Everyone loves a good deal, and military veterans are no different. Plus, cable is expensive these days. So for veterans and the military, Comcast offers a $100 prepaid card back to its vet customers, along with a $25 Xfinity coupon. For a lot of companies, the discount would be as far as it needed to go. But the love Comcast has for vets is real – after all, the company was founded by a World War II-era Navy veteran.
Navy veteran and Comcast founder Ralph J. Roberts.
In the early 1960s, Navy vet Ralph J. Roberts purchased a Mississippi-based 1,200-subscriber cable company with his two business partners. The World War II veteran had come a long way from selling golf clubs and suspenders. He first became interested in the proliferation of TV broadcasting after using the proceeds of his suspenders business to buy over-the-air TV antennas which broadcast television to rural areas. Roberts eventually grew what started as a half-million-dollar investment into America’s largest cable company, Comcast.
These days, Comcast still remembers its founder’s Navy roots. The company is actively working to provide internet access to low-income veterans, hire a record number of veterans and their spouses in all areas of its operations, and support veteran-related initiatives in many, many areas.
In 2015, Comcast vowed to hire 21,000 members of the military-veteran community by 2021. This includes the spouses of servicemembers and veterans of all eras, not just the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their dedication extends to members of the reserve and the National Guard, who, as Comcast employees, get more benefits when activated than what the laws of the United States demand. Comcast, while acknowledging it can’t hire every veteran, also helps other companies to hire more – by teaching them how to hire more vets.
The cable provider funds the Veterans at Work Certificate Program, a certification program for human resources professionals that teaches hiring managers why veterans make better employees and instructs them on how to find vets that fit their needs, all at no cost.
To further help veterans find work, Comcast has invested in bridging a digital divide by provide low-income veteran households with high-speed internet access, along with providing more than 100,000 home computers, and providing digital skills training to ensure their beneficiaries can properly utilize both. Since 2011, more than eight million people have benefitted from the generosity of Comcast’s Internet Essentials program and a further 9.5 million people have been reached through Comcast’s literacy training efforts.
But Comcast doesn’t stop there. While Comcast works in the world of digital internet and television, there are many, many areas where it doesn’t have a beachhead. To serve those areas, the company provides funding for special, military-related nonprofits to reach it for them. Since 2001, Comcast has given million in cash and in-kind donations to more than 265 veterans organizations whose missions are essential to the wellbeing and increased livelihoods of the military-veteran community.
The Military Influencer Conference brings veteran-oriented organizations together.
One of those organizations is the Military Influencer Conference, an annual event that brings together important and emerging entrepreneurs, influencers, creatives, executives, and leaders who are connected to the military community. the three-day conference focuses on delivering actionable insights from the stories of others and fostering an environment where people of diverse backgrounds and skill sets are motivated to forge legitimate relationships through conversation that lead to powerful collaborations.
We Are The Mighty’s August Dannehl showcases the “Art and Other Tactics” exhibit at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in Los Angeles, California. Generations of veteran artists showcase and discuss their work.
The number of civilians dying in Afghanistan’s protracted 16-year war dropped slightly during the first three months of this year, the United Nations reported April 27, but in a surprising twist more women and children are among the dead and wounded than in previous casualty reports.
The report blamed the hike in casualties among women and children on aerial attacks. According to U.N. figures, there were 148 casualties from aerial bombings in the first three months of this year compared to 29 last year. Casualties from unexploded ordnance, which seemed to claim mostly children, was also up slightly.
“It is civilians, with increasing numbers of women and children, who far too often bear the brunt of the conflict,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan in a release.
Although there was a four percent overall drop in casualties during the first three months of the year, the U.N. suggested the drop may be the result of Afghan civilians fleeing their homes. According to the report there is an unprecedented number of Afghans displaced by war living inside the country. There are another 1.5 million Afghans living as refugees in neighboring Pakistan.
The U.N. blamed 62 percent of the civilian casualties on insurgents while ordinary Afghans caught in the crossfire accounted for nearly 35 percent of all casualties.
Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group are present in Afghanistan. They are fighting each other and Afghanistan’s security forces.
Earlier this week, a half dozen Taliban attacked an army base in northern Afghanistan in one of the worst attacks against the security forces, killing as many as 140 soldiers.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has about 9,800 troops in Afghanistan. NATO ended its combat mission in the country in 2014, and the primary role of U.S. troops is now to assist and train, though increasingly the U.S. has been called in by Afghan Security Forces for support.
The report accused anti-government elements, without specifying Taliban or the Islamic State group, of intentionally targeting civilians.
“During an armed conflict, the intentional killing and injuring of civilians is a war crime,” Yamamoto said in the release. “Anti-Government Elements must stop this deplorable practice and everybody must apply- and respect – the definition of ‘civilian’ provided by international humanitarian law.”
The military has a lot of official and unofficial awards for when tragedy strikes. Soldiers saved by their helmets often receive sections of the helmet after it is studied. Troops hit by enemy weapons get Purple Hearts. And aviators flying for the Army are awarded “Broken Wings” when they manage to avoid a crash or crash safely when tragedy strikes in mid-flight.
The Broken Wing Award dates back to March 1968, and it has been awarded to hundreds of air crewmembers and pilots for avoiding crashes or minimizing the damage resulting from them.
In 2016, Navy aviator Ms. Barbara Gordon became the first sailor to earn the award when she took part in a training flight with an Army pilot. They were practicing an exercise on just one engine in a UH-60L Black Hawk when that engine failed, and the helicopter began to fall at almost 12,000 feet per minute. In that emergency, the two pilots had to take turns taking certain actions to save it, but they managed to do so in the only five seconds they had to avoid a deadly crash.
The award is typically given for in-flight emergencies caused by mechanical failure or environmental factors, though the guidelines for it do say that enemy action isn’t a disqualifier. While receiving the award is considered an honor, it’s not something anyone hopes for.
Maj. Gen. Joel K. Tyler, commander of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, presents the U.S. Army Broken Wing Award to Chief Warrant Officer 3 Sylvia Grandstaff.
(Collin Magonigal, RTC)
“I appreciate the award,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Hagerty while receiving the award for saving his helicopter after a cardboard box went through the engine. “I don’t think I want to earn another one though.”
The helicopter had suffered engine failure, and the pilots had to carefully tip the helicopter over a cliff and then use the speed and power from the fall to reach a safe landing spot and do a “roll-on landing” where they have no power left to flare and hover, so they touchdown and roll to a stop instead. So, a controlled crash off of a cliff. No one wants that.
And no pilot wants to face any of the situations that result in a Broken Wing Award nomination. Not the crash off the cliff, not the midair power failure that Gordon suffered, not the midair crash that Odum and Desjardins survived.
