Mel Gibson has returned to the director’s chair after a 10-year hiatus with the WWII epic “Hacksaw Ridge.”
The film tells the tale of real-life Army medic Desmond Doss. Torn between his conscientious objection to violence and his desire to serve his country in its time of greatest need, Doss joined the Army as a medic but refused to carry a weapon.
Despite suspicion and contempt from his fellow soldiers, Doss repeatedly braved danger and even disobeyed orders to make sure his countrymen made it home alive. Doss received the Medal of Honor for his actions, one of only three conscientious objectors to ever do so.
Gibson is no stranger to the classic American war film, having previously starred in “We Were Soldiers” and “The Patriot.” “Hacksaw Ridge” is the actor’s first directing outing since 2006’s “Apocalypto,” but that film and 1995’s “Braveheart” proved Gibson is right at home capturing epic battles on film.
Russia’s Mil Mi-26 is one of the world’s largest helicopters and an absolute beast, capable of carrying 44,000 pounds, including 90 soldiers or 60 stretchers, anywhere. The 8 rotor blades are powered by two engines to generate the necessary lift.
Often called the world’s largest helicopter, it’s actually based on a prototype that was larger, the Mil V-12. The V-12 never went into full production, so the Mi-26 is the largest helicopter ever mass produced.
It was originally designed to carry heavy vehicles and ballistic missiles flown into country on large cargo planes. Now, the Mi-26 is used for a variety of military and civilian heavy-lift tasks, including sling loading large helicopters and carrying them to maintenance facilities.
Watch one of these monsters carry a Chinook in the video below:
The Department of Veterans Affairs has spent the last two years transforming how it interacts with veterans, taking the best ideas from all over (including the business world) to upgrade your customer experience. Here are nine improvements — big and small — you may not believe.
1. A new call number that’s easy to remember.
Can’t remember which of our more than 1000 phone numbers to call? Me neither. Now, we only have to call one phone number: 1-844-MyVA311. The number will route you to the right place. If you do know the right number to call, you can still call that number.
2. Someone to actually answer your call.
The only number I can ever remember is number for disability claims and other benefits. Believe it or not, people are actually answering the phone now, on average in under five minutes. Employees in some of our contact centers report veterans temporarily forgetting why they called because they are stunned by how quickly someone answered the phone.
3. One call does it all.
Veterans in crisis are no longer asked to hang up and dial the Veterans Crisis Line. This month our medical centers, benefits line and MyVA311 will automatically connect callers to the Veterans Crisis Line if they “press 7.”
4. Total online resource.
Working toward one website and logon – Vets.gov – that now lets you discover, apply for, track, and manage the benefits you have earned, all in one place. One site, one username, one password. Track the status of your disability claim, apply for your GI Bill, and enroll in health care, on a site that’s mobile-first, accessible (508 compliant) and designed based on Veteran feedback. All Veteran-facing features will be migrated to vets.gov by April 2017!
5. Now you can actually find your service center.
Have you ever tried to use the VA.gov facility locator? If you have, you know it was essentially an address that you had to copy and paste into Google maps and hope for the best.
Now, we have one on Vets.gov that uses Google maps — and provides an initial set of VA services at those facilities. Try it here.
Additionally, maps are notoriously bad at being accessible to screen readers, but the Vets.gov facility locator is accessible and has been tested with blind and low vision veterans.
6. There’s an app for that.
Veterans can call or text the VCL with just one click from a mobile device using vets.gov.
7. No more waiting.
When you’re sick or in pain, you really want to see a doctor that day and now you can. Same-day appointments in our clinics are available when a provider determines a veteran has an urgent or emergent need that must be addressed immediately.
8. Claims are processed faster.
In 2012, some received disability claim decisions after more than two years. Now, after a series of people, process and technology changes, claims take an average of 123 days to complete. But VA is taking it a step further, looking at how it can improve veterans experiences around the compensation exam.
9. Taking out the middleman.
Need hearing aids or glasses? No need to see your primary care physician just to get a referral. Go ahead and make an appointment directly with both optometry and audiology.
These are just nine ways the VA is joining the modern world to better serve you. Watch for more.
We all know the services love to hate oneachother. But believe it or not, the pilots within the services tend to hate on any plane they don’t fly.
Don’t believe me? Have you heard that band Dos Gringos? They rock, but those two Viper drivers also touch upon the intra-service hating in “I Wish I had a Gun Just Like the A-10.” You can listen to it as we hate on their mount – the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Don’t take all the hating as license to go after them. They may enjoy razzing each other — saying mean things about the other mounts. But they will all come after you if you try to pick on one of them.
Why making fun of the F-16 is easy
Where do we start? It’s a single-engine plane. Not much range. Offensive payload? Probably the lowest among air force combat jets. In fact, really, if you ask any A-10, F-15, F-15E, F-22, or F-35 jock, the fact older F-16s are becoming target drones is appropriate somehow.
