I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years - We Are The Mighty
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I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

I didn’t even get a t-shirt. In North Korea, it was too expensive. 


Everything in North Korea takes you in through the gift shop and out through the same gift shop in an attempt to milk cash from visitors so they can buy Hennessy en masse from the duty free shop at Beijing Airport. That’s not a joke: 20 people boarding our flight from Beijing to Pyongyang were carrying boxes of cigarettes, cognac, and chocolate.

The plane’s aisles and free spaces overflowed with what looked like supplies for a party at DMX’s house.

In late 2012, I visited the country that honestly believes it won the Korean War by virtue of not being annihilated completely. So it makes sense (in a weird way) they would believe capturing an American ship outside its territorial waters 15 years after the fighting stopped is a giant feather in their cap.

The Pueblo was a Navy Signals Intelligence ship which was attacked and boarded by North Koreans in international waters. The crew didn’t go down easily. As the ship attempted to evade capture, the North Koreans opened up on her. One U.S. sailor was killed by the 57mm guns aboard a North Korean subchaser.

After that volley, the crew signaled compliance and began to destroy the immense amount of classified material aboard. It took two subchasers, four torpedo boats, and two MiG fighters to subdue the Pueblo and its crew, who weren’t even able to man the ship’s guns due to restrictive Navy regulations. The ship’s crew were simply outgunned and outnumbered.

The capture was also unfortunate in timing, since the year it was captured, 1968, was probably the most eventful year in modern American history. The week after the Pueblo’s capture, North Vietnam launched the Tet Offensive, drawing attention away from their plight and putting the media spotlight on America’s first “Television War.”

The Pueblo was sent to Wonsan while its crew was taken to North Korean POW camps. They were starved and tortured but the crew resisted even as the North Koreans attempted to use them as propaganda pieces in photos. The crew was a bit smarter than that.

 

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

They literally gave the finger to the Kim regime. At every opportunity they flashed the “Hawaiian good luck sign.” When the captives realized the communists didn’t know what the gesture meant, they flashed it for every camera, ruining all the potential propaganda value. When the North Koreans read what it actually meant in Time magazine, they were beaten for a week.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
Thanks, Time Magazine.

Fifty years later, her crew repatriated, the Pueblo is still held by North Korea. In 1999 it was moved from Wonsan to Pyongyang, moored on the Taedong River. This is where I saw the ship.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
(photo by Blake Stilwell)

The woman in the bottom right of the above photo was one of our two guides/minders/spies who were present with us for every waking moment of our time in North Korea — except at our hotel — which was on an island in the middle of the same river where the Pueblo was moored.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

(photo by Blake Stilwell)

The tour of the Pueblo was just one event in a day packed with them telling their American visitors how awful our government is, how they definitely won that war we had (their holiday marking the end of the war is called “Victory Day”) despite overwhelming material and personnel losses, and how without Marshal Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear weapons, the Yankees and the corrupt regime in the South would immediately try to take over North again. Obviously.

The Pueblo is only the seventh ship to be captured since the American War with the Barbary Pirates and is the second oldest ship still commissioned by the U.S. Navy. The crew of the Pueblo (like Don McClarren, below) sure havn’t forgotten about it.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
(Photo Credit: BJ Small, Mechanicsburg, PA)

As of August 2012, the ship seemed in good condition, or as good as North Korea would allow it. Like everything else there, it could have used a coat of paint – which rumor has it – the ship has since received from the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum (Yes, that’s the real name of the museum and that’s really what the North Koreans call the Korean War, which is almost as ridiculous as the Monument to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War. Because nobody does statues like Communists).

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
(photo by Blake Stilwell)

Before exiting through another gift shop, the tour of the Pueblo includes a trip below decks, where photography was strictly prohibited. They monitor Americans pretty closely so I wasn’t able to take a direct video of the presentation of the North Korean version of the Pueblo Incident. Luckily, finding a copy of it wasn’t too difficult.

The film is a priceless taste of the kind of propaganda the people in Pyongyang experience all the time.

Don’t let this accent fool you. North Koreans study for decades just to master foreign languages. One of our guides spoke four fluent languages and one North Korean randomly approached us on the street to say welcome — in perfect English, with a midwestern American accent.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How this World War I doughboy was killed the day the war ended

The horrors of war are probably only fully appreciated by those who have served their countries in battles on land, at sea, or in the air. Nearly every history buff has watched Saving Private Ryan or read Unbroken, from which we glean a taste of what it might be like to kill or be killed for a cause–or to simply survive.

It’s all too easy to forget about the pure hell and random misfortunes that men and women are subjected to so that the rest of us can live free and safe. Sometimes, historical accounts from people who have experienced the burden of combat help us understand the sacrifices those soldiers and others have made. I am in possession of photocopies from a journal written by one of my wife’s relatives, a soldier who served at the end of World War I. He died in France on Armistice Day — November 11, 1918. He may well have been the last American killed in the Great War.


Private Joseph Sommers was born in Springfield, Illinois. After boot camp at Camp Logan in Houston, Texas, he was sent to fight for America and her allies on the front lines in France during the summer of 1918. What you are about to read are excerpts from Private Sommers’s journal: The soldier was my wife’s great-great uncle. Most of the spelling and grammar is presented as written, though some capitalization and periods have been added to improve readability. The images described within the 5000-word manuscript and the emotions they elicit might leave an indelible impression upon your mind, heart, and soul–they are deeply affecting.

