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.
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.
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.
Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock is a Marine Corps legend and one of the most lethal snipers in history. His incredible true-life war stories are the stuff Hollywood movies are made of. In this episode of the We Are The Mighty podcast we talk about his sniper duels, that time he crawled two miles to kill a Vietnamese general, and more. Don’t miss this episode of a real American badass.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake speaks with Kelvin Garvanne about his life as an Arabic/Iraqi role player who took training U.S. ground troops to a whole new level — even conducting mock kidnapping scenarios.
During these training drills, Marines are “killed” (taken out of play for a period of time) or held hostage by the role players if they’re caught off on their own.
“We kidnapped Marines,” Mr. Garvanne explains. “One of the things we wanted to do in real time was capture a Marine.”
Before U.S. forces deploy to a foreign region like Afghanistan, pre-deployment training is conducted in environments similar to the terrain in which they’ll be exposed.
Since the landscape and elevation of 29 Palms almost mirrors that of Afghanistan, Marines are sent there to partake in Mohave Viper — an intense, five-week long training course. The Marines live there for the scenarios and receive cultural training from experts — immersing themselves in war games against native speaking role players for an all-out showdown.
These highly supervised training scenarios are considered the best exercises troops can receive as they live in enormous MOUT (military operation urban terrain) areas built to reflect life in Afghanistan.
Kelvin Garvanne attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He is an Emmy award-winning creative artist who is fascinated by the world and enjoys investigating the context of national and world events.
Garvanne is a native New Yorker who has lived in Washington, D.C., Bogota, Colombia, Madrid, Spain, and Los Angeles, California. He has traveled through several countries including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Panama, Mexico, and Haiti.
For the last nine years, he provided Islamic culture and Iraqi and Pashto language training to military and civilian personnel deploying overseas.
Garvanne continues to develop opportunities to advise and train military and civilians positioned in careers involving global service. He also develops creative projects to expose the human condition.
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, 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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake speaks with Marine veteran and “Terminal Lance” creator Max Uriarte about his newest projects and other current events.
“When I first started ‘Terminal Lance’ I was convinced I was going to get my sh—t pushed in,” Max humorously explains. “I knew I was going to get in trouble. I was waiting for that phone call.”
Soon, Max was releasing hundreds of “Terminal Lance” comics covering a wide range of topics, including military customs, the most popular (and the most disgusting) MREs, long-distance relationships, and other aspects of life in the Corps.
His latest book “Terminal Lance Ultimate Omnibus” delivers the complete collection of Abe’s shenanigans. It features over 500 serialized comics published on terminallance.com, with additional comics previously published only on the Marine Corps Times newspaper, and new, never before published comics. The Omnibus will also include Uriarte’s signature blog entries and previously unpublished bonus material.
The “Terminal Lance Ultimate Omnibus” hardcover book will be available April 24, 2018.
We also discussed Uriarte’s new podcast “After Action,” a show about national security, military life, and other random bull—t, according to Uriarte. It’s co-hosted with Paul Szoldra, the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular military satire site Duffel Blog. You can listen to: After Action” on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and TuneIn.
Uriarte joined the Marine Corps in 2006 as a 0351 Marine Assaultman and was stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Uriarte deployed to Iraq twice with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom between 2007 and 2009.
During Uriarte’s four years of enlistment in the Corps, he served as SMAW Gunner, Team Leader, Squad Leader, .50Cal Gunner, Combat Photographer, and a Combat Artist.
In 2010, Uriarte started the hit comic strip “Terminal Lance,” which soon became the single most popular comic strip in the military.
In 2016, Uriarte released the world’s first graphic novel about Iraq, written and illustrated by an Iraq veteran, called “The White Donkey: Terminal Lance.”
The “White Donkey” was independently published in February 2016 and was a massive success. Within 72 hours of its release, it was picked up by publisher Little, Brown Company for smash publication on April 19th, 2016.