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The U.S. armed forces had a hell of a year. Since the inauguration of President Donald Trump as the new commander-in-chief in January, the Department of Defense has achieved significant victories (the expulsion of ISIS from its major strongholds in Iraq and Syria), robust challenges (North Korea’s nuclear program, the specter of Russia in eastern Europe), and endured its share of tragedies (the deaths of special operations forces in Yemen and Niger and the branches’ growing mishap crises).
But despite everything the armed forces faced in 2017, service members performed their duty with honor and devotion — and they looked damn good doing it, too. To that end, Task & Purpose looks back on the year with 31 of the best U.S. military photos of 2017.
The Patriots Jet Team performs aerial acrobatics as pyrotechnics Tora Bomb Squad of the Commemorative Air Force explode
The Patriots Jet Team performs aerial acrobatics as pyrotechnics provided by the Tora Bomb Squad of the Commemorative Air Force explode, forming a “Wall Of Fire” during the 2017 Yuma Airshow at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Saturday, March 18, 2017.
A Navy master chief petty officer fixes a flag on the World War II-era American Tanker
A U.S. Navy master chief petty officer assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Group 1 fixes an American flag on the American Tanker, a sunken concrete barge used to transport fuel during WWII, in Guam’s Apra Harbor June 21, 2017. U.S. Navy EOD is the world’s premier combat force for countering explosive hazards and conducting expeditionary diving and salvage.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) conducts strike operations against a target in Syria while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. The Porter conducted naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.
The new USS Gerald R. Ford lights up the Atlantic Ocean
The superstructure of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is seen as the ship transits the Atlantic Ocean at night Dec. 13, 2017. The Ford was underway conducting test and evaluation operations.
Marines perform the Battle Color Ceremony
The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon performs during the Battle Color Ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, March 2, 2017. The ceremony was held to celebrate Marine Corps history using music, marching and precision drill.
The USS Mobile Bay tests the updated AEGIS Baseline 9 weapons system
An SM-2 missile launches and destroys an airborne training target during a successful first test of the updated AEGIS Baseline 9 weapons system aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53). Mobile Bay, the first guided-missile cruiser in the fleet to upgrade from AEGIS Baseline 8 to the updated Baseline 9, is underway testing new weapons capabilities in preparation for its upcoming deployment.
Soldiers perform search and rescue after Hurricane Harvey
Soldiers drive a woman to safety following devastating flooding from Hurricane Harvey, Orange, Texas, Sept. 3, 2017.
Air Force firefighters conduct nighttime training
U.S. Air Force and civilian firefighters put out a blaze during nighttime live-fire training, Nov. 9, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Moody and the Valdosta Fire Department joined forces to prepare for the possibility of nighttime aircraft fire operations.
A military working dog trains hard
Military Working Dog Arko, assigned to the U.S. Air Force 96th Security Forces Squadron, captures the simulated bad guy during a demonstration for Eglin Elementary School kids at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., May 18, 2017. The event was in celebration of National Police Week. More than 100 children watched the demonstration.
Lightning strikes near the USS Theodore Roosevelt
Lightning strikes near the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) as it transits the Arabian Gulf, Dec. 16, 2017. The Theodore Roosevelt and its carrier strike group are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.
Buzz Aldrin buzzes NASA
Retired Air Force Col. and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, flies with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, April 2, 2017, at Cape Canaveral, Fla.
The aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Strike Groups and ships from the Republic of Korea Navy transit the Western Pacific Ocean Nov. 12, 2017. The strike groups conducted operations in international waters as part of a three-carrier strike force exercise. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia Pacific region routinely for more than 70 years promoting regional security, stability and prosperity.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to President Donald J. Trump,Tom Bossert, the president’s homeland security advisor, and Douglas A. Silliman, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq, and Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, meet with Service Members at a forward operating base near Qayyarah West in Iraq, April 4, 2017.
MARSOC Raiders train in Arizona
U.S. Marines with 1st Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Raider Regiment, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, await departure during final exercise (FINEX) two as part of Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course (WTI) 2-17, near Yuma, Ariz., April 27, 2017. WTI is a seven-week training event hosted by Marine Aviation and Weapons and Tactics One (MAWTS-1) cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions of Marine Corps aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force and provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics.
A Navy petty officer gets wet
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Doherty enters the water for an underwater pier survey in Apra Harbor, Guam, Dec. 14, 2017. Doherty is a diver assigned to Mobile Diving Salvage Unit 1.
