A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY TRENDING

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

When retired U.S. Marine Willis “Bill” Hansen was shipped off to the Vietnam War, he took his sea-bag and a library book…which traveled with him for 52 years.


Hansen joined the Marine Corps in 1964 as an unassigned infantryman and was later attached to a battalion in Okinawa, Japan. Although Hansen deployed to Vietnam as a machine gunner, he was provided the opportunity to work in recon through the length of the war.

He held on to the book The Kimono Mind by Bernard Rudofsky, during his entire 13-month deployment in Vietnam and never got around to returning it to the base library.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

In an interview, he states, “When I first got to the island, I wanted to learn a little bit about the culture and where I was staying. So I checked out a book from the library that I figured would give me a little insight into the culture. I intended to return the book, but it slipped my mind.”

Going full circle, Hansen’s son, Lt. Col. Richard Hansen, who used to dress up in his father’s recon uniforms as a child, is now the commander of the same unit in Okinawa that Hansen served under in the Vietnam War.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

The coincidence of it all renders a fateful moment. Hansen finally got the chance to return the book when he was invited to the 3rd Reconnaissance Marine Corps birthday ball in Okinawa. He was welcomed by the current staff of the library and relinquished his possession of his literary companion to their shelves (fee-free), where it will stay, until someone else checks it out and flips through its pages, oblivious to its journey through time.

Articles

Here are the vet groups that shared Trump’s $5.6 million donation

The first time during this campaign cycle that presidential candidate Donald Trump dealt with veteran groups, he accepted an endorsement from a “veterans charity” during the Republican primaries that turned out to be a funnel for Super PAC money. In spite of the low-level controversy, he more than survived the hit; he is now the presumptive GOP nominee for President.


A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

At the end of January of this year, Trump declined to participate in the debate against his Republican primary opponents. Instead, he held what his campaign called a “special event to benefit veterans organizations.” When it was all over the Trump campaign claimed to have raised almost $6 million in donations to veterans groups. Today, the candidate finally announced how the money was distributed and to which groups.

 

 

The almost four-month delay was due a need to vet the groups that would receive funds, Trump said at a press conference at the Trump Tower in New York. The total amount raised from the fundraiser was $5.6 million, including one million from Trump himself.

“I had teams of people reviewing statistics, reviewing numbers and also talking to people in the military to find out whether or not the group was deserving of the money,” he told the gathered press.

The groups on the list have not yet released statements or receipts for the funds, but here’s a list of them and how much they will receive from the benefit. Most of them can be found on the non-profit evaluation site Charity Navigator, and most have three- and four-star ratings.

22Kill – $200,000

22KILL is a global movement bridging the gap between veterans and civilians to build a community of support. 22KILL works to raise awareness to the suicide epidemic and educate the public on mental health issues.

Achilles International, Inc. – $200,000

The mission of Achilles International is to enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream running events to promote personal achievement.

American Hero Adventures – $100,000

Non-profit providing veterans who sustained trauma in the line of duty with “adventures aimed at healing, hope, and camaraderie.”

Americans for Equal Living – $100,000

America’s VetDogs- The Veterans K9 Corps, Inc. – $75,000

Founded by the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and serves the needs of disabled veterans and active duty personnel.

AMVETS – $75,000

The AMVETS mission is to enhance and safeguard the entitlements for all American Veterans who have served honorably and to improve the quality of life for them, their families, and the communities where they live through leadership, advocacy, and services.

Armed Services YMCA of the USA – $75,000

The Armed Services YMCA makes military life easier by providing programs and services to the young men and women of all five armed services.

Bob Woodruff Family Foundation, Inc. – $75,000

“We ask people to stand up for heroes so that we can find, fund, and shape innovative programs that help our impacted veterans, service members, and their families thrive.”

Central Iowa Shelter and Services – $100,000

Provides low-barrier shelter, meals, and support services at no cost to adults experiencing homelessness to facilitate their move toward self-sufficiency.

Connected Warriors, Inc. – $75,000

The largest community-based volunteer organization in the United States, offering evidence-based trauma-conscious Yoga therapy to servicemembers, veterans, and their families at no cost.

Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust – $115,000

DAV provides more than 700,000 rides for veterans attending medical appointments and assists veterans with more than 300,000 benefit claims annually. In 2015, DAV helped attain more than $4 billion in new and retroactive benefits to care for veterans, their families, and survivors. DAV is also a leader in connecting veterans with meaningful employment, hosting job fairs and providing resources to veterans seeking employment.

Fisher House Foundation – $115,000

Fisher House Foundation is best known for a network of comfort homes where families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment.

Folds of Honor Foundation – $200,000

The Folds of Honor Foundation provides scholarships to the spouses and children of soldiers killed or disabled in service.

Foundation for American Veterans – $75,000

“Established to provide various benefits for all veterans, either through Veterans Hospitals, homeless programs, educational programs, crisis programs, etc., where the local, state, and federal governments leave off.”

Freedom Alliance – $75,000

Freedom Alliance supports our troops and their families through educational scholarships, recreational therapy, and activities that help injured heroes heal.

