MIGHTY CULTURE

Congress fixes ‘unfair’ rule that stopped service members from suing for damages

Members of the military who have long been barred by law from collecting damages from the federal government for injuries off the battlefield will finally be able to do so after Congress stepped in to amend the law.


The legislation represents progress for injured service members – but still limits who among them may press for damages.

Up until the end of World War II, the U.S. government enjoyed “sovereign immunity,” a vestige of British rule when “the king could do no wrong” and the government could not be sued.

But in 1946, faced with the prospect of World War II veterans returning from the front only to be hit and killed in an accident on base, Congress enacted the Federal Tort Claims Act. Congress felt that it was only fair to allow people to recover damages for personal injury from the government when the government was negligent or irresponsible about caring for people’s safety.

There were exceptions. Certainly Congress could not allow a soldier – or his family – to sue the government if, due to the orders of a superior officer, he were wounded or killed in battle. So the Federal Tort Claims Act prohibited suits by soldiers or sailors injured due to wartime combatant activities.

But later rulings limited servicemembers’ rights even more, in ways not suggested by the language of the act.

The first of these was a case filed by the surviving family members of a soldier. Lt. Rudolph Feres was a decorated World War II veteran who had parachuted into Normandy on D-Day. He survived that battle and others through the end of the war only to return to the U.S. and die in a barracks fire caused, according to his wife, by the explosion of a boiler known to be faulty.

Feres’ widow also claimed that no fire guard had been posted on the fateful night. Joined to the case were two soldiers who claimed malpractice by army surgeons.

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The court decided that the existing benefits scheme for military deaths and injuries was ample and denied the claims. To the further chagrin of the Feres family, the controversial ruling took on the name the “Feres Doctrine.”

Cases sustaining Feres expressed the concern that allowing civilian courts to intervene in cases of this type would interfere with military discipline. Thus, the court declared that soldiers could not sue the government for damages for negligently caused injuries “incident to service,” even if they did not involve combat.

Later suits building on Feres limited soldiers’ rights even more – barring claims by a soldier allegedly raped by her drill sergeant and by members of the military harmed by their exposure to nuclear testing and the defoliant chemical Agent Orange.

Questionable doctrine survives

All of these rulings meant that anyone who had the misfortune of getting hurt while on active duty, even if it wasn’t in combat, could never sue for damages – while if the same person had gotten hurt on the job as a civilian, they would have had that right.

This disfavored treatment for servicemen was underscored in the aftermath of the space shuttle Challenger explosion, during which families of civilian crew members were able to file lawsuits against the government, but the family of the pilot who was a Navy captain on active duty could not.

The Feres Doctrine were therefore seen by many as unfair. Others, like the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, criticized Feres because of its departure from the plain language of the Federal Tort Claims Act, which limits the exclusion to wartime “combatant activities.” Still others believe that Feres fails to hold the military accountable for the kind of mistakes for which others are required to pay damages.

The Feres Doctrine nevertheless has continued to hold sway, with the Supreme Court refusing to reconsider the doctrine as recently as May 2019. Justice Clarence Thomas, in a dissent from the court’s denial of certiorari in that case, Daniel v. United States, paraphrased Justice Scalia in stating that “Feres was wrongly decided and heartily deserves the widespread, almost universal criticism it has received.”

In 1950, speaking for the Supreme Court in the Feres case, Justice Robert Jackson admitted, “If we misinterpret the Act, at least Congress possesses a ready remedy.” That “ready remedy” finally came almost seventy years later, due to the persistence of a soldier suffering from terminal cancer.

Green Beret goes to Congress

Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal is a former Green Beret and wounded Iraq veteran whose military health providers missed a 3-centimeter mass in one of his lungs on a CT scan.

After military physicians repeatedly attributed his health problems to asthma or pneumonia, Sgt. Stayskal learned from a civilian pulmonologist that he actually had stage 4 lung cancer. Sgt. Stayskal continues to receive treatment for his cancer, although he says it is deemed incurable.

But Sgt. Stayskal was barred by Feres from pursuing a malpractice case in court.

So Stayskal enlisted the support of California Congresswoman Jackie Speier, a Democrat, who introduced a bill to allow current and former service personnel to bring medical malpractice claims against government health providers.