While you read the following, try to place yourself in the French countryside walking along battle-scarred roads on a journey situated somewhere between beautiful and truly horrific. Become the imaginary comrade of Private Joseph Sommers, Company C, 124th Machine Gun Battalion, 23rd Division. A young soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice, so that others might live free.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
Pages from the journal of Private Joseph Sommers.

Left Camp Logan 5/4/18. Sunday. We always leave on Sunday.

Arrived in Hoboken, NY. 5/16/18. Sailed on SS Mount Vernon ship, formerly the pride of the Kaiser. Ship very crowded. Mess was bad. 132nd Infantry Wolves hogged the boat.

Arrived in Brest, France on 5/24/18 and debarked.

5/26/18 Harbor filled with transports. A beautiful site coming into the harbor. Hills studded with guns. Airplanes and dirigibles guard harbor from subs. Very hot, overcoats on.

Oisemont 5/29/18. Arrived at our present camp. We are expected to be called to the front most any time. Anti-aircraft guns fired at airplanes. White puffs of shrapnel. Elusive planes. The rumble of guns very plainly heard, never ceasing, 25 miles back of the line. Bombing of towns close by continues nightly. I expect ours to be bombed most any time.

6/18/18 Going to machine gun school today for 12 days. Boche [German] planes, 10 in one bunch, 11 another bunch. Antiaircraft guns firing, very few hits made. We are now attached to the British Army. A visit to the lines on the night of July 3. We approached within 3 miles of the front line. Shells began to burst and I wished at the moment that our helmets was large as umbrellas. It is surprising how small you can make yourself when shells are bursting all around you. Ammunition dump struck by airplane bomb near Amiens. The whole heavens lighted with red flare, a wonderful thing.

7/7/18 An observation balloon high in the air, a cigar shaped affair with elephant ears, sways with the wind. It is held in position by a big cable which is attached to a motor car weighing 6 tons. The cable winds around a drum, and the balloon is either brought down or rises in the sky. The observer cuts loose his parachute, it drops. It fails to open like an umbrella. He is finished.

7/20/18 A doctor was found at the operating table standing over a patient in the act of operating on him when the gas struck both and they died. The graveyard at Biere was shelled so much by the Germans that the caskets and bodies and tombstones were scattered all over. There are quite a few soldiers graves here, from all regiments.

7/29/18 Our home in the woods was visited by Fritz’s [German] planes. He dropped about 12 bombs, luckily no one was hit. I would rather dodge 100 shells then hear one bomb whistle through the air.

8/7/18 Arrived at our positions at 12:45 A.M. On our way to this place we met some trucks and ambulances loaded with wounded and gassed, also many wounded walking to the first aid station.

8/7/18, 4:30 A.M. The British opened a terrible barrage. The sound was deafening. The shells were bursting through the air with such speed as to liken the sound of Niagara Falls. Previous to that time Fritz had been sending over gas shells by the hundreds, Mustard Gas which is one of the worst gases Jerry [Germans] uses. We had to wear our gas mask for over two hours.

9/18/18 The trees split as under their naked trunks against the skyline. Nature itself seems to be dead. In that dreary space not a living thing moves, save an occasional bird. “Dead Man’s Hill” is close by. The bones, skulls of men still thickly cover the ground. The rats are tame enough in our dugout to eat out of your hand. They sit and wink at you.

9/24/18 Turned in all our surplus stuff in the A.M. We are now traveling light. The Stunt is near being pulled off and by the looks of things it is going to be a big one. The Germans dropped some Gas and High Explosives pretty close today. We are bringing up ammunition in great quantities. We are waiting for zero hour.

9/26/18, 2:15 A.M. Gen. Jack Pershing and our Captain bid us God Speed and good luck. Up and among them soon. We opened our barrage which lasted for one hour starting at 5:30 AM. We hopped over the top amid the hell of machine gun bullets and ducking big shells. We saw plenty of dead lying on the battlefield which had been a battlefield for four different battles.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
Sommers’s obituary

9/27/18 We advanced three and half miles yesterday. The Germans left in a hurry. The water was still in the stoves that they were making coffee. Water was still hot. The Meuse River is about 800 yards in front of us.

10/2/18 Great artillery this A.M. on both sides. It was a little stronger than the usual morning song. Heard tonight that Bulgaria and Austria had surrendered.

10/5/18 Still in the line. Artillery still hammering away and also some machine gun firing.

10/9/18 Orders to move forward. Fired a machine gun barrage and orders came to remove guns and seek shelter in a deep dugout. Still waiting for orders to go forward.

10/10/18 Still in reverse. Got mail from Sister. Beautiful day, sun shining. The sky was full of airplanes, never saw so many. The sky was full of them just like birds. Have been in the line, for five weeks now. Still looking every day for relief.

This entry on October 10, 1918 was Private Sommers’s last. He died on November 11, Armistice Day, during an attack near Bougainville, France. While the armistice took effect at 11 a.m. on November 11, family lore has it that Sommers was actually killed later that day. I’ve thought about trying to help prove he was in fact the last American killed in the Great War. I struggle with whether that matters.

All photos courtesy of Ken Cruickshank

This article originally appeared on Explore The Archive. Follow @explore_archive on Twitter.

MIGHTY FIT

6 stereotypes you’ll see in every military gym

The military is full of individuals from all cultures who come together under one roof to workout and better themselves, both physically and mentally. Over the past few decades, the government has spent vast amounts of cash in designing and building some amazing and well-equipped fitness centers for the troops.


