US Army Corps Of Engineers Halts Dakota Access Pipeline

Veterans rally at Standing Rock on Day 1 of Veterans Stand For Standing Rock muster, Dec. 4, 2016.
Task & Purpose photo

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informed tribal leaders that the Army Corps of Engineers will halt construction on the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe announced on Sunday. 

“Today, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribal chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. “Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes."

The Army's assistant secretary for civil works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, also made an announcement on Sunday, saying, "Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it's clear that there's more work to do. The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing."

Sunday, Dec. 4, marks the first day of the Veterans Stand For Standing Rock muster that garnered national attention over the last week, after a GoFundMe raised more than $1 million to support thousands of veterans who committed to join the ongoing protests in North Dakota. According to Veterans For Standing Rock spokesman Anthony Diggs, who addressed protestors Sunday afternoon, more than 2,400 veterans were registered at the protest camp as of 4:45 pm Eastern Standard Time.

“The vets all coming here to support this cause was amazing,” James Raven Miller, a psychologist and Coast Guard veteran, told Task & Purpose. He drove to Standing Rock from Boulder, Colorado, with a group of fellow veterans. “I’m proud of the fortitude we all showed in taking time out of our lives to stand up for something more than ourselves.”

57-year-old Jim Pardilla, a Penobscot Indian originally from Indian Island, Maine, arrived at Standing Rock on Thursday, but his family has been protesting since August. Task & Purpose asked him about the feeling in the camp with the arrival of veterans over the past few days.

“The vets are coming from all over,” Pardilla told Task & Purpose. “We’re all on the same page. Marines, Air Force, Navy. And the camaraderie — I haven’t seen that since I left the service. Brother were holding each other, crying.”

Pardilla added that he saw two guys reconnect who hadn’t seen each other since Vietnam. “It was moving.”

The veterans muster was organized by Army vet Wesley Clark Jr. and Marine vet Michael A. Wood Jr., who formed Veterans Stand For Standing Rock last month with the hope of drawing scores of former service members, as well as fire fighters, ex-law enforcement officers, emergency medical personnel and others to the site. Following Task & Purpose's coverage of Clark Jr. and Wood Jr., their mission went viral, receiving national coverage and more than $1 million in donations.

Related: Flooded With Support, Standing Rock Vets Ramp Up Operation And Brace For Showdown »

Clark Jr. met with approximately 250 veterans at Standing Rock on Sunday telling them that tribal elders had asked the veterans do not directly engage in the protests. "If we come forward, they will attack us," Clark said, according to The Associated Press. Instead, he told the veterans, "If you see someone who needs help, help them out."

Now that the Army has halted construction, it is unclear if the veterans will stay for the duration of the muster, which was supposed to last until Dec 7. While some veterans were leaving the camp on Sunday afternoon, many others were still trying to enter.

According to Pardilla, there is still a veterans march scheduled for Monday to Backwater Bridge, where they will say a prayer and march back.

The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which spans the border of North and South Dakota and is home to members of the Lakota and Dakota nations (known collectively as Sioux). It has been the site of an increasingly tense standoff between law enforcement-backed security contractors and activists since July, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a plan to build one of the final segments of the 1,170-mile Dakota Access Pipeline on land adjacent to the reservation. According to the Standing Rock Sioux, the planned route, which will cross beneath the Missouri River, threatens their drinking water supply and will destroy sacred sites and burial grounds located on land that the government stripped from the Sioux in the past.

Related: ‘Where Evil Resides’: Veterans ‘Deploy’ To Standing Rock To Engage The Enemy — The US Government »

Task & Purpose’s Adam Linehan, Russell Midori, and Marty Skovlund Jr. are on the ground at Standing Rock. We will continue to update this story as we gather more information.

(U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Andrew Smith)

Three U.S. service members received non-life-threatening injuries after being fired on Monday by an Afghan police officer, a U.S. official confirmed.

