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What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

In April 2004, a convoy of Marines came under small arms and RPG fire near Karabilah, Iraq. Marines from Camp Husaybah were dispatched to go in search of the attackers. While searching vehicles for weapons at a checkpoint, one Marine was assaulted by an unknown Iraqi holding a grenade. That Marine was Cpl. Jason Dunham.


The two fell to the ground. From the Iraqi’s hand came a live grenade. Dunham threw himself on top of it, covering the grenade with his kevlar helmet and his body. When it exploded, the grenade shredded his helmet and mortally wounded the 22-year-old Dunham. He died a few days later, on Apr. 22, 2004.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar
On the table is what remained of Cpl. Dunham’s kevlar helmet after taking a full grenade blast.

Jason Dunham did what he thought was the right thing to do: heroically throwing himself on a grenade to save others. The selfless act rightfully earned him the Medal of Honor, which was presented to his family by President George W. Bush in January 2007. A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer now bears his name (and his dress uniform, complete with Medal of Honor, on its quarterdeck).

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar
Dunham (left) posthumously received the Medal of Honor three years later. An Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer was named USS Jason Dunham in his honor. He was the first Marine awarded the Medal of Honor for Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Navy courtesy photo)

Using the kevlar helmet did blunt the explosion, according to a Wall Street Journal reporter who followed Dunham’s story very closely. But the shrapnel pierced Dunham’s skull and he suffered heavy brain damage. No one else in the area received life-threatening injuries.

What makes the story even more remarkable is that Cpl. Dunham and his fellow Marines had been talking about the very same eventuality just a few days prior — what to do in case you have to respond to a grenade attack. One Marine advised kicking it away. Another said to drop and make yourself a small target for the fragments with your feet facing the grenade. Dunham’s response to the real-life situation was exactly what he said it should be: He covered it with his helmet.

Is that the best way to handle a grenade? No, but in the opinion of other infantry veterans, Dunham did the right thing. Anyone who covers a grenade with their kevlar is going to be severely wounded. And, chances are, Dunham would probably have been killed by the grenade regardless due to his proximity. But his helmet likely absorbed all of the grenade’s shrapnel and allowed his fellow Marines to come out relatively unscathed.

But what do you do if you don’t have a hero like a Jason Dunham to throw himself on a grenade and save you? Dan Rosenthal, an infantry veteran and three-time top Quora writer, has some advice for those who face a grenade without any cover to hide behind. First and foremost, don’t try to throw it back. You have about three to five seconds of reaction time, so running isn’t an option. Basically, expect to get hit – but minimize where and how much you’re hit to maximize your chances of survival.

If you didn’t dig your defensive fighting position with a grenade sump, the best thing you can do is get down on the ground with your kevlar pointed toward the blast. Helmets (and modern shoulder pads) were designed to protect from fragmentation.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar
Might be worth the effort.

Your second best bet is to put your feet toward the blast. This technique is most notable for civilians falling victim to a terrorist attack that uses grenades. Minimize exposure to the blast and make yourself a small target for the fragmentation.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China is suspicious of a huge multinational naval force near Guam

US, Japanese, and Indian warships converged in Guam for the 22nd iteration of Exercise Malabar, an annual exercise focused on developing coordination and training to counter maritime threats.

2018’s version of the exercise, which is the first to take place around Guam, runs from June 7 to June 16, 2018, but as the ships involved gathered beforehand, the Chinese navy was keeping an eye on the proceedings.


Indian ships sailing to Guam were shadowed by Chinese warships in the South China Sea, breaking off only when the Indian ships entered the Philippine Sea.

“We had good, polite conversation. They were there for some time, and then broke off,” Rear Adm. Dinesh K. Tripathi, commander of India’s Eastern Fleet and head of India’s delegation to Malabar 2018, told The Economic Times. “The moment we entered the Pacific across the Philippines Sea, they went back. It was interesting.”

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar
Ships of the United States, India, Japan,u00a0Australia, and Singapore in the Bay of Bengal.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Stephen W. Rowe)

Surveillance by Chinese ships, which Tripathi said was “not surprising,” comes a few weeks after Indian warships spotted a Chinese ship “tailing them at a safe distance” as they left Vietnam, following the first joint exercise between those two countries.

“We knew we were being tailed, but we were on international waters or global commons, and therefore took evasive measures,” sources told India Today of the incident.

That exercise, which ran from May 21 to May 25, 2018, attracted Chinese ire, with a Global Times op-ed calling it “a futile attempt to flex muscle.”

‘Distance actually does not matter’

Malabar started in 1992 as a US-India bilateral exercise. It has been done annually since then — with the exception of 1998 through 2002, after India’s 1998 nuclear tests — expanding to a trilateral exercise with Japan’s addition in 2015.

Other countries have participated in the past, though Indian has declined Australia’s request to take part for the past two years. (Observers suspect Chinese pressure is behind Canberra’s exclusion.)

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar
US, Japanese, and Indian personnel aboard Japan’s Hyuga-class helicopter carrier JS Ise during Malabar 2018, June 7, 2018.
(Indian Navy / Twitter)

Malabar 2018 consists of on-shore and at-sea portions. The former ran from June 7 to June 10, 2018, involving expert and professional exchanges on carrier strike group, maritime patrol, and reconnaissance operations as well as on surface and anti-submarine warfare. The latter portion lasts from June 11 to June 16, 2018, in the Philippine Sea, and will include military-to-military coordination, air-defense and surface-warfare exercises, and replenishment while underway.

The US Navy has sent the USS Ronald Reagan, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold, and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft.

India’s participants include stealth frigate INS Sahyadri and the first-in-class antisubmarine-warfare corvette INS Kamorta, which was trailed by a Chinese ship while leaving Vietnam May 2018. India’s fleet tanker INS Shakti and a P-8I Neptune, the Indian variant of the P-8A Poseidon, are also taking part.

