Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary - We Are The Mighty
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Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

The Senate by a vote of 86-9 confirmed Robert Wilkie on July 23, 2018, as the next secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in a move to bring stability to a department Republicans and Democrats suggested has been in turmoil over political infighting and low morale.

The vote for Wilkie, 55, of North Carolina, an Air Force Reserve colonel with long experience at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill, capped a tumultuous four months at the VA marked by ongoing leadership shuffles since President Donald Trump fired former VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin in March 2018.


In a sign of continuing questions about the direction of the VA, the Senate’s action in confirming the new secretary — normally a bipartisan event — featured opposition votes.

The vote to confirm Shulkin in 2017 was 100-0 to head a department serving nine million veterans annually with a budget of more than 0 billion and a workforce of more than 350,000.

The “no” votes came from eight Democrats, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and one independent, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sanders in early July 2018 cast the first opposition ballot in memory for a VA secretary nominee in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee vote that sent the nomination to the floor.

Sanders at the time said he was voting more in protest of Trump than he was to Wilkie’s qualifications, saying he feared that Trump and political appointees within the VA would use the recently passed VA Mission Act as a vehicle to press for the “privatization” of VA health care.

In the floor debate leading up to the vote, Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, said he is confident Wilkie can “re-establish the non-partisan approach to serving our veterans” at the VA, a possible reference to political infighting at the department.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, who voted for Wilkie, was more direct. “We’ve got political forces at play inside the VA. That’s very unfortunate,” said the committee’s ranking member. “When Mr. Wilkie becomes secretary, he has to see that this stops.”

In his stormy departure from the VA, Shulkin said he was the victim of “subversion” by Trump political appointees within the VA and at the White House.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, chairman of the committee, said, “We know Robert Wilkie is the real deal,” and he will now have the opportunity “to fix the problems that we have” at the VA.

“This is the opportunity to do the changes of a lifetime,” Isakson said but repeated a warning he gave Wilkie at his confirmation hearing: “You will have no excuses.”

Shulkin’s firing initially led Trump to nominate Rear. Adm. Ronny Jackson, his personal physician and head of the White House medical unit, to head the VA.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Rear. Adm. Ronny Jackson

In an embarrassment to the administration, Jackson withdrew his name over allegations — never proven — that he mishandled prescriptions at the White House medical unit and may have been drunk on duty.

Following Jackson’s withdrawal, Wilkie was moved over from the Pentagon to become acting secretary at the VA. In his time as acting secretary, Wilkie noted the political turmoil and low morale at the department. He said he wanted the staff “talking to each other, not at each other.”

When Trump surprised him by nominating him to the full-time position, Wilkie had to step down as acting secretary to avoid violating a provision of the U.S. Code barring acting secretaries from nomination to cabinet positions.

Peter O’Rourke, a former Trump campaign worker who had been chief of staff at the VA, was moved up to the acting secretary’s position. O’Rourke has since clashed with VA Inspector General Michael Missal over access to whistleblower complaint data.

The major veterans service organizations (VSOs) supported Wilkie’s nomination despite initial reservations that expansion of community health care options for veterans could lead to privatization.

In a statement after the vote, Denise Rohan, national commander of the two-million-member American Legion, said in a statement, “I congratulate Mr. Robert Wilkie on his Senate confirmation to be the 10th secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

“We look forward to working closely with Secretary Wilkie and his staff to ensure America’s veterans receive the health care, education, and other benefits they have earned through their selfless service to our great nation,” she added.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Articles

Watch the Navy’s Leap Frogs make the first-ever parachute jump into Central Park

On Aug. 5, 2021, an Air Force C-130J Hercules flew over Manhattan. At an altitude of 8,000 feet, the elite jumpers of the U.S. Navy Parachute Team exited the aircraft. After a brief freefall, the sailors opened their parachutes over Central Park. Streaming red smoke behind them, two jumpers flew a massive American flag as they spiraled down toward the park’s Great Lawn. The jumpers were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of New Yorkers.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary
The Leap Frogs jump from a C-130 over Central Park (U.S. Air Force)

The U.S. Navy Parachute Team started in 1969 when SEALs and UDT sailors volunteered to perform jumps at air shows on the weekend. In 1974, the Chief of Naval Operations officially commissioned the team as “The Leap Frogs.” Their mission is to demonstrate Navy excellence throughout the United States with their demonstration jumps. Each Leap Frog has conducted real-world operations before volunteering to join the team. After a three-year commitment to The Leap Frogs, jumpers return to their operational units.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary
A jumper parachutes into Central Park against the Manhattan skyline (U.S. Air Force)

The historic jump over Manhattan was a milestone for The Leap Frogs. “We were honored to be the first to ever jump into Central Park,” the team shared on their Facebook page. The Leap Frogs are a part of the United States Naval Special Warfare Command and are comprised of active-duty SEALs, SWCC and support personnel.

