Salute To AIRBORNE!:

The Army will honor the 75th anniversary of the American paratrooper with — what else? — a large jump into Fort Benning, Georgia.

The commemoration, led by the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade, will mark 75 years since the War Department approved the formation of a test platoon of airborne infantry from Fort Benning’s 29th Infantry Regiment. Less than 45 days after it was formed, on Aug. 16, 1940, members of the test platoon made their first jump from a Douglas B-18 over Lawson Army Airfield.

On Aug. 15, today’s paratroopers, along with the Liberty Jump Team, a group of civilian World War II airborne reenactors, will jump into that very same airfield.

“This entire year, we’ve been very cognizant of the 75th anniversary,” said Lt. Col. Korey Brown, commander of 1st Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Battalion, and commander of the U.S. Army Airborne School. “It’s a very key year for the airborne community.”

The concept of airborne soldiers originated with founding father Benjamin Franklin, who envisioned a time when soldiers would be delivered to the battlefield from the air, Brown said.

In World War I, Britain’s Winston Churchill proposed the creation of an airborne force.

Watch: Top Five Reason We Still Need Paratroopers - With a History of Post WWII Airborne Ops

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The U.S. was “actually late” to adopt airborne capability, doing so after the Germans, the Soviets and other nations had done so, Brown said.

The Soviets were the first ones to develop an operational airborne force, but the Germans were the first to actually jump or glide into combat, said Luke Keating, the technical writer and historian for 1st Battalion, 507th Infantry.

I would say the majority of the authors here at SOFREP have passed through Fort Benning at one point in our respective careers to attend the U.S. Army’s Airborne School. So let me speak for everyone here when I say that we are very proud to have all been a small part of the United States Military Airborne tradition, and join with the Army in saluting every single person who served in an Airborne unit.

I still remember my time at Benning. As one of only a handful of airmen in a class of about 450 people, I was unfamiliar with Big Army. My only experience with the Army up to that point was attending the Combat Diver Qualification Course, considered one of the Army’s toughest schools, and not really considered, “Big Army.”

All of us airmen had an Air Force liaison NCO, himself a trained Black Hat, or airborne instructor. Who, having linked up with the day before the course began, assured me that no, I would NOT need my uniform for the first day of class. I, in turn, informed the rest of the airmen the same thing.

Day one of Airborne began with these hundreds of students, most fresh from Army AIT, lining up on cables stretched out on the ground to ensure neat, straight lines… the only kind that the army deems acceptable. All the students were milling about in civilian clothes, when, out of nowhere, all five thousand of the Black Hats came storming out of the barracks, screaming, “Get in uniform!! You people have five freaking minutes to be in boots and BDUs and back on these cables or there will be PT until you freaking DIE.”

The crowd of hundreds instantly scatter, leaving myself and two other airmen standing there. I was wearing jeans, flip flops, and a stained t shirt. About 20 Black Hats instantly swarmed us:

Black Hat: “What the SHIT??? Where is your uniform? WHY ARE YOU NOT MOVING, NUMB NUTS???”

Airborne School: What It's Really Like Learning to Jump

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Me: “Uh… It’s back in the hotel, so I don’t have one. But it’s cool: I’m in the Air Force.”

Black Hat: “OH MY CHRIST…” (Howls in disgust about Air Force, has stroke, dies. Re-generates to form Zombie Black Hat. Resumes howling in disgust about Air Force.)

It was pretty much all downhill from there. Which is why the good people at Fort Benning were treated to the sight of 450 Army joes marching to the chow hall in a uniformed formation, and a few USAF assholes smack in the middle of it in jeans and flip flops. Even the SEAL students had their uniforms. So, my proud record of almost instantly making myself a target on day one of every military school I attended with my mouth/poor attitude was firmly intact.

I remember my very first jump like it was yesterday. My brother, who had also attended Airborne school as a United States Marine Corps infantry officer, had warned me that the landings were hard on bigger guys. I don’t know if I just turned into the wind absolutely perfect, or what, but I landed like a feather. I was like, “Damn, what’s everyone crying about? That was easy as hell.”

And then I had to take the next four jumps, which were more… enlightening. On each one, I slammed so hard into the ground that I remained still for a few seconds after each one, convinced that I had fractured every bone in my body. All of those old WW2 movies that showed parachutists gently falling to the ground were LYING. To this day, the only realistic depiction I’ve seen on TV or movie screens was Will freaking Smith in “Independence Day.” It’s like that, but with a bunch of combat equipment that makes it ten times shittier.