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Marine Maj. Jose J. Anzaldua Jr. spent more than three years during the height of the Vietnam War. Now, more than 45 years after his release, Sig Sauer is paying tribute to his service with a special gift.

Sig Sauer on Friday unveiled a unique 1911 pistol engraved with Anzaldua's name, the details of his imprisonment in Vietnam, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" accompanied by the POW-MIA flag on the grip to commemorate POW-MIA Recognition Day.

The gunmaker also released a short documentary entitled "Once A Marine, Always A Marine" — a fitting title given Anzaldua's courageous actions in the line of duty

Marine Maj. Jose Anzaldua's commemorative 1911 pistol

(Sig Sauer)

Born in Texas in 1950, Anzaldua enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968 and deployed to Vietnam as an intelligence scout assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

On Jan. 23, 1970, he was captured during a foot patrol and spent 1,160 days in captivity in various locations across North Vietnam — including he infamous Hỏa Lò Prison known among American POWs as the "Hanoi Hilton" — before he was freed during Operation Homecoming on March 27, 1973.

Anzaldua may have been a prisoner, but he never stopped fighting. After his release, he received two Bronze Stars with combat "V" valor devices and a Prisoner of War Medal for displaying "extraordinary leadership and devotion to his companions" during his time in captivity. From one of his Bronze Star citations:

Using his knowledge of the Vietnamese language, he was diligent, resourceful, and invaluable as a collector of intelligence information for the senior officer interned in the prison camp.

In addition, while performing as interpreter for other United States prisoners making known their needs to their captors, [Anzaldua] regularly, at the grave risk of sever retaliation to himself, delivered and received messages for the senior officer.

On one occasion, when detected, he refused to implicate any of his fellow prisoners, even though severe punitive action was expected.

Anzaldua also received a Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroism in December 1969, when he entered the flaming wreckage of a U.S. helicopter that crashed nearr his battalion command post in the country's Quang Nam Province and rescued the crew chief and a Vietnamese civilian "although painfully burned himself," according to his citation.

After a brief stay at Camp Pendleton following his 1973 release, Anzaldua attended Officer Candidate School at MCB Quantico, Virginia, earning his commission in 1974. He retired from the Corps in 1992 after 24 years of service.

Sig Sauer presented the commemorative 1911 pistol to Anzaldua in a private ceremony at the gunmaker's headquarters in Newington, New Hampshire. The pistol's unique features include:

  • 1911 Pistol: the 1911 pistol was carried by U.S. forces throughout the Vietnam War, and by Major Anzaldua throughout his service. The commemorative 1911 POW pistol features a high-polish DLC finish on both the frame and slide, and is chambered in.45 AUTO with an SAO trigger. All pistol engravings are done in 24k gold;
  • Right Slide Engraving: the Prisoner of War ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor and "Major Jose Anzaldua" engravings;
  • Top Slide Engraving: engraved oak leaf insignia representing the Major's rank at the time of retirement and a pair of dog tags inscribed with the date, latitude and longitude of the location where Major Anzaldua was taken as a prisoner, and the phrase "You Are Not Forgotten" taken from the POW-MIA flag;
  • Left Side Engraving: the Vietnam War service ribbon inset, with USMC Eagle Globe and Anchor engraving;
  • Pistol Grips: anodized aluminum grips with POW-MIA flag.

The top leaders of a Japan-based Marine Corps F/A-18D Hornet squadron were fired after an investigation into a deadly mid-air collision last December found that poor training and an "unprofessional command climate" contributed to the crash that left six Marines dead, officials announced on Monday.

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A former Army soldier was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Thursday for stealing weapons from Fort Bliss, along with other charges.

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(U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Corey Hook)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released an alarming report Friday showing that at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017, with little sign that the crisis is abating despite suicide prevention being the VA's top priority.

Although the total population of veterans declined by 18% during that span of years, more than 6,000 veterans died by suicide annually, according to the VA's 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.

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