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As seen through a night-vision device, U.S. and British paratroopers jump during Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise 15-01 on Fort Bragg, N.C., April 13, 2015. The U.S. paratroopers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division and the British paratroopers are assigned to the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment, 16 Air Assault Brigade. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jasmonet Jackson Continue reading
Posted 1 hour ago at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. and British paratroopers perform a static line jump over Holland Drop Zone in preparation for Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise 15-01 on Fort Bragg, N.C., April 11, 2015. The U.S. paratroopers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Martin Continue reading
Posted yesterday at BLACKFIVE
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The guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman transits the Panama Canal, Panama, April 10, 2015. The Kauffman is supporting Operation Martillo, a joint effort with the U.S. Coast Guard and partner nations within the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson Continue reading
Posted yesterday at BLACKFIVE
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An F-22 Raptor takes to the sky during a demonstration of air dominance over Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., April 11, 2015. The event featured members of the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team, the Air Force aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, and the U.S. Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Javier Cruz Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at BLACKFIVE
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A U.S. soldier, standing right, provides instructions for Iraqi soldiers rehearsing bounding movements on Besmaya Range Complex in Iraq, April 7, 2015. The U.S. soldiers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. They are training Iraqi soldiers with the 75th Brigade, 16th Division to increase the Iraqi division’s combat proficiency and build military capacity in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Deja Borden Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the books category link on the right side bar. Blessed Are Those Who Weep by Kristi Belcamino is an excellent crime novel. From the very first page readers are grabbed with the storyline. The theme is very relevant to real-life since it concentrates on when to let go. There are multiple sub-plots that center around obsession: a killer obsessed with obtaining his form of justice, and the main character obsessed with her personal life. The book opens with San Francisco Bay Area reporter Gabriella Giovanni stumbling onto a horrific crime scene with only one survivor, a baby girl. After experiencing this butchery she is determined to find the killer that made this helpless baby an orphan. Being a crime reporter herself, the author shows how some reporter’s, as with some police, cannot let go of their cases. Did Gabriella cross the line by allowing herself to become too emotionally involved with the child? What makes this book special is the backstory of each character including the antagonist, and some personal issues that the everyday person can relate with. Gabriella is flawed and has realistic problems ranging from being passive-aggressive with her boyfriend, trying to cope with a miscarriage, obsessed with finding her sister’s killer as well as the murderer of the family she found. This complex character has a past that not only haunts her, but also defines much of her present life. Because of a recent miscarriage Gabriella is in a vulnerable state and attempts to overcome it by becoming pregnant. What is most interesting is how Belcamino shows that the father also is emotionally tied to the fetus. Through Gabriella’s fiancé, Sean Donovan, readers understand that he also has feelings that should not be discarded. The author explained how her personal experiences influenced the storyline, “I fell into writing with my first book in an effort to rid myself of the memory of this man, Curtis Dean Anderson who kidnapped and killed this young girl. I have spoken on the phone with the mother who has two other children about how we can never be normal parents. Both of us spent countless hours in a dark visiting room talking to this predator in an attempt to get him to reveal his crimes. As the mother of two small little girls, I was especially haunted by all of the horrible things he had told me. By writing the book, I was essentially engaging in a form of self-administered therapy, and purging him out of my head. Getting it all out of my head and on paper did help.” Donovan is an Irish police detective who tries to help Gabriella out of her emotional abyss. He is good looking, kind, caring, and considerate. In this plot he does not take an active role in the investigation, but is front and center in the relationship storyline. The antagonist is also someone who suffers since he saw some horrific things while serving in Iraq shortly after 9/11. Through his experiences readers begin to understand that many in the US military risk their lives while getting little support after returning home. Within the plot line is a discussion of military suicides and what is being done about it. Belcamino commented to blackfive.net, “Several of my family members are active duty. I worry about them and the support they are getting. I do not think there is enough support for them when they come home. I hope to show the effects they are experiencing since I am not sure people are aware of it. I want to encourage more awareness.” Blessed Are Those Who Weep is a story dealing with betrayal, manipulation, cover-up, and obsession. It has a gripping plot and believable characters. Although many social issues are discussed it is done through a riveting action packed story. The intensity begins with the very first page and does not let up. Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. soldiers leap over a canal after patrolling through a field near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 24, 2015. The soldiers are assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Wheeler Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at BLACKFIVE
