On October 13th, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized construction of the first American naval force. Since that day the United States Navy, along with the Marine Corps, has protected America from attack, and preserved safety, security, and stability throughout the world.
The Russian military recently tested a short-range ballistic missile interceptor that’s meant to detonate a small-yield nuclear warhead in the air over Moscow to prevent a nuclear strike.
But there are a couple of problems with that, mainly that a nuclear blast over Moscow would already provide an electro-magnetic pulse effect that would cripple the city’s electric grid.
The system, called the A-135 AMB, also highlights differences in philosophies between the US and Russia when it comes to missile defense. The US builds missile interceptors that hit to kill, requiring a high degree of precision and guidance. The US’s THAAD missile defense system, for example, doesn’t even have a warhead.
Russia’s solution to the complicated problem of hitting an incoming warhead at many times the speed of sound is to nuke a general area of the sky.
While the US tries to station its nuclear weapons far from population centers, Russia has 68 of these 10 kiloton interceptors all around Moscow, its most populous city. Unfortunately, even in the most careful settings, nuclear mishaps occur with troubling regularity.
Additionally, as Jeffrey Lewis, the founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk writes, interceptor misfires do happen, and with a nuclear tip, that could mean catastrophe.
“It is not clear to me that, if a nuclear-armed interceptor were used over Moscow against a flock of geese, that the Russian command-and-control system would understand it was one of their own or survive the EMP effects. Then all hell might break loose,” writes Lewis.
The fact that the Kremlin is willing to have 68 nuclear devices strewn about Moscow speaks to how much they fear an attack that would threaten its regime security.
As enemy fire continue to bombard the base, Thacker allowed his men to proceed to the extraction point while he remained behind. He continued to coordinate defenses, eventually calling friendly artillery to strike his position.
The allied barrage purchased his men more time to withdraw — saving their lives.
Alone and cut-off, Thacker carefully maneuvered away from the base to an area he felt the enemy wouldn’t check, but close enough to keep a watchful eye on the firebase.
Now concealed in an area thickly blanketed in bamboo, North Vietnamese troops established another anti-aircraft gun within earshot of Thacker’s position, where he remained for the next 8 days without food or water.
More than a week later, allied forces started retaking the area. Thacker, weakened, painfully crawled out of his bamboo cover and was soon evacuated to a nearby hospital.
On Oct. 15, 1973, President Richard Nixon presented him with the Medal of Honor.
While everyone knows about Pearl Harbor, what most don’t remember was that Japan tried hard throughout World War II to hit the U.S. mainland.
Tokyo ended up using very old technology – hot air balloons – to deliver bombs to the United States.
The genesis of this attack was the Doolittle Raid of 1942. The attack had caused the Japanese military to lose face, so they resolved to strike back. After several bomber projects failed, Tokyo turned to what they called the fūsen bakudan, or “fire bomb.” Manufactured primarily by teenage girl laborers, over 9,000 of these balloons were sent America’s way, according to WarHistoryOnline.com, with the goal of creating forest fires to draw American resources away from the front.
In what may be the first intercontinental weapon in military history – the fūsen bakudan, or fire balloon. Japan produced 9,3000 of them. (Youtube Screenshot)
First launched in November 1944, the balloon bombs reached as far east as Detroit, Michigan. These 30-foot balloons used the jet stream to reach America. American and Canadian fighter pilots saw some of them, and shot down about 20. Many others were seen to come down, and at least seven were recovered by the U.S. Army.
The United States covered up knowledge of the ICBM precursor — mostly fool Japan into thinking the balloons weren’t making it to the mainland. Speculation centered around the internment camps and submarines, but geologists traced the sand in the sandbags to Japan.
Only one of the bombs caused any fatalities. On May 5, 1945, a minster, Archie Mitchell, and his wife took five Sunday School students on an outing to the forest. Mrs. Mitchell and the students then found the balloon while Rev. Mitchell was still at the car. The bomb detonated while the students were trying to drag it out, and Mrs. Mitchell and all five students were either killed or later died of their wounds.
An Army investigation determined the balloon bomb had been in the area for weeks before it blew.
