The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman - We Are The Mighty
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The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

One of the first women to lead a military op might not meet your stereotype. Instead, envision the Civil War, and a woman who has been working as a spy for the Union Army. She has been gathering valuable information to help the Union turn the tide in the war. She has come to be relied on by generals for the information that she supplies. And with that, she is given the opportunity to lead a military operation called the Combahee Ferry Raid.

Do you have the woman pictured in your mind?


Her name is Harriet Tubman and you might have learned her story as one of the leaders of the Underground Railroad. Even referred to as the “Moses of her people,” but being a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad is just part of her story.

Harriet was born into slavery between 1820 and 1825. In 1844, even though it wasn’t allowed, she married a free, Black man named John Tubman. She was ready to escape slavery in 1849, but her husband did not want to leave Maryland. She left anyway and eventually he remarried in 1851. It was after she was freed from slavery that she began to go back countless times to help other slaves find their way to freedom on the Underground Railroad. She is remembered in history for never being caught or losing a passenger on the road to freedom.

But this is only the beginning of her story.

Because of her extensive knowledge of the South due to the Underground Railroad, Tubman became a key informant for the North (Union Army). She knew the towns and transportation routes of the South and long before GPS or reliable maps, this made her insight an invaluable tool. Not only would she dress up as an aging woman and wander Confederate streets and talk to enslaved people and gather information such as troop movement/placement and supply lines, but her work made her a respected guerrilla operative. So much so that in 1963 she began to plan a military operation under the command of Colonel James Montgomery.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman photo, 1895. (National Portrait Gallery)

The Union officers knew that the people of the South didn’t trust them, but did trust Harriet. Her demeanor and way with people were just part of the asset she provided to the military. Although she was illiterate, she was able to capture intelligence with her memory. To make the Combahee Ferry Raid a success, they traveled upriver in three boats: the John Adams, Sentinel and Harriet A Weed. They relied on Harriet’s memory where the slaves were at strategic points to collect the fleeing slaves while also using those points as places; they could destroy Confederate property. She also helped them navigate around known torpedoes.

At approximately 2:30 AM on June 2, they were down to two ships as the Sentinel had run aground early on in the mission. The two remaining ships split up to conduct different raids. Harriet Tubman led 150 men on the John Adams toward the fugitives. Once the signal was given, there was chaos. Slaves running everywhere. Angry slave owners and rebels tried to chase down the slaves, even firing their guns on them. As the escaped slaves ran to the shore, black troops waited in rowboats to transfer them to the ships. In the chaos, Tubman broke out into popular songs from the abolitionist movement to help calm everyone down. That night, more than 700 slaves escaped. The troops also disembarked near Field’s Point, torching plantations, fields, mills, warehouses, and mansions. Overall, it was a huge success and caused a humiliating defeat for the Confederacy.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman
Portrait of Harriet Tubman. (Library of Congress)

The first story written by a Wisconsin State Journal noted Harriet as the “She Moses,” but didn’t actually include her name. A month later Franklin Sanborn, the editor of Boston’s Commonwealth newspaper picked up the story and named Harriet Tubman, a friend of his, as the heroine.

Even with the mission’s success, Harriet was not paid for her contribution. She petitioned the government many times and was denied because she was a woman.

After the war, she dedicated her life to helping impoverished former slaves and the elderly. She also continued to petition for recognition from the military with a military pension. She also remarried a Black Union soldier, Nelson Davis. And eventually, Tubman received military compensation after his death. Although she often found herself in financial constraints, she was always giving her time and money.

If you would like to learn more about Harriet Tubman you can check out these resources and books:

Articles:

Books:

  • Bound for the Promise Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero by Katie Clifford Larson
  • Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton
  • Harriet Tubman: The Moses of Her People by Sarah Bradford
Articles

PACOM commander puts China on blast over ‘preposterous’ reaction to THAAD

Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of United States Pacific Command, called Chinese criticism of the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system “preposterous” during testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.


The blunt talk comes in the wake of reports that China has unleashed hackers against South Korean government and business interests after the South Korean decision to allow deployment of a THAAD battery. According to Defense News, a battery has six launchers, and a Missile Defense Agency fact sheet notes each launcher has eight missiles. So, this battery has 48 missiles ready for launch.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman
AiirSource Military | YouTube

While the United States has other missile-defense options to protect allies in the region like South Korea and Japan, THAAD is one of the more capable options according to ArmyRecognition.com, with a range of about 600 miles and the ability to hit targets almost 500,000 feet above ground level. The system is also highly mobile.

The MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile, which proved itself capable of intercepting ballistic missiles during Operation Desert Storm, is already operated in the region by the United States, Japan, and South Korea, according to ArmyRecognition.com. The Patriot has a range of 43.5 miles and is capable of also targeting aircraft in addition to ballistic missiles.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman
A Patriot Air and Missile Defense launcher fires an interceptor during a previous test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The latest configuration of the system, called PDB-8, has passed four flight tests and is now with the U.S. Army for a final evaluation. | Raytheon

Adm. Harris also declared support for a study into the feasibility of deploying Ground-Based Interceptors to Hawaii. This system currently is based in Alaska and California, with 30 interceptors split between Fort Greely and Vandenberg Air Force Base. The GBI has shown a success rate of almost 53 percent in tests, per the Missile Defense Agency.

A Hawaii basing option for the GBI would add another tier of defenses to that state, which along with Alaska are potentially in range of North Korean ICBMs like the Taepodong 2 and KN-08.

Articles

9 of the most memorable pop songs from war movies

Nothing makes a war movie pop like its soundtrack. Films that are scored by famous composers stay with us forever. Hans Zimmer did “Black Hawk Down,” “Saving Private Ryan,” was scored by John Williams, and of course, the most famous war film score ever, Maurice Jarre’s work for the WWI epic “Lawrence of Arabia.”


But not every war movie needs to be scored. There are a few movies where a well-placed pop song is an epic use of screen time. When a director uses a “needle drop,” it can push the scene into something unforgettable.

1. “What A Wonderful World” from “Good Morning Vietnam”

In a movie full of great music and memorable scenes, how do you even choose the most poignant? Barry Levinson’s 1987 film juxtaposes Louis Armstrong’s classic song with imagery of the men fighting the war, the civilians caught in the middle, and the corruption of the South Vietnamese regime.

2. “Danger Zone” from “Top Gun”

No opening sequence starts a movie better than the song that keeps Kenny Loggins in the money to this day. The Navy even used this movie as recruiting tool, with a full 90 percent of applicants reporting that they’d seen “Top Gun” the year it came out.

3. “The End” from “Apocalypse Now”

Did I say “Top Gun” has the best opening scene song? It has to compete with the first shots of “Apocalypse Now,” featuring the Doors’ “The End”.

4. “Tracks of My Tears” from “Platoon”

Charlie Sheen gives us a stark vision of his future, jamming with his friends to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ 1965 hit, smoking all manner of things while knocking back a few beers. This scene is just as iconic as the Sgt. Elias death scene or the end of the movie, where Sheen’s character looks back on his tour.

5. “Surfin’ Bird” from “Full Metal Jacket”

Sure there are many great musical moments in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 classic Vietnam War film. “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs playing when Joker and Rafterman meet Animal Mother is the start of something beautiful, not to mention the other iconic music scene that bridges the basic training and war sequences.

The Trashmen’s 1963 song “Surfin’ Bird” dominates as the Americans push the NVA back from Hué City.

6. “Do Wah Diddy” from “Stripes”

I think the YouTube commenter Brian Buchanan said it best about this scene from the Bill Murray and Harold Ramis comedy “Stripes” — “Funny scene, but these two morons would be doing push up ’til they died.”

7. “Dream Lover” from “Hot Shots”

Yeah, “Hot Shots” isn’t a real war movie in the sense that anything really happened but you can say that about “The Hurt Locker” too. Even so, I’ll never forget when Topper Harley sees Ramada Rodham Hayman for the first time.

“I was really impressed with the way you handled that stallion. You know, when I saw you dig your heels into his sides, tighten up the reigns, and break his spirit, I never wanted to be a horse so much in my life.”

8. “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” from “Top Gun”

If this movie and Kenny Loggins prompted a bunch of people to join the Navy, I wonder how many late-80s women had to put up with guys singing to them in bars until the fall of Communism.

