If you think your duty station sucks try serving on 'Snake Island' - We Are The Mighty
TRAVEL

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

Ilha da Queimada Grande is an island off the coast of Brazil that is more commonly known as “Snake Island.” The British navy forbids visitors due to the extremely venomous snakes that live there. With 1-5 snakes per square meter, the island has the highest concentration of venomous snakes in the world.


 

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

In this photo: about 1500-2000 snakes and a single lighthouse. Photo: flickr/Prefeitura Municipal Itanhaé

The golden lancehead is a pitviper species that lives only on the island. Its venom is up to five times more potent than normal pitvipers living in mainland Brazil.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

The snakes are described as moving landmines, but they actually spend most of their time in trees, hunting the migratory birds that are their primary food source. Researchers believe that the island was once connected to the mainland, but rising seas cut it off. The snakes then evolved their organ-liquefying venom so that their strikes would kill the birds before the birds flew away.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
This thing can strike and kill a bird before it can take off. Photo: Otavio Marques (Instituto Butantan)

A lighthouse on the island used to be manned, but was automated in the 1920s. Local legend says the change was made after a family that tended the lighthouse in 1909 awoke to a snake crawling in through the window. The family attempted to flee but was attacked by snakes in tree branches and didn’t make it.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
Brazilian sailors and a Vice journalist begin their ascent from the shore to the island lighthouse during a maintenance mission. Photo: Youtube/VICE

 

For the few people who are allowed onto the island, the navy orders that a doctor be present in case an anti-venom needs to be administered. A researcher interviewed by Vice said it’s still highly probable that the victim will die.

Despite the navy’s attempts to keep people away, smugglers visit the island and steal the snakes which then make their way to buyers around the world. Other bio-pirates (actual term) bribe researchers and navy sailors to get snakes for them. The going rate for the snakes in 2014 was thought to be between $10,000 and $30,000 each.

Researchers are allowed to remove the snakes legally in order to investigate potential applications for the venom. Certain compounds in it have shown promise as drugs for heart disease, blood clots, and cancer.

YouTube, Vice

Articles

This NBA star talked about what made his USO tour so memorable

Ray Allen, a 10-time NBA All-Star, recently participated in a USO holiday tour with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. On this tour, the athlete, along with other celebrities, visited service members in Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, and Germany.


Now back in the states, Allen has spoken about much the trip meant to him, both as the son of an Air Force metals technologist and as a retired athlete.

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NBA Legend Ray Allen meets with service members during a troop engagement at Incirlik Air Base, Dec. 5, 2016. (Photo: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

One of the topics Allen touched on during an interview with Sports Illustrated was the way military terms pop up in sports discussions, even though they don’t really fit:

In the NBA, often times we’ll be in the locker room and we’ll talk about “going to war” and “going into battle” and “being in the foxhole,” all these terminologies that we equate with being at war. I have such a greater appreciation for the conflicts going on around the world, now I try to not use those terms out of respect.

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NBA legend Ray Allen, left, fires an M240 machine gun at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area during this year’s USO Holiday Tour, Grafenwoehr, Germany, Dec. 8, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Army Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach)

Allen also told SI about how a comment from Dunford helped him appreciate the military’s expeditionary mindset, and how service members are constantly working to make sure that conflicts rarely come to American shores:

One of the things that General Dunford said that resonated with me was, “We’re over here at war, my job is to make sure that we have all away games.” So when I got back on U.S. soil, I thought about how privileged we are.

While speaking to USA Today, the NBA player took a moment to discuss how different life is in a combat zone, but that being there with professional warfighters made him feel safe:
“I (felt) more protected than I’ve ever felt in my life, being on that tour. I had some bad guys with me. Guys who knew how to handle weapons, that had been in combat. I’m looking to my left and right, and I’m like ‘I’m safe, I feel good about where I am, because these guys know what they’re doing.’ And that’s what I want to tell everybody, any athlete, from the NBA to baseball to football…join up with the USO and take a tour. It’ll give you a greater perspective on war, it’ll give you a greater perspective on the people that are fighting the war.”
Articles

AARP Guide to 10 military museums and historic locations across the US

There’s no better place to learn about and remember the service of fellow soldiers and Veterans than at one of the many memorials, military museums and other historic locations found across the United States. AARP has developed comprehensive guides to 10 key sites from Pearl Harbor to Boston.