An aircrew member must, through outstanding airmanship, minimize or prevent aircraft damage or injury to personnel during an emergency situation. Aircrew member must have shown extraordinary skill while recovering an aircraft from an in-flight emergency situation. If more than one crewmember materially contributed to successful recovery from the emergency, each of those involved should be considered for nomination.
Each in-flight save by Army aviators represents lives saved and airframes preserved. Obviously, the lives are more important than the helicopters, and occasional plane (the Army has very few planes, so the award naturally goes predominantly to helicopter pilots), but each helicopter saved does represent millions of dollars saved by the Army.
It’s the award no one wants to earn, the Army doesn’t want to have to give out, but each time an aviator gets their broken wings, lives are saved, and aircraft stay in the fleet.
There are so many dumb questions, but don’t worry, we’re here for you with the answers. We Are The Mighty regulars are joined by special guests U.S. Navy SEAL Remi Adeleke and Green Beret Terry Schappert in the third installment of this riveting series.
Do soldiers fall in love while in war zones? | Dumb Military Questions 103
“Have you ever seen someone cry at the U.S. Army basic training?”
The video opens strong with the cold human truth: oh yes — everyone cries at the U.S. Army basic training (phrasing kept intact here because it’s hilarious; can we make adding ‘the’ to basic training a universal thing?).
“Why are the U.S. Navy’s and the U.S. Army’s special forces considered elite even though their training period before joining is only a few months long compared to civilian skills like guitar that take years to learn?”
Schappert ain’t got time for that.
Dear twenty-something rich kid sitting in your mom’s basement playing ‘Wonderwall’ again on your six-string: we don’t know how to convey to you that pushing yourself beyond your physical limitations consistently for months on end while sleep deprived in order to learn tactics and skills that will keep you and your friends alive in the face of lethal force is harder than finally nailing your first F chord on the guitar. But please trust us: it is.
“Could a Green Beret break out of a supermax prison?”
Lucky for us, we had not one but two Green Berets on hand to answer this question.
“Why don’t we make our soldiers look scary or creepy? Wouldn’t that be good psychological warfare?”
Trust me. Our soldiers are creepy. Just look through the We Are The Mighty comments sometime.
Watch the video above to see the full line-up of questions and their answers!
Then make sure you check out more videos right here:
The highest rate of fire for a machine gun in service is the M134 Minigun. The weapon was designed in the late 1960s for helicopters and armored vehicles. It fires 7.62 mm calibre rounds at a blistering rate of 6,000 rounds per minute, or 100 rounds per second — about ten times that of an ordinary machine gun, according to the Guinness World Records.
The Metal Storm gun, on the other hand, makes the M134 look like a toy. The prototype gun system was rated at 16,000 rounds per second or 1,000,000 rounds per minute. The gun system was developed by an Australian weapons company by the same name. In 2007, Metal Storm Inc. started delivering its gun systems to the US Navy for surface ships. This video shows how the Metal Storm gun achieves its head spinning firing rate.
So check out five reasons why military personnel hate on civilians (we still love you guys, though):
5. They don’t get our humor
We have dark freakin’ humor, and we can’t hide it — nor do we want to. We go through some rough experiences and manage to joke about them as a coping mechanism.
What we think is funny, most civilians consider f*cked up absurd, but we’re not going to change, so get used to it!
This guy gets it. (Image via GIPHY)
4. Most civilians lolly gaggle and fiddle f*ck around
The military teaches us to get sh*t done — oftentimes under great stress or over long hours. Sure, everyone has to sleep at the end of the day, but breaks aren’t guaranteed, there’s no overtime, and we don’t get reimbursed for weekend duty. We can spend all day at work and not see an extra dime.
3. We do more before 0500 than they will do all day
Our command can tell us to be ready for work whenever they want us to without advanced notice. Typically we PT hardcore first thing in the morning or draw weapons before hiking miles out to the field — then eat a cold breakfast.
Why are we awake if there’s no sun? (Image via GIPHY)
2. Most civies don’t know the meaning of a “hard days work.”
Many military jobs require the service member to be in constant danger, and we rarely hear them complain about it — since they did volunteer, afterall. Nowadays, we hear people say how stressful their office job is even though they have breezy air conditioning and hot chow when they want it.
We’ve published the full answer from Quora user Jon Davis, a Marine veteran who is now a writer and blogger on military, veterans, and Middle Eastern affairs. In Oct. 2014, Davis’ answer was optioned by a Hollywood producer for a potential television series.
These are the accounts of the Second American Civil War, also known as the Wars of Reunification and the American Warring States Period.
After the breakup many wondered which states would come out in control of the power void created by the dissolution of the United States. There were many with little chance against several of the larger more powerful states. The states in possession of a large population, predisposition for military bases and a population open to the idea of warfare fared the best. In the long term we would look to states with self-sufficiency and long term military capabilities.
Here are the states that held the greatest strategic value from day one. They have the ability to be self-sufficient, economic strength, military strength, the will to fight and the population to support a powerful war machine.
Others that have many of the qualities that gave them an advantage are also listed.
For all intents and purposes Alaska and Hawaii ended well enough since they were so far removed from the center of the country that they never really suffer greatly nor benefit from the shattering.
Day 12: “It’s getting scary. My mom said we are going back to Oklahoma to stay with Grandma. The other day my dad was yelling at some men at the door. They seemed really upset. I held Jamie. She is still little. She’s scared and doesn’t understand what is going on. I am scared too. There are also some boys at school who keep picking on her and calling her an “Okie”. We were both raised here, but I don’t really think that matters. All the other families on my street have huge one-star flags hanging from their homes. I don’t want to leave my house, but Mom says we have to go. The highways are packed with people. I wish things would just go back to how it was.”The Diary of Sarah Brennan
First came a period of massive migration back to the homelands. Facing the newly invented discrimination that will be created many felt the need to go back to their own people. While the individual states retained all military assets they couldn’t control the individuals who fight. A Texas Marine stationed in California, would not fight for California. A soldier in New York would not fight against their home in Virginia and a sailor in Houston would not fight against their home state of Florida. The warriors returned to their home states and the states had to reconsider that when they measured troop strength of their new nations. Ultimately, they measured troop strength by how much of the population would return home.
After the migrations rough approximations left the states even, additionally, the balance of foreign nationals changed. At some point there was a migration of people back to their non-United States homeland. Over the next several months many from the North migrated to Canada and in the South to Mexico and South America. Millions of Latinos fled back South to the safety of their families and away from the looming danger of the war.