Japan sent its Hyunga-class helicopter carrier JS Ise as well as two destroyers, JS Suzunami and JS Fuyuzuki.

As in years past, Malabar 2018 includes a focus on submarine and antisubmarine warfare, a capability that has grown in importance as Chinese submarine activity has increased in the Pacific and Indian oceans.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar
US Navy Rear Adm. Bill Byrne, commander of Carrier Strike Group 11, watches the end of Exercise Malabar 2017 from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, in the Bay of Bengal, July 17, 2017.
(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Holly L. Herline)

A number of countries in the region have been investing more in their submarine forces — India in particular is seeking to add submarines and Neptune maritime-patrol aircraft.

2018’s version of the exercise is also the first since the US Defense Department renamed US Pacific Command as US Indo-Pacific Command— a shift that has been interpreted as both a rhetorical swipe at China and an adjustment to the growing interconnectedness of the Pacific and Indian ocean regions.

Chinese spy ships have been spotted lurking near US naval exercises with partners in the region in the past, and such activity is expected again during Malabar 2018.

For India, basing the exercise in Guam reflects the country’s willingness and ability to project power.

“Distance actually does not matter. Wherever Indian maritime interests are, that is our area of operation,” Tripathi told The Economic Times. “Wherever national interest takes us, we will deploy if needed.”

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

New insight to ISIS found in a fighter’s captured diary

A notebook written in English that may have belonged to an ISIS fighter was reportedly found in a jail in Raqqa, according to the National, which exclusively obtained the notebook from an unnamed source.

The notebook reportedly details the inner workings of the militant group, including their future plans, military shortcomings, and issues foreign fighters faced within the group.


According to pictures of the purported notebook provided by the National, the pages appear to be written in English by one author who used American spelling of words and numbers. A second author wrote in French, and Arabic was used in some of the text as well.

The author details ISIS’s core strategies for maintaining control in the region.

On one page, the author describes how to prevent defectors from leaving ISIS territory: “We should push civilians who want to flee to our centers of gravity in Mosul and Raqqa.” The author added: “The enemy might try to break our control over an area and allow civilians to escape.”

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar
Hidden camera footage of what life was like under ISIS control in Raqqa.

The notebook describes a solution, written in large letters “THE BIG SOLUTION” which explains that ISIS should not use “conventional military power against a much stronger foe,” and suggests the group focus on “insurgency” until their “political situation allows for a more conventional approach.”

Another page compares several types of guns and their cost in dollars using hand drawn pictures.

The author also discusses expanding efforts to other countries, including Saudi Arabia. A page reportedly questions: “How to make Saudi like Syria? Can we get people to hate Their [sic] rulers?”

The author continues: “Mecca and Medina are a priority for the [caliphate] to actually influence world Muslims. But to get there we need to destabilize Al-Saud. Direct action against Al-Saud from Iraq will likely fail militarily and attract US ground troops so the best way to do this is internally, with the support for Yemen and Iraq.”

The writings also appear to show that ISIS fighters kept up with international news, and often monitored global political cycles.

The author offers suggestions on how to pull “the USA to another major war to exhaust its economy.” The writer also extensively followed the US presidential elections, and said key decisions would depend on US political action.

“The US decisions are very important, and they depend on the Presidential elections.”

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar
Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“However, if democrats lose, a Republican administration would be more likely to bring US boots on the ground, and cooperation with Iran will likely stop,” the author reportedly wrote.

The journal also reportedly layed out a strategy for confronting the US on the battlefield: “Fighting the USA might be more dangerous militarily, but it will grant IS respect in muslim [sic] eyes.”

The notebook also reveals the innermost thoughts of what appears to have been a foreign ISIS fighter. At the bottom of a page detailing “important” military issues “to study,” the author asks himself: “Who am I? What should I do? Why am I here? How did I reach this place?”

According to the report, the author bemoans several limitations within the group, including lack of training time to militant fighters and notes there were “problems created by different languages.”

Associate Professor at the Naval War College Monterey, Dr. Craig Whiteside, told the National that there were notable similarities between the strategies laid out in the book and the strategies taught in western military training.

“The author has studied topics we study in a war college, such as the differences between policy and strategy.”

“If this is a foreign fighter, not studying their own country for military facilities but instead learning about Iraq and Syria, the goal is to encourage them to stay,” he added.

Figures from October 2017 show more than 40,000 fighters from more than 110 countries flocked to Syria and Iraq after its establishment in 2014. Reports indicate that roughly 129 US nationals joined the caliphate. Of those foreign fighters, at least 5,600 citizens or residents from 33 countries who have returned home.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This is the new helicopter guarding America’s nukes

In what many have defined as an upset victory, the United States Air Force announced the selection of the MH-139, to replace its fleet of UH-1N “Huey” helicopters. A 375M USD firm-fixed-price contract for the non-developmental item integration of four aircraft was awarded on Sept. 14, 2018. If all options are exercised the programme is valued at $2.4 billion for up to 84 helicopters, training devices, and associated support equipment until 2031.


The new choppers, based on the Leonardo AW139 and offered by Boeing as prime contractor, are expected to reach the IOC (initial operational capability) in 2021 (this is what Leonardo claims in its press release even though it appears a bit optimistic considered that the Lockheed Martin and Sierra Nevada, both offering UH-60 Black Hawk variants, may contest the award) when they will replace the old Huey taking over the role of protecting the America’s ICBM missile silos as well as VIP transportation and utility tasks.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

MH-139 demonstrator.

(Boeing / Leonardo)

The MH-139 leverages the market-leading Leonardo AW139 baseline, a modern, non-developmental, multi-mission helicopter that is in service with 270 governments, militaries and companies across the world. According to Leonardo, over 900 AW139s are already in service with 260 assembled and delivered from Philadelphia, where the U.S. Air Force’s MH-139 will be assembled.