Now, joining a military gym isn’t as easy as getting roped into a monthly subscription by someone at the front desk — first, you’ll have to go through boot camp. But once you do become a member, you can use any fitness center run by the military. But no matter where you are, the very first time you use these workout facilities, you’re going to encounter some interesting gym-goers.

Don’t let these 6 stereotypes scare you away!

Also Read: 6 things you should never do or say at the gym

The creeper

You’ll probably catch a guy or girl peeking at you in the mirror when you’re not looking. We’ve got a name for people like that: “creepers.” Most of the time, they’re completely harmless — they’re just admiring your figure, but it can get annoying after a while.

Now, when you’re stationed in the infantry, having a girl show up to a predominately male gym is like finding the Holy Grail. It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, many a gym-goer is guilty of becoming a creeper.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Well, well. Look who’s here again?

(U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. John Robbart III)

The gym rat

It doesn’t matter what time of day you go to the gym — you’ll see this person when you enter and they’ll still be there working out as you leave. They’re so jacked that it seems like they live at the gym. Seeing these guys will leave you wondering, “do these guys ever go to work?”

The popular one

Everyone loves this guy or gal. They’ve got a winning smile and they say hello to everybody else in the gym. You know what? We like this stereotype, too, so we’re not going to hate on them. We’re just going to move on.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Now, there’s no proof he’s grunting, but it looks like he should be.

(Army photo by Spc. Cassandra Monroe)

The grunters

When you’ve got your earphones in and you’re listening to some great tunes, its tough to hear the sounds you’re making as you lift those heavy weights. Unfortunately, everyone else in the gym totally hear you.

We get it — that leg press looked extremely hard to push out, but when you’re screaming louder than a woman in the throes of childbirth, it gets distracting. Grunting is a way many people motivate themselves, but nobody wants to hear your bellows while they’re trying to concentrate.

The ab checker

Most gym walls are plastered with mirrors. We use these mirrors to check our form, gawk look at other people, and monitor our physical progress. Some people take it a step further, though, periodically lifting up their shirts to check out their abs as if they might disappear somehow.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Nothing motivates you to workout harder than focusing on a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The daredevil

This brave trooper doesn’t mind twisting his or her body into some interesting positions in order to get their pump on. You’ll see the “daredevil” doing handstands, muscle-ups, and clapper push-ups in the middle of the gym and they don’t care what kind risk is involved.

MIGHTY TRENDING

B-1 Bombers train to launch long-range anti-ship missile over Black Sea

It wasn’t a typical flight.

Two B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, marked their first-ever flight with Ukrainian Su-27 Flankers and MiG-29 Fulcrums last week over the Black Sea. At the same time, the long-range bombers also trained in launching the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile, known as LRASM, U.S. Air Forces Europe-Africa officials said Monday.


“The rise of near-peer competitors and increased tensions between NATO and our adversaries has brought anti-ship capability back to the forefront of the anti-surface warfare mission for bomber crews,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Albrecht of USAFE’s 603rd Air Operations Center.

“LRASM plays a critical role in ensuring U.S. naval access to operate in both open-ocean and littoral environments due to its enhanced ability to discriminate between targets from long range,” Albrecht, also the Bomber Task Force mission planner, said in a release. “With the increase of maritime threats and their improvement of anti-access/area denial environmental weapons, this stealthy anti-ship cruise missile provides reduced risk to strike assets by penetrating and defeating sophisticated enemy air-defense systems.”

Officials recently told Military.com that practicing deploying LRASM is part of a broader Air Force Global Strike vision: As part of its mission “reset” for the B-1 fleet, the service is not only making its supersonic, heavy bombers more visible with multiple flights around the world, it’s also getting back into the habit of having them practice stand-off precision strikes — especially in the Pacific — signaling a dramatic pivot following years of flying close-air support missions in the Middle East.

During a simulated strike, crews “will pick a notional target, and then they will do some mission planning and flying through an area that they are able to hold that target at risk, at range,” Maj. Gen. Jim Dawkins Jr., commander of the Eighth Air Force and the Joint-Global Strike Operations Center at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, said in an interview earlier this month.

The flight over the Black Sea with Ukrainian counterparts incorporated Turkish KC-135s, in addition to aircraft from Poland, Romania, Greece and North Macedonia for a “long-range, long-duration strategic #BomberTaskForce mission throughout Europe and the Black Sea region,” USAFE tweeted.

The latest integration exercises over Eastern Europe have not gone unnoticed.

On Monday, Russia’s Ministry of Defense noted an uptick in NATO and U.S. activity in the region, to include the B-1 transiting through the Sea of Okhotsk on May 22, and near the Kamchatka Peninsula last month.

Col.-Gen. Sergei Rudskoy, chief of the main operational directorate for the Russian General Staff, said U.S. bomber flights alongside NATO partners have “increased sharply” over the last several weeks.

“Strategic bombers flew in April #B1B along Kamchatka, and in May, five such flights were recorded,” the MoD said on Twitter. Rudskoy also noted the first-ever B-1 flight over Ukraine, which prompted a Russian Air Force Su-27 and Su-30SM to scramble and intercept the bombers.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Still considered a “strategic” bomber, the Lancer was originally designed as a nuclear bomber with a mission to fly at low altitude, sneaking into enemy territory in order to avoid Soviet early warning radars. However, in compliance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the once-nuclear bomber has been disarmed of nukes.

Dawkins said countries should expect more Bomber Task Force missions.

The shorter flights — with two to three bombers — are not the same as a deployment, and are also part of the Pentagon’s larger “dynamic force employment” strategy for military units to test how nimbly they can move from place to place, he said.

