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Great work is always measurable

Global expedition leader receives three lofty honors in less-than-four weeks

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Great men are often recognized by single great achievements. Truly great men are recognized – and measured – by regular accomplishments achieved in relatively short spans of time; with those spans being linked to a longer chain of the same, year-after-year.

Take, for example, my longtime friend Tom Mullikin. He is always doing something, going somewhere, leading a team, climbing a mountain, diving with sharks, or finding a solution in a world of problems. And a measure (though not all) of what he does has been recognized in his latest three acknowledgments of measurably good work.

Last month, Mullikin – an attorney, professor, and global expedition leader (a “NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC expert,” by the way) – traveled to New York for a three-day conference where he was welcomed into the company of the famed EXPLORERS CLUB as a Fellow. The Explorers Club is an elite organization of, yes, accomplished explorers, some of whom have been the first to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the Mariana Trench (the deepest point in the ocean), and first to the surface of the moon.

Then earlier this week, Mullikin was named a Fellow in the ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY. Since its founding in 1830 as the Geographical Society of London, the Royal Geographical Society has included the likes Ernest Shackleton and Charles Darwin among its number. Continue reading “Great work is always measurable”

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Mullikin honored by USC during gameday halftime ceremonies

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Maj. Gen. Tom Mullikin, commander of the S.C. State Guard (SCSG) and a former U.S. Army officer, was honored for his service to the state and nation during halftime ceremonies at the South Carolina vs. Wofford football game, Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, Saturday, November 18.

A Camden-based attorney, university professor and internationally-recognized global expedition leader, Mullikin [pictured center and to the right of USC athletic director Ray Tanner] has served as commander (commanding general) of the SCSG since 2014.

Mullikin was joined by two other military veterans who were also recognized: Mr.  Frank Singleton, a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, and Sgt. Ramon Guitard, a U.S. Army veteran of the Iraq War. The three were honored as part of the University of South Carolina’s “Military Appreciation Day.” The previous Saturday, November 11, was Veterans Day. And November is Veterans Month.

“I am humbled and tremendously honored to receive this recognition by my alma mater,” said Mullikin. “But perhaps more-so because this great university is always recognizing and striving to find new ways to reach out to and serve this state’s sizeable veterans’ community. And our veterans – active, Reserve, Guard, retired and former – are so important to this state.”

A graduate of both USC (undergraduate) and the USC School of Law, Mullikin is today a research professor in environmental policy at Coastal Carolina University. He began his military career as a U.S. Army Reserve JAG lawyer and was attached as an international legal officer to a Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) within the U.S. Special Operations Command. Following his Army service, Mullikin served as special assistant to the Chief Prosecutor of Military Commissions, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, who previously said, “Because of his extraordinary work, I can confidently affirm that Mullikin’s efforts are a meaningful contribution to the whole of our national security efforts.”

Mullikin is a noted world adventurer, having climbed four of the world’s seven great summits and having logged multiple dives in five oceans (now nearing a record for the combination of both climbs and dives). He is also an author and an award-winning film producer.

Founded in 1801, USC is a nationally ranked public university and the flagship university for the Palmetto State.

For more information about USC, please visit

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16 years ago: ‘the people that knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon’

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Climate change disaster model: The Fall of Egypt

By Lucas Joseph

Ancient Egypt – specifically the Old Kingdom of the 3rd through the 8th dynasties – has often been described as a grand civilization with a uniquely diverse society and ever-revered albeit misunderstood culture, intimately connected to both its climate and the Nile River: With climate greatly impacting the Nile, and the Nile profoundly impacting both the societal and cultural development of Egypt.

To say that Egypt was – and will forever be – one of recorded history’s greatest succession of dynastic powers is an understatement to be sure. It is also no understatement to suggest that without the presence of the Nile, those dynasties simply never would have been.

The Nile River – including its two main tributaries, the Blue Nile and the White Nile – is vast. Second only in length to the great Amazon, (which is debated as some experts argue the Nile is longest depending upon how the two rivers’ lengths are calculated) the Nile’s watershed stretches across 11 northeastern and East African countries.

Without the waters of the Nile, there would have been no flourishing of Egypt as it did for so many thousands of years. In fact, ancient Egyptian civilizations were so heavily reliant on the Nile’s predictable seasonal ebb-and-flow for their agricultural yields that changes in precipitation at the great river’s headwaters would have been – and were – catastrophic for those working and living all along the river.

Which brings us to the oft-discussed question as to whether-or-not a negative climate change (negative being deleterious to humanity) resulted in the ultimate disintegration of what was clearly an economically thriving, highly organized civilization in a matter of decades.

Continue reading “Climate change disaster model: The Fall of Egypt”

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Event in Charleston, S.C., kicks-off State Guard exercise


Pictured L-R are COL Muse; Maj. Gen. Livingston, and Maj. Gen. Mullikin.

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The all-volunteer S.C. State Guard hosted an “An Evening at Carmella’s” on historic East Bay Street in downtown Charleston, last Fri. evening. The event, a fundraiser for the S.C. State Guard’s 3rd Brigade and part of the brigade’s weekend-long capabilities exercise (CAPEX), was “a huge success,” according to officials.