Green Beret Foundation – $350,000

The Green Beret Foundation provides direct and continuous support to the Green Beret Community and its families. The Green Beret Foundation facilitates the transition of Green Berets and their families whether that transition is from wounds sustained in combat, illness, injury or “merely” from numerous deployments and/or retirement.

Hire Heroes USA – $75,000

“Hire Heroes USA help veterans find jobs at the rate of more than 100 veterans confirmed hired every week.”

Homes for Our Troops – $50,000

Builds mortgage-free, specially adapted homes nationwide for severely injured Veterans Post- 9/11, to enable them to rebuild their lives.

Honoring America’s Warriors – $100,000

“This organization was created to assist families who upon the death of their loved one who has served our country, the opportunity to have augmented military honors when the family deems that the legislated two man flag fold is not enough.”

Hope for the Warriors – $65,000

“Hope For The Warriors provides comprehensive support programs for service members, veterans, and military families that are focused on transition, health and wellness, peer engagement, and connections to community resources.”

Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund – $175,000

“Serves United States military personnel wounded or injured in service to our nation, and their families.  Supporting these heroes helps repay the debt all Americans owe them for the sacrifices they have made.”

K9s For Warriors – $50,000

“K9s For Warriors is dedicated to providing service canines to our warriors suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disability, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma as a result of military service post 9/11.”

Liberty House – $100,000

Liberty House is a sober living home that caters to post alcohol rehab and drug rehab patients with an  82% success rate.

Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation – $1,100,000

Provides a $30,000 scholarship account for every child who loses a parent serving in the United State Marine Corps or any Federal Law Enforcement Agency.

Navy SEAL Foundation – $465,000

The Navy SEAL Foundation provides immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare Community and its families.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society – $75,000

The purpose of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is to provide emergency financial assistance to active duty and retired Navy and Marine Corps personnel and their families.

New England’s Wounded Veterans, Inc. – $75,000

Operation Homefront – $65,000

Assists military families during difficult financial times by providing food assistance, auto and home repair, vision care, travel and transportation, moving assistance, essential home items, and financial assistance.

Partners for Patriots – $100,000

Helping Veterans Get Service Dogs for Assistance with PTSD and TBI disabilities.

Project for Patriots – $100,000

A non-profit to help make housing more accommodating for veterans.

Puppy Jake Foundation – $100,000

“Puppy Jake Foundation selects, trains, and places service dogs to assist wounded veterans. Help us help our American heroes.”

Racing for Heroes, Inc. – $200,000

“Aims to help fill the gap left by inadequate resources for Disabled Veterans through advocacy, engagement, and racing.”

Support Siouxland Soldiers – $100,000

Provides food for veterans, emergency relief grants and rent assistance for homeless and near-homeless veterans, sends care packages to deployed troops, and provides Christmas presents to military children.

Task Force Dagger Foundation – $50,000

Provides assistance to wounded, ill, or injured US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) members and their families

The Mission Continues – $75,000

The Mission Continues empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact. TMC deploys veterans on new missions in their communities so their actions will inspire future generations to serve.

The National Military Family Association, Inc. – $75,000

NMFA is a private, non-profit association organized to improve the quality of family life of all military personnel. Started in 1969 as the National Military Wives Association by a group of wives and widows, responsible for the Survivor Benefit Plan.

Veterans Airlift Command – $100,000

VAC provides free air transportation to post 9/11 combat wounded and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots.

Veterans Count – $25,000

The philanthropic arm of Easter Seals Military and Veterans Services provides resources and services to veterans, service members and their families with a wide range of family, personal, and financial needs.

Veterans In Command, Inc. – $150,000

Provides housing for veterans, their families, and a variety of other disadvantaged or transitioning groups.

Vietnam Veterans Workshop, Inc. – $75,000

The Vietnam Veterans Workshop is doing business as the New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV). The Mission of the NECHV is to help homeless veterans who have served the United States honorably in peace and war who are addressing the challenges of addiction, trauma, and severe persistent mental health issues.

Warriors for Freedom Foundation – $50,000

Warriors for Freedom Foundation (WFF) is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that provides support to our nation’s heroes and their families in the areas of recreational and social activities, scholarships, veteran suicide and mental health awareness

 

Articles

U.S. Navy vet and comedian Charlie Murphy has died

Charlie Murphy, a standup comedian and Navy vet known for his work on the “Chappelle’s Show,” died after a battle with leukemia. He was 57.


Murphy joined the Navy after being released from a stint in jail. His mother wanted him to get out of the neighborhood to prevent him relapsing into his old habits and he enlisted the same day. He had to lie to get in, but has told interviewers ever since that he doesn’t regret it.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
Charlie Murphy played himself in skits with Dave Chappelle dramatizing Murphy’s run-ins with Rick James. (Photo: YouTube/TV One)

“I became a man in the Navy,” he said in a PR.com release. “That’s where I got my first apartment, my first marriage, my first bank account, my first car… it all happened there. That was a good experience.”

Somehow, Murphy made it through his service without ever being issued dog tags.

“I’ll tell you something bizarre. I was never issued dog tags. It’s part of your uniform, but I never got them. I thought it was for ID. But it’s not to ID you. It’s to ID your corpse. That’s why they make them out of metal,” he was quoted as saying.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
Comedian and Navy veteran Charlie Murphy performs standup. (Photo: YouTube/Leon Knoles)

After separating from the military, Murphy became the head of security for his little brother, Eddie Murphy, before launching his own career as a writer, actor, and standup comedian. The older Murphy helped write the movies “Vampire in Brooklyn” and “Norbit” which his younger brother starred in.

