#Veterans Military

#Veterans Military

That WSJ 'Women In Combat' Op-Ed Is A Complete Disaster — But It Still Presents A Threat

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 02:45 PM PST

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

To be clear, Mac Donald's article is not grounded in sound data or representative of any service's stated position except that of the Marine Corps. Although Mac Donald is correct in writing that female Marine participation has been limited in newly opened fields like the infantry, this is less due to physiology and job standards than the service's overt and covert cultural barriers to inclusion. Had Mac Donald included Army statistics about the number of women who have successfully competed for ground combat jobs since 2016 and compared it to the number of confirmed violations of good order and discipline directly attributable to integration, her position would have been untenable.

Because of her errors and omissions, ground combat integration advocates expressed frustration with the editorial on social media. Naval officer Andrea Goldstein wrote on Twitter, "not sharing/RT the article going around today written by a white woman who's made a career of using pseudoscience to argue that drawing from 100% of the population doesn't make us stronger. Why? That op/ed falls apart if **fact checked**."

All of this is true, but never before in our history have facts been less relevant when it comes to military policy decisions.


Trump's penchant for using social media to announce uncoordinated military policy changes, including a ban on transgender people and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, has caused considerable consternation in the Pentagon.

Further, criminal investigations against Trump and his campaign and the longest government shutdown in history have cost him considerable political capital. The timing of Mac Donald's editorial is no accident, and she represents the views of many senior leaders who have long complained that combat integration is a form of social engineering in the military. A reinstatement of the ban on women in ground combat could present a way for the Commander in Chief to win back the support of his military leaders and boost his approval ratings while also appealing to his conservative base.

Some experts argue if Trump were to reinstate the ban, it would quickly be challenged in court. And while transgender rights groups have had some legal success in reversing Trump's ban against their service, the courts traditionally defer to military leaders when it comes to policies related to good order and discipline. This means that there aren't many legal checks and balances to counteract Trump's power as Commander in Chief.

And since it is highly unlikely that the next Secretary of Defense will be supportive of women in ground combat, we can assume they would fall in line with a decision to reinstate the ban. The American Civil Liberties Union has had a pending legal case on the issue against the Department of Defense since 2012 with no resolution.

If the government can argue to a conservative judge — even as artlessly as Mac Donald does in her opinion piece — that the integration of women in combat units negatively impacts good order and discipline, the courts may defer to the military and rule against the ACLU. Clearly, the judiciary does not offer a guaranteed means of defeating the reinstatement of a ban.

Fighting for change year after year can be draining, and understandably, many advocates of women in ground combat are ready to move on. But as Margaret Thatcher once said, "You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it." Rather than write off Heather Mac Donald's opinion piece as irrelevant, we would be wise to consider her argument in the broader context of the president's ongoing legal challenges and his falling approval ratings.

Whether we like it or not, the issue of ground combat integration is not going away, and supporters will need to re-engage in the battle for public opinion if we are to eventually win the war.

Kate Germano is a 20-year veteran of the Marine Corps. She is a vocal advocate for an end to gender bias and lowered expectations for female performance and conduct. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. government or Task & Purpose.

SEE ALSO: Why I Changed My Mind About Women In Combat Arms Units

Special Operations Marine Charged With Allegedly Punching His Girlfriend 'Multiple Times'

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 01:53 PM PST

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Wilmington Police took Evans into custody after responding to domestic assault, according to the police report, which was provided to Task & Purpose.

"Upon arrival, the victim was located with several injuries," the report said. "She explained to officers on scene that Evans had punched her multiple times after asking him to leave the residence. Evans was arrested and charged with Assault Inflicting Serious Injury and was given no bond until his first appearance in court."

Evans spent one day in jail and was released on Jan. 30, 2018 after posting $5,000 secured bail, according to the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.

Police confirmed the alleged victim was Kimberly Rhine, who recently posted on Facebook that she had asked Evans to leave after claiming that she found he had been unfaithful during his seven-month deployment.

"My BF then punched me in the face completely knocking me off my feet," Rhine posted. "My 6'3, 230+ LB. MARSOC operator boyfriend ... split open my face."

Now prosecutors are trying to strike a plea deal with Evans because this is allegedly his first offense, Rhine wrote.

Sam Dooies, an assistant to the New Hanover County District Attorney, declined to comment on the status of the case.

"We are not permitted to comment on a pending case," Dooies told Task & Purpose on Friday. "Mr. Evans' next scheduled court date is March 7, but the case could be resolved sooner than that."

Dooies said Evans could face up to 16 months in prison on the assault charge, but such a sentence could be suspended.

MARSOC issued a statement on Friday confirming that a member of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion is "accused of several crimes related to an alleged altercation in July 2018" without naming Evans.

"This case is currently being handled as a civilian criminal justice matter which the command is following closely in order to be able to take future command actions following the outcome of his civilian case," the statement says. "The command has taken administrative actions to include issuing a military protective order and a reassignment of duties.

"These will remain in place while the case is ongoing. Additional legal requirements may be in place under civilian jurisdiction authority. MARSOC takes all allegations of misconduct seriously, cooperates fully with investigative authorities and takes corrective action on behavior that does not conform to DoD standards."

Rhine wrote on Facebook that she continues to suffer pain and partial loss of eyesight from her injuries. She also wrote that prosecutors initially told her they would offer Evans a plea agreement because she had not suffered "grotesque disfigurement."

"My face was as she said not 'a Quasimodo disfigurement,'" Rhine posted. "I remember looking at her for the first time, in a meeting where she has never met me OR heard my story but had already offered a meager plea...through blood shot eyes telling her, you may not see what you feel to be a Quasimodo disfigurement, but it feels that way on the inside."

UPDATE: This story was updated at 5:20 P.M. on Jan. 18 with a MARSOC statement.

