn’t take excuses from his clients, fans, or followers – and finds ways to get things done. Galloway was a season 20 participant of Dancing With The Stars in which he took third place following his appearance on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine and numerous other publications.
Most recently Noah joined WWE Superstar John Cena and three other veterans on American Grit, a military-inspired show on the Fox Network that splits 16 of the toughest men and women into four teams of four who work together to face survival challenges. It’s Galloway’s job to push his team of civilians to act as a team and go beyond their limits.
The show airs Thursday, April 14th at 9/8 central on Fox.
You might think that, somewhere along the way, someone in the staff of a senior senator from Kentucky would have figured out what Duffel Blog really was. Instead, in 2012, a concerned constituent actually had the Senator’s office send a formal letter to the Pentagon concerning Duffel Blog’s report of the VA extending benefits to Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Duffel Blog and its writers are more than brilliant. What it does at its best is play the role of court jester – delivering hard truths hidden inside jokes. In the case of Senator McConnell’s office sending a letter of concern to the Pentagon over a Duffel Blog piece, the site was hammering the VA, equating using its services to punishing accused terrorists in one of the most notorious prisons in the world.
We laugh, but they’re talking about the VA we all use – and we laugh because there’s truth to the premise.
Paul Szoldra is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Duffel Blog, former Military and Defense Editor at Business Insider, and was instrumental in the creation of We Are The Mighty. He’s now a columnist at Task & Purpose.
Speaking truth to power is not difficult for Szoldra, even when the power he speaks to is one that is so revered by the American people that it’s nearly untouchable by most other media. We live in an age where criticizing politicians is the order of the day, but criticizing the military can be a career-ending endeavor. You don’t have to be a veteran to criticize military leadership, but it helps.
“If you go back on the timeline far enough, you’ll find a lot of bullsh*t,” Szoldra says, referring specifically to comments made by generals about the now 17-year-old war in Afghanistan. “And I have no problem calling it out, highlighting it where need be.”
Szoldra doesn’t like that the top leadership of the U.S. military exists in what he calls a “bubble” and can get away with a lot because of American support for its fighting men and women — those fighting the war on the ground. Szoldra, who left the Marine Corps as a sergeant in 2010, was one of those lower-enlisted who fought the war. When he writes, he writes from that perspective.
“If we’re talking about sending troops into Syria… I wonder what does that feel like to the grunt on the ground,” Szoldra says. “I don’t really care too much about the general and how he’s going to deal with the strategy, I wonder about the 20-something lance corporal that I used to be trying to find IEDs with their feet.”
His work is thoughtful and, at times, intense, but always well-founded. Szoldra also does a semi-regular podcast with Terminal Lance creator, Max Uriarte, where they have honest discussion about similar topics. Those discussions often take more of a cultural turn and it feels more like you’re listening to Marine grunts wax on about the way things are changing – because that’s exactly what it is, with just as much honesty as you’d come to expect from Paul Szoldra and his ongoing body of work.
The times Duffel Blog articles were mistaken for real news
Duffel Blog’s new party game
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.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, the crew speaks once again with standup comedian-turned-actor Tone Bell.
Tone isn’t a veteran, but as always, there’s a connection. On the Netflix show Disjointed, he plays a veteran who served on three Iraq combat deployments and now deals with the everyday struggles of a combat veteran.
To play the role, Tone studied multiple levels of PTS, the process of veteran transition, and the culture of cannabis, all while bringing his comedic charm to the character. These hot topics would send the average actor running toward the next potential part, but this comedian believes this role only made him a better thespian.
“You just want to get it right,” Tone Bell says. “You want people to appreciate it and not go ‘bullshit’ that’s not the way it happened.”
Tone Bell as “Carter” doing what he does best — exhales the comedy. (Netflix)
Since Hollywood doesn’t have the best track record of getting the veteran characters right, veterans tend to become very harsh in our criticism — something they feel entitled to do.
“It [the role of Carter] took a toll on me as a person in my day-to-day life,” Bell admits.
Since Disjointed Part: 1 debuted on Netflix, Tone received copious amounts of support from the veteran community for finally portraying a veteran the right way and not going over-the-top with his performance.
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.