6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation - We Are The Mighty
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6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

Seeing the world is just one of the many reasons for joining the military. But what if dreamy vacation living was possible within the continental borders? Taking advantage of what is possible within a day’s drive is one way to save thousands on airfare and explore more of what our country has to offer.


Strategize your next PCS choice with these staycation worthy locations. From the beaches to the mountains, and east to west, settling into ‘home’ at any one of these installations is easy to do.

Mountain Home AFB, Idaho (Air Force)

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

Nestled at the foot of the Sawtooth Range, and within a half day’s drive to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park, Mountain Home AFB is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. There’s world-class skiing at Sun Valley in the winter with plenty of roadside accessible hot springs along the way. Idaho isn’t on your radar because she’s everyone’s best-kept secret.

NAS Whidbey Island, Washington (Navy)

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

Craggy coastlines, tide pools teeming with sea life, and million-dollar views are how to describe this installation just over an hour north of Seattle. The barrier islands of the Puget Sound are home to seductively slow island life, away from traffic, and a ferry away from Olympic National Park or the San Juan Islands. Watch both whales and submarines surface from one of the dozens of state parks by the fire and on the beach.

Fort Carson, Colorado (Army)

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

Located just outside the Garden of the Gods, this Army Installation is another ruggedly beautiful spot to call home. The state exudes adventure in all terrain types, like sand dunes, snow-capped peaks and breathtaking arch formations. Colorado experiences all four seasons, providing a little something for every preference. Your PT test is sure to stay on point during the winter season with infamous ski resorts like Breckenridge and Telluride to choose from.

Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia (Air Force and Army)

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

What we love about JBLE is the easy accessibility to all the major east coast metropolitan cities. Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City are all a connected train ride away. National history, monuments and bustling nightlife make life on this coastline more than noteworthy. In addition to city life, Virginia is home to Shenandoah National Park and fall foliage, which draws crowds year-round. Tapping into history or the political pulse of the country are all possible here.

MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina (Marines)

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

Life in the low country is slow and sweet. The tidewater region is situated between Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia, two historic southern towns rich with seafood and charm. A subtropical climate provides beach access year-round, with plenty of sunshine to boost any mood. Another point to love is the affordability of the region compared to other, more high-cost stations, putting more vacation dollars into your pocket.

Sector Key West, Florida (Coast Guard)

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

The southernmost point in the continental U.S. is as beautiful as you can imagine. Dolphins, coral reefs and sailboats are all at your doorstep, which is likely oceanfront. Lesser known, yet completely noteworthy interests like the Hemingway Home and Dry Tortugas National Park are also found here. Key West also boasts several shipwrecks to explore in turquoise waters, making a dive certification a card you need in your wallet.

It’s all about location, and there’s plenty to choose from during your military career. Europe and Hawaii are not the only prime spots to be had, and this list is proof. Experiencing life in varied climates and states provides a perspective unlike any other when the time comes to settle down after service.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

This USAF veteran and physician exposes what’s really happening to our nation’s ER staff

Emergency physician Emily (who asked us to not use her last name) was knee-deep in flu season in Texas when the initial reports of coronavirus began surfacing.

“I was highly skeptical. It sounded very similar to the flu,” the 36-year-old Air Force veteran shared with We Are The Mighty. “Information out of China was obviously pretty filtered and somewhat difficult to interpret. Once I began hearing reports from physicians in Italy, this was probably late February, I started to become a bit alarmed. This was not the flu. It was much, much worse. It was going to be bad.”
6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

Emily at work.

In early March, Texas hospitals began preparations for the anticipated surge of COVID patients.

“PPE [personal protective equipment] shortages were rapidly apparent, and the supply seemed to change daily, making our personnel protection protocols constant moving targets,” Emily explained. “Testing capabilities also fluctuated wildly, again making for daily — sometimes hourly — changes in how we performed testing. Going into work was a completely different experience every day. We had to quickly adapt to being comfortable with extreme flexibility.”

As the days passed, extreme flexibility would be crucial.

“When shelter-in-place orders took effect in our area [and] as people began staying home and elective hospital procedures were cancelled, emergency department volumes plummeted, as did hospital revenues,” she explained. “This led to drastic changes in how emergency departments were staffed. Down-staffing was warranted, because there just weren’t as many patients to see, but it was – and is – still having significant effects on the pay for these frontline workers.”

Emily, who works in three different hospitals across three different healthcare systems on a PRN [as needed] basis, typically works “at least full-time, some months even more so.” With low emergency room volumes, she expressed feeling underutilized.

“The PRN employees have been the first to go,” she shared. “My shifts have been cut back drastically. I have cherished the extra time with my family and my children, even as I am itching to go back to work. To have the skills to be of use and not have the opportunity to use them has been an unusual form of torture.”

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

Emily with her family.

She adds that COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the state of the U.S. healthcare system.

“Our healthcare system has been teetering on the verge of collapse for a long time,” she said. “The people who profit from our for-profit healthcare system are neither the doctors nor the patients. As I saw our system straining under the weight of COVID, I had hoped that it might finally break and give way to real and lasting reform. Instead, I have seen physicians losing their jobs for speaking out about their lack of PPE. I have seen physicians experiencing pay cuts, even as they work more, work harder, and in a more dangerous environment. When administrators who sit behind a desk feel empowered to dictate to their healthcare workers how often they have to reuse PPE, all the while handing out pay cuts to those exposing themselves to the greatest degree of risk, we have a serious problem.”

Through it all, and despite the gravity of the situation, Emily shares that coronavirus has provided her with professional clarity.