Thankfully, I made it through the un-necessarily long school intact, and joined the rest of my class mates in proudly pinning on those iconic silver jump wings and celebrating the end of it. We were all in a great mood, except for the guys who were getting ready to go off to the Ranger Indoctrination Program. They were mournfully awaiting being picked up by the RIP cadre to go get abused for a few weeks. Sucked to be them.

It remains just as true today as it was when those first hard-ass infantry troops dropped from the sky 75 years ago: It takes a little bit of crazy to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. So to all of the many thousands of men and women who took that first big step out of the door: You’re all nuts. Respect to all of you.

SF Soldier Recommended For Silver Star:

The Special Forces soldier killed last week in Afghanistan has been recommended for the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor, for his actions during a vicious and bloody attack in Kabul.

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Master Sgt. Peter McKenna Jr.

Master Sgt. Andrew McKenna also will posthumously receive a Purple Heart, officials from 7th Special Forces Group confirmed Wednesday to Army Times.

Even among some of the Army’s best and brightest, McKenna stood out.

“He’s the best of us,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tim Kennedy, who served in 7th Group with McKenna. “He personified every single positive characteristic that Special Forces guys wished they exemplified. He’s caring, empathetic, remarkable at everything he does, an amazing shooter, and a good human, first and foremost of all of those things.”

R.I.P. Master Sergeant McKenna. If anyone has a link to a fundraiser, let us know.

General Raymond Odierno Retires:

General Raymond T. Odierno, who spent more time in Iraq as a commanding general than anyone in the U.S. military, retired Friday as the 38th Chief of Staff of the United States Army.

“I feel like I’ve been the luckiest man in the world to serve the army for 39 years alongside incredible soldiers of tremendous courage, dedication and commitment,” Odierno told friends, family, West Point classmates and most of all, his soldiers during a retirement ceremony at Ft. Myer in Arlington, Va.

Odierno was the first to announce that Saddam Hussein was captured in Tikrit on Dec. 14, 2003.

As division commander in Iraq, Odierno’ s 4th Infantry Division went door to door trying to find the Iraqi leader for eight months following the 2003 invasion before discovering him in an underground hole…

I imagine this must be an extremely difficult transition for any high-ranking military official. One minute people tremble at the sound of your voice. You have your own security and fly around in a government gulf stream. People call every room you enter to attention. You have the ear of the President of the United States; you command legions of men and women; tanks and planes. You are the MAN.

Then suddenly, one day, it’s all over, and you’re arguing with the kid behind the 7/11 counter with a nose ring and perma-sneer over the price of a freaking slurpee. Now, instead of being the feared Big Bawse, you’re just another guy. You have become an Un-Person. No wonder some of them lose their goddamn minds.

The general made sure to praise his family for their long years of sacrifice and dedication, and deservedly so:

…During his farewell address, Odierno thanked his wife for sacrificing her life to be by his side.

“Over the last 15 years, Linda attended over 500 memorial services,” said Odierno. “Most of the time, I was not there because I was deployed, but she was there for our families.”

Jesus. FIVE HUNDRED. That must be absolutely emotionally exhausting. Hopefully, the Odierno family enjoys retirement.

Teaching The King’s English:

I could be wrong on that. But it sounds right to me. One of you language nerds let me know. If you’re wondering, I was having a bit of fun with the AMPLE girth of a “Black Lives Matter” activist, which the twitter community and Huffington Post reporter angrily condemned. Totally my fault. I had forgotten, you see, that these activists have been deemed holy people by white liberals and it’s actually a hate crime to make fun of them.

Army Rangers Struck By Lightning; CNN Ponders Odds:

(CNN)When lightning struck 44 Army Rangers this week in Florida, leaving 11 in the hospital, jaws must have dropped. What are the odds of that?

The answer: Very low in most places, but not so, so low in Florida.

The rough chance of being bolted by lightning in a lifetime is about 1 in 12,000, but the odds discriminate by region.

Lightning is not partial to touching down on the West Coast, but it loves the South, particularly Florida, NASA says. Local researchers concur. “Florida ranks No. 1 in the number of deaths due to lightning,” says the University of Florida…

The way this story was written is really weird. Being struck by lightening is a pretty serious thing, yet CNN has this almost, “ISN’T THAT WACKY???” tone in the whole article. They spend the whole first part explaining the odds of getting hit by lightning, rather than who was hurt, what they were doing, etc. That should probably come first, dopes. Finally, at the lower third of the story, we begin to get some detail:

Ironically, they were training near Eglin Air Force Base outside Pensacola on how to avoid being injured by lightning, or “conducting lightning protection protocols,” when they were electrified. The group had completed six of the 10 days in their training program when it happened.