“There is just so much of a bigger signal sent with a bomber than with a couple of [F-16 Fighting Falcons],” Dawkins said. “It just is what it is.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Space Force has launched its first recruiting commercial

The U.S. Space Force‘s first commercial has a message for its new troops and potential recruits: “Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet.”

It’s the closing line in the 30-second commercial, which gives viewers a glimpse into what a Space Force job might look like. That could mean protecting U.S. satellites in ground operations centers, overseeing rocket launches to deploy satellites in orbit, or perhaps recovering the super-secret X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, according to the imagery seen in the video.


United States Space Force: Purpose :30 Commercial

www.youtube.com

“Some people look to the stars and ask, ‘What if?’ Our job is to have an answer,” the commercial states as a young man sporting a fresh haircut looks up toward the stars.

“We would have to imagine what will be imagined, plan for what’s possible while there’s still impossible. Maybe you weren’t put here just to ask the questions. Maybe you were put here to be the answer,” it says.

The commercial is the first promotional video for the new service, an effort to attract recruits to join the military’s sixth branch.

Its debut comes days after the Space Force opened its application process for eligible active-duty personnel to transfer into the service.

The opening of applications means the eventual, “physical act of [commissioning] into the U.S. Space Force,” Gen. David “DT” Thompson, vice commander of Space Force, said April 23. Enlisted members would re-enlist directly into the Space Force, he said during a webinar, hosted by Space News.

“The window for airmen to volunteer to transfer to the USSF opened on Friday, May 1, and we have already received several hundred applications,” a Space Force official told Military.com on Wednesday.

The commercial also closely follows the full trailer for Steve Carell’s new Netflix comedy “Space Force” set to premiere on the streaming service May 29.

Sitting alongside Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett during a webinar Wednesday, Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations and head of U.S. Space Command, remarked on Carell’s upcoming show.

“The one piece of advice that I would give to Steve Carell is to get a haircut,” Raymond said during the chat, hosted by the Space Foundation. “He’s looking a little too shaggy if he wants to play the Space Force chief.”

Barrett added, “It seems to me that it’s just further evidence that space is where things are happening. Whether it’s Netflix or in the United States Pentagon, space is where things are happening.”

Speaking about the commercial, Barrett said she hopes it will inspire “Americans to find their purpose in the nation’s newest service.”

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

7 more uniform parts hipsters would love — now that PT belts are cool

As if civilian fashion statements couldn’t be any more incomprehensible, Urban Outfitters has planted its own ludicrous flag into the fashion world with their newest accessory: a $30 highlighter-yellow, reflective belt. You know, the exact same type used by troops all over the world since the early ’90s.

At first, this news might confuse and frustrate you — it’s not stolen valor, but it’s definitely appropriation. Then, it’ll dawn on you: the fools who buy this belt are literally spending $30 on a product that you can buy for $8 at the PX. So, in a way, who can blame Urban Outfitters? Who wouldn’t want to pick up a few and sell them, making a cool $20 profit each?

Hell, we all have tough boxes full of a bunch of old uniform parts that hipsters would pay out the ass to own. The Afghanistan dust just adds character. It’s like the “distressed” or “worn-out” look that’s apparently a thing. Well, try these on for size:


I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Enjoy it! You won’t be wearing that thing until you retire.

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ashlee Lolkus)

Boonie caps

Everyone loves their boonie cap when they get issued one. Then, when they deploy, they quickly realize that they’re in a unit that doesn’t allow them to wear it. Occasionally, you’ll see some other soldier wearing it at one of the bigger, POGgier air bases, but that’s still not you.

Troops only really get the chance to wear them when they’re out of the service and decorate it with whatever kind of pins they can attribute to their military career. Hipsters love decorating their junk with more junk.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

The leather shells can withstand countless air assault missions and not rip. The inserts can barely keep the wind out.

Glove inserts

Hipsters go apesh*t over worthless things that seem (and are) cheaply made. There’s nothing more worthless and cheaply made than a 2nd Lt with a map those lime-green inserts that are supposed to be worn inside of actually-useful leather gloves.

In fact, those inserts are so garbage that soldiers will often find a different pair of gloves that are “in regulation” just to avoid having to wear anything that requires these things. To make matters worse, no one ever buys them, but we all have at least five spares that magically appeared on our CIF gear lists.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Feels like I’m wearing nothing at all. Nothing at all. Nothing at all. Nothing at all. Nothing at all…

(Ranger Up)

Ranger panties

Hipsters love wearing things ironically. There’s nothing veterans wear more ironically than the ranger panties that leave barely anything to the imagination.

Ranger panties are perfect for everything! You can run in them. You can sleep in them. You can go to the beach in them. You can slack off on the couch and watch Netflix because you’ve become fat and lazy since you got your DD-214 in them. You can even go hiking in them!

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Thankfully, the two socks in each pair change color at about the same rate.

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Brian A. Barbour)

Green knee-high socks

As mentioned above, the magnitude of one’s hipsteriness is defined by how “rustic” their clothing looks. That’s why they’ll dress like lumberjacks despite having never touched an axe.

That means they’re chomping at the bit for any piece of clothing that starts to wear out after a single day! Luckily for all you hipsters out there, these green socks turn puke yellow after just one wear. Now that’s efficiency!

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

“Oh, god. Is Lieutenant Carl still trying to do the whole Batman thing?” — “Yeah, just ignore him and it’ll stop…”

(U.S. Marine Corps)

Mess dress cape

Hipsters must go overboard with everything they wear — otherwise, they won’t get enough attention. It doesn’t matter if it’s the dead of summer, they’ll still wear a cardigan with a loud scarf. They keep beanies securely affixed to their heads until they’ve grown enough hair to sport a man bun.

