This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience - We Are The Mighty
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This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience

Hank Hughes is the first Post-9/11 veteran to be nominated for an Oscar.


Hughes sat down with WATM’s Blake Stilwell and discussed the inspiration behind the film and what he hopes to achieve with it.

‘Day One’ is inspired by a Hughes’ experiences in Afghanistan. The film depicts a new translator’s first day accompanying a U.S. Army unit on patrol. As she quickly discovers, her job will bring up brutal complexities as gender and religious barriers emerge with lives hanging in the balance.

 

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This plane left the SR-71 Blackbird in the dust

The SR-71 Blackbird was the fastest military jet that has ever taken to the skies. But there was a plane that not only went twice as fast, but it also went much higher.


That speedy plane was the North American X-15.

The X-15 was one of the first true spaceplanes, with a number of flights going beyond Earth’s atmosphere, according to a 2005 NASA release. It was capable of going over 4,500 mph, or nearly Mach 6, and it went as high as 354,200 feet – or just over 67 miles – above the Earth.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
North American X-15A. (NASA photo)

The plane didn’t actually take off from the ground. In fact, it needed the help of a B-52 bomber before it could reach those dizzying heights and super-high speeds. NASA used two of the first B-52s, an NB-52A known as the “High and Mighty One,” for some flights before a NB-52B known as “Balls 8” took over the duty.

Once released from the B-52 at an altitude of 45,000 feet and a speed of 500 miles per hour, the X-15’s Reaction Motors XLR-99 would activate providing 70,400 pounds of thrust, according to a NASA fact sheet. At most, the plane had two minutes of fuel.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
A X-15A with external fuel tanks and a new paint job is dropped from a NB-52 aircraft. (NASA photo)

Among the pilots who were at the controls of this marvel was Neil Armstrong – you’d know him as the first man to walk on the moon. Armstrong didn’t get into space with this plane in any of his seven flights, but he did post the 6th-fastest speed among the X-15 sorties, according to an official NASA history.

One of those who achieved the rating of astronaut, Major Michael Adams, received the honor posthumously after he was killed in a crash of his X-15A on Nov. 15, 1967. Adams had broken the 50-mile barrier that the Air Force and NASA used to define entering space on his seventh and final flight, reaching an altitude of 266,000 feet and a top speed of 3,617 mph, according to the NASA history’s list of X-15 flights.

Below, take a look at the video from Curious Droid, which talks about the X-15 – and the awesome career it had.

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The Russian military actually used this hilarious video to recruit paratroopers

Russia’s paratroopers serve in the VDV, or vozdushno-desantnie voiska. Like America’s airborne forces, the Russian VDV is considered elite and recruits soldiers from both within the Russian armed forces and from the civilian population.


But their tactics for doing so can be a little confusing. For instance, they created a commercial where your mom’s ex-boyfriend sings about his clothes every minute or so.

When he’s not doing that, he’s watching large groups of men dance fight against imaginary enemies.

But the Russian paratroopers totally redeem themselves when they hop over fences while shooting their weapons and dash past explosions without turning to look at them.

See the full video below. For the truly hardcore fan, there’s a 10-hour version on Youtube.

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This Mustang just set a new speed record

How fast can a P-51 go? There’s a new answer thanks to a flight over this past Labor Day weekend carried out by Steven Hinton, a noted air racing champion.


According to a release by Pursuit Aviation, the record was set Sept. 2, 2017, in a modified P-51D Mustang known as Voodoo. Voodoo averaged 531.53 miles per hour on four passes, the fastest of them at 554.69 miles per hour, taking the top honor for the C-1e classification. The previous holder of the record was Will Whiteside Jr., who averaged 318 miles per hour in a modified Yak-3.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
Voodoo in a hangar. (Pursuit Aviation)

While the plane did go faster than Rare Bear, a modified Grumman F8F Bearcat that set an aerial speed record of 528.33 miles per hour in 1989, it did not officially set that World Speed Record due to that record being retired by the World Air Sports Federation due to changes in the sporting code.