The U.S. Air Force MH-139 will be equipped with sensor turret under the nose with electro-optical and infrared cameras, provisions for machine gun mounts and possibly hoists: in other words the new AW139 variant will be not too different from the HH-139A, a military variant in service with the Italian Air Force we have often talked about here at The Aviationist.

The HH-139A is a multirole chopper equipped with an integrated NVG-compatible glass cockpit, 4-axis digital Digital AFCS (automatic flight control system) with SAR modes FMS SAR patterns, weather/search radar, TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) II, FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red), Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS), Digital video recorder, Video downlink, Moving map on flat display, Auto-Deployable ELT (ADELT) and Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS).

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

MH-139.

(Boeing photo)

The HH-139A also features a secure communications suite, integrated defensive aids suite, hoist, search light, wire cutters, cargo hook, loudspeaker system, and emergency floatation gear and any other equipment required to perform “convetional” search and rescue, as well as Combat SAR missions.

The helicopter features provisions two wing-mounted pods for 70 mm unguided rockets as those presented by AgustaWestland at Farnborough International Airshow in 2012.

The Italian Air Force helicopter can do also something else. Since they can carry a bambi bucket they can perform aerial firefighting activity. Beginning in 2018, the Italian HH-139A belonging to the 82° Centro CSAR (Combat SAR Center) from Trapani have carried out firefighting tasks in Sicily.

Feature image: Boeing MH-139.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

3 injured as Syria intercepts Israeli missiles

Syrian state media says the country’s air defenses have downed several Israeli missiles in a wave of attacks that injured three soldiers.

Syria’s state news agency SANA reported on Dec. 25, 2018, that most of the missiles fired from Israeli jets were intercepted before reaching their targets.

“Our air defenses confronted hostile missiles launched by Israeli war planes from above the Lebanese territories and downed most of them before reaching their targets,” SANA quoted a military source as saying. The source added that an arms depot was hit and three soldiers were injured in the attack.


The Israeli Army only noted on its official Twitter account that “an IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] aerial defense system activated in response to an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria,” while the U.K.-based monitoring group The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the missiles were launched from above Lebanese territories and targeted western and southwestern Damascus rural areas.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria has been engulfed in a bloody civil war since 2011 with Russia and Iran backing President Bashar al-Assad.

Israel has become alarmed at Tehran’s increased power in the country and has struck targets it says are Iranian deployments.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

52 years later, rock legend remembers time in Army

While marching back and forth on a hot Kentucky asphalt parade field in the spring of 1967, musical lyrics began to dance around inside John Fogerty’s head —

“It’s been an awful long time since I been home …”

What he recently described as a kind of transcendental meditation, or delirium, would sweep over him during those long hours marching at Fort Knox, a delirium that afforded him time to think about his life, and his dreams —

“But you won’t catch me goin’ back down there alone …”


More than 50 years later, Fogerty is celebrating a half-century of powerful rock music he has created, music that critics often agree helped shape the mindset of many young men and women during and after the Vietnam War era. Before there was Credence Clearwater Revival, however, there was a 20-year-old man trying to make his way on a very different path.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Quite possibly his only military photo, rocker John Fogerty poses in his Army uniform in 1967 prior to becoming a supply clerk.

(U.S. Army photo courtesy of Melissa DragichCordero)

“I was internationally unknown back then,” said Fogerty earlier this month, during a short break in his “John Fogerty: My 50-Year Trip” North American tour, including a stop in Louisville Sept. 20 to perform in the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center at Bourbon Beyond 2019.

As a war in Vietnam was beginning to ramp up in 1966, Fogerty walked into a recruiter’s office around the same time his draft number came up. Whether as a draftee or volunteer, he expected that he would be joining the military. When he left the recruiter’s office, he signed on with the U.S. Army Reserve as a supply clerk.

“I was on active duty for six months, but I was in the Reserves between 1966 and 1968,” said Fogerty.

Soon after enlisting, he went through basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Between his time at Fort Bragg and advanced individual training at the Quartermaster School in Fort Lee, Virginia, he found himself stationed at Fort Knox.

“It was pretty intense because this was right at the height of the Vietnam War,” said Fogerty. “Every young man’s clock was running pretty fast.”

As he talked about his time at Fort Knox, memories bubbled up to the surface.

“At various times, we had a kind of special guard duty for 24 hours straight,” said Fogerty. “We had to polish all our brass and our boots were highly spit-shined. Your uniform had to be perfect. We went to a different place where we were on for two hours and then off for about eight.”

He said one particular guard duty shift left a mark on him.

“After I had been there only about five or 10 minutes, I had just walked in, there were two or three guys crowded around this one wall. They were looking at Elvis Presley’s signature — It said, ‘Elvis Presley ’58,'” said Fogerty. “I wish I’d had a camera. Back in those days, we didn’t have phones with cameras in them.”

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

While on tour with Credence Clearwater Revival sometime between 1968 and 1972, John Fogerty wows the crowds at a concert.

(Baron Wolman photo courtesy of Melissa DragichCordero)

He remembered another time when he decided against going into Louisville on a weekend pass. That same weekend was Kentucky Derby weekend, and he gave a friend of his money to place a bet on a horse in the race — a horse named Damascus.

“I had given my friend but I was always conservative, so I wanted him to make the safest bet, which was for the horse to come in third,” said Fogerty.

Damascus did come in third, but Fogerty didn’t receive any prize money.

“He had bet on that horse to win,” said Fogerty, laughing.

Fogerty shares the Fort Knox alumni stage with another musical great — 1950s rocker Buddy Knox. While stationed at the installation in 1957, Knox was sent to the Ed Sullivan Show to perform two of his big hits at that time.

