We sent our “Vet On The Street,” Marine Corps veteran and comic James P. Connolly, to Santa Monica, California, to find out if your average civilian could explain what information is included on dog tags.
John Daniel was an Army infantryman who remembers his Iraq deployment as long, hard, and constantly on the move.
Though is unit suffered its share of casualties, miraculously there were no fatalities. So to celebrate a KIA-free deployment, he and his men snuck some bootleg hooch and had a toga party.
Daniel has many tattoos — from a Roman helmet atop modern combat boots to his staff sergeant’s favorite phrase “Pain and Repetition.” He points to the one on his shoulder with particular pride. It reads: “The Real 1%ers.”
“We’re the ones in America who will stand up to fight and defend our country,” Daniel explains.
Daniel’s story is part of a video series presented by We Are The Mighty. War Ink: 11 for 11 features 11 combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan using tattoos to tell their stories on and off the battlefield. Each week for the next 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
The Army is now engineering a far-superior M1A2 SEP v4 Abrams tank variant for the 2020s and beyond –designed to be more lethal, faster, lighter weight, better protected, equipped with new sensors and armed with upgraded, more effective weapons, service officials said.
Advanced networking technology with next-generation sights, sensors, targeting systems and digital networking technology — are all key elements of an ongoing upgrade to position the platform to successfully engage in combat against rapidly emerging threats, such as the prospect of confronting a Russian T-14 Armata or Chinese 3rd generation Type 99 tank.
The new head of Air Force Special Operations Command has said he’s bullish on outfitting part of his fearsome AC-130 gunship fleet with lasers to blast ground targets — and is even considering placing such weapons on CV-22 Osprey tiltrotors for his air commandos.
Admittedly a high-energy laser cannon on an airplane as small as a C-130 Hercules (others have fit on Navy ships and 747-sized airplanes) is still in the research phase, but that hasn’t kept AFSOC from pursuing the technology since 2015.
You can read more about the development of laser toting AC-130 gunships here.
For the soldiers in the trenches of World War I, safety from artillery came from lines of trenches and a network of tunnels to keep the ever-present artillery off their heads. But sometimes the very fortifications that served to protect them, were just as life threatening as the incessant bombardment.
That was the reality for the countless men and some children who were assigned to fight in the trenches of WWI.
With all those thousands of miles of trenches, both sides of the fight faced overwhelming odds and challenges like flooding, disease-carrying rats, malnourishment, and the constant mental strains of battle fatigue.
In many areas, the zig-zag trench construction placed the opposing forces as little as 50 yards away from one another, making it extremely difficult to watch the enemies’ activity while peering over the trench’s wall without the taking an incoming shot.
Since trenches had little overhead coverage, artillery shells frequently landed inside the emplacements. The distinct whistle of an incoming artillery round gave troopers just a few seconds to seek cover.
At a moment’s notice, the troops who occupied those trenches had to be prepared to defend themselves or leap out and race across No Man’s Land.
This was the dangerous area in between the enemy fronts which was covered with razor sharp barbed wire and plenty of enemy land mines.
Also Read: WWI’s deadliest sniper was from Canada
Check out SOZO 3D‘s first-person WWI reenactment video below to witness what it was like to charge the battlefield from the trenches.
PUT ON YOUR HEADPHONES AND TURN YOUR VOLUME UP!(SOZO 3D, YouTube)
Infantrymen love getting all kinds of cool sh*t to work and train with, that’s no secret. However, some of the gear they’re issued is super freakin’ expensive, and the government likes to keep an extra-close eye on it by assigning the devices specific numbers.
Everything, from your main weapon system to your sharp bayonet, is serialized with an engraved or handwritten number, making it individually identifiable.
Although it’s cool to mount your night vision goggles to your kevlar for a night mission, having the distinct gear comes with its own set of drawbacks.
1. It’s never as clean as when you checked it in
Serialized gear isn’t kept in service members’ living spaces for a good reason: we’d play with it all the time. Instead, it’s housed in the dusty and dirty armory. That said, rarely is the serialized gear as clean as you’d like it to be with all the lubricant and filthy rags also stored there.
Plus, the armorer’s hands are usually pretty filthy when they’re conducting your check-in and check-out.
2. You might have to pay for it
Sometimes, serialized gear gets damaged or stolen — it happens more than you think. The major problem for you is that your command has to free you from paying for that broken or damaged gear out-of-pocket.
Serialized equipment is usually more expensive than the rest of stuff and, the reality is, some service members get stuck with the bill of replacing the items.
