Like its recent support of the Super Bowl, the US Air Force also performed a flyby of the “super bowl of NASCAR,” the Daytona 500. As with many similar events, the flyby is timed to coincide with the end of the singing of the national anthem. The roar of jet fighters passing by as the anthem ends is a moving experience for many. As cool as it is, it is poor form to start cheering for the fighters before the anthem is complete, as many in the crowds tend to do.
Interestingly, a comment left on the official Air Force article on this story took issue with the altitude of the flyby. While the writer displays a bit of the fighter vs heavy antagonism (she said a tanker crew had gotten in trouble for doing “the exact same thing” and therefore the fighters should also), her complaint may have some validity. The YouTube videos of the flyby (there are two decent ones here and here) do seem to show the fighters Continue reading →
As noted in a variety of sources, the Air Force is instituting the previously declared drawdown in frontline fighters. It is “retiring” 250 fighters across several platforms, including nearly 100 F-16s.
By contrast, it was already common knowledge that the Air Force’s most recent budget had emphasized UAVs over manned fighters. The Air Force Times concludes that “by the end of the year” USAF UAV pilots will outnumber F-16 pilots. Presumably, these UAV operators will primarily control Reapers, Predators, and Global Hawks. F-16s were previously the largest manned major fighter weapon system in the Air Force.
A few weeks ago the Colorado Springs Gazette published a short email excerpt from the designated pagan leader at the USAF Academy, TSgt Brandon Longcrier. In the quote, the Gazette highlighted Longcrier’s fear for his cadets in the face of what he described as a “hate crime” (the crossed shoe boards at the pagan circle).
Not much later, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, to whom the letter was addressed, published a series of letters it had received on the subject. The authors’ names were redacted, but in one the author clearly identified himself as the person who found the cross at the pagan site and took “the picture,” which is known to be Longcrier. In addition, it includes the quotes from the Gazette article attributed to him.
Longcrier’s message reiterates the “hate crime” and criticizes the Air Force Academy for its response. More interesting, however, is his attitude toward the cadets — particularly those of the Christian Continue reading →
A local military paper documents the long-running US Air Force Academy tradition of “100s Night,” which marks 100 calendar days until the senior class (“Firsties”) graduate. While the Firsties are out at an official dinner and celebration, the freshman cadets (four degrees) transform their rooms into a variety of new creations. Some are simple, others complex; some are light-hearted, others are devilishly creative.
The article lists a variety of examples, including filling rooms with balloons (balloons filled with glitter, in one case), taking all the furniture out and setting up the room in another location (a stairwell), or filling a room with a cement pond (no word on Koi). Someone’s bed almost always ends up on the Terrazzo (the cadet common quad), and often one is placed in the middle of the cadet football field.
Military cadets are known to “count down” to major milestones, like the number of days to recognition for the fourth class cadets (even many lower class cadets know how many days they have until graduation). This is just one traditional way in which lower class cadets throw off their fetters and have fun at the expense of their upperclassmen. The Firsties? For the most part, they don’t mind. After all, they’ve only got 100 days left…
A lot of people don’t realize that some of the military academies’ displays of “spirit” aren’t entirely spontaneous or voluntary. While many enjoy going to their college’s football games, for example, the military academies are probably among the few institutions that require their student body to attend such games (and in uniform). Even the pushups that follow a touchdown in a service academy game are technically required (of the freshman class).
(When military members are essentially forced to participate in what seems to be a voluntary event, they refer to it as being ”volun-told.”) Such displays are Continue reading →
According to reports, he repeated his somewhat inflammatory claims that
his foundation is at war with some fundamentalist Christians in the military who put their faith ahead of their oath to defend the Constitution.
In the past five years, during which he has been in constant litigation with the Department of Defense, Weinstein has never proven that any active duty military member has taken any actions that put anything “ahead of their oath” to the Constitution. While the loaded phrase makes him sound noble, it is a Continue reading →
As recently noted in the article on There Are No Atheist in Foxholes, men and women in the military–indeed, in the world–often sense the hand of a higher power when they survive what should otherwise have been a fatal encounter.
