President Joe Biden on Thursday nominated Lt. Gen. Michael E. Langley to lead U.S. forces in Africa, teeing him up to become the first Black four-star Marine Corps general.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the president’s decision to nominate Langley as head of AFRICOM. Langley currently heads Marine Forces Command and Marine Forces Northern Command and is the commanding general of Fleet Marine Force Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia.
Langley has served in Afghanistan, Somalia and Okinawa. He also has worked at the Pentagon and CENTCOM, which oversees US forces in the Middle East. Should the Senate confirm Langley, he will replace Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, who has led AFRICOM since July 2019. AFRICOM oversees U.S. troops dispersed throughout Africa, including in conflicts zones such as Somalia, where Biden recently reinstated troops to expedite airstrikes for counterterrorism operations. The command is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.
Former President Donald Trump’s administration briefly sought to scale down the U.S. troop presence in Africa while merging AFRICOM with European Command (EUCOM), which is also based in Stuttgart. However, the plan stalled amid strong bipartisan rebuke in Congress.
The New York Times first reported last month that Langley would receive the nomination, and quoted former Defense Secretary James Mattis — himself a former four-star Marine general — effusively praising him.
The Senate on Thursday passed historic legislation that would help millions of veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits during their military service.
A wide bipartisan majority approved the long-awaited bill by a vote of 84-14. It will now go to the House of Representatives, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pledged to move quickly and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature. The bill is an amended version of the Honoring Our PACT Act that passed the House earlier this year.
“Today is a historic, long awaited day for our nation’s veterans,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in a floor speech on Thursday ahead of the vote. “In a few moments, the Senate is finally going to pass the PACT Act, the most significant expansion of health care benefits to our veterans in generations.”
Schumer continued, “The callousness of forcing veterans who got sick as they were fighting for us because of exposure to these toxins to have to fight for years in the VA to get the benefits they deserved — Well, that will soon be over. Praise God.”
Burn pits were commonly used to burn waste, including everyday trash, munitions, hazardous material and chemical compounds at military sites throughout Iraq and Afghanistan until about 2010.
A 2020 member survey by the advocacy organization Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America found that 86% of respondents were exposed to burn pits or other toxins. The VA has denied approximately 70% of veterans’ burn pit claims since 9/11, according to previous statements by Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican and ranking GOP member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
The legislation is years in the making, and, once signed into law, would amount to a major bipartisan victory.
World War II veteran Ralph Morris of Crestview celebrated his 100th birthday with friends, family, and caregivers at the Joint Ambulatory Care Center in Pensacola on Monday.
Morris, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942, was recognized during the brief celebration by Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (GCVHCS) Director Bryan C. Matthews.
“Our veterans are the reason we exist, and to celebrate the 100th birthday of an individual who was involved in one of the world’s greatest conflicts is an honor,” Matthews said. “(Ralph) Morris’ dedication to his duty serves as an example of what we — as an organization serving those who have served — embody, and I couldn’t be more proud to participate in this veteran’s milestone birthday.”
Morris, born June 13, 1922, in Jefferson, Iowa, enlisted in the Navy in 1942, and eventually served aboard USS Sigsbee (DD-502) and later aboard USS Alfred A. Cunningham (DD-752). Morris served as a Machinist’s Mate (MM) during his enlistment, working in both vessels’ power plants.
Morris ended his service and opened a home furnishings store in Jefferson, Iowa, was married and has two daughters. He moved to South Florida in 1959 and worked as a salesman. He later moved to Tallahassee, and in 2019 moved again to Crestview to live with his daughter.
By Linda Sheffield Miller, theaviationgeekclub.com
During the Cold War, there was a need for a new reconnaissance aircraft that could evade enemy radar, and the customer needed it fast.
At Lockheed Martin’s advanced development group, the Skunk Works, work had already begun on an innovative aircraft to improve intelligence-gathering, one that would fly faster than any aircraft before or since, at greater altitude, and with a minimal radar cross section. The team rose to the nearly impossible challenge, and the aircraft took its first flight on Dec. 22, 1964. The legendary SR-71 Blackbird was born.
The first Blackbird accident that occurred that required the Pilot and the RSO to eject happened before the SR-71 was turned over to the Air Force. On Jan. 25, 1966 Lockheed test pilots Bill Weaver and Jim Zwayer were flying SR-71 Blackbird #952 at Mach 3.2, at 78,800 feet when a serious engine unstart and the subsequent “instantaneous loss of engine thrust” occurred.