9. “Sgt. Mackenzie” from “We Were Soldiers”

While not technically a pop song, this song was written about the singer’s grandfather’s service in WWI and is undeniably awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

Humor

These are the 43 best COVID-19 memes for the week of March 27

We published our favorite 63 COVID-19 memes not too long ago and the response was overwhelming. Turns out during these serious, scary and uncertain times, one thing is for sure: We could all use a good laugh. And one more thing that’s for sure: the memes just keep on coming. We bring you this week’s best COVID-19 sayings and memes.


The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

1. This is why we can’t have nice things

It’s bad enough we cancelled March Madness. Can ya’ll just please follow the directions so we can have some summer?

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

2. And you thought finding love in the time of cholera was bad

At least it’s not you, it’s COVID-19.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

3. 6 feet, damn it!

I always thought Pooh was the selfish one, breaking into everyone’s houses and stealing all the honey. Maybe it’s clingy Piglet.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

4. That homeschool life tho

If you can teach fractions pouring wine, you can teach gym with chores.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

5. I volunteer as tribute

You know you’re going to get voluntold anyway.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

6. Spoiler alert: nowhere

I got so excited when I saw Absolutely.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

7. Wasn’t me

It’s always the wife.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

8. Dad joke

Oh, so punny. Sorry, not sorry.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

9. The truth hurts

If only hoarding had an immunity boost with it.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

10. I’d like to pass over 2020

Seems logical.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

11. Puerto Backyard-O

Just be careful of the DUI checkpoint in the hall.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

12. So full of hope

So full of $hit. 1

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

13. This little piggy

That’s the one who stayed home, Karen.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

14. You put the lotion on the skin

But honestly, isn’t there a tinnyyyyy part of you that thinks it would be so nice to be touched by another human again?

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

15. The quarantine cut 

This cut will help you social distance like never before!

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

16. It ends with credits

After Tiger King, is there really anything left to watch?

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

17. Poetry in action 

We might need this on a t-shirt.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

18. Allergies be like 

No, but seriously. You know you can’t sneeze without everyone panicking.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

19. Blend and repeat

We call this breakfast.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

20. No pants either way

Just don’t confuse the two.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

21. Life lessons

Here Timmy, blow your nose. And breathe in.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

22. Bad Boy vs. Death Row

These are important life lessons.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

23. Stay-at-home order 

Except for everyone in the military.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

24. Quarantine body

We might need to issue a lockdown on our snack cabinet…

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

25. Nobody wants bed bugs

Lice, too.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

26. Show me the money!

Plumbing is an essential service. Hoarding is not.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

27. Is today the day? 

And to think you might not even know for 5-14 days…

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

28. Another COVID-cut

You can always just shave it off…

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

29. Prince Charmin

The year of the hunter.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

30. Hashtag no filter

No truer words were ever spoken.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

31. Speaking of Matthew McConaughey…

At least he got thinner?

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

32. Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat

We know we’re mixing Disney movies, but that bidet is a whole new world.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

33. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma

We know Carol Beskin is the real cause behind coronavirus.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

34. United as one

That’s how the heartland does. ‘Merica.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

35. April Fool’s 

Although, this might be footage of Florida over the weekend… #STAYHOME

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

36. Muscle atrophy

Too many leg days?

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

37. How we all feel 

Don’t forget to change out of your daytime pajamas into your nighttime pajamas.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

38. Oh Kermieeee

Is Quarantini a breakfast beverage?

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

39. Pants are always optional 

Video chats should come with a 15 minute courtesy.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

40. The difference a year makes

Just a healthy change in perspective.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

41. Men are from Mars…

He probably does want to talk about it.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

42. Two thumbs up 

“No, really, we don’t mind.”

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

43. We’ll never forget

The Purell. The panic. The year the world stopped.

Keep your sense of humor, wash your hands, stay home and stop the spread. And more than anything, we hope you and your family stay well.

Articles

Navy standout safety says he’s transferring a month after pro policy change

An about-face from the Department of Defense appears to have been a factor in Navy losing a top player.


Safety Alohi Gilman announced he was transferring from Annapolis, Md., earlier this month on Twitter.

“We wish Alohi the best in his pursuit of his childhood dream to play in the NFL,” Midshipmen coach Ken Niumatalolo told the Capital Gazette, which reported Gilman’s departure.