The tragedy surrounding that outing was the only balloon attack that was publicized by the military. As a result, Japan cancelled the program. America’s media blackout had worked. Only 300 of the balloon bombs were seen in the United States, according to a 1995 Salt Lake Tribune article. One bomb was found in Canada in 2014, and detonated by EOD personnel.
Check out this National Geographic video for more details of Japan’s WW2 ICBMs.
We sent our “Vet On The Street” to downtown Hollywood to find out if people could name the highest medal awarded for bravery on the battlefield. U.S. Marine Corps veteran and comic James P. Connolly got answers from locals, tourists, and even Captain America.
We often think a lot about the risks that service members take during combat. However, the routine day-to-day peacetime operations, and training are also fraught with danger. The example of the destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) is just the latest prominent incident where peacetime ops proved deadly. It’s been that way for a long time. One incident that got very dangerous involved a training operation involving a B-58 Hustler with the 43rd Bombardment Wing out of Carswell Air Force Base in Texas. The trainees had 32 flight hours and six sorties in their plane.
But the plane’s seventh flight went bad from the moment it began to take off. The left main landing gear failed and damaged a fuel tank, sending aft a train of flame as the afterburners of the B-58’s four J79 jet engines ignited the fuel. Miraculously, the plane didn’t explode, and was able to take off.
The navigator noticed the flames, and advised the pilot. The pilot reported the plane’s situation to ground control. A plane was sent up, but couldn’t tell how badly the Hustler was damaged until they flew over the city of Fort Worth.
Eventually, the decision was made to send the B-58 to Edwards Air Force Base to make an emergency landing. What was supposed to be a routine training mission ended up lasting 14 hours, and involved multiple pit stops with Air Force aerial refueling planes, during which the pilot had to come up with a technique to maintain speed and directional control using the Hustler’s engines.
The B-58 eventually made a safe landing. You can see the Air Force documentary on this incident below.
Secrecy is one of the best currencies in war, so it’s sometimes best for commanders to keep their best assets hidden from the enemy and the public. While the military has admitted that most the units on this list existed at some point, a lot of their missions were classified for decades before being disclosed to the public. For the units that are still operating, America still only gets glimpses into their activities.
Check out these ten things you didn’t know about the legendary P-38 Lightning.
1. Its long machine-gun range.
The P-38 had four times the range of other fighter planes of its era. Most planes had their guns mounted atop their wings and shot at a slight angle, which eventually causes rounds to intersect.
The Lightning’s guns, however, were mounted on the nose of the plane, allowing the pilot to shoot straight up to 1000 yards, approximately 800 yards farther than the average fighter.
2. The pilot’s wardrobe.
Early P-38 pilots flew in shirts, shorts, sneakers, and a parachute. That’s all.
3. The nicknames.
Seeing the Lightning coming in hot often scared the sh*t out of the Germans. They once called the plane the fork-tailed devil, while the Japanese dubbed them, two planes, one pilot.
4. The P-38’s unique sound.
Have you seen Star Wars? The sound of the film’s iconic speeder bikes came from mixing the sounds of a P-38 Lightning and a nose-diving P-51 Mustang.
5. Glacier Girl.
On July 15, 1942, six P-38s and two flying fortresses made an emergency landing on an ice cap in Greenland. The crew members were unharmed, and one of the planes was later recovered underneath 250-feet of ice and renamed Glacier Girl.
6. Life as an air racer.
Post-World War II, the warplane sales market boomed. Many P-38s were sold to private collectors who competed in air races.
7. Setting a world record.
In 1939, the XP-38, the Lightning’s prototype, flew from coast to coast of the U.S. in seven hours and two minutes. Although the flight culminated in a crash landing, the pilot survived and the plane was awarded the record time.
8. Operation Vengeance.
Operation Vengeance called for 16 P-38s to ambush Japanese Admiral Yamamoto’s (the mastermind behind the Pearl Harbor attack) transport. The attacks caused Yamamoto’s plane to crash in the jungles of New Guinea, killing him.
9. The best of the best flew P-38s.
Army Air Corps aces Richard Bong, Thomas McGuire, and Charles MacDonald all flew this beautiful plane — all kicking major ass while doing so.