SEE ALSO: Marine In Hot Water For Claiming Men Are 'Biologically Designed' To Be Attracted To Young Girls

WATCH NEXT: The Women Veterans Battling PTSD

5 Unforgettable Quotes From R. Lee Ermey, The Iconic Marine-Turned-Actor Buried Today At Arlington

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 01:00 PM PST

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.

A Vietnam War veteran and former Marine drill instructor, Ermey leveraged his military experience to pursue a career as an actor and technical adviser, who racked up more than 60 film and television credits, while still making time to support active duty service members deployed overseas.

Though his onscreen roles included a few "kid friendly" performances like his green army man, Sarge, in Toy Story, it was Ermey's knack for cutting loose with a string of profanity that bordered on poetic that so perfectly captured the image of the hard-as-nails Marine Corps drill instructor. He had a unique ability to be both hilarious and intimidating, and it's one that will be sorely missed and remembered.

Here are five of R. Lee Ermey's greatest rants, speeches, and quotes.

On recruit training

Perhaps one of the most iconic boot camp scenes of all time, nearly every sound, syllable and word that came out of his mouth during the first half of Full Metal Jacket is a gem, which is pretty high praise, not just of Ermey's performance, but because he also wrote about half of his lines, notes Rolling Stone magazine. Here's just a snippet of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman's welcome aboard brief:

"If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon. You will be a minister of death praying for war. But until that that day, you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human fucking beings. You are nothing but unorganized grab-ass-tic pieces of amphibian shit!"

On discipline

Also from Full Metal Jacket, if you've stepped on the yellow footprints, you'll likely recall at least one drill instructor doing their best to mimic the legendary actor's colorful ass chewings, though none will ever be quite as good as this one:

"You little scumbag! I got your name! I got your ass! You will not laugh! You will not cry! You will learn by the numbers! I will teach you! Now get up! Get on your feet! You had best unfuck yourself, or I will unscrew your head and shit down your neck!"

On constructive criticism

In a 2010 advertisement for Geico, Ermey plays a therapist who gives some sage advice to his client.

"You know what makes me sad? You do! Maybe we should chug on over to namby-pamby land, where maybe we can find some self confidence for you, ya jackwagon!" Ermey says in the ad spot, before flinging a box of tissues at his client. Unorthodox, sure. Funny as hell? Also, yes.

Though Ermey's run as Geico's drill-sergeant-therapist was short-lived, allegedly owing to him being let go from the job after his public criticism of the Obama administration, it's possible that he may may have missed his calling in life.

On humor

During a History Channel special in 2001, Ermey discussed his time training Marine Corps recruits during the height of the Vietnam War. In the interview he shed light on a fundamental truth about Marine Corps recruit training: Your drill instructors are pretty much rage-filled stand-up comics.

"I'm a firm believer that the greatest instructors in the Marine Corps today and of yesteryear have always been just damn near stand-up comedians," he said in the segment.

And there's a lot of truth to this, just think about all the times you were told to do something totally bizarre, like hop across the squad bay saying "ribbit ribbit" because you decided to play around with the green cammie paint and the DI thought you looked like a frog. No? Okay, me either...

On motivation

Another observation Ermey made during that History Channel interview is that no matter what, drill instructors will find a way to motivate a nasty recruit to complete whatever task they've set before him or her.

"I could have a private who can do nine pull-ups and damn it, when I'm through talking to him, he can do 12. Why? Because I've intimidated this private so severely that I've convinced him that he can do 12 or he's going to die. That's why."

SEE ALSO: 10 Things You Never Realized About 'Full Metal Jacket'

WATCH NEXT: Matthew Modine vs. Duffel Blog

Air Force F-22s And B-2 Bombers Are Pr​​owling The Pacific, And The Photos Are Awesome

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 12:14 PM PST

The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.

These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.

Three B-2 bombers and 200 airmen from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri deployed to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on Jan. 10 to support US Strategic Command's Bomber Task Force mission.

A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and two F-22 Raptors from the 199th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, fly in formation near Diamond Head State Monument, Hawaii, after completing interoperability training, Jan. 15, 2019.(U.S. Navy/MC2 Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago)

While B-2 bombers regularly rotate throughout the Pacific, having previously been deployed to Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, the most recent deployment marks only the second time these powerful stealth aircraft have been sent to Hawaii to drill alongside the F-22s.

A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and two F-22 Raptors from the 199th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, fly in formation near Diamond Head State Monument, Hawaii, during an interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019(U.S. Navy/MC2 Kenneth Rodriguez Santiago)

The stealth bombers were deployed to the Pacific to send a message to allies and adversaries alike, specifically that "the B-2 is on watch 24 hours a day, seven days a week ready to protect our country and its allies."

A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing fly near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.(U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

When the B-2s were first deployed to Hawaii last October, the US military stressed that the deployment highlighted the bomber's completely unmatched "strategic flexibility to project power from anywhere in the world."

The B-2 Spirit bomber is reportedly a crucial part of most war plans to fight China. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The multi-role B-2 Spirit bomber has the ability to break through tough defenses, bringing a significant amount of firepower, both conventional and nuclear, to bear on enemy targets.

A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, conducts aerial refueling near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

Despite its large size, the B-2's low-observable or stealth characteristics make it almost invisible to enemy radars, allowing it to slip past enemy defenses and put valuable targets at risk

A close-up of the B-2 Spirit bomber refueling. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The F-22 Raptor, an elite air-superiority fighter, which the Air Force asserts "cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft," is an extremely lethal aircraft capable of performing air-to-air and air-to-ground combat missions.

An F-22 Raptor from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 199th Fighter Squadron, conducts an aerial refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

Both the B-2 Spirit and the F-22 raptor are stealth aircraft, and both have the ability to penetrate sophisticated air-defense systems, such as those that defend the Chinese mainland and the wall of surface-to-air missiles deployed in the South China Sea. China has been actively enhancing its anti-access, area-denial capabilities to keep the US military at arms length.