A direct path to the NFL was possible when Gilman entered Navy this past summer after spending a year at its prep school. But during the NFL draft in late April, the Department of Defense shifted its policy to again require service academy graduates to serve two years on active duty before applying for a shift in status to pursue professional sport. That two-year requirement had been removed in the summer of 2016.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman
US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Stan Parker

The shift was felt heavily at Air Force, where baseball player Griffin Jax had given up eligibility as a senior after last year’s MLB draft and several players had NFL aspirations. Most notable among them was receiver Jalen Robinette, who expected to be a mid-round draft selection. Robinette was not drafted and after spending time in mini-camps with the Bills and Patriots his future is further clouded by what his representatives call an ongoing discipline situation at the academy that prevented him from graduating with his class.

Gilman didn’t specifically cite the policy change in his social media post announcing his intentions to leave Navy.

“Presently, I find that my goals and passions are not the best fit with the Naval Academy,” he wrote.

Gilman was an honorable mention all- American Athletic Conference pick as a freshman this past season after finishing second at Navy with 76 tackles. He made six stops, including three solo, in a 28-14 loss at Air Force on Oct. 1.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman
US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell

It is not unique for players to leave service academies during their first two years before their commitment becomes binding. And it can be even more tempting for players who have enjoyed on-field success immediately to consider boosting their stock in less-restrictive environments.

Air Force basketball, for example, has lost standout players Tre’ Coggins and Matt Mooney in recent years as they transferred after excelling early. Coggins left for Cal-State Fullerton after averaging 16 points as a sophomore in 2013-14. Mooney transferred to South Dakota after his freshman campaign in 2014-15.

So, while Gilman’s path isn’t new, its timing is certainly noteworthy in that it came a month after the DOD reversed course on an athletic-friendly policy.

Articles

A Belgian officer took Nazi aggression personally – and got revenge

Jean de Selys Longchamps was born into Belgian aristocracy in 1912. When Germany invaded Belgium in May of 1940, he was a Baronet, the son of the Baron Raymond Charles Michel Ghislain de Selys Longchamps and a cavalry officer. The Nazi thrust into Belgium wasn’t the main attack and, despite the substantial Allied presence there, the country fell in just 18 days. 

Longchamps escaped to Britain along with more than 338,000 other Allied soldiers and joined the Royal Air Force to continue the fight against Nazi Germany. The war for him, like many, would become personal. There was one enemy organization in particular upon which Longchamps would get his revenge: the Gestapo.

After evacuating from Dunkirk, Longchamps would return to France first to fight alongside what remained of the French Army. After France fell, he escaped to Morocco, where he was arrested by the French puppet government of Germany, based in Vichy. He returned to France as a prisoner but escaped to England once more. 

There, he trained to become a pilot in the British RAF, flying the Hawker Typhoon with Number 609 Squadron. While there, he kept up with the latest news from his home through Belgian contacts there. He knew what was happening in his hometown of Brussels and was kept up to date on all the recent developments there.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman
A Hawker Typhoon, the aircraft flown by Longchamps for the RAF (Imperial War Museum)

This is how he learned that his father had died while being tortured by the Gestapo. Longchamps vowed that he would get his revenge on the Nazi secret police. 

Through those same contacts, he learned that the security police and the Gestapo had moved its Belgian headquarters to 453 Avenue Louise in Brussels. When the time came for the RAF to raid railway junctions in Belgium and strafe locomotives in the areas around those junctions, he asked the British high command if he could take a special detour toward Brussels – and Avenue Louise.

His repeated attempts weren’t answered with a denial. They also weren’t answered with approval. In fact, they were never answered at all, but Longchamps continued his personal planning for such an attack in secret. 

On January 20, 1943, they were given the mission to attack the railroads. Now-Flight Lt. Longchamps, he took off in his Hawker Typhoon, armed “to the limit” with his wingman and a bag full of small Belgian flags made by London schoolchildren. 

The RAF’s attack was a success and as they moved to return to England, Longchamps decided it was time to take his detour. Flying low to the ground he made way for Brussels and arrived unharmed to the Gestapo headquarters on Avenue Louise, which he immediately strafed. He was so close to his target that only 453 Avenue Louise was hit. 

As he flew away, he scattered the Belgian flags across Brussels. Four Gestapo officers were killed, including Chief of the SD (Sicherheitsdienst or “security service”), SS-Sturmbannführer Alfred Thomas and a high-ranking Gestapo officer named Müller. The Nazis were furious but the Belgians now had hope. The Germans weren’t invincible. 