A compromise version of the bill was incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020. Adding the bill into a “must-pass” piece of defense legislation assured its passage. It was passed by both houses of Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support. President Trump signed the measure into law on Dec. 20, 2019.

Cup only half-full

The new law does not cover everyone. A lawsuit like the original Feres case, by the survivors of someone who perished in a barracks fire, would still not be allowed. That’s because the legislation only allows claims by those who allege to have been victims of medical malpractice by military health care providers.

And claims cannot be brought in federal court, as is normally the case under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Rather, they must be pursued through a Defense Department administrative procedure under regulations that the Department of Defense is required to draft.

While Rep. Speier still thinks that military claimants “deserve their day in federal court,” this would not be the first time a legislature provided a remedy for personal injury through an administrative process outside the courts. Workers’ compensation and the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund are examples of the use of administrative processes to determine compensation for injury.

Research suggests that most claimants don’t care whether their cases are decided through a court, an administrative procedure or even mediation. Rather, they care about having a respectful hearing in which a third party has carefully considered their views, concerns and evidence.

Those who worked to pass this legislation will likely scrutinize the Defense Department’s regulations and procedures to see whether such a forum has been provided.

This article originally appeared on Real Clear Defense. Follow @RCDefense on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Air Force preparing for furloughed commercial pilots to request return to duty

Nearly 200 pilots have chosen to stay in the U.S. Air Force as major airlines operate in a limited capacity during the COVID-19 outbreak, sharply reducing the number of commercial flights around the world.

While the service is still gathering data, “171 pilots have been approved to stay past their original retirement or separation dates” since March, Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Malinda Singleton said in an email Thursday. She did not provide a breakdown of the types of pilots — fighter, bomber, airlift, etc. — who have extended their duty.


The service is also preparing for the possibility that furloughed airline pilots will submit requests to return to active duty in the Air Force come Oct. 1, the spokeswoman said. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act, passed in late March, airline jobs have been safe as companies are prohibited from cutting their workforces until that date. However, experts foresee a dramatic reduction in airline jobs when the restriction is lifted.

“At this time, it is too early to tell what those impacts may be as the CARES Act prohibited layoffs and furloughs in the airlines until Oct. 1,” Singleton said. “We are keeping a close watch on the situation; recognizing the challenges the airline industry is facing, we are providing options for rated officers to remain on active duty who otherwise had plans to depart.”

Airline hiring efforts had been the biggest factor driving problems in pilot retention and production in the services, officials said in recent years. Commercial airlines became the military’s main competitor during a nationwide pilot shortage.

The Air Force came up 2,100 pilots short of the 21,000 it needed in fiscal 2019. In February, the service said it would also fall short of its goal to produce 1,480 new pilots across the force by the end of fiscal 2020.

But in April, the head of Air Education and Training Command said the COVID-19 pandemic might slow the rate of pilots leaving the force.

“We tend to see those [service members who] may be getting out, or those [who] have recently gotten out, want to return to service inside of our Air Force,” Gen. Brad Webb told reporters during a phone call from the Pentagon. “I expect that we will see some of that to a degree, which will help mitigate [the pilot shortage].”

Webb compared the pandemic to the 9/11 attacks, after which many service members returned to duty or extended their tours. The military also saw a surge in new recruits after the attacks.

“This is another [scenario] that we’re going to be assessing on a weekly, if not daily, basis,” he said, referencing the outbreak’s possible effect on retention and recruiting.

“While it’s too early to know the full effects of COVID-19 on the flying training pipeline, we know it will be impactful,” Webb said.

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

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia wants Canada to hand over files on ex-Nazi death squad interpreter

Russia says it has asked Canada to hand over case files on a 95-year-old former Nazi death-squad member to help Moscow investigate the mass murder of children at a Soviet orphanage during World War II.


Helmut Oberlander, who was born in Ukraine and became a German citizen during the war, lives in Canada.

He obtained Canadian citizenship in 1960 and courts have repeatedly ruled Oberlander’s citizenship should be revoked because he lied about his participation in a Nazi death squad during the war. In December Canada’s Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal on the government’s decision to strip him of his passport, bringing him a step closer to actual deportation from Canada.

