Special Report

Best Military Stories of the Month

John Moore / Getty Images

There are about 1.3 million active duty servicemen and servicewomen enlisted in the U.S. military, and 85% are stationed on bases in every state throughout the United States; the rest are stationed abroad.

Some bases are cities unto themselves. Places like Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Hood in Texas have tens of thousands servicemen, servicewomen, and family members stationed at those facilities, each, located in states with the most people in the military.

With that many people, these bases generate a lot of news, which is why each service branch has periodicals and websites that disseminate news pertinent to the military and their families. 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed news from these sites as well as other media outlets to compile the best military stories of the last month.

Included in the stories this past month are a man who overcame cancer to become a Marine; an Army officer who competed in her 100th marathon; a Coast Guardsman who saved a woman from drowning; a former Iraqi interpreter for U.S. forces who became an American citizen; and a new statue unveiled for Civil War general and 18th president Ulysses S. Grant.

Among the themes that developed from the stories reviewed is that many times service members perform extraordinary acts not just on the battlefield and are among the year’s biggest heroes. Here are the best military stories of the month.

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24/7 Wall St. has compiled the best military stories of the past month by reviewing articles that appeared in the Military Times, Army Times, Navy Times, and Air Force Times as well as media resources such as the Associated Press and regional newspapers such as The Virginian-Pilot.

Source: Courtesy of Dana Giordano via Twitter

Marine crawls to finish at Boston Marathon

Micah Herndon, a 31-year-old Marine from Tallmadge, Ohio, crawled across the finish line of the Boston Marathon, spent from exhaustion, to complete the race in honor of three comrades who were killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2010. Herndon survived that explosion and said it was “survivor’s guilt” that compelled him to run the race.

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Source: Courtesy of Cpl. Andrew Neumann / Marine Corps

Overcoming cancer to be a Marine

It’s hard enough to become a Marine — it usually takes about three months of grueling training to become one. For Lance Cpl. Caleb Eudy, it took 965 days because a month after he began training at Parris Island in South Carolina in 2016, he was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin lymphoma. He persevered and formally became a Marine at a ceremony on April 13.

Source: Courtesy of Terrance Bell / Army

Money allocated to fix military housing

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee plan to add $140 million to President Donald Trump’s military construction budget for next year to address concerns such as mold, vermin, and lead in military family housing. If the budget is passed, the additional funds would represent an increase of 2% over last year. The issue was raised in both houses of Congress after reports surfaced recently about deteriorating conditions in privatized military housing all over the nation.

Source: Courtesy of Carrollton Fire Department

Coast Guardsman saved woman in sinking car

Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Brundage of the Coast Guard was lauded by first responders for pulling a woman out of a sinking car in a canal near the North Carolina town of Moyock. The woman lost control of her car and it plunged into a 5-foot deep canal. The woman got out of the vehicle through the sunroof but could not swim. Brundage happened to be driving by and stopped his car, dove into the 50-degree water, and saved the woman.

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Source: Courtesy of Patrick Albright, Fort Benning

Ranger tough

Army Rangers are tough, and the toughest are Capts. John Bergman and Michael Rose of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, who won the endurance challenge to earn the Best Ranger title in early April. Rose has won the title three times, and Bergman has triumphed twice. One-hundred and six members of the elite military force divided into two-member teams and went through 60 hours of grueling races in which they marched, ran, swam, and rappelled in the western Georgia wilderness near Fort Benning.

Source: Courtesy of Michelle Eberhart / Army

Statue of Grant unveiled at West Point

The United States Military Academy in late April unveiled a 7.5-foot bronze statue of Ulysses S. Grant, hero of the Civil War and the nation’s 18th president. Grant is depicted in the four-star uniform he wore in service of the Union Army during the Civil War. The statue stands near such West Point luminaries as Douglas MacArthur, George Patton, and Dwight Eisenhower. Grant, who graduated from the academy in 1843, was the first West Point alumnus to become president.

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Source: Courtesy of Department of Defense (screenshot)

Navy developing guidelines on reporting UFO sightings

The U.S. Navy is taking reports of unidentified flying objects seriously. In a story first reported by Politico, the Navy said it is drafting guidelines for a process for pilots and personnel to report sightings of UFOs. The Navy, as well as the Air Force, said it takes the reports seriously and plans to investigate each one it receives. The action follows an uptick in what the Navy characterized as a series of “intrusions” by advanced aerial crafts on Navy aircraft groups.

