Transitioning? Microsoft can help. - We Are The Mighty
Veterans

Transitioning? Microsoft can help.

This article is sponsored by Microsoft Software and Systems Academy.

Every year, an estimated 200,000 veterans leave the military for new civilian lives. For many of them, getting a job is the first and most important step. As they look to new civilian careers, many veterans find it challenging to directly apply the skills attained in service to their new civilian careers — making underemployment just as big a problem as unemployment.

Underemployed military veterans are either not making enough money to sustain themselves or are holding jobs for which they are overqualified. Either way, underemployment can lead to job hopping, trouble getting hired elsewhere, and even depression.

Microsoft, one of the world’s most respected and well-established companies, has invested in a solution to veteran underemployment: Microsoft Software and Systems Academy. MSSA offers transitioning service members the training and guidance to pivot their skillset and become credentialed for the technical jobs of the future.

“Microsoft believes its role as an industry leader is to enable veterans to see computer science and STEM careers as a viable path when transitioning to civilian life in the public or private sector,” Chris Cortez, Microsoft’s Vice President of Military Affairs, said. “MSSA also helps Microsoft and other IT leaders attract capable, driven and diverse talent with solid, transferable skills.”

MSSA’s intensive 17-week program trains and certifies veterans in job skills the tech sector will need for years to come, such as software engineer, cloud application developer and server and cloud administrator – all without spending years in a traditional four-year degree program.

Veterans from all military branches and backgrounds have successfully graduated from MSSA and entered civilian life as professionals in the exciting tech industry. Employers find they bring a range of professional development skills to the table that new college grads don’t necessarily have.

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“Service members and veterans are exactly the type of talent the industry needs to evolve the face of IT,” Cortez said. “They are trained to quickly assess, analyze and fix a situation with the resources at hand—all while working with a diverse group of people as a team.”

As of February 2021, it’s even easier for service members to integrate the training into their busy lives, and without using their GI Bill benefits. Microsoft has moved MSSA to an entirely virtual format, and is fully funding the offering, at no cost to the service member.

The program has a 94% graduation rate, and after the training course is completed graduates have the opportunity to interview for a job with Microsoft or any of its 750+ hiring partners in the tech sector. 

Best of all, it’s a challenging career field with major growth potential. Goodbye, underemployment; hello long-term career path.

Program participants often say they change significantly over the course of the program. “In the beginning, there is concern and uncertainty about the future. Toward the end, there is a sense of confidence,” Cortez said. “They are comfortable applying to and working for tech giants like Microsoft, AWS and Google.”

With its Military Affairs team and MSSA, Microsoft is changing the industry’s perception of what a technology worker looks like, all while helping American military veterans enter civilian living with meaningful, well-paid employment in an exciting field. To learn more about the MSSA program, visit their website.

This article is sponsored by Microsoft Software and Systems Academy.

Veterans

4 possible career paths to pursue after the military

This article is sponsored by Trident University International.

Military service is a great option for anyone looking to kick start their career. Anyone coming into the military – officer or enlisted – can pick up transferable skills that can be utilized in today’s workforce. More than that, the military provides opportunities to help its personnel pursue a degree as they serve, even if it is outside their military specialty. When you combine that opportunity with access to a quality online university, there are no limits on where you can take your education.

Here are a few examples of programs Trident University International, a 100 percent online university, offers to support educational goals so you can work towards your goals as you serve.

1. Associate of Science in Cybersecurity

With constant threats to our nation’s technological infrastructure, there’s no denying that cybersecurity is of critical importance to the United States. With an increased need for more digital defense comes an increased demand for qualified personnel. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cybersecurity professionals are in demand across the United States.

With Trident, students can earn an Associate degree in Cybersecurity or take the next step toward a Bachelor’s or Master’s in Cybersecurity. 

2. Bachelor of Science in Leadership

While serving, there’s no confusion as to who your commanding officer is — but as you’ll quickly learn, “boss” isn’t always synonymous with “leader.” Leadership is an art and a science, and just like any discipline, it’s something that requires study, practice and motivation to master.

With Trident’s Bachelor of Science in Leadership (BSL) program, you’ll build on your military experience, studying how to effectively translate your military knowledge into civilian business leadership principles. You’ll also explore how to effectively deal with change within organizations inside and outside of the military, critically think your way through challenging situations, and finely hone your communication skills. No matter where your career may take you, an education in the science of leadership can be a great asset.

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3. Bachelor of Science in Health Administration 

Trident’s Bachelor of Science in Health Administration program is designed to develop skills necessary to use and evaluate data while working to develop analytical skills needed by healthcare administrators. Typically, those in the service have a strong desire to help those in need. A Bachelor of Science in Health Administration can help you continue down that path as you play a key role in getting aid to the right people.

This 100 percent online program is designed to help candidates develop a strong knowledge base in health administration, including health systems, ethics, finance, and policy. In addition to flexibility and affordability, Trident has another key differentiator: EdActive™ Learning. This approach is unique in that the learning outcomes help students prepare for the workplace by enhancing their ability to think, to learn, and to solve problems.

4. Master of Science in Homeland Security

We are a nation at war, and we have been for nearly 20 years now. Since 9/11, the U.S. had to quickly learn new ways to prepare for, respond to and mitigate domestic crises, terrorist-based events and natural disasters.

Now you can, study these skills too. You’ve committed to protecting our country through your oath to serve. Trident offers an opportunity to continue that service and to learn more about how we protect our continuity of government with homeland security course offerings that closely align with the Department of Homeland Security mission objectives.

Veterans interested in continuing their career paths in Homeland Security can find a quality educational program at Trident. 

No matter which road you plan to take after your time in uniform, it’s never too early to start. Trident’s EdActive learning approach helps you prepare to think critically, just like in real-life situations. Program levels span from associate to doctoral, and better yet, some degree programs are stackable. Learn more about Trident’s 100 percent online programs and how they tailor their offerings to fit the military community.

Trident University International cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited represents national figures and is not based on school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Trident is part of the American InterContinental University System, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org).

This article is sponsored by Trident University International.

Articles

Exclusive interview with US Naval Undersea Museum curator Mary Ryan

Mary Ryan has been the curator at the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum since October 2010. As curator, she leads the museum’s exhibit program, shapes the artifact collection, and connects the public to the museum’s rich subject matter. Mary has worked for 15 years as a curator, interpretive planner, and exhibit developer creating exhibitions and interpretive plans for museums and historic sites across the country. She earned her Master’s Degree in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Cooperstown, New York, and completed her undergraduate training in science and anthropology at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

WATM: How did you decide to become a curator and a steward of our Nation’s history?

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Screen capture from YouTube

I discovered the museum field at a crossroads in my life, shortly after deciding not to attend medical school. I was immediately drawn to curatorial work — it’s intellectually challenging, always interesting and artifacts and exhibits have such power to tell meaningful stories. After completing a museum internship with an excellent mentor, I earned my graduate degree in history museum studies in 2008 and have worked as a curatorial and exhibit developer ever since.