According to a history of the plane available at AerialVisuals.ca, it was built in 1944 for the United States Army, then transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1951 before being sold off in 1959. The plane went through a number of owners and survived two crashes (one in 1962, and one in 1977) before being sold to William Speer in 1980. It was modified as a racer, then was sold to Bob Button in 1994. Hinton began to race the plane after Button retired in 2007, and won the Unlimited Gold Championship in 2013, 2014, and 2016.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
Steven Hinton Jr., the pilot who set the new record in the C-1e class. (Pursuit Aviation)

You can see video of this record-setting run below.


MIGHTY TRENDING

This Army officer changed her focus from nuclear warfare to comedy

Marine veteran James P. Connolly (Sirius/XM Radio, Comics Unleashed) hosted the 6th Annual Veteran’s Day Benefit Comedy Show “Cocktails Camouflage” at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, California in early November.


All funds raised were donated to Veterans in Film Television (VFT), a non-profit networking organization that unites current and former members of the military working in film and television and offers the entertainment industry the opportunity to connect with and hire veterans.
In this episode, US Army vet Katie Robinson riffs on her experience as a theater major serving in Iraq.
MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch Marine rocket artillery send Taliban dope up in smoke

While the fall of the “caliphate,” as proclaimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, marked one ending in the Middle East, the fight against the Taliban continues. Between President Trump’s recently announced strategy and the MOAB making its combat debut, it’s clear that the gloves are coming off. But now, the Taliban are taking hits to their wallet.


ISIS used oil to raise money — the places they’d based out of (Iraq and Syria) were rich in the black liquid. However, Afghanistan, the base of operations for the Taliban, doesn’t have a drop. So, the Taliban turned to another means to generate income. After all, radical Islamic groups who harbor terrorists still need to make payroll every month.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
A field filled with opium poppy plants can be seen April 11, 2012, in Marjah, Afghanistan. Heroin is derived from raw opium gum, which comes from opium poppies. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt Michael P. Snody)

To pay their fighters, the Taliban have turned to drug production. Specifically, they’re making heroin. A September 2017 article from the Quad City Times notes that two kilograms of black tar heroin seized in a bust was worth $600,000. While the Taliban likely doesn’t pocket 300 grand per kilo, the lower amount they do receive likely goes a long way in funding their operations.

Part of the strategy to weaken the Taliban has been to cut off their income. With Secretary of Defense James Mattis loosening rules of engagement, American troops now have a much freer hand when it comes to using artillery and air strikes. As a result, the Taliban’s drug labs have become fair game.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
Crews from the 4th Battalion of the 133rd Field Artillery Regiment (HIMARS), attached to the 71st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard hosted a Family Day on Saturday, June 25, at Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army Photo by Maj. Randall Stillinger, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

The video below shows how such strikes are being carried out in Afghanistan. A M142 HIMARS is used to send the Taliban’s drugs up in smoke. The HIMARS fired five of the six rockets it can carry. Based on the impacts, unitary warhead versions of the rockets were used in this particular strike. The Taliban will have to figure out if their fighters will accept smoke signals as payment.

Articles

French special forces emerge from the shadows in this stunning video

France has been looking for some new recruits for its Commandement des Opérations Spéciales, and it’s turning to YouTube to drum up some interest.


This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
Members of France’s special forces fire their HK416 rifles. (Youtube screenshot)

According to a report by the London Daily Mail, the video is titled, “A very special video” (gee, did they draw their inspiration from promos for the TV show “Blossom” when they were talking titles?), and shows French commandos in the type of scenes you’d see in a Hollywood blockbuster.

This includes insertions by parachute, minisub, and with scuba gear.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
A Eurocopter Tigre escorts a transport helicopter. (Youtube Screenshot)

The French Commandement des Opérations Spéciales was founded in 1992 to control the special operations forces across the entire French military. This includes the 1st Régiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine and the 13th Régiment de Dragons Parachutistes from the French army, the Force Maritime des Fusiliers Marins et Commandos from the French navy, and the Division des Opérations Spéciales from the French air force.