Charlie also played small parts in “Night at the Museum,” “The Boondocks,” and the 2012 reboot of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

MIGHTY CULTURE

This WWII veteran evaded 4,000 enemy troops over 4 months

Some of our nation’s greatest treasures aren’t places, they are people. Leo LaCasse survived three crash landings and evaded 4,000 enemy troops during World War II. He now lives at a VA Community Living Center in Salem, Virginia. Here is his story:

Born on July 4, 1920, Leo LaCasse was one of five children–all of whom were born on birthdays of former presidents. At the age of 15, he joined the New Hampshire National Guard, and later the Army Air Corps, where he was assigned to a recruiting command. The private was soon promoted to corporal, then sergeant, as he traveled New England recruiting pilots from colleges and universities.

One day, Leo learned that he was accepted to flight school. It was a reward from his commanding officer who had submitted the application on his behalf. Despite never having gone to college, the Army sent Leo to college under an accelerated learning program, and when he graduated, he became a B-17 bomber captain.


Soon, flying planes “felt like home” to Leo.

“Some of them [planes] were cramped, but it didn’t make any difference to me because I was the pilot. When you’re packed in an aircraft and don’t have the room to move your body in the cockpit, any airplane you fly after that is good.”

In June 1943, Leo was assigned to the 8th Air Force, Bomb Group 548th in Suffolk, England, where he served under General Curtis Lemay.

Leo LaCasse flew 35 missions over Germany and other occupied countries, and survived three crash landings. During World War II, Leo evaded 4,000 enemy troops over 4 months.

One of Leo’s crashes landed in France, which was then occupied by Germany. He instructed his crew to head for the front lines, to surrender and tell whoever interrogated them that he was headed for Berlin. Instead, Leo left for Luxembourg to meet up with the French Resistance, where he crossed the Pyrenees Mountains, and made his way to Portugal.

In all, he spent four months avoiding Nazi capture. When the war was over, he was sent to Berlin for debriefing. That’s where he met and befriended a German general who recognized Leo’s name and revealed there had been 4,000 German troops looking for him following the crash landing in France.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

Captain Leo LaCasse in front of his B-17 Bomber.

Leo retired from the military as a Brigadier General. For his service he has received numerous medals including the Silver Star Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Combat Medal, Joint Services Commendation Medal, World War II Victory Medal, European and Middle East Campaign Medal, Army Air Force Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and the American Defense Medal.

On June 5, 2016, Leo received the Legion of Honor Medal, France’s highest honor.

Leo now resides at Salem VA Medical Center’s Community Living Center located in Salem, Virginia.

On July 4, 2019, Leo will celebrate his 99th birthday.

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

That time the Air Force went inverted over a Russian bomber

Last week, we published a blurry shot of a U.S. Air Force F-4 Phantom flying inverted during an intercept mission on a Russian Tu-95 Bear. The photograph went viral and reached Robert M. Sihler, the author of the shot, who was so kind to provide some interesting details about the image that brought to mind one of the most famous scenes in Top Gun movie.


“Although I don’t remember the exact date, the mission occurred in either late 1973 or early 1974.  The F-4C belonged to the 57th FIS at Keflavik NAS.  The mission was a standard intercept of a “Bear” by two F-4s after the alert crews were activated,” Bob wrote in an email to The Aviationist.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
In June 1973, the F-4s replaced the F-102s at Keflavik. (All images: R. Sihler)

I was a Navigator, or in the F-4, a Weapons System Officer. I entered the USAF in Oct 1969. On active duty, I spent a couple of years at Norton AFB, CA in C-141s. From there, I trained in the F-4 and spent one year at Keflavik, Iceland. Following that, I went back to C-141s at Charleston AFB, SC from 1974 to 1977. I left active duty and spent the next 14 years in C-130s at Andrews AFB, MD and Martinsburg ANGB, WV. I retired as a Lt Col in Dec 1991. The assignments to Iceland were generally either one or two years. I elected to do one year without my family accompanying me there. Others chose to bring their families for two years.

Dealing with the close encounters with the Tu-95s:

“At that time, we probably averaged two intercepts of “Bears” per week. They were the only aircraft we saw while I was there. Generally, the intercepts occurred on Fridays and Sundays, at the “Bears” flew from Murmansk to Cuba on training and, we guessed, “fun” missions. Generally, we did these barrel rolls at the request of the Soviet crewmembers. They gave us hand signals to let us know they wanted us to do it.  They photographed us as well.  The Cold War was winding down and the attitudes on both sides had improved,” Sihler explains.

When asked whether the barrel roll was difficult or unsafe maneuver, Bob has no doubts: “Not really!  The Soviets, at the time, gave us hand signals asking us to “perform” for them. The rolls were not dangerous at all.”