“COVID has been something of a crucible, reinforcing for me that emergency medicine is more of a calling than a job,” she said. “I have been fearful for my own personal safety as I have heard accounts of physicians falling ill, and even dying from complications of coronavirus. As a combat veteran, facing peril while in the line of duty is not foreign to me, but COVID has felt different — I never expected to be in danger while working in a stateside ER as a civilian. Despite the risk, I have felt an undeniable pull toward the Emergency Department, to use the skills I have spent years developing and the expertise I have gained from thousands of patient encounters to try and do some good. It has been good to feel like I can be of some use.”

Like Pat Sheehan in Louisiana, Emily stated that in the ER, healthcare workers are always on the front lines.

“The only difference now is that the world is finally paying attention.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

This is why the Queens Guard wear those giant black hats

The black-hatted redcoats who guard royal residences in London and beyond, including Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, are the Queen’s Guard. While you might think it’s fun to get in their way and try to make them laugh, the reality is these guys will straight up break you if it comes down to it. This all starts with the overly large hat on their head.

The hat – a bearskin – is a symbol of what it takes to be the best.


6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

(Ministry of Defence)

While the Guard date all the way back to 1656, their trademark bearskin shakos date back to the Napoleonic Wars, the end of the Napoleonic Wars. As its name suggests, this is the series of conflicts fought between Imperial France, led by Napoleon and his various allies against the United Kingdom and the Coalitions it formed to counter the rise of the little emperor. The Guards were part of the First Regiment of Foot that finally ended the Napoleonic Wars at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. That’s also when their uniforms picked up the now-iconic bearskin hats.

Specifically, the British picked the hats up from the dead bodies of fallen Frenchmen.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

(Waterloo Association)

Some of Napoleon’s most elite troops and diehard supporters were the French Imperial Guard. These were troops that had been with Napoleon from the very beginning and were with him to retake power when l’empereur returned from exile on Elba. That’s how they ended up at Waterloo in the first place. They were the (arguably) the world’s best soldiers, and definitely some of the most fearsome in the world. The grenade-throwing grenadiers wore large bearskin shakos to make themselves appear taller and more fearsome. They received better pay, rations, quarters, and equipment, and all guardsmen ranked one grade higher than all non-Imperial Guard soldiers.

At Waterloo, the decisive engagement that determined if Napoleon would once again be master of Europe, the emperor committed his Imperial Guard against the First Regiment of Foot. The outcome of that battle would change history, as for Napoleon, it was a huge gamble that, if successful, could totally break the British and win the battle for the French. That’s why he committed his best.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

(Waterloo Association)

As the First Regiment of Foot stood up to a punishing French artillery barrage and then a charge from the vaunted Imperial Guard, the British tore into the Frenchmen with repeated musket volleys, dropping hundreds of them before Napoleon’s best broke and ran. With the fall of some of Napoleon’s finest Imperial Guards, the outcome of the battle was all but assured.

With their stunning defeat of France’s best in frontline fighting with relatively few casualties, the British 1st Foot adopted the tall bearskins, a trophy to celebrate their stunning victory over the emperor, reminding the world of what it means to be elite. The bearskins have been on their uniform ever since.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Trump’s IRR Recall Order: What you need to know

You may have heard that President Trump signed an executive order Friday, March 27 allowing the military to recall members of the selected reserve and some former service members to active duty in support of the government’s response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

While this sounds ominous, the executive order is mainly a formality giving the Pentagon the authority to recall reserve members as necessary. A federal law (10 U.S. Code § 12302) that has been around since 1953 authorizes the president to recall up to one million reservists for up to two years in times of national emergency.


The military branches have also started to gauge interest from recently separated members on volunteering to return to active duty in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Army, for example, recently contacted 800,000 retired members asking about their willingness to return to active duty and help the service fight the pandemic. More than 17,000 retirees, representing various specialties, have responded at the time of this writing.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

Maryland National Guard Transports Citizens During COVID-19 Pandemic.

DoD

Who Will Be The First To Be Recalled?

If the coronavirus pandemic worsens and requires a major military mobilization, an involuntary recall would begin only if there aren’t enough active-duty members, selected reserve and guard members and volunteers returning to active duty. The order of recall is as follows:

  1. Retirees and inactive reservists under 60 who have been off active duty for less than five years
  2. Retirees and inactive reservists under 60 who have been off active duty for five years or more
  3. Retirees and inactive reservists, including those retired for disability, who are over 60 years old

Again, the needs of the service are tantamount, and some military specialties may have different rules than others. A medical officer who has been out of the military for 15 years may be recalled before an aircraft mechanic who separated last month.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

PA National Guard support COVID-19 test site in Montgomery County.

DoD

10 U.S. Code § 12302 also says that recall consideration will be given to:

  1. the length and nature of previous service, to assure such sharing of exposure to hazards as the national security and military requirements will reasonably allow;
  2. family responsibilities; and
  3. employment necessary to maintain the national health, safety, or interest.

That means if you are a health care professional and can do society more good as a civilian, you may be exempted from recall. Also, if you have serious family responsibilities you may be exempted.

The law may also exempt veterans with some disabilities or medical conditions from any involuntary recall. Those with less than honorable discharges and certain separation codes may also be exempted from involuntary recall.

What Happens If You Are Recalled?

You will most likely get a certified letter from the military directing you to an intake center. If you don’t answer the letter, they will send another one to your home of record. If you still don’t respond, you will be identified as a deserter and possibly face legal action.

If you are recalled, you have the same responsibilities as any active-duty member: no drug use, adherence to grooming and physical readiness standards, support of the needs of the military and obedience to the chain of command.

Even if you meet those obligations, you won’t be eligible for any promotions as a recalled member. Instead, you will be paid at your current rank or the rank at which you separated. Your retirement pay and any VA disability benefits will also stop for the duration of your revitalized active duty service.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Ejection seat manufacturer kicks blame for B-1 problems

The U.S. Air Force is still investigating what went wrong after a B-1B Lancer experienced an engine fire followed by an ejection mishap in early 2018, forcing it to request an emergency landing.

