We sent our “Vet On The Street” to downtown Hollywood to find out if people could name the five major branches of the United States military. U.S. Marine Corps veteran and comic James P. Connolly interviewed Freddy Krueger, Captain America, Jack Sparrow and others and got a range of entertaining answers.
The United States Army Air Force’s daylight bombing campaign in Europe involved thousands of bombers, and tens of thousands of crewmen. While there were pilots, crew chiefs, radiomen, bombardiers, and navigators on planes like the B-17, about 40 percent of the crew were aerial gunners.
What did it take to get these specialists ready? In some ways, it didn’t take long – maybe a few weeks. But these gunners had to learn a lot. Maintenance of their machine guns was vitally important. But they also had to learn to hit a moving target – because the Nazi fighters trying to shoot the bombers down were not going to make things easy for them.
So, what did it take to teach gunners how to hit a moving target? Well, for starters, there were lessons on maintenance for both a .30-caliber machine gun (mostly used early in the war) and the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, and how fix them when they jammed. Then, they had to learn how bullets traveled downrange, and how to adjust for the drop of the bullets from the guns.
When that was done, the trainees were started on full-auto BB guns at an indoor range. Once that was mastered, they then did a lot of skeet shooting with 12-gauge shotguns.
Yep, a popular shooting sport was used to train the folks whose job involved keeping Nazi fighters from shooting down a bomber with ten airmen on board.
The training went on to include live-fire of the machine guns, as well as how the turrets used on planes like the B-17 and B-24 worked. Aircraft recognition — including knowing an enemy fighter’s wingspan — was also very important.
Following that, they took to the air, and learned how to fire the guns while wearing the gear they’d need on board a bomber – including a life vest, parachute, and the helmet.
B-17 gunners wearing bulky sheep-shearling flying clothing to protect against the deadly cold at the altitudes typically flown in Europe. At 25,000 feet, the temperature could drop below -60 degrees Fahrenheit. (U.S. Air Force photo)
As you can imagine, this included a lot of learning and skills to master. You can see an introductory video for aerial gunners made during World War II below.
The U.S. Army’s Ranger School is beyond tough. Sixty percent of those who start the course fail within the first four days. One third of all soldiers “recycle” one of the three phases.
In Part 3 of this amazing series by Army veteran Rebecca Murga, Maj. Lisa Jaster continues her quest to make history by being among the first females to complete Ranger School and earn the right to wear the tab. Nineteen females started the course; 3 remain. Lisa has already recycled the Darby phase (phase one). Will she make it to the end?
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.
That list item, though, would be countered when America deployed the AIM-9X Sidewinder, which had the capability to use a helmet-mounted sight as well. Furthermore, when America and NATO faced Fulcrums over the former Yugoslavia, the United States shot down four MiG-29s, and a Dutch pilot shot down one as well.
The video below discusses how America used the checkbook to get a bunch of MiGs.
When Gabe Greiss graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1995, he went on to fly the C-130 Hercules as part of a career that lasted 20 years and two months. He commanded a squadron that sent advisors across Latin America, and also served in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Vets make sense in politics,” the retired lieutenant colonel said. “We’ve spent an entire lifetime putting our own interests second and still getting things done, and we need more of that.”
The Greiss family lives in the Buck Mansion, a 126-year-old icon in the city of Vacaville, California. Designed and built in 1891, it received a remodeling in the 1990s.
The Greiss family kept many of the Buck family’s furnishings, but also had to keep it contemporary to accommodate their young kids who “love their markers.”
Greiss, who described himself as having a “heart of service,” admitted that being in the military meant “being present is something we lose because we’re always planning for what’s next.”
“I’ve needed to slow down and really connect with my kids,” he said.
What’s next for Greiss includes a lot of travel to teach his kids “what it is to be citizens of the world.” That means the Buck Mansion will be getting only its third owner in just under 130 years.
“We love this house, it’s been great to us, but it really fit a different chapter in our lives, albeit only 16 months,” he said.
Despite the resplendent setting and old world charm, Greiss said it’s family, rather than bricks and mortar that make a home.
“Where ever [my wife] is and where the kids are, that’s home,” he said. “It can be in a tent or a 126-year-old house.”
A Kansas City Marine veteran is shocked when three fellow veterans show up at his work to fulfill his dream of going to the World Series.
After World War II ended, the fighting forces had to figure out what to do with surplus military goods. Ships were scrapped or sunk, vehicles were sold at auction, and surpluses were sent to warehouses or auctioned out to resellers.
