In this WATM classic a grumpy Sergeant Major hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the troops of Troopville. (Words via our good friends at Duffel Blog, the military’s most trusted news source. Animation by U.S. Marine Corps veteran VannickArtz.com.)
For Veterans Day, the Call of Duty Endowment held the Race to Prestige. Five gamer personalities – GoldGloveTV, TmarTn, Jeriicho, Hutch, and VernNotice – played Call of Duty: Black Ops III for 96 hours straight in a live stream marathon. The goal? To help veterans get high quality jobs.
The Call of Duty Endowment helps veterans find high quality careers by supporting groups that prepare them for the job market and by raising awareness of the value vets ring to the workplace.
Activision matched the donations raised by gamers from all over the Internet. The event collected $450,000 for the endowment. Navy veteran and Executive Director of the Call of Duty Endowment Dan Goldenberg lauded the goal-breaking fundraising, “Our goal initially was to raise $25,000 and they blew that away in the first two hours… basically, every $600 puts a vet in a job.”
By that math, the event raised enough money to help 750 veterans find great, long-term employment.
After spending two years in college, Gary Beikrich decided he wanted to join the Army and become a distinguished member of the Green Berets — and that’s precisely what he did.
Once Gary enlisted, he trained his way through the tough pipeline and earned the elite title of Green Beret. With a sincere desire to help others, he received advanced training as a combat medic before shipping out to the dangerous terrains of Vietnam.
In 1967, Gary was assigned to 5th Special Forces Group stationed in the Kon Tum Province.
Gary and his team were ordered to protect and teach a group of Montagnards tribesmen located in the area. The experience of working with the loyal tribesmen allowed Gary to go “native,” spending days without speaking a word of English.
On the early morning of Apr. 1, 1970, the NVA decided to attack Gary’s camp — one he worked so hard building up. As the enemy rained down heavy artillery into the area, the massive force tore through the peaceful compound — causing allied forces to suffer terrible casualties.
Gary sprang into action and rendered treatment. Then, boom!
A 122mm artillery shell landed near Gary and shrapnel ripped into his back, causing a spinal cord concussion. Now immobile, two of Gary’s trusted Montagnards tribesmen came to his aid. The men assisted Gary around the compound so he could patch up the other wounded as quickly as they could — until he finally collapsed.
Bleeding and severely wounded, Gary was placed on a medevac and was sent back home to the States. After recovering, Gary went back to college as a pre-med student. But his time in the classroom didn’t last long; Vietnam protesters tormented him, shouting hateful remarks.
Gary decided to pack his van and drive away, eventually finding a peaceful area all to himself — a cave.
One day, Gary went to the post office where he received his mail, and an unexpected message was waiting for him. The Army veteran was to receive the Medal of Honor for his bravery and service during that enemy raid.
Editor’s note: This article originally identified Gary Beikrich as completing only two months of college. Mr. Beikrich completed two years of college. The update has been made and WATM regrets the error.
The Supermarine Spitfire ranks up there with the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, the Messerschmitt Bf-109, and the P-51 Mustang as one of the most iconic planes of World War II. But all aircraft have their flaws — even when they’re at the top of their game.
The Zero’s flaw is well-known. It had no armor to speak of, making it very vulnerable to even the F4F Wildcat when tactics like the Thach Weave were implemented across the U.S. military.
The Spitfire’s problem was in its engine.
The Rolls Royce Merlin was a great motor, but the real problem was how the Spitfire got the fuel to the engine. The Spitfire used a carburetor, which is fine for straight and level flight, but when does a dogfight involve staying straight and level?
The Spitfire’s carburetor would, in the course of maneuvering, cause the engine to cut out for a lack of fuel. When it returned to straight and level flight, the Spitfire would have an over-rich fuel mixture, which ran the risk of flooding the engine. It would also create a huge cloud of black smoke, that the Nazis quickly realized as a tell-tale sign of a sitting duck.
So, what did work? The fuel-injection system used by the Nazis in the Me-109. This gave the Nazis a slight edge in the actual dogfights. This could have been a disaster for the Brits, but when their pilots bailed out, they were often doing so over home territory, and a new Spitfire was waiting for them. German pilots who lost dogfights over England were POWs.
The problem, though, proved to be very fixable. Beatrice Schilling, an engineer, managed to come up with a workaround for the over-rich problem that removed the black cloud of smoke and prevented the engine from flooding. That stop-gap helped the RAF stay competitive until a more permanent fix came in 1942.
Jimmy Doolittle – the man who bombed Tokyo just 5 months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor – called Bob Hoover “the greatest stick-and-rudder man that ever lived.” Hoover had only been flying for five years by the time World War II broke out.
Hoover was captured by the Nazis after being shot down on his 59th mission over Europe.
The ace wasn’t about to spend the war in a prison camp, though. After 16 months as a POW, he was determined to get out and get back to the action. He staged a fight between fellow prisoners, jumped over the Stalag’s barb wire fence, and stole an unguarded Focke-Wulf 190 from the nearby airfield. He then flew it to newly-liberated Holland.
After the war, Hoover had an illustrious aviation career. He became a test pilot and Air Force legend, even backing up Chuck Yeager when he broke the sound barrier in his Bell X-1 in 1947.
A “pilot’s pilot,” Hoover continued to fly in air shows until 2000.
Sadly, Hoover died on October 25, 2016, but was fondly remembered by his admirers and friends in the aviation community, including Buzz Aldrin, who tweeted:
In the largest air strike of Desert Storm, 72 U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons took off from the Persian Gulf to refuel over northern Saudi Arabia. Their target was Baghdad and the Nuclear Power Plant at al-Tuwaitha.
One of the pilots, Maj. Emmett Tulia, would fight for his life in the skies above the Iraqi capital as missile after missile fly after him. In the cockpit video below, the SAM action starts at around 3:00.