But UTC Aerospace Systems, manufacturer of the bomber’s ACES II ejection seat, wants to be clear: The seat itself is not the problem.

Whether you’re talking about a fighter jet or a bomber, the ejection seat is a complicated system that propels a pilot out of the aircraft in an emergency, John Fyfe, director of Air Force programs for UTC, said in a recent interview with Military.com. “There’s an electronic sequencing system, especially if you have multiple seats,” as in the B-1 bomber.


After coordinating with the Air Force, UTC believes “there’s an issue with the sequencing system,” he said.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told reporters in July 2018, “What we’ve learned from the investigation is there are actually two pathways to fire the seat, and there was one particular part that had gotten crimped, so that — when he pulled the handles — the signal to the ejection seat didn’t flow.”

But Fyfe said the issue has been oversimplified in media reports. It’s been implied “that the ejection seat didn’t fire, when in fact the ejection seat was never given the command to fire,” he said.

While UTC also makes entire ejection systems, on “this particular B-1, [the sequence system] was not ours,” he said, adding that there are multiple vendors for the sequencing systems.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

B-1B Lancers sit on the flightline at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

There’s also a hatch removal system, which blows each hatch above the four seats in the bomber, Fyfe said. “That sequences the order that the seats go out of the cockpit and has an inherent delay so that whatever’s above you, whether it’s a canopy … or hatches … those blow and there’s an opening. And then the seats fire.”

The service in June 2018 grounded its B-1B bomber fleet over safety concerns related to the ejection seat problem. The stand-down was a direct result of the emergency landing the Lancer made May 1, 2018, at Midland Airport in Texas. It was reported at the time that the B-1B, from Dyess Air Force Base, was not carrying weapons when it requested to land because of an engine fire.

Photos from The Associated Press and Midland Reporter-Telegram also showed that the bomber, tail number 86-0109, was missing a ceiling hatch, leading to speculation an in-flight ejection was attempted.

Weeks later, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson confirmed that a rear ejection seat didn’t blow.

The back ceiling hatch, which hovers over either the offensive or defensive weapons systems officer (WSO) depending on mission set, was open, although all four crew members were shown sitting on the Midland flight line in photos after landing the aircraft.

Air Force leaders have said the issue has not affected overseas operations and that maintenance crews have prioritized fixes on the faulty systems for bombers carrying out missions across the globe.

“I got an update here recently on the delivery schedule for the last lot to make sure those seats are healthy,” Gen. Timothy Ray, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, told reporters at the annual Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber conference outside Washington, D.C., in September 2018.

“What you’ll do is you’ll use the good airplanes a lot more,” he said then. “And we give the commanders some latitude as to what they will fly and what they will and won’t fly in terms of risk. But in the end, we’re not going to put anyone in a position where they’re not safe.”

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

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One of America’s top enemies in the Iraq War just won big in Iraqi elections

For five years, Muqtada al-Sadr’s personal insurgent army fought American troops during the Iraq War and commited heinous crimes against Iraq Sunni minorities. Now, a decade later, the Shia cleric’s Sairoon Alliance is leading Iraq’s parliamentary elections. His populist candidacy upset the U.S. favorite, incumbent Haider al-Abadi, and al-Sadr is set to be the kingmaker in Iraq.


In the years following his two uprisings against American forces, the “radical cleric” (as he was often called in Western media) continued his fight against the Baghdad government and against Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq. He eventually withdrew from public life until 2012, when he made a comeback, rebranding himself as a leader intent on bringing Sunnis and Shia together.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation
For most of the Iraq War, however, he was intent on blowing Sunnis apart.

With the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq, al-Sadr also rebranded his Mahdi Army, forming the “Peace Companies,” intended to protect Shia believers from the strict form of Sunni Islam and personal violence inflicted upon Iraqis by ISIS. He continued his rebranding to become an anti-poverty, anti-corruption populist who rejects the outside influence of both Iran and the United States.

Al-Sadr’s stated purpose for Sairoon was clearing corruption, rejecting the sectarian quotas, and putting skilled thought leaders (aka technocrats) in key ministerial positions.

“The ascendancy of the list sponsored by al-Sadr shows that anti-establishment sentiment and anti-corruption have driven the choice of most voters,” said Rend al-Rahim, a former Iraqi ambassador to the United States. “None of the lists had an electoral program that outlined priorities and a plan of action. All used vague terms to lure voters. Many of the lists also used populist and demagogic tactics that played on the emotions of voters.”

Some American veterans of the 2003-2011 Iraq War are not happy with his 53-seat win.

Understandably, no one who fought the Mahdi Army or lost a friend in Sadr City wants him to wield legitimate political power in Iraq. But Al-Sadr didn’t launch a revolt in Iraq. He didn’t put a gun to Haider al-Abadi’s head to force him to step down. The cleric’s bloc was elected in a legitimate Iraqi election by the people of Iraq, none of whom were punished for not voting for Sairoon. The democracy we fought to establish in Iraq is functioning.

Sometimes the candidate you want to win doesn’t win, no matter who they might be running against.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation
Ask Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Al Gore, Bob Dole, Etc.

The peaceful transfer of power is another hallmark of democracy, and we should credit Prime Minister al-Abadi when he implored the people of Iraq to accept this change.

“I call on Iraqis to respect the results of the elections,” he said.

Iraq has bigger things to worry about than the United States’ opinion on their domestic politics. This was the first election held since ISIS was pushed out of Iraq — after decimating Iraqi infrastructure. The country also faces rampant unemployment, one of the main triggers of domestic terrorism in the region.

American veterans of the Iraq War should see this as a major victory. In the first post-Saddam election of 2005, with the start of the Mahdi Army’s rise to power, did we ever believe we would see the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr with purple ink on his finger?

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation
And yet, here we are.