We were honored to be the first to ever jump into Central Park! 🍎 #newyork #nyc #manhattan #centralpark #skydiver #parachute #navy #leapfrogs #specialwarfare #navyseals #eod #navydiver #swcc

Posted by U.S. Navy Parachute Team "The Leap Frogs" on Saturday, August 14, 2021
MIGHTY TRENDING

The world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise is massive

The Rim of the Pacific Exercise, better known as RIMPAC, is the largest regular naval exercise in the world. Every even-numbered year, countries from around the globe take part in this massive operation. 15 nations took part in RIMPAC 2018 (China was disinvited), bringing together a total of 48 ships off the coast of Hawaii.

But there’s much more to RIMPAC than ships.


All sorts of units take part in this massive, international exercise. Off the coast of Southern California, participants carried out mine counter-measures exercises. Dolphins from the Navy Marine Mammal Program also pitched in to help with mine-clearing. Meanwhile, Camp Pendleton got in on the RIMPAC action as United States Marines trained with their Mexican and Canadian counterparts.

If that’s not enough, the United States Army and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force teamed up to put some hurt on a ship. Special Operations forces also got to do their thing during this exercise — hell, even the bands got involved!

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

A Mk 7 bottlenose dolphin prepares to mark a “mine” during RIMPAC 2018.

(US Navy)

Historically, there’s been no limit as to what missions might be practiced. Ships get sunk during RIMPAC (arguably a highlight of the exercise), but units there also practice humanitarian missions, amphibious assaults, and even submarine rescues.

In 2018, the exercise was interrupted by a real search-and-rescue mission off the island of Hawaiian island of Niihau that involved Navy and Coast Guard units. In short, if it can happen in war, it can happen at RIMPAC!

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Multi-national Special Operations Forces (SOF) participate in a submarine insertion exercise with the fast-attack submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776) and combat rubber raiding craft off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Michelle Pelissero)

This year, two aircraft carriers, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and JS Ise (DDH 182), took part, as did the amphibious assault ship USS Bon Homme Richard (LHD 6), HMAS Adelaide (L01), and 44 other vessels, ranging from the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T AH 19) to the Peruvian maritime patrol boat BAP Ferre.

Watch the video below to get a glimpse at all the ships that took part in RIMPAC 2018!

MIGHTY TRENDING

Female veterans pose on same ship that carried WW2 troops

Award-winning nonprofit Pin-Ups for Vets is releasing its 13th annual fundraising calendar to raise money for VA hospitals; ill, injured, and homeless veterans; deployed troops; and military families. The 2019 calendar, photographed on the iconic Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, features 19 female veterans decked out in World War II inspired fashion.

“Fans of Art Deco will appreciate the look of the upcoming calendar that reflects the vintage glamour of this 1936 cruise liner, now permanently docked in Long Beach, CA as a floating hotel,” said Pin-Ups For Vets Founder, Gina Elise, who established Pin-Ups For Vets in 2006, as a way to honor the WWII service of her grandfather.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Gina Elise, Founder

Gina has devoted her life to giving back to the military community. To date, Pin-Ups For Vets has donated over ,000 to help hospitals purchase new therapy equipment and to provide financial assistance for Veterans’ healthcare program expansion across the United States.

The 2019 calendar is officially ready for pre-order at www.PinUpsForVets.com. All 2019 Pin-Ups for Vets calendar pictures were taken by Shane Karns Photography — and let me just tell you…he really nailed it.


Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Kirstie Ennis, U.S. Marine Corps veteran

From a linguist, to a Human Intelligence Collector, to a combat photographer, to a combat medic, to a motor transportation operator, to a heavy equipment transporter driver leading convoys in Iraq, to a helicopter door gunner in Afghanistan, these ladies also include an above-the-knee amputee veteran (Marine Corps veteran Kirstie Ennis — who, by the way, at the time of this publishing was climbing Mount Denali in support of Service to Summit to raise money for Building Homes for Heroes, a nonprofit organization that builds or modifies homes and gives them to veterans in need).

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Julie Noyes, Army veteran

Army veteran Julie Noyes says, “It can be so difficult as a female service member to feel empowered in her beauty without feeling like she may betray the professionalism of her uniform when we only seek to be treated like our male counterparts. I feel that Pin-Ups for Vets does a superb job at raising money and awareness for our elderly, wounded vets and our currently deployed troops while also showcasing the class and beauty of female veterans without objectifying them. What Pin-Ups Vets Founder Gina Elise has done with this publication and non-profit is nothing short of empowering and inspiring.”