Fogerty remembered watching that show.

“I saw him on TV wearing his military uniform. He had a heck of a year in ’57. He was part of three different singles that each sold a million,” said Fogerty. “He was with a guy named Jimmy Bowen. On Jimmy Bowen’s record it reads, ‘Jimmy Bowen and the Rhythm Orchids,’ and you assume that was some backing band.

“Well, on Buddy Knox’s record, it reads, ‘Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids,’ and that meant the other person was Jimmy Bowen. [Buddy Knox] had one of the biggest careers of anybody, all in that year.”

While music has played a big role throughout Fogerty’s life, he said no matter how far he travels to perform for others, he is never far away from his military identity.

“Sometimes it shows up in ways you can identify, and you’re really proud of that, especially personal discipline,” said Fogerty. “At other times, it’s just part of what makes you you. I think almost anybody who’s been in the military realizes that there’s a certain amount of maturity you have. You can’t help it; you either shape up or ship out — most of us choose to shape up.”

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

John Fogerty takes a break to wipe down his guitar. He attributes his brief military service with teaching him about discipline and teamwork as well as influencing some of the music he has written over the past 50 years.

(Melissa DragichCordero)

His military experience is not one he shies away from admitting.

“Life is what it is so you can’t change it, but I certainly am proud of that time,” said Fogerty. “There’s a lot of insight that you learn about getting along with people and what is the mindset inside the military, and I’m not talking about people who make policy. I mean grunts like who I was who are cogs in the wheel.

“You really do learn how to discipline yourself and be part of a team that helps make things flow because that’s part of your job.”

Fogerty said his military identity also comes out from time to time in his songs. While the most famous of these is the hit “Fortunate Son,” there are others.

“I have a song called ‘Wrote a Song for Everyone.’ It’s a bit mysterious, but it comes from a guy who went through the military at a very emotional and volatile time in history,” said Fogerty. “And a lot of the songs that talk about, or are reflective of my personality — taking note of class structure or the inequality of the way society works — certainly, those are references to my time in the military.”

Some of the songs have a more direct tie to his military background —

“They came and took my dad away to serve some time, but it was me that paid the debt he left behind …”

A lesser-known hit penned by the man Rolling Stones magazine named the 40th Greatest Guitarist and 72nd Greatest Singer of all time, “Porterville” became the first song the Golliwogs released after they changed their name to Credence Clearwater Revival.

The song was conceived in the heat of central Kentucky, according to Fogerty, forged by a young soldier marching for countless hours on a 1-mile square asphalt parade field, dreaming of someday becoming a rock star.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Putin buys WWII tanks for propaganda boost after T-14 program fails

Russia put on an intimidating show of force in 2015 by unveiling the T-14 Armata main battle tank, which represented a bold new design billed as an unstoppable NATO tank killer.

Russia was to make and field 2,300 T-14s by 2025, but as of 2019 only has some 100 on order and less than two dozen operating in tests, The Diplomat reports.

Four years later, Russia has scrapped plans to reproduce the tank that sputtered and stalled in Moscow’s Red Square in the 2015 Victory Day parade, and found an older tank to do its job instead.


Russia on Jan. 10, 2019, announced it had bought 30 WWII-era T-34 battle tanks from Laos, which it said were combat-ready, but would be used in parades and making WWII movies.

As The Drive pointed out, this means Russia will buy more of the 70-year-old tanks than it will of its new T-14, and it indicates how Russian President Vladimir Putin has changed course after failing to modernize his military.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

A Russian Army T-14 Armata tank.

T-14: The NATO killer that died in budget cuts

The T-14 in 2015 cast a menacing figure. Russia, previously crippled by debt and still shrugging off the collapse of the Soviet Union, had updated its main battle tank, something Western countries had only done incrementally.

While the US was adapting its M1 Abrams tank to urban combat against weaker enemies in Iraq, Russia had devised a tank designed to kill other tanks.

With automatic loading, an unmanned turret, reactive and active armor, and a bigger gun than any Western tank, Moscow had announced its focus on a return to the kind of conventional ground war that rocked Europe throughout the 21st century.

But like with many Russian defense projects, the bark proved worse than the bite. In the following years, Russia announced the T-14 wouldn’t see mass production. Instead, Russia would upgrade its capable T-80 and T-90 tanks which were seeing combat in Ukraine and Syria.

While the upgraded T-90 tanks proved effective in those battlefields, they lacked the propaganda boost of a new, unstoppable tank afforded Putin.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

A World War II-era Soviet T-34 tank during the 2018 Moscow Victory Day Parade.

Pivot to the past

Putin’s bet on the T-14 as the future face of Russia’s military power failed, but, ever resourceful, Russia has now pivoted to the past.

Soviet tankers with T-34s in the eastern front of WWII fought in grueling battles that eventually saw Adolf Hitler’s Nazi forces overwhelmed and the Soviet flag planted atop the Reichstag in Berlin.

Putin has frequently tried to revise and leverage the Soviet’s hard-fought success in World War II to bolster nationalism and support for his aggressive government, which stands accused of war crimes in Syria and backing separatist forces in Ukraine.

A state-funded film titled “T-34,” which tells the story of a Russian tank crew escaping a Nazi camp, smashed box office records in Russia in January 2019. The Associated Press reported that any criticisms of the film have been silenced.

Now Russia will seek to use the T-34s in other propaganda spectacles, it said.

Russians have every reason to be proud of their country’s massive sacrifice in WWII and the tanks that have operated for seven decades.

But the tanks, be they T-34s or T-14s, won’t lift Russians out of poverty or allow them to enjoy any new opportunities.

Nor will they fight in wars, as they’ve always been pawns in a propaganda game deftly executed by Putin to scare the West with paper tigers and feed the public with empty stories of bygone greatness.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Pin-Ups for Vets proves women can be strong AND feminine

From Military Police to Medical Corpsmen, Gina Elise’s 2020 Pin-Ups are continued proof that military veterans aren’t just men with high-and-tight haircuts.