Day 42: “Citizens of California are advised to stay away from the Mexican Border. In response to the recent surge of immigrants back to Mexico, authorities out of Mexico City have closed entry into the country. Agents from Tijuana are now manning armed sentries posted along the border. There have been scattered reports of refugees attempting to storm the gates being shot by soldiers on the Mexican side. It has also been communicated that the No Man’s Land will be mined within the week and that Mexico will not be allowing any non-Mexican immigrants to enter the country from this point forward. Once again, we strongly advise all those wishing to leave the country to stay in their homes.”
Jennifer Aranda – Channel 14 News
The war was little more than a very tenuous peace for several months. The new nations were mostly focused on the reconsolidating of their forces and trying for quick grabs at resources that were easy to hold. Alliances were beginning to form as some of the smaller states sought to ally with known powers in the region.
The first of what we would call real battles was mostly when some of the regional powers overtook mainly unmanned installations or took over now abandoned Federal assets.
Day 63: “We are gathered here today as the inheritors of a lost legacy. Our nation has been lost to shattering and disarray. For that reason it is our duty to bring back our house to a structure undivided. When we arrived in the District we found it empty and abandoned. The monuments to our civilization watched silently over the broken halls of our once proud Capitol. We came to the District to bring back order. We have done this deed and now it is our charge to bring back the greatness of America and return her to her proud place of honor… We will do these things and we will do the others because we are a great people. We are Americans. We are VIRGINIANS!”
Inauguration speech of President Anthony Stokes
The first real occupation attempts happened when attempts were made to secure more assets.
The Republic of Texas sought to gain strategic advantages in the Central United States. To do this they sought to gain two strategic assets. The first was control of Whiteman AFB, the home of the B-2 bomber program. The base was easily secured and the most coveted military bomber in the world was now in the hands of the Republic of Texas. The next was control of Colorado and her military installations of great value. Then finally was access to the Mississippi River. Two main offenses took place to do just that. The First Battle of New Orleans involved a massive force occupying the city to claim it as a port and artery for future engagements. In Colorado they met stiff resistance as many of the Texas military were unfamiliar with Mountain warfare. Colorado’s major bases fell quickly since Colorado enjoys the smallest force to fight back the Texans, but they adapted an unconventional warfare stance that kept the Texans on edge for months. Still, at this point the mission behind taking Colorado had been achieved–control over its military bases and strategic assets. The insurgency does however slow down the growth of Texas.
New York pushed Northward. They pushed to claim all of New England and the food wealth they will need to supply their people now that resources from the Midwest are no longer available. The takeover is mostly peaceful as many of the states have large, but mostly non-military, populations. They encountered problems when large groups of refugees tried to flee to Canada and rioting ensued.
Illinois was calm. The Midwest Alliance grew steadily by seeking to secure the Great Lakes. They were able to take Ohio through a few fierce, but brief encounters. They also took on Minnesota and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
The West coast was now controlled by the two main powers–California with its seat of power in San Francisco and The North West Union centered in Seattle. California gained support and took control of all the states West of the Continental Divide and South of the Union. The North West Union pushed as far as Wyoming.
In the South, Georgia gained strength as Alabama and South Carolina joined. The leadership of Georgia advocated a return to confederalism as fanatics gain headway among the people. The Neo-Confederacy movement takes root and spreads throughout the Old South and rekindles a sense of unity among the states who engaged on the side of the Confederacy during the First United States Civil War. Peacefully they are able to convince Mississippi and Tennessee to also join. The growth of Confederate States puts an ever-growing pressure on Florida as it slips into isolation.
Virginia took on the mantle of the Restored United States. They assumed the moral responsibility for reunification, and by taking Washington they were able to secure much of the federal assets and infrastructure available to the country before the collapse. They then commandeered many ships and weapons housed overseas that weren’t lost during the first two months of disarray. They began to gather support among the neighboring states and press their advantages– intelligence, military strength and the symbolic leadership they held by holding D.C. One strategic advantage they wished to push was their economy. While the rest of the former United States was in complete economic disarray, Virginians’ consistent use of the dollar provided a stability that others didn’t have. They wished to solidify this with control of the nation’s gold supply housed in a crossroads what was now a very desperate strategic region. After they peacefully brokered a treaty with Kentucky they received an attack on Fort Knox from forces located in Indiana.
Day 112: “When we arrived at Knox we received heavy resistance from the defenders. Their fire was, for the most part, inaccurate and they lacked unit cohesion, so we found ourselves at an advantage. Not that we are much better off. We received intel that their units were something of a haphazard array of whatever Marines, Sailors, Soldiers or Airmen came out of the woodwork and they just threw them together and called it a unit, much like our own. Still they were professional warfighters. We were lucky they hadn’t yet made it to secure the fort. Back to Knox. We were able to take the base. The fact was that the Kentucky defenders were mostly woodsmen and good-ol-boys from the South. More a militia reliving stories of the Old South than an army, but they fought like wild dogs. After a few hours their main line broke and they retreated back towards the center of the state. About halfway through the day we were able to break into the main buildings where the gold was supposed to be stored. Easily, it would be safe to say we were surprised at what we found. We arrived to find bloodstains in the main hallways and leading into the vault room. The trail faded and we see that the vaults are all completely empty. Every last bar, every last ounce is gone. All that is left are red stains all over the room and bullet holes riddling the walls that look like they could have happened months ago. Those hicks didn’t even know they were guarding a giant empty building. Now the big question is…’So where is the gold?'”
Log of Lt Col. Thomas Scott 2nd Raider Battalion Midwestern Alliance.
At that time the nations were coming together in larger groups. They had access to larger populations to support military strength, economic power to reach out and fund the state, food sources, and leadership.
In the West, states along the coast received the most fighting. Washington began bombing San Francisco from the air to try and decapitate what had become the center of California’s leadership. Retaliation strikes from combined naval and air forces severally weakened Portland, Tacoma, and Seattle. California launched a two-pronged attack by sending in land forces up Interstate Highway 5 and Marines to attack from the North. Their mission was to enter Washington through the Salish Sea and secure Mt. Vernon, preventing escape of enemy forces. The Marines were by and large undetected and completed their mission successfully. The Californian army received shelling on their movement near the town of Cresswell, Oregon. They retreated back to the nearby town of Cottage Grove and secured the Airport there. Now a temporary air base had been established and sorties began taking place allowing for the immediate deployment of troops to the defending town of Eugene. Casualties were high, but once Eugene was secured the way was open to take Portland.
Day 234: “I don’t know what the Army is doing. We have been here holding the Canadian border for days and the Army still hasn’t made it past Eugene. Just get it out. Burn the city to the ground. Mow them down. Just do your damn job. It’s us or them. Make it happen for God’s sake.”