These sites offer visitors thoughtful, moving portrayals of the sacrifices Veterans made throughout American history. Be sure to take a look before you plan your next trip to one of these great destinations.

  1. The National World War II Museum in New Orleans: From the Pearl Harbor attack to victories in Europe and Japan, learn about the triumphs and tragedies of WWII at this expansive (and expanding) Big Easy museum.
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Artillery and a “Higgins Boat” on display in the museum lobby (Wikimedia Commons)
  1. Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor National Memorial: See the site of the history-changing Dec. 7, 1941, attack that killed 1,177 sailors and Marines and spurred the U.S. to enter the Second World War.
  1. The National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City: Reflect on the triumphs and many tragedies of the Great War at this moving, must-visit, Midwest museum.
  1. Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Charleston: Climb aboard the enormous aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, a participant in more than 40 World War II battles, in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, across the harbor from Charleston.
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 the USS Yorktown (CVS-10) as she sits at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (USA) in March 2011. (Wikimedia Commons)
  1. Civil War Heroes on Boston’s Black Heritage Trail: The bronze Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Civil War Memorial honoring African American soldiers is a stirring stop in a history-packed city.
  1. Vicksburg National Military Park: Take a long, deep dive into the Civil War at this massive Mississippi site where key battles helped change the course of America’s deadliest fight.
  1. Gettysburg National Military Park: Follow AARP’s guide to Pennsylvania’s famous battlefields, where a major Union triumph changed the course of the Civil War.
If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
(Wikimedia Commons)
  1. Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution: Learn how the colonists reached a breaking point, fought for independence and won the battle at one of Philly’s top destinations.
  1. The San Diego Air & Space Museum Is a bucket-list stop for aviation buffs: See how American warplanes progressed from motorized kites to supercharged bombers with Rolls Royce engines at this Smithsonian-affiliated gem in beautiful Balboa Park in California.

10. Explore Revolutionary War History in charming Castine, Maine: Explore the historical sites tucked away in this charming New England village that dates back to pre-Revolutionary America and the Civil War.

For the latest news and information impacting older Veterans, bookmark the Veterans, Military and Their Families page on AARP.org.

TRAVEL

Why Bangor, Maine is the most patriotic town in America

There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re trying to determine if any single place is the very best at something. However, when it comes to small towns supporting their troops, Bangor, Maine holds the distinction of very best. They are known for their willingness to make it to the airport and shake the hands of nearly every post-9/11 troop who’s gone from stateside to overseas, at all hours of the days, no matter what.


To be fair to every other patriotic town in America, plenty of Bangor’s ability to show it’s patriotism stems from its location. Since most military flights leaving the continental U.S. towards Europe and Southwest Asia fly through Maine, past Greenland and Iceland, and refuel somewhere in Ireland or the U.K., Bangor is usually the first and last U.S. stop most troops see before and after a deployment.

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Odd how a handshake or a warm hug can make a difference to hardened war fighters. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood)

Where Bangor shines is within the Maine Troop Greeters. Beginning in May 2003, a small group of Bangor-area residents gathered to meet troops at the Bangor International Airport. Since then, they have greeted well over 7,600 flights and over 1.5 million troops. Rain or shine, day or night, and nearly everyday, they’re out there. With a town population that could easily fit into the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, one of the smallest NCAA football stadiums, the Maine Troop Greeters of Bangor are still over 600 strong. From older veterans to soccer moms with kids to pretty college girls, everyone in Bangor comes to see the troops.

 

It’s far more than just a “thank you for your service” from a random stranger. They provide snacks, meals, and use of their cell phones to outgoing and incoming troops. In return, many troops have given them small tokens of gratitude. Troops give them things like challenge coins, combat patches, and even uniforms out of appreciation. In response to this patriotic exchange, they’ve created a museum to honor every troop that walks through their line of handshakes and hugs.