The biggest issue for the anti-Iran cleric will be integrating Iraq’s militia’s into its official armed forces and security structure — especially since most of those are backed by Iran. Iran has publicly stated it will not allow al-Sadr’s coalition to lead the government. Al-Sadr has made moves to align himself with the king of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional adversary, to push back against the Islamic Republic.

Al-Sadr’s fight for power is far from over. Despite having ties to Iran, the Islamic Republic is no fan of the cleric, who has resisted Iranian influence in Iraq since the days of the Iraq War. And al-Sadr will no longer be able to criticize the government from the sidelines. Instead, it will be on him and his Sairoon bloc to guide Iraq to the future he promised to desperate Iraqi voters.

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6 reasons why veterans would gear up and head back to war

As veterans, we’ve all thought about signing back up at one time or another. But what would it take to truly get us back in uniform, to don all that heavy gear and take the fight to the enemy as we’ve always done?


Though we all have to take into consideration all the formations, bull-sh*t we receive from the chain of command — and let’s not forget all those wonderful uniform inspections. Everyone loves those.

With all the crap that comes with serving, many veterans still miss some aspects of military life.

Let’s gear up and go to war! (Images via Giphy)

Check out our reasons why we would gear back up to take on the bad guys.

1. If another major terrorist attack happens

The Sept. 11 attacks stirred up patriotism in millions of Americans, and some joined the military during that period just to get a little revenge.

I represent ‘Merica! (Image via Giphy)

2. For a huge bonus check

Everyone wants to line their pockets with extra beer money.

And a case of beer! (Image via Giphy)

3. If your military family went as well

The military brother and sisterhood have a very tight bond, you f*ck with one brother or sister — you f*ck with whole while family.

You said it girl. (Image via Giphy)

4. If you just couldn’t find a good enough job that suits you

Because office work just didn’t satisfy that inner combat operator in you.

These guys were all former snipers. True story. (Image via Giphy)

5. To feel that combat adrenaline rush again

Shooting and blowing up the bad guys makes an operator feel great about themselves. It’s a morale booster.

He nailed every shot too. He’s that good. (Image via Giphy)

6. To get some adventure

Post-military life is hard to adjust too. Sometimes you just want to leave the homeland and get back into the sh*t.

Can we go with you? (Images via Giphy)To all of our military family already forward deployed — we salute you.

Can you think of any more reasons to throw those cammies back on? Comment below.

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6 stupid simple steps to achieving stronger pull-ups

For Marines, doing twenty solid pull-ups is literally good for your career. Each time your chin crosses the bar’s threshold is five more points added to your physical fitness test score. That’s huge for any jarhead looking to get promoted. Plus, they’re just a great measure of how strong you are.

Pull-ups are a great equalizer. Yeah, you may be able to lift a ton, but if you aren’t lean, all that extra weight can hold you down while trying to pull yourself up. And if you think you’ve got it made because you’re skinny, you’ll quickly remember how important it is to be strong as your body flails around below the bar like a worm on a hook.


It takes discipline to master this exercise classic. So, to help elevate you young Devil Dogs, here are a few simple steps that’ll make you more capable on the bar during a PFT — and throughout life in general.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

Photo by Stew Smith

1. Stretch

Sounds like common sense, but very few people actually stretch on a regular basis. And if they do, chances are they’re not doing it very well. Understand that stretching leads to increased muscle control, enhanced range of motion, and improves circulation by upping blood flow to the muscles.

This is everything a body needs to perform and recover from exercise. It’ll make you feel better, both now and later.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

There’s no disgrace in a red face — but try to breathe a little.

2. Take it slow

How many times have you seen a Marine who said they can do sixteen pull-ups — but when they get on the bar, it’s a fury of swinging and kipping that ends in a red-faced warrior collapsing to the ground without having done a single real pull-up? One day, they’ll find themselves being monitored by Sgt. Strict and not have even one of those reps counted, leaving them with a less-than-mediocre score. Don’t be that leatherneck.

Instead, practice doing very slow, very strict pull-ups. Count out loud or have a buddy count for you: One full second to pull your chin up and over the bar and three full seconds to lower yourself down to a completely locked-out, dead hang. Breathe and take it slow. Doing this will likely cut your repetitions by half, but don’t be discourage. Stay strict and your strength will increase exponentially.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

3. Now kip, baby, kip!

You’ve been humbled by your new number, now it’s time to spread your wings and fly!

When done properly, kipping pull-ups can help you break through performance plateaus, increase overall strength, incorporate back muscles that may otherwise go unused, and increase confidence by inflating your rep count.

The Kipping Pull-Up

www.youtube.com

Just be sure to wear gloves and do them properly, hands have been known to get torn up doing this exercise. Try alternating, week over week, between doing strict pull-ups and kipping to increase your overall performance.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

Is this really necessary?

4. Add weight

When you start feeling comfortable with pull-ups, try adding weight. Start with an empty vest and add on gradually. Doing strict, traditional pull-ups with extra weight will make you feel as light as a feather come kip week and increase your number dramatically.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

5. Get some rack time

Sleep is an essential part of the recovery process. All that work you’re putting in will be for nothing if you don’t allow your body the opportunity to rest and repair from the internal, micro trauma taking place in your muscles. If you want to do twenty, then sleep eight — it’s that simple.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

photo by Cpl. Kirstin Merrimarahajara

6. Actually do them

Get a calendar. Make a plan. Do it.

No matter how well-crafted your routine may be, if it isn’t a part of your daily routine, then nothing will change. Being fit and strong is a lifelong endeavor that requires every bit of discipline and fortitude as anything else worth attaining. There may be better techniques and smarter methods, but there is no substitute for hard work. If you want to be able to do pull-ups, you must do pull-ups consistently and correctly over a long period of time without interruption.

Get motivated and go be great.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

The candy man who revolutionized tank design

The most-produced tank in World War II was fast, powerful, and well protected by sloped armor, and it was made by a candy maker who got tired of confections and decided to make a revolutionary tank instead.