Private First Class Anthony Sullivan – 1st Californian Marine Regiment
In the East the Restored United States was desperately in need of sound military strategy and allies. They had now become completely surrounded by enemy states. Such a solution came through the plan brought about by one General David Meznick. The Meznick Doctrine called for the destruction of strategic economic assets in the North to weaken their ability to make war. The greatest of these were the attacks on the infrastructure of the Great Lakes’ shipping system. With the locks destroyed and the Erie Canal in ruins, shipping between Chicago and the outside world had ended. New York was also cut from its most valuable resource which was the hope of once again shipping America’s goods to the rest of the world after the war. This maneuver had massive consequences to the region. Now deprived of many of their shipping lanes, the Midwest Alliance began to break as food and other supplies were unable to reach its people. Riots in Chicago began to erupt as the people accused the government of corruption, which for all purposes was true. Seeing the coming of the end, much of the Chicago legislature slipped out in the night and booked passage to Montreal on private planes. Left without leadership and provisions, the Alliance crumbled. Its resources became split between the Texas Republic and Restored United States with what was now known as the New England Union claiming Ohio.
In the South, tensions between Florida and the Neo-Confederates had reach their zenith. Troops had taken Tallahassee and were dug in along the Jacksonville-Gainesville Line. Florida was desperate. In a deal made in Houston, Florida agreed to join Texas if it was free to maintain its sovereignty in exchange for military support. With this, Florida and the forces staged in New Orleans attacked. The Jacksonville-Gainesville line was pushed back. Floridian forces moved with speed to besiege Atlanta as Texas occupied the city of Montgomery, Alabama. Texas and Florida forces converged on Atlanta and the siege went on for another month. No one really knows what led to the succeeding events, but a fire broke out in the city. Reports blame Texas shelling or Floridian sabotage, but most official accounts believe that it originated in an apartment complex where a family had been prying up floorboards to burn for heat. The fire spread to the rest of the neighborhood and, lacking their emergency infrastructure, parts of the city were overcome as the rest began to go into disarray. Texas forces secured the major areas of the city while Florida troops took charge of the relief effort for escaping refugees.
The next hundred days were among the most peaceful of the war.The lines between the Republic of Texas and the Californian Union of Democratic States were now amassing troops and solidifying their positions. The Northeastern cites were in the processes of being rebuilt after California gained control as were the cities of Montgomery and Atlanta. Old forces of the losing states’ armies were redistributed to victor nations. Texas held a tenuous peace with the Restored United States as they erected fortifications along the 36th parallel and western side of the Mississippi. California and Texas began building in unison a mass of fortifications on either side of the Continental Divide. Texas also enjoyed use of the river as shipping lanes now connected everything from the Midwest to the Carolinas. This eased the growing concerns of food shortage and redeployment of men.
Most of the fighting was centered between the Restored United States (RUS) and New England Union (NEU). Control of Ohio and Pennsylvania changed hands a few times as the region sought stability. The war reached a turning point when a New York based flotilla made a decisive push to take Washington D.C. In response, a nuclear device was used on the fleet and all the ships, sailors and Marines on that mission were lost. The first active use of a nuclear weapon in more than half a century sent waves through the warring nation states. Other nations of the world grew terrified as they waited for the NEU’s strategy. The worst fears came to pass when a weapon was exploded in Washington D.C. bringing down the powerbase of the Restored United States. Alarms across the world rang out as the RUS gathered itself and prepared to launch retaliatory strikes along the Eastern Seaboard. Before this came to pass a message from New York City came initiating their surrender. The device had been set by a rogue general from New York. Fearing its own impending annihilation, New York City seceded from the Northeast to become its own independent city-state. The rest of New England issued their surrender and joined the Restored United States without incident. The Capitol was moved to Philadelphia.
Day 647: “I can’t believe Washington’s gone. I mean, what are we even fighting for? There is nothing left that was the same. I swear I am starting to feel like all we are animals trying to survive, fighting over the scraps of our fathers. We all knew it was over when D.C. got smoked, but at least that didn’t happen. Many of the men are still sure that NYC planned this out. Leave the rest to fight over the charred out ashes while they run from it all. I just don’t know what to think. Now we are inheriting the Northeast and all its problems. They better be ready. Now Texas has us to the West and South along Carolina. Two years this has been going on and for what? I don’t know how long we can keep this going.”
Log of Col. Thomas Scott 1st Marine Regiment Restored United States.
During the next year the war reached a standstill. Maneuvers and deployments mounted the full force of all three nations. Tensions mounted as the borders grew more and more defended.Texas forces were spread thin. They held the most land, the longest borders and the least population to support their land. It was composed of the elite Texas troops, highly militant neo-confederates, thousands of independent militias and partisans as well as millions of individuals ready to fight their own private backwoods battles.
The Restored United States was a broken nation. Much of it was the remains of conquered other nations. The former state of New York was now missing its greatest assets, income from the the Midwest and international access from New York City. The Capitol had been lost. Their people were now disheartened and disillusioned. The nation they lived in was nowhere near what they were experiencing, yet they still had to survive. A new national identity was forming.
California was doing well relatively speaking. Though there was damage done to the major cities, they enjoyed a good deal of time to rebuild. Their troops were stationed along the divide. Border tensions began to build until a small town skirmish in Wyoming escalated the war to its peak.
Wyoming was now effectively existing on two sides of the divide. Many of the services and resources were split between a small segment of the Western end of the state and the rest of Wyoming. The distance from California was too great for support from San Francisco to offer the Western segment of the state. In many ways they were fending for themselves. Near the division line were two towns, Green River and Rock Springs. Green River lay on the Western side of the state. They also held the only viable water resource between the two. Since the war began, they were able to share, but after rationing was instituted by the Republic, Rock Springs began to need more of the water. Though neither truly identified as Texan or Californian, they were now forced to abide by their laws. Rock Springs was in demand of water. Green River was forced, however, not to abide. Officers from California were sent to enforce the policy to not aid the enemy in any form. After frequently being denied, leadership of Rock Springs went to the town and make a formal request with the officers at Green River. The officers had taken over the mayoral office of the town. The officers denied again Rock Springs’s request. One young man, Jeffery Irving, protested violently. A scuffle began in the office before the officers drew their side arms. Two of the men were shot and Jeffery was killed in the office of the Green River courthouse. The next day citizens from Rock Springs came to the city and stormed the mayor’s office. The two officers were barricaded in the office and requested for support from a nearby base. An hour later troops arrived in the town. They discovered the office broken into and the officers murdered. The order was given to track down the perpetrators. California troops made their way to Rock Springs.