For more than 50 years of rotary wing aviation, lots of helicopters have come and gone from the U.S. military. But only one is still in service — the H-1 “Huey.”
Technically there are two versions of the Huey still flying, the UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper — both in service with the Marine Corps. These aircraft are heavily updated from their initial production models but will be in service with the Marines for years to come.
In a viral video from the West Point – The U.S. Military Academy Facebook page, Cadet Evan Collier set an indoor obstacle course record by dashing through the grueling challenge in 1 minute and 57 seconds. That’s 93 seconds faster than male cadets are required to score to graduate.
(The below video is embedded from Facebook. You must be logged in to see it.)
Now, just a year later, the cadet record has been made even harder by Collier’s success at 1:57. That puts him not only at the head of all cadets who have attempted it, but ahead of former physical education instructor Capt. Austin Wilson who used to hold the overall record at 1:59.
U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman was killed in action on March 4, 2002. He fought with courage and ferocity on the cold, snow-laden mountaintop of Takur Ghar, now known as Roberts Ridge.
Chapman was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions 16 years later, on August 22, 2018. Not only did he fight through borderline impossible terrain to eliminate enemy fighters, but after he was mortally wounded, he regained consciousness and continued to fight. He killed several enemy fighters, one in hand-to-hand combat, in a valiant attempt to rescue his fellow teammate Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Neil Roberts.
In a grainy drone feed recently released by the U.S. Air Force to the public, the heroic actions of Chapman are unmistakable. The video also gives us a glimpse into the courageous acts of every other service member on the ground — the SEALs, the Ranger Quick Reaction Force, and the air crews.
This video contains the last moments of American service members in combat, and for the first time in history, a Medal of Honor recipient’s actions in combat. A video like this cannot do their actions justice, nor can they give us 100 percent certainty as to the reality on the ground. But it serves as a reminder of the very real sacrifice many have made in the service of our country. Those who made it off Takur Ghar will surely carry those memories with them for the rest of their lives.
Coffee or Die spoke to retired Master Sergeant Eric Stebner, a career U.S. Army Ranger who fought on Takur Ghar that day.
It was his first of 10 deployments in the Global War on Terror, and then-Sergeant Stebner was a young fire team leader in the 1st Ranger Battalion. “We were about three months into the deployment, and it was pretty slow up to that point,” he said.
Stebner recounted climbing the steep landscape, wading through the snow. Some fellow Rangers ditched their plates in order to make it up the mountain on time. “I was the point man as we went up there… I never did toss my plates though.”
When asked what it was like fighting on a slope like that — wading through snow with heavy gear after a merciless infil — Stebner said, “Man, by the time I got up there, I was going pretty slow. We all were. Traditionally, you go, ‘I’m up, he sees me, I’m down’ — but I was just staying up. Going up and down that slow would have been even more dangerous at that point. But we pushed through it.”
Stebner knew what was on the drone feed, he was there when it happened — he was the one who found Roberts’ body. But when a video like that enters the public eye, it can change things.
“I think it’s good for [the American public] to see it. To know the real story,” Stebner said. “When you think of someone getting a Medal of Honor, you think of a guy saving his squad, saving his team, clearing a bunker — Chapman did that, he earned it. It’s good for the public to be able to see it, read about it, and know it. That’s how a Medal of Honor is earned.”
The battle of Roberts Ridge is ingrained in Ranger history, but Stebner doesn’t talk about it often. As he progressed in Ranger Battalion, many of his younger Rangers had no idea he had fought there. One Ranger had known him for two years before he found out, and asked Stebner why he never told him. “Does it really matter?” Stebner said in response. “Whatever I do, I’m going to do regardless of whether or not anyone knows about what I did. You’re only as good as your last performance, so keep moving forward.”
Stebner reflects the quiet professionalism that defines the Ranger Regiment to this day.
The men killed in action during the Battle of Roberts Ridge
Navy SEAL Petty Officer 1st Class Neil “Fifi” C. Roberts
Air Force Combat Controller Tech. Sgt John A. Chapman
Air Force Pararescueman Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) Sergeant Philip “Spytech” Svitak