DELAND, Florida — A military freefall parachuting team has a better reason to conquer Mount Everest than "because it's there."

The 12-member team, assembled by Complete Parachute Solutions of DeLand, will attempt a world record for the highest-elevation tactical military freefall parachute landing. But it's more than a record. It's validation.

"When CPS says we've landed our parachutes at over 20,000 feet, that means we've done it," said Johnny Rogers, the company's vice president.

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Green Beret Master Sergeant Matthew O. Williams. (U.S. Army photo)

President Donald Trump will upgrade Green Beret Master Sergeant Matthew O. Williams' Silver Star to the Medal of Honor for his bravery in Afghanistan, officials announced on Thursday.

Williams was serving with Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 on April 6, 2008, when he braved enemy fire to save the lives of four critically-wounded soldiers and prevent the lead element of his assault force from being overrun by the enemy, a White House news release says.

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Four stations were marked by signs with the names of Team Ouallam along the 5K route for the Tongo Tongo Memorial Challenge Oct. 4, 2018, Nigerien Air Base 101, Niger. (U.S. Air Force / Tech. Sgt. Rachelle Coleman)

Exactly two years after four Army special forces soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger, the U.S. State Department is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information that would help it arrest anyone who helped plan or carry out the ambush.

In a press release on Friday, the State Department said it is also offering a separate reward of up to $5 million for information that would help it track down Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the leader of the terrorist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS), which claimed responsibility for the ambush.

According to the press release, the funding is offered through the State Department's Rewards for Justice Program, a 35-year-old program which has paid more than $150 million to more than 100 people "who provided actionable information that helped bring terrorists to justice or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide."

The ambush occurred near the village of Tongo Tongo, in the desert of southwestern Niger. The four slain soldiers, Army Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, and Sgt. La David T. Johnson, were part of a group of U.S. and Nigerien forces that set out in unarmored vehicles for a reconnaissance mission that morphed into a disastrous attempt to capture a terrorist. Five Nigerien soldiers were also killed in the attack.

The ambush kicked off an investigation into Army leadership decisions preceding the ambush. Investigators found a series of errors leading up to the mission, such as mischaracterizing the U.S. troops' initial mission as civil-military reconnaissance.

However, the review did not recommend for any high-level commanders to be punished.

The announcement comes the same day the company commander of the ambushed soldiers wrote an op-ed in The New York Times saying the Army botched its investigation of the ambush and failed to hold its senior leaders accountable.

The commander, former Army Maj. Alan Van Saun, said he received an unwarranted reprimand from the Army after the ambush. The reprimand effectively ended his career, he said.

"[W]hile subsequent reviews of the investigation offered yet another chance to hold people responsible, those opportunities fled quickly, leaving the chain of command, in which I had entrusted so much, unaccountable for decisions they made in my absence, but for which I was left responsible," Van Saun wrote.

Dying of cancer, this Green Beret has one last mission: Getting Congress to fight for military medical malpractice reform

"You think you're limited on time? You ought to talk to me about limited time."

Analysis

Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal is dying.

The 38-year-old Green Beret's cancer was missed by Army care providers in 2017, and is now terminal. For the last year he's been fighting to change a decades-old legal rule known as the Feres Doctrine, which bars Stayskal and his family from suing the government for the alleged medical malpractice.

That's why, on Sept. 9 and 10, instead of being home in Pinehurst, North Carolina, with his wife and two daughters, Stayskal was in Washington, D.C. trying to drum up support for his namesake legislation, the SFC Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act, which would allow service members to sue the government for certain medical malpractice incidents.

Over two days, Stayskal and his attorney, Natalie Khawam, visited the offices of eight senators — Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Neely Kennedy (R-La.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

They had face time with none of them.

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On Tuesday Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow service members to sue the government for military medical malpractice.

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(U.S. Army photo)

NORFOLK, Va. -- They called it Operation Tossed Salad and the hasty plan, concocted over several hours at various clubs in Bamako, Mali, was to haze an Army Green Beret.

Instead, Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar died sometime in the early morning of June 4, 2017, after four special operators broke into his room while he was sleeping, taped him up, placed him in a chokehold, then tried to cover up their actions. On Monday, a Navy SEAL and Marine Raider, the last of four service members currently charged in the case, made their first court appearances in front a preliminary hearing officer at Naval Station Norfolk, who will help determine whether there is enough evidence for the military to pursue the case.

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