While in town they barricaded the main road where they began searching passing vehicles and taking people in for questioning. A crowd began to build. Taunts and screams let out from the crowd. The crowd became violent. A rock was thrown at the soldiers. A rifleman knocked a man to the ground with the butt of his weapon…
A gun shot sounded from one of the windows on Main Street. The soldier fell down beside the man on the ground. The crowd was silent and a moment of stillness seemed to roar throughout the valley.
A soldier began firing on the window; others fired at the crowd. In a moment the entire crowd was under fire. They ran for the nearest building and anywhere for cover. As the firing stopped the lives of dozens of men, women and children lay frozen on the street. The detachment gathered themselves and left the town before a battle began between themselves and the townspeople. This was the Massacre of Rock Springs.
Day 812: “When we arrived most the bodies had been carried away. Some were lined along the street covered in sheets of white stained crimson. The town was in shock as our troops began filling the streets. Mothers were screaming with anguish as old men roared for action. There was talk of many of the men leaving an hour before we arrived to handle things themselves. I don’t think they know what they’re getting themselves into. We won’t be able to assist them. I feel for these people. I am shocked with them. They are Texas citizens now and we let this happen. It won’t go unavenged for long though. I haven’t seen this many troops gathered like this since we took Atlanta. This is definitely going to be the big push we have all been waiting for to take California. All Hell is about to break loose. God protect us as we march on California.”
Journal of Sgt. Alexander McAnally 33rd Texas Infantry Regiment
A massive invasion force gathered at Rock Springs. Six divisions of the Texas Army and the 1st and 3rd Marines were mobilized for the battle. In the morning B-2s from Whiteman AFB in Missouri began strategic bombing sorties against a number of Californian Union air bases. Conventional bombing missions were also launched. Suffering the greatest were bases near Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Air defense was launched from bases in San Diego, LA and Sacramento with relief forces in the North. Next came what was known as the battle over Nevada. Fighter squadrons met over the desert in many numerous engagements to gain air superiority. Texas was equipped with superior aircraft since they were the only power still investing heavily in improving their local manufacturing capabilities and advancing military technology. They also had the advantage of more experienced warfighters from the wars in the East. California was heavily invested in passive defense systems scattered throughout the desert. Their missile defenses tore heavily into the Texas planes. The air battle was by far the largest air battle in history with thousands of planes involved and hundreds lost to the skies. The fighters from Texas were able to protect bombers in raising the remaining defenses in Salt Lake and Las Vegas while severely damaging others in Los Angeles, San Diego and China Lake.
The Battle of Salt Lake began the Land War. With the region softened, Texas mobilized forces invaded Northern Utah by way of the Forward Operating Base Rock Springs and following Interstate 80. They met fierce resistance in Salt Lake city. Sniper and rifle teams were thoroughly entrenched along with machine-gun nests. Five battalions of thoroughly entrenched Californian infantry were able to hold the city for three days against the overwhelming Texas forces while the air war continued over the sands of the Great American Desert. On the fourth day of courageous fighting the Californians retreated as relief troops arrived. The Texans were now dug into the hollowed-out shell of the former capital of Utah. From this point the Siege of Salt Lake lasted another three weeks.
The battle continued. Texas reinforcements joined on day six. The battle intensified. Texas was the first to escalate. M.O.A.B. bombs were dropped and cleared away a great deal of California defenders. Texas movements quickly divided and overwhelmed the Californians. 6000 were lost and the Californians retreated back to Sacramento. Once Salt Lake was secured Republic forces moved on to Las Vegas. Vegas was easily secured after the battle of Salt Lake. Republic forces gathered in the desert city preparing for the push to Los Angeles. As the army moved out they destroyed the Hoover dam to prevent Las Vegas from becoming a strategic point again. This caused a surge in the Colorado river that destroyed the Davis, Parker and Imperial Dam systems as well. The region would become by modern standards a completely uninhabitable desert again.
It was then that something unexpected happened. The Restored United States attacked in an unsuspected maneuver designed to strike when the Republic and Californian Union were entangled and spread thin. General Meznick again planned out a massive attack to take out the knees from under the Republic forces. His plan was to take out the port at New Orleans and land a decisive series of blows against Texas. As Republic troops moved out to Southern Nevada, covert agents blew the dikes holding back the flood waters from the Gulf. The city, its troops, its ships and resources were all flooded and in disarray. Air strikes and land forces were also made on the stations and bases along the Mississippi River, including Whiteman and the B-2’s stationed there. Transport boats carried thousand to secure the bases along the river down to Baton Rouge. From there bombers cleared a path through to Beaumont, Texas, and on to Houston. Texas Defense forces scrambled to meet the invasion. With eyes to the West, few were prepared for an attack in the heart of Texas. Reserves from Dallas and Austin raced to Houston. The battle intensified. After the destruction of New Orleans, naval forces stationed in the Atlantic maneuvered to support the Texas invasion. Without the support of the New Orleans ships at port, the Republic Navy was overcome. Naval bombardment was laid down on the defenders in Houston, paving the way for the surgical team of RUS soldiers and the wave of troops following the river. The defenses were hindered by the sea of terrified citizens fleeing Houston. As shells rained down from the sea, chaos ensued. The city was going to be lost.
With the loss of Houston imminent, Republic soldiers spread thin on two fronts, and the country severed down the spine of the Mississippi, Texas made a last desperate strike.
It is believed the first city to fall was Chicago. Boston and Philadelphia came shortly after. At the same time, San Francisco and Seattle were lost. Retaliatory strikes claimed Austin, Houston, Atlanta and Oklahoma City. It is believed that many other cities were targeted for destruction, if not for the intervention of some unknown power.
Four high-altitude nuclear devices were detonated over the former United States. These weapons showered the region with energized electrons that shorted the circuits of electrical devices in their target radius. Below is a graphic representation of what this blast did to the United States.
Most of the country fell into regions of 50 to 80% damage, however considering overlap, historians assume that the damage was at least 90% to all of the continent and all its coveted luxuries were reduced to plastic and glass. This of course didn’t stop at the devices themselves, but everything networked into the infrastructure was brought down as well.
The four devices together were seen from various parts of the country. Their effects brought down all major computer systems, information networks, communication relays, and nearly all circuit-based technology on the continent. There is no official record of who fired the weapons. Any logs created were probably lost in the very blast they created. Many believe that it was a last ditch effort to limit the destruction of the United States in the event of Atomic Holocaust. Some believe it was due to international intervention. The world’s final discipline upon them for what they were doing. Many of the religious groups who would come from this era believe it was the work of God, though they cannot agree whether it was a sign of his mercy or punishment upon a sinful nation. Whoever was responsible, the truth is that the devices probably stopped more bombs than actually went off that day, but they didn’t protect anyone from the next five years. America was dark.
