America’s relationship with Russia wasn’t always as bad as it is now (or was during the Cold War).
Thanks to help from Czarist Russia, for example, England had a tough time controlling the colonial rebellion during the Revolutionary War. And who can forget the alliance with Stalin during World War II?
In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast, our hosts explore the on-again, off-again relationship with the Ruskies.
There’s a lot of death in the military; that’s what happens in wars — people kill each other. Whether it’s by partaking in the fighting or as a result of collateral damage, it is inevitable.
According to popular myth — mostly what we’ve watched during all those Halloween specials — people become ghosts by suffering a violent or unfair death. By this reasoning, bases and battlefields are gold mines for spooky military ghost stories.
Join us for a ghostly episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast where we explore the lost souls and vengeful spirits roaming military bases and battlefields in the afterlife.
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:
Justin Eggen had some things stuck in his head for a long time during — but especially after — his two deployments to Afghanistan. These thoughts became poems and short stories that reflected his feelings and personal experience as a Marine in Marjah and in Afghanistan’s Sangin Valley. Like so many writing combat poetry, they are Eggen’s way of handling the overwhelming series of emotions from and memories of his time there.
In this episode of Mandatory Fun, We Are The Mighty’s Blake Stilwell talks to Justin Eggen on what it was like to write poetry as a Marine Corps combat veteran — and why every U.S. troop needs some creative outlet for thoughts and feelings like his.
“When I was younger I wrote a bit of poetry,” Eggen says. “And I realized this is a good outlet for releasing a lot of pent up memories and aggression.”
That was then, this is now.
Eggen wrote up a few poems for “shits and giggles” after he returned from his deployments with the Corps, but the response was better than he ever imagined. He sent it to people who said he needed to share his combat poetry with the world.
Initially, however, he wasn’t apt to publish his works and share them with the world. At first, it was just a way to release the mental anguish. Eggen didn’t really take poetry or writing seriously, especially as a way to cope with what he describes as his mind “still living over in Afghanistan.”
“Ten years ago, I didn’t even think I would deploy to Afghanistan,” Eggen says, describing the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan while he was entering the Marine Corps. “When I joined, Afghanistan wasn’t even in people’s minds. Our Drill instructor said if we’re lucky, we’d go to Iraq.”
But don’t expect Justin Eggen’s combat poetry to look like anything a stereotypical beret-wearing beatnik might write. Eggen was a .50-cal machine gunner on a route clearance platoon, searching for IEDs in the roads around his area of responsibility.
The enemy was like a ghost: They were very good at making IEDs that were hard to detect because they were composed of very few metal elements. His second book, which is currently being written, will be about fighting such a ghostly enemy.
His first book is about the struggle of having your mind stuck back over there.
“A huge part of being home after the Marine Corps is trying to face what happened,” he says. “You get blown up and you’re never the same, regardless of if you’re in a vehicle or on foot. You hit an IED and that rattles you to an extent and you’re changed for the rest of your life. I have friends who are not the same. I am not the same person.”
For Eggen, writing down a lot of what happened, especially as combat poetry, is a powerful thing. Not just for him but for anyone who is struggling emotionally or mentally from a traumatic experience in their life.
He enjoys his work a lot and even enjoys reading them. Each one tells its own little tale. While the longer stories and poems are deeper to him, he also revives the ancient art of the warrior writing haiku. They’re just as deep, but short and sweet and he loves the challenge of writing them.
“You get 17 syllables to portray a story,” he explains. “if you can build something that makes people think in 17 syllables, that’s a huge challenge. That’s what Japanese warriors used to do after battle, write haikus. That was the first version of “combat poetry.” That’s how they dealt with a battle. So that’s what I did for three weeks straight, counting syllables on my fingers.”
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.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Tim, and Chase speak with stand-up comedian Mitch Burrow about what simple luxuries we wished we had while on deployment.
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.