Their museum to the troops has over 5,500 unique challenge coins, over 1,800 patches, and many photos. There are also two books: One log book that troops can write in and another dedicated to each troop who died in combat. Soldiers have written countless thank yous over the years to the people of Bangor.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53YCnVdq6uM

(Maine Troop Greeters | YouTube)

popular

5 ways to explore Okinawa

Comprised of more than 100 islands in the East China Sea, Okinawa is one of Japan’s 47 prefectures with a population of 1.44 million people (as of May 2018).


A year-round warm climate and overall tropical landscape, Okinawa is considered a leading resort destination and home to multiple U.S. military installations. Here are five ways to explore the archipelago.

Eat and drink

There is no shortage of places to enjoy good food in Okinawa and nearly every type of international cuisine is represented.

“You have to try Coco’s Curry House, Arashi, Pizza In The Sky, Yoshi Hachi, Sea Garden, Gen, Thai In The Sky and Little Cactus,” KT Genta, a Navy spouse who was previously stationed in Okinawa shared.

Craving a good cup of coffee? Stop into Patisserie Porushe, and be sure to order a croissant to go with it.

The traditional spirit of Okinawa is Awamori, which dates back to the dynastic era, and is made by combining water, test and rice malt with korokoji mold and steamed rice. Get a free tour and tasting at Chuko Distillery.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

Historical sites and landmarks

The history of Okinawa is robust — from dynasties to American rule — and the various historical site and landmarks throughout the prefecture tell the region’s story. Be sure to visit:

Okinawa Peace Memorial Park – Located on Mabuni Hill, Peace Memorial Park was a heated battleground during WWII.

Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters – During WWII, Japanese forces constructed an elaborate series of underground tunnels that were used as military headquarters.

Katsuren Castle Ruins – Just a couple in-ruin walls remain at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Tower of Himeyuri – The emotional monument honors the Himeyuri medical corps of female students who perished in WWII.

Ikema Ohashi Bridge – A 4,675 ft. bridge with panoramic views of the ocean, it connects the islands Miyako-jima to Ikema-jima and was formerly the longest bridge in Okinawa.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

Beaches and water sports

Trademarked by cerulean shaded waters, Okinawa’s beaches are world-renowned for enjoying a sun-soaked day on the sand or diving in to admire the marine life. Both public and private beaches pepper the coastline, and with hundreds of beaches to choose from across the main and more remote islands, there is a stretch of sand for everyone to enjoy.

Northern Okinawa Island – Uppama Beach, Kanucha Beach, Ie Beach

Central Okinawa Island – Zanpa Beach, Ikei Beach

Southern Okinawa Island – Aharen Beach, Nishibama Beach

Not only does Okinawa offer residents and visitors pristine beaches, the underwater views are attractive for avid divers and snorkelers. Top spots include Manza Dream Hole, Zamami Island and Kabira Bay.

Cultural arts

Okinawa is a destination with deep-rooted cultural history, thus a strong appreciation for traditional and performing arts.

Yachimun – The Okinawan name for pottery is Yachimun and can be traced back to more than 800 years.

Bashofu – Made from the fibers of a Japanese banana-like tree call the Basho, Bashofu is a thin textile that is woven and dyed to make into garments.

Kumiodori – Originating in the early 1700s, Kumiodori is an ensemble dance that has been inscribed by the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Sanshin – The literal translation of Sanshin is “three strings” and is a musical instrument that looks a bit like a banjo.
If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

Must-see sights

“There is so much to do,” Genta said. “Head to Cocoks for pedicures, hike Hiji Falls, explore Bise Village, which is a peaceful seaside town with sand roads lined with Fukuhi trees, or just drive and get lost. There are so many hidden gems on the island.”

Other must-see spots include Churmai Aquarium, Pineapple Park, Orion Beer Factory, Urashima Dinner Theater, Kokusai Street and Fukushu-en Garden.

This is just a small sampling of ways to explore Okinawa. It’s important to note that one could live their entire life in Japan’s tropical oasis and not see or do everything, so be sure to make the most of your time and have fun!

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Marine remembers Morocco’s amazing food more than anything else

Navy veteran and Food Network Allstar, August Dannehl cooks a four course meal for his fellow vets based on stories from their service. A braised pork belly inspired by the MRE’s feared dehydrated pork product, Chicken Tagine inspired by a training mission in Morocco – these elements provide the backdrop for a holiday celebration between veterans.