Longchamps was demoted for the unauthorized attack but was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. That night, citizens of Belgium secretly tuned in to a BBC broadcast about the Baron and his daring raid on the Gestapo HQ. 

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman
Worth it (Wikimedia Commons)

Sadly, the baron did not see the end of the war, as he was killed over Ostend, Belgium later that year. The building he strafed is still standing today but now has a plaque memorializing Longchamps and his unauthorized attack on the Gestapo.

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The fascinating beginning of the term ‘POG’

Professions throughout the world all have their own unique terminology. Although the U.S. military is a unique organization, in this respect, it works in the same way. We’ve coined terms and created acronyms for just about anything you can imagine.


But what’s more interesting than the terms themselves is the original of each. While some terms have a clear origin, how others began is clouded in mystery. Military terms are sometimes seen as mildly derogatory, such as the term “boot,” or, in this case, “POG,” which means “Person Other than Grunt.”

So, where did the term “POG” come from? Well, we’re glad you asked.

Related: 5 ways to skate in Marine Corps boot camp

The term comes from the word “pogue,” which is Gaelic for “kiss.”

It was started by disgruntled Navy sailors of Irish descent who served during the American Civil War. They were upset that others, would never leave shore, would get to stay home and get all the kisses from the ladies while they were out fighting.

 

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman
Sailors always seemed to get the cute nurses back in the day…

Then, Marines caught wind of the term, adopted it, and began using it themselves to describe anyone who wasn’t involved in any type of combat. The term eventually found its way into the Army.

Also Read: 5 reasons why Luke Skywalker was operator AF

The Air Force doesn’t typically use this term since they’re all pogues — for the most part.

As time progressed, the term became associated with any non-combat military occupational specialties and, eventually, it was shortened to the acronym “POG.”

It’s since been classified as a derogatory term, and its usage is frowned upon by those in leadership positions — especially if they’re POGs.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman
Although every Marine is a rifleman, not every Marine is an infantryman. Some are POGs. (Image via U.S. Department of Defense)

If someone tries telling you that the word is spelled “pogue,” they’re wrong. It’s “POG,” and you should refer them this article right away before commanding them to do some push-ups.

Articles

John Oliver and Team Rubicon invite you to the ‘most American day ever’

It’s a standard fundraiser in the vein of GoFundMe and Kickstarter with the rewards provided by John Oliver and HBO’s Last Week Tonight.


The “Most American Day Ever” is the name of the sweepstakes. By making a donation, you’re entered to win. Different donations get different rewards, starting with these:

  • A French Press with coffee and two campaign mugs signed by John Oliver
  • Digital Thank You card
  • A personalized video message from John Oliver
  • An exclusive show memorabilia salmon signed by John Oliver
  • An Official Last Week Tonight script signed by John Oliver

There are other offerings, like T-shirts, mugs, or the simple virtue of making a donation to a worthy cause.

Team Rubicon is not your standard relief organization. They describe their mission as “Bridging the Gap” — referring to providing disaster relief between the moment a disaster happens and the point at which conventional aid organizations respond. This “gap” is primarily a function of time; the crucial window following a disaster when victims have traditionally been without outside aid. When the “Gap” closes – once conventional aid organizations arrive – Team Rubicon moves on.

The Most American Day Ever includes being picked up at the airport in New York in a Ford pickup truck, VIP tickets for you and a guest to a taping of “Last Week Tonight” where Oliver will throw a football at you “Tebow-Style.” You’ll also sit at John’s desk and get a tour of the studio.

To enter, go to Omaze.com/LastWeek, make a donation to Team Rubicon, get a chance to meet John Oliver, and help support veterans supporting disaster relief worldwide.

 

NOW: Team Rubicon is On the Ground in Nepal

OR: 25 Vets Poised to Make A Difference in 2015

Articles

This Blackwater shootout in Baghdad might not have gone down like the prosecution claimed

Four contractors with the security firm formerly known as Blackwater may have come under fire before they shot and killed more than a dozen Iraqis in 2007, federal prosecutors admitted in a hearing before the United States Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.


According to a report by Circa.com, the government lawyers’ admission could result in the convictions of the contractors over the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians being overturned by the appellate court. The contractors had claimed they opened fire in self-defense during their 2014 trial.

