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South Carolina Sheriff featured in new CRTV talk show venture

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Richland County (S.C.) Sheriff Leon Lott [pictured here] was the featured guest of EXPERIENCE MATTERS, a new CRTV television program hosted by Drew Berquist of the OpsLens Media Group, this week. In a pre-recorded interview segment, Thurs., May 31, Lott discussed the recent spate of school shootings, school safety and the criticality of an effective school resource officer program, and why the idea of arming teachers is “not the right approach.”

Lott will provide expert commentary for EXPERIENCE MATTERS, every other week (dates to be determined), as will other senior officers commanding various elements within the Richland County Sheriff’s Dept. going forward.

A new television venture of the OpsLens Media Group where Lott has been published and Berquist serves as editor-in-chief, EXPERIENCE MATTERS will air weeknights at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on subscriber-based CRTV Television.

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Posted in Military History

History Matters: The Battle of Midway and the Lions of Cantigny

Each week we will be exploring the connections (both in print and on OpsLens TV) between seemingly disconnected events that occurred this week in military history, in addition to our daily military history posts. (Originally published at

76 years ago this week was the great Naval battle of Midway – “the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare.” Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto hoped to lure the U.S. Pacific Fleet into a great air-sea battle and destroy it. The Japanese could then capture the strategic island, giving them an ideal staging ground for attacking Pearl Harbor, but little did he know that the Americans had the drop on them.

Naval cryptanalysts had broken the Japanese Navy’s main radio code earlier in the year, so we knew the location, date, and strength of the supposed surprise attack on the U.S. base at Midway. A fleet of submarines were already in position, the base’s garrison had been strengthened, and additional land-based planes had flown in. Admiral Chester Nimitz’s carriers were east of Midway, ready to spring the trap by the time the Japanese launched a devastating attack on the island on June 4.

As the planes returned to re-arm following their first wave of attacks, Japanese scouts discovered three American carriers, including USS Yorktown, which had to come as a complete shock since the flattop was crippled during the Battle of Coral Sea a month ago and believed to be out of action. Repair crews had performed a miracle to put her back in action while they steamed towards Midway.

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Posted in Uncategorized

S.C. WILDLIFE magazine crew films world diving expert for ongoing series

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

CAMDEN, S.C. – Global expedition leader Tom Mullikin and son, Thomas, Jr., a master naturalist, were filmed demonstrating SCUBA-gear functionality as they discussed their climbing and diving adventures as part of an ongoing magazine and film series produced by South Carolina Wildlife magazine, earlier this week. The video interview was conducted by Danielle Kent, a videographer with the S.C. Dept. of Natural Resources (SCDNR); and Cindy Thompson, managing editor of S.C. Wildlife, at the Mullikin home in Camden.

Mullikin is the subject and principal writer for an ongoing series in S.C. Wildlife, which highlights his and his son’s journeys around the world – and across South Carolina (which he argues “is one of the most beautiful, and environmentally and archeologically rich places on Earth.”) – as well as his continued quest to become the first human to have SCUBA-dived in all five oceans and climbed the world’s seven great summits.

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Posted in Military History

History Matters: Charles Lindbergh and laser-guided bombs in Vietnam

Note: each week we will be exploring the connections (both in print and on OpsLens TV) between seemingly disconnected events that occurred this week in military history, in addition to our daily military history posts. (Originally published at

During this week in 1944, the Allies were in the final preparation stages for what Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight Eisenhower called “the Great Crusade” – the invasion of Normandy. An elaborate deception campaign successfully tricked the Germans into thinking that Gen. George Patton was about to lead the fictional First U.S. Army Group, consisting of inflatable tanks and equipment, across the English Channel to Pas De Calais.

To eliminate Germany’s ability to quickly redeploy its divisions spread across France once they learned that Patton’s invasion at Calais was a hoax, Eisenhower launched Operation CHATANOOGA CHOO CHOO – a series of massive air attacks against Axis rail infrastructure by the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces, along with the Royal Air Force warplanes and French resistance fighters. Over the next few days, the French skies were full of bombers which hammered the German railroads, marshaling yards, and vital bridges while fighter-bombers attacked rolling stock and hundreds of irreplaceable locomotives.

The attacks devastated Nazi Germany’s logistics, essentially sending much of their transportation in northern France “back to the Stone Age.” The air and deception campaigns prove to be so successful that it took several weeks to move units from Calais to defensive positions – far too late to stop the invasion force.

The man credited with coining the statement of bombing a country back to the Stone Age was, at the time, commanding the Eighth Air Force’s 305th Bomb Wing. Before Gen. Curtis LeMay became famous for his campaign of incendiary attacks against Japan and instrumental leadership of Strategic Air Command and as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Cold War, he was a fearless B-17 commander that personally led his formations, created new defensive tactics, and flew in the lead even when the general was not needed in the air.

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Posted in Military History

May 11 in military history

1846: Three days after Gen. Zachary Taylor’s forces defeat the Mexican Army in the Battle of Palo Alto, Pres. James K. Polk tells Congress: “Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon American soil.”

The Mexican-American War – already underway – is formally declared within two days.

1864: During the Battle of Yellow Tavern, Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart is shot by a dismounted Union cavalry trooper north of Richmond, Va. “The greatest cavalry officer ever foaled in America” is mortally wounded and will die the next day.

This statue Confederate general J.E.B. Stuart on Richmond, Virginia’s Monument Avenue (unveiled in 1907) has been the target of recent protests.

1889: An Army wagon train leaves Fort Grant loaded with $28,000 in gold and silver coins (nearly the equivalent of one million dollars today) to pay U.S. troops stationed in Arizona Territory, guarded by a dozen Buffalo Soldiers from the 24th Infantry and 10th Cavalry regiments. A band of highwaymen ambush the convoy and manage to make off with the money following a 30-minute firefight that wounds eight soldiers.