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Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Keron King signals the pilots of an MH-60R Seahawk helicopter during preflight preparations aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio in the Atlantic Ocean, March 30, 2015. The Anzio is en route to Scotland to participate in Joint Warrior, a U.K.-led multinational training exercise. The MH-60R Seahawk is attached to the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 48. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Abe McNatt Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at BLACKFIVE
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"They came to save us, and to give us dignity. Their sacrifice will remain in the minds of our children for the rest of their lives. We will teach their names to our children, and keep their names in our books of history as heroes who gave their lives for freedom." - Kurd Sheik Ahmet at the April 17th, 1994 memorial service in Zakhu, Iraq. Today, is the 21st anniversary of a dark day in our military history...while the inquiry results were weak, this was one incident in which many lessons were learned that later saved American and allied lives (true IFF came from this), and continued the long trek to freedom for one of the most deserving groups of human beings on this planet. Let's start at what isn't quite the beginning but as good as any place to start this story... In April, 1991, as part of U.N. Resolution 688, the National Command Authority commanded the US Armed Forces to conduct Operation Provide Comfort. On the 8th of April 1991, the 1st Battalion (FWD) of the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) from Bad Tolz, Germany, deployed to conduct humanitarian relief operations for over a half million Kurdish refugees. Soon the 2nd and 3rd Battalions arrived from the states. From the 10th Group's history page (emphasis is mine): ...Operation PROVIDE COMFORT was one of the largest relief operations in history. During the critical first three weeks, the 10th Special Forces Group directed and executed the overall ground relief and security efforts. In the words of General Galvin, the CINCEUR "...10th Special Forces Group saved half a million Kurds from extinction." The conditions in the refugee camps shocked the world. Before 10th Group arrived, an average of 450 refugees perished daily, with 70 percent being children. In two weeks time the rate was approximately 15-­20 per day and of these, only 28 percent were children. 10th Group had made the difference. The basic operation was divided into three phases. Phase one provided immediate emergency relief with food, water and shelter. The intent was to make an accurate assessment of the situation and to organize Kurdish leadership. Phase two provided basic services. The ODA and ODB detachments performed many tasks and missions: pipe water from the mountains, organize food distribution and camp sanitation, service drop zones and landing zones, and coordinate with the multi­national relief organizations. Additionally, they assisted in rendering medical treatment for the refugees. Phase three prepared and moved the refugees from their mountain camps into resettlement camps in Iraq or straight back to their own homes. Way­stations built by 10th SFG(A), provided food, water and fuel, and limited medical help enroute... As the video below shows, it was really about saving the families and the children: The mission was a tough one - to provide humanitarian aid to over one million Kurdish Refugees in northern Iraq. The mission began with airdrops (food, clothing, tents, blankets, medicine) and soon launched missions taking supplies directly to the Kurds. A UH-60A Black Hawk (Blackhawk) helicopter flies over a small village in the Kurdish occupied security zone in northern Iraq. The helicopters and the crews from C Company 6/159th Aviation Regiment, Geibelstadt, Germany, are deployed to Diyarbakir, Turkey, in support of the operation Provide Comfort. (DoD photo by: SSGT. THEODORE J. KONIARES Date Shot: 1993-11-17). To further stop Saddam from killing the Kurds, a northern No-Fly Zone was placed north of the 36th parallel. Any Iraqi aircraft would be shot down in the No-Fly Zone. Photo from CIA Factbook The No-Fly Zone was patrolled and kept "clean" by the USAF with fighters (F-15s) being supported by command and control aircraft (AWACS). General John Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had this to say about the hard work of the Provide Comfort Soldiers and Airmen: For over 1,000 days, the pilots and crews assigned to Operation Provide Comfort flew mission after mission, totalling over 50,000 hours... The mission continued for 3 years until the first Commander was due to reliquish command... On April 14th, 1994, two Blackhawk helicopters were ready for take-off from Diyarbakir, Turkey. COL Jerry Thompson - one of the most respected officers and commanders in Special Forces - was changing command (or co-command as "command" of Provide Comfort was shared with Turkey). He decided to show his replacement, COL Mulhern, the lay of the land. At 0730, COL Thompson assembled 26 people that comprised important (command group) roles for the mission. He included French, British, and Turkish commanders and liaisons, and also brought along Kurdish para-military personnel and linguists. The two Blackhawks were designated Eagle-1 and Eagle-2. Their first destination was Irbil, Iraq, but they would have to make a stop in Zakhu, Iraq (where the military part of Provide Comfort operated). There were plans to visit several other areas as well. At 8:22AM, Eagle Flight departed Diyarbakir. They were headed East-Southeast for a "gate" into the No-Fly Zone. Per Standard Operating Procedure, the command group was split between Eagle-1 and Eagle-2 to ensure continuity of command if one helicopter went down. At 9:21AM, Eagle Flight called the AWACS (callsign "Cougar"). They requested and were granted permission to enter the "gate" into the the No-Fly Zone. At 9:24AM, Eagle Flight lands at Zakhu, Iraq. At 9:35AM, two USAF F-15 fighters launched from Incirlik, Turkey. They were designated Tiger-1 and Tiger-2. Tiger-1 was the lead fighter with Tiger-2 as the wingman. Tiger Flight was headed to patrol the No-Fly Zone. At 9:54AM, Eagle Flight calls the AWACS to report departure from Zakhu, Iraq, with a destination of Irbil, Iraq. At 10:12AM, Eagle Flight enters mountainous terrain. It's Identification Friend or Foe system (IFF) failed. At 10:20AM Tiger Flight passes through "gate" into No-Fly Zone. At 10:22AM Tiger Flight picks up radar contact at forty nautical miles. No IFF reading occurs. Tiger-1 reports, "Cougar, picked up helicopter tracking northwest bound." AWACS says the area should be "clean". At 10:25 AWACS responds that there are "hits there" in the No-Fly Zone... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at BLACKFIVE