When I joined the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum staff as curator in 2010, I didn’t know how much I would come to love the subject matter — the history, science, innovation and human ingenuity of the undersea communities is fascinating. I’ve met the most incredible people working here. It’s a privilege to do this job and serve these communities.

WATM: The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum was closed for COVID; what can attendees expect on their tour as it reopens?

We’re thrilled to share we reopened on May 24! We are excited to welcome visitors back to the museum. Initially, our open hours will be 10 AM to 4 PM on Monday, Wednesday through Friday, with weekend hours to resume as state and federal guidelines continue to expand.

Because the safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff is our top priority, we have implemented extra safety measures at the museum. We will be using a reservation system to ensure capacity stays within state guidelines (visitors can make a reservation here), disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces and limiting group sizes to 10 or fewer people. And for the short term, our exhibit interactives have been converted into touchless experiences. As always, there are no admission or parking fees to visit!

WATM: What virtual content do you have available?

We have a mix of virtual content for different ages and interests! We post social media content several times a week on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts — lots of “this day in history” posts, sailor profiles, artifact features, STEM activities, behind the scenes content. In the past five years, our virtual community has grown to more than 20,000 people across our platforms. 

Our virtual 3D tour lets anyone explore our exhibit galleries from any location. Having a virtual tour became an invaluable resource while we were closed during the pandemic. Now that we’re reopening, it makes the museum accessible to many people who can’t visit us in person. A handful of our artifacts have been turned into highly detailed, interactive 3D models by The Arc/k Project, and more than 500 artifacts are digitized on our Flickr page.

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Master Diver Carl Brashear (via the museum’s Flickr)

And of course, our website is full of virtual content! Users can explore our online exhibit offerings, including our newest exhibit about Master Diver Carl Brashear, whose story was made famous by the movie Men of Honor. For families, our educator has created an extensive series of at-home STEM activities using common household objects. And for a look inside our artifact collection, users can visit our featured artifacts page to learn more about highlights from the collection.

WATM: What are some upcoming virtual events readers shouldn’t miss out on?

This past February we staged our biggest education program of the year, Discover E Day, entirely online. Following up on that success, our educator has teamed up with several local Navy groups to offer two virtual Navy STEM summer camp sessions July 13–15 and August 10–12. Families of local kids who will be in grades 3–8 this fall can email psns_kypt_stem.fct@navy.mil for more information or to register; it’s free and all learning will happen via Zoom.

I would definitely encourage readers to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — we’re most active there and always posting new content! Keep an eye on our website, too, as we’re developing a new online collections page that will share digitized documents and finding aid for archival collections.

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A photo from 2020’s “Discover E” Day (via the museum’s Flickr)

WATM: How can the public support the museum on its mission?

Our mission is to connect people to the U.S. naval undersea experience. Anyone who engages with our subject matter by learning about naval undersea history, technology, operations and people — whether through us or on their own — is supporting our mission.

As a federal organization, the museum is supported by a non-profit foundation that raises funds for education programs, new exhibits and artifact care and conservation. Their support allows us to take on projects that aren’t or can’t be funded by federal funding. Members of the public can support the museum by making a donation or becoming a foundation member.

We are lucky to have wonderful public support from the local community. Our volunteer corps includes more than 50 veterans, retired Navy civilians and community members that give generously of their time and expertise. Their contributions are almost immeasurable, and include greeting visitors, giving tours, operating the museum store, working with artifacts, supporting education programs and helping to build and install exhibits. Locals who are interested in joining our volunteer corps can learn more here.

WATM: Do you have anything you would like to say to the veteran and military audience?

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Retired Master Chief Machinist Mate Harry Gilger, one of many veterans volunteering at the museum (image courtesy of navalunderseamuseum.org)

Sharing the stories of undersea Navy veterans is an essential aspect of our work! There’s a lot we can’t say as a Navy organization because it’s not publicly cleared, but that just means we work harder to amplify the stories we can share.

We meet so many veterans at the museum and it’s an honor to be a place they can reminisce or show their families more about what they did in the Navy. To all the veterans out there, please come say “hi” if you visit the museum! Many of the volunteers who staff our lobby are veterans themselves. And if there is any way we can be of assistance, please reach out anytime!

WATM: What is next for you and the museum?

Every summer we host a popular education program called Summer STEAM, which offers hands-on science, technology, engineering, art and math activities for kids. Summer STEAM will be back this July and August with a twist: this year families can pick up activity kits to take home! Our educators and volunteers have been hard at work assembling kits to make this possible.

And coming next spring, we’ll open a new temporary exhibit called “Giving Voice to the Silent Service.” It’s an inside look at the strong collective identity that submariners share. While it centers on the submarine community, many of the ideas will resonate with anyone who served. This was one of the most interesting and fun exhibits I have ever developed and I can’t wait to see it come to life in our exhibit galleries!

Readers can follow future developments at our website, www.navalunderseamuseum.org.


Feature image: photo courtesy of navalunderseamuseum.org

Veterans

23 heroic Navy corpsmen who earned the Medal of Honor


U.S. Navy Hospital corpsmen are part of a tradition that predates the American Navy itself. In the age of sail, corpsmen (then called loblolly boys) helped the ship’s surgeon stay on his feet with sand and kept the cauterizing irons hot. The role has evolved over the decades, and the name of the corpsman’s rating evolved along with it. The loblolly boy became the nurse, who became the bayman, who became the surgeon’s steward, then the apothecary, hospital apprentice, hospital steward, pharmacist’s mate, until after World War II, when the modern corpsman (as we know it) was born.

Update: This story was corrected to reflect that Byers was a Special Operations Combat Medic.

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Petty Officer 3rd Class Heston Johnson, corpsman, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, provides security during a mission in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 4, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan)

The corpsman is part medic, part nurse, part pharmacist, who serves in the Navy and on its ships, but also deploys with Marines. A corpsman’s importance in combat is unrivaled and requires the skill and courage of any grunt. 2,012 corpsmen were killed in action in the history of the U.S., with 42 of those lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their work earned the recognition of twenty ships named for them and more than 600 medals for valor, including twenty-two Medals of Honor. Here are the stories of twenty-two of the Navy’s bravest:

1. Hospital Apprentice Robert H. Stanley

Stanley volunteered to carry and deliver sensitive messages between the American and British forces while under heavy gunfire during the Boxer Rebellion in Beijing, China

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Photo from Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Department of the Navy

2. Hospital Apprentice First Class William Zuiderveld

Zuiderveld was known as “Doc” to his company of armed Navy sailors (nicknamed “Bluejackets”) during the seizure of Vera Cruz. During an ambush, one of the men was shot in the head and Zuiderveld answered the call for a “corpsman.” Rushing to their aid, he purposely exposed himself to enemy fire to reach his wounded comrades.

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U.S. Navy photo

3. Hospital Apprentice Fred H. McGuire

During the Philippine Insurrection, McGuire began running low on ammunition, causing him fight off the fierce enemy forces with only his rifle’s butt stock until relief arrived. Finally free to treat the wounded, McGuire attended to several Americans who otherwise would have died.