Russia’s Investigation Committee announced on February 14 that it wanted Canada’s case and legal files on Oberlander, saying it was checking his possible involvement in a 1942 “genocide” at an orphanage in the Sea of Azov town of Yeysk.

The committee said in a statement that a death squad equipped with “mobile gas chambers” was deployed in 1942 and 1943 to the German-occupied Krasnodar region.

“As a result of one such operation, on October 9 and 10, 1942, a mass murder of children at the Yeysk orphanage was committed,” it added.

At the time, Oberlander served as a translator for the Nazis’ mobile killing squads, the committee said.

Oberlander has said he was forced to join one of the squads at the age of 17 and did not take part in any atrocities.

Last year, Russian investigators said they had opened a probe into suspected genocide after declassified documents in the Krasnodar region revealed that the bodies of 214 disabled foster children who had fled the Crimean Peninsula for nearby Yeysk were found after Nazi forces were driven out of the area.

Articles

This is why you don’t pretend to be blind to collect benefits

He pretended to be blind so that he could receive benefits. But the Reno County man was spotted driving his car in Wichita, and on Sept. 6 he was sentenced in federal court.


Billy J. Alumbaugh, 62, of Turon, was sentenced to three years of probation and must also repay $70,000 in benefits he received, US Attorney Tom Beall said in a prepared statement. Alumbaugh pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government. His ex-wife, Debra Alumbaugh, 58, pleaded guilty to concealing the crime.

In his plea, Alumbaugh admitted he falsely represented to the Veterans Administration that he was blind and home-bound in order to receive monthly pension benefits. In truth, he was able to drive and engage in other routine life activities without assistance.

Justice may be blind, but Billy J. Alumbaugh is not. Photo from public domain.

His wife accompanied him to medical visits during which they pretended he was blind and depended on her for help. Alumbaugh, who served in the US Army from 1973 to 1976, received the supplemental assistance from 2009 to 2016, according to the federal indictment that charged him.

Billy Alumbaugh was seen with his ex-wife arriving at the VA hospital in Wichita last October, according to the indictment. Debra Alumbaugh was seen driving the car and she went on to help Billy Alumbaugh out of the car and into the complex.

After the appointment, they left in the vehicle with Debra Alumbaugh behind the wheel. After she drove for a few blocks, she pulled over and they switched seats, according to the indictment.

She was sentenced to a year of probation.

MIGHTY FIT

BREAKING NEWS: Three days a week in the gym is enough for most people.

If all 24 hour news networks can have “Breaking News” scrolling across their screens, then this applies.

Most internet fitness gurus are purposely misleading you, because they’re trying to sell you something. They want you to feel bad about yourself, so that you dedicate your whole life to the gym, so that they put more of your money in their pocket.

The truth is that you only need to train enough to get stronger. When your body is getting stronger it is growing, and growth is synonymous with progress.


So how many times a week is it actually necessary to hit the gym?

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t actually take much time to gain strength. In fact, three days a week is enough for most people.

I bet you thought you needed to be in the gym 6-7 days a week to see any real gains in strength or size.

Grow. If you aren’t moving forward the world is passing you by.

(Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash)

What is your requirement?

Your requirement is to get stronger. If you aren’t getting stronger in one way or another, you are getting weaker. That’s a fact of life.

Getting stronger doesn’t mean deadlifting 3 times your body weight. That’s just an idealized standard.

Getting stronger simply means being able to do a little more than you used to. Maybe that means one more body weight squat, or 1 lb added to your bench press. Those are both positively trending markers.

You can consider strength gains as your measure in the fight against death. In order to live the most healthy life possible you don’t need to add 30 lbs to your lifts overnight, you just need to add a fraction of a lb each day.

Bodybuilders and competitive strength athletes have no edge over everyone else just because they’re strong. If strength worked like that all the oldest people would be the strongest and biggest, that is clearly not how the world works.

[instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj3PorVHCIx/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link expand=1]Michael Gregory on Instagram: “How many times you workout each week can be optimized but, not by selecting a certain number of days that you train. . The main things that…”

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Frequency is a function of volume.

A recent meta-analysis came to the conclusion that the frequency of your workout sessions only really matters if it affects how much weight you move over the course of the week (your total volume).