Pin-Ups for Vets is a non-profit organization that supports hospitalized and deployed veterans and military families. Founded by Gina Elise, who describes herself (accurately) as a very patriotic citizen, the organization is comprised of volunteers — many of them veterans — who visit service members at their bedside in VA and military hospitals; attend military events; and help raise funds for hospital equipment, gold star families, and deployed vets.

They embody service after service — and they’re changing the perspective about women in the military.


What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Erikka Davis on active duty (left) and in the 2020 Pin-Ups for Vets calendar (right).

Erikka Davis, U.S. Army

Erikka Davis enlisted when she was 17 and quickly deployed to Iraq as Military Police attached to the 4th Infantry Division, where she helped conduct raids, provide convoy escorts, house inmates, and support local law and order. She survived an IED attack against her three vehicle convoy, hired and retrained local Iraqi Police, and held a leadership position in the early stages of the Iraqi conflict — not an easy position for anyone.

“As a female MP, it is difficult to be respected, so hardening my personality seemed to be an effective way to keep up with my fellow male soldiers. This has been a difficult switch to turn off. Pin-Ups for Vets is slowly reminding me that I am not only allowed to be a veteran, but a lady as well.”

Davis is not the first veteran to describe this mentality — that somehow women are expected to suppress a part of themselves in order to earn the respect of male peers. Pin-Ups for Vets allows female veterans to reclaim that part of themselves within a community — and as a bonus, they get to continue to give back to the community at large.

“If I can do anything to aid in the boosting of morale for our veterans and active duty members, I would gladly partake.”

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Jessica Bowling on active duty (left) and in the 2020 Pin-Ups for Vets calendar (right).

Jessica Bowling, U.S. Army

Jessica Bowling supported EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Operations in the United States Army for eight years, during which she deployed to Afghanistan in support of 10th Mountain Division. Her company was formally recognized for its live-saving efforts by General David Petraeus, the four-star general who served as Commander of U.S. and ISAF forces in Afghanistan.

“We had a code in the Army: ‘leave no one behind.’ I love that Pin-Ups for Vets is taking care of vets and is doing so much to honor and celebrate women veterans. My passion is women veterans and ending homelessness in our veteran community,” proclaimed Bowling.

She’s in the right place; Pin-Ups for Vets has supported homeless female veterans with makeovers and gifts of clothing to help them get back on the right track.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Erika Velasquez on active duty (left) and in the 2020 Pin-Ups for Vets calendar (right).

Erika Velasquez, U.S. Coast Guard

Erika Velasquez served for 15 years as a Medical Corpsman in the U.S. Coast Guard, assisting in search and rescue operations. Medical Corpsmen have fought with their brothers and sisters in “every clime and place” since their creation — it’s a competitive and critical career field.

When asked why she wanted to volunteer with Pin-Ups for Vets, Velasquez said, “I always want to acknowledge and remind the community at large of the sacrifices of our veteran community. I am thankful to each individual who has served and contributed to better the world through their service to others.”

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Gina Elise in the upcoming 2020 calendar, now available for pre-order.

Gina Elise, Founder of Pin-Ups for Vets

Elise has been creating her iconic calendar for 14 years now. “The calendar images are starting a conversation about women in the military. People see the images, and they want to know the stories behind the ladies. They ask, ‘Who is she?’ ‘Where did she serve?’ ‘What did she do in the military?’ The stories of our lady veterans need to be told. The ladies tell me that people often assume that they are not veterans because of their gender. One of our ambassadors, Jovane Marie, who is a Marine Veteran, has summed it up: ‘There is nothing that says I can’t be a hard-charging Marine and a lipstick-wearing pin-up — so I choose to be both.’ These ladies are changing the narrative of what it means to be a veteran. They are breaking the stereotype.”

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Pin-Ups for Vets ambassadors — all military veterans — gather for a group shot on set at Perfect 10 Beauty Studios during the 2020 calendar shoot.

Finding a community after service

Elise produces the calendar herself, but she has gathered together an incredible team. Ana Vergara styles the retro hair and make-up for each of the models, including Elise. Voodoo Vixen provides the dresses and vintage-inspired fashion for the shoots. Shane Karns photographs the entire calendar.

Her team has allowed the organization to donate over ,000 to help VA hospitals purchase new therapy equipment and provide financial assistance for veterans’ healthcare programs. Her volunteers have visited over 13,000 veterans at 68 hospitals across the country. The organization has also provided makeovers for veterans, military spouses, and gold star wives.

There are good days and bad days when it comes to hospitalization or mourning a fallen hero. When Gina Elise and her pin-up volunteers are around, it usually means it’s going to be a good day.

You can support the organization by pre-ordering your 2020 calendar — or donating one to a hospitalized or deployed service member!

MIGHTY HISTORY

7 awesome pirate crews who plundered the Seven Seas

So, after sitting through weeks of military transition classes, you’ve decided, “screw it! I’ll just turn to a life of crime!” Congrats! You’re joining a long tradition — a tradition mostly limited to privateers in the 17th and 18th centuries, sure, but a tradition nonetheless.

So, how about piracy? It’s glamorous, it’s profitable, and it’s exciting (also brutal, uncomfortable, and morally repugnant — but don’t get wound around the axle). Here are seven awesome pirates and their crews who turned their seafaring skills into fun, usually short careers in sea vessel re-appropriation:


What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

The face of a blacksmith who will absolutely start a crime syndicate and use it to topple an empire.

French Pirate King and American hero Jean Lafitte

Jean Lafitte was a French blacksmith who expanded his business into smuggling and piracy until he, his brother, and their men controlled a fleet in Barataria Bay, Louisiana, that was stronger than anything the U.S. Navy had in the area. During the War of 1812, Great Britain decided that it would be way easier to buy their way into New Orleans through him than fight for it.