The A-10, of course, laughs at the notion the F-16 can do close-air support. With that 20mm popgun, how do they expect to blow up a tank?
Why you should actually hate it
Because it got to play parts in “Iron Eagle” and three sequels. Because that Doug Masters kid made flying it look easy – and even rigged a sound system.
Because being single-engine means that if something goes bad, the pilot goes sky-diving. Like that poor Jordanian guy who got captured by ISIS. Oh, and that short range, means it has some kind of drinking problem. It’s always hogging the tankers.
Not to mention, they’re everywhere. It seems like every country gets its hands on these planes.
Why you ought to love the F-16
This is one versatile fighter. You need to scramble up to say hello to a prowling Russian? F-16s can do that. Want to blast the hell out of enemy forces in close contact with friendlies? The “Viper” variant can do that. Dogfight with MiGs? The F-16 can do that, too. Hit an enemy installation? Can do.
There’s a lot of them. Many NATO allies have them. So do American allies in the Far East and Middle East. It’s even had growth potential. Japan’s F-2, the Israeli F-16I, and the F-16E/F for the UAE all have proven themselves. When China wanted a new multi-role fighter for the PLAAF, they had to knock off the Israeli knock-off of the F-16.
It’s also around a lot. You see, the U.S. didn’t buy that many F-22s. The F-35 is just coming on line. The A-10 needs new wings, or a lot will retire. They just chopped up a bunch of perfectly good B-52s. But the F-16s are around and there are a lot of them – over 1,000 of them on inventory. And that doesn’t count what is in the boneyard.
And with what we saw with the F-4 Phantom, the F-16 will be around for a long time. In fact, the last Viper driver has probably not even been born yet.
Captain Edward Rickenbacker was one of the few American fighter pilots to earn the title “Ace of Aces,” given by the press for his 26 kills in World War I. He is arguably one of the most decorated service members to ever live.
But before he was a decorated hero, Rickenbacker was a professional race car driver who almost wasn’t allowed to fly.
Leland “Lou” Diamond joined the Marines in 1917, and by the time World War II came around he’d become an expert mortarman.
He was so good, in fact, that the hard-charging Leatherneck took on a Japanese cruiser at Guadalcanal by himself and forced it to withdraw.
After joining the Corps during World War I, Diamond quickly made a name for himself as a Marine’s Marine. He was known for walking around without his cover, wearing his dungarees most of the time and for having a loud and dirty mouth.
You can read more about Leland “Lou” Diamond and his skill with the mortar here.
Navy corpsmen are well-loved. Grunts and sailors know that they can count on the corpsmen to be there to aid doctors in providing medical care. When you are on an aircraft carrier or an amphibious assault ship, it’s like being on a floating city. You have plenty of resources, including some of the best trauma facilities in the world, with plenty of doctors and corpsmen.
But not all ships can have these extensive facilities, and they can’t have doctors. If you are on an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer or a littoral combat ship, or some other smaller vessel, there probably will be no doctor on board.
Instead, you’d be seeing an Independent Duty Corpsman, an experienced Corpsman who have undergone advanced training. These well-trained IDCs can do a lot and they have a long history of service to prove it.
According to the U.S. Navy website, IDCs study Anatomy and Physiology; Physical Diagnosis; Clinical Lab; Pharmacy; Chemical, Biological, and Nuclear Medicine; Preventive Medicine; Supply; Food Service Sanitation; Substance Abuse; Medical Department Responsibilities; Medical Diagnosis and Treatment; Pest Control; Naval and Shipboard Organization; Management of Medical/Surgical Emergency Dental Conditions; NAVOSH; ACLS; TCCC; Maintenance Material Management (3M); Dive Medicine. They also have to become Basic Life Support instructors (after all, the rest of the crew may have to pitch in to help the “doc”) and register to get a “National Provider Identification” number.
IDCs learn to handle a number of emergencies, whether ashore or at sea. They even train to handle situations where sailors or Marines require prolonged care.
Comedian Paul Scheer invited WATM to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles, California to talk with Rob Riggle and him about their USO tour and boot camp shenanigans. As you can tell from Rob’s story, his military experience was probably a lot like yours.
But as the scale of the battles between North and South grew, and the field expanded across the U.S., it was tough for military leaders to communicate with troops on the front lines and coordinate the action.
For the first time in American history, President Abraham Lincoln now had access to send direct messages to his generals in the field from a telegraph room built in an office building next door to the White House.
This technology gained Union troops a massive strategic advantage over the Confederate Army who, with its limited telegraph network, failed to capitalize on the nation’s maturing form of communication.
Sending updates to the infantry regiments became a common occurrence with a few taps of Morse code.
Lincoln frequently sent messages to the press, the general public and even to the enemy.
One another positive aspect to this piece of tech was that telegraph machines were equipped with printers that generated a recording of the transmissions and eliminated human error if the incoming message was translated or written down incorrectly.