Source: Courtesy of Beofra Butler / Army

Army officer runs in 100th marathon

Running one marathon — a 26.2-mile race — is noteworthy; running 100 is remarkable. Last month, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Beofra K. Butler competed in her 100th marathon, running the Boston Marathon for the sixth time. She has competed in the marathons for 11 years, according to the U.S. Army. Butler has pushed herself in longer distances, competing races that included 50 kilometer runs and a 100 mile event.

Source: Courtesy Photo

Iraqi interpreter earns US citizenship

Dhurgham Abdulkareem, a former Iraqi interpreter for U.S. forces, officially became an American citizen in late April. He had been pulled from a citizenship ceremony in early April for undisclosed reasons. Abdulkareem, 41, said that he can rest easier now that he is a citizen because he knows he won’t be forced to go back to Iraq and face possible retribution for collaborating with the United States..

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Source: BSPollard / Getty Images

Ole Miss helps vets

The University of Mississippi, also called Ole Miss, allows for all veterans — qualifying and non-qualifying — to attend the university at Oxford, Mississippi, under its Military Non-resident Tuition Scholarship. The scholarship pays for the tuition differential for out-of-state students, even if they lack GI Bill benefits. The scholarship is also available to select spouses and children of vets.

Source: svengine / Getty Images

13 soldiers to get award upgrade

This year, the United States plans to upgrade 13 recipients of the Silver Star to the Distinguished Service Cross for valorous actions during the Global War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded for “extraordinary heroism” and is the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the U.S. Army, after the Medal of Honor. At least three of the DSCs will be awarded posthumously.

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Source: Courtesy of Delanie Stafford / Air Force

Artifacts saved from flood

The floods this spring that caused extensive damage in the Plains states endangered precious artifacts stored at the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. As the Missouri River flooded the region, historian John McQueney, first responders, and airmen from the 55th Wing, which is based at Offutt, swung into action. They rescued two items on loan from the Air Force Museum: a giant aerial reconnaissance camera from the 1940s and a propeller from a World War II-era P-51 Mustang fighter. They also saved papers pertaining to the construction of the Glenn L. Martin bomber plant at the base just before World War II. The two B-29 bombers that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan were later built there.

Source: Steve Debenport / Getty Images

Vet caregivers getting help

In March, the Department of Veterans Affairs agreed to 12 recommendations put forth by an advisory group of veterans advocates. The recommendations include implementing certain training and support services for veteran caregivers. They believe their ideas will improve daily lives of vets and their families by making it easier for them to find information about and access their benefits.

Source: Courtesy of Senior Chief Petty Officer NyxoLyno Cangemi / Navy

Coast Guard to get icebreakers

The Navy and Coast Guard have contracted a Mississippi company to build a new fleet of icebreakers. The contract with VT Halter Marine of Pascagoula, Mississippi, could be valued as much as $1.9 billion. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the lead contracting authority for the deal. The Coast Guard will operate the icebreakers that will be used for search and rescue, enforcing maritime law, and national defense patrols in polar regions. With greater commercial, tourism, and research activities in the Arctic and Antarctic areas, the Coast Guard said it felt the need to increase its operations there.

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Source: Courtesy of Chief Petty Officer Nick Gould / Coast Guard

Coast Guard seeks greater defense role

Increased human activity and environmental changes in the Arctic are having an impact on maritime defense strategy. Coast Guard Admiral Karl L. Schultz expects a greater role for the Coast Guard. He outlined his ideas for the responsibilities of the Coast Guard in April in a strategic review titled “The United States Coast Guard’s Vision for the Arctic Region.” In his overview of the Coast Guard’s role, Schultz said the keys to long-term success in the region are: enhancing the capability to operate effectively in the Arctic; strengthening the institutions and supervising entities that oversee activity in the region; and being innovative and having the ability to adapt to situations.

Source: Courtesy of Sgt. Steven Lopez / Army

Two soldiers receive Silver Star

Two Army soldiers received the Silver Star in April for saving the lives of fellow soldiers during a medical evacuation of the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan in2018. Sgt. Armando Yanez and Sgt. Emmanuel Bynum received their awards at the Army Aviation Association of America Summit in Nashville, Tennessee. The Silver Star is the third highest combat decoration that can be awarded to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is awarded for gallantry in action.

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Source: Courtesy of PEO Soldier

Next generation of night vision goggles on way

Technology is important in gaining an advantage on the battlefield and the Army is set to increase that advantage. It introduced the new version of night vision goggles, the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular. The new generation of the technology includes binocular vision, converts green glow to white, and allows soldiers to view their weapon sight in the device. Units deployed in South Korea will receive the next-generation night vision goggles. By 2020, about 10,000 soldiers and 3,100 Marines will receive the new device.