The famous shot of the inverted flying F-4 Phantom (the aircraft was actually ending a barrel roll):

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

An F-4C from 57th FIS escorts a Tu-95 intercepted near Iceland in the early 1970s:

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

The same 57th FIS F-4C that performed the barrel roll around the Tu-95 depicted during the same intercept mission:

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

A Tu-95 as seen from a Phantom’s cockpit:

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

A big thank you to Robert Sihler for answering our questions and providing the photographs you can find in this article.

Articles

US admiral says he’d nuke China if the president orders him to

The US Pacific Fleet commander said July 27 he would launch a nuclear strike against China next week if President Donald Trump ordered it, and warned against the military ever shifting its allegiance from its commander in chief.


Admiral Scott Swift was responding to a hypothetical question at an Australian National University security conference following a major joint US- Australian military exercise off the Australian coast. The drills were monitored by a Chinese intelligence-gathering ship off northeast Australia.

Asked by an academic in the audience whether he would make a nuclear attack on China next week if Trump ordered it, Swift replied: “The answer would be: Yes.”

“Every member of the US military has sworn an oath to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to obey the officers and the president of the United States as commander and chief appointed over us,” Swift said.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
Adm. Scott Swift, commander of US Pacific Fleet, talks to Hawaii region chief selects and chief petty officers. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Katarzyna Kobiljak.

He added: “This is core to the American democracy and any time you have a military that is moving away from a focus and an allegiance to civilian control, then we really have a significant problem.”

Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Charlie Brown later said Swift’s answer reaffirmed the principle of civilian control over the military.

“The admiral was not addressing the premise of the question, he was addressing the principle of civilian authority of the military,” Brown said. “The premise of the question was ridiculous.”

The biennial Talisman Saber exercise involved 36 warships including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, 220 aircraft, and 33,000 military personnel.

It was monitored by a Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy Type 815 Dongdiao-class auxiliary general intelligence vessel from within Australia’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
China’s Type 815 Dongdiao-class auxiliary general intelligence vessel ship. Photo from Commonwealth of Australia.

Swift said China had similarly sent an intelligence ship into the US exclusive economic zone around Hawaii during the Pacific Fleet-hosted multinational naval exercise in 2014.

China had a legal right to enter the American economic zone for military purposes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea — or UNCLOS— which defines the rights and responsibilities of nations sailing the world’s oceans, he said.

Governments needed to engage with Beijing to understand why the Chinese did not accept that the United States had the same access rights within China’s exclusive economic zone, Swift said.

“The dichotomy in my mind is why is there a different rules-set applied with respect to taking advantage of UNCLOS in other EEZs, but there’s this perspective that there’s a different rules-set that applies within another nation’s (China’s) EEZ? ” Swift said.

MIGHTY TRENDING

4 reasons the Army doesn’t need your militia’s help at the border

The United States military is likely the most powerful, most capable, all-around best fighting force the Earth has ever seen. A real homeland invasion from an outside force would take such a considerable, concerted effort that many believe the armed forces of the rest of the combined world couldn’t muster enough power to pull it off. So, when President Trump decided to send some 5,000 troops with another 9,000 in reserve to the U.S.-Mexico border, Americans can rest assured the situation is well in hand.

Yet, American civilian militias are packing up guns and drones to come help anyway.


The Washington Post reported about a group called The Texas Minutemen, who are prepping to come to the border areas “to assist in any way they can.” Their leader, a Dallas-based bail bondsman, says at least a hundred men from the group are readying their guns and drones to make a trip to help the U.S. military.

So many such militia groups are preparing to come to the area that the Army is concerned about their presence and interference. The truth is, the U.S. military doesn’t need that kind of help, especially at its own border.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

A Texas Border Volunteer, posted on watch in the brush, long before anyone outside of Texas started paying attention.

(Texas Border Volunteers)

1. The locals don’t want you there. 

Local ranch owners have already complained to authorities and the Border Patrol that they will not accept outsiders squatting on their land. Texans who live in the border areas have been organized against border incursions for years (and their numbers are significant). Groups like the Texas Border Volunteers have connections with other locals and can mobilize their own protective force to be anywhere in the area within an hour or so.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

If you do have one of these, I stand corrected.

(Customs and Border Protection)

2. The military has better gear than you.

Militia groups planning to bring their own weapons, drones, and night vision goggles might be surprised to discover the world’s most advanced and capable military force has better weapons, drones, and night vision than they do. In addition, the U.S. military has strategic airlift for food, water, and medical supplies along with very solid rules of engagement, all at the ready to prevent an international incident.

Moreover, the U.S. military’s intelligence apparatus knows how long it will take migrants to arrive and is able to plan accordingly without having to resort to asking strangers on the internet to send snacks.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

This handful of U.S. Marines 1,000 farmers from Honduras.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

3. The caravan is already outnumbered. 

The President has authorized up to 14,000 troops to be ready to move to the border within hours. Though the caravan of migrants is 7,000 strong at the last reporting, the Pentagon estimates only 20 percent of those will actually reach the United States border with Mexico. Even now, the caravan is outnumbered two to one. If the military estimates hold up, they will be outnumbered by the 5,000 U.S. troops already deployed there by a healthy margin.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

Just trust that the guy in charge at the Pentagon can handle this one.