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Naumika Kumar, Navy Veteran

“I will always be thankful to the Navy. I met my husband in the Navy who is also a veteran now and I graduated from National University with Master’s Degree in 2012 as well. I am happy to see there are organization such as Pin-Ups For Vets who are doing so much to support the military and Veterans. I am happy that I got an opportunity to be part of the organization.”

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Patti Gomez, Army veteran

Patti is a veteran of the United States Army, where she proudly served in the New York Army National Guard as a 35M (Human Intelligence Collector) of the 42nd Infantry Division, located in Glenville, New York. She volunteered to attend JRTC in Fort Polk, Louisiana, alongside the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in July 2016. She also trained at Warfighter at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, with her unit in October 2017. Patti attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and attended Advanced Individual Training at the United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

“Pin-Ups for Vets is an incredible organization with an important mission. Being a part of a nonprofit that helps veterans and empowers women at the same time is truly an honor and one that I couldn’t pass up when I was asked to be a part of the 2019 calendar. As the reigning Mrs. New York America, my platform is veteran organizations — and Pin-Ups for Vets is truly among the best of them!”

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Check out that cover image!

The 2019 calendar can be purchased at: www.PinUpsForVets.com or by check to: Pin-Ups For Vets, PO Box 33, Claremont, CA 91711.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Running to prevent Veteran suicide – virtually

The Battle Creek VA Alive and Running VA5K for Veteran Suicide Prevention Awareness kicked off in a different fashion this year. Instead of having hundreds of participants together at once, the kick-off was done on Facebook live. The runners and walkers will be doing their part virtually to help raise awareness.

While it may be too late to register for a T-shirt and medal, it is not too late to do your part. Everyone can still participate virtually by walking, running or sharing information to raise awareness for Veteran Suicide Prevention.


Packets were distributed on Sept. 19, which would have been the normal day of the event.

“While this is not how we pictured our 8th Annual Alive and Running VA5K… we are so grateful we can come together like this to support our Veterans and Service Members while raising awareness for suicide prevention,” said Lindsey Cord, suicide prevention coordinator.

In the photo above, suicide prevention coordinator Mathew Raad presents a VA5k bib and medal to Jennifer Quinn.

You can participate until October 3

Even if you weren’t able to register for this event, you can still participate with us and go run, walk or ride 5K until Oct. 3. Tag our Facebook page and Hashtag #BeThere #AliveandRunningVA5k.

“Our team is focused on the community health approach to suicide prevention.” said Michelle Martin, medical center director. “Together, we can all Be There for Veterans. We appreciate the help of individuals, groups or organizations who help us raise awareness on this important topic.”

The Alive and Running VA5K is another way that the community can be involved. The event organizers hope to return to an in-person event next year but did not want to lose momentum on this important topic. Suicide is preventable. Together, we can all make a difference.

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

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why Day of the Deployed should be a federal holiday

In the United States, we enjoy a good amount of federal holidays, during which many employers give their employees a paid day off. During these breaks, which sometimes result in a three- or four-day weekend, everyone can take some time to relax with friends and family — maybe even enjoy a barbecue.

Everyone, that is, except the troops deployed to combat zones. On these days, troops will (sometimes) get a slightly nicer meal served by their chain of command before they return to the grind.

To celebrate the troops that are in harm’s way and the sacrifices their families make, we have today, October 26th, the oft-forgotten Day of the Deployed. Despite the fact that it’s officially recognized by all 50 states as of 2012, you’ll likely see far more people posting things to their social media account about National Breadstick Day, which, this year, happens to share the date.

While the holiday doesn’t necessarily call for huge, elaborate celebration, officially recognizing it as a federal holiday during times of ongoing conflicts would go a long way. Hear us out.


Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Lt. Col. Honsa’s cousin worked to give him a nationally recognized holiday while he was deployed… The rest of our families need to step up their care package game…

(U.S. Army)

Of the ten holidays observed by the federal government, two of them directly honor the military: Memorial Day, for fallen troops, and Veterans Day, for the living. There’s also Armed Forces Day, which honors the current, active duty military, but that holiday is rarely recognized outside of the military community.

The Day of the Deployed is similar to Armed Forces Day, but it specifically honors the troops who are currently deployed. The holiday first began in 2006 when Shelle Michaels Aberle approached North Dakota Governor John Hoeven to officially proclaim a day to specifically honor the troops out there fightin’ the good fight. The date October 26th was selected in honor of Aberle’s cousin, Lt. Col. David Hosna — the birthday of a soldier who, at the time, was deployed.