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The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort transits the Atlantic Ocean at night, April 3, 2015, while supporting Continuing Promise 2015. The operation shows U.S. support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Kameren Guy Hodnett Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at BLACKFIVE
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Our good pal Tommy Batt Boy is down at Fort Benning for the Best Ranger Competition. Since Uncle Jimbo and I were down there with him and Tim Kennedy (and remember Jimbo's interview with Chaplain Jeff Struecker?)...saw Tommy post this. Getting ready to head over the #ranger training brigade's HQ for the #BestRanger social, so of course I had to bring my dress shoes. #chucktaylors #chucks#brc So I told him that I'd donate $200 to the USARA if we got a photo of him wearing the Chuck Taylors in RangeUp Ranger Panties at Benning. I offered that a photo taken somewhere on the Darby Queen would be awesome. Then, Ranger John Tackett, an exponential badass of the Ranger Up Work Out Video Fame, chimed in with a match if Tommy takes that photo on top of Ungawa! What say you!? Let's get Tommy, who (let's face it) has no shame when it comes to raising money for great organizations, do some really immature shit...for charity...and our amusement. Put your challenge to Tommy in the comments. Join me in a match. Donate to the USARA. Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. and South Korean soldiers participate in demolitions tactics and procedures training during exercise Foal Eagle in South Korea near the Demilitarized Zone, March 30, 2015. The U.S. soldiers are assigned to the 25th Infantry Division. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher R. Baker Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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Marine Corps Cpl. Jordan Claspell meets Eliljah, his 2-month-old son, for the first time upon his return to Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 4, 2015, after a seven-month deployment with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. U.S. Marines Corps photo by Sgt. Valerie Eppler Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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Archer reference of Kenny Login's theme song... Here's the link to the video of the story from the BBC - patch shows up at about the 1:10 mark. Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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A Coast Guard rescue swimmer conducts a free fall direct deployment from an HH-65D Dolphin helicopter in the Pacific Ocean, April 7, 2015. The HH-65D Dolphin is assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Eggers Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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Marines attending the infantry officers course conduct fast rope training in preparation for Talon Reach during Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course on Auxiliary Airfield 2 near Yuma, Ariz., March 26, 2015. The training is hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One cadre, and provides standardized tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine aviation Training and Readiness. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jodson B. Graves Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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Paratroopers move an 105-mm howitzer into firing position as other paratroopers conduct a parachute assault during Operation Spartan Valkyrie at Malamute drop zone on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 20, 2015. U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar. One Mile Under by Andrew Gross is a thriller and mystery all rolled into one with the long-awaited return of Ty Hauck. On the surface it is a murder mystery, a “who done it,” but there is also the interesting aspects of energy independence. The plot will remind readers of Old West stories when farmers battled over land rights. As with most of Gross’ books there is the feature of how someone’s life can change in a brief moment. The plot pits farmers against an energy company supporting fracking that needs the town’s water rights. But there is more to this struggle when Colorado whitewater guide Dani Whalen finds a dear friend, Trey Watkin, dead. After that her life changes from enduring the dangers of nature to avoiding dangerous men. Although his death is ruled an accident she believes it to be murder. Getting nowhere with the local police chief, Wade Dunn, who also happens to be her ex-stepfather, she threatens to make her suspicions public. This is when Ty, wearing his white hat, comes into the story since Dani is like an adopted daughter. He does not hesitate to get involved to find the killers. The suspense ratchets up from here as Dani and Ty risk their lives to pursue justice. Readers will be taken on a journey, feeling a part of the different scenes as they whitewash down the rapids with Dani, take a hot air balloon ride, and consider the positive and negative points of fracking. The culprit is not energy companies, but individual bad guys who are consumed by greed and power. Gross commented to blackfive.net, “I did a lot of research regarding the technology and resulting environmental impact. If I had to take sides I would be for it, with environmental oversight. We must consider the long-term strategic goal of energy independence, which outweighs the environmental risks. I tried to present this within an action packed story. People