Why not add the most over-the-top piece of an officer’s uniform? You know, that cape they’ve all secretly purchased but won’t dare wearing to the unit ball?

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Obviously a picture of them in the bag. The internet couldn’t handle the raw sexual energy that these things exude when worn by a model.

(Exchange)

Those sexy AF military-issued skivvies

For some reason, hipsters always seem to dress like it’s laundry day. For the troops, laundry day is the only time that anyone would ever dare to put on these bad boys.

I mean, who doesn’t want to prove their manliness by having their genitals rubbed up against sandpaper all day?

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Except this guy. He managed to pull the look off. But you are not this guy, so you can’t.

(Tennessee State Archives)

GI glasses

I’d love to make some funny, sort of ironic joke about hipsters wanting to wear the BCGs — but that’s almost exactly the type of glasses that they actually wear, whether they need prescription lenses or not.

When troops who wear glasses get to their first unit, they immediately toss their up-armored eyewear and carry on wearing whatever else. Barely anyone in the history of these damned glasses has looked good in them — but for some reason, hipsters think they cracked the code.

MIGHTY CULTURE

After 45 years, Green Beret faces his past in Vietnam — part ten

Any time in life that you do something, you tend to forget the bad and remember the good. I remembered the good. I wasn’t sure I wanted to remember the bad.

For a long time, I talked to a bunch of my peers in the Special Forces community that had made the trip back to Vietnam. They wanted to go back and see what it, see what it was like for whatever reason. Everybody has a personal reason that they want to do it.

I never found a reason because I’ve always had this whole thing in my mind, when I have a traumatic situation – I’ve got a box I put it in my head and I just put it away. After a while, I decided that it was probably time to take some of those back out, and so I said yes going back to Vietnam.


Surprisingly to me, it provided closure to a circle that I didn’t know was open. It was an interesting experience. It was a cathartic experience. It was an experience that closed that loop for me that had been open because I chose not to close it before.

I didn’t know that I needed to do that.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

I’ve been back to Vietnam and I would recommend to anyone who has ever been there in a combat role, go back and look at it. Don’t be afraid of your past. Address it and deal with it.

Make your experience count.

Richard Rice
5th Special Forces Group
US Army 1966-94
Senior Advisor, GORUCK

Follow Richard Rice’s 10-part journey:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

Part Nine

This article originally appeared on GORUCK. Follow @GORUCK on Twitter.

Lists

9 reasons you should have joined the Marines instead

Do you remember that day you arrived at the armed forces recruiting office years ago? Sure, you do.


Every day, young men and women walk in with the prospect of serving their country. While some decide against joining, others sign their name on the dotted line and ship off to boot camp.

Most people didn’t take the time to think about what the military branch can do for them — they were just eager to join.

If you didn’t pick the Marine Corps, you freakin’ messed up, and here are nine reasons why.

Also Read: 9 reasons why you should have joined the Army instead

1. The Marine Corps’ dress blue uniform is hands down the coolest looking one in the military.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
(Source: Marines.com)

2. The Marines have the best birthday parties ever, and they take celebrities as their dates.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
Sgt. Scott Moore and his guest, actress Mila Kunis attend the 236th Marine Corps birthday ball.

3. The Marine Corps emblem — the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor — is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. You could be wearing one now if you would’ve joined.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
Semper Fi!

4. They have the toughest boot camp in the military. So just graduating says a lot about an individual.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
Every recruit loves their DI.

5. Some of the most successful actors served in the Marine Corps. Drew Carey, Gene Hackman, and WATM’s good friend Rob Riggle just to name a few.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
Actor and Marine veteran Rob Riggle.

6. You could have been a part of some major military moments in history. Marines have fought in every American conflict since they were created in 1775.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
Marines raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.

7. Since all Marines are considered riflemen, you’ll learn to eat concertina wire, piss napalm, and put a round through a flea’s ass at 200 meters.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

8. Anyone can claim the title of a sailor if you have been on a boat. Anyone call themselves a soldier if they listen to a lot of rap music. Lastly, anyone can call themselves an airman if you’ve flown once or twice. But the title of a Marine is never just handed out — it’s earned.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years
Two U.S. Marines guard two local nationals during enemy contact.

9. When there’s a significant conflict poppin’ off anywhere around the world, America sends in the Marines first. It’s best fighting force when you need to settle things down.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is how the Russians turned this fighter into a bomber

We’ve talked about how many Americans fighters have gone on to serve as kick-ass bombers. But did you know that the Russians managed to do the same thing with one of their fighters? All they had to do was sacrifice any hopes of a multirole capability to do it.


That plane was the MiG-23 “Flogger”, a fighter that was later modified to become the MiG-27, a ground-attack aircraft. In a very real sense, the Soviets, in designing the Flogger, created an airframe that was able to carry out both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. In a sense, it’s a lot like the F-86H Sabre, a lethal bomber created from an air-superiority fighter base.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

The MiG-23 was primarily designed to carry air-to-air missiles like the AA-7 Apex and the AA-8 Aphid.

(DOD)

The MiG-23 first entered service as a fighter in 1971. It was a notable improvement over the MiG-21 in that it carried medium-range, radar-guided AA-7 Apex missiles that could be guided toward targets using the on-board High Lark radar. The Flogger could also use the AA-2 Atoll and AA-8 Aphid air-to-air missiles, which primarily used infrared guidance. The plane also packed a twin-barrel 23mm gun for dogfighting.