12 sets of 10 reps of bench press at 100 lbs on Monday and then nothing else the rest of the week is the same as doing 2 sets of 10 reps of bench press at 100 lbs each day Monday to Saturday.

They are both 12,000 lbs moved. That 12,000 lbs is the main predictor of how much stronger you get.

Of course, these two scenarios are extreme ends of the spectrum. There are plenty of much more reasonable ways to break up all of this work.

Not to mention, it would be difficult to ensure that you don’t get too tired to get all the required reps if you try to fit it all in one workout. That’s why we break up our workouts across the whole week.

If you have 4 hours to train one day a week, this might be a good option for you. Most normal people can only carve out 45-90 minutes 3-4 times a week. Luckily that’s plenty of time to get in our total volume.

That’s right, my fine reader, you should choose the frequency of your workouts based on your schedule and then fit in the total volume you require however you see fit.

Just get stronger.

The amount of volume you require is obviously unique to you, and what you are currently doing. As a general rule of thumb:

You want to be training just enough to be getting stronger. No more, no less, this is your minimum effective dose. If you aren’t getting stronger, add more volume, that could mean more weight on the bar, another rep on the last set, more reps on all the sets, or a whole additional set. It depends on you.

If you are working out 2 times a week and getting stronger, in the way in which you want to be getting stronger, then keep training that way until you aren’t getting stronger anymore. Once you plateau start adding volume. Once those 2 workouts start to get too long for you to bear, add a third day.

I’m sure you see how you could continue progressing like this indefinitely.

By simply doing a little more than you were previously doing, you will see gains in strength and performance.

This is why 3 days is enough. You can fit a lot of work into three 60-90 minute gym sessions. Remember to look at the total volume you are doing each week, that’s the real predictor of progress.

MIGHTY FIT is making big moves to put out content that you not only want to read but also want to live. Take 2 minutes and let us know here what you’d like to see from MIGHTY FIT.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Report: Ukrainian snipers find themselves outgunned, outmatched by enemy

Russian snipers and separatist marksmen trained in Russian military camps outmatch their Ukrainian counterparts in the Donbas conflict with better rifles, equipment, and ammunition, an analysis by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation says.


Given that the conflict in eastern Ukraine has entered a positional phase of trench warfare, the role of snipers and the advantages Russia-backed forces have in this area is more acute, the think tank said on February 25.

In these conditions, snipers are “an effective multiplier on the battlefield, able to precisely strike long-range enemy targets, conduct indispensable reconnaissance of enemy movements and positions, as well as demoralize enemy troops,” the analysis said.

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When the war broke out in April 2014, Ukraine was using Soviet-era Dragunov (SVD) rifles, while their better-funded and technologically more advanced adversary was using the same rifles but with new barrels, scopes, and high-quality rounds.

“Russian professional snipers at the middle and rear lines” were using bolt-action rifles that “fire three times farther than the SVD rifles.”

Lack of funding made it challenging to buy Ukrainian shooters night-vision devices, camouflage, rangefinders, ammunition, thermal sights, and silencers, something the Russia-backed forces are in no shortage of, it said.

Therefore, Jamestown Foundation wrote, Kyiv is still playing catch-up.

26th MEU sniper platoon trains during Eager Lion

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Ukraine has started a sniper program with foreign instructors. More effective, lighter-weight rifles were procured from abroad and from the homegrown Zbroyar company.

Now, Ukrainian sniper teams are attached to each battalion, not just special forces.

Still, “poor funding, army bureaucracy, and ammunition shortages preclude Ukrainian snipers from reaching their potential today,” the think tank wrote.

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

Articles

This is why the future of motocross is female

Pop quiz, hot shot:

What do gun enthusiasm, maritime rescues, and high-velocity dirt biking have in common?

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Time’s up.


Those divergent interests all come together in Navy Vet and motocross racer, Jacqueline Carrizosa.

The former Navy gunner’s mate and rescue swimmer is, in post-military life, a rider on the rise in the Western U.S. amateur motocross circuit. And the time it took her to try to teach Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis to stick one basic jump is, believe us, no reflection on her abilities.

Check out a side-by-side comparison, Ryan v. Jacqueline, leaping the same stretch of track.