The following story told by Weaver (available in Col. Richard H. Graham’s book SR-71 The Complete Illustrated History of THE BLACKBIRD The World’s Highest , Fastest Plane) is priceless in conveying the experience of departing a Blackbird at an altitude of fifteen miles and speed of Mach 3.2.
“Among professional aviators, there’s a well-worn saying: Flying is simply hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror. And yet, I don’t recall too many periods of boredom during my 30-year career with Lockheed, most of which was spent as a test pilot.
By far, the most memorable flight occurred on Jan. 25, 1966. Jim Zwayer, a Lockheed flight test reconnaissance and navigation systems specialist, and I were evaluating those systems on an SR-71 Blackbird test from Edwards AFB, Calif. We also were investigating procedures designed to reduce trim drag and improve high-Mach cruise performance. The latter involved flying with the center-of-gravity (CG) located further aft than normal, which reduced the Blackbird’s longitudinal stability.
“We took off from Edwards at 11:20 a.m. and completed the mission’s first leg without incident. After refueling from a KC-135 tanker, we turned eastbound, accelerated to a Mach 3.2-cruise speed and climbed to 78,000 ft., our initial cruise-climb altitude.
Click here to read more on theaviationgeekclub.com
NORFOLK, Va. – A father and daughter from Portsmouth, Virginia, are now bonded by their college graduations from the same school and on the same day.
Marvin Fletcher, a retired U.S. Marine and Army veteran, told Fox News Digital that he was shocked when he found out that both he and his daughter SaNayah Hill, 17, would be graduating from Tidewater Community College at the same time.
In a phone interview, Fletcher said he felt overwhelming pride when he learned that his daughter had completed her career studies certificate in emergency medical service as a dual-enrollment student — before even finishing her junior year at Deep Creek High School.
“I’m just grateful for the opportunity that TCC afforded myself, as well as other veterans, and my daughter,” Fletcher said.
He earned his associate’s degree in applied science in management after serving for four years in the Marine Corps and eight years in the Army.
Fletcher added, “I’m humbled and honored to have served. And I like the fact that my daughter wants to serve in the medical field in her own way.”
The father-daughter pair completed their graduation march on Monday, May 9, at the Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.
Enlisted airmen and guardians in more than 60 career fields can earn some extra cash this year by extending their time in the service — a much broader retention push than in 2021.
The Department of the Air Force will dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonus pay to troops who reenlist by Sept. 30 to work in 63 specialties with particularly high turnover or exorbitant training costs, from Chinese and Russian language experts to satellite and radar operators.
After seeing unusually high retention at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of the Air Force is beefing up its incentives for people to stay. Bonus pay dried up between 2016, when the Air Force offered extra money to 117 career fields, and 2020, when just 37 specialties were eligible. Forty fields were eligible under the program’s most recent update in 2021.
Members of the Air Force and Space Force can earn up to $100,000 in each of four periods of time over the course of their careers: when they have served between 17 months and six years; six to 10 years; 10 to 14 years; and 18 to 20 years. They’re allowed a total windfall of $360,000 over the course of their career. Staff Sgt. Clayton Wear
Bonuses are tallied by multiplying one month’s base pay by the number of years an airman chooses to reenlist, and multiplied again as much as fivefold depending on how urgent a career’s staffing needs are.
This time, service officials have added jobs like cyber warfare, Farsi language analysis, cyber intelligence and fighter maintenance, while others — including human intelligence — have dropped off the list.
Special operations airmen are still in high demand, from pararescuemen to combat controllers, as well as explosive ordnance disposal crews.
Click here to read the complete article on Yahoo News.
Clothing and Accessories Brand Volition America Inspires Support for Our Veterans and Fallen Heroes.
Can you tell our audience a bit about yourself and how you found yourself currently sitting where you are today?
My story of how I got involved in this and how I found myself sitting here today is unique. My background has nothing to do with apparel, consumer goods, or brand building. I am a manufacturing guy and a proud American. I currently own and operate two manufacturing companies that manufacture Safety-Critical components for the Automotive Industries and Disposable Devices for the Med Device Community. My journey into building a brand that celebrates country and gives back to our military community was inspired by my involvement in the Folds of Honor Foundation (Folds has provided over $180,000,000 of scholarships to children and spouses of our fallen soldiers and is a 4-star Goldstar-rated charity, and $.91 of every dollar donated goes to the recipients) and Lt. Colonel Dan Rooney (Founder of the Folds of Honor Foundation).