A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber flies near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during a interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

Together, a B-2 accompanied by a pair of F-22s could kick in an enemy's door, let loose a firestorm of devastation, and get out before the enemy figures out what happened.

A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, conducts aerial refueling. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

SEE ALSO: China Swallowed Islands In The South China Sea. Now It Wants To Eat Djibouti Like Groceries

WATCH NEXT: A Chinese Propaganda Video Shows US Warships Getting Blown To Hell

The 7.62mm High-Capacity Drum Magazine You Never Knew You Needed Is Finally Here

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 11:07 AM PST

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared onMilitary.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Magpul Industries Corp. has introduced a new 7.62mm version of its high-capacity polymer drum magazine.

The Magpul PMAG D-50 is designed to hold 50 rounds of 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester ammunition for SR25/M110 AR-style rifles. It follows the popular PMAG D-60 drum magazine for 5.56mm rifles.

The D-50 features "proven GEN M3 technology, which includes next-generation impact and crush-resistant polymer construction and the ability to seat fully loaded on a closed bolt," according to Magpul's website.

The robust stainless-steel internal components are designed to withstand corrosion and long-term storage while loaded with no loss of function, spring fatigue, or reliability concerns.

The introduction of the D-50 comes just before SHOT Show 2019 in Las Vegas, Jan. 22-25.

The D-50 weighs about 1.7 pounds empty and 4.5 pounds loaded, making it "one of the lightest 50-round 7.62mm drums available, the website states.

And the D-50's "unique drum configuration gives it roughly the same overall height profile as a standard 25-round 7.62mm PMAG, making storage easy and shooting from various positions -- including prone -- no different than with smaller capacity magazines," the website states.

A special, ratcheting loading lever removes spring tension so the D-50 can be easily loaded by hand, the website states. The D-50 features an anti-glare translucent window on the rear of the drum for quick positive visual indication of remaining ammunition.

It can be disassembled quickly with a simple flat blade screwdriver or similar tool, and it comes with a dot-matrix pattern that allows for easy marking and identification, the website states.

The D-50 retails for about $150 and is "coming soon," according to Magpul's website. It comes with a slip-on, semi-rigid dust cover to prevent grit and debris intrusion during storage and transport.

This article originally appeared on Military.com

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Trump's Former Anti-ISIS Envoy Says Hasty Syria Withdrawal Is Giving The Terror Group 'New Life'

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 10:44 AM PST

President Donald Trump's mangled Syria pullout has breathed "new life" into ISIS, the very terror group Trump vowed to destroy before declaring it defeated, the former U.S. official in charge of the ISIS fight said.

Brett McGurk, the former special presidential envoy in charge of the 79-nation coalition to fight ISIS, wrote a blistering op-ed in the Washington Post exposing the chaos at the Pentagon and among US allies after Trump's snap decision to leave Syria.

McGurk, along with former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, resigned following Trump's move. Since then, Trump has hit back at the former officials, calling McGurk a "grandstander," and later claiming he had fired Mattis, rather than Mattis resigning.

But McGurk says that Trump totally surrendered the U.S.'s role in Syria to Turkey after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and that the decision wounded the U.S.'s credibility and standing with its allies.

Trump's declaration that U.S. had finally defeated ISIS and the only reason for U.S. forces in Syria was to fight the terror group directly contradicted statements from his own State Department, Pentagon, and national security advisor.

According to McGurk, Trump's decision will expose the Syrian Democratic Forces — a group of 60,000 regioinal Kurds, Arabs, and Christians that have won hard-fought battles against ISIS on the ground, sometimes fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with US troops — will now be exposed to Turkey's wrath, as they back opposing forces and veiw the Kurdish elements of the SDF as terrorists.

"My counterparts in coalition capitals were bewildered. Our fighting partners in the SDF, whom I had visited regularly on the ground in Syria, expressed shock and then denial, hoping Trump would change his mind," wrote McGurk.

"The president's decision to leave Syria was made without deliberation, consultation with allies or Congress, assessment of risk, or appreciation of facts," he continued, then concluding that he could not maintain his integrity while carrying out Trump's order, prompting his resignation.In conclusion, McGurk says that Trump has given ISIS and opponents of the US "new life" by pulling out of Syria in a move that will "precipitate chaos and an environment for extremists to thrive."

Trump's Syria pull out also coincided with the death of four U.S. citizens at a restaurant in what was considered a safe part of Syria under US control. The ISIS-claimed attack doubled the U.S. death toll in Syria, which had only claimed two lives since the campaign launched in 2015.

Read more from Business Insider:

SEE ALSO: Sen. Lindsey Graham Suggests Trump's Abrupt Syria Withdrawal 'Set In Motion' Deadly ISIS Attack On U.S. Troops

WATCH NEXT: The Guy Who Sent His Resume To ISIS

8 Of The Worst Places To Sleep

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 10:28 AM PST

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Here are eight of the worst places to sleep.

In a tent in the Arctic

If you love that feeling where you can't quite warm up and you're convinced you're going to die overnight from extreme temperatures, even though you're wrapped in foil like a burrito packaged with the expertise of a seasoned Chipotle employee, then we can't recommend the Arctic enough.

Let's be honest here: Even with your long johns and your heat mechanisms and your advanced survival training you're just lying to yourself. You're so damn cold you want to cry but you know your tears will freeze.

In the torpedo room

Nothing says "home away from home" like a temporary rack on a ship. "Join the Navy, see the world," really should have been, "Join the Navy, see the water."

Sure, on paper, sleeping between strangers on a ship cruising the open seas sounds like a new app we should develop, but sleeping right next to five coworkers and that one mouth-breather isn't probably what you had in mind. And if that wasn't quite enough, add the knowledge that you're in a room with several thousand pounds of bombs.