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Posted in Military

Wartime chaplain building CIU’s chaplaincy program

By Tom Mullikin

In the wake of a marked rise in both mental health and spiritual well-being issues – and a dearth of Christian outreach programs to deal with the same – there is said to be a ‘resurgence of need.’ This need is for new and ever-effective chaplaincy programs, and an enabling of those programs to train new chaplains, nationwide, for the military and for law enforcement, the various health-care industries, even in corporate boardrooms and on shop floors. Simply put, training new chaplains for chaplain service, missions, and outreach work has never been more important. And Dr. Michael W. “Mike” Langston, director of Columbia International University’s (CIU) chaplaincy program, is a key player in striving to achieve these ever-important objectives.

Langston, a retired Navy captain, has served as professor of chaplain ministries at CIU – helping build a global reputation for excellence in training chaplains – since joining the faculty in 2011. He previously served as commanding officer, Naval Chaplaincy School; and executive director of the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center at Fort Jackson.

A native Louisianan, Langston attended the University of Louisiana on a football scholarship, graduated, and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Marine Corps.

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Posted in Military History

May 10 in military history

1775: The famous Vermont guerrilla force the “Green Mountain Boys”, commanded by Col. Ethan Allen, and state militiamen led by Col. Benedict Arnold catch the British troops at Fort Ticonderoga (present-day Ticonderoga, N.Y.) by surprise. The Americans charge into the fort, chasing off the lone sentry and begin disarming the sleeping defenders.

When the British commander demands to know under what authority are the men entering, Allen replies, “The Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!” The strategic fort is captured without a shot fired. The cannon and armaments are sent to Boston where they will be used to break the British siege.

1797: The 55-gun heavy frigate USS United States is launched at Philadelphia, becoming the first commissioned ship of the U.S. Navy. The warship will see action during the Quasi-War with France, the Barbary Wars (see entry below), and the War of 1812 before she is seized by Confederate forces in 1861 and re-christened CSS United States.

1801: Following Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration, Yusuf Karamanly – the Pasha of Tripoli – demands tribute from the United States to prevent the Barbary pirates from continuing their practice of taking hostages and capturing ships. President Jefferson refuses, and the Pasha declares war.

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Posted in Military History

May 9 in military history

[Featured image: future top Naval ace and Medal of Honor recipient David McCampbell (right) exchanges caps with Royal Canadian Air Force pilot Jerry Smith after Smith lands his Spitfire aboard USS WASP.]

Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate Army’s “Wizard of the Saddle”

1865: After learning that General Robert E. Lee had surrendered the previous month, Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest surrenders his men at Gainesville, Ala.. Forrest orders his men to “submit to the powers to be, and to aid in restoring peace and establishing law and order throughout the land.”

The infamous cavalry officer, whom Union general William Tecumseh Sherman would refer to as “that devil Forrest,” is considered one of the most brilliant tacticians of the Civil War; a remarkable feat considering he enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private with no prior military experience.

1926: Naval aviators Lt. Commander Richard E. Byrd and Chief Aviation Pilot Floyd Bennett take off from Spitsbergen, Norway and head north. In about eight hours, they will report that they have reached the North Pole, becoming the first men to do so by air.

Congress will award both men the Medal of Honor for their flight, which remains surrounded by controversy as Byrd is reported to have said that an oil leak in their Fokker Trimotor aircraft during the nearly 16-hour flight may have caused the explorers to turn around prematurely. However in three years, Commander Byrd will – without a doubt – fly over the South Pole.

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Posted in Military History

May 8 in military history

1846: In the first major battle of the Mexican War, U.S. Army forces under the command of Gen. (and future president) Zachary Taylor decisively defeat Mexican forces under Gen. Mariano Arista in the Battle of Palo Alto (Texas). The Mexicans will retreat to a seemingly more defensible position at Resaca de la Palma the following day, but Taylor will pursue and beat them badly there too.

1864: Union Army forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee clash in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. The outcome at Spotsylvania Courthouse will be inconclusive and the casualties terribly heavy. In less than two weeks, Grant will again break contact and continue his advance toward Richmond.

1904: U.S. Marines land at Tangier, Morocco to protect the Belgian legation.

1911: U.S. Navy Capt. Washington I. Chambers places an order for two A-1 Triad floatplanes from the Curtiss aircraft company. Thus, May 8 becomes the official birthday of Naval Aviation.

1945: V-E Day: The unconditional surrender of German forces signed by Gen. Alfred Jodl at the “little red schoolhouse” (supreme allied headquarters in Reims, France) the previous day becomes official. Although clashes between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army will continue for another day, Nazi Germany has laid down their arms.

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Posted in Military History

May 7 in military history

[Featured image: A U.S. warplane taking off from USS Yorktown (CV-5) shortly before the Battle of the Coral Sea.]

1873: Marines from the USS Pensacola and USS Tuscarora land at the Bay of Columbia to protect American citizens and interests as local groups fight for control of the Panamanian government.

1915: Just off the coast of southern Ireland, the submarine U-20 spots the massive ocean liner RMS Lusitania, steaming from New York and hoping to sneak through Germany’s blockade of the British Isles . The U-boat fires a single torpedo at the ship and Lusitania sinks in just 18 minutes, taking 1,198 people – including 128 Americans – with her to the bottom.

While the British government maintained for years that Lusitania was purely a passenger liner, the secondary explosions which caused the vessel to sink so quickly may have been from the tons of ammunition secretly being transported from an allegedly neutral United States. The sinking of Lusitania will be a major factor in the United States declaring war on Germany two years later.

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