When Hoeven became a senator, he sponsored S.Res.295 on October 18th, 2011, to designate October 26th as the “Day of the Deployed.” It was approved unanimously and without any amendments. Since then, all 50 states have officially observed the holiday.

Six years later and the holiday is nothing more than a footnote at the bottom of calendars, found by those looking for wacky holidays — and that’s a shame. A day to commemorate the heroic acts of the troops fighting on the front lines does not deserve to be on the same level as Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day.

Federal recognition of the day would put it in league with the holidays that people get an extended weekend to celebrate — you know, the ones people take seriously. For this to make most sense, we’d need to make a couple of changes:

First, it should become a floating holiday — this year, it falls on the last Friday of October. In our opinion, that’s the perfect place for it. Not only would that mean a three-day weekend, it also means it could incorporate Remember Everyone Deployed Fridays in an official capacity, which gives people a way to celebrate.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

And with the way that the postal system works for outlaying combat outposts, the care packages would arrive just before Christmas!

(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup)

On this newly upgraded National Day of the Deployed, everyone would wear red as a symbol and, as an action, they’d send care packages out to those on the front line. Hell, even if only a tiny fraction of the American population actually sends care packages, that’d be a huge windfall for the troops.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

A day to remember the troops deployed overseas is an objectively better reason for a four day weekend.

(U.S. Army photo by CPT Jarrod Morris, TAAC-E Public Affairs)

Now, let’s take a look at the competitors. There are already three holidays that fall around(ish) the last Friday of October: Halloween, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day.

On Halloween, children enjoy a day of free candy and dressing like princesses and superheroes while adults awkwardly party while disguised as various pop-culture references. An extended weekend around that time would be very welcomed by the public — it wouldn’t hurt to give people a day off and let them know they have the troops to thank for it.

Earlier in the month, there’s Columbus Day, a federal holiday that’s becoming less relevant and more contentious by the year. As time goes on, evidence surfaces that suggests that Columbus, as an explorer, never stepped foot on American soil. He wasn’t the first person — or even the first European — to get here, and whether we should celebrate beginning of harsh times for American Indians is hotly debated. A 2014 report from Rasmussen showed that only eight percent of the U.S. population even believes that the day is even important. Honestly, we can’t see there being much push-back if we nixed Columbus Day in favor of Day of the Deployed.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

It’d also never leave the American public’s mind that our troops are still not home to enjoy the little things — like paid time off.

(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Lauren M. Gaidry)

Finally, on the other side of October, we’ve got Veterans Day. If Day of the Deployed were to become a floating holiday, it’d fall somewhere between eleven and eighteen days before Veterans Day.

If the final Friday of October happened to be the 31st, that means the country would enjoy back-to-back three-day weekends. If it fell on the 25th — the longest possible gap — that’d mean people could enjoy a total of eight days off and ten days of work between two holidays honoring the troops and what they’ve given this great nation of ours.

Give people that kind of time off and the freedom to enjoy themselves a bit, and you’ll truly drive home the point that brave men and women are out there sacrificing so that we can enjoy the liberties we do.

Lists

4 ways nicknames in the military are nothing like in pop culture

Movies would have you believe that every unit has a guy nicknamed “Hawkeye” or “Snake” or some other generic, tough name. As fun as films and video games make those monikers seem, it just doesn’t work that way in real life.

In actuality, nicknames fall into one of four categories: Either the troop is a freakin’ legend, it’s the unit’s name plus a number or letter, it’s just a shortened version of their last name, or it’s an insult in disguise.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://assets.rbl.ms/17941332/980x.jpg image-library=”0″ pin_description=”” caption=”Unless you’re a BAMF, don’t expect an awesome one.” crop_info=”%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//assets.rbl.ms/17941332/980x.jpg%22%7D” alt=”saint mattis of quantico” expand=1 photo_credit=”(OAF Nation)”] (OAF Nation)


Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Even with all of The Punisher swag that Chris Kyle wore, he never insisted that anyone call him “The Punisher” — even if he was one of the few people on Earth worthy of that title.

The legends

Let’s kick this list off with the freakin’ legends. Take Secretary of Defense James “Warrior Monk” Mattis for example. He’s a highly revered military mind within the U.S. Armed Forces and his nickname reflects that.

As is the case with most nicknames, they’re typically invented and popularized by others — not by the legends themselves. These nicknames are even more intimidating when they’re created by the enemy. Chris “the Legend” Kyle, for example, was known as “Al-Shaitan Ramad,” which translates into “the Devil of Ramadi.”