Willy Wonka, eat your heart out.


6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

The Christie tank designs were ultimately a failure in the U.S., but elements of the company’s designs would become part of dozens of tank designs across Western and Russian militaries.

(Harris Ewing)

Mikhail Koshkin was working in a candy factory until he decided that he wanted to study engineering. Thanks to a series of Josef Stalin’s purges, Koshkin quickly found himself at the top of a program to improve the BT tank. The BT tank series was based on the U.S. Christie design and patents that were sold overseas after the Army turned the Christie down.

Stalin, wanting to see whether his armored forces were worth the price tag, wanted to test the new tanks in combat and got his chance in the Spanish Civil War. The BT tanks proved themselves useful but far, far from perfect. Despite thick armor, anti-tank infantry still often held an advantage against them, and the vehicle engines would burst into flame from light hits or, sometimes, simply from the strain of propelling the tank.

The BT tanks were sent back to Russia by rail for analysis and Koshkin and his team quickly found the flaws in design. The improvements program quickly became a replacement program, and Koshkin started working on a new design in 1934 which he would name for that year, the T-34.

It incorporated a number of design changes being flirted with around the world. It wasn’t the first tank with sloped armor or the first with a diesel engine or the first with a large cannon in a rotating turret, but it was a solid design that incorporated all of these evolutions in design. At the same time that he was working on the T-34, Koshkin had to work on a new BT tank design: the A20.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

Mikhail Koshkin worked in a candy factory but then decided to become an engineer before World War II. His inspired T-34 tank design would become the most-produced tank of World War II.

(Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau)

The A20 would later become the BT-20. It, too, sported a number of improvements, including sloped armor and an improved engine, but it still had relatively little armor for the crew or engine — as little as 20mm in some places.

Both designs, the T-34 and the BT-20, reached Soviet leaders in 1939. There, the officers sidelined the T-34 in favor of the BT-20, partially because the proposed T-34 design would’ve required much more steel for manufacture and much more fuel to run. A prototype BT-20 was created.

But instead of accepting the defeat of his design, Koshkin wrote a letter to Stalin and continued making tweaks before creating a full prototype. Stalin requested to see the tank, and Koshkin drove it 800 miles to Moscow to show it off. The tank proved itself fast, effective, and well-protected, and so Stalin sent it into production instead of the BT-20.

Koshkin died of pneumonia soon after, but his tank design would go on to become the most-produced tank of World War II. Russia took part in the invasion of Poland, but later found itself attacked by Nazi Germany in June, 1941.

As history shows, the Soviet Union soon found itself in a fight for its very survival during World War II. Tanks and other weapons would be imported from America, but the best homegrown option the Soviet Union had was still, easily, the T-34.

The final design pressed into production featured a 76mm gun capable of taking out anything Germany had to offer, its thick and sloped armor could survive hits from most German tanks at the time, and it was easy to maintain in the field, meaning the T-34s were nearly all available for the fight.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

A T-34 tank during battle re-enactments.

(Cezary Piwowarski CC BY-SA 4.0)

When a clash first came between German tanks and the T-34, the Soviet crew surprised the Germans by piercing the German tank in a single shot. German tank crews had convinced themselves that they were nearly invincible until they faced the T-34.

But the Germans had prepared well for the invasion, and they charged east, deep into Russia, overrunning the original T-34 factory and nearly breaching Moscow’s defenses before they were stopped at the final defensive line as the true Russian winter set in.

The relocated T-34 production lines were able to crank out hundreds of copies before the spring thaw, and those tanks were key parts of battles for the coming years. But German tank designs were evolving as well, and the arms race necessitated upgrades to the T-34.

Over 35,000 T-34s were built during the war, with later models featuring upgraded 85mm guns as space for an additional crew member, allowing the tank commander to give up their gunner duties to keep a better eye on what was happening around the vehicle.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

A German soldier inspects a Russian T-34 knocked out during combat. T-34s were super powerful upon their debut, but German bombers and artillery were always a threat to them, and later German tank designs like the Tiger could shred the T-34.

(Bundesarchiv Bild)

The Soviet Union was, eventually, successful in driving the Germans out of Russia and back into Berlin. This success was partially due to America sending so much equipment east as part of lend-lease, partially thanks to the U.S., Britain, and Canada opening a new front with the D-Day invasions, and partially thanks to a candy man who decided to make a world-class weapon of war instead of sweets.

Admit it: You’d watch a Willy Wonka sequel like that.

(Some of the information in this article came from the second episode of Age of Tanks on Netflix. If you have a subscription, you can watch the episode here.)

MIGHTY TRENDING

Surprising aircraft vying to be Army’s new bird

There’s a new company vying to build the Army’s new family of helicopters, and the gyrocopter design is at least as radical as the compound helicopters being offered by Sikorsky or the tilt-rotors that Bell is building.


Heliplane

vimeo.com

The company, Skyworks Global, has a history of producing gyrocopters. These look a bit like helicopters, but they’re much less complex, are often more efficient, and cost a lot less. But they have a big weakness against helicopters: they can’t traditionally take off or land vertically.

Skyworks made some progress in a 2005 DARPA program, but the program had its funding cut. Now, Skyworks has partnered with Scaled Composites, a company that rapidly develops aircraft prototypes, to make a functional version to compete in military programs.

Thanks to the lack of a rotor mast, transmission, and some other complex parts, Skyworks thinks it can make an aircraft much cheaper while still exceeding Army requirements for range and other capabilities. In fact, the firm told Flight Global that it could build a gyro for four passengers for a mere million.

That would leave a lot of upgrade money for the company to strap on sensors, a more powerful engine, and other upgrades and still stay way below the Army’s planned million per aircraft to replace the Black Hawk by 2030.