So they offered him ,000 and a captaincy to help them, but he apparently loved America and told Louisiana instead. Authorities didn’t believe him and imprisoned him until then-Gen. Andrew Jackson pointed out that the British would totally do that. Lafitte and his men fought on Jackson’s side during the Battle of New Orleans and were granted full pardons. They later returned to piracy, focusing on Spanish ships because screw those guys.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Madame Cheng was known for her *ahem* humble roots and her ability to cut your fleet to shreds, fool.

The prostitute pirate Madame Cheng

Cheng was a pirate king looking for love when he fell in with a prostitute and married her. She took the name Cheng I Sao and, when her husband died in 1807, turned his pirate fleet from a successful operation into possibly the largest pirate fleet in history. She overhauled the command structure and rule of law in the fleet, captured vessel after vessel, and made enemies of every European power in China at the time.

But when the Chinese Navy came to stop her, she stomped them so hard that the Chinese military was crippled. They then allied with the Portuguese and British fleets to come after her again, and she stomped them so hard that she ended the battle with more ships and men than she started it with. Finally, China offered her an amnesty and noble title to end the fighting.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Captain Bart Roberts captured 400 ships, including one filled with the Portuguese king’s personal jewels from the middle of a 44-ship fleet.

Black Bart’s buccaneers on the Royal Fortune

Black Bart was born John Roberts (and likely was never called Black Bart while he was still alive). He was forced into piracy in 1719, but was so good at navigation and assessing enemy ships strengths that he was elected commander only six weeks later when the captain was killed.

His flagship was generally named Royal Fortune, and the crews of his ships did very well for themselves when they weren’t attempting to mutiny. Bart’s crews once stole the best ship out of the Portuguese treasure fleet of 44 ships, including two man-of-wars. Onboard were 40,000 gold coins and a cross covered in diamonds destined for the King of Portugal. Black Bart and his men stole another 400 ships during their short career from 1719 to 1722.

Unfortunately, Bart pushed it too far, constantly pushing off his retirement until a British man-of-war forced the issue with grapeshot through his neck.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Benjamin Hornigold was known for his antics as well as his fuzzy features and thin ankles.

(Public Domain)

Blackbeard’s mentor, Benjamin Hornigold

Benjamin Hornigold began his pirate career in 1713 as the head of a small gang of men in canoes, but he quickly built up a fortune and a fleet, eventually leading 350 men in the 30-gun Ranger, possibly the most heavily armed ship in the Bahamas in 1717. In one awesome incident, they stopped a merchant ship and boarded it. Instead of stealing the cargo and ship, though, they said that they had all lost their hats the night before and needed to take the crew’s.

But his men were annoyed that Hornigold never allowed them to attack British ships, so they mutinied. Hornigold fled to Jamaica and received the king’s pardon for his piracy, then became a pirate hunter. No honor among thieves.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Henry Every stands on shore while his ship fights an enemy vessel. Not sure why Every is waving his sword around while hundreds of meters from any action, but whatever.

Henry Every and the Fancy’s successful retirement

Henry Every began his life at sea as a boy and, by 1693, he was an experienced seaman. He took a slot as first mate on a privateer vessel named Charles II. But the vessel sat in port for months and the crew went without pay, so Every stole that ship and renamed it the Fancy.

And the Fancy had a stunning career. Every led the crew to the coast of Africa where they preyed on European merchant vessels and put together a fleet of pirate ships that stole the flagship of India’s Grand Mughal as well as 325,000 British pounds in gold and silver. Then, he cleverly retired. Few of his men faced justice and the rest disappeared wealthy.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Capt. Jack Rackham got his nickname, “Calico Jack,” for his wardrobe. You’d think the fact that he helped a woman escape from prison and potentially got her pregnant while she was on his crew would be what he was known for, but nope. Calico.

(George S. Harris Sons)

Calico Jack Rackham

John Rackham was known for his calico clothing and for stealing the Ranger from then-Captain Charles Vane. He used the Ranger to plunder a series of merchant vessels, but then took the King’s pardon for a seemingly peaceful life. A peaceful life that involved an affair with the wife of a pirate informant. And then he voided his pardon to break said wife out of jail, and they started a new pirate crew and ship.

Rackham had another few months of successful piracy but then partied a little too hard. Capt. Jonathan Barnet was sent to capture Rackham and found him and most of his crew too drunk to defend themselves. Rackham was executed, but the two women in his crew, the aforementioned informant wife, Anne Bonny, and another woman, Mary Read, were pregnant and allowed to live.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

William Kidd, pimp and traitor

William Kidd and his motley traitors

William Kidd was commissioned as a privateer, and he and his men were sent to the West Indies in 1696 where it didn’t go well. They couldn’t find good targets, so, in 1697, they went to Madagascar and started preying on Indian vessels. Then, in 1698, they spotted the Quedagh Merchant, a 500-ton ship loaded with treasures.

Kidd and his crew stole it, making off with a massive boatload of gold, silk, spices, and other goods. Unfortunately for them, one of the owners of the ship was a senior member of the Indian government and put pressure on the English government to turn Kidd over. Kidd tried to escape to America, but he was caught, bundled to England, and hanged on May 23, 1701.

MIGHTY MOVIES

6 of the best slow-motion action scenes ever

Powerful punches, smooth moves, and acrobatic stunts are just some of the elements that make for an impressive action scene. To amp up a film’s imagery and add intensity, some filmmakers go a little beyond the standard fight and employ one of the most dramatic visual techniques: slow motion.

For years, movie directors have altered the frame rates on their cameras to either slow a sequence down or speed it up, based on how they want to tell a story.