But the Soviets also wanted a ground-attack plane. Although the MiG-23 could haul just over 6,500 pounds of armaments, the Soviets wanted more.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

The MiG-27, seen here, replaced the High Lark radar with sensors optimized for the air-to-ground mission, including a laser-range finder.

(Photo by Rob Schleiffert)

The MiG-27 entered service in 1975. Early versions maintained the twin 23mm guns of the MiG-23, but this Flogger was intended to hit targets on the ground and eventually was given a proper gun for it — a six-barrel 30mm Gatling gun. It could carry almost 9,000 pounds of bombs. The plane also featured a laser rangefinder.

In order to make room for all of those ground-attack tools, the Soviets removed the High Lark radar. This didn’t leave it completely defenseless in the air — the MiG-27 could still carry heat-seeking missiles.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Something all too familiar to Flogger pilots: An American or Israeli jet on their six.

(U.S. Navy)

The MiG-23 was produced in huge numbers and saw action in the hands of countries like Libya, Syria, and Iraq. American and Israeli pilots had no problem blowing the Flogger out of the sky, though. Despite a lot of negative combat experiences, over 5,000 Floggers of all types were produced. The Soviet Union and India also produced almost 1,100 MiG-27s. Some Indian MiG-27s, though, went on to become true multirole fighters.

MIGHTY TRENDING

DoD says those who try to overrun embassy will ‘run into a buzzsaw’

The Pentagon warned on Thursday morning that anyone who tries to breach the US Embassy in Baghdad would face a “buzzsaw.”

Swarms of violent protesters and apparent supporters of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia targeted by recent US airstrikes stormed the gates of the embassy on Tuesday, forcing the Pentagon to react.

About 100 Marines from a special crisis-response unit created after the 2012 attacks on US diplomatic posts in Benghazi, Libya, were sent in to reinforce the embassy, and 750 paratroopers from the Army 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force deployed to the US Central Command area of operations.


At a press briefing on Thursday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, said that “we are very confident in the integrity of that embassy.”

“It is highly unlikely to be physically overrun by anyone,” he said, adding that “anyone who attempts to overrun that will run into a buzzsaw.”

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley

(DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Burden)

The US on Sunday conducted airstrikes against five positions of the militia, Kataib Hezbollah, in retaliation for a rocket attack days earlier on an Iraqi base that killed a US contractor and wounded several American service members.

President Donald Trump has pinned the blame for both the rocket attack and the assault on the embassy on Iran.

“Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible,” he tweeted on Tuesday, later adding: “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat.”

The past year has been largely characterized by heightened tensions with Iran, which the US military has deployed roughly 15,000 troops to counter since May.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said at the briefing on Thursday, according to Voice of America, that the US would “take preemptive action” against Kataib Hezbollah and other Iran-backed militias in Iraq “to protect American forces, to protect American lives.”

He added: “The game has changed. We’re prepared to do what is necessary.”

Esper said that there were indications that groups opposed to the US presence in the area might be planning additional attacks.

“Do I think they may do something? Yes. And they will likely regret it,” he said.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper.

(DoD photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nicole Mejia)

The Department of State told Insider on Wednesday that the situation at the embassy “has improved” and that the Iraqi security forces had stepped in to provide additional security, clearing protesters away from the outpost.

The embassy, which cost an estimated 0 million, is in a 104-acre compound in the fortified Green Zone, making it the world’s largest embassy.

“Though the situation around the Embassy perimeter has calmed significantly, post security posture remains heightened,” the emailed statement read. The Pentagon has left the door open to sending more troops to the Middle East to counter threats to US personnel in the region.

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

MUSIC

The history of the ‘Dead March’ played before military executions

The U.S. military hasn’t executed a prisoner since the 1961 hanging of Pvt. John Bennett at Fort Leavenworth. Prior to 1959, prisoners sent to the gallows by the U.S. military were afforded certain last rights demanded by regulations that included an escort, a chaplain, a last meal, unlimited letters to loved ones, and a military band.

Listeners might be familiar with aa few bars of legendary Polish composer Frederic Chopin’s Funeral March, either through military film or television – or through the WWE’s Undertaker entrance music. The Army’s regulations called for every execution (or series of executions) have a military band accompany the prisoner(s) to the gallows playing the classical tune.

The updated guidance for military executions as of 1959 did not call for the band, but still included the meal, letters, and religious paraphernalia. Only ten military members have been executed for crimes outside of wartime, and only two of those were executed after Apr. 7, 1959, and they did not walk to the gallows to the “Dead March.” Private Bennett and John E. Day, both convicted killers, were hanged in the boiler room of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth to no fanfare.


How Chopin’s “Funeral March” became the official U.S. military death march is another story. The song comes from the composer’s Sonata No. 2 in B Flat Minor. Chopin was celebrated for his piano miniatures, and the Funeral March (the sonata’s third movement) was written much earlier than any of his sonatas. Chopin is said to have penned the work commemorating the 1830-1831 November Uprising, where ethnic Poles attempted to shake off the yoke of the Russian Empire.

The hopeful uprising was soon put down by the Russian Army, and the Tsar tightened Russia’s grip on Poland. Chopin’s original manuscript featured the date of the uprising’s start, Nov. 28, 1830. The piece’s dark tone and minor keys immediately associated it with death and it was played at the composer’s funeral – as well as those of John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, and even Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev.

