This past week saw We Are The Mighty at the 2015 Blue Angel Airshow at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu.
It was a full day of weaving in out of the crowds of people excited to see incredible planes, crazy stunt pilots, and (of course) the legendary Blue Angels performance. WATM managed to snag interviews with a couple of pilots, the executive officer of the VAW-112 Air Wing, and the crew of the gargantuan C-5M Super Galaxy (who let us take a peek inside!) before the Blue Angels took the skies in an impressive display of flying.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Paul T. “PJ” Johnson is right up there with the best pilots to have ever flown the A-10. While serving as a captain during Operation Desert Storm, he was decorated with the Air Force Cross for leading the rescue mission of a downed Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot deep behind enemy lines.
Capt. Johnson was en route from another mission when he received the call to search for the F-14 crew that had been shot down the night before. During the next six hours, he lead the search through three aerial refuelings, one attack on a possible SCUD missile site, and three hours of going deeper into enemy territory than any A-10 had ever flown. When he finally spotted the survivor, an enemy vehicle was heading in his direction, which Johnson proceeded to destroy, thus securing the target.
The mission was successful and a first for the A-10. A few days later, Johnson’s skills were on full display when he was hit by an enemy missile while trying to take out a radar site. The explosion left a gaping hole on his right wing, which disabled one of the hydraulic systems. Still, he managed to fly back to safety.
This video shows how Johnson pulled through his “high pucker factor” experience, which he credits to a “wing and a prayer.”
Gen. Johnson received his commission in 1985 from Officer Training School, Lackland Air Force Base. He’s a command pilot with more than 3,000 hours on the A-10 and served as commander of the 75th Fighter Squadron, Pope AFB, N.C.; the 354th Operations Group, Eielson AFB, Alaska; the 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona; and 451st Air Expeditionary Wing, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. He’s retiring on July 01, 2016, according to his Air Force profile.
Keeping the troops well fed is a big part of how the military works. Navy veteran and pop-up chef August Dannehl knows this better than most. In the WATM series “Thank You For Your Service” August cooks a four-course meal for his fellow vets, and each course is inspired by a veteran’s story from his or her time in uniform.
When he came home from Afghanistan, Max’s mom prepared the classic Nicaraguan Carne Asada dish with fried plantains. It was a symbol of prosperity and transition into good times from his childhood. When he was young, his mother was a new immigrant to the U.S. and as a single mother, it was sometimes hard for her to put food the table. This dish always served as an embodiment of her love and stayed with Max from his home to overseas.
Short Rib Carne Asada w/ Bacon Jam, Apricot Mojo and Platanos
Inspired by Max’s Mother’s Nicaraguan Carne Asada
8 beef short ribs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 thin slices bacon, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 carrots, diced
2 jalapeno, finely minced
1 medium onion, diced
Splash of red wine
4 cups Cola
4 cups beef broth (low sodium)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbs apricot jam
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 1/2 teaspoons ground
2 Green Plantains
Corn Oil for Frying
Salt and Pepper to taste
Season short rib liberally with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat olive oil and bacon in heavy, oven-proof pan on medium heat. Once bacon starts rendering fat into the pan, add carrots, garlic, onion and jalapeño. Sweat for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
Sear short ribs in pan, working in batches to not crowd pan. If pan starts to look dry, add olive oil. Once all sides of every short rib are browned, deglaze pan with red wine and add cola. Let simmer for 10 minutes on stove to reduce.
Meanwhile, prepare the mojo by adding all ingredients but the olive oil in a blender. Slowly increase blend speed to reach about 4 out of 10. Slowly add olive oil through the top until the sauce becomes the consistency of smooth salsa.
Once cola is reduced by half add beef broth, thyme, rosemary and place entire pan (with top) into a 325° oven and braise for 4 hours. Remove short ribs and add flour to braising components to make jam. Stir ingredients for 4-5 minutes or until ingredients bind together.
Prepare platanos by slicing plantain, frying in 350° oil until light brown, smashing with side of a knife and then frying again until crispy (about 2 mins).
Grill short rib for 2-3 mins just to add final touch of smoke and fire to the meat. Then plate by adding platano and mojo to plate topped with meat and bacon jam.
Just a few miles south of Vail, Colorado, was the home the Army’s 10th mountain Division, where thousands of brave men trained tirelessly before heading off to fight the Germans in WWII.
Fast forward to modern day, the founders of a unique spirits company found a way to pay homage to those men who helped defeat the Nazis by handcrafting 10th Mountain Whiskey in their honor.
Founders Ryan Thompson and Christian Avignon are admirers of the famed unit. Avignon in particular has a special tie to the men that served in the 10th Mountain Division – he is the grandson of a medic who fought with 10th Mountain.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on a speeding boat, jumping off a building, or zooming through the air on a fighter; Gyro-stabilized Systems (GSS) makes some of the best gear for action film shoots.
