When Marine Corps Capt. William Mahoney took off for a routine training flight on June 7, 2014, he was probably just expecting to fly a few hundred miles and use some missiles to shoot down alien spacecraft (…because we get our entire understanding of Marine Corps aviation from Independence Day).
But what Mahoney didn’t know was that his AV-8 Harrier had a landing gear problem that wouldn’t become apparent until the jet alerted him to it in the air.
He flew past the control tower on the USS Bataan and asked the people there to take a look. They let him know that his front landing gear wasn’t down.
For those who aren’t aware, the front landing gear is very important on all aircraft. Jump jets are less susceptible to problems from landing without gear than other aircraft are, but it’s still a very dangerous gamble.
Luckily, the other pilots on the Bataan had a bold idea.
Wait, “crazy” isn’t spelled B-O-L-D.
The crew ran a very nice, custom stool out to the deck and chained it down. Mahoney then flew his jet very slowly toward the stool and bounced the nose of it.
Yeah, he bounces the nose of his multi-million dollar jet on a what is basically a well-dressed stool.
But it worked. Mahoney took a second to breathe and remember how to turn his jet off, and then climbed out to the general praise of his shipmates. You can see the whole landing and an interview with Mahoney in the video at the top.
And as you can see in the above GIF from a similar exercise, the fighters don’t need anywhere near a mile of road. The minimum takeoff distance for an F-18C on a flat surface is 1,700 feet, about 0.33 miles. The Finnish F-18 taking off in the video is using a downhill slope, letting it gather speed a little more quickly and get off the road.
A longtime saying in war is that artillery is the king of the battlefield.
But some artillery are better than others, but the best are those that can drive themselves to battle.
For a long time, all artillery was towed. First the towing as done by horses, then by trucks or other vehicles. But there was a problem. The artillery took a while to set up, then, when the battery had to move — either because troops advanced or retreated – or the enemy found out where the artillery was located, it took time to do that.
Fighter pilots say, speed is life.” Artillerymen would not disagree. Towed artillery had another minus: It had a hard time keeping up with tanks and other armored fighting vehicles.
The way to cut the time down was to find a way a howitzer could propel itself. The advantage was that these guns not only could support tanks and other armored units, but these guns often had an easier time setting up to fire. They could also be ready to move much faster, as well.
This ability to “shoot and scoot” made them much harder to locate.
Most self-propelled howitzers fire either a 152mm round (usually from Russia and China, but also from former communist countries like Serbia) or a 155mm round (NATO and most other countries). Often these guns are tracked, but some have been mounted on truck chassis, gaining a higher top speed as a result.
Some of the world’s best self-propelled howitzers include the American-designed M109A6 Paladin, the Russian 2S19, the South Korean K9 Thunder, and the German PzH-2000.
You can see the full list of the ten deadliest self-propelled howitzers in the video below.
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.
American and Afghan forces were briefing each other at a forward operating base on March 11, 2013, about that day’s mission when machine gun rounds suddenly rained down on them.
The group immediately looked to see where the shots were coming from. The lone airman in the group, then-Tech. Sgt. Delorean Sheridan, identified the source of the shots, which turned out to be coming from a truck in the base’s motor pool.
The shooter was a new member of the Afghan National Police who had slipped unnoticed to the bed of the truck and taken control of its machine gun.
It was a so-called “green-on-blue attack” — when supposed allies attack friendly forces. Meanwhile, insurgents from outside the base joined what was clearly a coordinated attack, sending more rounds into the grouped-up men. Bullet fragments even struck Sheridan’s body armor.
Sheridan decided that Afghan National Police officer or not, anyone who fired on him from within hand grenade range was conducting a near ambush and it was time to respond with force. He sprinted 25 feet to the truck and fired at his attacker up close and personal.
Philadelphia is one of the oldest cities in the country — its foundation predates that of the United States by nearly 100 years. The historic city is the birthplace of the Marine Corps and was home to the first brigades of professional firemen.
After time in the military, many service members find a career in firefighting, as it reflects some similar characteristics to being on active duty, like brotherhood and a sense of adventure. Like the military, firefighting puts individuals into uncontrollable situations that can wear them down, both emotionally and physically.
But Marine veteran and South Philly firefighter Bill Joerger uses his culinary talents to help his men combat the stress of their everyday environment.
Many children grow up with parents in the military. It usually means frequent moves, a parent being gone for long periods of time. And there is the possibility that some day an officer and chaplain might turn up, bearing bad news.
Whether the parent is a Green Beret, constantly deploying to a foreign country on missions they can’t talk about, or someone who pushed papers at a desk in a building at a military installation – they all served, and they all knew that there was some measure of risk. And when the parents pass on, what’s left behind are medals, uniforms, photos, and in some cases, films.