Another recent example was that of US Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew Koenig, who was shot in the head…but the bullet didn’t penetrate his helmet. He sported a welt and the shock of being hit, but returned to his position to continue fighting. Koenig’s reaction was typical of many:
“I don’t think I could be any luckier than this,” Lance Cpl. Koenig said two hours after the shooting.
Others saw the hand of Someone bigger:
“He’s alive for a reason,” Tim Coderre, a North Carolina narcotics detective working with the Marines as a consultant, told one of the men. “From a spiritual point of view, that doesn’t happen by accident.”
The Supervisor of Flying, a pilot stationed in the control tower to oversee flight operations on the airfield, received a call from local emergency responders relaying reports of a loud boom and possible fireball. A roll call of all airborne aircraft revealed one aircraft missing. Officers around the base opened their Mishap Response Checklists. An aircraft was down.
The controllers stopped all further launches and began the task of recovering other aircraft that were airborne; the assets of the base as well as the local community were now focused on the rescue and recovery of the downed aircraft and crew. An air traffic controller guided an experienced pilot to the last known location of the aircraft, and the crash location was fixed. Helicopters flown by local law enforcement and the US Marines were dispatched to the crash site. Simultaneously, officers throughout the base began the procedures of securing all equipment associated with the flight–from the maintenance records of the aircraft to the pilot’s gradebook and records. Ultimately, a commander would don his service dress uniform and request the accompaniment of a Chaplain.
Regrettably, the fighter pilot career field is a dangerous one. In this case, Continue reading →
It is unlikely that this article will be very interesting to many, but some may find it illuminating. It doesn’t deal directly with religion and the military, but analyzes an organization that frequently involves itself in that topic. The MRFF frequently relies on a strict application of ”the rules” to forward its political agenda with regard to Christians in the military, and it appears it may have its own issues with rules regarding its conduct. For those that are interested: Continue reading →
US Army Chaplain (Capt) Richard Hill is among a small group of Chaplains serving the needs of hundreds of troops at his base in Iraq. The impact his service has had on the spiritual well-being of troops in Iraq has been visible:
“It has been very rewarding to see the lives of the military touched by God,” he says, especially since they are under no compulsion to attend church or avail themselves of the services of a chaplain…
“We even had some Marines join the choir just because they liked to sing. As a result, they gave their lives to Christ Continue reading →
Notwithstanding the historic strategic bombers, the YAL-1, which is a highly modified Boeing 747-400, is the largest aircraft to ever demonstrate an offensive “air to air” capability and is the only one to use directed energy to achieve a kinetic purpose.
Fighter pilot perspective: If it can bring down a missile at range like that, imagine what it could do to bombers, fighters, UAVs, or even a variety of select ground targets…
The US Army Transport Dorchester was sunk 67 years ago on 3 February 1943. It was one of three ships in a convoy taking American troops across the Atlantic, and would become famous not because it was targeted by German submarines, as many ships were; nor did it become famous for the loss of life, as other events eclipsed the dead and wounded.
The USAT Dorchester became famous for the Four Chaplains.
Four Army chaplains were on board, along with nearly 900 other men: Lt. George Fox, a Methodist; Lt. Alexander Goode, a Jewish Rabbi; Lt. John Washington, a Roman Catholic Priest; and Lt. Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed minister. They became beacons Continue reading →
Though he was not the only player to do so, former Florida Gator Tim Tebow made famous the practice of using his eyeblacks for communicating a message. The NCAA football rules committee has now decided to ban the practice, leading some to dub it the “Tebow Rule.”
Under some interpretations, the practice of putting such text anywhere on the sports uniform was already prohibited, and the rules committee “clarified” that prohibition to include the players’ eyeblacks.
While not everyone here has the time nor the desire to attend the service of his or her choice, within FOBs Marez and Diamonback [sic], there are six protestant services, five masses, one Latter-Day Saints service, an Islamic Prayer Room and a Jewish meeting held each week.
Chaplain Taylor has an admirable perspective on the concept of the total person in the military, something the US Army is trying to recapture in its Comprehensive Soldier Fitness programs:
One of the biggest tasks before a chaplain is “Ensuring the spiritual and human dimensions of what we do are not lost.”
“The Army understands the importance of values, morals and integrity in everything we do. Soldiers have emotions and Families. They also have a soul that needs to be sustained in order to do what they do.”