Donna’s first visit to Morocco was for a training mission with the Marine Corps. It was on this trip that she and her unit befriended the owner and crew of a small local restaurant. They would eat there so often that their business provided new clothing for all of the servers and their families and when it came to leave, they were made this delicious parting meal.

Chicken Tagine w/ Preserved Lemon and Saffron CousCous

Inspired by Donna’s Service in Morocco

Ingredients
Tagine
8 lg. chicken thighs
2 tbs spice mix
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
1 large white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
2 tsp saffron
2 tb tomato paste
2 cups low-salt chicken stock
1 cup castelvetrano olives

Spice Mix
3 ½ tbs sweet paprika
1 tbs garlic powder
2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs ground coriander
2 tbs ground turmeric
1 tbs ginger powder
½ tbs ground cardamom
2 ½ tsp ground allspice

Couscous
3 cups couscous
3 cups low-salt chicken stock
4 tbs. unsalted butter
2 tsp. saffron threads (crumbled)
Also need
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
½ bunch cilantro, leaves

Prepare
Prepare the CousCous by heating the chicken stock, butter and saffron over medium-heat until boiling. Add couscous and reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10-12 minutes (until couscous is tender). Add salt, pepper and drizzle of olive oil to taste. Set aside.
Combine the spices in a dry sauté pan set over low heat, and toast them gently until they release their fragrance, 2 minutes or so. Transfer to a bowl, and allow to cool. Preheat oven to 350. Season the chicken thighs with the salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the spice mix, along with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large dutch over over medium heat, and sear the chicken in batches, starting skin-side down, until the thighs are browned. Remove all but two tablespoons of the fat in pan, then return it to the heat, and brown the cauliflower and add the chicken.
Reduce heat below the pan, and add the onion, garlic, ginger and saffron. Cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, lemons and chicken stock and simmer until reduced by 1/3. Cover pot and transfer to over for 30 mins.
Serve with on top of couscous with cilantro garnish.

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Dramatic Classical Hip Hop – Trent Williamson

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Articles

The famous Civil War surrender painting isn’t at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education and research complex. It houses treasures of American history like Rockwell illustrations, Lincoln’s top hat and even an Apollo 11 moon rock. However, despite the institute’s best efforts, one piece of iconic American history does not reside at the Smithsonian.

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Peace in Union on display (Miguel Ortiz)

Nearly every American schoolchild has seen the painting of Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. The image has graced the pages of American history textbooks for generations. The original 9’x12′ canvas is not at the Smithsonian, though. It doesn’t even belong to the Smithsonian. Rather, the painting belongs to the Galena Historical Society in Galena, Illinois and is on display at their Galena & U.S. Grant Museum.

On April 9, 1895, “Peace in Union” (no, it’s not called “Surrender at Appomattox”) was finished and signed by artist Thomas Nast. Nast was commissioned by Chicago newspaperman and former Galena resident Herman Kohlsaat to paint the historical event.

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“General Grant on the Battlefield” depicts Grant’s arrival at Chattanooga (Miguel Ortiz)

Nast was a German-born caricaturist and editorial cartoonist. He has been called the “Father of the American Cartoon” for creating the modern version of Santa Claus and the political symbol of the elephant for the Republican Party. His work also popularized the images of Uncle Sam, Columbia and the donkey of the Democratic Party.

Upon his commissioning, Nast began two years of intense research on the surrender and the people who were present. He read up on Grant’s generals to portray them as accurately as possible in his painting, and it shows. Some show relief in their tired faces for the end of the long and bloody war. Others show reverence for Grant and his leadership that brought the conflict to a close. Still others show contempt for Lee and his confederacy of rebels and traitors.

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The first Union to flag to fly over the Vicksburg courthouse after the siege ended (Miguel Ortiz)

Of course, the focus of the painting is the exchange between Lee and Grant. Per his reputation, Lee changed into his best uniform for the surrender at the courthouse. Grant, fittingly, had on a worn jacket and scuffed boots straight from the battlefield. Aside from the significance of the event portrayed, details like these make “Peace in Union” one of the greatest works of art in American history.