What is Volition America?
Volition is the most powerful word in the English Dictionary. It is the power of choice. You can love, hate, be happy or sad! But ultimately, the choices you make write the legacy of your life. Colonel Rooney approached me about starting the Volition America Brand. The idea behind Volition America was to create a for-profit entity that could create a larger commercial impact, expand its audience, and raise more money for our fallen soldiers’ families thru the Folds of Honor Foundation. (Colonel Rooney also believes his mission is to teach people the power of Volition (a word he feels is the driving force to his life’s journey). Volition is about making the choices to live your best life; our brand chooses to celebrate and unite our country. We use our Volition to choose America and give people the tools to stand up and say, this is what I stand for.
What inspired you to start Volition America?
Ultimately my desire to support Dan Rooney’s mission through Folds of Honor and my love of country inspired me to do this. The ideal he embodies drives us and reminds us that we have the opportunity and privilege to be better than we were the day before. Our goal when starting this brand was to create a group of brands and products that people could use that allowed them to stand up and say; this is what I stand for while helping raise money and awareness for the Folds of Honor Foundation.
What is your connection to our veterans?
My story dates to 2013, when I first attended a Folds of Honor Gala and won an auction to play golf with Masters Champion Craig Stadler. When I won the auction, I didn’t realize that we would be playing golf on Memorial Day and spending the weekend with many of our military members and their families. Before my experience on that day, Memorial Day had just been symbolic of a day to BBQ and play golf. Listening to their stories and getting to spend time with them, I realized that for 44 years, I had taken the sacrifices our Servicemen and their families make for all of us for granted. To this day, I tell people that weekend was my “Patriotic Awakening,” and supporting our military through the Folds of Honor Foundation has become crucial aspect of my and my family’s life.
What has been the most difficult part of your journey?
I think the political landscape of our country has misrepresented what the word patriotism means. People are mistaking patriotism for policy and politics. The Volition America brand isn’t political. It’s a brand that we hope will unite people to choose America by empowering them with the power of Volition. I often tell people you can be very far left and love your country and you can be very far right and love your country. We use a quote at Volition: “we aren’t red, and we aren’t blue…. We are RED WHITE AND BLUE” Our hope is the love of country, and the use of positive choices will bring us together. Fighting through the misunderstanding of what being patriotic means
What makes Volition America stand out?
The Volition America Brand is about building something more prominent than a shirt or a sporting product. We wanted to create a movement that brings our country together and empowers people to make better choices while giving back to those who gave us the freedom of choice. We are doing this by building a brand coalition of like-minded brands. We have added many great partners (Puma, Wilson, Cobra, Demarini, Revo, Luminox, and EvoShield). We also recently launched the Volition America Fund (FLDZ) with RiverNorth Capital, a publicly-traded ETF that invests in American Companies that invest in America. We believe that each brand collaboration will vastly increase the aggregate reach. Thus, giving us a much broader space to raise money and awareness as brands engage their collective audiences
How significantly has Volition America helped our veterans so far?
There are so many fantastic charities that benefit the veteran community. I chose Folds of Honor because their values aligned with my core values about education being the key to our country’s future. Folds of honor offers scholarships to our fallen or severely injured families. In my opinion, there is no better way to honor our fallen heroes than to educate their legacy through The Folds of Honor Foundation. Our ultimate mission is to help support the veterans through the Folds of Honor Foundation. That is the ethos of our company logo. The Folds logo is in the center of our logo but with wings. The idea of our mark is that we are lifting Folds and helping take them places they usually couldn’t go. So, if people want to give back to Veterans by supporting Volition America, we give 13% of our revenue to the Folds of Honor Foundation. We chose 13 because there are 13 folds in a folded flag. That is significant because many brands will only give back a % of their profits. So regardless of the company’s success, our Fallen Heroes and their families will receive our help. We have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Folds of Honor, increased raised awareness, and hope to see our annual donations grow to millions.
How would you encourage our readers to get involved?
Support us by going to our website and buying products or donating directly to Folds of Honor Foundation. We are always looking for great companies that would like to join our movement and be a part of our brand coalition, helping us get our message out and bring awareness to the Volition America brand.
What are your plans for the future?
I will continue building our Volition America Movement so that one day our brand will be a household name that consumers will know when they wear our logo. They tell what the person wearing the logo stands for when they see it.
Rockstar has become the latest in a string of energy drink companies to add a hemp-infused beverage to their offerings, so consumers can chill out while they rage.