Day 842: “I was out on the porch catching fireflies with Jamie on the night the lights went out. We had caught a whole jar full when I saw a bright light come from the sky way far off in the North. Daddy screamed and jumped on us and he held me really close as we fell to the ground. The light grew really bright and then all of a sudden this wind crashed the field. The wind whooshed through like it was going to carry Daddy, me, and Jamie away. Then it went away. I looked up and the light in the sky faded away. I watched it dim until it turned to nothing. Then I looked around and realized I couldn’t see anything. All the lights in the house went off. All the other houses did too. All the street lights were off and the whole town was dark. I asked Daddy what had happened. “I don’t know,Sweetie. We need to get back into the house before it gets too cold.” I looked hard and tried to find a path back to the porch. Then I saw the light flicker on Jamie’s cheek. The jar in her hand began to flicker and I could see the fireflies coming back to life. It wasn’t much, but they were the only lights for miles and Jamie was all I could see.”
The Diary of Sarah Brennan
Day 846: I don’t know which is worse, the casualties we suffered at Salt Lake or the retreat back through the Sierra Nevadas. We lost the vehicles and had to go the rest of the way on foot once we reached the California border. All the trucks stopped dead and everything’s gone silent. We have lost all contact with San Francisco. I am trying to keep the men going, but I honestly don’t know if I am going to be able to keep any of us alive. The snow is thick and is keeping us moving at a crawl. Foraging is not providing us the food we need. We have already lost as many men trying to get back to the base as we did in the battle. My greatest fear is that the men will begin to realize where we are. I don’t know why God would put me in this situation in the middle of the Donner Pass. Please don’t let the men know what happened here and start to get any ideas. We are no longer being pursued. Perhaps they know how desperate we are. Please Lord, just let us make it out the pass.”
Log of Lt. Joseph Ramirez, 3rd California Infantry Regiment
After the collapse came the period historians remember as the American Dark Age.
Five years passed. With all the infrastructural losses came a loss in leadership. The cities were evacuated due to no water, food, or power coming in. Towns like Ardmore, Oklahoma became overnight metropolises taking in the flood of humanity escaping from cities like Dallas and the ruins of Oklahoma City. A local Indian casino to the South from before the war became a refugee camp for more than 60,000 people. The Oklahomans welcomed them warmly as now there was no war. There was no Texas, nor California and certainly no America. Now everyone was simply a survivor of the 2nd American Civil War.
In the chaos of the collapse, micro-wars sprang up. With no government protection, towns and villages attacked one another. Local Sheriffs declared themselves Generals of fifty-man armies. Much of the former United States fell into a feudal bid for power waging county against county and town against town. They fought battles over salt mines, water from a local creek, or farmland.
In the South a plague swept through the countryside. Many reputable reports indicate that it happened when the controls at the CDC in Atlanta were destroyed after the bombing or from the EMP. Genocides and ethnic cleansing also scarred the landscape in Chicago, Alabama, Miami and Los Angeles.
It was towns like Ardmore, Oklahoma that finally brought us out of the dark. They rebuilt the agricultural backbone and got people back to work now that peace was assured through the destruction of the capacity to make war by the large nation-states. Veterans gathered to provide a unified defense force for the new agrarian cultures that built themselves out of the ashes. New farms were established and refugees built homes all along the landscapes. As food became less of an issue for the people, factories began to rise again. The infrastructure began returning as power was restored, transformers were replaced, networks were brought back online. As the towns became secure and prosperous again people moved back into the
cities. Dallas, Sacramento, Columbus, and Richmond rose to become important regional powers again. The eyes of the nation looked to these cities as fears of the rekindling of the Unification wars began to surface. Old hatreds began to echo.
It was from Dallas that a movement started. One young girl led a peace movement from the heart of the former Republic of Texas.
Day 2871: “This girl in Texas is calling for us to formally end the hostilities. I don’t know if I could ever trust someone from Texas again, but she was just a girl when this whole thing started. It’s not like she is to blame for anything, but it is just hard to get behind someone from down there. We are tired, there isn’t anything left worth fighting for. If there is anything left it would have to be that this has to end before it all happens again.”
Sgt. Anthony Sullivan – California Civil Restoration Administration
Day 2912: “Give this girl your support. What we did was criminal. As a people we destroyed what took great men hundreds of years to bring together. It took us less than two years to bring each other to the brink. We lost our greatest cities and our best people. Now there is one of our own calling for repentance and recompense. Pray for her strength and success.”
Pastor Joseph Ramirez
Day 2945: “There’s going to be a peace conference in New York City. They’re back up and running for the most part. Hopefully we can do something good there. I will be part of the delegation from the RUS. We haven’t thought of ourselves as that for years. Still, we have to go and let it be known that Columbus doesn’t want anymore fighting. We are more than this collection of third-world city-states that are built on the breakdown of our legacies. I hope this little girl from Dallas is more than hopes and dreams.”
Mayor Thomas Scott of Columbus
Day 2953: As the much talked-about New York City peace accords prepare to open, all the attention of the country is on this girl from Oklahoma. She was one of the early people to flee with her family from Texas. She, with her father, mother and young sister, lived with family on a small farm in Southern Oklahoma. There they survived the conscription notices for service, the bombings, The Dark and the two-year winter.
She took up work in an old cookie factory, now shelling pecans from local harvests. After the Dark she administered relief efforts at a local Indian casino for refugees fleeing Texas after the they lost power and feared their own annihilation. She was able to gain respect and was eventually made responsible for finding the refugees work on the local farms. Thousands knew her for work and generosity. She built up relief shelters to gather together aid to the refugees and give them jobs. While still barely in her 20’s she was one of the main people responsible for the rebuilding of vital resources in Oklahoma City. When the lights came back online and grocery shelves were stocked again in Dallas, she was there. Pushed into local politics she was a unifying force for the region.
While in Dallas she championed a peace movement. Dallasites and Texans began to question if the war should continue, if their safety could be secured with the history of the war and Texas’ role in it. She was the voice of reason in a sea of fears. She gained support from those she helped and her message spread across lands owned by the Republic and all the way to Columbus and Sacramento.
Now leaders from across America are going to New York City and are meeting for the first time since the break-up of the United States to discuss a resolution to the failed Wars of Reunification. In her honor, the much talked about Brennan Treaty will be presented to the delegation, ratified and hopefully pass within the week. Here’s to hope and to Sarah Brennan.
Comedian Rob Riggle accepted a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1990 with the intent of earning a pilot’s Wings of Gold, but once he got to flight school in Pensacola it hit him that the lengthy commitment was going to keep him from realizing his dream of doing stand up.