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4. Hospital Steward William S. Shacklette

After the deadly boiler explosion on the USS Bennington and suffering from 3rd-degree burns over much of his body, Shacklette risked his life to assist dozens of sailors off the ship and to safety.

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U.S. Navy photo

5. Pharmacist’s Mate First Class John H. Balch

Fighting alongside his Marines from the 6th Regiment during the Battle of Belleau Wood, Balch exposed himself to high-explosive fire to secure the wounded. He worked tirelessly for his save his patience’s lives.

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U.S. Navy photo

6 . Hospital Apprentice First Class David E. Hayden

Crossing into a hail of heavy machine-gun fire in an open field during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, Hayden administered lifesaving treatment to a wounded Marine. Hayden was wounded but saved the Marine’s life by carrying the man to safety.

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7. Hospital Apprentice First Class Robert Eugene Bush

Stationed with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines in action against the Japanese on Okinawa, Bush took shrapnel from three enemy grenades. Despite the losing one eye, he was able to do his job and while tending to his wounded platoon commander. While holding the plasma bottle he was giving the Marine officer, he unloaded first his pistol and then the officer’s carbine into an oncoming wave of Japanese soldiers. The Japanese retreated and Bush ensured his wounded were evacuated before administering to his own wounds.

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8. Pharmacist’s Mate 2nd Class William D. Halyburton

Serving in a rifle company with the 5th Marines on Okinawa, Halyburton noticed his company was suddenly pinned down. Moving forward towards the enemy,  he reached a wounded Marine and unselfishly shielded the man using his body to shield incoming Japanese gunfire. He continued with his medical treatment until he collapsed from his wounds, sacrificing himself for the wounded Marine.

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9. Hospital Apprentice First Class Fred F. Lester

Crawling towards a casualty under a barrage of hostile gunfire and bleeding badly from gunshot wounds, Lester successfully pulled a wounded Marine to safety and instructed two of his squad members how to treat the Marine. Realizing his own wounds were fatal, he instructed two others on how to treat their wounded comrades. Soon after, Lester succumbed to his injuries but saved dozens of lives during his tour.

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10. Pharmacist’s Mate First Class Francis J. Pierce

Pierce earned his Medal of Honor at the Battle of Iwo Jima. With his rifle blasting, he courageously unveiled himself to draw off enemy attackers while he directed litter teams to carry off wounded Marines towards the medical aid station. He again drew fire while trying to treat a wounded troop and killed another Japanese soldier in the process. He ran across 200 meters of open ground to pick up a wounded Marine and carry him back across the same open 200 meters. Francis rendered the care of several severely wounded men while during the campaign.

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11. Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class George E. Wahlen

Under the command of 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines at Iwo Jima, Wahlen was positioned adjacent to a platoon that had come under fire and began taking mass casualties. Dashing more than 600 yards to render medical care on fourteen Marines before returning to his platoon unharmed.

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12. Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class Jack Williams

Under intense enemy fire, Williams dragged a wounded Marine on his hands and knees, using his body to shield the man as managed to apply battle dressings to the wounded. Shot in both the abdomen and groin, Williams was stunned, but unwilling to give up,  recovered and completed to treat the wounded Marine before addressing his injuries.

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13. Pharmacist’s Mate First Class John H. Willis

Injured by shrapnel and refusing to seek medical attention, Willis advanced up to the front lines under heavy mortar and sniper fire where he saved an injured Marine laying in a crater. Willis administered plasma to the patient as the Japanese intensified their attack throwing grenades. Willis returned the frags launching back towards the enemy.  After surviving several attempts, one grenade exploded in his hand killing him instantly. The Marine survived.

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14. Hospital Corpsman Third Class Edward C. Benfold

Benfold was killed in action in Korea while trying to help two Marines in a crater at the Battle of Bunker Hill. His company was battered by an enemy artillery barrage and the charged by a battalion-sized unit. Benfold ran from position to position to help his injured comrades. When he came upon the two Marines in a crater, he saw two grenades thrown in as two enemy soldiers rushed the position. Benfold picked up the grenades and charged at the two attackers, pushing the grenades into their chests. He was mortally wounded in the subsequent explosion.

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15. Hospital Corpsman Third Class William R. Charette

While attending to a wounded man during the Korean War, an enemy grenade landed within a few feet of William, who immediately threw himself on the man, absorbing the blast with his body. Now experiencing extreme shock, he continued to administer medical care to his wounded brother before patching up himself.

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16. Hospitalman Richard D. Dewert

As a fire team became pinned down by an overwhelming source of gunfire, Dewert darted into the fray on four different occasions. He carried out the wounded from the front lines even after suffering a gunshot wound to his shoulder. His courageous acts and refusal to quit allowed his brothers to survive their life-threatening injuries.

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17. Hospitalman Francis C. Hammond

After sustaining a vicious attack from hostile mortars and artillery by enemy troops, Hammond maneuvered through rough terrain and curtains of gunfire, aiding his Marines along the way. He skillfully directed several medical evacuations for his casualties before a round mortar fire struck within mere feet of him.

18. Hospitalman John E. Kilmer

During the Korean War attack on Bunker Hill, Kilmer suffered from multiple fragment wounds but still traveled from one position to another, tending to the care of the injured. Although he was mortally wounded, he successfully spearheaded many medical evacuations. As mortar shells rained down around him, Kilmer rushed to a critically wounded Marine. Shielding the man from the incoming shrapnel, Kilmer was struck by enemy fire. He’s credited with saving many lives.

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19. Hospital Corpsman Second Class Donald E. Ballard 

Upon returning from rendering care on two heat casualties, his platoon came under a determined ambush from the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). Noticing an injured Marine, Ballard dashed to the man’s aid, treating his wounds. He directed four Marines to form a litter team to evacuate the almost dead Marine when he spotted an incoming enemy grenade. Ballard threw himself on the explosive device, protecting his brothers.  The grenade failed to detonate. He stood back up and continued the fight, treating the other Marine casualties.

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20. Hospital Corpsman Third Class Wayne M. Caron

While patrolling through a rice patty, Caron’s squad began taking small arms fire. Seeing his comrades sustain mortal wounds, he raced to each one of them and delivered medical attention to at least four Marines while suffering from two gunshot wounds. The injury didn’t stop Caron, he continued onward, putting the well-being of his Marines above his own.

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21. Hospital Corpsman Third Class Robert R. Ingram

During an intense battle against dozens of NVA troops, Ingram’s platoon began to thin out. Danger close, Petty Officer Ingram crawled across the weathered terrain to reach a downed Marine as a round ripped through his hand. Hearing the desperate calls for a corpsman, Ingram collected himself and gathered ammunition from the dead. As he moved on from patient to patient, he resupplied his squad members as he passed by. Continuing to move forward, Ingram endured several gunshot wounds but continued to aid his wounded brothers. For nearly eight hours, he blocked out severe pain as he pushed forward to save his Marines.