But soldiers beware, these drinks have a slim chance of causing you to pop positive on a drug test.
“A single use of some hemp products may result in a positive drug test result for THC,” Matt Leonard, Army spokesperson, told Military Times.
“[Regulation] AR 600-85 prohibits soldiers from using products made or derived from hemp, including CBD, regardless of the product’s claimed or actual THC concentration and whether such product may be lawfully bought, sold, or used in the civilian marketplace,” Leonard said.
Hemp plants contain more cannabidiol (CBD) than cannabis, which contains more tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Although it’s unlikely, there’s no guarantee that hemp or CBD users will avoid showing positive for THC, which is what the Army tests.
“No test currently exists to identify the source of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a urine sample to determine if it was derived from illegal marijuana, or other products such as hemp energy drinks or Cannabidiol (CBD) infused products,” Leonard added.
“Hence, to protect the integrity of the Army’s drug testing program the only type of hemp products authorized within the Army Substance Abuse Program, Army Regulation (AR) 600-85 are those used as a durable good (eg. rope or clothing).”
So soldiers should avoid the hemp, unless you’re taking up twine-braiding or decide go on a hippie handmade hemp clothing bender. But it seems easy enough to abstain. These drinks aren’t exactly designed to keep the average soldier awake on duty.
Rockstar Unplugged, which comes in three flavors — blueberry, passion fruit and raspberry cucumber — isn’t meant to keep an exhausted person alert.
Click here to read the complete article posted on Yahoo!News.
In Pasadena, Maryland, Retired Army Capt. Kyle Butters could be seen running and carrying an American flag for an important cause last weekend. “This flag has been everywhere from Afghanistan (to) Kuwait (to) Turkey,” Butters said.
More than just sentimental value, the flag he carries is the symbol of freedom and sacrifice. Butters ran 44 miles total.
It’s all to raise awareness about mental health issues facing veterans.” It’s affected me personally.
I was medically retired from the Army due to mental health issues. I’ve also lost soldiers to suicide throughout my time in the Army (and) even since I’ve been out of the Army,” Butters said. Starting in his own Pasadena neighborhood, Butters ran 4 miles every four hours for a total of 22 miles a day to represent the estimated 22 veterans who commit suicide every day.
”They think that during the COVID pandemic, that (it has) gone up by as much as 20%,” Butters said. “I chose to use running as my platform because not every veteran has the physical ability to do what I do, and people pay attention when you do big distances. ”He’s raising money with the run — more than $12,000 — to support the Infinite Hero Organization. ”They provide grants to veterans and also to research causes, whether it’s brain injury, PTSD, even physical disabilities,” Butters said. Butters said he’ll be back at it again next year and hopes this is something that can spread to other states with the ultimate goal of normalizing tough conversations that could save lives.
Mention Top Gun and most everyone thinks of Tom Cruise. But did you know there’s a real Top Gun program for fighter pilots? It’s safe to say most naval aviators do; most civilians don’t.
Dan Pedersen, 86, a veteran of numerous missions in the Vietnam War, is considered the real life “Godfather of Top Gun,” which he likens to a graduate school for aviators.
In the original Top Gun movie, those guys became the now-iconic and beloved Maverick, Ice Man, Goose and others. After three years of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the long-awaited sequel’s Memorial Day release will mark 36 years since the original movie debuted.
Goose and Maverick fans have been ravenous.
There’s been a buzz about the movie ever since Cruise announced that it was in the works, and Val Kilmer, the original Ice Man, started promoting it.
In “Maverick,” Cruise reprises his role as U.S. Naval aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. The Joseph Kosinski-directed sequel also stars Kilmer, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly and Jon Hamm.
One thing seems to be agreed on, however: the film, featuring what Cruise calls unprecedented flying scenes, is best seen on the big screen.
What better film to celebrate open theaters this summer?
In the Dogfighting Business Maverick and company, though based on true fighter pilots, were glitzed up a bit, and that’s just fine. Pedersen credits the 1986 blockbuster film with helping the military.
“The movie was excellent,” he told U.S. Veterans Magazine. “They motivated us and increased recruiting.” But Hollywood is in the storytelling business. Pedersen was in the dogfighting business. When he spearheaded Top Gun, he focused on pilots, in the air, in dogfights. “The only thing they have to rely on is their professional experience and senior guidance,” he said. “The guys that were with me were far more professional and serious,” he said.