The incident drove a deeper wedge between the American and fledgling Iraqi governments over the perception of trigger-happy security contractors running roughshod over Iraqi civil rights. Five Blackwater contractors were involved in the incident, which took place in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square. Three were given 30-year sentences, one was given a life sentence and one had the charges dropped.

The prosecution’s main witness, Jimmy Watson, testified during the trial that there was incoming fire, according to an August 2014 report by Bloomberg News.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman
A Blackwater contractor in Afghanistan (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

“In fact, what [Watson] thought he heard was enemy fire,” Demetra Lambros, the federal prosecutor arguing the case in front of a three-judge panel, allegedly admitted during the oral arguments. “[Watson is] very clear about it. Those first shots did not come from the convoy.”

The contractors had been sent to secure the area in Nisoor Square where an employee of the Agency for International Development was holding a meeting after an improvised explosive device, or IED, had been detonated nearby. A vehicle that approached a convoy under their protection may have reinforced the perception that they were under attack, reports say.

“So for all these years the federal government has been painting this case as cold blooded, a cold-blooded shooting,” Blackwater founder Erik Prince told Circa.com. “Here they are acknowledging, yes indeed, there is incoming fire. We’ve known that all along.”

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman
A Blackwater Security Company MD-530F helicopter aids in securing the site of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, on December 4, 2004, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. A similar bombing in 2007 lead to the incident that resulted in Blackwater contractors facing charges of manslaughter. (USAF photo)

“This could be a major boon to the defense,” Jeffrey Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary’s Law School, told Circa.com. “The appellate court could throw the entire conviction out based on that alone.”

This would not be the first time that claims of an unprovoked massacre were debunked.

Eight Marines faced charges in the aftermath of a Nov. 15, 2005, firefight in Haditha, Iraq that resulted in civilian casualties. Then-Democrat Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha, a former Marine, claimed the killings were “cold-blooded murder,” according to CNN.

In the end, Reuters reported that one Marine plead guilty to negligent dereliction of duty. The Associated Press reported that the other seven Marines charges had their cases dismissed or were exonerated.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Gender revealed for the dog that helped take down ISIS leader

A White House official on Nov. 25, 2019, said that Conan, the military working dog that helped take down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwest Syria in October 2019, was a female.

However, a few hours later, a White House official said the dog was in fact a male, adding to a debate that developed after President Donald Trump tweeted a photo of the dog after the raid.

Conan was awarded a medal and a plaque by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Nov. 25, 2019. Trump, Pence, and Conan walked out to the White House lawn, where the president described Conan as “the world’s most famous dog” who had an “incredible story.”


President Trump Brings Conan, Military Dog Injured In al-Baghdadi Raid, To White House | TIME

www.youtube.com

Trump, who referred to the dog with male pronouns several times, said he thought it was a good idea to “put a muzzle on the dog” because of its “violent” tendencies, though it was unmuzzled throughout the ceremony. The president’s remarks did not deter Pence, who petted Conan several times on her head.

There was speculation over Conan’s gender after Trump released her name and a photo of her in an abrupt tweet after the raid. But former military dog handlers and canine experts were still at an impasse, with some intensely examining the photo.

“I’ve seen the photo of the dog,” a former military dog handler told Business Insider after the raid. “And if you blow up that photo, it’s not a female dog — it’s a male dog.”

“Conan was very badly hurt as you know, and they thought maybe he was not to recover,” Trump said Nov. 25, 2019, referring to injuries the dog received when she touched exposed electrical wires during the raid. “Recovered very quickly and has since gone on very important raids.”

Conan is a Belgian Malinois, the same breed used in the 2011 raid against al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The dog is named after comedian Conan O’Brien, according to a Newsweek report.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

The hero who gave her life protecting others during hijacking

On Sept. 5, 1986, New York-bound Pan Am Flight 73 was hijacked by armed terrorists at Karachi airport in Pakistan in what would become one of the bloodiest hijackings of the 80s.

During the 17-hour ordeal, Neerja Bhanot would help the cockpit crew escape and ground the plane, hide the passports of passengers to protect their identities and nationalities, and open the emergency door to help others escape.

Bhanot would give her life saving and protecting the passengers on board that day. She was just shy of 23 years old.