In this clip, Fred Linden discusses the memorabilia left behind by his late father, Navy Lieutenant Commander Frederick “Bud” Linden, of his service during World War II. His dad flew a Consolidated PBY Catalina – one of the famous “Black Cats” that made the life of many Japanese sailors miserable during the fighting in the Pacific.
Linden’s memorabilia included a map showing the route his father took to the theater he served in, as well as medals.
The two rolls of 16mm color film included in the memorabilia collection showed a wide variety of events during his father’s tour, including bombing raids. The film was preserved through the involvement of Film Corps, an outreach organization that seeks to preserve records like Linden’s.
“The stuff – the medals and so forth – is not something he’d care about, but he would love to be able to sit down in front of that movie and point out the names of the guys and what they did and things he remembered about them, what happened at the time with the people he was with,” he says. “That would be the most important thing for him”
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.
Such buzzing incidents have been common. In April 2016, the Daily Caller reported that the guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) was buzzed in the Baltic Sea by Su-24 Fencers while in international waters.
In June 2016, the USS Porter had entered the Black Sea to take part in NATO exercises. At the time, Russia threatened retaliation for the vessel’s entrance.
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers have a single five-inch gun, two MK 41 vertical launch systems (one with 32 cells, the other with 64), a Mk 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, and Mk32 324mm torpedo tubes.
The AH-1 Apache attack helicopter is the big brother in the sky that grunts love to see, hear, and feel flying above them.
Its racks of Hellfire missiles are designed to destroy heavy tanks and light bunkers with ease, its rockets can eviscerate enemy formations, and its chain gun is perfect for mopping up any “squirters.”
The Stinger missile was originally designed as a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile. Operators aim the weapon, and it detects the heat signature of the target. When the missile is fired, it homes in on that signature for the kill.
Accurate Chinese snipers, the brutal cold, and a lack of food were just some of the rough aspects allied forces faced while occupying the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.
As the grunts moved into the frozen grounds of their defensive positions, every two men received a case of hand grenades, extra ammunition, and an encouraging hand shake from a superior officer as he passed through.
As the Marines dug into their icy fighting holes, they knew they needed to hold the line at all costs.
Once the Chinese assault commenced, thousands of enemy troops appeared over the top of the hill and dashed down the ravine toward the thin line of armed Marines who began to pull every trigger in their limited arsenal.
“I was standing right there looking at a thousand damn men just going, ‘Oh my God we’re in it,'” one retired Marine recalls. “You knew when you fired your rifle you were killing somebody.
Soon after, the outnumbering Chinese Army made their way toward the wall of Marines manning the front lines and an all out hand-to-hand brawl initiated.
The Marines pulled their knives from their sheaths and started to cut down the enemy force.
“I shoved my Ka-Bar straight through, and it came out the back of his neck,” another retired Marine emotionally explains. “He naturally squirted blood all over me, and the blood burned my eyes.”
After the first wave of attack, the Marines cleaned the blood from their faces and eyes with the cold snow that surrounded them. They quickly proceeded to an embankment near a stream to reorganize themselves and form a perimeter, protecting one another.
The injured Marines had expended most of their hand grenades and ammunition, but they still managed to hold the line. No enemy combatant made it through.
“Just be quiet for a second. You hear that?” retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Rob Disney asks a visitor. When she nods, he says, “Absolutely nothing. That’s what I love the most about this place.”
Disney’s life wasn’t always so tranquil. A 21-year pararescueman in the Air Force, Disney was often being sent in when Army Green Berets, Marine Force Recon, or Navy SEALs had gotten into a situation where they couldn’t get out without help.
During one of his deployments Disney was shot in the face with an AK-47 and lost all feeling in his face for several months. Disney received the Purple Heart for his injury and has a host of awards to show for his bravery.
But to help those combat memories fade, Disney bought an amazing mountain retreat after retirement, saying it was “love at first sight,” with the deal being sealed when he went out on the porch with a cup of coffee.
“It definitely was my destiny,” Disney told the host of the video. The house, built with both log and drywall, has three bedrooms and a finished basement. While the house in the mountains may have been Disney’s destiny, it’s not the first house Disney has owned. The experience of buying homes and closing “quite a few mortgages” during his 21 years of service has given him some valuable insights.
“Something that is very very important in anybody who is going to buy a home is that they need to find a mortgage company that they can absolutely trust and have a rock-solid foundation with,” Disney said, adding that Veterans First was the one he trusted most.
Disney closed on his house of destiny 13 years to the day after he was shot, and moved there exactly a year later.
“I took one of the worst experiences of my life and turned it into one of my best memories,” he said.
Disney also demonstrated some guitar skills. He started playing at age 15, shifting from the banjo, which didn’t attract the attention he sought from girls.
“Still play all the time, every day,” he said, describing it as an emotional release.
The full video from Veterans First mortgage is embedded above.