Al-Tuwaitha was the main research facility for Saddam Hussein’s nuclear research program. Regional powerhouses Israel and Iran had both tried to destroy the facility but Desert Storm gave the Americans their chance to take a shot at it.
Although the air war of Desert Storm would last for more than 40 days and 40 nights, this attack came on the second day of the conflict, Jan. 19, 1991. The city had not yet been attacked by non-stealth fighters and much of its air defense systems were still in place.
It also means the Iraqis knew the F-16s were coming, but were unaware of their true target. Part of the formation broke off to strike the al-Tuwaitha facility while a smaller contingent moved to hit critical government buildings in downtown Baghdad, including the Republican Guard headquarters and the Headquarters building of the Iraqi Air Force.
The nuclear facility was well-protected by smoke, anti-aircraft guns, and surface-to-air missiles and are forced to withdraw from the area. The group that hit the military command buildings didn’t fare much better.
Emmett Tulia, callsign Stroke 3, was assigned to attack an oil refinery in the downtown area. As he dips below the cloud cover, his early warning systems alerts him to an incoming SAM. After a couple of maneuvers, he outflies the missile and it detonates.
He is alive but separated from his wingmen and his anti-missile flares (unbeknownst to him) weren’t operating. Still, he continues his attack run and drops his bombs. His part of the mission is a success.
As he heads back home, the cockpit alarms light up and he hears the voice of his wingman, Maj. Jeff Tice, telling him to break right. Three new SAMs were coming his way and following Tice’s instructions meant they all three flew right by him. His wingman saved his life.
Once again he turns to head home, but seconds later his cockpit lights up with another warning. Another SAM is coming at him. The G-forces caused by the constant need to outmaneuver these Vietnam-era SAM are starting to wear Maj. Tulia down but he manages to barely succeed. This was so close, he could hear it scream by.
Almost immediately, another SAM is coming his way. By now he’s been fighting G-forces and his plane for a full six minutes and is physically exhausted. His altitude is so low that he’s within range of the Iraqi anti-aircraft guns. But the sixth missile loses its lock on Tulia’s F-16 and falls away.
Tulia is able to rejoin the fleet of F-16s headed home, but his wingman, Maj. Tice, was shot down by the same kind of SAM that had targeted Tulia. Tice and another F-16 pilot who was downed in the action ejected, but were captured by the Iraqis.
Saddam’s nuclear facility was damaged in the raid, but it was not taken out. The air mission showed that F-16s weren’t as effective against Baghdad’s air defenses as B-2 bombing missions and F-117 Nighthawk fighters.
The cockpit footage from Tulia’s fighter is still used to train pilots 30 years later.
The upcoming OA-X fly-off features the Textron Scorpion as one of the major contenders. This plane has been the subject of some hype since it first flew in 2013. However, if it wins the OA-X flyoff, it won’t be the first Scorpion to have flown for the United States.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States was looking to acquire interceptors to stop a horde of Soviet bombers. The big problem — the guns were just not packing enough punch. One answer to this was the F-89 Scorpion from Northrop.
The first definitive version of the Scorpion to achieve widespread service, the F-89D, addressed that problem by using air-to-air “Mighty Mouse” rockets. The Scorpions carried 104 of them, and had the option of firing all of them at once, or in up to three salvos. The F-89 Scorpion also had a lethal ground-attack capability, being able to carry 16 five-inch rockets and up to 3,200 pounds of bombs.
But the “Mighty Mouse” rockets proved to be more mouse than mighty, and the Scorpion’s armament was soon the subject of an upgrade. The F-89J was a F-89D modified to carry the AIR-2 Genie rocket — which carried a small nuclear warhead. The plane could also carry four AIM-4 Falcon missiles. The Genie had a warhead equivalent to 250 tons of TNT, and it had a range of six miles and a top speed of Mach 3. Early versions of the AIM-4 had a range of six miles, but later versions could go 7 miles. Most Falcons were heat-seekers, but some were radar-guided missiles.
The F-89 was eventually retired in favor of faster interceptors with more modern radars and missiles, but for most of two decades, it helped guard America’s airspace from Soviet aggression. Below is a video put out by the Air Force’s Air Defense Command about this plane.
When the former Soviet Union collapsed, many of the former Soviet republics had sizable stocks of military gear. Much of it ended up being sold at bargain prices around the world. One of the countries that had a large stockpile was Moldova.
According to the NationalInterest.org, the former Soviet republic didn’t have much population. They did have a number of MiG-29s, as well as helicopters, and there was a very big worry that Iran, with its bank accounts bloated with oil money, would seek to bolster its force of MiG-29s. This was bad, but some of Moldova’s MiG-29s had been equipped to deliver tactical nukes.
To prevent this, the United States opened its checkbook. According to a New York Times report in 1997, 21 of Moldova’s MiG-29s – including all of the MiG-29 Fulcrum Cs – were taken apart and shipped to the United States on board cargo planes. Yemen and Eritrea were left to pick over the remainder of the airframes.
After purchase, the MiG-29 were “exploited.” Now, that pervy-sounding term is also somewhat accurate. But really, a lot of what happened with the MiG-29 was a lot of test flights and mock dogfights. In other words, pretty much the standard practice when America gets its hands on enemy gear.
Through that testing, it was discovered that the MiG-29 had its virtues: It was easy to fly. The plane also had the ability to help a pilot recover from vertigo. It had great technology to assist in landings. Not to mention the fact that the AA-11 Archer and its helmet-mounted sight made the Fulcrum a very deadly adversary in a dogfight.
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 video, headliner and USMC vet Greg Hahn reads the crowd into his grand life plan and remembers how he was right out of boot camp.