Well…okay. That IS kind of wacky.

Originally 17 were hospitalized, and late Wednesday, 11 of them — nine students and two instructors — were still in the hospital.

Sounds bad, but keep in mind that they will always put lightning strike patients in the hospital for a while for observation, to make sure that the electrical overdose didn’t screw up the electrical activity in the heart. So it sounds like everyone will be ok. Scary.

Army Pondering Entering Dog Food Business:

Herds of feral horses are roaming on thousands of acres in Louisiana where soldiers conduct intensive training, posing a danger and a nuisance to troops at risk of being kicked, bitten or unpleasantly surprised by random piles of manure, Army officials say.

“Sometimes training has to be halted while they shoo horses out,” said Kim Reischling, spokeswoman for Fort Polk, a 198,000-acre base about 20 miles from the Texas state line.

The officials are trying to find a way to deal with the approximately 700 “trespass horses,” and are holding a meeting Thursday to hear input from residents and animal rights groups, among others.

There is no way you’re going to stop this unless you are willing to get out there and start slaughtering horses. And, as we all know, Americans love animals a lot more than they love their fellow man. I don’t see any other way to get rid of them. And they’ve tried other ways:

As far as controlling the horse population goes, however, “the sterilization does not work,” Reischling said.

“With animals migrating in from other properties or being dumped, it’s been determined that the sterilization process will likely not even stop growth,” she said. “And in any case, it would take years.”

Being an a big fan of double entendre headlines, I did notice that the Army Times titled their article, “Army Says Nay to 700 Feral Horses Roaming Louisiana Base.”

Good one, guys. I am seeing what you did there. But: If you’re going for the pun, shouldn’t it be written, “Army Says Neigh?” You know, like the sound that a horse makes? I could be wrong on that. But, since I’m never wrong, that seems…implausible. I demand a correction.

Speaking of animal rights activists….

America’s Greatest Hero Suplexes Animal-Rights Activist:

I don’t know what the activists are all upset about. According to famous Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, pigs are big fans of wrestling.

Sadly, Soldiers Sans Sativa:

Snacking “Strong & KIND” may put extra protein in your diet, but could also put you in danger of failing a drug test, the Army says.

The protein-focused line of increasingly popular KIND brand granola bars contains hemp seeds, according to both the Army and the company’s website. The Army believes the seeds used in the “Strong & KIND” line — which can contain low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (aka THC, the active ingredient in marijuana) — could trigger a positive drug test.

Other lines of KIND bars, generally made of nuts along with fruit and other natural flavorings, do not contain hemp seeds. The Army & Air Force Exchange Service carries them in stores.

Flavors with the hemp seeds include Hickory Smoked, Roasted Jalapeno, Honey Mustard, Thai Sweet Chili and Honey Smoked BBQ.

“Strong and Kind” is a great name, if you’re familiar with the lingo of the pothead set. Sadly, these are nowhere near as potent as the various treats one may find behind the counter at your local medical marijuana dispensary. Uh…that’s what I’ve heard, anyway.

No More Uniform Tiaras and Cloaks For Navy:

Same goes for the dress cape, overshoes, the boat cloak and beret.

The age-old optional items have gone out of style and are hardly being bought or worn, officials say. Most sailors think dress capes and tiaras are found only at Cinderella’s ball. But chances are some old salts have seen them (and worn them) at a Navy ball, ceremony, or dining out.

Alas, the midnight bell has rung for these threads of a bygone era. The Navy, which has seen “virtually no sales of most of these items,” is eliminating half a dozen optional uniform items in an effort to streamline the uniform inventory, said Capt. Janet Bristol, head of Navy Uniform Matters. The items will be unauthorized for wear in July 2016, which gives sailors one more Navy birthday ball to don their capes and tiaras.

Who even knew these were things? You’re telling me that there were tiaras and capes available as part of your daily uniform, and they weren’t selling like crazy? I would rock the SHIT out a cape if it were acceptable. The good news is, all of you swabbies still have a year to go to get your selfies with the headgear and superhero accouterments.

Pirates Celebrate Lifetime of Free Lodging, Food, and Medical Care:

A federal appeals courted ruled Thursday that five Somali pirates who attacked a U.S. Navy ship definitely need to spend life behind bars, contradicting the decision of a lower court.

The case dates back to 2010, when seven men plotted take over a merchant ship and hold it for ransom. But the execution of their plan turned into an absolute disaster when they mistakenly thought the USS Ashland was a normal cargo vessel, The Associated Press reports.