Before Top Gun, which formed in 1969 with Pedersen and eight other elite Airmen honing their skills in Miramar, pilots in that war were achieving a 2 to 1 “kill ratio,” meaning they killed two enemies for every one American lost. “Totally unacceptable,” Pedersen said. And the “Godfather of Top Gun” ought to know. He was there when 11 American pilots were killed in 17 days.
Fast forward a couple years into the graduate school crash course for the one percent of elite fighters of that era, and the kill ratio was 24 to one. So, what does it take to be in that one percent? “The guys have got to really love what they’re doing every day…you’ve got to do a lot of air time, and that’s when you get really good and unbeatable.”
Pedersen, who has been married for nearly 30 years after reuniting with his teenage sweetheart, likes to keep things simple. He credits his own success as a pilot to skilled mentorship, some of it from seasoned Word War II veterans. That was a bottom-line principle of Top Gun: teach advanced tactics to young, talented pilots. And pay it forward by, in turn, passing on that knowledge to the next generation.
At the Top of Their Game
The techniques and tactics that Pedersen and others taught in the Top Gun program are still used today, even with vastly more sophisticated technology.
Why has it stood the test of time?
“These are principles that evolved from experience and winning,” Pedersen said. Not to mention, the world’s greatest pilots. The Top Gun program has since moved to Fallon, Nev., and the technology has advanced but one thing hasn’t changed from air warfare in the 20th century to today, according to Pedersen.
“The pilot, the human, will always be the key factor in a win in aero combat,” he explained. Of the current one percent of naval aviators at Fallon, Pedersen said: “You look at these young pilots, and boy are they good.” Great pilots need great planes. Pedersen loved the Grumman F9F-2 aircraft that he flew dozens of missions in during Vietnam. “You could shoot the eyes out of a cat with it,” he said.
The military continues to deploy incredible planes, but two things concern Pedersen:
1) Some of the uber-expensive ones have too many bells and whistles inside the aircraft (He prefers simple and reliable.)
2) The United States needs to produce more to keep up with China, Russia and N. Korea.
“We have these nice, big aircrafts and not enough planes,” he said. “We do not want to be numerically outnumbered… if you get mosquitos in a phone booth, one fly swatter won’t do.”
An American Story
The release of Top Gun 2: Maverick roughly coincides with Pedersen’s release of his national bestselling book, titled Top Gun: An American Story, 50 years after the original Top Gun program was formed. In the 320-pager, Pedersen tells the inside story of how he and eight other risk-takers revolutionized the art of aerial combat. Hachette Books published Top Gun, and it’s an intriguing read.
Following is an excerpt from the promo on the book’s website:
“… the most interesting parts of the book are the discussions on how he became the man assigned to creating the school. Many today can reflect on similar situations with the War on Terror. The bureaucrats and many high-ranking generals thought they knew best until the candid USS Coral Sea Commander Frank Ault spoke out. Already in line for admiral and with nothing to lose the World War II attack pilot put his gripes on paper in 1968 and sent them to the Pentagon. He listed in detail the problems and the solutions with aerial engagement in Vietnam, in what became known as the Ault Report, and recommended the formation of a school specializing in aerial combat.
“Some of the problems included pilots fighting in Vietnam receiving limited training, having faulty Sidewinder and Sparrow missiles and not learning the skills they needed to outmaneuver the enemy. This became abundantly clear with the kill ratios: In World War II, the kill ratio was approximately 14-to-1, during the Korean War about 10-to-1, but in Vietnam — before the Top Gun program — it was as low as 2-to-1.
“Capt. Pedersen (then a lieutenant commander) was the first officer in charge of Top Gun. He was chosen because of his experiences in the air battles over Vietnam where he received first-hand knowledge of the shortcomings of American tactics and equipment. The ‘high tech’ weapons failed about 90 percent of the time, and the latest fighter plane didn’t even have a gun!
American fighter pilots were being shot down by a third-world air force using Soviet aircraft — MiGs. The Navy moved toward radar-guided missiles and aircraft to fire them instead of dogfighting.
“The Top Gun School ended up being very successful. The 2-to-1 ratio changed to a 24-to-1 ratio. It became, and still is, run by people with combat experience. It is obvious that Top Gun saved lives and turned the air war around.”
Pedersen, who calls the original Top Gun pilots “real patriots,” said he is pleased with his legacy in the military, which is chronicled in his book. “Anyone willing to defend their country should have a voice in combat and should have some control over their own destiny,” he said. “I am very proud that my lasting military contribution was Top Gun, where the trainees became unbeatable.”