So, that sucks.
3. All the fun stuff requires batteries
NVGs and PEQ-16s run on battery power in order to function. These well-constructed light technologies work together as some of the lasers of the PEQ-16 can only be seen by using specific NVGs.
However, once the batteries die, the fun dies with it.
Members of SEAL Team Six as they raid bin Laden’s compound. (Screenshot from Sony Pictures’ Zero Dark Thirty)
4. The gear is worth more to the government than the troop carrying it.
Unfortunately, troops occasionally get hit while engaging the enemy. Since 99.9% of us carry a weapon — which is also serialized — if some of that gear goes missing after the troop is removed from the area, the rest of the squad must recover the equipment before going to the base. Sometimes, a recovery mission is ordered to search for left gear if need be.
You wouldn’t want the bad guys to get a free pair of night vision goggles.
5. You can get NJP’d for breaking or losing something
Destruction of Government Property is a real offense according to your staff NCOs, especially if you’re talking about serialized gear. Getting a tattoo is considered the same offense, but no one ever got charged with getting an Eagle, Globe, and Anchor inked on their arm.
You can break one of the springs in your magazine, but don’t you dare drop your serialized bayonet in a canal in Afghanistan and watch the current take it away. You could get in a lot of trouble.
In this episode Gunny is patrolling for love. But instead he finds some efficiency issues in the speed dating model. So he turns to with a little Gunny-brand tough love. (Animated by Marine vet Vannick Douglas.)
USAF Pararescueman Cameron Hystad sat down with We Are The Mighty to talk about his role in saving the British paratroopers in the minefield at Kajaki. The story of Kajaki has been adapted for the big screen as ‘Kilo Two Bravo’, hitting select theaters Nov 13th and available on iTunes Nov 10th.
Update: This article previously stated that the Falcons would again be wearing the initials of fallen heroes at the Super Bowl. This act of honor was solely done during their Salute to Service game in November.
The Atlanta Falcons, who will face off against the New England Patriots this weekend in Super Bowl LI, honored veterans by wearing the initials of fallen heroes on their helmets during their Salute to Service game in November 2016. Together with TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), the Falcons put together a meaningful event that including the surviving families of the fallen.
The tribute is part of the NFL’s Salute to Service campaign; in partnership with USAA, the NFL works throughout the year to honor veterans and raise funds for the USO, the Pat Tillman Foundation, and the Wounded Warrior Project (millions and millions of funds, in fact).
In fact, the Falcons played such a key role in honoring America’s vets and their families, Head Coach Dan Quinn was nominated for USAA’s Salute to Service Award.
The video below features players from the Falcons as they share the names of men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. The list is a sobering reminder of the cost of freedom, but the comments from people who personally knew the heroes named is what will make you reach for the tissues.
Okay, with the news that a “Top Gun” sequel is in the works, it looks like Pete Mitchell is gonna be back on screen. With three kills, he may think he’s all that, but is he?
Well, Doug Masters, the hero of “Iron Eagle”, may have a few things to say about why he’s a better fighter pilot than Maverick.
Here is a piece of trivia: “Iron Eagle” actually came out four months before “Top Gun” did. It had Louis Gossett Jr. in the role of Colonel “Chappy” Sinclair, and Robbie Rist (notorious as Cousin Oliver in the original “Brady Bunch” series, and “Doctor Zee” in the original Battlestar Galactica) in a small supporting role.
Maverick may have gotten Jester, but Doug Masters would be far more challenging. (Paramount)
1. Doug Masters is a multi-threat pilot
Let’s face it, when their movies came out, the F-14 Tomcat did one thing – air-to-air combat – and has one of the best suites for that, including the AIM-54 Phoenix missile, the AWG-9 radar, and a lot of maneuverability and performance.
On the other hand, Doug Masters didn’t just handle the air-to-air threats. He also killed ground targets. In the movie, he and Chappy Sinclair combined to shoot up two airfields, four anti-aircraft guns, a pair of SAM launchers, and an oil refinery.
Heck, he even fired an AGM-65 Maverick missile while still on the ground to complete the rescue of his dad.
Sorry, Mav, but Doug wins this one.
2. Doug rigged a cool sound system for his jet
Doug Masters also figure out a way to play some tunes while flying his jet. So when he and Chappy Sinclair blew that first airfield out of commission, they did it to the tune of Queen’s “One Vision.” Then, he shoots up another airfield to “Gimme Some Lovin’.”