4. You’ll just get in the way. 

The military and Border Patrol takes the idea of an armed posse just showing in their area of responsibility very seriously. Military planners are already referring to militia groups as “unregulated armed militia.” In fact, the same report that warns military planners about militias says those same militias are one of the biggest threats to individual military members deployed at the border — and military commanders are more worried that militia members will steal U.S. military equipment.

The military applies all four of these to protesters as well.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Navy preparing for Irma relief operations

The United States Navy is positioning major vessels for relief efforts as Hurricane Irma bears down on the southeastern United States. Among those vessels is the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).


A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

According to a report from USNI News, the Abraham Lincoln is being joined by the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS New York (LPD 21), and the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99). The four vessels are carrying a number of helicopters, including CH-53E Super Stallions and MH-60R/S Seahawks.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
Seaman Bobby Branch moves supplies and equipment aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) in preparation for potential humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joe J. Cardona Gonzalez/Released)

The use of major Navy vessels for disaster relief is not new. The Iwo Jima has a number of these missions under her belt, including relief after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Other amphibious ships, including USS Wasp (LHD 1), USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), and the Harpers Ferry-class landing dock ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), are aiding victims or Irma in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Michael Cundiff directs vehicles in the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) in preparation for potential humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Iwo Jima brings diverse capabilities and is positioned in the region in order to respond. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joe J. Cardona Gonzalez/Released)

For deployments, Wasp-class landing ships usually support as many as 2,000 Marines for six months. The Abraham Lincoln is capable of supporting an air wing of roughly 2,500 personnel for a six-month deployment as well. That takes a lot of supplies – more than enough for the initial stages of disaster relief after a hurricane or earthquake.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
A GOES satellite image taken Sept. 8, 2017 at 9:45 a.m. EST shows Hurricane Irma, center, in the Caribbean Sea, Hurricane Jose, right, in the Atlantic Ocean, and Hurricane Katia in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Irma is a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 155 mph and is approximately 500 miles southeast of Miami, moving west-northwest at 16 mph. Hurricane warnings have been issued for South Florida, as the storm is expected to make landfall in Florida. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of the NRL/Released)

The amphibious assault ships are there not only because they can support helicopters, but also because they have some of the best medical facilities afloat. They also can help deliver supplies to shore using air-cushion landing craft. The carrier provides solid medical facilities as well, while the SPY-1 radars on USS Farragut can be helpful in controlling air traffic until land-based air control in a region can be restored.

“The top priority of the federal government, as we work together to support civil authorities, is to minimize suffering and protecting the lives and safety of those affected by Hurricane Irma,” a Navy release stated.

MIGHTY TRENDING

China has a railgun, but it doesn’t seem useful in combat

China claims it’s winning the race to bring long-range superguns to its growing fleet, but experts say that even if these weapons work, they won’t make a difference in high-end conflict.

China announced it will “soon” be arming its warships with railguns, a technology which uses electromagnetic energy rather than explosive charges to fire rounds farther than conventional guns and at seven or eight times the speed of sound. The US Navy has spent more than a decade pursuing this technology, but naval affairs experts contend that even the best railguns have huge problems that make them a poor substitute for existing capabilities.


“You are better off spending that money on missiles and vertical launch system cells than you are on a railgun,” Bryan Clark, a defense expert and former US Navy officer, told Business Insider.

The Chinese navy made headlines when images of a Chinese ship equipped with a suspected railgun first surfaced in January 2018. Photos showed the vessel, initially nicknamed the “Yangtze River Monster,” docked on the Yangtze River at a shipyard in Wuhan. That same ship — the Type 072III Yuting-class tank-landing ship “Haiyang Shan” — reappeared in late December 2018, having possibly set sail for sea trials.

“This is one of a number of interesting developments that indicates that the [People’s Liberation Army] is quite enthusiastic about emerging capabilities,” Elsa Kania, an expert on the Chinese armed forces at the Center for a New American Security, told Business Insider.

The Chinese PLA is actively looking at the military applications of cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence and quantum computing. China actually launched the first quantum communication satellite, which is said to be unhackable. For the Chinese navy, this means research into electromagnetic railguns, among other capabilities.

China says it has made major ‘breakthroughs’ with railguns

“Chinese warships will ‘soon’ be equipped with world-leading electromagnetic railguns, as breakthroughs have been made … in multiple sectors,” China’s Global Times reported recently, citing state broadcaster CCTV. The notoriously nationalist tabloid proudly asserted that “China’s naval electromagnetic weapon and equipment have surpassed other countries and become a world leader.”

China is expected to begin fielding warship-mounted electromagnetic railguns with the ability to fire high-speed projectiles as early as 2025, CNBC reported in summer 2018, citing US defense sources with direct knowledge of the latest intelligence reports on China’s railgun development.

Chinese military experts expect the new Type 055 stealth destroyers to eventually be armed with electromagnetic railguns.

‘It’s not useful military technology’

While conventional guns rely on gunpowder to propel projectiles forward, railguns use electromagnetic force to hurl projectiles at targets downrange at incredible speeds.

China is not the first country to take an interest in railgun technology. The US Navy took a serious look at the possibility of arming warships with the gun, which promised the ability to strike targets as far as 200 miles away with relatively inexpensive rounds traveling at hypersonic speeds.

During the development process, the US military discovered problems that make the gun more of a hassle than an asset.