Being forward deployed without the amenities that service members are used to from back home can suck. While some military branches have chow halls with an all-you-can-eat menu, others are forced to eat highly-processed foods from heavy duty plastic bags — a.k.a. MREs.
Although we wish for the most part that our livelihood will remain the same while on deployment, it’s the simple things service members miss the most.
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 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.
Last week the U.S. Air Force tweeted to the world that it needs help naming its newest bomber, the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber. (What could possibly go wrong?) Well … we discuss the possibilities and provide examples where crowdsourcing failed. We also discuss the OV-10 Bronco’s comeback and what it means in the fight against ISIS. And on a lighter note, we talk about which service branch we’d join knowing what we know about the military today.
“If you think of the first 18 minutes or so of ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ ” Dye said, “This will be that but airborne. This will be guys coming out of those aircraft and sky full of tracers.”
Dye wrote the script for “No Better Place to Die” from a story he’d studied during his active duty days. He felt the story perfectly exemplifies what Americans troops can do when they come together after everything goes wrong.
It’s about the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers during the D-Day invasion and their contribution to winning the war. If it weren’t for these troops, the German’s may have pushed the allied beach invasion back out to sea, according to Dye.
While the filmmaking world knows him as Hollywood’s drill sergeant, Dye has reserved the director’s seat for himself.
“Given what I’ve done in my 30-year career the only way this going to get done right — the only way this is going to blow people right out of their seats — is if I direct it because I know how,” Dye said. “I know how to do this cool.”
As for hiring veterans, Dye is looking to fill on and off camera roles to make a filmmaking statement.
“My absolute promise is that I’m going to make this movie with as many veterans in front of the camera and behind the camera as I can find,” Dye said. “That’s the way I’m going to do it. I’m hoping that it will serve as a showcase to Hollywood. It will show them the talent that’s out there and what these folks can do. What they bring to the table and how motivated they can be, and I want to demonstrate that.”
Before Dale Dye was making some of our favorite military movies, he was fighting America’s wars overseas, eventually retiring as a Marine Corps captain. Having been around infantrymen all his life, he knew we were badly represented on film. The majority are intelligent, creative, and full of heart.
He felt the image of the dumb boot blindly following orders was a grave disservice to those brave service members who had risked and often gave their lives so that our nation could survive and prosper. So he looked for the best medium available to reach the hearts and minds of the public to spread his message — film and television.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, we talk to former Air Force Chief of Staff, General Merrill A. McPeak, who served as a military adviser to the Secretary of Defense, National Security Council, and the President.
He’s also a career fighter pilot with more than 6,000 hours under his belt, including time as a solo pilot with the elite Thunderbirds.
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.
In this episode, we talk on a wide range of topics, including:
[1:35] The Mandatory Fun crew introduces General McPeak and his epic resume.
[4:00] How allied troops managed to set traps for their North Vietnamese enemy.
[7:00] The general discusses what it was like kicking off Operation Desert Storm.
[10:30] The reasons behind why air doctrine changed since the Vietnam War ended.
[13:45] The general breaks down the stats of the fighter pilots who have been shot down.
[21:00] What it’s like flying in an Air Force air show in front of political VIPs.
[28:50] What influences the general had on Ken Burn’s PBS Vietnam documentary and what it was like working with the filmmaking legend.
[34:35] How the Air Force attempts to retain it’s outstanding and well-trained fighter pilots.
[35:30] What things the general loved about being a fighter pilot.
[45:15] The importance of having nuclear weapons on station.
Just imagine the shocking scenario where the U.S. angered China, Russia, Iran, and its traditional allies like the UK and France. Now imagine if these countries formed a unified coalition to attack the U.S. How long would the U.S. be able to hold them off? Which tactics would it deploy? What role will its citizens play?
In this debut episode of the WATM podcast, the boys of the editorial team discuss how this idea might play out.
The podcast is hosted by bunch of vets who live and breathe all things weapons, tactics, and mil-tech. Here’s who they are:
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.