The famous Groupe d’intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale — known for a number of hostage rescues and counter-terrorism missions — can be called on by the COS for reinforcement, along with other units across all the French armed forces.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
A C-160 Transall comes in for a landing. (Youtube Screenshot)

One notable piece of gear that is featured in the video is the Transall C-160, a Franco-German twin-engine cargo plane that can hold up to 88 paratroopers and which has a top speed of 368 miles per hour and a range of 1,151 miles. France had 75 of these planes in service.

Also seen are helicopters like the AC532 Cougar, the AS332 Super Puma, and the AS330 Puma, Tigre gunships, and assault rifles like the HK416 and FAMAS. You can see the entire trailer below.

Articles

Here’s how microwaves and micro-robots could stop North Korea

With the apparently successful test of an ICBM by North Korea, questions arise about what can be done about the regime of Kim Jong Un. This is understandable. After all, he did threaten Sony over the 2014 movie “The Interview.”


Also, the whole humanitarian crisis thing.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
Photo from North Korean State Media.

According to an op-ed in the Washington Times, there are some high-tech options that could shut down the North Korean threat. Investigative reporter Ronald Kessler stated that the Pentagon was looking at a cruise missile that could fry electronics. He reported that the Pentagon is also exploring micro-robots capable of delivering a lethal toxin to the North Korean dictator.

The cruise missile is known as the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, and it comes from Boeing’s Phantom Works — a lesser-known advanced aerospace projects division than the Lockheed Skunk Works. The missile uses microwaves to knock out radios and other electronic equipment. Boeing released a video about a 2012 test that you can see here.

According to army-technology.com, CHAMP is capable of knocking out electronics in specific buildings. This means that the effects on civilians would be minimized. FlightGlobal.com reported that the Air Force has chosen the AGM-158B JASSM-ER to deliver the CHAMP warhead. The system is capable of firing 100 shots.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
The AGM-158 JASSM in action (YouTube: Lockheed Martin)

Kessler also mentioned the use of insect-sized robots as potential weapons. While assassinations are currently prohibited by an executive order signed by President Gerald R. Ford, such a policy could be reversed by President Trump “with a stroke of the pen.” The advantage of using the micro-drones to bump off Kim Jong Un would be the fact that no American lives would be put at risk for the operation.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
U.S. Pacific Command has deployed the first elements of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, known as THAAD, to South Korea, implementing the U.S.-South Korean alliance’s July 2016 decision to bring the defensive capability to the Korean Peninsula. (DoD photo)

FoxNews.com reported that since the North Korean test, the United States tested the Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense system in Alaska. The system continued a perfect record on tests when a battery stationed in Alaska took out a missile launched from Hawaii. Two launchers from a battery of six have been deployed in South Korea.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This is how you fight when the waters are rising

When we left off, you were hanging from a pull-up bar trying to get your knees to your chest for the first time since Basic.


Max, in his wisdom, started you out in the gym, which is full of many helpful things, like dumbbells and molecules of air. He wanted you to develop a little stoutness at your center, because he knows what’s coming and you, silly wittle baby, do not. You’re wet behind the ears, is what he’s saying. And that’s not even 5% wet enough to pass the Max Your Body, Season 1 final exam.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
(Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

Today, you’re either going to sink or survive.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
(Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

Because it’s all well and good to be fit with both feet planted on firm ground, unbound and wearing comfy, civilian shoes. It’s been years since you were a fetus, so you’ve forgotten what it’s like when there’s water on all sides of you, it’s dark and murky, and it’s up to you to figure out where your next lungful of sweet, sweet air is coming from.

Today, Max would like to remind you of the primordial fluid from whence you swam. And to make it extra memorable, he’s going to bind your feet at the ankles and your hands behind your back.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
At least solid muscle is super buoyant, right? (Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

If you haven’t tapped out at this point, it’s advisable that you tap a buddy to be in charge of Operation You Not Drowning. Everything all nice and secure? Excellent! In you go.