Sweet dreams, kid.

On a metal folding chair

There's nothing quite like waking yourself with a massive head bob after dozing off while sitting straight up. You know the kind: when the weight of your giant brain falls forward too quickly and bounces at the bottom with enough force you have to wonder if you may have permanently damaged your neck. You play it off with a neck roll and look around to see if anyone noticed.

Spoiler alert: They did.

And, don't worry, you'll do it again in three minutes. Kudos to this dude who probably did that six times before he put his backpack on his lap to prevent it from happening again.

On the rocks

That might be how you want your bourbon, but definitely not how you want your nap.

Just looking at where this guy is sleeping makes us uncomfortable (and not only because of the sunburn you know he's going to have on his face). There's something about gravel digging into that inch of exposed skin above your collar and tiny boulders in the small of your back that just screams nope.

On a stretcher

Pretty sure that bad boy is for the patient, but sometimes you just have to fold your body completely perpendicular to catch a few zzz's. That's gonna feel realll nice in about 20 minutes. Nothing says "hazmat suit" like throwing your back out.

On the top rack

If you ever rock, paper, scissored over who got the top bunk as a kid, then wow, do we ever have a treat for you. Now available on select C-130s in the New Zealand fleet: the top "rack." We use that term super loosely because it's more like sleeping on a web of lies that your time as a Marine would be spent doing actual things, not just training exercises.

On coke cases

Soda or pop? We're just calling it ingenious and horrible. Nothing about 39g of sugar in those tiny little cans of brown water is appealing. But if you haven't slept in a grocery store, have you ever even done a relief mission?

On the floor of the Department of Agriculture

Sure, the ground, the racks, the snow, the stretcher - it all sucks, but can you really beat the floor of the Department of Agriculture?

It might be the knowledge that every defeated farmer — who just that morning waded through pig and cow manure — used those same shoes to walk where you're sleeping in order to talk about the Farm Bill that makes this one the worst. Oh you're still okay with it? How about the countless bureaucrats who took the red eye in to make it to their 9:00 briefing and had those same shoes on in the Delta lavatory and then at Dulles? Add in some spilt coffee, regret and broken promises and the only thing you're dreaming about is getting the hell off the floor.

We've all been there … the point where you're so tired you will literally sleep anywhere. And when you're in those moments, you don't care how many people walked where your face is resting. It's also why it's so important that the times you are able to sleep in a bed, you not only cherish them, you enjoy them.

This is a sponsored post presented by Casper. Task & Purpose readers can get $75 off their Casper line and $150 off their Wave mattresses by using the coupon code TASKPURPOSE at checkout. Fatigue might be the best pillow, but Casper has the best mattresses.

This Soldier Claimed He Saved An Injured Motorist With A Ballpoint Pen. Well, That's Probably B.S.

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 09:58 AM PST

It's a familiar tale of service to American society far beyond the U.S. armed forces. A soldier encounters a traffic accident while traveling home and immediately rushes to aid a driver trapped in his vehicle and, after freeing him, saves his life with nothing more than a hoodie, a pen, and the training he received from his unit's medics. It's the stuff that Army recruiting commercials are made of.

Except there's one problem: It's most likely bullshit.

On January 9th, Army public affairs officials recounted the heroic actions of Sgt. Trey Troney, a field artillery cannon crew member with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division who stopped to aid motorists when he came upon a major accident on Interstate 20 outside of Sweetwater, Texas. The now-deleted story (still visible through Google Cache) makes the 20-year-old soldier sound like a modern-day MacGuyver:

Seeing Jeff Udger, of Longview, Texas, slumped over the steering wheel of his truck, Troney asked two other men to help him pry open the door. Udger had a bad gash on his head, and Troney took off his brand new "Salute to Service" New Orleans Saints hoodie and wrapped it around Udger's head to help stop the bleeding.

At this point, Udger was still conscious enough to make a joke about it, Troney said.

"Well, this is Cowboy country, so I don't know how I feel about you wrapping me up in a Saints hoodie," Udger told Troney.

Soon after, however, Troney noticed that the left side of Udger's chest wasn't moving, and he realized Udger had a collapsed lung. Troney ran back to his Jeep, hoping he still had some first aid supplies left from the brigade's recent rotation at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. Sure enough, he had a Needle Chest Compression, or NCD, and an Individual First Aid Kit, or IFAK, so he grabbed them and ran back to Udger.

While his training made the use of the NCD second nature for Troney, he had to think fast after the NCD needle was too small to reach into Udger's collapsed lung and relieve pressure.

Finding a ballpoint pen, he had an idea. He tore off the ends of the pen and took out the ink so it was just a hollow tube.

"I took the NCD and put it right in the hole and kind of wiggled (the pen) in with my hand in between the ribs and you just started to see the bubbles come out of the tip, and I was like, 'OK, we're good,'" said Troney.

The state trooper who had just arrived asked, "Did you just put an ink pen between his ribs?"

"I was like, 'I did,'" Troney said. "And [the state trooper] was like, 'he's on no pain meds,' and I said, 'oh, he felt it, but he's unconscious. He lost consciousness as I was running back to my Jeep because he had lost a lot of blood.'"

Even though the story was recounted by every media outlet from Fox News to Army Times, Fort Bliss officials retracted the story on Thursday after several readers, including the vibrant U.S. Army WTF! Moments community, questioned the details of the incident. Sweetwater's own fire chief Grant Madden told Army Times that the injuries and first aid described by Troney didn't even match those of the alleged victim.

"I was at that wreck," Madden told Army Times. "I removed the man from the wreck."

According to Army Times, Troney's command has initiated an investigation to determine "whether he lied to his leadership about his role in the accident" prior to the public affairs shop's touting his heroism from the mountaintops.