Representatives from the Smithsonian have tried at least three times to convince the Galena Historical Society to sell the oil painting to them. Every visit to the small Illinois town has been unsuccessful though. No amount of money will allow the people of Galena to part with “Peace in Union.” Although Grant and his family lived in Galena for only a year before the start of the Civil War, he would consider it home for the remainder of his life and the town of Galena is extremely proud of that fact.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
The flag that was reportedly flown from the USS Lawrence at the Battle of Lake Erie (Miguel Ortiz)

Along with this national treasure, the Galena & U.S. Grant Museum hosts other artifacts of American history. Another article from the Civil War, the museum houses the first Union flag raised over the courthouse of Vicksburg, Mississippi when the siege ended on July 4, 1863. Grant gave the honor of raising the flag to the men of the 45th Illinois who brought the flag home to Galena as a souvenir. Another flag in the museum is said to have been saved from the USS Lawrence at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. It was reportedly given to Hezekiah Gear for his service in the war and brought to Galena when he moved there later in his life. To see these pieces alone, a trip to Galena is well worth your time.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
(Galena & U.S. Grant Museum)
Articles

The famed Gurkha warriors have taken Everest

For the first time in history, currently serving Gurkha soldiers have summitted the tallest peak in the world, Mount Everest.


The team reached the summit on May 16 and received congratulations from the British Army on their achievement.

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The Gurkha climbing team poses during the 2015 attempt that was eventually abandoned after a massive earthquake struck the Gurkhas’ homeland and destroyed the Everest base camp. (Photo: British Ministry of Defence)

The Gurkhas had previously attempted the climb the mountain in 2015 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Gurkha Brigade, but the climb was abandoned when a massive earthquake struck the area around the mountain, triggering an avalanche that destroyed the base camp.

The 2015 team abandoned the climb and rushed to aid those affected by the quake. Gurkhas are recruited out of a small region of Nepal that sits in the same mountain range as Everest, and many of the team members had immediate family affected by the quake.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
Gurkha soldiers celebrate their successful climb of Mount Everest after they reached the summit on May 15,2017. (Photo: British Ministry of Defence)

They returned in 2017 thanks to a decision by the Nepal Ministry of Tourism to honor all 2015 Everest permits for an additional two years.

The climb is a grueling challenge under even the best of conditions. The base camp sits over three miles above sea level and each camp above that is more than half a mile above the previous camp.

The summit sits 5.5 miles above sea level, where the air is so thin that most climbers rely on bottled oxygen for much of the climb.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Navy SEAL wants to inspire kids to reach their full potential

Marc Lonergan-Hertel grew up in Massachusetts with the dream of becoming a Navy SEAL — a dream he made into a reality. But he had a long way to go before achieving such a feat. He decided he needed to toughen up first, so he joined the Marine Corps, where he eventually found himself in Force Recon.

His military career took him through some of the toughest training the military has to offer. And he wrote about it in his memoir, Sierra Two: A SEAL’s Odyssey in War and Peace.

But Lonergan-Hertel didn’t stop there. He continued a life of adventure and service after leaving the military and today, he wants to call attention to real-world heroes he met along the way. He wants his transformative journey to help inspire others — namely, our nation’s youth — so they can maximize their full potential and achieve their dreams.

He calls himself a Protector.


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Lonergan-Hertel’s Book is available on Amazon.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

Lonergan-Hertel and 1st Force Recon.

(Courtesy of Marc Lonergan-Hertel)

Those who fight monsters inevitably change,” Lonergan-Hertel says, explaining what he means by the title “Protector.” It’s from a popular saying about post-traumatic stress, written by an unknown author. The quote goes on to note that if you stay in the fighting long enough, you will eventually become the monster. The former Navy SEAL wants to keep Protectors from getting that far.

“There is a cost to being a protector. Love is the only way to heal the wounds [that change you]. Remember this: As a protector, you run toward the things that others run away from. You go out to fight what you fear. You stand between others and the monsters on the other side of the wall.”

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Lonergan-Hertel in his world-record paraglider flight, 70 South Antarctica.