The aircraft is known as a VertiJet, and while it looks like a traditional helicopter, the physics are quite different. Basically, a traditional helicopter has a powerful engine that powers the main rotor—the spinning, horizontal blades mounted on top of the aircraft—as well as an anti-torque rotor that keeps the rest of the aircraft from spinning. The main blades produce lift and allow the helicopter to fly.

On a gyrocopter, the big blades on top of the aircraft don’t receive any engine power. Instead, power is delivered to a rotor at the front or rear of the aircraft. That sends the aircraft forward and feeds air over the blades. That air spins the blades, and that generates the lift that sends the aircraft skyward.

This has some serious advantages for the military. First, air generally flows up through a gyrocopter’s rotors instead of down, eliminating brownouts and improving pilot visibility near the ground. But there’s a severe downside, the gyrocopter has to get good forward speed before it can take off, and it can’t hover.

Skyworks turned to a 1950s experiment to fix the vertical takeoff problem. Their design feeds air up through the rotor and out of the blade tips during takeoff, causing the blades to spin like a traditional helicopter’s would during takeoff or hover. Since this is achieved with compressed air instead of engine power, they don’t need to add a transmission or masthead.

Even with Scaled Composites’ skill at rapidly developing prototypes, it’ll be pretty late to the game for the Future Armed Reconnaissance program to produce a new armed scout. But other Army programs could be a good fit, and the Marine Corps is looking for helicopters or helicopter-like aircraft that can keep up with the V-22 Osprey. Skyworks has not said what programs it will compete for with the new push.

For decades in the early 20th century, the military only flew balloons and piston-powered planes. In World War II, the first helicopters joined the war effort. Over 45 years later, the V-22 became the first tilt-rotor aircraft to enter military production. Now, there are two new aircraft designs in consideration, the compound helicopter and the gyrocopter.

The skylines over military bases are about to get a lot more interesting.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy veteran reportedly arrested for ricin poisoning

The suspect behind several suspicious letters that were sent to the White House and the Pentagon in early October 2018 has reportedly been taken into custody.

Authorities took the suspect, previously identified as a former Navy sailor, into custody Oct. 3, 2018, CNN first reported, adding that a crew has started clearing the suspect’s residence.



The envelopes, which were intercepted by the Secret Service and the Pentagon’s mail room staff, reportedly tested positive for ricin, a potentially deadly substance, especially in a pure, powdered form. The letters sent to the Department of Defense were addressed to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson. The letter sent to the White House was addressed to President Donald Trump.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

The White House.

(Photo by Daniel Schwen)

The suspect was identified by a return address on one of the letters sent to the Pentagon, Fox News reported on Oct. 3, 2018.

While the FBI has been spearheading the investigation, the Pentagon has been providing regular updates to reporters.

On Oct. 1, 2018, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency detected a suspicious substance during mail screening at the Pentagon’s remote screening facility,” DoD spokesman Col. Rob Manning told Business Insider in an emailed statement, further explaining that “all USPS mail received at the Pentagon mail screening facility yesterday is currently under quarantine and poses no threat to Pentagon personnel.”

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White provided additional information on Oct. 3, 2018, revealing that at least one of the letters sent to the DoD contained castor seeds, from which ricin is derived.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Here’s the bizarre story of the man who ‘sold the moon’

Back in the halcyon days of the 1980s, when all people of the world had to worry about was total annihilation via widespread nuclear war, an American called Dennis Hope made international news when he revealed that after exploiting a loophole in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, he had become the sole owner of our nearest celestial neighbour, the Moon. Since then, Hope has made a small fortune selling off pieces of the satellite’s surface. While the media has mostly painted Hope as a harmless eccentric, if you study his story a little more closely, as we’re wont to do, you’ll see that Hope is actually a masterful entrepreneur and almost every aspect of his story is a carefully crafted falsehood or half truth that nonetheless has seen the man himself seemingly earn millions selling nothing more than pieces of paper.


So how did he pull this off? The story goes that, in 1980, Mr Hope was a down on his luck unemployed shoe salesmen, reeling from a divorce and looking for a way to make ends meet. After learning that there was a great deal of money to be made buying and selling property, he states, “I looked out the window, saw the moon and thought, ‘Hey, there’s a load of property!'”

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

The Moon as seen by an observer from Earth.

Hope ran to his local library (for those unfamiliar, a sort of place where they used to store the partial contents of the future internet on the bodies of deceased trees) to research who, if anyone, owned the Earth’s satellite. In that house of plant death, he discovered that, according to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty signed by all space faring nations at the time as well as over 100 others, no country can claim sovereignty over any such celestial body.

Hope’s interpretation of this was that, while the Treaty forbade countries and governments from staking a claim to the Moon, it said nothing about an individual doing so. Towards this end, he filed a claim for ownership of the moon with, to quote him, “his local US Governmental Office for claim registries”. Supposedly after some pushing and prodding, a supervisor at the office signed off on his claim which made him the sole owner of the moon.

As a courtesy, Hope then wrote a letter to the UN and the Russian Government telling them about the claim he was granted by the U.S. government and asking if they wished to challenge it. When they never responded, he began selling off plots of lunar real estate for about an acre (he now charges .99), or slightly more if you also wished to purchase the mineral rights for your particular lunar plot.

Since then, Hope has claimed to have sold “611 million acres of land on the moon, 325 million acres on Mars and a combined 125 million acres on Venus, Io (one of Jupiter’s moons) and Mercury” to approximately 6 million property owners including, according to him, celebrities like Tom Hanks, George Lucas and even former Presidents Carter, Bush Jr and Reagan. He also claims the Hilton and Marriott hotel chains have bought extensive properties from him, along with, to quote him, “1,800 major corporations”.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation

George Lucas.

