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In 1831, King Louis Philippe of France expanded his country’s military by establishing a service branch made up of mostly foreigners: the French Foreign Legion. Immediately after its creation, the Foreign Legion recruited fighters from Switzerland, Germany, and other countries to protect and expand the French colonial empire. Despite the Foreign Legion’s involvement in most of France’s wars since being established, the French don’t get too bummed about their losses. Let’s just say it’s complicated.
The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System is a mobile launch platform that carries six 13-foot long, 9-inch wide rockets with 200-pound warheads.
The U.S. Army and Marine Corps mount the systems on the back trucks they can drive into position to obliterate an enemy force.
Marines with 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment fired their HIMARS a few weeks ago using the new Guided MLRS Unitary Rocket that features a precision strike capability.
While conducting a simulated raid they fired their rockets at a number of targets at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. (And they were even kind enough to place cameras downrange to catch the destruction of the targets.)
(Video: Marine Forces Reserve Cpl. Ian Leones)
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.
Check out Medal of Honor Book’s video below to hear Gary’s story from the Green Beret legend himself.
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.
“Traumatic brain injury is the signature wound of the war,” says Sergeant 1st Class Andrew Marr, founder of the Warrior Angels Foundation. Andrew is no stranger to TBI, as it was the cause of his medical retirement in June of 2015. But in 2016, he was able to participate in the DoD games.
Marr has had a long journey on the road to recovery, thanks to those who have worked with him at the Warrior Angels Foundation. “Two years ago, I was just worried about walking down the hallway without falling over,” says Marr – but now thanks to proper treatment, Marr is back to pre-injury status and was able to participate in the 2016 DoD Warrior Games in shotput and discus.
The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System can fire 6 rockets at targets as far as 298 miles away. A group of HIMARS trucks firing together can wipe out entire enemy bases, a mission the Army actually conducted in Desert Storm.
But the rocket system is heavy and can only move as quickly as the operators can drive them. Lately, the Marines have been experimenting with how to get HIMARS to the battle more quickly, establishing operational capabilities that they refer to as “air raids” by driving them off of C-17s or C-130s or using amphibious craft to deliver them in “sea raids.”
As part of Exercise Balikatan, an annual exercise between the Philippines and the U.S., the Marines took their HIMARS to that country and fired practice rockets. Watch the video and see how they quickly got the artillery systems to the country and into the fight:
The M1 Abrams series of main battle tank has gotten a lot of the press. Of course, it’s easy to see why people love the Abrams.
But the Abrams, the T-90, the Leopard… they’re not the only main battle tanks out there.
The United Kingdom has developed a series of outstanding main battle tanks. In fact, just as the British invented the tank in World War I, they also invented the main battle tank when they introduced the Centurion in the last days of World War II.
In essence, today’s Challenger tank is the direct descendant of the Centurion. What makes it so awesome, though? One item is the Chobham armor. This armor, also used on the Abrams, made a name for itself when it deflected 125mm main gun rounds from Iraqi T-72s from less than 500 yards away.
The Challenger 1 has a 120mm gun, like the Abrams and the Leopard 2. But this version is very different.
The British put a rifled gun in, and it is capable of taking out enemy tanks from three miles away. The British tank also holds 64 rounds for its main gun, compared to 40 for the Abrams and 42 for the Leopard 2.
The Challenger 1 had its origins in a design for the Iranian military, but the mullahs that took over in 1979 cancelled the contract. The tank entered service in 1983, and served with the British Army until 2001, when they were sold to Jordan and replaced by Challenger 2 tanks.
The Challenger 2 features a new rifled 120mm gun and 50 rounds, plus a new hull and engine.
Check out the video below to get a good look into the history of this British tank titan.
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. Check it out:
Jeff Slater was an Army small weapons expert who served in Iraq. He later volunteered for route clearance duty where his job was to intentionally run over IEDs.
On his return home, Slater struggled with depression and feelings of isolation. But he stayed focused on the goal of finding his own enlightenment.
Slater has many striking tattoos, including one on his chest of a hand grenade with wings and the word “Serenity” above it.
“I see the world as a balance between beauty and hate,” Slater says. “Serenity isn’t freedom from the storm. It’s finding peace amidst the storm.”
Slater’s story is part of War Ink: 11 for 11, a video series presented by We Are The Mighty. The series features 11 combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan using tattoos to tell their stories on and off the battlefield. Each week for 11 weeks, a different tattooed veteran will share his or her story.
Do you have a tattoo that tells the story of your war experiences? Post a photo of it at We Are The Mighty’s Facebook page with the hashtag #WeAreTheMightyInk. WATM will be teeing up the coolest and most intense ones through Veteran’s Day.
Video Credit: Rebecca Murga and Karen Kraft
Old Glory traveled through 10 states and touched more than 8,000 hands on its 4,216 mile journey across America this year. Now the third annual Old Glory Relay across the United States has come to an end.
Organized by Team Red, White Blue, the national event spans 62 days and brings together runners, cyclists, walkers and hikers who have a shared interest in connecting with veterans and civilians to the communities they call home.
With support from incredible members and sponsors like Microsoft, Westfield, The Schultz Family Foundation, Amazon, Salesforce, Starbucks and La Quinta Inn Suites, the event raised more than $1,250,000! Team RWB will then use the donations to help establish new chapters across the United States and to sponsor events where veterans and community members with a shared interest in social and physical activities can get together for a little PT and camaraderie.
You can read more about Team Red, White Blue’s success with the Old Glory Relay here.
There are many ways to get involved with Team Red, White Blue, so join the team and get started today. There are always local events happening, and keep an eye out for Team RWB’s national events like the Old Glory Relay!
Students of the Los Angeles Film School and members of the Veterans in Film Television organization were treated to a special screening of American Sniper followed by QA session. Panelists included cast members Luke Grimes, Ricky Ryba, Tony Nevada, and screenwriter Jason Hall.
Our veterans have done a lot for the country over the years. They keep us safe from terror organizations and dictators who would use weapons of mass destruction for selfish politics. They took down Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. They’ve led singalongs of somewhat inappropriate songs. Wait… what?
That’s right! Recently, a video went viral on Facebook showing Vince Speranza, a World War II paratrooper, leading others along in singing the paratrooper classic, Blood on the Risers, a parody of immortal Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Blood on the Risers is probably most famous from its rendition in the award-winning HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers. This morbidly funny tune is a cautionary tale about what happens when one fails to follow proper exit procedures during an airborne jump. The grim lyrics follow a young, rookie paratrooper who, after his chute fails to deploy, plummets to his death. The extended version, however, goes on to reveal that the singer has a son who would later join the 101st Airborne Division, serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, and be killed in action.
In some ways, it’s very much like the Navy’s Friday Funnies — a way to use humor to get important safety information through to the troops. This is especially important for something so routine as hooking into a static line.
Watch the video below and feel free to join in on the singalong! Don’t worry, the Screaming Eagles have a pretty dark sense of humor — it’s all in good fun.
The M109 Paladin is a self-propelled artillery weapon, first introduced in the early 1960s. It was designed to fire munitions far beyond the range and power of small arms, and it does that job very well. Conventional rounds allow it to blast targets 11 miles away, and rocket-assisted projectiles can hit targets up to 19 miles away.
The U.S. Army is also testing hypervelocity projectiles originally designed for U.S. Navy electromagnetic railguns, that will increase range up to 58 miles.