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22. Hospital Corpsman Second Class David R. Ray

During the early hours of the morning near Phu Loc 6, a battalion-sized enemy force launched a determined assault against the position Ray’s squad occupied. The initial attack caused numerous casualties. Ray moved from parapet to parapet, tending to his wounded Marines. Protecting his own, Ray killed one enemy soldier and wounded a second. Although mortally wounded, he held off the enemy until running out of ammunition. While treating his last patient, Ray jumped on a wounded Marine as a nearby grenade exploded, saving the Marine’s life.

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23. Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers

Then-Chief Edward Byers was trained as a Special Operations Combat Medic at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, before going through SEAL training in 2002. As part of a hostage rescue force in Afghanistan, he assaulted an enemy sentry while rushing into a small room filled with heavily armed enemy fighters. He assaulted, tackled and fought the insurgents in hand-to-hand combat and then threw himself on the hostage to shield them from small arms fire. While shielding the hostage, Byers subdued others with his bare hands. The 36-year-old is still serving on active duty after 11 deployments. He is the most decorated living Navy SEAL.

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Articles

This is why the military shouldn’t completely outlaw hazing

One of the best things about serving in the military is the camaraderie built with the men and women we serve beside. We depend on each other when we’re away from home, missing our families, and even fighting for our lives.


That’s why trust among service members is so important. And what better way to build trust than to eff with the new guy/gal?

More: This is why officers should just stay in the office

It might sound counterintuitive, but it works. An initiation rite is a way to challenge someone new in a safe but hilarious way and see how they handle tough situations. An added bonus, as in Jesse Iwuji’s case, is that it also communicates that there’s some fun to be had.

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Butterbars, am I right? (No Sh*t There I Was Screenshot)

As the junior ranking officer on his first ship fresh out of the Naval Academy, Iwuji was the perfect target. Check out this episode of No Sh*t There I Was to see how Iwuji handled his task of “lowering the mast” of the USS Warrior…

Leave a comment and tell us your favorite stories of messing with the newest person to the team.

Watch more No Sh*t There I Was:

Smooth talking your way through gear turn-in is a stinky proposition

A Ranger describes what being a ‘towed jumper’ is actually like

That time Linda Hamilton asked a Marine to the ball

This is a perfect example of how ridiculous boot camp is

Veterans

From Vietnam to Editor-in-Chief of Parade Magazine, Marine Walter Anderson shares his story

Former Chairman, CEO and Editor-In-Chief of Parade Magazine, author of five books and three plays, Walter Anderson served in 1965 as a Marine sergeant in Vietnam. What follows is a glimpse into his time in the Corps and how his training and experiences in the Marines led to his life’s successes. 

A person in a suit smiling

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Walter Anderson. Photo courtesy of annacarolinedrake.com.

In this continuing series which will feature former and retired Marines and their contributions to entertainment, We Are The Mighty asks Anderson to discuss how his past led to the present and the learning points along the way. And, of course, what he is most proud of.

Walter Anderson’s impact and influence has been felt in magazine and newspaper media as well as through his books: Meant To Be, The Confidence Course, Courage Is A Three-Letter Word, The Greatest Risk of All and Read with Me. He has written three plays: Talkin’ Stuff, a one-man show he performed at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, Almost Home, which was produced Off-Broadway in New York City, and The Trial of Donna Caine, which opened at the George Street Playhouse (NJ).The plays have their roots in the Corps and in Anderson’s own experience as a Marine. 

Anderson grew up in a tenement in Mount Vernon, New York, at the edge of the Bronx. His father was a violent alcoholic, his brother a boxer and his sister a street-gang leader. But a teacher who lived across the street believed in him. With her encouragement, he was accepted into a parochial school but he was later expelled. Undaunted, the teacher had Walter placed on scholarship in a private school in which he did remarkably well. 

Nevertheless, Anderson quit public high school two years later and joined the Corps at 16. He was not allowed to enter boot camp at Parris Island until a few days after his 17th birthday. His reasons for joining were, “I needed to feel pride in something. Whenever someone mentioned the Marines, it was with respect. I wanted to feel that respect. What I didn’t anticipate was the Marine Corps’ focus on education, which would become so important to me. I was moldable for sure and I had an ability to learn rapidly, he recalled. “Graduating boot camp was my defining moment, though. I was called a US Marine.” 

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Anderson shortly after completing boot camp and infantry training December 1961. Photo courtesy of Walter Anderson.

After he completed infantry training at Camp Lejeune, he was ordered to the 8th Engineer Battalion where he was assigned to be a combat engineer. But it wasn’t long before he was chosen to be a student at the electronics school at the San Diego Recruit Depot. Despite not having the requisite math and science education, he graduated Number 7 out of 24 and, since he was in the top third, he was promoted to lance corporal. Anderson said, “It was a profound moment. For the first time in my adult life someone said, ‘I believe in you.’ A Marine would understand the power of that experience.” In the Corps he learned, “Leadership is the ability to inspire in others an eager willingness to contribute. I learned how to take responsibility for my behavior and my life. All that matters is performance in the Marine Corps. You are judged by what you do.”

A person standing on a beach

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Anderson at China Beach, Vietnam, 1965. Photo courtesy of Walter Anderson.

While in Vietnam, “One night in October 1965, we were attacked by the North Vietnamese Army at Marble Mountain in East Da Nang, a helicopter strip where MAG-26 was located. The Viet Cong seemed to know everything about our camp. We were attacked with satchel charges in the copters at first. Thankfully, we were able to repel the NVA and VC. Soon after the attack I saw a young Vietnamese teen lying dead. Damn, I thought. Then a Marine was carried by me on a stretcher with half of his face blown off and in that moment all I cared about was the Marine.” He continues, “The next morning I found a typewriter in the rubble and, still agitated, I wrote a short piece that I called Just What Is Vietnam. I sent it home and forgot about it. But it appeared on the front page of a local newspaper and I got mail from scores of people for several weeks.”

Anderson worked his way into the media and print business post his time in the Corps. He sought a job as a reporter once he left active duty. He was given an opportunity by an editor who was a World War II veteran. He worked at the paper full-time and attended college full-time. He shared, “I told the editor who hired me that I would work for bus fare, if he would just let me prove myself. I was named night city editor within a year and six years later, after a variety of assignments, I became editor and general manager of the newspaper on which I began my career.”

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Anderson in Da Nang, 1965. Photo courtesy of Walter Anderson.

Anderson believes the most important messaging he learned in the Corps is how to communicate with clarity, authority and substance. It’s clear he also profoundly values discipline and integrity, which he said is to be honest with yourself as well as with others. He said he learned in the Corps how and when to question authority: “The Marines taught me that honest and constructive feedback on leadership performance is invaluable. If people overheard Marines carry on after an operation or exercise, they would think we failed the challenge. But in reality, we encourage criticism so that we can improve.” 