The common stabilizing system for aerial filming is made to withstand speeds up to 135 knots and usually helicopter-mounted. But when Swedish aerial specialist, Peter Degerfeldt at Blue Sky—one of Scandinavia’s premier aerial filming companies—challenged GSS to build something that could withstand at least 300 knots, aerial filming took a giant leap forward.
GSS’s calling came when Saab Defense and Security required a film shoot from a Gripen fighter.
“Our philosophy is to push boundaries in everything we do,” said Jonas Tillgren, Brand and marketing manager at Saab, according to the film’s description. “In this case, we needed to do both still photography and footage at the same time to maximize outcome. One advantage of this system is that we can fly in speeds where Gripen flies more naturally.”
When fired, the Apache’s 30mm machine gun is so intense it vibrates the pilot’s internal organs, teeth, and the retinas in their eyes — along with helicopter’s mechanical parts.
This Boeing-made helicopter can not only dish it out, but it can take a beating too.
The Apache’s crew station houses sophisticated ballistic-tolerant seats comprised of kevlar and ceramic. The aircraft’s fuel tanks also have a few special defense surprises for enemy grounds troops that are attempting to blow this fly fortress out of the sky.
The fuel tanks are ballistic-tolerant as well and capable of sealing up .50 caliber rounds trying to penetrate.
But the real tactical advantage is the tank contains nitrogen, which is a part of a unique system where it removes the oxygen out of the fuel tank so that the gas becomes another barrier level for incoming rounds.
At the end of some missions, the Apache’s crew has to fish out enemy bullets from the fuel tank. That’s what we call impressive.
Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video below to see what makes the innovative aircraft so dang special for yourself.
In April of last year — for the third time in two months — Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has discovered a major American warship lost during World War II. The Brooklyn-class light cruiser USS Helena (CL 50) was discovered nearly 75 years after she was sunk during the Battle of the Kula Gulf. According to the announcement, USS Helena lies just over 2,800 feet below the surface of the ocean near the island of Vella Lavella.
USS Helena (CL 50) firing her main guns during the Battle of Kula Gulf. The flashes proved to be an excellent aimpoint for Japanese torpedoes.
In 1943, Helena, her sister ships (USS Honolulu (CL 48) and USS St. Louis (CL 49)), and four destroyers attempted to intercept ten Japanese destroyers. The Americans quickly eliminated one of the Japanese vessels, but Helena‘s guns didn’t have flashless powder, making her a perfect target in the night sky for Type 93 Long Land torpedoes.
Francis X. McInerney on board the Baltimore-class heavy cruiser USS Helena (CA 75) in 1949. McInerney received the Legion of Merit for the rescue of 165 crewmen from the light cruiser USS Helena that had been sunk in 1943.
Three torpedoes hit the Helena and she quickly sank. Meanwhile, the Americans fatally crippled a second Japanese destroyer and damaged two more. The story doesn’t end there.
Most of the Helena‘s crew managed to escape the sinking vessel. Unlike the commander of the USS Juneau (the wreckage of which was discovered by Paul Allen just a month before finding Helena), Captain Gilbert C. Hoover insisted on rescuing any and all surviving crew. Under the command of Captain Francis X. McInerney, the destroyers USS Nicholas (DD 449) and USS Radford (DD 446) turned around to rescue survivors. In the midst of the rescue efforts, two Japanese destroyers came back. McInerney turned to fight, telling the Helena survivors, “Hang on! We’ll be back for you!”
It would take 11 days, but McInerney would eventually fulfill that promise. Eventually, over 700 survivors from the cruiser would be rescued. For his actions, McInerney he received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, and the Legion of Merit. The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS McInerney (FFG 8) was named in his honor.
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.
So, check out these four tips on how to clear a room, straight from a Navy SEAL.
1. Identify the number of troops entering the room
It’s crucial each man communicates and understands what their exact role in the “stack,” or the lineup, will be. The number one man goes in this direction, number two goes this way, and so on down the line. Each troop must be accounted for by everyone.
2. Predict the shape of the room based on what it looks like from the outside.
It’s primarily up to the number one man to clear sector one, also known as the “uncleared sector.” This is the area of the room you won’t see until you’ve entered the room — in the case of a corner-fed room, this is the far corner and corner on the same wall as the entryway.
3. Consider the size of each step taken
When entering in through a narrow doorway, the size of the step taken by the number one man can affect the second man’s progression as the team files into the room. Switching up the size of the step in a compressed environment could result in the second man getting knocked off of their path, which could be deadly.
4. Once you clear or first sector, move on but don’t “flag” your teammates.
In a small room, each member of the team must avoid “flagging,” or pointing your weapon in the direction of fellow teammates. This can be avoided by maintaining your sector of fire at all times and not forgetting the basic principles of room clearing.
Check out Tactical Rifleman‘s video below to watch this Navy SEAL take you through the proper steps of clearing a room.