Ryan (top), floating like a tank. Jacqueline (bottom), flying Navy Air. (Go90 Oscar Mike screenshot)

Yeah. She’s awesome.

As a teenager, Carrizosa had trouble staying on the straight and narrow after her family moved from California to Las Vegas, but she thrived in the Navy, excelling at physically demanding and traditionally male-dominated disciplines.

When things got rocky again after she left active duty, the same approach helped her. She found structure and purpose in highly skilled action sports, specifically motocross. Her advice?

“Establish something that makes you money, you know what I mean? But also keep your soul alive. You gotta follow your heart. I would say 85% heart, 15% brain.”

Jacqueline Carrizosa. WISE.

But it all proved a little too much for Curtis. The motocross badassery, the beauty, the sheer volume of withering sass. A day at the track with Carrizosa hit him right in the feels (understandable).

And so, completely biffing the ratio, he went 100% heart, 0% brains.

You don’t have to imagine how that went over. All you gotta do is watch as Curtis gets his motocross mojo crossed, in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Oscar Mike:

This Green Beret will make you a mental commando

The Marine Rapper will make you shake your Citizen Rump

This Iraq vet kayaker will make you rethink PTSD

This is what happens when a Navy SEAL becomes an actor

This is what happens when a SEAL helps you with your lady problems

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why ‘sheepdog’ really is the most proper analogy for veterans

The analogy is simple. There are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. The vast majority of people are sheep — nothing wrong with that. They move about their day carelessly, are loving and compassionate beasts, and only rarely, accidentally hurt each other. The wolves want to devour the sheep. They’ll cause as much harm as they can with little remorse. These are the terrorists, despots, dictators, and other types of villains in this world.


Which brings us to the sheepdog, the guardian of the sheep against the wolves. Their capacity for violence is frowned on by the sheep. Their capacity for love is frowned on by the wolves. The sheepdog is bound by duty in that middle ground. They are the troops, first-responders, and anyone willing to take a stand against the evils of this world.

The quote gained much traction after the release of American Sniper, during which these different types are explained to a young Chris Kyle. While the phrase doesn’t appear in his memoirs, it was used by his friends-and-family-run Twitter account. The actual source of the speech comes from Lt. Col. David Grossman’s book, On Combat. In it, he credits the analogy to an old war veteran.

Many people misattribute the “sheepdog” as a badge of honor that proves they’re better than sheep. Thinking a sheepdog is defined by their capacity for violence while waving a good-guy banner, however, is as counter-productive as it is flat-out wrong. Yeah, a gun-toting sheepdog might make a great t-shirt, but it goes against the rest of Grossman’s book, which largely covers coping strategies for the physiological and psychological effects of violence on people who have had to end enemy lives in the line of duty.

The goal of the sheepdog is to prevent violence and keep the blissful sheep safe. The sheepdog isn’t actively seeking to harm others — that’s the work of a wolf. The sheepdog is defined not by his hatred of wolves, desire for violence, or any similarity that blur the line between wolf and sheepdog. They are not defined by the reasons why they’re not sheep.

It’s the love and compassion for those who cannot defend themselves that truly defines a sheepdog. It’s what makes us different from the wolves.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Hispanic family defines meaning of service

National Hispanic Heritage Month honors those who have positively influenced and enriched the U.S. and society.

For the Fuentes family, that means celebrating the nine brothers who served in the military. Brothers Alfonso, David, Enrique, Ezequiel, Ismael, Marcos, Richard and Rudy all served in the Marine Corps, while Israel served in the Air Force.

Hailing from Corpus Christi, Texas, the Fuentes parents had 16 children: nine sons and seven daughters. The parents worried about the children but supported their decisions to enlist.


David was the first to enlist, joining the Marine Corps in 1957. According to his siblings, other students teased David in high school, calling him a “mama’s boy.” When one of David’s cousins—a Marine—came home on leave, he talked to David, who convinced him to join. That started a tradition that followed through all nine of the brothers.

Most of the brothers have used VA over the years, including receiving health care at VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System.

Reasons for serving

Each of the brothers had different reasons for serving.