One of Walter Anderson’s most significant memories on leadership while in Vietnam is, “We were on a small run at the base. Afterwards we were concocting a lunch of c-rations poured into helmets, laughing, cursing loudly exaggerating. You’d have thought it was Thanksgiving. But not 50 yards away were a group of soldiers. They were sitting there quietly, so quietly, and they were either eating alone or in small groups. I went over to see if there was a problem. Perhaps they had suffered a tragedy, I thought. The NCO in charge told me all was fine. The soldiers themselves were no different from us, just young guys trying to get through the day. But that unit deserved more inspired leadership, somebody giving those soldiers at least something to laugh about. In boot camp we heard the cliché “every day a holiday, every meal a feast.” Truth be told that line is never more important than when reality is anything but joyous. Our unit was closely-knit because of good leadership, from the C.O. to team leaders.” Anderson offered his insights on obstacles, “The Marines call their obstacle course The Confidence Course because its purpose isn’t to stop you but rather to teach you that you gain confidence by overcoming obstacles.”

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Anderson after returning home from Vietnam in 1965. Photo courtesy of Walter Anderson.

We asked Anderson about his plays: “Almost Home is based on the stormy relationship I had with my father. Joe Lisi, a fine actor who is also a fellow Marine, played the character based on my father. When the main character, Johnny Barnett, comes home from Vietnam, can Johnny and his father resolve the tension between them? Will they finally get to know each other? The Trial of Donna Caine has nine characters. It is about the trial of a young female drill instructor. It was inspired by the Ribbon Creek incident of 1956. 

The Trial of Donna Caine was financially successful, which is not always the case when a play is produced. It received mainly encouraging reviews. Word-of-mouth from the audiences inspired more people to attend. The play seemed to hold people’s attention, which always makes a difference. Writing plays is both more rewarding and more challenging for me than any other type of writing.” He persuaded a sergeant major, who himself had been a Drill Instructor, to come aboard to inspire the actors for The Trial of Donna Caine. He recalls, “It was a lot of fun to see their faces when the sergeant major went into his Drill Instructor routine. Believe me, he had the full and undivided attention of the cast.”

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Cast of “The Trial of Donna Caine“ with director, producer and playwright Anderson (on the far right with his hand on the producer’s shoulder).

He recognizes, “We need more Marines in entertainment.” He believes Marines can always improve their interaction and communications within the media and entertainment space. Senior officers might want to take a cue from senior enlisted on being more personable and less defensive when they deal with the press. He shared, “Especially effective and successful Commandants like General Chuck Krulak and General Jim Jones, though markedly different men, both had an excellent ability to deal with the media.” He further elaborated, “I suspect in a hundred years, long after I’m gone, the Marine Corps will still be thriving. And that will be assured if my fellow Marines hone their ability to speak with the press. Again, witness Krulak and Jones.” Walter shared his wisdom on how to get Marine stories told in Hollywood: “First, you need a really good and gripping story. And if you can get a notable actor interested in the project you may well get your project produced.” 

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Anderson (left) with General James T. Conway (center), USMC Commandant and Senator Jim Webb (right), a fellow Marine as well. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.

Anderson has decades of experience in dealing with teams and personalities across the full spectrum. He made Parade magazine more successful than it had been before and brought in key leaders and world-class talent to build the brand. He has much in the way of professional advice to offer:

“There are seven choices we make every day:

“Appearance: You paint the portrait others see. You select the clothes you wear, how clean and healthy-looking you choose to be.” 

“Language: No one on earth is more expert than you at finishing your sentences. You pick your words, finish your sentences and express yourself in gestures.” 

“Behavior: Disappointment, loss and tragedy occur in every human life. No one escapes. But such pain does not determine our character or the quality of our lives. What does determine our character and the quality of our lives is how we respond to disappointment, loss and tragedy and that is a choice.” 

“People: Whom do you choose to talk with? Whom do you allow to give you advice, comfort, friendship? Whom do you allow in,” ? 

“Information: Which messages do you choose to receive? Most of us live in a blizzard of words, sounds and pictures. What do you allow in? 

“Places: How do the places where you spend most of your time affect the quality of your life? Do they help you to feel fulfilled? While the world outside strives mightily to influence us, it is we ourselves who choose who, what, and why. And we also choose when.” 

“Time: You choose when to take action.”

He shared his support for fellow veterans: “Whenever I had an opportunity to hire a veteran I have. They are proven and they are appreciative of where they are in their lives. I want people with the most talent, of course, and that includes veterans. I admit, if he or she is a vet, he or she has a leg up with me.” 

Finally, he gives insight on what he said was his biggest challenge, dealing with anger: “It took quite awhile but I learned that anger is merely energy. We choose what we’ll do with our anger. We can displace it, that is to hurt someone or break something, or we can sublimate it, that is to do something creative, perhaps help someone or maybe fix a chair or write a poem. I believe all creative acts are inspired by anger, burning frustration about something. Again, it’s a choice: we can displace our anger, do something destructive, or we can sublimate it, do something constructive.”

Veterans

This legendary Ranger will receive the Medal of Honor at 94

Col. Ralph Puckett is a regular around Fort Benning and the surrounding Columbus area. As the Honorary Colonel for the 75th Ranger Regiment, he serves as a mentor and leader to today’s Rangers. He often speaks at graduations and other functions at Fort Benning and is an Honorary Instructor at The Infantry School. However, Puckett is slated to receive an honor higher than any other in the nation.

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Puckett as a captain in 1952 (Puckett Family)

On April 30, around 5PM, Puckett received a call from President Biden informing him that he is to be the latest recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Puckett was previously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroic actions during the Korean War. Thanks to years of campaigning by retired Army officer John Lock and endorsements from influential figures like Senator John McCain, Gen. Joseph Votel, and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Puckett’s award has finally been upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Puckett graduated from West Point in 1949 and commissioned as an infantry officer. When he deployed to Japan, he volunteered for the new experimental Ranger unit. However, there were no platoons available at the time. Determined to be a part of the Rangers, Puckett he said he would gladly serve as a squad leader or even a rifleman. The unit’s commander, Lt. Col. John H. McGee, was so impressed by Puckett’s determination that he gave him command of a company. On October 11, 1950, Puckett and his Eighth Army Ranger Company entered the Korean War.

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The Eighth Ranger Company in Korea (U.S. Army)

Building the reputation of the Rangers, Puckett’s company conducted both day and nighttime raids in Korea. The Rangers spearheaded the 25th Infantry Division’s push north and cut off retreating North Korean forces. However, their most trying task came with China’s sudden entry into the war.

On November 25, Puckett led his men across an open field against heavy Chinese fire and captured Hill 205. The strategic terrain feature overlooked the vital Chongchon River. However, the 51 Rangers were left isolated with the nearest friendly unit over a mile away. With enemy forces closing in all around them, Puckett coordinated artillery strikes to maintain their defensive perimeter. As the enemy grew closer, so too did Puckett’s artillery calls.