Bravery is a thing you see every day in the military. In all branches, in moments great and small, it’s an expression of the fundamental courage it takes to put your life on the line for love of country and to serve those you swore to protect.
Former Navy SEAL David Meadows proved exemplary in this capacity, serving 11 years in some of the harshest theaters of war throughout the Middle East.
But unlike many of his fellow Oscar Mike alumni, Meadows chose, upon reentry, to translate his habituated bravery into a civilian arena that would, honestly, make most servicemen and women want to crawl out of their natural born skins…
Yeah, he became an actor.
And we can tell you from experience that there are few professions that require a more constant personal brokerage with public shame, mortal embarrassment, insecurity, and rejection — in short, all of the types of feelings that normal people avoid like their lives depend on it.
Being the Special Ops-trained bad ass that he is, though, Meadows surveyed this new theater of war and then dove in head first. Acting for a living takes guts.
“I think that if there is a magic left in the world…it’s really for a person to be affected, to be changed — by one human being actually affecting somebody else on a really human, natural, soulful level. Does that make sense? And performing artists have that power. And I thought…that’s absolutely amazing. And I want to be a part of that.”
To get a taste of the kind of courage an actor has to muster every day, Oscar Mike host Ryan Curtis visited Meadows at his acting studio in Los Angeles and submitted himself to a battery of drills that actors employ to help them behave truthfully under imaginary circumstances.
Each exercise is designed to increase physical sensitivity, dial up emotional availability, and to inure actors to the fear of ridicule that can shut them down at crucial moments. Like all high-stakes training, it’s effective — but it ain’t pretty.
Today’s lesson is clear: in a successful civilian life, emotional bravery matters. But you don’t have to take our word for it, you can just watch as Curtis cracks under the pressure and and begs to postpone the big payoff in the video embedded at the top.
These researchers did everything from examining the molecules in the food matrix to reaching out to the troops themselves for input about the food they consume.
During the durability testing phase, MREs take a beating to prove they can hold up to intense environments —that’s before they’re even shipped off the troops who need them.
Developing each MRE requires plenty of time and careful construction to support operational habits like being dropped out of C-17 planes — sometimes at an altitude of 1,000 feet.
The chef’s mission is to create full individual meals to give that troop a sense of being home through their variety of entrees and sides.
Once the MREs reach the hands of hungry troops, the items within the pouch can be quickly heated up for a hot meal or negotiations can take place so that hungry service members can make their favorite blend.
On deployment, meals are rarely consumed in an individual setting, but in a supportive group — as troops use their mealtime as a way of reflecting on their life back home through a warm pouch of chili mac.
All you need to handle the hostile is a Sikorsky H-60 airframe, and it really doesn’t matter if it’s a UH-60 Blackhawk, MH-60R/S Seahawk, or an Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk. Even a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk will do in a pinch. The real key to taking out these drones is the M240, M2, or M3 machine gun that the door gunners use.
In a sense, these door gunners are acting like the old waist gunners on B-17 Flying Fortresses. Back then, those gunners needed training films that included the voice of Bugs Bunny. Seventy-five years later, though, the gunners can actually train against a target similar to what they are shooting. And with live ammo, too.
This low-tech solution might not work in all situations, but it is good to know that the United States military does have these options in case they need them. In the video below, you can see a door gunner at the United States Navy Rotary Wing Weapons School get some very realistic training on how to deal with a hostile drone. Note the M240 that is used on this MH-60 Seahawk.
Ask any troop who has deployed about their most uncomfortable moment and they’ll probably mention the combat landing on their first day in-country. You can prepare grunts for the rigors of combat, yes, but you can’t prepare them to be sloshed around in an aircraft that’s packed like a can of sardines as it descends downward in a near-vertical corkscrew that stops on a dime.
Also called an assault landing or Sarajevo landing, cargo pilots have to do a combat landing if enemy presence is expected in the area. To avoid giving them an easy target, pilots must do three things: A corkscrew over the area to come down from cruising altitude, descend in a sharp drop before landing, and come to a complete stop using as little runway as possible.
Before coming to the airfield, cargo planes like the C-130 have an average cruising altitude of 18,000 feet. The plane will then arrive roughly seven to ten minutes before the scheduled landing. This is where the fun landing begins.
When the plane is in line with the landing strip, it will drop. While commercial airliners come in at around 3 degrees to provide a nice, gentle landing for the passengers, the Air Force is perfectly fine with coming in at 60 degrees. At the last possible moment, pilots pull up so the landing gears are what hit the runway.
If that wasn’t fun enough, the plane will then need to stop on a dime. To do this, as soon as the wheels touch, they open the slats (or spoilers) and put the plane into full reverse.
Inertia is not your friend.
If you’re riding in the back, no one will judge you if you expel what remains of your lunch. However, you will get laughed at. Troops will always laugh at each other.
Feature image: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kevin Tanenbaum