The reason why both Kyle and Mattis have such badass nicknames is because they earned them.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Why, yes. They do call me “Romeo” for a reason…

(Photo by Cpl. Charles Santamaria)

Call signs

People often confuse nicknames with call signs, so let’s hash the difference right now. Call signs are official unit designations given to members of the chain of command. Sometimes, a call sign will become more familiar than your own name.

If you’re, let’s say, the company commander of the alpha company “Spartans,” you’ll get the designation of “Spartan 6.” The XO gets “Spartan 5,” Senior Enlisted gets “Spartan 7,” and so on. Drivers, gunners, and radio operators can swap out the number designation for D, G, and R, respectively.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

“Hey, Ski!” “…which one?”

(Photo by Sgt. Lauren Harrah)

Butchered last name

The next nickname variation is especially terrible if your last name is anything outside of the standard, common English name. Unless you’re a “Smith” or a “Brown” or a “Johnson,” no one is going to try to pronounce what’s on your name tape — no matter how phonetically simple it may seem.

A whole nine letters broken into three syllables — you know, something simple like Milzarski (pronounced Mil-zar-ski) is too complicated. So, most will just shorten it to “Ski.” Good luck if there’s more than one Polish troop in the squad. Not that I’m ranting or anything…

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

If it’s dumb and it sounds like an insult, don’t take it personally. It’s meant with brotherly love.

(U.S. Army)

Remember when you screwed up?

The most common way to get yourself a nickname of your very own is to f*ck up. Don’t worry if it’s not a record-shattering mistake — people will constantly remind you of what you did. It’s not pleasant and it’s usually a way to rib one another, but you don’t want to be known as “Fumbles” by everyone.

Don’t worry if you get one of these dumb names. It’ll pass as soon as you PCS or ETS.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The first US-North Korea talks in years could happen by May

President Donald Trump gave a timeline for the upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and appeared to be optimistic for a positive outcome.

“We’ll be meeting with them sometime in May or early June 2018, and I think there’ll be great respect paid by both parties and hopefully we’ll be able to make a deal on the de-nuking of North Korea,” Trump said on April 9, 2018, according to Reuters.


“They’ve said so. We’ve said so,” Trump continued. “Hopefully, it’ll be a relationship that’s much different than it’s been for many, many years.”

On April 8, 2018, a US official confirmed that North Korea was willing to discuss the subject of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary
North Korean leaderu00a0Kim Jong Un.
(KCNA)

The CIA has reportedly been in communication with representatives from North Korea, setting up backchannels, according to multiple news reports. Officials from the two countries were reportedly communicating with the intent to establish an appropriate venue for the talks and other details ahead of the summit.

Trump’s statement comes amid North Korean state-sponsored media’s acknowledgement of the bilateral talks.

The two Korean leaders are set to hold their own historic summit on April 27, 2018, the first in 11 years, between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim.

Articles

This Marine sniper threw the enemy’s grenade back to save his brothers

His team spotted by insurgents and forced to take cover in an abandoned compound, Marine sniper Joshua Moore went against his instinct when two grenades landed next to him, throwing one of them back at the enemy and holding off insurgent fire until help could arrive.


Moore, at the time a Lance Corporal, was later awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

Moore was part of a scout sniper platoon during a mission in Marjah, Afghanistan, in March 2011, when insurgents targeted his team.

The Marines fell back to a nearby compound, but enemy machine gun rounds soon sliced through the air, wounding two of them. After taking cover, Moore felt two objects hit him in the back. When he turned he saw two grenades lying in the sand.

Related video:

He reached down, grabbed the first grenade, and threw it back out the window where it detonated just a moment later. He went for the second but noticed it was covered in rust and was likely a dud.

The young sniper would later say that he was, “scared out of my mind, but I knew we had to do everything possible to get everyone home.” Despite the brush with death and under the continuing threat of incoming fire, Moore crawled from the building and held off the enemy until a quick reaction force arrived.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

He went to the north where the enemy attack was heaviest and began aiding the wounded and returning fire. He used an M4 with an attached M203 grenade launcher to suppress fighters where he could find them.

The arrival of a quick reaction force and another sniper platoon allowed the Marines to finally gain fire superiority, evacuate the wounded and fall back to their patrol base.

Moore was meritoriously promoted to corporal less than two months after the battle and was awarded the Navy Cross in Nov. 2013.

“It’s an honor to receive an award like the Navy Cross. But to be honest, I was just doing my job,” Moore said after the ceremony.

Since then, Moore has been promoted to sergeant and assigned as an instructor at the scout sniper basic course. He told Stars and Stripes that he often shares the story of the engagement with his students, but that he avoids talking about his medal.