"The entire 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss team sincerely apologize to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Highway Patrol, the city of Sweetwater, Texas, the city of El Paso, the University of Texas at El Paso, the New Orleans Saints, the local and national media and the American people," spokeswoman Maj. Allie Payne said in a statement.

Now, we can't fully blame media outlets for picking up what the Army claimed was a solid story. But here's a word of advice to public affairs officials: If a story is too good to be true, it probably is — no matter how badly you want to showcase the capabilities of your soldiers.

SEE ALSO: 6 Service Members And Vets Who Kick Ass And Take Names In Daily Life

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Marvel's Baddest Vet Absolutely Lives Up To His Title In 'The Punisher' Season 2

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 07:57 AM PST

Why, oh why didn't you just kill Billy Russo when you had the chance, Frank?

That's the question I asked myself throughout the entirety of The Punisher's second season, which Task & Purpose had a chance to review ahead of the show's Jan. 18 release. Most of those 13 blood-soaked episodes would have been unnecessary if Jon Bernthal's titular character had just killed, instead of maimed, his one-time friend and brother in arms at the end of season one.

Fortunately for us, and less than fortunate for Frank and the villains he sets his sights on, he didn't, and that means we get another season of rip-roaring revenge. (Warning: there are mild spoilers ahead.)

The second season picks up where the first left off, with Frank Castle having successfully killed or otherwise dispatched everyone involved in the death of his family. He's now on the road, wandering from town to town, and for one brief moment — so brief it doesn't last to the second episode — Frank has a chance to start anew. He meets a nice woman, they spend an evening (and awkward morning) together, and he considers a different path.

And then it all promptly goes to shit.

By the end of episode one Frank is standing in the center of a bar covered in blood with bodies piled up around him, and he's found himself the de facto protector of a juvenile delinquent who's being hunted by a team of assassins. Frank's new charge, Amy Bendix (Giorgia Whigham), is on the run from a Christian fundamentalist named John Pilgrim (Josh Stewart) who was sent to hunt her down because she's gotten ahold of some photos that could be compromising for a powerful American political family.

He's back to finish the job. Marvel's The Punisher/Netflix

And then, almost as soon as this story arch is introduced, the show pivots and Frank and his new protege, who's there as much to get into trouble as to deliver sassy one-liners, are whisked away to New York to hunt down Russo who's escaped from the hospital, and to make him pay for his deeds.

Which makes it particularly disappointing, for both Frank and the audience, when it's revealed that Russo doesn't remember a damn thing about himself. Once a cold-blooded killer who betrayed everyone who ever cared for him, all for a corner office and a paycheck — he's now just a patchwork of shattered memories, haunted by the leering white skull that The Punisher wears on his flak jacket. For Russo, he's still back in the sandbox with his buddies. They're still Marines, still brothers, and so when Frank comes for him, it's actually Russo who feels betrayed.

That's really what season two is all about: tit for tat vengeance.

Despite that jumbled pile of confusing plot-lines, the second season delivers on some of the show's strongest elements. The cinematography and choreography are as beautiful as the combat sequences are brutal, and the show seamlessly incorporates its numerous veterans backstories in a way that feels natural and plausible, well, for the most part.

When Russo is re-introduced, he's seen sporting a mask that he's painted during his recovery — a nod from show runner Steve Lightfoot to an art therapy project used to help patients with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. In another scene, Frank drops the "vet card" when he casually explains away his ass-kicking proficiency with "I was in the Marines." Then there's "Valhalla," what Russo and his crew call their hideout, and the use of "mic" instead of minute, casually tossed about acronyms like "CQB," and other bits of military lingo sprinkled in like so much prepackaged MRE seasoning.

Billy Russo (Ben Barnes) in 'The Punisher' wears an art therapy mask similar to those used to help patients with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder. Marvel's The Punisher/Netflix

Beyond little snippets of dialogue, the characters' military service feels integral to their identity, rather than just a throwaway explanation for why they're all so damn good at shooting people. This is particularly true for Frank Castle, who's time in the Marine Corps provides the foundation for his beliefs: It explains his rage at Russo's betrayal, and his singular focus on the task at hand: Punishment.

In one scene, Frank, sporting his signature flak jacket and white skull motif, takes on a dozen disheartened veterans that Russo has pulled to his side by the lure of money, power, and a restored sense of purpose.

The ensuing brawl is less of a fight between men than what might happen when you give an unstoppable force a submachine gun, and put it up against a flimsy cardboard wall, instead of an immovable object. By the end of the bloodbath, much like the end of the season, punishment has been dealt, loose-ends tied up, and only one man is left standing.

I'm pretty sure you can guess who.

Season 2 of Marvel's The Punisher airs on Netflix Jan. 18, 2019.

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Senate Honors Richard Overton, The 112-Year-Old World War II Veteran Who Died Last Month

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 07:56 AM PST

The Senate passed a resolution honoring the life of Richard Overton on Thursday, in expression of a "deep appreciation for the outstanding and important service" that he gave to the United States.

The 112-year-old was the nation's oldest man and had been the oldest living World War II veteran since 2016. He died on Dec. 27 and was buried at the Texas State Cemetary on Saturday, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a resolution on Jan. 8 that outlined Overton's life from birth through his service in World War II to his becoming the oldest surviving World War II veteran in 2016, before offering the Senate's "heartfelt sympathy" to his family. Co-sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), it passed by voice vote on Thursday.

Richard Arvin Overton was born May 11, 1906 in Bastrop County, Texas, before he enlisted in the Army in 1940 and served in the Pacific theater from 1942 to 1945, the resolution said. Serving with the all African-American 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion, he was on Guam, Palau, and Iwo Jima and attained the rank of corporal.

Overton became the oldest surviving World War II veteran on May 3, 2016, after fellow World War II veteran Frank Levingston passed away at 110.