“If I had continued flying I didn’t see how I would be able to take my shot at comedy,” Riggle says. “I left flight school and became a public affairs officer.”
After nine years on active duty that included stateside tours at Cherry Point, Camp Lejeune, and Corpus Christi and overseas tours in Liberia and Albania (where he helped build refugee camps for those displaced by the fighting in Kosovo), Riggle transferred to the Marine Corps Reserve. He moved to New York City to pursue his comedy career and drilled with Marine Training Unit 17 — the only reserve unit in Manhattan.
And then 9/11 happened.
“I got a call from my CO and was ordered to report to One Police Plaza first thing in the morning on Sept. 12,” Riggle says. “I worked on the bucket brigades moving rubble by hand.”
For a week he worked 12-on-12-off, clearing the twisted wreckage that was piled six stories high around where the twin towers of the World Trade Center had proudly stood just days before. On the seventh day, the operation was changed from search-and-rescue to search-and-recovery. With all hope gone that more victims might be found alive among the concrete and steel and with the danger of more collapses gone, the heavy machinery was brought in to remove the rest.
Riggle was exhausted and emotionally spent. He’d seen enough.
“Like most Americans, I was pissed off,” he says. “But as a Marine captain, I could do something about it. I put my hand in the air and told my commanding officer, ‘put me in this thing.’ And so he did.”
Now watch Rob Riggle fly with the Blue Angels:
Riggle received orders on Nov. 10 — the Marine Corps birthday — and a week later he reported to CENTCOM in Tampa for training and two weeks after that he was on his way to the war.
“About 20 days from the time I got my orders I was on my way to Afghanistan,” Riggle recalls. “That’s why you have reserves.”
He did two rotations into Afghanistan during his year back on active duty, working out of the Joint Operations Center because he had top secret security clearance. He was part of Operation Anaconda — the first major offensive using a large number of conventional troops — and other major campaigns during that time.
“When my year was up I moved back to New York City and ran the marathon,” he recalls.
The year after that he was added to the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” And the rest is American comedy history.
“I earned the title Marine, no one gave it to me,” Riggle says when asked to sum up his military career. “I’ll be proud of that as long as I’m alive.”
The only underground nuclear waste repository in the United States doesn’t have enough space for radioactive tools, clothing, and other debris left over from decades of bomb-making and research, much less tons of weapons-grade plutonium that the nation has agreed to eliminate as part of a pact with Russia, federal auditors said.
In addition, the US Government Accountability Office found that the US Energy Department has no plans for securing regulatory approvals and expanding the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico before it reaches capacity in less than a decade.
“DOE modeling that is needed to begin the regulatory approval process is not expected to be ready until 2024,” the auditors said in their report released Sept. 5.
Energy Department officials contend there’s enough time to design and build addition storage before existing operations are significantly affected.
A Senate committee requested the review from auditors amid concerns about ballooning costs and delays in the US effort to dispose of 34 metric tons of its plutonium.
Citing the delays and other reasons, Russia last fall suspended its commitment to get rid of its own excess plutonium.
The US has not made a final decision about how to proceed. However, the Energy Department agrees with auditors about the need to expand disposal space at the repository and devise guidance for defense sites and federal laboratories to better estimate how much radioactive waste must be shipped to New Mexico as the US cleans up Cold War-era contamination.
Don Hancock, director of the nuclear waste safety program at the Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque, said he was pleased the auditors acknowledged the space limitations and hoped the report would spur a public discussion about how to handle the surplus plutonium and waste from bomb-making and nuclear research.
“The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, it was never supposed to be the one and only,” Hancock said. “So it’s past time to start the discussion of what other disposal sites we’re going to have.”
The New Mexico repository was carved out of an ancient salt formation about a half-mile below the desert, with the idea that shifting salt would eventually entomb the radioactive tools, clothing, gloves, and other debris.
The facility resumed operations earlier this year following a shutdown that followed a 2014 radiation release caused by inappropriate packaging of waste by workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The release contaminated part of the underground disposal area and caused other problems that further limited space.
Federal auditors say another two disposal vaults would have to be carved out to accommodate the waste already in the government’s inventory. More space would be needed for the weapons-grade plutonium.
The initial plan called for conversion of the excess plutonium into a mixed oxide fuel that would render it useless for making weapons and could be used in nuclear reactors.
However, the estimated cost of building a conversion facility at the Energy Department’s Savannah River site in South Carolina has grown from $1.4 billion in 2004 to more than $17 billion. About $5 billion already has been spent on the facility.
Estimates also show it would take until 2048 to complete the facility.
Faced with the skyrocketing cost, the government began considering whether it would be cheaper to dilute the plutonium and entomb it at the plant in New Mexico. No final decisions have been made.
Federal auditors say without developing a long-term plan, the Energy Department may be forced to slow or suspend waste shipments from sites across the US and compromise cleanup deadlines negotiated with state regulators.
Palestinian terror groups claimed responsibility for firing more than 100 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel from May 29 to May 30, 2018, in the worst bombardment seen since the 2014 Gaza war referred to as Operation Protective Edge.
Israel’s Channel 10 estimated that more than 115 rockets and missiles were launched from Gaza into Israel after the first sirens were heard near the Gaza border at 6 p.m. on May 29, 2018. Other estimates listed the number as high as 130.
Despite the heavy barrage, no civilian casualties have been reported on the Israeli side as its Iron Dome missile defense system shot down many of the projectiles. Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) said three of its soldiers were wounded by mortar fragments on Tuesday, Haaretz reported.
The IDF said on Twitter that it struck 25 military targets in Gaza in retaliation for the increased fire.
“The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios and is determined to act against terror operatives.,” the IDF said.
Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks claiming it was in response to Israel’s killing of over 100 Palestinians participating in sometimes violent protests along its border since March 30, 2018.
“Qassam and Jerusalem Brigades (the groups’ armed wings) announce joint responsibility for bombarding (Israel’s) military installations and settlements near Gaza with dozens of rocket shells throughout the day,” the groups said in a joint statement, according to Reuters.
Israel also imposed a naval blockade on Gaza on May 29, 2018, and stopped a boat with 17 Gazan protesters from reaching Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Israel’s Defense Ministry said on May 30, 2018, it believed the fighting had come to an end. Hamas said it had agreed on a ceasefire with help from Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza Haaretz reported.
Israel said it would be willing to respect the ceasefire, with Egypt acting as a moderating force. However an Israeli official told Haaretz that Israel was prepared to ramp up its retaliatory attacks if rocket launches resume.
The Gaza border has been the site of mass protests aimed at lifting Israel and Egypt’s blockade on the Gaza Strip which has been in place since 2014.