Beyond selling property on the various celestial bodies, he also claims to be the defacto ruler of the “Galactic Government”, which he also states currently has “diplomacy with 30 governments on this planet.” We can only assume by “diplomacy”, he at some point sent an email off that some clerk actually replied to.

Whatever the case, as for the United States, Hope states on his Lunar Embassy website that “We at the Lunar Embassy are pleased that our work since November of 1980, is finally starting to be recognized by the United States of America government as being valid. This is a huge step in the official recognition by the USA…”

As to what this “huge step in the official recognition” of his claim of ownership of the Moon and other such celestial objects was, beyond we’re sure the IRS happy to collect taxes from him, the preceding paragraph on the website indicates that this acknowledgement came in the form of Hope being, to quote, “named co-chairman of the Republican Congressional Business Advisory Council. He has also been given the National Republican Leadership Award and most recently he has been issued the highest honor the National Republican Congressional Committee has, the prestigious Republican Gold Medal.”

We’ll leave it to you to decide how this is “a huge step in the official recognition by the USA” of anything more than Hope’s business acumen.

Moving swiftly on, his Galactic Government is technically the richest in this solar system, as he states, “We have a currency for our government. We’re the only government that has any backing for its currency whatsoever, which are the helium-3 reserves on the surface of the moon. We have quadrillion worth of helium reserves in our treasury right now.”

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation
Giphy

This all brings us around to how much, if any, of Hope’s story is actually true and whether or not he has any genuine legal claim to the Moon.

To begin with, it’s often reported as fact that Hope discovered a loophole in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty that allowed him as an individual to claim ownership over the Moon. However, if you actually read the treaty (it’s kind of what we do here), you’ll find that it very clearly states in Article VI:

The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty

As Hope has never received authorization by any State Party to the Treaty for any activities on the Moon, including ownership, it’s generally agreed by space lawyers that Hope is full of “space-dung” and that the “deeds” he sells are nothing more than a novelty item.

(And if you think we’re making up the whole “space lawyers” bit, this is actually yet another thing your high school guidance councilor failed to mention to you, despite that the International Institute of Space Law was formed all the way back in 1960 and currently has members in nearly 50 countries.)

Going back to Hope, at this point you might be thinking, “But didn’t Hope get just such an authorization by a ‘State Party’ when the ‘US Governmental Office for claim registries’ approved his claim?” Well, a further point of contention on his origin story is that there is no such government office of the United States federal government he could have gone to that deals with registering individual claims to property like this; and further no local state office has the power to officially grant someone the rights to land outside of their jurisdiction either, which the Moon and various planets definitely are.

This hasn’t stopped Hope claiming that a representative of such an office accepted his claim for some reason. Unfortunately, the official documentation of the processing of his claim was supposedly misplaced and for whatever reason, he can’t seem to get an official copy of it from any government office. Instead, he can only provide a copy he made of it. This is a copy, mind you, that is filled with numerous spelling and grammatical errors and that apparently refers to Hope as “THE HEAD CHEESE”…

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation
Giphy

In any event, it should also be noted that the Lunar Deeds Hope sells contain a disclaimer clearly and prominently identifying it as a “novelty” gift.

Nonetheless, Hope himself vehemently insists that the deeds are real. Explaining on his website that the term “novelty” is only used to discourage frivolous lawsuits. He also hilariously points out that “Well, if you look under the true definition of ‘novelty’ as being ‘something that is unique, having the quality of being novel, a small mass-produced item’, we fit exactly that.”

He doubles down on the authenticity here by noting the inclusion of “novelty”

Does not diminish the value of the property that you purchase in any way, as every deed is recorded and registered in the Lunar Embassy’s registration database and every owners information is listed with that registration. You own this property.

He further states that, “17 percent of people buy the product as a novelty item. But we also know that 42 percent of people register the property in the name of a trust they’ve set up, meaning they take it more seriously. And, of course, we also know that the major corporations who own land have a specific intent for it.”

We’ll spare you more such claims, but suffice it to say, if you look over his company’s website, they are pretty adamant that what they are selling is actually rights to property on the moon, and helpfully even have a whole section of one of their web pages dedicated to helping people spot fraud… because if one thing is clear above all others — Hope definitely has a great, dead-pan sense of humor.

All that aside, despite Hope’s aforementioned claims that only 17% of buyers think it’s a novelty item, we feel pretty confident that most people buying these “deeds” know full well it’s all just a fun gag gift, which brings us to the big question — has Hope actually achieved the “American dream”, earning “a million dollars” off his little business venture?

Well, as noted, Hope claims he’s sold “611 million acres of land on the moon, 325 million acres on Mars and a combined 125 million acres on Venus, Io (one of Jupiter’s moons) and Mercury.” Given the prices he’s selling such at ( and up per acre) and that the total here is over a billion acres sold, this means Hope is officially one of the richest people in the world, even if we assume he offers steep discounts for bulk buys, which for what it’s worth, on his website he currently does not seem to offer.

Speaking of his obscene wealth, Hope claims that in 2011 an organization approached him and offered to buy the entire north pole of the Moon for a whopping million, but he turned their offer down. His reason? “We want to make sure people have what is needed for living at an inexpensive price.”

We’re going to be honest here, we’re not entirely sure what he was trying to say there…

Whatever the case, Hope notes that his current net worth is well over 0 trillion dollars in land alone, owing to his ownership of over 7 trillion acres of extraterrestrial properties.

6 CONUS installations that feel like a vacation
Giphy

Beyond the land, Hope, of course claims to own exclusive mineral rights to, by his estimate, quadrillion dollars of Helium 3 on the Moon alone. This isn’t mentioning the countless deposits of minerals and resources on the other celestial bodies he claims to own, such as the rich methane deposits hidden deep inside Uranus…

(Full disclosure here, the co-author of this article chose this topic solely so he could make that Uranus joke he had thought up… more on the whole methane/Uranus thing in the Bonus Facts later…)

But going back to Hope, we’re just saying, the IRS might want to look into his taxes to make sure he’s properly paying on everything, as we’re pretty sure we’ve just figured out how to solve the United States’ national debt problem.