Just after 0600, four gunmen sped onto the tarmac in an airport security van and entered the plane, firing their weapons. Flight attendant Sherene Pavan hailed the cockpit crew and pressed the hijack code as the hijackers grabbed Bhanot and held a gun to her head, demanding to be taken to the captain.

Upon arrival in the cockpit, they saw that the crew received the warning and evacuated by means of a safety hatch in the cockpit.

Inside the plane, 29 year-old American Rajesh Kumar was pulled out of his seat, shot, and kicked out of the plane.

“This changed everything. It showed they were ruthless killers,” said Sunshine Vesuwala, a surviving flight attendant.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

Passenger and plane details.

(Wikipedia)

The hijackers wanted a pilot to fly the plane to where other members of their militant group were imprisoned. As negotiators communicated with them from outside the aircraft, the terrorists began looking for more Americans on board.

This is when Bhanot and the other flight attendants began hiding the passports of the travelers to protect their identities. As the hours dragged on, the power of the aircraft began to dwindle. When the lights finally went out, the terrorists began to fire into the aircraft, killing the on-board mechanic Meherjee Kharas.

Bhanot and other members of the crew took the opportunity to open at least three doors and help passengers escape.

Bhanot was shot helping the hostages out of the plane and was evacuated by her colleagues, but she died at Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital.

22 people were killed in the attack, including two Americans, and another 150 were injured. The combined efforts of the 16 flight attendants likely saved hundreds of lives that day, and for two more days after the attack, the crew continued to care for minor passengers until they could be reunited with their families.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This journalist witnessed the rise of ISIS up close—and now he’s telling the story​

In 2007 I was a fresh-out-to-pasture journalist, trying not to lose my sanity as an Army wife and stay at home mom. I had worked most recently as a reporter for The Fayetteville Observer, but my husband, a Special Forces soldier, kept getting deployed. We couldn’t afford a nanny, and no daycare in town stayed open late enough to watch our son until I could get off work.


The Observer offered me an opportunity to write a blog and two weekly columns from home, and that’s how I came to meet Mike Giglio, a fresh-out-of-college writer for Charlotte Magazine, working on a story about military families at Ft. Bragg.

Giglio has written a book now, “Shatter the Nations: ISIS and the War for the Caliphate” – an open wound of a book, as raw and bleeding as the conflict itself.

But back in 2007, he came to my house, sat in my living room, made the requisite comments about the adorableness of my toddler, and interviewed me. He has since told me that I was the first person he had interviewed about war. He has interviewed many, many more people since. He wrote then:

Rebekah Sanderlin looks like an Army wife from a movie: the hero pulls out her picture in the opening scene, she has dark hair, engaging eyes, and a warm smile, she’s holding his kid, and you’re already hoping he makes it out of this thing alive.

12 years and as many deployments later, my husband and I are still married and, indeed, he appears to have made it out of this thing alive.

I followed Giglio’s career from a distance after that, watching as his byline hopped up to the big leagues and then across the ocean, first to London and then to Istanbul, and then right into the heart of war.

Now a journalist for The Atlantic, he spent four years living in Turkey and Syria, interviewing members of the Islamic State, their enablers, and legions of others who were pushing back against ISIS’ terror quest for power, embedding with U.S. military units as well as low-level groups of resistance fighters.
The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

(The Atlantic)

His book is part memoir, part chronicle. We see the early movements of ISIS in the form of sources and scoops that grow into defeats and victories. He is unflinching in the descriptions but avoids the war-porn tendencies lesser writers find irresistible. There are no heroes and no villains, only humans showing up, day after day. Characters come and go, lost to war and the swirling chaos of life. There are no neat and tidy endings. This is news – news never ends.

His sparse, direct, writing style is appropriately like chewing on broken glass. A book about ISIS shouldn’t be overwrought. There’s too much gore, too much horror, too much human misery, for a writer in love with adjectives. No one needs those adjectives.

Of an Iraqi Special Forces soldier, he writes:

“So when militiamen kidnapped Ahmed from a checkpoint in Baghdad one day, they didn’t just torture him. They put a circular saw to his forehead and tried to peel off his face. Then they put a hood over his head, shot him five times, and tossed his body in a garbage dump, thinking he was dead. Ahmed survived, though, and was found by an elderly man, who carried him to a hospital. When he recovered, he had gained his nickname – The Bullet, for what couldn’t kill him – and he returned to his turret.