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Puckett scrolls a Ranger at a RASP graduation in 2010 (U.S. Army)

At 10PM, a Chinese mortar attack opened up for a full-scale infantry charge. Six waves of troops attacked the Rangers for four and a half hours. Puckett moved between foxholes, drawing fire and organizing his company’s defense of the hill. As the fighting deteriorated to hand-to-hand combat, he was forced to call for danger close artillery fire. Wounded by a grenade and two mortar strikes, Puckett’s situation was grim. “I had been wounded three times by then, and I was lying there in my foxhole unable to do anything,” he recalled. “I could see three Chinese about 15 yards away from me, and they were bayoneting or shooting some of my wounded Rangers who were in the foxholes.”

With his position overrun, Puckett ordered his men to retreat and abandon him. However, Pfcs. David L. Pollock and Billy G. Walls ignored Puckett’s order and evacuated him down the hill to safety. Puckett was hospitalized for a year as he recovered from his wounds that night. “Then First Lieutenant Puckett’s actions on Hill 205 in 1950 exemplified personal bravery beyond the call of duty, risking his own life as he drew enemy fire so his men could locate, engage, and destroy an enemy machinegun nest and kill a sniper,” Gen. Votel wrote of Puckett’s actions in a letter to the Army supporting Puckett’s nomination.

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Puckett’s command photo as a colonel (U.S. Army)

While recovering in the states, Puckett met his future wife, Jean, in the hospital. Together, they have two daughters, one son, and six grandchildren. Puckett went on to command the Mountain Ranger Division and the 10th Special Forces Group’s B and C teams in Germany. He also served as the commander of 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. It was during that command that he led another all-night defense and earned a second Distinguished Service Cross. During his career, he also earned two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars with V device for valor, and five Purple Hearts. Puckett retired in 1971 after 22 years of service.

The official upgrade of Puckett’s Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor is a long-overdue justice for those that have campaigned on his behalf. Still, Puckett remains humble “He is not the one who has been pushing it. It has been John [Lock] and our immediate family.” Puckett’s wife, Jean, said. “He felt the Distinguished Service Cross was honor enough.” The Pucketts hope to be able to visit the White House for the Medal of Honor ceremony.

Articles

7 life lessons we learned from the grunts in ‘Platoon’

With so many war movies out there to choose from, not many come from the direct perspective of a man who personally lived through the hell that was Vietnam.


Critically acclaimed writer-director Oliver Stone (an Army veteran) took audiences into the highly political time in American history where the war efforts of our service men and women were predominantly overlooked as they returned home.

The son of a successful stockbroker, Stone dropped out of Yale in the 60s and joined the Army, becoming one of the first American troops to arrive in Vietnam.

Related: 7 life lessons we learned from watching ‘Full Metal Jacket’

Here’s what he taught us:

1. Respect is only earned, never issued.

Chris Taylor, played by Charlie Sheen, just landed in the “Nam” with a fresh shave and a stainless uniform. Before saying a word to anyone, he was automatically picked apart by war-harden soldiers passing by.

In war and in life, it doesn’t matter how you start the game — it’s how you finish it.

“Welcome to the suck, boot.” (Image via Giphy)

2. You have to keep up

Being in the infantry is one of the toughest and most dangerous jobs ever. You don’t have to be the strongest or the fastest, but you need to pull your own weight…literally.

Move it! Move it!  Move it! (Image via Giphy)

3. Staying positive

In the eyes of a “newbie,” the world can seem and feel like one big sh*t show — especially if you’re burning a barrel of sh*t with diesel fuel.

Finding new ways to approach a bad situation can boost morale — especially when you have a lot of time left in the bush.

Negativity can get you hurt, positivity can get you through it. (Image via Giphy)

4. We’re all the same

Regardless of what your race, religion, or education level — when it comes down to being a soldier in a dangerous combat zone, none of those aspects means a thing.

Preach! (image via Giphy)

5. Never quit

Sgt. Elias, by played Willem Dafoe, was intentionally left behind by Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger) with the hope the V.C. would kill him off.

Although Elias struggled to stay in the fight, after taking several AK-47’s rounds, he showed the world he’s truly a warrior.

His back must have been killing him. (Image via Giphy)

6. War changes a man

The bright-eyed bushy-tailed boy that showed up in the beginning isn’t the thousand yard staring man who stands in front of you now.

Kill! (image via Giphy)

Also Read: 7 life lessons we learned from Gunny Highway in ‘Heartbreak Ridge’

7. Brotherhood

When you break into the circle of brotherhood, there’s no better feeling.

Safe travels. (Image via Giphy)To all of our Vietnam war veterans, everyone at We Are The Mighty salutes you.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Gulf War Veteran goes “fishing with America’s finest”

William “Bill” Watts, Sr., earned numerous awards during his service, which included tours in Egypt and Korea and service as a Gulf War combat Veteran. But the reward he values most today is the one he receives as an advocate helping his fellow Gulf War Veterans with their individual challenges.

“I am in favor of Veterans helping Veterans. Quality of life begins with quality of health care,” said Watts. Watts’ work with Veterans has earned him the Congressional Veterans Commendation Award. His work includes volunteering with Veterans in his community and meeting with researchers and health professionals to make sure that the health concerns of Gulf War Veterans are recognized and addressed.


Watts (photo above) and others are now marking the 30th anniversary of their Gulf War service. Watts served in the U.S. Army from 1989 to 1996. He was in the 4/5 ADA 1st Cavalry Division, 2nd Infantry Division, 24th Infantry Division and 3rd Infantry Division.

Fishing the Everglades to reduce stress

One of Watts’ passions is helping Veterans manage their health problems by finding non-drug alternatives. As a resident of the South Florida city of Doral, he volunteers with the non-profit Fishing with America’s Finest and also serves as the group’s director of operations. Fishing with America’s Finest takes combat Veterans bass fishing in the Florida Everglades to help reduce the stress and anxiety from PTSD.

“We try to teach them to the point that they can go on fishing tournaments if they want to.” He is also a team member of Dive4Vets, a group that takes Veterans who suffer from physical and mental health issues scuba diving to help to heal. Watts is eligible for the Gulf War Registry and Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pits Registry and enrolled many years ago.

Researching the health of Gulf War Veterans

Watts understands that some Gulf War Veterans are older. They may not be comfortable with completing an online-only registry like the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry. A local Environmental Health Coordinator can help with this process.

Watts also is a member of VA’s Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses. He participates in research on the health of Gulf War Veterans at the Miami VA Hospital. He also volunteers to coordinate and recruit local Veterans for research.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

This veteran found his lifeline at the end of a leash

After battling night terrors and the pain and anxiety of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for decades, an Air Force veteran found his lifeline at the end of a dog leash.

Ryan Kaono, a support agreement manager in the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, vividly remembers a few years ago when he would regularly find himself in the depths of fear and despair; reliving troubling images from deployments as a security forces military working dog handler and later as a logistics specialist.

Kaono’s wife, Alessa, said she felt helpless, with no idea how to help him.

“You see a look in their eyes that they’re suffering but you don’t know what you can do to help them. It’s a terrible feeling watching someone suffer through PTSD,” she said.

Those memories seemed so hopeless at times that Kaono attempted to end his life.