(Courtesy of Marc Lonergan-Hertel)

You can read about his adventures fighting monsters in his book, Sierra Two. After his time in Force Recon, he left the military and worked as a Emergency Medical Technician in Los Angeles as well as a hunting guide in Colorado. Eventually, he decided to explore the Army and join the Special Forces. Shortly after joining the California National Guard, he was able to wear a maroon beret in support of 19 Special Forces Group and prepared to try out for Delta Section. He didn’t make Delta, but it did prepare him a selection packet he could submit to the Navy. He graduated from BUD/S in 1996 and joined SEAL Team Four. He left the military in 2000, but didn’t leave behind the adventurer’s life.

“My platoon chief recommended me for an around-the-world expedition through the Cousteau Society,” Lonergan-Hertel says. “I ended up getting the position as a team member and expedition leader and scout for NatGeo and Discovery Channel programs to Antarctica the Amazon jungle, where I had experience as a SEAL.”

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Lonergan-Hertel and his NatGeo Team. Lonergan-Hertel is center, in the cowboy hat.

(Courtesy of Marc Lonergan-Hertel)

During his military career and post-military adventuring, he began to question what he valued most in life. He began to look for his true purpose. As his journey sharpened his self-awareness, he was soon transformed into a new person. He became a Protector – and wanted to be the best Protector he could be. His life took him to rescue hurricane victims, assess the environment in Antarctica while diving under the ice shelves, hike up the Amazon River Basin alone and encounter endangered tribes along the way — he even lost his best friend to pirates along the same river.

“I wrote my book because I realized how much our life journey sharpens our awareness of what really matters in life,” Lonergan-Hertel says. “Real life experiences transform us as human beings and gives us an understanding of risk and sacrifice.”

He even has a line of survival gear, that includes a heat reflective thermal field blanket sleep system, called First Line Survival. Lonergan-Hertel calls it “base camp in a bag” and all the proceeds from First Line Survival benefit his Protectors tour.

But the longtime adventurer is more than just an author. He’s crossing the country with fellow Protectors to tell their stories in stage presentations, meant for school-age children but meaningful to parents as well. He wants children to grow up with the confidence to realize their abilities and potential, to see a personal path toward a positive future, and realize they have the power to do this within themselves at all times.

“I understand very clearly that the gift of life can be away very quickly,” Lonergan-Hertel says. “The best thing I can leave behind is to inspire others to have confidence in themselves and to help others who have a more difficult journey in life.”

TRAVEL

Why being stationed overseas was better than your friend’s vacation

Recruiters don’t lie when they say that you can travel the world. Shy of deploying to combat, troops are also sent to nearly every corner of the globe — but the most common spots are Germany, Turkey, South Korea, and Japan.


Their work week is similar to that of troops stationed stateside with the added benefits of training with the host nation and getting a chance to explore the region. While friends post photos of themselves at some crappy tourist trap, they won’t ever get the same experience as troops. Here’s what your civilian friends are missing out on:

You actually try the food

Americana has spread far across this planet. In one respect, this is a good thing: It means you can get a burger anywhere.

When you’re stationed overseas, however, you’ll actually try something new instead of relying on old standbys — the local beer, the local liquor, the local drunk food, and probably their actual cuisine.

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A lot of barbecues and booze. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Derek Seifert)

You actually meet the people

Between bouts of sightseeing, tourists don’t get the chance to relax and get to know the locals of an area.

Depending on the troop, they could make a good friend or (because we know how troops are) they’re just looking for a “friend for the night.”

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
Foreign chicks will totally dig your beer-pong skills. (Photo by Sgt. James Avery)

You can go back to certain spots again

People on vacation treasure their “once-in-a-lifetime experiences,” which, to them, means seeing a centuries-old building that really isn’t going anywhere.

To troops stationed over-seas, seeing any site isn’t a “once-in-a-lifetime experience;” they can just go back on the next four-day weekend. Chances are, however, they’ll just be hitting up the best party spots.

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Troops can relive the same mistakes, over and over, and over, and over… (Photo by Lance Cpl. Muriah King)

Your “goofs” won’t get you deported

Let’s just be honest for a second: when people get drunk, dumb sh*t happens.