“That honestly not the important part,” he said.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Here’s how US soldiers trained to fire a nuclear round

In the 1950s U.S. forces were stretched dangerously thin. U.S. President Dwight D Eisenhower stated of this, “My feeling…remains, that it would be impossible for the United States to maintain the military commitments which it now sustains around the world (without turning into a garrison state) did we not possess atomic weapons and the will to use them when necessary.”

No surprise from this that, unsatisfied with the portability of their shiny new M65 nuclear cannons, which required a couple of very large trucks to transport, and further unsatisfied that firing it off in many tactical situations would be a bit like killing a mosquito with a hand grenade, in the late 1950s the U.S. military brass for once were thinking smaller. What they really wanted was a simple weapon that could launch a miniature nuclear warhead, could be carted around by a few soldiers, and be fired relatively quickly and reliably. This would allow a handful of soldiers to successful combat far superior forces on the other side, even at relatively close range, which none of the other nuclear weapons of the age could safely do — Enter the Davy Crockett.


Rumor has it the name was chosen in homage to the famed American politician owing to the legend that he once grinned a bear to death, with the idea referencing the association between Russia, and the Soviet Union in general, with bears.

Whether that’s actually the reasoning behind the name or not, the first prototype of the Davy Crockett was completed in November of 1958 and ultimately deployed about two and a half years later in May of 1961. Featuring a variant of the W54 warhead contained in an M388 round, the projectile was fired from an M-28 or M-29 smooth bore recoilless gun. This was capable of launching the 10 or 20 ton yield nuke as far as about 1.25 miles for the M28 or 2.5 miles for the M29.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

As for portability, the Davy Crockett could be either deployed and fired from the back of a jeep for maximum mobility, or even broken down into its components, with the pieces of the weapon carried by five soldiers on foot.

The general procedure for firing the 76 pound nuclear round was quite simple. First a spotting round would be shot from an attached gun to ensure the weapon was aimed reasonably well. After this, in order to get the nuke to end up more or less where the spotting round did, the angle of the gun would have to be adjusted. To do this, a small book with pre-calculated tables was carried giving adjustment figures for said angle.

However, it turns out test firings with non-live nukes showed again and again that the Davey Crockett was an obscenely inaccurate weapon, possibly both because of the angle adjustment and that the weapon itself was smooth bore. Of course, the fact that the Davey Crockett was shooting a nuclear warhead helped make this inaccuracy issue not as much of a problem as would be the case with other similar weapons.

Once the target was mildly locked on, the propellant charge would be inserted into the muzzle with a metal piston placed in after as a sort of cap. This was followed by the M388 round itself containing the W54 warhead. As the M388 was far too big to fit inside the bore, instead a rod would be attached to the back, with the nuke sitting at the front.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

As for how the warhead would know when to detonate, there was a timer dial that would be set based on estimated distance to the target, using figures given in the aforementioned book containing a spreadsheet of tables.

However, contrary to what is often stated, the timer was not actually the thing that triggered detonation. Rather, it simply armed the bomb once the time ran out. The actual trigger for detonation was a simple radar device in the back of the M388 that would detect how far above the ground the nuke was. There was also a high and low switch that could slightly adjust height of detonation based on the radar reading.

As you might have gleaned from all this, also contrary to what is often stated, this switch did not control the yield of the bomb, just what height it would detonate above the ground, roughly 20-40 feet AGL, depending on setting.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

It should also be noted that, unlike many other nuclear weapons, this was an otherwise dumb nuke. Once the timer was set and it was fired, it would either go off or prove itself to be a dud. There was no aborting detonation after launch.

If all that is involved in firing the Davey Crockett sounds like it might take a long time, it turns out not at all given the destructive power of this weapon. One former Davey Crockett section soldier, Thomas Hermann, notes that they were actually trained and well capable of firing a nuke every two and a half minutes!

So just how deadly could this weapon be? While extremely low-powered as nukes go, the weapon nonetheless produced a blast in the ballpark of as large as the highest yield non-nuclear explosive devices of the era. But unlike many of these, it was relatively small and portable. More important than that was its potential for extended damage long after the initial blast. This was particularly useful when fired around critical routes that enemy soldiers would have to traverse. Not only would the initial blast do significant damage to any soldiers and enemy vehicles around at the time, but the radioactive fallout, which would almost certainly be fatal to anyone within about a quarter of a mile of the initial blast when it went off, would remain long after, making a given route, such as a mountain pass, impassable for several days after if one was interested in not dying of radiation poisoning. Naturally, the Soviets could defend against this simply by equipping each of their soldiers with lead-lined refrigerators, but for whatever reason they never seemed to have chosen to go this route.