Film historians credit August Musger, an Austrian priest and physicist, with inventing the slow-motion effect back at the beginning of the 1900s and, if you’ve been to the movie theater in the last decade, you’ve seen it employed today.

Now, filmmakers use the art of slow motion to allow audiences to pore over every detail of every frame of an intense sequence, to see the intricacies and beauty of an action in a different light. Sometimes, the technique doesn’t land well with audiences and comes across as trite and overplayed. In rare cases, however, the result is so badass that we end up watching the same few, magical seconds over and over again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQF6KlQOzpY

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The exploding IED ‘The Hurt Locker’

Although The Hurt Locker wasn’t a hit among many service members and veterans, director Kathryn Bigelow captured an epic opening sequence that involved cool camera work and a detailed explosion that ripples outward over a rugged landscape.

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Battling it out with the Persians in ‘300’

Who doesn’t like watching an awesome brawl between well-trained armies? That’s what Zack Snyder thought when he directed the combat-rich classic, 300. Although the film is filled with various slow-motion shots, it was best used when the audience runs alongside King Leonidas as he shreds members of the Persian army like it isn’t sh*t.

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Kim Jong-un dies in ‘The Interview’

When the ultra-controversial action-comedy The Interview premiered in theaters, it drew in curious crowds who wanted to see if the film’s main characters were actually going to assassinate a fictional version of Kim Jong-un.

What we got was a slow-motion death scene so graphic that nobody could’ve predicted it.

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Blowing up everybody in the street in ‘Swordfish’

A year after Hugh Jackman played Wolverine in X-Men, he played a computer hacker who was willing to break the law to reunite with his daughter. After being recruited to assist in a heist, the quickly goes awry, and filmmaker Dominic Sena gave us an explosion that the Wachowskis would be proud of.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEuZgK669zY

www.youtube.com

Inside the lobby in ‘The Matrix’

Speaking of the Wachowskis, they directed a late-90s movie you might have heard of, called The Matrix.

This legendary film took special effects to another level. The epic fights, gravity-defying stunts, and over-the-top gun play made f*cking history.

Watch the clip below to see mastery over the art of slow motion.

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Markie’s death scene in ‘Killing Them Softly’

Although this isn’t one of Brad Pitt’s most notable films, it does showcase one of the best up-close assassination scenes ever recorded.

The beautiful scene takes place on a moonlit, rainy night and gives the viewer the chance to watch every mechanical detail of a pistol firing rounds. Viewers watch tiny shards of glass fly through the air and see the wrinkles move on Markie Trattman’s (as played by Ray Liotta) face as he gets killed.

It’s f*cking epic!

MIGHTY CULTURE

7 things no one wants to remember about ruck marches

Ah, the beloved ruck march. First, you get to center 35 or more pounds of gear on your back and feel the straps dig into your shoulders. Then you start walking until it becomes challenging… then it stops being fun… and then it finally becomes a great reason to never sign a contract with anyone ever again.

Here are seven miseries that are easy to forget about “advanced hiking.”


What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Every step, those blisters get a little larger — until they pop, tear, get filled with salt from sweat, and potentially get infected.

(Photo by U.S. Combined Division Chin-U Pak)

The feeling of a blister slowly growing across your feet

The most well-known consequence of a ruck march is those vicious blisters that are sometimes shared in photos on social media. While the pain of dealing with them is well-known, there’s an acute feeling of dread you experience during the ruck march. You can feel the skin separating and the fluid-filled bulge growing larger and larger as you march until — a sudden relief followed by a wet feeling lets you know it popped.

Guaranteed, the burning and stinging will grow worse within another mile of marching.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

You think it hurts now? Just wait till you try to get out of bed like, ever again.

(Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Caitlin Conner)

The way your legs don’t quite work for two days afterwards

No matter how much water you drink and how much you stretch before and after the ruck march, your legs are going to be wobbly and uncertain for days. It’s like running a marathon. You’re going to end up in pain no matter how well you trained for it.

Just embrace it. Plan to spend a couple of days on the couch — ordering out for food — immediately following the march. Unless you have duty, then just be sad.

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There’s always a faster ruck runner.

(Photo by U.S. Army Gertrud Zach)

The knowledge that, no matter how hard you push yourself, that freak in 2nd platoon is going to beat you by 30 minutes or more

You trained, you prepared, you sucked down those stupid packets of goo, and you set a personal record of 2:37 for a twelve-miler. Congrats. You came in over an hour before the cutoff, likely made your platoon proud, and lost to Capt. Jason Burnes by only an hour. If you don’t want to compare yourself to the Air Assault School record holder, then just look to your sister platoon where some corporal is kicking himself for not breaking the two-hour mark.

Oh well. You outscored him on marksmanship. Or the ASVAB. Probably. Maybe…

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This dude looks like he’s been waiting all morning to yell at someone for being three ounces under.

(Photo by U.S. Air Force Misuzu Allen)

The fear of over or under-packing your ruck

For a lot of military schools and unit events, the ruck weigh-in takes place after the march, meaning that you can conduct the entire march in record time and then have your finish invalidated because your scale at home said the ruck was 35.2 pounds but it was actually 34.6 pounds, making you a cheater.

This leads to every marcher standing over their scale the night before a march, agonizing over whether to pack 5 more pounds than required — guaranteeing that they’ll pass weigh-in — or pack as close to the cutoff as possible and roll the dice. Fingers crossed.

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See how he’s sweating but there’s ice on his weapon? Not fun.

(Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Vincent Abril)

Everything is soaked in sweat, even if it’s freezing outside

It’s hours of laborious walking with, generally, a full uniform on. There’s no way to finish a ruck march without being drenched in sweat.

Even when it’s freezing outside, the slow build-up of body heat guarantees a coating of sweat. Bonus: That sweat will eventually dry and leave a layer of salt on the skin, making the crotch chafing and blisters that much worse.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

“Yeah, I’ll pace you, dude. But like, on a bicycle — it’s too hot for this.”

(Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Lerone Simmons)

There’s no “good weather” for a ruck march

As we hinted above, cold weather will reduce sweat buildup, but it won’t get rid of it. And dressing for a cold-weather march means balancing the need to get through the first two miles without frostbite and the need to not die of heat exhaustion on mile 13 (pro-tip: wear as little snivel gear as you can survive the first three miles in). The best a marcher can hope for is little precipitation combined with fall-like temperatures and humidity.

Even in ideal conditions, you’ll still be hot as hell by the end of it, though. If you start in hot weather, just drink water and imagine you’re in Miami, the rainforest, or the center of the sun. Any of those would be cooler than how you’ll feel at the finish.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

“You did it! Grab some water and an orange. Your next ruck march is tomorrow.”

(Photo by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker)

You’ve got another one coming up, probably sooner than you think

Of course, the worst part of doing a ruck march is knowing that you’ll have another one coming up, especially for people competing for school slots. Earned a coveted slot for air assault by setting a battalion record on the 12-mile? Congrats!

Remember, you’ll be verifying your performance the week before you ship to school. And you have to ruck in school. And the battalion is working on a ruck march to celebrate all the new graduates for the day after they return from school.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The US is obligated by treaty to defend these 67 countries

There are Americans who are sick and tired of the United States playing “policeman to the world.” There’s good news and bad news for these people. The good news is that the U.S. isn’t actually the world’s policeman. The bad news is that they’re actually the world’s policeman, fire department, emergency medical technicians, doctors, nurses, and any other global-scale first responder analogy you can think of.

The U.S. military is basically the Avengers.


What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

“Avengers Assemble.”

While the United States doesn’t respond to every trouble spot on the planet they sure respond to a lot of them. Of the 195 officially recognized countries in the world, the United States has military members deployed to 150. So if there is a trouble spot, there’s a very good chance that U.S. troops could go handle a large percentage of them. Luckily, Earth’s mightiest heroes are usually reserved for bigger problems, like keeping North Korea in check, punishing ISIS, and trying to bring food to hungry people.

But some of those countries are actually protected by the United States military, even if that protection isn’t specifically promised. For example, the U.S. military has long been considered a pillar of Saudi Arabia’s stability, because Saudi Arabia’s military can’t invade and win against a much-smaller neighbor, even when 20 other countries are helping them.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Seriously, the Salvation Army could have invaded Yemen and won by now.

But despite how terrible the Saudis are at things like strategy, tactics, and planning, they will never have to worry about being overcome by Iranian interference or military force because they have a substantial force they can rely on to protect their homefront: the United States military. And they aren’t alone.

Treaty obligations tie the U.S. to come to the defense of 67 different countries around the world, going well beyond the 29-member NATO alliance. The U.S. has bilateral defense agreements with six different countries, as well as every individual member of the Organization of American States and the ANZUS agreement.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

While the United States is no longer required to defend New Zealand and West Germany doesn’t exist as West Germany anymore, the United States military still has a pretty big job on its hands. And even though relations with some of the members of the Organization of American States aren’t so hot with the U.S. right now, it’s still a way for Americans to find themselves fighting alongside the likes of Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela or helping defend countries with no military at all, like Costa Rica, Panama, or Haiti.

It might be worth noting that our Venezuelan allies have asked Russia to help with whatever it is they’re planning to do down there, rather than ask the United States. But along with Venezuela, the U.S. has promised to defend a full one-quarter of all the humans on the planet.

That’s a big job.

MIGHTY CULTURE

What all the letters and numbers in Navy ship designations mean

Even to the other branches of service, the Navy can be a deep dark mystery of rates and rankings, Captains that have a lot of authority and wearing name tapes on your pants. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And one of the biggest questions posed by vets of other branches and civilians alike is just what the heck do all those letters on these ships mean anyway?


It means you’re in for a history lesson.

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Hmmm… maybe not that far back.

In 1920, the Navy was producing so many new kinds of ships, they needed a better way to keep track of them all. So, acting Navy Secretary Robert Coontz decided to standardize a numbering system that included a two-letter code that would identify the ship and its status as well as its number in the series, type, and sub-type. If the ship didn’t have a sub-type, the first letter would just be repeated

So the Battleship USS Missouri, being a battleship with no sub-type and the 63rd ship in that series was designated USS Missouri BB-63.

Easy, right? Well, Mostly.

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Welcome to the military, where nothing is really that easy.

That was the early 20th Century. World War I had only just introduced a number of new technological innovations to the battlefield, and there were a lot more to come. Training ships, aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and so, so much more were still to come to the U.S. Navy, and they would need even more designation letters, ones that would describe their purpose and even their power source.

So where do aircraft carriers get the designation CVN, as in the USS Gerald Ford CVN-78? The C is for carrier, and the N means it’s a nuclear-powered ship. The V, well, that’s not that simple. According to the publication “United States Naval Aviation 1910-1995, Appendix 16: US Navy and Marine Corps Squadron Designations and Abbreviations,” the V means it carries heavier-than-air aircraft (as opposed to, say, blimps), but no one really knows for sure why the letter V was chosen, though many believe it was to represent the French vol plané, the word for “glide.”

What happens when you cover an enemy grenade with your kevlar

Meanwhile Russia’s carrier just smokes and slowly retains more water, like your mom.

But there is now more than a century’s worth of Naval Ship Designations for you to peruse, far too many for me to list in their entirety. There are even four-letter designations now, like the SSGN (Attack Submarine, Guided Missile, Nuclear Powered).

Luckily for the curious, there’s always Wikipedia, where someone took the time to list them all, including all the historical designations, like monitors and coastal defenses. Be sure to leave a tip.