After taking numerous prescription drugs in 2010 in a bid to permanently end his pain, Kaono finally reached out for help and started receiving the support and understanding he needed.

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Ryan Kaono, a support agreement manager with the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, takes his service dog Romeo for a walk around the building.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Armando Perez)

“I had previously attempted (suicide) but this time I actually sought treatment,” Kaono said.

After being hospitalized for his suicide attempt, the veteran began a treatment program at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Los Angeles.

“When I was first diagnosed, group therapy didn’t work for me,” the Hawaii-native said, “so I actually left the group and started volunteering at a (German Shepherd) rescue in California.”

Dogs had always played a part in Kaono’s life from when, as a toddler, his family’s old English sheepdog, Winston, picked him up by the diaper to deliver a wandering Ryan back to his front yard.

“I realized (while volunteering at the rescue) that the interaction with the dogs really made me feel better,” he said.

Not content to just help himself, Kaono worked with the VA hospital to help other veterans interact with the rescue dogs and promoted animal therapy.


“The VA does equestrian therapy where they’ll take veterans to horse ranches and they get to ride horses … same premise, animal therapy works wonders,” he said.

It wasn’t long before Kaono, with a wealth of dog training knowledge from his time as a MWD handler, had veterans asking for help to train dogs so they could have their own service animals.

This support was especially important to Kaono since the average wait time for a VA-trained service dog can exceed two to five years.

“By then, we’ve already lost between 9,000 – 20,000 people due to suicide in a five-year period,” he said.

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Ryan Kaono, a support agreement manager with the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, shares a laugh with a videographer during an interview while his service dog Romeo keeps a steady eye on the photographer.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Armando Perez)

That’s based on a 2013 Department of Veterans Affairs study that showed roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide every day from 1999-2010.

“That’s just way too many,” he said.

During this time, while helping to train dogs for other veterans, Kaono decided to add his name to the list for a VA-issued service dog.

After a two-year wait, he was notified they were ready to pair him with a dog. During the interview process, however, he was denied an animal because he already had a couple of dogs as pets and service dogs can’t be added to a home unless it is pet free.

“I was disheartened,” he said, but he continued to help train animals for other veterans.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is no mandated certification for a service dog and it allows people to train their own animals. So three years ago, when Kaono moved to San Antonio, his wife encouraged him to work on training his own service dog.

“I thought I’d just take one of the dogs we had at our house and train it to be a service dog,” Kaono said, until Alessa pointed out a Chihuahua probably wasn’t the best choice for his particular needs.

He then decided to work with San Antonio’s Quillan Animal Rescue to find a potential service dog. The rescue suggested a Doberman at first but Kaono wasn’t interested in such a large animal. One of the workers then recommended a mixed breed animal named Romeo that was in need of rehabilitation after being hit by a car. The only drawback was Romeo had already been promised to another family in California after his recovery.

“I said yes because that would give me the opportunity to work with a dog again,” Kaono said.

That was February 2016 and by May, he and Romeo were inseparable, Kaono said.

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Ryan Kaono, a support agreement manager with the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, takes his service dog Romeo for a walk around his work center.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Armando Perez)

By June, Romeo had recovered and he was sent to California. Kaono said he was heartbroken.

“I secluded myself. I didn’t want to go to work. I took sick leave … I just didn’t want to be around anybody and make connections with people like I did with him and have them shattered,” he said.

“Romeo was kind of a fluke,” he added, because the California family decided they couldn’t keep him so Romeo returned to San Antonio.

When Romeo arrived back in Texas, Kaono had a trainer from Service Dog Express assess him. The local organization works with veterans to train service animals. Romeo passed the evaluation and was accepted as a service dog in training.

Kaono and the trainer then used techniques from Assistance Dogs International, considered the industry standard for dog training, to ready Romeo. Two months later, Romeo took the organization’s public access test, the minimum requirement for service dog training, and “blew the test away,” Kaono said.

He’s been going to work with the AFIMSC employee every day since passing his assessment on Aug. 1, 2016.

For Kaono, Romeo is much more than a four-legged companion. He’s a lifesaver who is trained in various disability mitigating tasks to help the veteran cope with PTSD.

These include deep pressure therapy where Romeo climbs into Kaono’s lap when he can sense anxiousness, agitation or frustration. He then applies direct pressure to the veteran’s body, considered a grounding technique, to bring focus to him instead of what’s causing the anxiety or agitation.

“Before him, I would have to sit there through it until it essentially went away,” Kaono said. “Now within two minutes I’m back to normal. I’m back to being productive again.”

Romeo also applies blocking techniques when the duo are in a group or crowded space to create a buffer between Kaono and those around him.

“People are cognizant of him being there so they give me the space to actually feel comfortable,” Kaono said.

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The service dog also fosters personal interaction, Kaono added.

“I don’t make solid relationships with people,” he explained. “I would prefer to be and work alone. Having Romeo actually forces me to interact with people on a regular basis. He causes people to talk about things that aren’t necessarily work related. He’s a calming factor, not just for me.”

Romeo has completely changed Kaono’s life to allow him to better “live” with PTSD, Alessa said.

“I’m sure many people say this about their dog or service dog but Romeo’s truly a godsend,” she said. “He has changed and impacted our lives in so many ways.

“He’s gotten Ryan out more when it comes to crowds,” Alessa said, and Romeo is Kaono’s “sidekick and stress reliever at work.”

When the duo get home, Alessa added, Romeo “is just like any other dog … he loves to play and loves treats, especially ice cream.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Air Force. Follow @usairforce on Twitter.

Articles

Why Navy SEALs will storm the beaches of Normandy in 2018

Jumping into freezing water is just part of the legacy of being a Navy SEAL. During World War II, the U.S. Navy Combat Demolition Units were just a handful of guys equipped only with a pair of shorts, a knife, and maybe some explosives. But those amphibious roots are still close to the hearts of the Navy special warfare community — that’s why they still call themselves “Frogmen.”

Some 74 years ago, in the English Channel during the predawn hours of June 6, 1944, these Navy Combat Demolition Units braved the freezing waters — not to mention the thousands of Nazi guns pointed at the water’s edge.

They were trained for this.

They weren’t necessarily trained to be the secret first wave of invaders up against some of the most fortified positions in the world. No, instead they were trained to win against any and all odds or obstacles. These men were the precursor to modern day SEALs, moving to do their part on the beaches before the D-Day Landings.

That’s how SEAL training works to this day. Recruits are taught to overcome the things they think can’t be done. Now, in tribute to those few who landed at occupied France well before the rest of the Allies, 30 current and former Navy SEALs, as well as some “gritty” civilians, will recreate those NCDU landings.

Today’s SEAL reenactors will do a seven-mile swim to land at Normandy, where they’ll scale the cliffs of Omaha Beach to place a wreath in memorial. At that point, they’ll gear up with 44-pound rucks to do a 30-kilometer march to Saint-Lô.

Why? To raise awareness (and funds) for the Navy SEAL Heritage Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida — and the wide range of programs they offer to support family members of SEALs who fell in combat, doing things only the U.S. special operations community would ever dare.