On the other end of things, neither did the Americans. This was despite the fact that the Davey Crockett was also not terribly safe for those firing it. While 1.25-2.5 miles away is plenty of range to keep the soldiers who pulled the trigger safe from being harmed by the blast itself, in real world scenarios the enemy being fired upon could be closer and some of your own troops might also be even closer still.

Critical to all of this was also wind direction. With no wind, the radiation kill zone in the immediately aftermath of the blast was approximately 1,500 feet, but wind could easily blow dangerous radioactive particles towards one’s own troops. As such, crew were instructed to, if possible, only fire the gun when suitable cover behind a hill or the like was available to help reduce radiation exposure.

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Photograph of a U.S. developed M-388 Davy Crockett nuclear weapon mounted to a recoilless rifle on a tripod

(Department of Defense)

That said, presumably to try to get the soldiers operating the weapon to be slightly less hesitant about firing it, the instruction manual notes that the leader of the troop should instill a great sense of urgency in the soldiers operating the Davy Crockett and to remember that, to quote, “The search for nuclear targets is constant and vigorous!”

On top of that, the manual states that if the nuke failed to detonate for some reason, the soldiers should wait a half hour and then go and recover the supposed to be armed and ready to detonate at the whim of a radar trigger nuke…

Needless to say, while the Davy Crockett was deployed everywhere from West Germany to South Korea, with well over 2,000 of the M388 rounds made and 100 of the guns deployed, it was never actually used in battle.

That said, the Army did do one test fire of the Davy Crockett with a live M388 round. This occurred during Operation Sunbeam in a test code named “Little Feller I”, which took place on July 17, 1962. The nuke flew approximately 1.7 miles and detonated successfully about 30 feet above the ground, with an estimated yield of 18 tons from the blast. Interestingly enough, this was the last time the United States would detonate a nuke in the air close to the ground thanks to the 1963 Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapon Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water. (And, yes, that is the real name of the treaty).

In the end, as cool as having a portable nuclear gun is and all, within only a few years the weapon would become antiquated, and by 1967 the Army was already beginning to phase it out, with it going the way of the Dodo completely by 1971. No doubt to the eternal relief of the soldiers tasked with firing the things should the need arise.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

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MIGHTY CULTURE

4 civilian jobs that troops appreciate the most

Sometimes, civilians have a difficult time relating with troops. In many cases, they just don’t know how to talk to them. Realistically, it’s pretty easy. After all, we’re simple creatures; we like a handful of things — alcohol, tattoos, and anything else that’s fun with a dash of self-destruction. We’re, essentially, the kings and queens of counter-culture — “rebels with a cause,” as we were once described by a Marine general.

That being said, there are plenty of civilians out there who fit right in with the troops — usually those who work in a select few professional fields. The following are the civilian professionals that get a ton of love from the troops.


But, before we kick this off, I want to make it clear you don’t have to work in one of these fields for troops to appreciate you. Troops appreciate support of any kind — even if it’s a simple “thank you.”

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You should never piss off your bartender, honestly.

(U.S. Air Force)

Bartenders

Easily topping this list is your friendly neighborhood beer-slinger. Troops love to drink and, although some troops might find themselves embroiled in “friendly” disagreements with their bartender after kicking back a few, a good service member will always respect the person behind the bar that helps them wind down after a long week.

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Tattoo artists are almost always cool with service members.

(William Cho)

Tattoo artists

Troops love tattoos, too. For each new piece, a troop will sit on the chair or bench for hours at a time — so you kind of can’t help but become friends with your tattoo artist. Artists in a military town tend to understand troops because they tattoo a lot of us. They know what we like to talk about and they can probably all draw a perfect eagle, globe, and anchor with their eyes closed.

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Okay, okay. The ones from the shop on base aren’t always bad.

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Chris Desmond)

Barbers

Troops need haircuts and a good barber is hard to find. If you’re lucky, you’ll find that one place off-base that isn’t too expensive and leaves you with a better cut than the clowns on base shop can offer.

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A lot of respect goes both ways in this regard.

(U.S. Navy)

Doctors

Life, especially one spent in the armed forces, leaves you with a lot of complications. As warfighters, we spend a lot of time working on our own bodies and training to deliver harm to the enemies’. Although doctors have a much more thorough understanding of human anatomy, troops certainly have a lot of questions.

Doctors specialize in fixing humans and grunts, well, we specialize in the opposite. Plus, grunts have medical professionals embedded with us in the form of medics and corpsman, who are usually the best friends any troop could have. So, we sort of lump all doctors in with them.

MIGHTY CULTURE

US soldiers and airmen help clean up Venice after devastating flood

On Dec. 6-7, 2019, soldiers, airmen, military families, and civilians of the Vicenza Military Community participated in a two-day clean-up of Venice following widespread flooding during the annual “acqua alta,” or high water, that struck the iconic island city on Nov. 12, 2019.