"Richard Overton is a United States hero who exemplified strength, sacrifice, and service to the country," the resolution said.

You can read the full resolution, S. RES. 10, below:

Honoring the life of Richard Arvin Overton.

    Whereas, on May 11, 1906, Richard Arvin Overton was born to Gentry Overton, Sr., and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Overton in Bastrop County, Texas;

    Whereas, in 1940, Richard Arvin Overton enlisted in the Army and began his military service at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas;

    Whereas, from 1942 to 1945, Richard Arvin Overton bravely served in the Pacific theater, including in Guam, Palau, and Iwo Jima, with the 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion, an all African-American unit, until the conclusion of World War II;

    Whereas Richard Arvin Overton attained the rank of corporal in the Army;

    Whereas Richard Arvin Overton earned the Combat Infantry Badge, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Expert Rifle Marksmanship Badge;

    Whereas Richard Arvin Overton returned to Austin, Texas, after the end of World War II and resided there until his death;

    Whereas, on November 11, 2013, Richard Arvin Overton was honored by former President Barack Obama at Arlington National Cemetery for his courage and commitment to service in combat zones such as Pearl Harbor, the Marshall Islands, Guam, Palau, and Iwo Jima;

    Whereas, on January 3, 2015, Richard Arvin Overton represented The Greatest Generation at the 2015 United States Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas;

    Whereas, on May 3, 2016, Richard Arvin Overton became the oldest surviving veteran of the Armed Forces after the death of Frank Levingston, a fellow World War II veteran;

    Whereas, on May 11, 2016, Richard Arvin Overton attained 110 years of age and became a supercentenarian;

    Whereas, in Austin, Texas, May 11th of each year is designated as "Richard Overton Day" in honor of Richard Arvin Overton's birthday;

    Whereas, in 2017, the city of Austin, Texas, officially renamed the street on which Richard Arvin Overton resided to "Richard Overton Avenue";

    Whereas Richard Arvin Overton died on December 27, 2018;

    Whereas Richard Arvin Overton will be laid to rest with full military honors at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas; and

    Whereas Richard Arvin Overton is a United States hero who exemplified strength, sacrifice, and service to the country: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) extends its heartfelt sympathy to the family of Richard Arvin Overton on the occasion of his death;

(2) honors the life of Richard Arvin Overton and his service to the United States;

(3) honors and, on behalf of the United States, expresses deep appreciation for the outstanding and important service of Richard Arvin Overton to the United States; and

(4) respectfully requests that the Secretary of the Senate communicate this resolution to the House of Representatives and transmit an enrolled copy of this resolution to the family of Richard Arvin Overton.

SEE ALSO: Richard Overton, America's Oldest Veteran, Was Finally Laid To Rest In Texas — With A Box Of Cigars And A Bottle Of Whiskey

WATCH: World War II Training Commercial On How To 'Crack A Tank'

Coast Guard Members May End Up Getting Paid Despite The Government Shutdown

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 07:22 AM PST

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan said Wednesday he's won White House and bipartisan support for a bill to pay the nation's Coast Guard personnel during the shutdown.

He called the service members the hardest-hit of federal employees affected by the unprecedented lapse in government funding.

"I just got out of a fairly lengthy meeting with the president in the Oval Office," Sullivan said. "We talked about this, and he said he's supportive of the bill."

"We're making progress," he said.

Sullivan pushed for the bill's passage in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, the same day Coast Guard personnel nationwide missed their first paycheck during the closure.

"As you know, the partial government shutdown is negatively impacting federal workers, but none, none more so than the brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard," said Sullivan, chair of the Senate Commerce subcommittee on Security, with jurisdiction over the Coast Guard.

He said the bill would cover more than 41,000 active-duty Coast Guard personnel and retirees. About 1,908 active-duty Coast Guardsmen work in Alaska. The Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, one of nine departments whose funding lapsed, but Coast Guard personnel are deemed essential and are working without pay.

The measure is not enough, said Dave Owens, Alaska representative for the American Federation of Government Employees union.

Sullivan and the Alaska delegation need to end the partial government shutdown now so all 800,000 affected federal employees get paid, Owens said.

More than 5,000 federal workers in Alaska, not counting the Coast Guard personnel, missed their first paycheck on Friday in a record-long shutdown that has dragged on close to a month, he said. Like the Coast Guardsmen, many of those federal employees are working without pay, such as forecasters with the National Weather Service.

Civilian workers with the Coast Guard weren't covered in the latest bill draft on Wednesday afternoon. Owens said that will hurt many Alaskans who work alongside Coast Guard military personnel, including a large group of firefighters supporting activities at the Coast Guard base in Kodiak.

"They're all Alaskans, and the last time I checked the senator represents Alaskans," Owens said.

"This is insane," Owens said of a shutdown with no end in sight.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Wednesday on Twitter there's no reason the Coast Guard or any of the nation's federal workers should "be held hostage due to a political dispute." She said she'll keep working to end the shutdown.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is working to pass the bill, she tweeted Tuesday.

Senate Democratic leaders also support it, Sullivan said.

He said the cross-aisle support for the bill could be a template for a broader effort to end the shutdown.

The president recognizes the unique situation the Coast Guard faces, he said.

"The Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marines are all out there risking their lives for our nation," Sullivan said in his floor speech, referencing military branches funded by the still-open Department of Defense. "We greatly appreciate that. And guess what. They are getting paid to do it, as they should be. But the Coast Guard members are also out there risking their lives, especially in my state."

"By the way, if they want to just go quit, they are going to be court-martialed. That is different than other federal service," Sullivan said.

Sullivan has said he supports Trump's effort to expand the border wall with $5.7 billion in funding -- the catalyst for the impasse with Democrats. The senator said last week greater border security is needed to stop a "humanitarian crisis" that's tied to the nation's opioid epidemic and "evil" human traffickers who lead children into "lives of hell."