C’mon, at a minimum, Doug gets style points, right?
3. Doug used his cannon
In the last dogfight of “Top Gun,” Maverick forgot that his Tomcat was equipped with a M61 Vulcan cannon. Note, this could have been very useful at some points of the engagement – like when Iceman had that MiG on his tail.
Doug Masters, on the other hand, was a dead-eye with his cannon. We all know that gun kills are the best kills, right?
U.S. Navy sailors load a M61A1 20mm Cannon Gatling Gun in a Grumman F-14B “Tomcat,” assigned to the “Jolly Rogers” of Fighter Squadron 103 (VF-103). Maverick didn’t even use his cannon during his dogfight. (U.S. Navy photo)
4. Doug had the higher air-to-air score
Maverick has three confirmed “Mig-28” kills. Not bad, especially since he used four missile shots to get that.
Here is what Doug Masters shot down: Four MiGs and two choppers. Add to that the multiple SAM launchers and ack-ack guns. Don’t forget the other ground targets as well, even if he shared the first airfield with Chappy Sinclair.So, Maverick loses this fight. It also means that Doug Masters is the one who gets to buzz the tower in celebration.
Winston Churchill once said there was nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at and missed. Well, one crew of the SR-71 Blackbird has an authoritative take on Churchill’s famous saying.
On Aug, 26, 1981, in the midst of major exercises in North Korea that had people worried about a possible invasion, one of these Mach 3-capable spy planes was sent to track North Korea’s forces.
The United States wanted to get intelligence about missile sites in the very secretive country, and the Blackbird was often the aircraft of choice.
What made the Blackbird’s Aug. 26, 1981 mission unique though, was that this time, the regime of Kim Il-Sung took a shot at the speedy plane as it made a pass over the Demilitarized Zone, known as the DMZ. The mission profile often involved multiple passes.
Maury Rosenberg and Ed McKinn were making their third pass when they saw the rising plume of a missile. Rosenberg calmly turned his plane to the right, going away from North Korea, and he and McKinn watched the missile detonate.
Thanks to the SR-71’s high speed, the aircraft and the crew escaped the hit.
In response to the development of the the SR-71, the Soviet Union built the MiG-25 Foxbat to counter both the spy plane and the planned B-70 Valkyrie bomber. But even the Foxbat couldn’t stop the SR-71 from going where it wanted, when it wanted.
What did stop the SR-71? Budget cuts at the end of the Cold War.
But even then, there was a five-year period where the SR-71 made a comeback in the 1990s before the accountants did what no enemy could to: force the Blackbird out of the sky.
Being deployed on a FOB in the military means you don’t have much interaction with the outside world. Although news travels fast here in the states, it can roll in at a snail’s pace while you’re manning your area of observance.
During this time, regular mail becomes a very precious commodity.
But once that beautiful armored mail truck comes rolling on in, your emotions can roller coaster as you realize you just don’t know what you’re going to be opening up in those care packages or letters. #jodiisreal
So check out how important mail drops to those serving in the military.
1. After weeks of not getting any care packages or letters from home, a rumor spreads throughout the FOB that the mail truck is finally inbound.
We hope it’s true. (Images via Giphy)
2. Then a miracle occurs. Everyone in the FOB hears the roaring of the truck’s diesel engines entering the vehicle control point. The rumors must be true.
Do you see it? (Images via Giphy)
3. The mail truck pulls up and starts unloading all the packages and letters from its cargo bay. The platoon’s corporals yell out the names addressed on them one-by-one — you’re just waiting.
Any second now. (Images via Giphy)
4. Your name finally gets called! But you don’t want to look too happy because some of your boys haven’t gotten sh*t yet.
Hold the happiness back just a little longer. (Images via Giphy)
5. They continue to call your name over and over again. Somebody back home must love you.
Thanks, grandma. (Images via Giphy)
6. You find a quiet little corner, rip open your packages, and conduct a detailed inventory of your new stuff.
Yes! Cigarettes, Redbull, and dip! (Images via Giphy)
7. While you’re so excited to have all these new goodies, you noticed one of your buddies didn’t get sh*t this time around.
What a dilemma. (Images via Giphy)
8. You know what you must now do. First, you quietly pocket the stuff you want to keep, then dump the rest into a community bin for your platoon to share.
Your heroic slow clap. (Images via Giphy)
9. You look over to your platoon sergeant and he gives you his seal of approval.
What were your mail drops like? Comment below.
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.