This is the second most devastating acqua alta in Venice history since 1966 when floodwaters topped out above 6 feet.

According to organizers, the “Save Venice” event was an enriching challenge for the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) Vicenza team. BOSS is a dynamic Department of the Army program, which engages single soldiers through peer-to-peer leadership to enhance their quality of life through community service and recreational activities.


Fifteen airmen, 14 soldiers, and three military family members and civilians assisted the city of Venice in this project.

“It was an honor to be able to help our neighbors in Venice after the damage from the floods,” said Joseph “Rodger” Nuttall, BOSS Vicenza Advisor.

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Volunteers moved heavy and soiled mattresses, washer machines, refrigerators, couches, and driftwood from the Santa Croce district in Venice, Italy on to five large garbage barges on December 6, 2019.

(US Army Garrison Italy/Maria Cavins)

The volunteers moved heavy and soiled mattresses, washer machines, refrigerators, couches, and driftwood from the Santa Croce district on to five large garbage barges. They were welcomed into Venetians’ homes to carry out furniture.

“Seeing people come out of their homes to personally thank us for helping alleviate work on them, after they have gone through so much, was especially rewarding,” said Nuttall, who high-fived an older Italian woman.

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Volunteers moved heavy and soiled mattresses, washer machines, refrigerators, couches, and driftwood from the Santa Croce district in Venice, Italy on to five large garbage barges on December 6, 2019.

(US Army Garrison Italy/Maria Cavins)

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City Councilor for the Environment Massimiliano De Martin welcomed the volunteers as they arrived to Venice, Italy on December 6, 2019.

(US Army Garrison Italy/Maria Cavins)

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

Volunteers moved heavy and soiled mattresses, washer machines, refrigerators, couches, and driftwood from the Santa Croce district in Venice, Italy on to five large garbage barges on December 6, 2019.

(US Army Garrison Italy/Maria Cavins)

Trash collection has been an ancient challenge in Venice for centuries. There are no common spaces where trash is compiled. Because of the small walkways, all trash collection is done by hand to load into boats.

Venice’s waste management company, Veritas, reorganizes space to make sure that trash assortment is done every single day, seven days a week, despite the challenges of the tides or weather conditions. Large-scale strategic organization is critical to the survival of Venice.

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An Italian woman shows her appreciation to BOSS Vicenza Advisor Joseph “Rodger” Nuttall in Venice, Italy, December 6, 2019.

(US Army Garrison Italy/Maria Cavins)

Robert Wilkie is confirmed as new VA secretary

City Councilor for the Environment Massimiliano De Martin welcomed the volunteers as they arrived to Venice, Italy on December 6, 2019.

(US Army Garrison Italy/Maria Cavins)

The BOSS Vicenza team support was assisted by the office of the Italian Base Commander on Caserma Ederle, where US Army Garrison Italy is headquartered.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Reality Winner sentenced to five years for Russia-hack leak

A U.S. intelligence worker who pleaded guilty to sending a secret report on Russian election cyberattacks to a news website was sentenced on Aug. 23, 2018 to five years in prison by a federal court in Georgia.

Reality Winner, 26, a U.S. Air Force veteran with a top-secret clearance who was working for an intelligence contractor, admitted to leaking secrets to The Intercept, which published details of the National Security Agency document in June 2017.


The revelation dealt with Russian hacking targeting a company that supplies election technology.

The U.S. Justice Department said Winner printed out and mailed the report in May 2017 to the website, which specializes in investigative reporting on national security topics.

She was arrested in June 2017 and reached a plea agreement two months ago, admitting one count of unlawful retention and transmission of national defense information.

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Reality Winner

(standwithreality.org photo)

A federal judge in Augusta, Georgia, accepted the plea agreement and sentenced Winner to five years and three months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

The sentence is the longest ever given to someone for illegally disclosing government information, Winner’s attorneys said, and it comes amid efforts by the White House to crack down on leaks to the press.

John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said Winner’s leaks “put our nation’s security at risk” and he hoped that her jail sentence “will deter others from similar unlawful action in the future.”

Betsy Reed, editor in chief of The Intercept, said that Winner should be honored and that her sentencing and other prosecutions of whistle-blowers are attacks on freedom of speech and of the press.

“Instead of being recognized as a conscience-driven whistle-blower whose disclosure helped protect U.S. elections, Winner was prosecuted with vicious resolve by the Justice Department,” Reed said.

Featured image: Reality Winner is seen in a photo released by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in the U.S. state of Georgia.

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

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