Sullivan said the nonpayment of Coast Guard members was apparently the first time that military service members weren't paid during a shutdown.

"We need to treat all members of the military, all five branches, the same: pay, retirement, shutdowns," Sullivan said on the floor.

Sitka resident Sarah Lamb, a wife and mother of active-duty Coast Guard members, said Wednesday her family will be happy for the paycheck if it comes.

But she feels for all federal workers who aren't being paid. Her family used their last paychecks to pre-pay bills, "biting" into savings. Others have it harder, and she's working with Coast Guard officials in Sitka to find help for federal employees in need.

A GoFundMe page was created Sunday to buy food for Coast Guard employees in Alaska towns.

"They need to get this figured out," she said of Congress.


©2019 the Alaska Dispatch News (Anchorage, Alaska). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Army Ranger Dies After Being Wounded In Afghanistan

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 05:27 AM PST

A Ranger has died after being wounded by small arms fire during a Jan. 13 battle in northwest Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced on Friday.

Sgt. Cameron A. Meddock, 26, died on Thursday in Landstuhl, Germany, a Defense Department news release says. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

"Sergeant Cameron Meddock is one of America's precious sons," Col. Brandon Tegtmeier, commander, 75th Ranger Regiment, said in a news release. "The entire nation should strive to emulate the warrior, patriot and husband that Cameron was. The 75th Ranger Regiment will forever honor Sergeant Cameron Meddock and his family will forever be a member of our Ranger family."

Meddock was on his second deployment to Afghanistan, serving as a fire team leader, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He had previously served as a machine gunner, automatic rifleman, and gun team leader. His military awards include the Purple Heart.

"Sergeant Cameron Meddock was a phenomenal Ranger, and his selfless service represents the very best of our great nation," Lt. Col. Rob McChrystal, commander of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, said in the news release. "He will be missed dearly and the 2nd Ranger Battalion offers its sincerest condolences to his family."

SEE ALSO: Trump Reportedly Wants To Withdraw All US Troops From Afghanistan By The Next Presidential Election

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Trump Vows To Boost Spending And Coverage Of US Missile Defense System

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 05:15 AM PST

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump called Thursday for dramatically broadening U.S. defenses against missile attacks, outlining a costly and scientifically unproven plan for developing lasers and space sensors to defend all of the United States' territory from ballistic missile threats.

"Our strategy is grounded in one overriding objective: to detect and destroy every type of missile attack against any American target, whether before or after launch," Trump told military brass and Defense Department officials gathered at the Pentagon for release of the administration's long-awaited missile defense strategy.

Trump's expansive vision of an impenetrable U.S missile shield — one first enunciated by President Ronald Reagan 35 years ago — goes well beyond the Pentagon's technical and scientific capacity, the reality that grounded most of Reagan's "Star Wars" initiative.

Nor does it reflect the Trump administration's near-term goals, which remain focused on developing the capability to knock out a limited missile strike by Iran or North Korea, and, at least theoretically, new short- and medium-range weapons being developed by China and Russia that could threaten Europe and Asia.

But Trump used the speech to press his "American First" agenda, fitting his call for expanded missile defense with familiar broadsides on Democrats in Congress for blocking his proposed border wall and on U.S. allies for failing to pay enough for their own defense.

Democrats in Congress, even some who have backed the development of the current limited U.S. missile defense system, questioned Trump's vision of a vast shield over the nation.

"An effective missile defense system can serve as a deterrent to conflict, protect our forward-deployed forces and the homeland, and create an opening for diplomacy," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "But it's not a magic bulletproof shield and it comes with a considerable price tag."

In brief remarks before Trump spoke, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Iran, North Korea, Russia and China were developing new short- and medium-range ballistic missiles that pose growing threats to U.S. forces abroad and to allies in Europe and Asia.

"The rest of the world is not developing new fighters and bombers; they are developing missiles," Shanahan said. "America's competitors, including China and Russia, are expanding their missile arsenals … and (have) integrated these more effectively into war planning."

Trump failed to mention Russian or China in his speech. Nor did he mention North Korea, which has tested a suspected hydrogen bomb and a long-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States since Trump took office.

After a summit in Singapore last June with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last year and a suspension of its nuclear testing, Trump declared that Pyongyang no longer represented a nuclear threat to the U.S.

Experts say they've seen no sign that Kim's regime has taken any steps to give up its nuclear weapons arsenal or production, however. Several senior North Korean officials were expected in Washington this week to discuss a possible second summit between Trump and Kim, and apparently to try to revive the stalled talks.

The Missile Defense Review, which the Pentagon released as Trump spoke, calls for researching and development of new technologies that can detect and intercept missiles, including so-called hypersonic missiles, which travel at five or more times the speed of sound.

The review calls for a study next year on the feasibility of developing and launching sensors in space that could detect missile launches around the globe. It also calls for further research into lasers and other so-called directed energy devices that could, in theory, knock out ballistic missiles early in flight.

The Pentagon is supposed to deliver a report within six months on the feasibility of placing nonnuclear missile defense interceptors on satellites.

The administration plans to add more interceptors to the existing missile defense sites at Fort Greeley in Alaska and at Vandenberg Air Force base in California. The report calls for studying the option of adding a third interceptor site on the East Coast, an idea aimed at bolstering defenses against a possible limited missile attack from Iran.

Even an expanded missile shield would not stop a major attack by Russia or China, U.S. officials said.

Both countries have large arsenals of intercontinental ballistic missiles topped with nuclear warheads that U.S. officials say could overwhelm an expanded U.S. system in a large-scale nuclear exchange.

To deter China and Russia, the U.S. continues to rely on deterrence and the threat that it would respond to any nuclear attack with a devastating counter-salvo of ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads from silos in the U.S. and sea-based submarines.