All joking aside, how much has Hope actually made from all this?

Well, really, only the IRS and Hope knows.

But given the fact that Hope seemingly has had no other job since 1995, we’re guessing he’s at least done reasonably well, and certainly given it would take only about ,000 a year average to crest the id=”listicle-2639263711″ million mark in the near four decades he’s been doing this, he has easily eclipsed the classic American Dream trope of making “a million dollars” off little more than an idea and a bit of elbow grease — or, in his case, some high quality paper, printer ink, and sufficient postage.

Bonus Facts:

  • Hope was not the first to claim to own the Moon, nor the last. There is one man, however, who has the strongest claim of all — computer game designer Richard Allen Garriott de Cayeux. Why? He is the only individual to legally own something that is currently on the Moon. In 1993, he purchased the Lunokhod 2 and the Luna 21 lander for ,500 at an auction. As he notes, “I purchased Lunakod… from the Russians. I am now the world’s only private owner of an object on a foreign celestial body. Though there are international treaties that say, no government shall lay claim to geography off planet earth, I am not a government. Summarily, I claim the moon in the name of Lord British!” Funny enough, beyond also being the son of an astronaut, he’s also the only person who claims to own the Moon to have actually been to space. He did so via paying million to visit the International Space Station in October of 2008, spending 12 days there. As another fun fact about Garriott, he is generally credited as being the one to coin the term “Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game” (MMORPG).
  • Going back to the Methane in Uranus, it turns out that, contrary to popular belief, methane in any measurable amount in most people’s flatus is not terribly common, with only about 1/3 of humans having measurably significant amounts in their farts. Even then, in one small study (looking at only ten people’s farts and experimenting around a bit with their diets during the study), it was found that those that did have measurable amounts of methane only produced it when fed significant amounts of fiber. (The fiber free version of their farts was almost wholly made up of nitrogen for all ten subjects.) With the fiber version, the average fart only contained about 3.6% methane. The bulk of these individuals’ flatus was made up of hydrogen (51%) and nitrogen (30%).Why only some people produce methane in their flatus isn’t entirely clear, though at least in part has to do with what microbes call one’s intestines home. So far, only three microbes have been identified as methane producers (methanogens) in humans: Methaniobrevibacter smithii, Methanospaera stadmagnae and Methannobrevibacter oralis.Scientists have identified a few factors in predicting if a person is a methane producer, and one of the most important of these appears to be where you live (although it’s not clear if genetics plays a role as well in some way). For example, while 77% of Nigerians and 87% of South Africans produce methane, only 34% of Norwegians and 35% of those who live in and around Minneapolis do so. In addition, adult women are more likely to produce measurable amounts of methane in their farts, and young children are less so. Finally, if both your parents produce methane, then there is a greater likelihood that you will, too, with one study indicating as high as a 95% chance that the spawn of two methane producers will also produce methane in their farts.More than just inconvenient, recent studies have shown a correlation between methane production and several gastrointestinal diseases including diverticulosis, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowls syndrome, constipation and colon cancer. Although there’s no definitive answer why to date.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

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MIGHTY TRENDING

Maryland called in National Guard troops to defend coronavirus tests from South Korea against seizure

Maryland has National Guard troops and state police guarding coronavirus tests at a secret location because of concerns that they might be seized, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told The Washington Post Thursday.

In response to testing shortages, Maryland recently purchased half a million tests from LabGenomics, a South Korean company, for $9 million.


The Washington Post previously reported that Hogan was worried the federal government might seize the shipment, but it was unclear at that time which steps were taken to protect the tests. On Thursday, he acknowledged there was some concern.

“We spent about 22 days and nights dealing with this whole transaction with Korea. We dealt with the Korean embassy, folks at the State Department, and our scientists on both sides trying to figure out these tests,” Hogan said. “And then at the last moment, I think 24 hours before, we got the sign-off from the FDA and Border and Customs to try to make sure that we landed this plane safely.”

The Maryland governor said when the Korean Air jet carrying the 500,000 tests flew into Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, it was met by National Guard troops and state police.

Hogan said it landed there “with a large contingent of Maryland National Guard and Maryland state police because this was an enormously valuable payload. It was like Fort Knox to us because it’s going to save the lives of thousands of our citizens.”

Maryland @GovLarryHogan on whether he was concerned that the federal government would seize the tests the state procured from South Korea. He says the tests are being guarded by the National Guard at an undisclosed location. https://youtu.be/PjkMyHbyhro pic.twitter.com/15BhHmLzql

twitter.com

Hogan, who is a Republican, said he had heard reports from other states of the federal government confiscating supplies. He specifically pointed to an incident in Massachusetts.

After 3 million masks purchased for the state were confiscated in New York, state leaders in Massachusetts turned to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft to help bring in coveted N95 masks from China on a private plane.

“There were a couple of other states that had similar stories,” Hogan said.

He said the tests were “so important to us that we wanted to make sure that plane took off from Korea safely, landed here in America safely, and that we guarded that cargo from whoever might interfere with us getting that to our folks that needed it.”

The governor added that the test protection was ongoing, saying that “the National Guard and state police are both guarding these tests at an undisclosed location.”

Maryland’s decision to purchase coronavirus tests from South Korea drew criticism from President Donald Trump, who said the governor could have made use of available labs to help boost testing capacity. “I don’t think he needed to go to South Korea. I think he needed to get a little knowledge, would have been helpful,” the president said at a recent briefing.

Hogan later responded on MSNBC, saying that if there had been “an easier way” to get the necessary tests, “we certainly would have taken it.”

Maryland has more than 20,000 coronavirus cases, and the state has reported over 1,000 related deaths.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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