“My plans were to quit school and join the Marines to get away from home,” Ismael said. “A friend of mine told me he would do the same. We went to the Marine recruiting office one weekend and were told we were the two highest ranking officers in Navy Junior ROTC, graduate with honors and we will place you both in our 120-day delayed buddy program. We both graduated June 2, 1968, and were in San Diego June 3.”

Another brother said his reason was to possibly spare his children from going to war.

“I volunteered to go to Vietnam,” Richard said. “My thoughts for volunteering is that when I would have a family, I could tell my kids that I already went to war so they wouldn’t have to.”

Echoing that sentiment, another brother said he served to possibly spare his brothers from going to war.

“I did three years in Navy Junior ROTC because I always knew that I wanted to enlist in the Marine Corps and in case it came down that I had to go to war, then maybe my three younger brothers would be spared,” Rudy said. “That was the reason I enlisted, to protect my three younger brothers.”

The youngest brother said he felt compelled to follow his brothers’ examples.

“Being one of the youngest of nine brothers, I did not want to be the one to break tradition, so I enlisted in the Marine Corps and followed in my brothers’ footsteps,” Enrique said.

About the brothers

Alfonso served in the Marine Corps from 1973-1979 as an infantry rifleman. He served at a Reserve unit in his hometown of Corpus Christi. He also deployed to Rome for training.

David didn’t get teased again after he came home on leave in his Marine Corps uniform. He worked on helicopter engines, assigned to the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California. David served from 1957 to 1960. He passed away June 15, 2011.

Enrique served in the Marine Corps from June 1975-June 1979. Following training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, he served on embassy duty in both Naples, Italy, and Sicily from 1976-1978. He finished his time in the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton.

Ezequiel enlisted in the Marine Corps July 1, 1965, serving as an aircraft firefighter. He served in Yuma, Arizona, and Iwakuni, Japan. He honorably discharged from the Marine Corps June 30, 1969.

Ismael served in the Marine Corps from June 1968 to June 1972. He served at MCB Camp Pendleton as a cook. After dislocating his shoulder, he transferred to the correctional services company.

Israel enlisted in the Air Force in 1966, serving as a weapons mechanic on A-37s and a crew chief on B-58 bombers. He served at Bien Hoa Air Base from 1968-1969 during the Tet Offensive. He discharged in 1970.

Marcos joined the Marine Corps under the delayed entry program Nov. 10, 1976—the service’s 201st birthday. He served from June 1977 to August 1982, serving at a motor pool unit in MCB Camp Pendleton and a Reservist with the 23rd Marine Regiment.

Richard served in the Marine Corps from 1966-1970. He served with Marine Helicopter Squadron 463 in Vietnam from July 1968 to December 1969. He served in Danang and Quang Tri as a CH-53 Sea Stallion door gunner and as a maintainer on helicopter engines.

Rudy served from January 1972 to February 1977 as military police, transport driver and weapons instructor. He volunteered five times to go to Vietnam, getting denied all five times. He assisted during the 1975 evacuation of Saigon.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

This is the amazing life of the veteran with the most apt tattoo

There is perhaps no photo more iconic to the Post-9/11 generation of warfighters than the one that graced the cover of a Stars and Stripes article in 2011. The article, which was about how MEDEVAC pilots have a single hour to get wounded troops to medical facilities, went viral arguably because of the this photo. The powerful picture was of a critically wounded Pfc. Kyle Hockenberry and the tattoo across his ribs, which reads, “For those I love I will sacrifice.”

The photo quickly spread across both social and print media and his ink became the rallying cry for all American troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.


It just so happened that Stars and Stripes journalist Laura Rouch was also on this flight.

(Photo by Laura Rouch, Stars and Stripes)

Kyle Hockenberry had always wanted to serve in the U.S. Army. From the time he joined, he had one phrase in the back of his head that he felt compelled to have permanently etched on himself. He graduated basic training in January 2011 and was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division’s 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment “Pale Riders” who would deploy to Afghanistan the following month.

As many troops tend to do right before shipping out, he got some ink. He had the iconic phrase tattooed onto his ribs. By February, he was at Forward Operating Base Pasab outside of Haji Rammudin.