Col. Charles Muse, a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer who today commands the S.C. State Guard’s 3rd Brigade, made introductory remarks, which were followed by keynote speakers retired U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, recipient of the MEDAL OF HONOR, the nation’s highest award for combat valor; and Maj. Gen. Tom Mullikin, a Camden-based attorney and former U.S. Army officer who today commands the S.C. State Guard.

All spoke to the relevancy and necessity of a well-trained state defense force organization like the S.C. State Guard – proven during recent natural disasters – in the era of high-tempo overseas deployments for Army and Air National Guard units.

The S.C. State Guard is one of the oldest military organizations in the country; its earliest predecessor organization, the First Provincial Militia, having been founded in 1670 a few miles from downtown Charleston just across the Ashley River at Albemarle Point. Today headquartered in Columbia, and with operational units strategically positioned throughout the state; the S.C. State Guard is organized as a component organization under the S.C. Military Dept., which also oversees the S.C. Army National Guard, the S.C. Air National Guard, the S.C. Emergency Management Div. and other elements.

Unlike the S.C. National Guard, however, the S.C. State Guard is an unpaid force of professional volunteers – including physicians and other medical professionals, attorneys, engineers, chaplains, university professors, communications experts, certified law-enforcement officers, retired and former U.S. military officers, NCOs, and nationally recognized search-and-rescue (SAR) professionals among others – all of whom provide zero-cost disaster-response and other services to the state. Like other state defense forces, nationwide, the S.C. State Guard is established under the authority of Title 32, Section 109, of the United States Code.

“The S.C. State Guard provided critical resources during the recent hurricanes and hurricane-related flooding events of 2015 and 2016,” says Mullikin. “The professionals within the force were among the first to respond, and they saved South Carolina lives and taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars through their efforts.”

According to Mullikin, the S.C. State Guard, provided more than 33,000 hours of service over one calendar year during the disastrous storms which also drove additional resources into the state as FEMA reimbursement for services rendered.

Friday’s event was attended by Charleston-area business and political leaders, as well as others from Columbia and elsewhere around the state. The fundraiser served one of three functions of the 3rd Brigade CAPEX, which also included recruiting and training.

Sat. through Sun, the CAPEX – held in-and-around the Mount Pleasant National Guard Armory – included classroom instruction for State Guardsmen, swift-water rescue training for the brigade’s SAR team as well as a public demonstration of SAR capabilties, SCUBA training for the brigade’s dive team and a dive-team demonstration.

The S.C. State Guard’s 3rd Brigade is based in the Lowcountry. The 1st Brigade is based in the Midlands as are the various headquarters elements and command staff. The 2nd Brigade is based in the Upstate.

– For additional information about the S.C. State Guard, please visit

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May 30 in U.S. military history

1866: “Decoration Day” – the predecessor to Memorial Day – is first observed by order of U.S. Army Gen. John A. Logan, who designated the day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country.” Maj. Gen. (future U.S. pres.) James A. Garfield presides over ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery (the former estate of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee), and approximately 5,000 participants decorate the graves of both Union and Confederate dead — about 20,000 of them — buried on the grounds.

1904: As seven warships of the European and South Atlantic squadrons sit anchored off the North African coast, Marines from the armored cruiser USS Brooklyn (ACR-3), commanded by Capt. John T. “Handsome Jack” Myers, land at Tangiers, Morocco to reinforce the guard force at the American Consulate. The outlaw Raisuli had captured Greek-American expatriate Ion Perdicaris, holding him for ransom, raising tensions between Raisuli and the Sultan.

1942: The B-17F “Flying Fortress” bomber makes its first flight. The Boeing B-17 entered service back in 1935, but the “F” model has several hundred improvements to the airframe. Over 3,000 are built.

That same day, the U.S. Army accepts delivery of the world’s first production helicopter – the Sikorsky R-4. Designer Igor Sikorsky flew the R-4 over 700 miles in a record-setting cross-country trip from the factory in Connecticut to Wright Field (modern-day Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) in Dayton, Ohio. Pilots use the new aircraft to rescue several downed aircrews and sailors in addition to support roles during World War II.

And in the Pacific, Rear Adm. Frank J. Fletcher’s Task Force 17 departs Pearl Harbor following 72 hours of frantic repairs to USS Yorktown (CV-5). Damaged in the Battle of the Coral Sea, original estimates said that Yorktown required months of repairs to place the warship back in full service. But the Navy needs all the flattops it can get for the upcoming battle at Midway, so the ships sail west (as crews continue their repairs) to join Rear Adm. Raymond A. Spruance’s task force with Enterprise and Hornet already enroute .

1943: After a last-ditch bonsai charge led by Col. Yasuyo Yamasaki, resulting in fierce hand-to-hand fighting, U.S. and Canadian forces have secured the Alaskan island of Attu. Only 28 of the original 8,000-man Japanese occupation force are captured alive. There will be another amphibious landing at Kiska Island in August, but the troops find the island deserted. The brutally cold Aleutian Campaign is over.