These are not pages to read before bed.

Giglio is captured and nearly executed, and he survives being hit by a suicide bomber. He sets these encounters on the table, like an indifferent dinner party host, as if to say, “Here it is. Make of it what you will.” And, of course, there is only one thing to make of it: ISIS is even worse than you thought.

I read Mike’s book during the vacant, pedestrian, moments of my mom-life. Sitting in my daughter’s gymnastics class, reading about the young Syrian mother who watched helplessly as a wall collapsed on all four of her children during a bombing. In the front seat of my minivan, parked at the high school, waiting for that once-toddler-now-teenager, reading about a man whose seven siblings were all killed by ISIS. Sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room while a friend’s wrist was being x-rayed, reading about ISIS fighters gathering body parts from numerous people into one duffel bag, only to leave the bag in the middle of a street.

I read about Mike, being zip-tied and beaten by a jeering mob in Egypt, before being thrown into a prison bus and carted to a sports arena, where sham trials and public executions were being held for political prisoners. And then the zip ties are cut from his wrists and he is inexplicably released. I think about the cub reporter I first met in my North Carolina living room, as eager for adventure as any young soldier.

The first American woman to lead a military operation in the Civil War was Harriet Tubman

He is in Iraq, embedded with a battalion from the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Force (ICTF) in Mosul when the results of the 2016 election are announced, and Americans of all political persuasions are melting down. He writes:

“I wondered if, when a country was at war for so long but only a select few ever waged it, the rest of society began to go a certain kind of crazy. Some played at civil war while others vowed to flee to Canada as political refugees, and too many Americans seemed to want to pull a bit of conflict into their lives just when so many people around the world were risking everything to escape from it.”

And then he finally escapes it himself, perhaps for good, writing this about then-new President Trump’s premature declaration of victory over ISIS: “As in the past, America was looking to move on from the region before the war was really over – leaving much of Iraq and Syria in ruins and ISIS still a threat. This was an impulse I embodied, too. As Colonel Arkan had once explained, the thing about going to war far from home is that you can always walk away from it.”

If you’re lucky, Mike. Only the lucky get to walk away.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Massive cats have invaded these photos. You’re welcome

Man, military photographers take some great photos sometimes. Sand tables, missile launches, rifle ranges. So many great images of American might and military readiness. But they’re always missing something, and the Twitter user Military Giant Cats has figured it out.


Icelandpic.twitter.com/A9KVSCoM7x

twitter.com

Yeah, the pics were always missing giant cats. Giant, giant cats that welcome Marines home from long ruck marches. Or, maybe the Marines are marching there to attack the cat? Look, the context isn’t clear, but you would definitely buy a ticket if that was a movie, right?

BMD-2pic.twitter.com/zPFrfX9W0A

twitter.com

Come on, you would follow this cat into battle. You would face the galloping hordes, a hundred bad guys with swords, and send those goons to their lords, if this cat was leading the charge. And he’s so intense about it.

#DSEIpic.twitter.com/gG3JBfFZHZ

twitter.com

Not all cats take their duties so seriously. Some are plenty patriotic but don’t feel the need to pursue the enemy all the time. They take a little time to relax, to consider their past achievements. And more than likely, to bat around a few of the tiny humans walking around his armor.

HMS Astute (S119)pic.twitter.com/luQway607e

twitter.com

This cat is willing to brave the perils of the deep for your freedom. He will do battle with the Nautilus, he will spend weeks submerged. And if duty calls, he will claw his way through entire Russian fleets and survive on nothing but kelp to secure the seas for democracy.

BGM-109 Tomahawkpic.twitter.com/CMOU9gNxt3

twitter.com

These cats are willing to do whatever it takes. When they attacked Syria, they launched Tomahawk Cruise Missiles and didn’t bat a single one out of the sky before it hit regime forces.

T-64BM Bulatpic.twitter.com/3EJGMZoe4r

twitter.com

And look at how happy they make the troops! Whether they’re chasing giant balls of yarn or drifting tanks during military exercises, the cats know how to put on a show.

SEPECAT Jaguarpic.twitter.com/h7uW37oIaX

twitter.com

But this one is a horrible pilot.

To see more of these awesome creations, check out the Twitter stream here.

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