Then, on the 15th of June, 2011, a pressure plate triggered an IED while Pfc. Hockenberry was moving to cover. It would take both of his legs above the knee and his left arm above the elbow. The blast would also take the life of his friend, Spc. Nick Hensley. He was immediately rushed to the medical facility at Kandahar Air Field.

Laura Rouch of Stars and Stripes was on-site with the crew of Dustoff 59 for her article. Saving Hockenberry was no easy feat.

“They began working on him immediately. They started cutting his clothing off and as they’re getting tourniquets on, they cut away his uniform and this tattoo emerged. I saw the tattoo and it just reached up and grabbed me.” explained Laura Rauch to the Marietta Times.

The severity of the blast and commitment of the flight medics were in constant conflict. Hockenberry’s heart stopped three times and each time the crew pulled him from the brink. He entered a coma as he reached the hospital. Rouch held hold onto the article until Hockenberry recovered enough to give his blessing for publication.

And of course, the still proudly rocks the hell out of the greatest military tattoo.

(Vanilla Fire Productions)

Hockenberry was then transported to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas to begin walking the long road to recovery. In time, he would marry his loving wife, Ashley, and be promoted to corporal before being medically discharged in 2013. The pair welcomed a happy baby boy, Reagan, in 2016.

Recently, he has been working closely with documentary filmmakers Steven Barber and Paul Freedman on an upcoming documentary, World’s Most Dangerous Paper Route. The film is an inside look and history of Stars and Stripes. Heavily featured in this film is the iconic photo and the incredibly badass life of Kyle Hockenberry.

Articles

Duncan Hunter petitions Mattis to approve Medal of Honor for fallen Marine

Congressman Duncan Hunter is urging the new secretary of defense to re-examine the case of Sgt. Rafael Peralta, a Marine who died in house-to-house fighting during the 2004 Battle of Fallujah.


In a letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the Republican congressman wrote that it is his hope “that we can finally give Sergeant Peralta the recognition he deserves.”

Also read: Mattis’ first message to the troops shows his leadership style

In 2008, the Marine Corps recommended Peralta for the Medal of Honor after fellow Marines told investigators the 25-year-old sergeant jumped on a grenade and shielded them from the blast after he was mortally wounded by insurgent fire. The recommendation went all the way up to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who initially approved it, before rescinding the decision amid an inspector general’s complaint.

Marine Corps Portrait of Rafael Peralta

An independent review panel later found that the grenade did not detonate beneath Peralta’s body. Peralta’s award was downgraded to the Navy Cross. And years later, in 2014, a number of witnesses came forward to The Washington Post to say they had embellished the original story.

Still, Hunter has been fighting for years to get the Pentagon to upgrade the award to the nation’s highest honor. Two other defense secretaries, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel, declined to overturn Gates’ ruling.

“Multiple eyewitnesses conveyed that from their respective fields of view, Peralta initiated several movements toward the grenade and pulled it into his body,” Hunter wrote. “In the spirit and tradition of the Medal of Honor, these eyewitness accounts are exceedingly sufficient, but they were overridden based on questionable forensic evidence assembled by Pentagon bureaucrats.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis greets U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after arriving at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2017. (DOD photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley)

Hunter is optimistic that Mattis, the former commander of 1st Marine Division, will look into the case. Hunter told the San Diego Union-Tribune Mattis had originally signed off on the Medal of Honor award recommendation before it went up to Gates.

“I believe you have the right perspective and familiarity with the facts to make an informed judgment on this matter,” he wrote. “Even more so, you have the courage to do what’s right where others have been too sensitive to internal Pentagon politics.”

The public affairs office for the defense secretary did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

The Army plans to issue ‘black or camouflage’ face masks to soldiers

The U.S. Army‘s top enlisted soldier said Tuesday that the service plans to issue some type of non-surgical mask to troops to help control the spread of the novel coronavirus.

During an Army Facebook Live on Tuesday, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston said that soldiers should follow the face-covering guidance the service issued Monday evening until it can provide masks for them.


“We are going to get you the masks,” he said. “In the near term, we will get you something either black or camouflage to put on.”

Grinston gave no other details, but Army officials confirmed to Military.com that the service is working on a plan to eventually issue some type of masks to soldiers and will release details in the near future.