"They have very large sophisticated arsenals and we are postured to rely on our deterrent to deter Russia and China" from large-scale attacks on the U.S., a senior official told reporters.

But short- and medium-range missiles being developed by China and Russia could be targeted by expanded U.S. defenses aimed at so-called regional threats in Europe and Asia, officials said.


©2019 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Leaked Video Appears To Show An F-35 Hitting 5 Precision Targets At Once In 'Beast Mode'

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 04:20 AM PST

A recently leaked video sheds light on one of the F-35's possible weapons configurations, previously dubbed as "beast mode" in a Lockheed Martin infographic.

The video, dating back to November of 2018, depicts an F-35 simultaneously firing five air-to-surface missiles against five test targets. At least one of the targets-- a light vehicle-- can be seen moving.

Though it is presently unconfirmed where the trial took place and what kind of guided bomb was used, defense expert Ian D'Costa offered some clarifying insight to The Aviationist : "It's an F-35 at NTTR (Nellis Test and Training Range), I could be wrong, but it [seems to be] dropping five Paveway IVs and hitting all five targets with GEOT (Good Effect On Target)."

While the site's location remains disputed, the bombs depicted in the video are widely believed to be Paveway IV's. Paveway IV is a 500-pound, British laser-guided bomb, described by the U.K military describes as "an advanced and highly accurate weapon that provides the RAF's strike force with a state-of-the-art precision guided bombing capability."


Paveway IV, introduced in 2008 and currently confirmed to be in use by the British and Saudi Arabian militaries, was developed and manufactured in close cooperation with US supply chains. This test could be the latest in a round of recent US Air Force Pavement IV trials on the F-35 platform, though it should be kept in mind that the video is likely a snippet from a series of tests involving multiple weapons.

The F-35 is compatible with several weapon layouts to accommodate a wider range of tactical scenarios. The "stealth" configuration consists of four AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles for air-to-air missions, or a mixture of four AIM-120's/GBU-31 JDAM "smart bombs" for air-to-ground missions, all loaded into the F-35's internal armaments bay. As the name implies, stealth loadouts are designed to minimize radar cross-section in a "first day of war" setting where the enemy's anti-air systems are operating at full capacity.

As more hostile anti-air systems are eliminated, the conflict enters into a " third day of war " stage-- also known as beast mode-- when the F-35 becomes free to deploy externally-mounted weapons with a larger radar footprint.

The F-35's beast mode boasts a whopping maximum of fourteen AIM-120 missiles and two smaller AIM-9X missiles for air missions, or six GBU-31's along with four AIM-120's/9X's for ground missions.

This heaping of weapons is housed in a combination of external and internal storage bays, which also appears to be the case in this recently leaked test. A Dutch F-35 flying in beast mode was sighted last year, armed with four GBU-31's and two AIM-9X sidewinders in its external bay. F-35's sporting the full, sixteen-missile air-to-air suite have yet to be spotted.

These leaks come hot on the heels of an air show teaser clip released last week by Capt. Andrew "Dojo" Olson, depicting a series of impressive aerobatic maneuvers performed with an F-35A.

Following a year of technical challenges and difficult cost-benefit questions, the F-35 seems to be starting 2019 in a decidedly more positive key. Only time will tell if this trend endures.

This article originally appeared on The National Interest.

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Pentagon Identifies Soldier, Sailor, And DoD Civilian Killed In Syria

Posted: 18 Jan 2019 04:19 AM PST

The Defense Department has identified two U.S. service members and a Defense Department civilian, who were killed by an ISIS suicide bomber Wednesday in Manbij, Syria. A Defense Department contractor was also killed in the blast.

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, and Defense Department civilian Scott A. Wirtz were killed, a Pentagon news release says.

Farmer, 37, was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He joined the Army in 2005 and was on his sixth combat tour, a U.S. Army Special Operations Command news release says. He deployed to Iraq five times and to Afghanistan once. His military awards include the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Purple Heart.

He is survived by his wife and four children, the news release says.

Kent, 35, was assigned to Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66, based at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. She joined the Navy in 2003 and became a chief petty officer in August 2012, according to her military record. Her military awards include the Iraq Campaign Medal, Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon, and Pistol Marksmanship ribbon.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and teammates of Chief Petty Officer Kent during this extremely difficult time. She was a rock star, an outstanding chief petty officer, and leader to many in the Navy Information Warfare Community," Cmdr. Joseph Harrison, Commanding Officer of Cryptologic Warfare Activity 66, said in a news release.

Wirtz was assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency as an operations support specialist. He is a former SEAL, who spent 10 years in the Navy, leaving the service as a petty officer first class, according to his DIA biography. He joined the DIA in February 2017 and made three deployments to the Middle East with the agency.

Defense officials have not released much information about the circumstances surrounding their deaths. Army Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq and Syria, said all four Americans were "conducting a routine patrol in Syria" when the explosion occurred.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence paid tribute to the four Americans killed while speaking Thursday at the Pentagon.

"I want to take a moment to express my deepest condolences to the families of the brave American heroes who laid down their lives yesterday in selfless service to our nation – these are great people; great, great people." Trump said. "We will never forget their noble and immortal sacrifice."

Trump has ordered the withdrawal of all U.S. troops in Syria, but is unclear how long that will take.

"Today, along with all of you, our hearts and our prayers are with the families of the fallen American heroes who were lost in Syria yesterday as well as those service members who were wounded," Pence said Thursday at the Pentagon. "We honor their service and we will honor the memory of the fallen.

"Their families and our armed forces should know: Their sacrifice will only steel our resolve that as we begin to bring our troops home we will do so in a way that ensures that the remnants of ISIS will never be able to reestablish their evil and murderous caliphate."

SEE ALSO: Sen. Lindsey Graham Suggests Trump's Abrupt Syria Withdrawal 'Set In Motion' Deadly ISIS Attack On US Troops

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