Of course, actual crimes are treated as such. But when troops make slap-on-the-wrist-worthy mistakes, it’s usually left at the unit level and immigration isn’t even informed.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
Getting an ass-chewing from First Sergeant is still better than calling him from lock-up. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Dana Beesley)

And, of course, Uncle Sam pays you to do it all

To think that some people drop loads of money on plane tickets and hotel rooms.

Even if troops blow all their money on partying in some foreign country trying to impress a cute date, they still have a barracks room to sleep off the hungover misery until payday.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
…and do it all over again next weekend. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull)

Articles

The 7 funniest Yelp reviews for military bases

Yelp is a great resource for finding a great restaurant or tourist destination, but it also features reviews from the military community of bases — and some of them are pretty hilarious.


Not every base is on Yelp and not every review is funny, but we looked at some that were and rounded up the ones that made us smile. Here they are (lightly edited for clarity):

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Edwards Air Force Base, Edwards, Calif.

“Do you like dirt? If so, then this is the place for you! Have trouble finding your house already? Well make 20x harder because everything looks exactly alike! Enjoy loud noises and constant rumbling? Then Edwards is the place for you!” —Blake H.

Fort Hood, Killeen, Texas

“Fort Hood is a weird parallel universe where discipline, fitness, esprit de corps and pride of service do not exist. All of the worst things associated with ‘big army’ are in full force here. Be prepared to do some epically stupid things here ‘because that’s the way it’s always been done here’ hurr durr derp derp.

If your idea of military service is living in the world’s largest halfway house for violent offenders that happen to wear the same clothes, come on down. Come to the ‘great place’. Derp derp.” —Peter B.

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, Calif.

“Welcome to the early 1960s mindset. The landscape resembles California from 100-200 years ago. Pendleton refuses to fully staff the entrance gates. Officers don’t work but just watch as traffic backs up hundreds of feet. Bored kid traffic cops cruise up and down Vandergrift stopping people on bogus invented charges. They don’t like the way your car looks, they stop you. Traffic laws are different than in the civilian United States.  The list of illogical and arbitrary rules is endless.

It’s a small town and high school mentality. They escape to Oceanside where they can be free of their leaders and drink to forget. And look at women. The height of culture at Pendleton is Mcdonalds. Stores are staffed by rude incompetent workers. Both civilians and military gets treated like garbage.” —Buster H.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

Fort Irwin National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.

“When a Soldier joins the Army, he is given a canteen of Hooah. Throughout his career he splashes little bits of Hooah out, to get him through deployments and rough times. When he gets to Irwin, he dumps that canteen upside down and pours it out, and shakes out the last drops.” —Johnny S.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

Minot Air Force Base, Minot, N.D.

“It’s pretty dull and as it is said, ‘Where all good leaders come to die.'” —Drew O.

Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, N.C.

“There are magical forests filled with trails into nothingness.  There are inaccessible lakes that cater to no aspiring outdoorswoman/man. Everything lacks effort. The only feasible recreational area is Smith Lake…and it’s not even on Main Post.” —Christine A.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

“Have you ever heard the saying, ‘it could always be worse?’

29 Palms is the only exception.

Do you enjoy…

– waking up in a full body sweat

– being close to nothing

– an endless supply of sketchy people out and about during the night

– a brown, sandy, dusty scenery that lasts year round

If you are a military family, this place will…

– steal your souls

– destroy your family

– make your kids wish they could go back to where the came from, and eventually resent their parents

– make you resent yourself and the Marine corps for putting your family through such a horrible duty station

This place is about as horrible as it gets. ” —Nate. C (there’s even more)

hauntedbattlefields

This is why Gettysburg is the spookiest battlefield in America

Long after around 7,800 soldiers died in the three day battle of Gettysburg, tourists and ghosts hunters claim to encounter the fallen.


The remote village offers over ten different ghost tours that run year round for guests to get a glimpse of the supernatural at several prominent sites from the battlefield. People report the sunken gut feelings along with hearing faint echos of the battle that occurred.