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May 5 in U.S. military history

1862: Disappointed in the lack of progress of Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign, President Abraham Lincoln departs for Hampton Roads, Va. on the Treasury Department revenue cutter Miami to personally oversee operations. Over five days, the president – a former militia rifle company commander – directs the bombardment of Confederate positions and lands to conduct reconnaissance of the area with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase.

1864: The bloody albeit inconclusive Battle of the Wilderness (Virginia) opens between Union Army forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, and Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee. Fighting is grim: Casualties will be heavy on both sides. Union and Confederate generals will be killed. Wounded and trapped soldiers will be burned alive by a battle-sparked woods fire. Within two days, Grant will disengage and advance toward Spotsylvania Courthouse.

1916: Two companies of Marines from the transport USS Prairie (AD-5) land at Santo Domingo, beginning the United States’ eight-year occupation of the Dominican Republic. The leathernecks provide protection for the U.S. Legation and Consulate, and occupy the nearby Fort San Geronimo.

1917: Eugene J. Bullard becomes the first black combat aviator, earning his wings with the French Air Service. The Columbus, Ga. native’s father came to America from the Caribbean island of Martinique and his mother was a Creek indian. Bullard fled to Europe to escape racism in the United States and joined the French Foreign Legion as a machine gunner, seeing action in the Somme, Champagne, and Verdun campaigns before being wounded. After recovering, he joined the air service and earned his pilot’s license. The “Black Swallow of Death” would fly 20 combat missions for the French – claiming two aerial kills – before war’s end. He volunteered for the infantry when Germany invaded France again in 1940 and was wounded.

1945: A Japanese balloon bomb explodes in Bly, Oregon, killing a pastor, his wife, and five Sunday schoolchildren on the way to a picnic. The Japanese sent over 9,000 of these incendiary devices into the jet stream, hoping some would land in America and the small explosives would start forest fires or cause casualties. A few hundred of the world’s first “intercontinental weapon” were observed in the United States, going as far inland as Iowa and Michigan, but the only casualties are the one explosion in Bly. The highly technical devices use altimeters and valves to control the hydrogen-filled balloons during the three-day, 8,000-mile flight from the east coast of Japan’s Honshu island.

1961: At 9:34 am, U.S. Navy Commander (future rear admiral) Alan B. Shepard Jr.’s Mercury-Redstone rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Shepard becomes the first American in space as his “Freedom 7” capsule carries him 116 miles above the Earth’s surface. NASA’s first manned space flight tests the ability of humans to withstand the intense g-forces during liftoff and re-entry as Shepard encounters 11.6 g’s as he plummets to the surface during his 15 minute flight.

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You can’t defeat what you can’t understand

“We do not understand the movement, and until we do, we are not going to defeat it. We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.”

– Maj Gen Michael J. Nakata, Army officer picked to train Syrians to combat the Islamic State

For a good explanation why our military and political leaders still don’t understand the threat, read The Council on Global Security’s white paper, The Flawed Science Behind America’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy

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A vital means of reversing foreign oil dependency

1aBy Thomas S. Mullikin

Energy – especially availability and most especially foreign oil dependency – is a huge national concern. In the aggregate, energy is perhaps the greatest of all concerns related to American national security. If we look at foreign oil dependency alone, we see that the U.S. spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year on energy imports, with much of this energy imported from Middle Eastern nations.

Since there is no way to adequately determine – much less direct or demand – where that money is spent once it is funneled to these nations, we may be sure that some of it is ending up funding the very terrorists we send our young soldiers to fight.

Thankfully, it does not have to be this way anymore.  America has its own massive reserves of clean, abundant, and relatively inexpensive energy. This energy will continue to create jobs in the U.S. and, most importantly, these domestic sources of energy have the power to dramatically reduce our dependency of foreign imports.

Continue reading “A vital means of reversing foreign oil dependency”

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Global Eco Adventures fighting childhood obesity

logoCAMDEN, S.C. – Global Eco Adventures (GEA) is seeking sponsors for its Childhood Fitness through Environmental Training (CFET) program slated to begin in 2015.

Aimed at fighting childhood obesity, the six-month program will provide academic and applied knowledge of outdoor activities to 24 adolescents (grades nine–12), inspiring in them a passion for the environment and – as a result – reshaping the priorities of the children, their families, and the broader community through awareness.

“We believe that the problem of childhood obesity is simply not talked about – much less addressed – because of the stigma associated with it,” says GEA founder and pres. Tom Mullikin, who is also pres. and founding partner of the Camden-based Mullikin Law Firm. “But it is nevertheless a killer, and with our state ranking 7th in the U.S. in terms of obesity, we have to not only talk about it, but stem the tide of this growing threat to our public health through education, the eradication of destructive sedentary habits, and the creation of new exciting – even self-esteem building – lifestyle changes. That’s where GEA, members of our law firm, and our sponsoring partners come in.”

Continue reading “Global Eco Adventures fighting childhood obesity”