The song would come to ingratiate itself in pop culture around the world as a song (rightly) associated with death and dying, from Saturday morning cartoons to Deadmau5.

The U.S. military’s (and many other armed forces around the world) bands, drums, and buglers all played an important battlefield communications function for centuries. Troops, unable to hear the orders of their officers over the din of fighting, would hear and could respond to general orders as played through songs.

In the years following Chopin’s Sonata No. 2, it became increasingly popular. The Funeral March was the most popular part of an already-popular musical hit. Soon after, the song’s popularity took on a life of its own and the song came full-circle from one of seriousness and piety toward the dead to one of parody. The music that called to mind death and the fragility of life was now being used to make fun of the same concepts.

The piece hasn’t always been just for executions. It accompanied the American Unknown Soldier from World War I as he made his way aboard ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean one night in Le Havre, France. It has been used for many a prominent U.S. official as they lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

No matter how parodied it was or why it was used, the Funeral March would endure as a powerful piece of music, not just for the U.S. military, but for the world at large. Even to this day, it evokes the foreboding we associate with death and dying.

And that could be why it didn’t endure in military execution regulations. At this point, it just seems overly macabre and slightly cruel.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Why this Civil War vet marched across England with the US flag

Gilbert Bates knew what a lack of understanding between people could lead to: violence and war. Bates was a Civil War veteran of the Wisconsin artillery who knew that people were basically good, no matter what the rumors said. If there was an area that was supposed to be hostile and dangerous for Americans, Bates would set out to prove the rumors wrong.

And he did so on more than one occasion.


After the Civil War ended, Sgt. Bates returned to his Wisconsin farm. Tensions between North and South were still high, even though the war had resolved the major issues. Northerner and Southerner were still mistrustful of one another. But Bates knew the South was in the Union for good. The victory was hard-won, but won nonetheless. So when his Wisconsin neighbors began to circulate rumors that the South was rising once more in rebellion and that any Northerner was not safe down there, Bates set out to prove them wrong by marching across the South with the U.S. Flag in hand.

Bates’ march received so much notoriety at the time that even Mark Twain, the famous American author wrote of it, predicting that Bates would “get more black eyes, down there among those unreconstructed rebels than he can ever carry along with him without breaking his back.” But everyone who predicted his demise greatly exaggerated.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Bates walked across the unreconstructed South, some 1,500 miles, through Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia to Washington, DC. He didn’t arrive on one leg and with an eye missing, as Twain predicted. The opposite was true, actually. Bates received genteel Southern Hospitality everywhere he went, even flying the American flag he carried over the former Confederate capital at Richmond. The only place he wasn’t allowed to fly it was over the U.S. Capitol building.

This march led to Bates taking on a bet. A wealthy friend of his bet the flag carrier that he could not do the same march across England without receiving a single insult. Bates, who had an incredible belief in the goodness of his fellow man took that bet.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

Relations with England at the time of the Civil War were much different from the “Special Relationship” we enjoy today. In the 1860s, the British were more interested in King Cotton than supporting the United States against its rebels. In many ways, the English Crown supported the Confederacy, if not openly, then as an open secret. Still undeterred, Bates marched on foot – in full Union uniform – across the country. He walked some 400 miles from the border of Scotland to London to great fanfare. The English could not support him enough. He never paid for a meal or a place to sleep. By the time he got to London, the crowds swelled so much he had to take a carriage to the raise the Stars and Stripes next to the Union Jack.

Upon arriving, he telegrammed his friend, canceling the bet. To Bates, the event was worth more than any sum.

MIGHTY MOVIES

What to Watch: 10 military series that are 100% binge-worthy

Got an hour or 24? Starting a new show, especially a really good one, can be as exciting as riding a roller coaster, boasts a much lower risk of exposure to COVID-19 and provides days of entertainment rather than minutes.

Dive into these series about the military and government to keep quarantine interesting. While our recommendations include both the classic and the cutting edge, they’ll all keep you entertained and might even teach you something in the process.


I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

1: M*A*S*H

Where to watch: Hulu
Rating: TV-PG

Ah, the classic. M*A*S*H is one of the most popular television series of the past 30 years, depicting life in a hospital base during the Korean War. Running from its first airing in 1972 to 1983, the series proved to be a quintessential series of the 70s. It’s a sitcom, but an abnormal one; each episode has a completely different tone and discusses a diverse range of topics.

That’s part of what makes M*A*S*H so great — it’s an excellent show to watch with family and everyone is guaranteed plenty of laughs while watching, but it also delves into heavier scenarios. Its flexibility is unmatched in film today. M*A*S*H boasts well-known actors such as Alan Alda, Loretta Swit, David Odgen Stiers and Gary Burghoff and has won several Emmy awards. If you haven’t already enjoyed M*A*S*H, seasons one through 11 are available for viewing on Hulu.

2: Madam Secretary

Where to watch: Netflix
Rating: TV-PG

Heartwarming yet surprisingly suspenseful, Madam Secretary made me proud to live under the U.S. government. The family drama depicts fictional Elizabeth McCord, U.S. Secretary of State, as she navigates realistic diplomatic issues in the White House. The series also showcases her homelife as she balances being a working mom and life with her husband Henry McCord, a CIA operative and ethics professor. Tea Leoni plays the lead role of Elizabeth McCord and produced the series as well. The greatest appeal of Madam Secretary is its versatility – it’s easy to watch with family due to its subplot regarding Elizabeth’s home life, and gripping enough to binge by yourself, too. It sounds hard to believe, but take it from someone with an attention span shorter than the average TikTok – you’ll be invested in Elizabeth’s diplomatic dilemmas. Seasons one through 6 are available on Netflix, and additional episodes are on HBO.