“The engineering challenges that the US is seeing with railguns are fundamental to the technology,” Clark, a defense expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), told BI. “Any railgun is going to have these problems.”

While still cheaper than a missile, the rounds are more expensive than previously expected, as they require more advanced guidance systems to ensure that a simple GPS jammer doesn’t render them inoperable.

The rounds are more powerful than standard 5″ gun projectiles, but still lack the destructive power of missiles, making them less effective in strike missions. Missiles are also able to can chase down targets.

Even if each railgun shot packs a punch, its limited rate of fire — maybe eight rounds per minute — means it has little use for air and missile defense against fast-moving targets.

Maintenance and electricity generation are also huge problems. The gun requires an enormous amount of power to fire and the shear force of firing hypervelocity projectiles tends to wear out the barrel quickly. The barrel would likely need to be replaced after every few dozen shots, a problem that likely limits the gun to one short battle.

“They’re not a good replacement for a missile,” Clark said. “They’re not a good replacement for an artillery shell.”

“It’s not useful military technology,” he added.

Facing a handful of difficult-to-overcome challenges inextricably linked to railgun technology, the US Navy has slow-rolled its railgun development.

But, work continues.

High-Tech Railgun Promises New Military Advantage

www.youtube.com

Railguns could be useful someday

The US Navy has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and more than a decade researching railgun technology, and research continues despite development setbacks.

“They are thinking that down the road they will eventually get some technological breakthroughs that would enable it to be more militarily useful,” Clark explained. “That is why they are continuing to invest in it rather than dropping it entirely.”

During 2018’s Rim of the Pacific exercises, the Navy successfully test-fired hypervelocity projectiles meant for electromagnetic railguns out of the Mk 45 five-inch deck guns that come standard on cruisers and destroyers. The Army is looking at using the same high-speed rounds for its 155 mm howitzers.

So far, it appears the most beneficial thing to come out of US railgun research is the round.

For China, it’s a PR victory

China, which will likely encounter issues similar to those the US Navy has run into, is potentially continuing its railgun development for another purpose entirely.

“This is a part of China’s strategic communication plan to show that it is a rising power with next-generation military capabilities,” Clark told BI. “It is always in the details that they sometimes fall a little bit short.”

“It’s a useful prestige thing for them, which is similar to other military systems they’ve fielded recently where it looks cool but it maybe isn’t all that militarily useful,” he further remarked, comparing China’s railgun pursuits to the J-20 stealth fighter, which lacks some of the features required to make it a true fifth-generation aircraft.

“The US has found that a working railgun, even if it met all the promise of a railgun system, is going to have very limited utility in strike or air defense,” Clark concluded, explaining that this technology is a tool which advances the narrative that China is a formidable force.

The Chinese military wants to demonstrate that it is on the forefront of next-level technology.

The Chinese military, like the US, may also derive new capabilities from its railgun research

One other program the Chinese are very interested in are building modern aircraft carriers. The Chinese navy has one carrier in service, another undergoing sea trials, and a third mystery carrier in development.

While the first and second rely on ski jump-assisted short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) launch systems, their is speculation that the third aircraft carrier could employ the much more effective electromagnetic catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) launch system.

“The same program that’s working on railguns at the naval engineering university has also been involved in their development of electromagnetic catapult system for their next-generation aircraft carrier,” Kania told Business Insider.

“The Chinese military has often intended to explore advanced technologies, including those that the US has deemed less relevant operationally because there is enthusiasm about next-generation capabilities and it wants to understand the art of the possible,” she added.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch the Air Force Academy’s top commander tell racists ‘to get out’

The head of the Air Force Academy stood all his 4,000 cadets at attention Sept. 28 to deliver a message on racial slurs found written on message boards at the academy’s preparatory school.


Chins in and chests out, the cadets were flanked by 1,500 officers, sergeants, athletic coaches, and civilian professors inside cavernous Mitchell Hall. Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria told them to take out their smartphones and record his words.

“If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out,” he said.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria. USAF photo by Tech. Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes.

Silveria spoke as investigators interviewed cadet candidates at the prep school, where five black students woke up Sept. 26 to find “Go Home” followed by the epithet scrawled on message boards outside their rooms.

Sources at the academy said there appeared to be a single vandal involved, judging by the handwriting.

“Security Forces are looking into the matter,” Lt. Col. Allen Herritage said in an email. “We’re unable to release any additional information at this time due to the ongoing investigation.”

The preparatory school gives cadet candidates a year of rigorous tutoring so they can meet the academy’s strict academic standards. Traditionally, more than half of the students at the prep school are recruited athletes.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
More than 1,300 basic cadets salute June 26 during their first reveille formation at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. USAF photo by Mike Kaplan.

Racial slurs are legal in the rest of society, but not in the military, where their use is the kind of conduct that can be court-martialed. Those who wrote the slurs could face charges of violating orders and conduct unbecoming an officer.

Silveria, who took command at the school in August, has told cadets and staff repeatedly that his highest priority is ensuring a climate of “dignity and respect.” He called that a “red line” that can’t be crossed without severe repercussions.

After the speech, he said the Sept. 28 gathering, which drew nearly all of the academy’s personnel, was not mandatory.