The Army issued broad guidance regarding a Pentagon announcement Sunday that service members, family members and other personnel may make their own face coverings to wear when social distancing is not possible.

The Air Force began making their own masks in order to protect airmen in positions that make social distancing difficult.

Soldiers are authorized to wear the “neck gaiter and other cloth items, such as bandanas and scarves, as face coverings,” according to the guidance.

“To protect the facial area, the cloth item must cover the mouth and nose and extend to the chin or below as well as to the sides of the face,” Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz, an Army spokesman, told Military.com. “It must be secured or fastened to the face in a manner that allows the soldier to breathe while also preventing disease exposure or contamination.”

Soldiers should not cut up Army Combat Uniforms to use as face coverings since they are chemically treated to reduce wrinkles.

“Our uniforms are treated with chemicals for various reasons, so we do not want people using these uniforms and putting them close to their face,” Army Chief of Staff James McConville said during the Facebook Live event.

The color of the masks is up to unit leaders, Army officials said, but Grinston added that homemade masks should look as professional as possible.

“You’ve got either a … black neck gaiter, brown, some kind of scarf — that’s fine,” he said. “Use common sense. I don’t want to see any skull and crossbones on your face — maybe a brown or something that looks somewhat professional.”

Surgical masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and should be reserved for health care workers or other medical first responders, as recommended by CDC guidance, Ortiz said.

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

MIGHTY HISTORY

World War troops ate so much mutton it went out of style

Imagine trying to feed literally tens of thousands of men. You and a couple of dozen others are in charge of buying all the food necessary fill all those bellies as they march across continents or charge from trench to trench and burned 4,600 calories per day, almost 30 percent more than a farmer would need. You would likely take whatever food was available in large quantities, and you might feed the men so much of it that they never wanted to see it again.


World War 2 propaganda poster shows soldier receiving a massive piece of freshly cooked meat under the slogan “After the fighters, you come first. SHARE THE MEAT.”

(National Archives and Records Administration)

That’s what, allegedly, happened with American troops and mutton in World War II. While troops got some meat from local farms and wild game when they were lucky or had particularly resourceful supply officers in the unit, most of their calories and most of their meat was shipped from the states.

American farmers generated as much food as they could, and it was canned, jarred, concentrated, preserved, and more and sent to the fronts. One of the meats that preserved and canned well and was widely available was mutton, and so it was shipped forward by the ton.

But while canned mutton was stable and safe to eat, it wasn’t exactly desirable. And that’s especially true since military buyers weren’t discerning customers, and so they were often delivered particularly gamy and poor meat. And so American troops ran into the MRE problem of today but on a much greater scale.

Mutton looks so delicious in the wild.

(Pixabay, lfmatac)

Anyone who has had an MRE can tell you it’s not that bad for food that can be safe on a shelf for years. Most of the components taste fine, the nutrition is pretty balanced for someone who is expected to work and sweat all day, and it can be transported easily.

But while an MRE tastes OK the first couple of times or first dozen times you eat one, eating one every day gets repetitive. Eating two a day becomes onerous. It becomes a task that you force yourself through, not a meal, not a welcome morale boost or a respite from the fear and monotony.

Now imagine that, instead of 24 separate meals like the MRE program offers, you had only a few meals, all of them based around meat. And so you would be eating that canned mutton multiple times per week, potentially as much as a couple of days a week. Poor cuts of meat, canned for weeks or months or years, and then delivered to troops that had been eating it repetitively for years.

Oddly enough, when troops got home from war, some of them told their families that they never wanted to see the stuff again.

And some allege that it’s because of this that mutton fell out of favor in the U.S. and, to a lesser degree, in Britain, after the war. The British drop off was even more noticeable because the country had been so culturally tied to sheep and the wool industry for centuries before World War II.

But there are some historians who allege that the story is overblown, that the damage to the mutton industry was already in the cards. Wool clothing gave way, increasingly, to cotton and synthetic fibers after the war, and so no one was raising sheep to adulthood for wool. That reduced the sizes of the herds that mutton was harvested from. And lamb, harvested from younger sheep, became more popular.

Here’s hoping the MRE pizza is properly rotated with other meals. We’d hate to have that ruined for an entire generation.