The Navy had a large supply of sodium that it had to get rid of. During the war, sodium was used to assist in the liquid-cooling process of large engines, in the manufacture of rocket fuel, and to purify molten metals like the steel used for Navy ships.
While most people think of sodium as something to worry about in their daily diets, it is actually a dangerous and explosive element when it’s not bonded with something else. That being the case, the Navy decided to get rid of it by dumping it into lakes.
The chemical reaction between the sodium and the water releases a lot of hydrogen gas and heat. (You may remember hydrogen gas from the Hindenburg disaster.) The gas is then detonated by the heat of the reaction, causing a massive explosion.
See the intense results in the video below:
Things you should expect to see on the highway include people texting and driving, dead animals, and Finnish F-18s landing and taking off.
Well, that last one may be only true in the Finland. While it’s a myth that the Interstate Highway System in America requires one straight mile for every five miles of road, many military aircraft are perfectly capable of landing and taking off from civilian highways. Finland practices this capability to ensure they can disperse their fighters if necessary during a conflict.
(GIF: YouTube/Александр Ермаков)
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.
The whole video from the Finnish Defence Forces is fun, but skip to 0:18 if you only want to watch the jets.
(h/t: War History Online)
WATM’s Ryan Curtis hits the streets with stunt driver Jim Wilkey, a Vietnam War vet whose Hollywood credits include “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” “Rush Hour,” “Inception,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and “The Dark Knight Trilogy.’ Jim’s experience in the Navy working with a wide range of equipment gave him the knowledge to get started as a stuntman and stunt driver.
Follow along as Jim (bravely) lets Ryan get behind the wheel and try his hand at the stunt course.
Relive the alien-invasion classic packed with plenty of explosions, interspecies dogfights, and a planet-saving Jeff Goldblum — all in under 4 minutes!
“[Kilo Two Bravo is] less about the flag for which these men may die but the weary bravery they must summon to survive.”
– Miami Herald, 4/5 stars
We Are The Mighty hosted a screening of the war film “Kilo Two Bravo” at the Lido theater in Newport, CA on November 10. Described as “the most honest and unflinching look at the reality and brutality of war”, the film was well received by the 200-some people in attendance.
“Kilo Two Bravo” tells the true story of a platoon on a mission to neutralize a Taliban roadblock in the Kajaki region of Afghanistan. While closing in on the insurgents, the unit find themselves marooned in the middle of a minefield, setting in motion a desperate rescue mission. This taut thriller tells the story of heroism, courage and survival and captures what war is like for those fighting it in the 21st Century.
“Kilo Two Bravo” is now in theaters and available on iTunes.
Russia showed off its new “Star Wars-like” combat suit on Thursday at a science and technology university in Moscow, state-owned media outlet RT reported.
The “next-generation” suit comes with a “powered exoskeleton” that supposedly gives the soldier more strength and stamina, along with “cutting-edge” body armor, and a helmet and visor that shields the soldier’s entire face, RT said.
The suit also has a “pop-up display that can be used for tasks like examining a plan of the battlefield,” Andy Lynch, who works for a military company called Odin Systems, told MailOnline. There’s also a light on the side of the helmet for inspecting maps or weapons.
Russia hopes to produce the suit “within the next couple of years,” Oleg Chikarev, deputy chief of weapons systems at the Central Research Institute for Precision Machine Building, which developed the gear, told MailOnline.
It should be noted, however, the video only showed a static display of the suit, and it’s still an open question of whether it actually has any of the capabilities that are claimed.
Still, Russia is not the only country developing such technology, Sim Tack, a Stratfor analyst, told Business Insider in an emailed statement.
The US hopes to unveil its own Tactical Light Operator Suit, also known as the “Iron Man” suit, in 2018.
Tack said that France is perhaps furthest along in creating its Integrated infantryman equipment and communications system, or FELIN, but it’s not as high-tech as the Iron Man suit.
Nevertheless, it’s “unclear whether these type of suits will eventually make it to the battlefield,” Tack said.
Some technical problems still persist: for example, the batteries required to power the exoskeletons — many of which have leg braces that evenly distributes weight and allows the soldier to run faster and jump higher — are too bulky because the suits require so much power, Tack said.
But given how much effort countries are putting into developing these suits, “we may well see some type of them reach the battlefield at some point,” Tack said.
On July 1, 1914, infamous buzzkill and then-Navy Sec. Josephus Daniels implemented General Order No. 99, which said:
“The use or introduction for drinking purposes of alcoholic liquors on board any naval vessel, or within any Navy yard or station, is strictly prohibited, and commanding officers will be held directly responsible for the enforcement of this order.”
What happened next? One final blowout party to get rid of all that now-illegal booze.