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“The greatest barrier to human performance is your own mind,” says Kaj Larsen, a Navy SEAL veteran who is also a seasoned journalist and television personality (among other things). “… what [BUD/S training] is really doing is putting guys into the [SEAL] community who aren’t going to quit in combat.” Larsen will be among the SEALs hitting the beach on D-Day 2018.

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Larsen with Nigerian troops while covering the fight against Boko Haram for Vice News.
(Kaj Larsen)

The goal is to keep the 2018 mission as close as possible to the original mission of the D-Day Frogmen.

The night before D-Day, an ad hoc team of underwater demolition sailors, along with Navy divers and Seabees, led by Ensign Lawrence Stephen Karnowski, rigged the mine fields, obstacles, and other impediments set up by the Nazi defenders to explode so the main invasion force could make it to the beach.

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Karnowski (center) with his UDC team.
(U.S. Navy)

It was 2 a.m. when the NCDU units slipped into the water, wearing little more than diver’s shorts and carrying satchels of explosives. The water temperature at that time of year peaks at just below 58 degrees Fahrenheit (for reference, water freezes at 32 degrees).

This is why today’s SEALs get that mental training: they need it.

Be sure to listen to this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast to find out more about “The Murph” workout (Larsen was a close friend of SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient Michael P. Murphy for whom the exercise is named), to learn about a “Super Murph,” how SEALs are dealing with their fame in the wake of the Bin Laden Raid, and why veterans might be the future of American journalism.

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Larsen on assignment in Peru with Vice camerawoman Claire Ward while embedded with Peruvian Special Forces.
(Kaj Larson)

You can also find out how to follow Kaj and his work, as well as what comes next for the veteran journalist.

Resources Mentioned

Sponsor

Audible: For you, the listeners of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out some of the books and authors featured on Mandatory Fun. To download your free audiobook today go to audibletrial.com/MandatoryFun.

About Mandatory Fun

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Share your thoughts about this episode on Twitter at: @MandoFun and on our Facebook group.

MIGHTY TRENDING

7 Criminals who messed with the wrong veterans

After watching this compilation of crooks-meet-veterans, it’s easy to see why veterans are the last people you want to mess with.


Here’s our list of awesome veterans that were caught on camera making short work of criminals:

Kendrick Taylor  (Navy Veteran) vs. Purse Snatcher

Taylor was on his way to the gym in Orange County, Florida when he saw a man attacking an elderly woman and trying to steal her purse. Without thinking twice, Taylor sprung into action. The purse snatcher tried to get away, but Taylor was just too fast and too big.

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Photo: YouTube

 

Zach Thome (Army Veteran Amateur MMA Fighter) vs. Party Store Robber

Thome stopped an armed robber by applying a rear naked choke hold. “It’s kind of my hometown,” Thome said. “I live right next to the place, you know, I’m in there every day. I think if it was the other way around, if I worked there and the guy at the register was there, he would have done the same thing.”

 

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Photo: YouTube

 

David (Homeless Veteran) vs. Assailant 

Two homeless men – who wished to remain anonymous – helped a stranger from a vicious robbery in Cincinnati, Ohio. David, who’s a veteran, said, “He was trying to rob him. The guy started screaming for help at that time. It’s my natural instinct to help somebody.”

 

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Photo: YouTube

 

Arthur Lewis (Army Veteran) vs. Jewelry Thief

Lewis proves that you’re never too old to win a gunfight. The 89-year-old World War II veteran foiled an armed robbery attempt of his jewelry shop that left the suspect with a gunshot wound and no loot, according to an interview by local news station WPTV.

 

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Photo: YouTube

 

John Alexander (Army Veteran) vs. Armed Robber

Alexander was unusually calm and collected when a thief tried to rob his store at gunpoint. His military experience clicked into place, and he drew his own gun. The thief quickly realized he was messing with the wrong guy.

 

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Photo: YouTube

 

Andrew Myers (Army Veteran) vs. Home Invader

Meyers can lay down a beating when the moment calls for it. Case in point comes from the awesome footage captured by his home security camera; the robber didn’t have a chance. A believer of service dogs to help troops overcome PTSD, Mr. Wronghouse is using his beat down video to help raise funds for Paws And Stripes. Visit mrwronghous.com to see how you can help.

 

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Photo: YouTube

 

Eddie Peoples (Army Veteran) vs. Bank Robber

Peoples stopped at a Bank of America on his way to a fishing trip with his kids when a gunman walked in demanding cash from the tellers. The robber nervously eyed the thick-necked Peoples and pointed his pistol at him, warning the “big black guy” not to be a hero, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported. Peoples played it cool until the gunman threatened his son.

 

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Photo: YouTube

Check out our video compilation:

SEE ALSO: 39 Awesome Photos Of Life In The US Marine Corps Infantry

AND: 18 Terms Only Soldiers Will Understand

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Green Beret wants to help you find your personal A-Team

In Army Special Forces parlance, an A-Team is not a fictional squad featuring Mr. T – it’s a real thing. An Operation Detachment-A Team is made of 12 operators, each with a different specialty (but is of course cross-trained to another), to form the core team that makes up the Green Berets.

Greg Stube, a former Green Beret, believes anyone is capable of operating at the Green Berets’ level. His new book shows you how to build an A-Team in your own life to achieve your goals.


Stube enlisted in the Army infantry in 1988. Just four years later, he was reclassing as a Special Force Medical Sergeant. As a Green Beret, his training went much, much further. He learned surgery, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. He also went to dive school and SERE school, and became a master parachutist. Like every Green Beret, he became fluent in a foreign language – his language was Russian.

He was ready to conquer anything. He would have to be in the coming years.

Listen to our interview with Greg Stube on the Mandatory Fun podcast:

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His career spanned 23 years and included the end of the Cold War, the Gulf War, and the start of the Global War on Terror. During Operation Medusa in Afghanistan in 2006, Stube and his Green Beret team were outnumbered in the Battle of Sperwan Ghar – a week-long battle against the Taliban. Stube took a hit from a powerful IED, was shot numerous times, and was even on fire. He suffered wounds to his lower body and even nearly lost a leg. But after 17 surgeries in 18 months, Greg Stube miraculously recovered.

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In that time, he learned that applying the way Green Berets are taught to accomplish a mission by any means necessary to his personal life he really could overcome any obstacle and any situation. His new book, Conquer Anything: A Green Beret’s Guide to Building Your A-Team, is a leadership book designed to help anyone use that mentality to achieve their personal and professional goals.

Stube’s newest mission is to share what he’s learned and to help make other people’s life a little better through his experiences.

“This is my attempt, from my life and career, to sum up the things I’ve done and witnessed in peace, conflict, and healing,” Stube says. “I just want people to know it’s not reserved for the military or a special forces team. Everything we learn and refine in those desperate situations can be used without all the pressure – without the life and death risk.”

Conquer Anything: A Green Beret’s Guide to Building Your A-Team is available on Amazon and will soon be available as an audiobook download on Audible, read by the author himself.

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