Your mission — and it’s too late to opt out — is to suppress your rational panic and concentrate on using all this handy fitness you’ve been developing to go Full Amphibian while the water rises around you. You. Can. Do. This. For nine months, this was your everything. You used to be the Chuck Norris of tadpoles. Time to make your mother proud.

And if you do start getting the urge to have a big baby meltdown, just remember, there’s a benefit to plunging in with Max.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience

The benefit is you’ve lost the illusion of control. There’s no turning back. And the alternative to rising to this most fetal of challenges is sinking to the most fatal of depths.

Death, at whatever depth, is dumb. So it’s your choice, baby.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
The Captain of the Guard at Fort Uterus, comin’ ta gitcha. (Go90 Max Your Body screenshot)

Watch as Max takes your fear and drowns it in a municipal pool, in the video embedded at the top.

Watch more Max Your Body:

This is what happens when you swap your workout for PT

Our trainer will make you a leopard

This is how you train for brotherhood

This is what happens when a troll runs the obstacle course

One session with this trainer will make you assume the fetal position

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why Boeing may stop building fighter planes

Could Boeing be out of the fighter business in the near future? That question has been kicking around in recent years as air forces are looking to advanced planes like the Lockheed F-35 Lightning or for cheaper options like the Saab Gripen.


A big reason is that Boeing’s entry for a new Joint Strike Fighter, the X-32, lost that competition. A 2014 report from DefenceAviation.com noted that Boeing was producing an average of four jets a month.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience
The X-32 takes off for Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, from Little Rock AFB in 2001. The X-32 was one of two experimental aircraft involved in the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. (DOD photo)

The company has made some sales for versions of the F-15E Strike Eagle, but aside from Australia, there have not been many export orders for the F/A-18E/F Super Horner and EA-18G Growler (granted, the Marines could use the Super Hornet to replace aging F/A-18C/D Hornets in a more expeditious manner). The company has marketed the Super Hornet to India in the wake of the problems India has had in adapting the Tejas for carrier operations, and did a video promoting an advanced F-15C.

Boeing is not completely out of the light jet business. It has teamed up with Saab for an entry into the T-X competition that also includes the Lockheed T-50 and the T-100 from Leonardo and Raytheon. It also recently got an order for 36 F-15QAs from Qatar, according to FlightGlobal.com. Qatar also bought 36 Eurofighter Typhoons and 36 Dassault Rafales.

Boeing is also preparing for an upgrade to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet line. The Block III Super Hornet will feature conformal fuel tanks for longer range and improved avionics, including a new radar and better electronic countermeasures systems. President Trump’s budget proposals did include buying 80 more Super Hornets.

Such purchases could only be delaying the inevitable. The Navy and Air Force are reportedly planning a sixth-generation fighter in the FA-XX project, but that may still be years into the future.

WATCH

This US Marine went to Somalia and became a warlord

Hussein Farrah Aidid left the United States Marine Corps and attempted to be a warlord like his father, Mohamed Farrah Aidid, who is a central figure in the story of “Black Hawk Down.”


Mohamed Aidid was the leader of the Habr Gidr clan, who vied for power in the wake of the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre’s Somali regime. Aidid not only diverted food aid and relief supplies to starving Solamis, his fighters ambushed 24 Pakistani peacekeepers.

The United Nations offered a $25,000 reward for his capture, and he was targeted by Task Force Ranger. TF Ranger’s hunt for Aidid led to the ill-fated Battle of Mogadishu that resulted in the death of 18 American troops.

Aidid had four wives. His first wife, Asli Dhubad, gave birth to five children. Hussein Farrah Aidid was the first of those five.

He was born in a remote area of Somalia in 1962. At the age of 14, he emigrated to the United States at a time when Somalia was ruled by the dictator Barre whose authoritarian government was enjoying a brief thaw in relations with the U.S. Hussein graduated from high school in Covina, California, two years later before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps.