3: West Wing

Where to watch: Netflix
Rating: TV-14

West Wing depicts the political excursions of the White House staff and cabinet members of fictional president Josiah ‘Jed’ Bartlet. This series is similar to Madam Secretary, but can be seen as more of a “political epic.” As the series continues and each member of the staff’s personality is portrayed, the show’s superb writing and thorough characterization shine. Actors Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe and Allison Janney star in the show, and the series boasts 27 Emmy awards. Additionally, TV Guide ranked it the “#7 TV drama of all time.” While President Bartlet is a democrat, the show stands out for its depiction of modern issues from an apolitical perspective, highlighting the nuance behind bipartisan decision making. Not to mention, incredible acting for well-written characters.

4: TURN: Washington’s Spies

Where to watch: Netflix
Rating: TV-14

This one’s a bit more historical. Set in 1778, Washington’s Spies depicts a seemingly ordinary farmer who spies on British Loyalists and soldiers for the blooming American government. This one will appeal to anyone who’s been into Hamilton, which – be honest – is probably more of us than we’d like to admit. It’s got all the good military action combined with the appealing, tried-and-true trope of an undercover spy, topped off with rich history. Parents will enjoy the espionage and historical subplots, while kids will enjoy the rich action. A crowd pleaser all around. Seasons one through four are available on Netflix.

5: Veep

Where to watch: HBO
Rating: TV-MA

Veep, considering the profanity, probably isn’t a series to watch with younger audiences, but its satirical take on politics brings a hilarity unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The series depicts the career and personal life of Selina Meyer, the newly elected Vice President of the United States, and her dysfunctional relationship with the president and her staff. Veep is refreshing because political roles – even high up ones – aren’t glorified, as they are in so many other series. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Selina and the show runs for 65 episodes on HBO.

I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

6: Homeland

Where to watch: Hulu, Showtime
Rating: TV-MA

Homeland, while portraying American intelligence in a gripping way, is leagues above other shows listed because of its plot. It’s exciting above all else, and stays interesting and fresh as it follows main character Carrie Mathison. Carrie’s inner demons provide conflicts just as tangible as terrorism threats, and while the seasons build up to climactic, explosive endings, Carrie’s character pulls the show eight seasons. Available on Hulu and Showtime, Homeland stars Claire Danes as Carrie as well as Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend, and Maury Sterling.
I went to North Korea and saw the US Navy ship still being held captive after 50 years

7: Jack Ryan

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video
Rating: TV-MA

Those who fell in love with John Krasinski in The Office will be especially attracted to Jack Ryan – and I don’t just mean the grade school kids who obsess over Jim and Pam. Those of us who have seen Krasinski act in and produce other media know he’s capable of amazing character evolution and series production, and Jack Ryan is no exception. In fact, this show very well may be the best example of his abilities. Season one follows Ryan as he tracks bank activity from Suleiman, an Islamic extremist, and is faced with more action than he ever faced in his intelligence work. Originally released on Amazon Prime in 2018, Jack Ryan quickly became very popular and was later nominated for several Emmy awards. Season two depicts Ryan entangled in Venezuela corruption and political unrest. Jack Ryan should be a go-to when looking for a short action series that’s as eventful as our imagined roller coaster.

8: Band of Brothers

Where to watch: HBO
Rating: TV-MA

The 2001 miniseries Band of Brothers reminds me of a mini pack of MM’s. Following “Easy Company,” a battalion during World War II, Band of Brothers dedicates one episode to each central member. The miniseries is historically accurate, and each episode depicts the actual experience of each member, with the narratives engaging enough to compel the viewer to keep watching more. It’s the classic “one more episode!” approach to every show worth binge watching, and realistically, have you ever only eaten a half of a pack of MMs? From the pilot episode, you want to keep going; the tantalizing string of episodes makes up for what it lacks in length by stellar acting, screenwriting and a hell of a plot. Actors include David Frankel, Mikael Salomon, Tom Hanks and David Leland. It’s produced by Steven Speilberg and Tom Hanks and won seven Emmy awards.

9: The Spy

Where to watch: Netflix
Rating: TV-MA

Ah, another historically accurate miniseries! The Spy portrays the mission of spy Eli Cohen during the often-overlooked six day war between Israel and Syria. Taking place in 1967, the miniseries follows the aforementioned Eli Cohen as he spies on the Syrian government for the Israeli Intelligence Agency (Mossad). Cohen establishes himself among Syria’s elite, and is promoted in the Syrian military. The series is only six episodes, and therefore is a quick watch. Similar to Band of Brothers, The Spy leaves you wanting more after each episode. It’s available on Netflix.

10: The Blacklist

Where to watch: Netflix
Rating: TV-14

The Blacklist depicts the endeavors of ex-crime boss Red Reddington and his requested FBI forensic psychologist partner, Elizabeth Keen, as the duo take down crime lords that Reddington used to work with. Each episode depicts the pursuit of a criminal so cunning and covert they aren’t even known to authorities. Reddington’s assistance in the mission. The Blacklist stands out for its refreshing take on a classic crime trope, and keeps the viewer interested with the clues into the nature of the personal lives of Reddington and Keen. Spanning seven seasons, The Blacklist is easy to binge watch or to fall back onto when tired of other shows. It stars James Spader and Megan Boone and won the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy in 2014.

Happy Binging!