Rocket launches from were common during Israel’s war with Gaza in 2014. The 7-week war saw 73 deaths on the Israeli side and over 2,000 deaths on the Palestinian side, according to various estimates by Israel, the UN and Hamas.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
The walls of Travis Bell’s modest barbershop on Fort Bragg are lined with history.
Photos of Army heroes are here, men such as the late Col. Arthur D. “Bull” Simons, a Special Forces legend best known for leading the Son Tay raid during an attempted rescue of American prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. Former Army leaders have found their way on the walls, too, including Gens. Hugh Shelton, Ray Odierno, Lloyd Austin, and Stanley McChrystal.
Some are official photos. Others were taken from Bell’s barber chair in the center of his shop. In a few, it’s Bell in the chair and a general behind him, playfully holding a pair of clippers.
Nearly every photograph includes a handwritten note to Bell, who has been a fixture on Fort Bragg for more than half the Army post’s almost 100-year history.
“Thanks for your dedication and friendship,” wrote Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, who served as a deputy commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps from 2007 to 2009.
“Thank you for your friendship, support, and dedicated service to America,” wrote Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who commanded the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg from 2005 to 2007.
“To Travis with deep respect,” wrote McChrystal, who served as chief of staff of the corps and later commanded Joint Special Operations Command and the US war in Afghanistan before his retirement in 2010.
After 50 years of standing behind his barber chair, Fort Bragg leaders pulled Bell out into the open July 7 to honor him for his decades of service.
Maj. Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, deputy commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps and the acting senior commander of Fort Bragg, said Bell has had a lasting impact on Fort Bragg and its leaders that stretches well beyond making them look good.
“He’s shaped a lot of leaders in the Corps,” the general said. “He has probably counseled every Corps commander since 1967.”
Bell, 77, has long served as a sounding board for soldiers across the 18th Airborne Corps, LaCamera said. And he has more time in the headquarters than anyone in history.
As a token of appreciation, the general presented Bell with a book full of handwritten letters from past Army leaders.
“The impact he’s had…” LaCamera said. “Who he has touched… It’s unbelievable. We’ve got a man who has had a tremendous impact.”
Bell opened his shop on Fort Bragg during the week of July 4, 1967. The then-27-year-old had worked on post for several months by that time — first at the old E-4 club, which would eventually become the Noncommissioned Officers Club, and then briefly at the 1st Corps Support Command headquarters.
Bell recalls accepting the job at the 18th Airborne Corps reluctantly.
In 1966, he turned down a similar job on Fort Bragg when he learned that the Corps headquarters was “where all that high brass” was stationed.
Instead, Bell kept working as a night foreman at a poultry plant in Robeson County. He cut hair on the side for a quarter or $.35 a cut.
When another job at Fort Bragg opened — this time with lower-ranking troops as the customers — Bell jumped at the opportunity.
“I was one of them,” he said of the privates and privates first class who were among his first customers on post. “I was right at home.”
It would take Bell weeks to feel comfortable cutting the hair of soldiers at higher ranks.
When a lieutenant sat in his chair for the first time, Bell said he froze.
“I got so nervous I couldn’t hardly finish,” he said.
When Bell was offered the job at the 18th Airborne Corps headquarters a second time, he said he felt he had little choice but to accept it.
“It was go there or go home,” he said.
Bell grew up on a Robeson County farm, one of nine boys who worked the fields alongside their father. Later, he would be a painter, carpenter, plumber and mechanic, and do other odd jobs along the way.
He said he viewed cutting hair as his way out of those jobs, learning from an older brother and practicing on his siblings.
But settling into his shop at the 18th Airborne Corps, Bell would have had no idea he would still be there 50 years later.
“I thought I wouldn’t even last the first day,” he said. “But I made it through that. Then I made it through another one. And another one.”
Bell estimates that he has cut more than a million heads of hair at Fort Bragg, although he said business is a lot slower these days, with much of the 18th Airborne Corps deployed to lead the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“My customers are over in the war,” he said.
Originally, Bell charged 90 cents per cut. Today, the cost ranges from $8.55 to $10.75.
Bell has cut the hair of 23 Fort Bragg commanders, starting with Lt. Gen. Robert H. York in 1967.
The general walked into Bell’s shop, shook his hand and introduced himself, Bell said.
“I was so nervous, to this day I haven’t told him my name,” he said.
Those nerves would eventually go away. And Bell would become a trusted counselor to Fort Bragg’s leaders.
Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, who retired on Fort Bragg last week after a career that culminated as vice chief of staff for the Army, said he sought out Bell to cut his hair one last time before he stepped away from the military.
Gen. Daniel B. Allyn. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill.
Allyn thanked Bell alongside current and former Army leaders.
“Travis has been cutting the hair of airborne troopers for over 50 years,” Allyn said. “He lowered my locks one final time this week. Thank you for not only keeping us looking as good as possible but thanks for your constant reminder of the impact of faith in our lives.”
When not cutting hair, Bell is often seen reading from a Bible he keeps in his shop.
He said he still makes the drive from Lumberton to Fort Bragg each day.
The July 7 celebration was just one way the Fort Bragg community said thanks to Bell. It was also his first day back in a newly remodeled barber shop.
And on July 6, he rode in an airplane for the first time in his life, flying with the US Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights.
Bell still hasn’t been on a plane when it landed, though. The 77-year-old touched the ground while strapped to a member of the parachute team.
“I’m airborne now,” he said July 7, proudly recalling the experience of the day before.
Bell said Fort Bragg is home now.
“They take care of me good around here,” he said. “It’s been a real pleasure.”
And after 50 years, the barber has no plans to slow down.
“I’m enjoying it right now,” he said. “I don’t know when I’m going to retire.”
The entry-level course is for Marines who’ve finished boot camp and aren’t assigned to infantry jobs. It lasts about a month and involves basic combat training, including patrol and convoy operations, marksmanship, and the use of grenade launchers and machine guns.
Pena said the female Marines will be fully integrated with the men, and that their inclusion triggered no changes to the course instruction. He said that, eventually, as many as 1,700 women would go through the combat training there each year.
Currently, Marine boot camp on the West Coast is only for male recruits. Women attend boot camp at Parris Island in South Carolina, where they are separated from the men for portions of the training. Congress members have been critical of that policy, and the Corps has been reviewing it.
Until now, half of the Marine Corps’ male recruits would go through their initial training on the West Coast where they had no female colleagues. A key reason for the limits is the shortage of female recruits. Women make up just 8.7 percent of the Corps.
But Marine leaders have been eyeing changes with the belief that giving the men greater exposure to women recruits during training could foster better relations and greater respect over time.