You can read more about Hussein Farrah Aidid and his journey from the Marines to becoming a warlord here.

Articles

‘World of Tanks’ lets players hop into intense armored combat

After Action Report | World of Tanks from WATM on Vimeo.

World of Tanks” has a simple premise: Get into a tank and go kill stuff. And yes, it’s as fun as it sounds.


The game starts off with a tutorial level that gives the absolute basics of tank driving in World of Tanks before allowing players to fight bots for practice. After that, players are thrown into the deep end with other players.

And that’s when it gets really fun. After all, “World of Tanks” is a multiplayer game, and the best parts happen when fighting in the massive 15-on-15 tank battles. Playing in random groups gives you the chance to drop right into the action. But players can set up platoons with friends so that they can go into the battle and fight as a team.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience

Fighting as a team is very valuable considering the game has 120 million players worldwide, some of whom have been gaining experience since the game launched five years ago.

These teams are built around a mix of tank types. Players can drive light, medium, and heavy tanks as well as tank destroyers and self-propelled guns.

No matter which tank type you try driving, you get the feeling that you’re moving out in a true, multi-ton weapon of war, driving over trees and through buildings in battle.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience

But, you learn that the enemy is just as strong as you the first time a medium or heavy tank starts pounding on your hull with anti-tank rounds or an SPG hits you with artillery through your soft top armor.

Each kind of tank has its own strengths and weaknesses, and “World of Tanks” does a good job making them feel unique while teaching players how to tactically use each tank on its own and in a platoon.

Tactics are very important in “World of Tanks.” The game’s physics discourage firing from slopes down onto the enemy, a big no-no in real tank combat as well.

Each vehicle has specific weak points that players learn to protect. Players also have to quickly learn to fire from behind cover and to use concealment when maneuvering.

Juggling all of this can be hectic but is exciting in matches, especially when the enemy missteps and you’re able to blast them away with a shot in the rear armor.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience

To make your mission a little easier, the game lets you recruit and train crew members, allowing for faster reloads or better tank handling in combat. Players can also upgrade their tanks. Researching a new gun may give a semi-automatic capability or buying a new engine will get a tank around the battlefield faster. The eight research trees are split by nationality and each country’s armor strategy feels unique.

This Army vet directed an Oscar-nominated short film based on his war experience

With all eight tech trees combined, the game features 450 tanks complete with their own handling, armor, and weapons characteristics as well as notes about their history and development.

Historical accuracy is important to “World of Tanks,” and the tanks and weapons are carefully created to match their real-world counterparts. The game does take some liberties with the historical accuracy, though, tweaking some weapons and stats to keep the game balanced and fun.

Basically, everything is kept true to history unless one tank starts being able to run roughshod over everyone else. When that happens, the designers make a few small changes to rebalance the game.

While 15-on-15 tank battles are the default, the game does have other modes like Clan Stronghold or Global Map, where clans of tankers fight each other for resources.

Wargaming.net is even bringing Football Mode back for a short time to celebrate Euro 2016. Basically, it’s soccer with tanks:

The game is free to play, but the premium version allows players to more quickly upgrade their tanks. Players can also opt to buy awesome, premium tanks in one-time transactions.

Check the game out for free on Wargaming.net.

MIGHTY BRANDED

This NFL star trying to eat an MRE will crack you up

For a special tribute to the troops during the NFL’s Salute to Service month, Washington Redskins tight end Vernon Davis joined a few military members and Redskins special teams coordinator and former Army Apache pilot Ben Kotwica for what he thought was going to be a normal meal.


However, little did Vernon know that while the military members would be treated to a regular meal, Vernon would get a literally get a “taste” of military life, chowing down on a standard-issue Meal Ready to Eat, or MRE.

In a meal filled with laughter, Vernon dutifully tries to assemble his MRE, gaining a first-hand appreciation for our nation’s service members.  The experience was hosted by USAA, the Official Military Appreciation Sponsor of the NFL, as part of its commitment to bringing authentic football experiences directly to the military.

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