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As soon as the men started firing with AK-47s on the ship, sailors immediately shot back at the small skiff, immediately killing a pirate and causing the vessel to explode. The rest of the vessel-less men were rescued by Navy sailors.

One of the men decided to cooperate with federal prosecutors, but five did not, and so were subsequently convicted. The U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson handed down sentences ranging anywhere from 30 to 42.5 years for the crime of piracy. Three judges from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Jackson’s decision, telling him to impose life sentences on the five men as required by federal law.

Thanks, seamen. Ya know, you guys could have looked the other way, made a few half-hearted attempts to “rescue,” these guys, and then pretended you Didn’t See Nothin’, but no. You had to go and be all merciful and rescue-y. Now, these pirates are going to think they’ve died and gone to heaven, with their new, cush lifestyle of federal prison inmates. “Fruit? WHAT WHITE SORCERY IS THIS???”

They’ll have long, pleasant days of reading, writing their memoirs, and being served Islamic-approved meals. (I assume.) All because, just like when it came to finishing off Major Nidal Hassan with just ONE MORE ROUND, you guys had to go and be all noble and shit. Dammit.

Next time, I suggest the captain of the Naval vessel “accidentally,” throw the ship in reverse when the pirates are right behind the screws, thereby turning them into delicious chum. Think of the taxpayers.

Navy’s New Flying/Swimming Drone Will Kill Us All:

The Naval Research Lab is testing a flying drone that can land on water and then travel like a submarine below the surface. Designed to carry sensors into places difficult or dangerous for regular vehicles, it’s a bird-inspired amphibian that may find hostile submarines, detect chemicals or swim to inspect oil spills. They’ve named this combination machine, somehow, Flimmer.

Cool as hell. But THAT NAME. Ugh. I mean, “Flimmer?” COME ON. You can’t strike abject terror into the heart of your enemies with the name, “Flimmer.” You boys need to get back to the brainstorming session for that one. How about, “S.H.A.R.K.?” Seriously Hostile Animatronic Remote Killer? That’s just off the top of my head.

You’re welcome. Someone write me a check.

This Kid Sounds Like A Genius:

A junior cadet has been charged with distributing a variant of methamphetamine and two other drugs at the Air Force Academy, according to court papers released Thursday to The Gazette.

Cadet Nathaniel Penalosa faces 10 counts of violating military drug laws for possessing, using and distributing the hallucinogen LSD, the sleep-fighting drug Modafinil and a methamphetamine derivative known as Molly. He’s also accused of manufacturing Molly, which is done through a often-dangerous chemical process similar to making methamphetamine.

This guy is like the Walter White of the college set. And to do it all while he was attending the Air Force Academy, with it’s incredibly demanding schedule? I’m telling you, academia must have been easy for this guy. A full course load, in addition to all of the military commitments and he’s got all this time? He wasn’t just selling the Molly, dude was MANUFACTURING it.

A hearing to determine if there’s sufficient evidence to court-martial Penalosa is set for Monday.

A former enlisted airmen, Penalosa came to the academy through its Preparatory School and is known on campus for his military skill. Last fall, Penalosa was honored with a spot on the academy commandant’s list for his military prowess. At that time, prosecutors allege, Penalosa was deeply involved with drugs.

That should be, “airman,” as it’s supposed to be singular. Looking in your direction, military.com, who should really know better.

Talk about leading a double life. Although part of me admires what is obviously a formidable intellect, you just can’t have this. Nobody wants to fly with a pilot who might be either A: Tripping on acid, B: Thinking about how he will be tripping on acid later that day, or C: Wondering how his latest batch of Molly is doing in the laboratory, wherever that was. I’d love to know that part.

He’s Got Many Handicaps:

HYANNIS (CBS) – A man was arrested for playing golf naked in Hyannis Monday afternoon.

Police say 55-year-old Robert Ide removed his clothing and started hitting golf balls at a softball field near the St. John Paul School.

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Witnesses recorded video of the incident and called police.

There is SOME video at the link, but the local action news team had to pixilate the best parts, of course. As always, we here at the SOFREP News Roundup are willing to pay substantial money for the unedited version.

Officers quickly showed up and took Ide into custody. Police say Ide is homeless and had set up camp just outside the ballpark fence.

Weird. I assumed, when I first heard this story, that this was merely a hard-working citizen who was relieving a little stress caused by getting up and going to work every day in order to pay his taxes, thereby contributing to our generous safety net.

Officers say Ide had been drinking. He was charged with open and gross lewdness and intoxication and was held on $100 bail.

If it’s only going to cost me a hundred bucks to golf nude… I will see you at the golf course. @BKactual for tee time and uniform of the day.