The general said having the school’s officers take time to come to the speech showed their dedication to stamping out racism at the school, where about a third of cadets are minorities.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
Cadets march toward Stillman Parade Field Sept. 2, 2016 at the U.S. Air Force Academy. USAF photo by Jason Gutierrez.

“The most important message there was not from me,” he said.

Silveria wants his cadets and other troops angry about what happened at the preparatory school.

“You should be outraged,” he told them.

He said the Sept. 28 show of opposition to racism should counter any impact on recruiting minority cadets.

“I’m not worried at all after what we demonstrated today,” he said.

 

The public display Sept. 28 is in contrast to how the academy has dealt with controversy in recent years, with probes into a variety of issues from sexual assault to an on-campus death dealt with behind a veil of secrecy.

After the speech, Silveria said he thinks dealing with the racial slurs in public is important.

“I wanted to make it clear, this is not something I am keeping from anyone,” he said. “We have to talk about what that means.”

The academy in recent weeks has worked to address the racially-charged state of America. This week, academy dean Brig. Gen. Andy Armacost hosted a campus-wide discussion about white supremacist incidents that accompanied an August “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
Brig. Gen. Andy Armacost. Photo courtesy of USAF.

In his speech, Silveria said discussions about race are important.

“We should have a civil discourse, that’s a better idea,” he said.

But talking about racial issues and tolerating racism are different, he said.

“If you demean someone in any way, you need to get out,” he told the cadets.

The military has stood as a beacon of relative racial harmony since President Harry Truman issued a 1948 order that ended racial bias in the ranks.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
President Harry Truman. Image from United States Library of Congress.

Since then, the military has been a leader in accepting homosexuals and transgender troops. The transgender issue was brought back into play this summer when President Donald Trump tweeted his intent to ban transgender service. The Pentagon has put the presidential proposal under study but hasn’t discharged transgender troops.

The general on Sept. 28 called the families of the five cadet candidates who were targeted in the slur incident.

He said recent events that have highlighted racial issues, from NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to fights over confederate statues, have weighed on his mind lately.

“My point is we can’t pretend that doesn’t impact us,” he said.

But the academy can fall back on an unshakable foundation when racial incidents arise, he said.

“No one can write on a board and take away our ideals,” he said.

Articles

These are the airmen who fly to the coldest places on Earth

“Pole to pole.”


These three words are the motto of the 109th Airlift Wing – at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, New York – and though short, it is an accurate synopsis of the unit’s mission.

“We fly missions to Greenland, which is near the North Pole, and Antarctica, which is the South Pole,” said Maj. Emery Jankford, the wing’s chief of training. “So, we literally fly pole to pole.”

During the spring and summer months, the 109th AW operates out of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and flies scientific researchers with the National Science Foundation and their materiel to remote field camps across the Arctic Ice Cap. In the fall and winter months, the unit conducts similar missions out of McMurdo Station, Antarctica, as part of Operation Deep Freeze.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

Antarctica and Greenland are among the coldest, windiest, and most inhospitable places on the globe and they provide a challenging opportunity to demonstrate the reach and flexibility of airpower, the capabilities of the joint force, and the integrated support of active-duty, Guard, and Reserve military personnel.

“Basically, we go from cold to really cold,” Jankford said. “The Greenland operating season helps us train and prepare for when we operate in Antarctica.”

Each year, the 109th AW flies more than 800 hours during the Greenland support season and transports 2.1 million pounds of cargo, 49,000 pounds of fuel, and nearly 2,000 passengers.

“If it got there, we brought it,” said Maj. Justin Garren, the wing’s chief of Greenland Operations.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
Air Force aircrews assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing conduct a combat offload of cargo off a 109th Airlift Wing LC-130 Skibird transported to the East Greenland Ice Core Project. US Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. William Gizara

To accomplish this, the unit flies the world’s only ski-equipped LC-130s, called “skibirds,” which allows the planes to land on and take off from ice and compacted snow runways.

“We do have some traditional “wheelbirds” in our unit, but the LC-130s give us the unique capability of being able to land in snowy arctic areas,” Garren said.

While the LC-130s are able to operate without a traditional runway, the arctic environment does present challenges the crews must overcome long before the planes’ skis touch down on the ice.

“Our biggest challenges are weather and navigation,” said Capt. Zach McCreary, a C-130 pilot with the 109th AW.

Because most of Greenland is within the Arctic Circle near the North Pole and Antarctica surrounds the South Pole, there is a lot of magnetic interference when flying in these areas. This interference makes GPS navigation difficult, so the aircrews have to resort to old-school tactics.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years
Airmen approach DYE-2, an abandoned radar site near Raven Camp that was one of 60 set up during the Cold War as part of an early-warning system that stretched across the far north of Alaska, Canada and Greenland. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Greg C. Biondo.

“Our navigators are some of the only ones in the military who still use celestial navigation,” Jankford said. “We still break out the charts and formulas to determine our positions and headings.”

Weather is another challenge. It can change quickly and it can get nasty, so aircrews try to stay as up to date as possible when flying missions.

“We receive regular weather briefings, before we leave and while we’re in the air,” McCreary said. “But there are times the weather changes quickly and you have to react and adapt to it on the fly.”