in Colorado were comfortable and saw the energy companies as being good citizens.” The supporting character, Dani, stole the show. She is smart, pretty, funny, and has a take no prisoner attitude. Gross is able to make her a very sympathetic character through her vulnerability. On the other hand, Wade Dunn is a character that seems to have lost his soul. While charming on the outside he is weak-minded, and over steps the line by not doing what’s right. He appears to be a self-destructive person. Gross based “Dani on a Wyoming white-rafting guide for my family. She was self-reliant and totally in control. I had this infatuation with her because she was tough as nails. I always wanted to write her as a character. But in this book I must say that I enjoyed writing Wade more than anyone else. I also wrote in a wounded soldier because I wanted to give back to the military since I was someone who grew up during the Viet Nam War. I wanted to create someone who would elicit overpowering compassion and respect.” One Mile Under is an informative and thrilling story. Its’ characters are well developed and its plot, with its many twists and turns, are suspenseful and creative. The author gave a heads up about his next book, which will be more of a historical novel. Gross examines his Jewish roots as he based a character in the book on his father-in-law. He left Poland before the start of WWII and later found out his entire family did not survive. The theme of the book will include how to handle grief and survivor’s guilt. Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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The Thunderbirds Solo pilots perform the Opposing Knife-Edge Hit maneuver during the Thunder on the Bay Air Show on Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., March 28, 2015. U .S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. soldiers shake hands with Afghan children while patrolling through a village near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 24, 2015. The soldiers are assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class David Wheeler Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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Army Sgt. Stefan Leroy runs a 1,500-meter event during the Army Trials on Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, April 1, 2015. Athletes in the trials are competing for a spot on the Army’s team in the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games. DoD photo by EJ Hersom Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar. Bruce Henderson has written a gripping detailed account, Rescue At Los Banos. It details how the American military daringly raided the camp rescuing over two thousand civilian prisoners, many of whom were from the United States. In February 1945 the 11th Airborne risked their lives to save the civilians that included men, women, and children captured by the Japanese in the Philippines. The plot explains the atrocities from the victim’s point of view. The guards’ brutal behavior towards the prisoners was directed by the merciless and cruel camp commandant, Sadaaki Konishi. Meager food rations were reduced to the point of starvation, even though there was plenty of food available, since the camp itself was located in an area of great agricultural productivity. As the Japanese began losing the war the mistreatment of the prisoners grew proportionally. In fact, many of the internees after the rescue looked like Holocaust victims, meager skeletons. Henderson commented to blackfive.net, “many of the abuses of the Japanese guards and camp commanders are systemic. They were raised in a very strict militaristic society. Konishi was basically a sadistic person who had a deep hatred for Westerners. It was if he made it his personal crusade to mistreat the civilians. He was known for saying to the prisoners, ‘you will be eating dirt before I am done with you.’” After General Douglas MacArthur became aware of the camp conditions he assigned the 11th Airborne Division a dangerous rescue mission of going deep behind enemy lines. It was a deadly race against the clock since many feared that the ditches the Japanese were digging would be used to bury the prisoners alive. The author noted, “This assignment from MacArthur required the coordination of a three-pronged attack of deploying troops by air, land, and sea. It had to be carried out in darkness, with a Japanese infantry division, ten thousand strong, lurking just down the road. The odds against success were steep and the risks were enormous, but the young American paratroopers and Filipino guerrillas responded with unparalleled courage in their heroic efforts to save the prisoners. The rescue was run like clockwork. It was as if Murphy’s Law was suspended for twenty-four hours. Everything came together with the key being the actionable intelligence gained.” Besides giving a detailed account of the mission the author uses personal interviews, diaries, correspondence, memoirs, and archival research to explain the prisoner’s life and attitude at the camp: their selflessness with regard to other prisoners, and the courage displayed in overcoming hardship, deprivation, and cruelty. Henderson thinks the stories of heroism should be highlighted, since it is important to understand “how people react in the face of danger and adversity. How they are able to persevere with self courage and sacrifice." In the book Rescue At Los Banos Bruce Henderson is able to bring to the forefront one of the most daring raids in military history. It is a must read because it shows how good succeeded over evil. Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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Marine Cpl David Elliot observes the beach during an amphibious beach exercise on Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 20, 2015. Elliot is assigned to 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tyler A. Andersen Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. sailors line up before raising the barricade during a flight deck drill aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the Persian Gulf, March 21, 2015. The Carl Vinson is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Fenaroli Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2015 at BLACKFIVE