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The site of the infamous downhill bayonet charge at Little Round Top is a common location for sightings of energy balls (or will-o’-wisps) spiraling around the forests. Captured on photo, many believe it to be enough proof that they need.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
(Image via Ghost Village)

Another hot spot for spirits in Gettysburg is Sach’s Bridge. The 100-foot expanse not too far from the battlefield is frequently covered in fog.

A group of paranormal investigators went to the bridge to try and get photos or EVP recordings. While there, the fog came back in. They say that they saw lights, heard the sounds, and claim shadowy figures rushed past them.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
(Image via Trip Advisor)

And then there’s the graveyard.

Visiting the graveyard at night is can be unsettling. The fog returns and ghost hunters say that the ghosts want them to leave. The wind ‘pushes’ the visitors away from the grave stones.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
(Screengrab via YouTube)

Now, there is a perfectly logical reason for all of these. The will-o’wisps of Gettysburg could be floating dust and pollen, since most sightings of “orbs” come during the spring time. There’s nothing supernatural about fog appearing before sunrise and lingering throughout the day. And even in the final picture, snow melting from the gravestone first isn’t unique.

Skeptics can poke holes in nearly everything about the paranormal activities in Gettysburg as being hyped by the locals to keep tourism up. Still, nothing takes away the gut feeling of being on the hallowed grounds of the most pivotal battle in American history.

TRAVEL

Why the National Infantry Museum is a must-visit for all soldiers and their families

If you’re looking to take your family to absorb some military values or just want to bask in the history of American infantrymen, make your way down to Columbus, Georgia to visit the National Infantry Museum. The museum has something for everyone, from families with kids to history buffs to new infantrymen to those wishing to pay respect to fallen comrades.


Related: The soil new infantrymen walk on is bloodied from every American war

For the children, there’s an area dedicated to the sacrifices of our nation’s Blue and Gold Star Families. The Family Gallery pays respects to the vital role that families play in supporting their troops overseas. Kids can learn how difficult it was for children to reach their parents during earlier wars. It also takes an in-depth look at how to cope with the downsides of being a kid in a military family and highlights what’s awesome about it.

While there, kids can play with a miniaturized version of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle turret and try on uniforms from throughout the ages.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
Anyone feel like telling the kids that wearing a Drill Sergeant’s campaign hat will curse them into becoming Drill Sergeants one day? No? Okay! (Image via National Infantry Museum)

To get to the historical side of the museum, you must first walk over The Last 100 Yards Ramp (a play on the Infantryman’s duty to own the last 100 yards of the battlefield). On the ramp, infantrymen are shown fighting at Yorktown, Antietam, Soissons, Normandy, Corregidor, Landing at LZ X-Ray, and the ongoing wars.

Exhibits include “The International Stage,” which details the Spanish-American War and life in the trenches during the “War to End All Wars.” The largest portion is dedicated to the “World at War.” In this exhibit, spectators tour the vehicles, weapons, parachutes, and uniforms of the Greatest Generation — including Audie Murphy’s service ribbons. Next is “The Cold War” that takes you through a recreation of a Korean War bunker, the jungles of Vietnam, and portions of the Berlin Wall. Finally, you explore “The Sole Superpower” exhibit in honor of the infantrymen from 1989 through to today.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
Not shown is how much it must have sucked to live and fight in a swamped-out trench. (Image via National Infantry Museum)

The National Infantry Museum also houses the “Halls of Honor,” dedicated to all the Infantrymen who’ve received the Medal of Honor, Rangers who’ve gone above and beyond, and the distinguished officers who’ve gone through the Fort Benning Officer Candidate School. The museum also has the distinction of having the largest movie screen in the region, on which it shows historical films, 3-D recreations of famous wars, and even fun films for the children.

If you think your duty station sucks try serving on ‘Snake Island’
They also have a combat simulator that’s more intense than any video game. (Image via National Infantry Museum)

Finally, outside the museum stands a 3/4-scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. that once toured the country to give vets a chance to visit without going to the capital. Recently, they also dedicated the new Global War on Terrorism Memorial to all the troops that have lost their lives in combat since September 11th, 2001. To learn more about the new memorial,  watch the video below.

 

(National Infantry Museum | Vimeo)

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