Posted in Military History

Today in U.S. military history: Enola Gay and Extortion 17

30 SEALs, soldiers, sailors, and airmen died when a CH-47 Chinook codenamed EXTORTION 17 was shot down in Afghanistan’s Tangi Valley on this date in 2011, marking the deadliest incident during Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (Unto the Breach image)

1763: With Ottawa chief Pontiac laying siege to Fort Pitt (modern-day Pittsburgh), a force marches to the frontier fort to break the siege, consisting of Pennsylvania rangers and Scottish soldiers of the 42d Royal Highlanders – the famed “Black Watch.” Allied natives ambush the relief force at a creek known as Bushy Run and a bloody two-day battle kicks off. Col. Henry Bouquet’s men emerge victorious, routing the Indians – although at high cost to the Scottish/American troops – and lifting the siege at Fort Pitt.

Today’s 111th Infantry Regiment traces its lineage to the Philadelphia “Associators” militia regiment (formed by Benjamin Franklin) that manned Fort Pitt. Each year at their “dining-in” banquet, an empty table setting is left in honor of the commander of the Black Watch. At least twice in the last 200-plus year tradition, the officer has been on hand to accept the honor.

1945: A lone B-29 bomber takes off from Tinian Island’s North Field and heads out for a six-hour flight to Japan. Once the Enola Gay is over its target of Hiroshima, Col. Paul Tibbetts releases the bomb and dives to speed away from the device’s powerful shock wave. 43 seconds later, the world’s first atomic bomb detonates, killing between 80,000 and 140,000 Japanese instantly, and severely wounding another 100,000.

Although the United States demonstrated they now possess the ability to utterly annihilate entire cities, the Japanese government vows to fight on. Another atomic bomb will have to fall before Japan is brought to its knees.

Continue reading “Today in U.S. military history: Enola Gay and Extortion 17”

Posted in Images Military History

Apollo 11 recovery

UDT frogman Lt. Clancy Hatleberg secures the hatch on the Apollo 11 capsule after he and his crew assisted the astronauts into the life raft. (U.S. Navy photo)

From a previous piece I wrote about SEALs in space,

When the Apollo 11 command module landed in the Pacific Ocean after astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon, it was SEALs that were assigned to recover their craft. “Sea King” helicopters from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet carried a handpicked team of four SEALs, wearing special isolation suits to protect them from possible lunar pathogens, to wrestle the “bucking bronco” from the ocean.

Wes Chesser, Clancy Hatleberg, John Wolfram, and Mike Mallory jumped into the water, fighting 12-foot waves and 28-m.p.h. winds to perform the daunting task of attaching a 200-lb. inflatable raft to the 12,000-lb. Apollo capsule as it pitched up and down with the ocean swell. Failure could have resulted in the astronauts and their capsule sinking to the bottom of the sea.

Posted in Articles Military

SEALs in Space: NASA and the Next Generation of Astronauts

[Originally published at OpsLens.com]

Former SEAL Jonny Kim (NASA photo)

This month, NASA’s group of 12 candidates begin their two-year training program to become the nation’s next generation of astronauts. Among them is Jonny Kim, a physician and former special operator with the Navy SEALs.

Kim enlisted in the Navy in 2002 and entered Naval Special Warfare Training Center in Coronado, Calif. After graduation, he was assigned to SEAL Team Three in San Diego, where he served as a combat medic, sniper, navigator, and point man on 100 combat missions during his two tours in the Middle East. Kim was awarded both the Silver Star and the Bronze Star with the Combat “V” device for valor as well as the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with the Combat “V.”

Kim’s astronaut training focuses on “International Space Station systems, robotics, Russian language, flying T-38 training jets, and spacewalk training,” Brandi Dean of NASA’s public affairs office informs OpsLens.

“In addition, they’ll have activities that build what we call expeditionary skills – things like leadership, followership, team care, and communication,” Dean adds.

All traits Kim undoubtedly excelled at as a member of Naval Special Warfare.

Once he completes his two-year training program, Kim will be considered a “full astronaut” and is eligible for mission assignment, with the possibly of a trip to Mars not yet out of the question.

However, Kim will not be the first, or even the second SEAL that NASA found to have “the right stuff.”

Continue reading “SEALs in Space: NASA and the Next Generation of Astronauts”

Posted in Images Military History

Muddin’

Navy “SEAL” (Sea-Air-Land) Team Member moves through deep mud as he makes his way ashore from a boat, during a combat operation in South Vietnam in 1970. His gun is a Mk23 5.56mm Machine Gun (Stoner 63). Note his camouflage uniform & face paint. Photographed by PHC A. Hill.
A Navy SEAL, carrying a Mk23 5.56mm Machine Gun (Stoner 63), moves through deep mud as he makes his way ashore from a boat, during a combat operation in South Vietnam in 1970. (U.S. Navy photograph by PHC A. Hill)

Happy 51st birthday to the Navy SEALs, who were founded on Jan. 1, 1962.

Posted in Book Reviews

Ignore the controversy and read ‘No Easy Day’

Last year, members of the Navy SEAL elite counterterrorism unit set out on the mission America had waited for since September 11, 2001. We were finally going to get Osama bin Laden. Hours later, the leader of al Qaeda was in a body bag, and stories have circulated ever since on how the operation went down.

Considering the secrecy of our top-tier special operation forces, like SEAL Team Six, we were left to guess which of those accounts were accurate – if any truly were.

Former SEAL Matt Bissonnette was not just there, but saw bin Laden go down. Writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen, he published a detailed and accurate account of the battle, No Easy Day.

Although No Easy Day has all the detail and excitement of a Tom Clancy novel, from the near-fatal helicopter crash on insertion to evading the Pakistani air force on the return trip, the author avoids disclosing anything that could be used by the enemy.

The Pentagon claims the author violated nondisclosure agreements and has threatened legal action. Mr. Bissonnette and his lawyers assert that he did not.

That is for the lawyers to decide.

Members of the SEAL community have spoken out about the author’s decision to publish, saying he violated the SEAL Ethos: “I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions…”

I am not a SEAL, so I leave that to Bissonnette and his former teammates to work out.

What I can say is that No Easy Day is… [Read the rest at The US Report]