Source: Courtesy of Pixabay

Pentagon partners with Johns Hopkins

The Department of Defense and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland have created a program that will educate military officers in “the art and science of fighting wars,” as Fred Drummond, deputy assistant secretary of defense for force education and training told Military Times Reboot Camp. The Secretary of Defense Strategic Thinkers Program is designed to provide strategic-thinking skills. It will also allow the officers to work toward a master’s degree in international public policy. The DOD hopes the program can prepare officers to assume policy positions with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The program will begin in August, and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies will oversee it.

Source: Courtesy of Syracuse University

Syracuse program targets vets

Syracuse University has created a program for veterans who may be interested in a career in politics. The Veterans in Politics program will be operated by the university’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The program will impart skills in campaign organizing, fundraising, and creating a policy platform. The number of veterans who are members of Congress has been decreasing. There are 96 lawmakers who are veterans, comprising less than 18% of Congress, a decline of six members from the previous congressional session. In the mid-1970s, three-fourths of lawmakers had served in the military.

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Source: Greg Fiume / Getty Images

Leadership bring Nationals, Air Force together

Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals and the Air Force met for a leadership event in April. The event was held at Nationals Park and was called “Nats on Base: Leadership Exchange.” It brought together the team’s executives — including principal owner Mark Lerner and Mike Rizzo, the general manager — and Air Force officers. Representatives of the Washington Redskins football team also attended the event. They discussed the similarities and differences of operating and Major League Baseball team and military command.

Source: Courtesy of MLB

MLB reveals vet commemoration

Major League Baseball is taking a more subdued approach to commemorate the nation’s veterans this Memorial Day. Instead of major uniform changes, teams will remember the veterans and those who gave their lives in the service of the nation by wearing commemorative patches on their hats and a poppy patch on the chest with the words “Lest we forget” written on the scroll of the flower.

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Source: Courtesy of Army

Engineer, mortar teams honored

There are many competitions in the military services. In April, the Army recognized the top combat engineers, also called Sappers, and the best mortar crew. Officers from the 39th Engineer Brigade Battalion from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, emerged as the top Sapper unit, while four noncommissioned officers from the renowned 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg in North Carolina topped the field as best mortar team. Fifty engineer teams competed over three days at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri in various events such as weapons assembly, land navigation, and wall climbing. Four-man mortar teams opposed each other at Fort Benning, Georgia, over three days and tested their prowess in three different ammunition levels.

Source: Courtesy of Department of Defense

Recognizing Japanese-American service members

In the Army, April 5 is called “Go for Broke Day” to recognize the bravery of the Japanese-American soldiers in World War II who fought fascism in Europe and prejudice in the United States. “Go for Broke” is the motto of the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was comprised entirely of Japanese-American soldiers. April 5 is the day observed because on April 5, 1945, Pfc. Sadao Munemori, the unit’s first recipient of the Medal of Honor, was killed in action in Italy. The unit would receive 21 Medals of Honor, 29 Distinguished Service Crosses, and more than 4,000 Purple Hearts in World War II.

Source: Courtesy of Staff Sgt. Terrance Payton / Army

A hero off the battlefield

Army Capt. Jacob Riffe received the Soldier’s Medal at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for heroism, and he was not near a battlefield. A year ago, Riffe was traveling with his 5-year-old son to Fort Bragg from Fort Lee in Virginia on Interstate 95 when he observed a car driving erratically. The car then sped across the highway, careened over an embankment and slammed into a fence. Riffe pulled over and noticed a fire had started in the vehicle’s engine. He saw two people inside the car, an elderly man and his caretaker, and pulled them both out. The caretaker, who was driving, had had an adverse reaction to medication she had taken and blacked out while driving. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest non-combat heroism medal.

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Source: Courtesy of Army

New app puts you in soldier’s boots

You might not be able to literally walk in a soldier’s boots, but a new app launched on April 11 can provide the closest thing to that experience. The In Our Boots app is part of the Army’s recruiting and marketing initiative. When the app is opened, the viewer sees soldiers attempting to load a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. The viewer can move the phone or drag the cursor over the screen to get a 360-degree perspective of the experience. By resting the cursor on one of the four soldiers inside the helicopter, the viewer can see the role of each soldier — sniper, bomb technician, tank commander, and drone operator.

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