Special Operations Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve commander provides assistant gunner support
Army Maj. Gen. James B. Jarrard, commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, provides assistant gunner support to a member of 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 5310 Operation Detachment Bravo during counter Islamic State of Syria and Iraq operations in southern Syria, Nov. 22, 2017.
Soldiers conduct air drops in Hawaii
The 25th Sustainment Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, and the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Inf. Div., combined forces Jan. 25, 2017, to perform Low Cost Low Altitude air drops at a drop zone near Bellows Air Force Base, Hawaii.
Navy EOD divers train with South Korean forces
A service member jumps from a Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter during a mine warfare training event that U.S. and South Korean navy explosive ordnance disposal divers are conducting in Busan, South Korea, Oct. 19, 2017.
Army Sgt. La David Johnson returns home from Niger
In this Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, frame from video, Myeshia Johnson cries over the casket of her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in an ambush in Niger, upon his body’s arrival in Miami.
Wings of Blue Parachute Demonstration Team airman salutes
A member of the Air Force’s Wings of Blue Parachute Demonstration Team jumps out of an aircraft during the opening ceremony of Aviation Nation 2017 Nellis Air and Space Expo at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Nov. 10, 2017.
Munitions from a U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) bilateral mission explode at the Pilsung Range, South Korea, Sept 17, 2017. The U.S. and ROKAF aircraft flew across the Korean Peninsula and practiced attack capabilities by releasing live weapons at the training area before returning to their respective home stations. This mission was conducted in direct response to North Korea’s intermediate range ballistic missile launch, which flew directly over northern Japan on September 14 amid rising tension over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development programs.
Russian-born Maria Daume becomes the first female infantry Marine
Rct. Maria Daume, Platoon 4001, Papa Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, was born in a Russian prison and brought to Long Island, N.Y., at the age of 4 when she and her twin brother were adopted. Daume became interested in the Marine Corps around the age of 12 when she met Marine recruiters at an anti-cancer event. The Crucible is recruit training’s 54-hour culminating event that puts to the test everything recruits have learned since arriving to Parris Island.
Soldiers fire a howitzer during training with regional partners in Germany
Soldiers of 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division fire an M109A6 Paladin howitzer during Exercise Combined Resolve IX at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Aug. 21 2017. Exercise Combine Resolve IX is designed to train the Army’s Regionally Allocated Forces to the U.S. European Command. The goal of the exercise is to prepare forces in Europe to operate together to promote stability and security in the region.
Pearl Harbor survivors at the USS Midway Museum
Members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association attend a ceremony at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, Dec. 7, 2017, to mark the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Marines conduct urban demolition breach training
Marines with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion take cover while conducting urban demolition breach training for Talon Exercise (TalonEx) 2-17, Yuma, Arizona, March 30, 2017. The purpose of TalonEx was for ground combat units to conduct integrated training in support of the Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course 2-17 hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One.
A replica D3A Val torpedo bomber takes part in a ‘Tora, Tora, Tora’ recreation
A replica D3A Val torpedo bomber flies as part of a re-creation of ‘Tora, Tora, Tora,’ the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor during the 100th Centennial Celebration Air Show, June 11, 2017, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Tora, Tora, Tora began in 1972, when six replica Japanese aircraft used in the movie of the same name were donated to the CAF. The act debuted at the Galveston Air Show on June 25, 1972, and by 1977, Tora had gained national exposure. In 1991 Tora participated extensively in the 50th anniversary year commemorations of Pearl Harbor.
An F/A-18E Super Hornet breaks the sound barrier
An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the “Tomcatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31 breaks the sound barrier above the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) during an air power demonstration. The ship and its carrier strike group are returning home from a seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.
The National Guard helps fight California’s sprawling wildfire
A U.S. Air National Guard C-130J Hercules aircraft equipped with the MAFFS 2 (Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System) drops a line of fire retardant on the Thomas Fire in the hills above the city of Santa Barbara, California, Dec. 13, 2017.
An F-15E Strike Eagle drops flares over Iraq
An F-15E Strike Eagle fire flares over Iraq during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, on Sept. 6, 2017. The F-15E Strike Eagle is a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. An array of avionics and electronics systems give the F-15E the capability to fight at low altitude, day or night, and in all weather conditions.
Marines participate in fire support coordination training
Marines participate in fire support coordination training during exercise Alligator Dagger 2017 in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, Sept. 7, 2017. The Marines are assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s battalion landing team.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis shares a light moment with Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, upon arriving at the Pentagon for his first full day as secretary, Jan. 21, 2017.