In some cases, usually with cloud cover, this means landing with limited to no visibility. At times the land and sky blend together with no visible horizon line.

“It’s like flying inside of a ping pong ball,” McCreary said. “Everything is white and it all looks the same.”Capt. Zach McCreary, C-130 pilot, 109th AW

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

In these situations, the aircrew uses a spotting technique where the copilot and loadmasters will look for flags lining the runway and help the pilot line up the aircraft during its approach.

“It’s a very unique airlift wing,” Garren said. “We’re landing on snow and ice, we’re using the sun and stars to navigate, and we’re using our eyeballs to land – I’m not sure there’s another unit that flies like this.”

Because the 109th AW operates in such unique environments, utilizing dated techniques, effective training is only possible within the areas of operation.

“We can only train for these missions when we’re in Greenland and Antarctica,” Garren said. “We can’t train at home, so new crewmembers are learning and being signed off on tasks while they’re landing and taking off from the ice.”

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

The uniqueness of the polar mission is one reason it was given to the 109th AW. Being a guard unit, its members stay in place longer and are able to train, develop, and enhance their skills and experience without having to move or relocate every few years like their active duty counterparts.

“We have guys here who have been flying this mission for 30 years,” Garren said. “That amount of experience is invaluable and the knowledge they pass on to the junior guys is irreplaceable.”

Also irreplaceable are the capabilities of the wing’s unique “skibirds.”

“We can fly into an austere area and land with our skis with no runway somewhere no one has ever been,” Garren said. “That’s why we’re here and that’s what we train to do.”

MIGHTY TRENDING

Apparently Russia can’t even afford Putin’s problematic nuclear cruise missile

Russia can’t afford its Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, which still doesn’t work right and may not be combat ready for another decade, CNBC reports, citing US intelligence assessments.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proudly boasted last year that the weapon could skirt enemy defenses and fly indefinitely, giving it unlimited range, but the farthest this missile has ever flown in testing is 22 miles.

The most recent test took place in late January 2019, The Diplomat reported in early February 2019, noting that Russia had decided to restart testing after a pause last summer.


The test was apparently only “partially successful,” The Diplomat explained, indicating that the weapon still doesn’t function as intended. No country has ever fielded a nuclear-powered cruise missile, although the US briefly flirted with the idea many years ago.

US intelligence currently assesses it might be another decade before the Burevestnik cruise missile is ready for combat, but even then, Russia is expected to only produce a few of these potentially powerful missiles because they are too expensive for the country to develop, CNBC reports.

This certainly isn’t the first superweapon Russia has hyped up that turned out to be unobtainable due to budget limitations.

Russia unveiled its hard-hitting T-14 Armata tank at the 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade, where one embarrassingly broke down and had to be towed away during rehearsal.

A Vietnam veteran returned a library book after 52 years

Russian T-14 Armata tank.

Russia had initially planned to mass produce and field as many as 2,300 Armatas by 2025, but that number was reduced to 100, as the cost of this state-of-the-art tank, which includes an unmanned turret and other expensive features, was way over budget.

Instead of buying more Armatas, Russia opted to upgrade and improve its older T-72, T-80, and T-90 tanks, capable armor units but definitely nothing like what Russia promised for the Armatas.

The country decided to do the same with its fifth-generation Su-57 stealth fighter.

Rather than mass produce the aircraft, which was built to take down the US F-35s, Russia instead chose to purchase only a limited number and focus on improving its fourth-generation fighters.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Airman killed in Afghanistan bombing remembered as compassionate hero

Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin was one of four US troops killed Tuesday when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.

Sgt. Elchin, a 25-year-old from Beaver County, Pennsylvania, was highly decorated for his age, according to a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Interviews conducted by the newspaper show the sergeant was a devoted hero with a kind heart.

His brother, Aaron Elchin, told the newspaper about the last time he spoke with his younger brother, who was assigned to 26th Special Tactics Squadron.

“I told him that I love him,” Elchin said in the interview. “And I didn’t know that was going to be the last time I’d talk to him.”


Sgt. Elchin’s awards included the Bronze Star Medal, the military’s fourth-highest award for meritorious service in a combat zone. He also received a Purple Heart and Commendation Medals from both the Air Force and the Army, according to the Post-Gazette.

Elchin told the newspaper he was not surprised that his brother received such high recognition.

“I think it is very unusual to be so highly decorated,” he said. “But you’ve got to understand, Dylan was very dedicated in everything that he did.”

Sgt. Elchin enlisted as a combat controller in 2012. In high school, he had a variety of interests; he played the horn in the high school band and also participated in the school’s shop program, according to the Post-Gazette. He was also known for his kind nature.

“[Dylan] was part of a student group who sent holiday cards to residents at McGuire Memorial, a school for students with individualized special education needs,” said Carrie Rowe, Elchin’s former middle school principal, told the newspaper. “Dylan’s Beaver Area School District family will remember him as a young man with a kind heart, who was studious, curious about life, and loved his family.”

Aaron Elchin told the Post-Gazette his family is living in a state of shock since learning about the explosion, one of the deadliest attacks against American forces since 2017.

“We’re all basically waiting to wake up,” he told the newspaper. “We feel like we’re in a giant fog, and we just don’t want to believe it.”

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

Do Not Sell My Personal Information