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This Retro Army Training Video For Vietnam-Era Door Gunners Is Scarily Adorable
If there’s one combat billet that gets crapped all over by Hollywood, it’s the modern helicopter door gunner.
Armed with a muscular M60 7.62mm machine gun and perched high above the kill zone, the door gunner doles out and destruction as though it were a casual neighborhood drive-by. Which is why all those “Hey man, whoa, that’s enough!” scenes in war movies from Full Metal Jacket to X-Men Origins: Wolverine (lol) usually involve an overzealous aircrew corporal mowing down scads of innocents below. If the Bell UH-1 Huey was the pale horse of Revelations, then the M60-toting door gunner was the death that follows.
How did the military ward off that bad stereotype? With another bad stereotype! Door-gunning is more like fighting off bandits on the stagecoaches of old, according to this jarringly upbeat 1966 Army training film, unearthed by Guns.com, on “shotgunners,” the “tough, skilled Soldiers trained to protect the sky-coaches flying over South Vietnam."
As a little four-minute morsel of history, this training video is positively adorable. We get some nice shots of clean-cut young soldiers at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii — likely from the 25th “Tropic Lightning” Infantry Division — just a few years after the Department of Defense began arming helicopters with machine guns like the M1919A4 Browning. (The 25th shoulda been called “Tropic Thunder,” but whatever, fuck you.)
Of course, the coming years would bring all-new murdergear to Army helos, from rocket pods to the ubiquitous M60, shown rolling deep in the clip above. The Army training video offers a nice little vision of the modern door gunner as an earnest protector (“Gee whiz, gotta keep my battle buddies safe!”), while the reality may be a little more “Get some get some GET SOME!”
You know what they say about hindsight: It’s the only weapons system the Pentagon will never invest in.
‘I made promises to the people that I lost’— How the Iraq war forged a Navy SEAL’s path to Harvard Medical School and NASA
Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.
However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:
You can almost smell the gunpowder in the scene captured by a Marine photographer over the weekend, showing a Marine grunt firing a shotgun during non-lethal weapons training.
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
New Vietnam War movie 'The Last Full Measure' takes some well-deserved shots at the military’s award process
Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.
With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.