These Heroes Tried To Sneak A ‘Talladega Nights’ Reference Onto Their Mission Patch

Union Films

The National Reconnaissance Office is the Department of Defense organ tasked with operating the recon satellites that relay signals intelligence to various intel agencies. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is a 2006 sports comedy that follows a NASCAR-racing Will Ferrell through a classic hero’s journey. In the decade after the latter’s theatrical release, the two had virtually nothing in common.

In August 2016, that all changed.

A series of internal emails from that time period reveals that NRO personnel attempted to sneak a reference to the bawdy comedy into the organization’s official spy-satellite logo.

The emails, obtained and published by Freedom of Information Act request clearinghouse MuckRock on Jan. 16, reveal that the NRO had tightened restrictions on designs for its mission patch after a December 2013 mission patch featured an octopus eating the Planet Earth. That patch had originally been intended as an engineering in-joke about a faulty piece of equipment and not a reference to global domination, but it provoked fierce mockery from everyone and their mother, including the Daily Show. Years after the incident, the August 2016 emails reveal the design for a Lewis & Clark-themed patch with a strikingly familiar motto:

A proposed logo design for the National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-76 mission patchNational Reconnaissance Office/MuckRock

Why yes, that is the catchphrase of Ferrell’s titular Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights, and the NRO design team that slapped it together was damned pleased with itself: Another email reveals that the team explicitly suggested the slogan, in tribute to Ricky Bobby’s frequent refrain that he “wanted to go fast.”

National Reconnaissance Office/MuckRock

In response, another NRO employee wrote that the slogan wouldn’t necessarily fly with higher-ups, especially in the wake of the whole world-eating-octopus debacle, noting that the quote “is not exactly an academy award [sic] winning moment." 

Eventually, the Talladega Nights slogan was totally killed due to copyright concerns (which, well, lol), and the NRO staffer in charge of the process sent out a bunch of bland substitutes from nerds like William Clark and Sacagawea.

National Reconnaissance Office/MuckRock

Luckily, DoD personnel are a crafty bunch: An NRO employee suggested simply translating Bobby’s declaration of victory into Latin through Google Translate. “The Latin approach has worked before,” the employee wrote, “and allowed one of my previous organizations to have the slogan ‘Doing God’s work with other people’s money’ fly right through the approval process.” (Some light Google searching did not turn up the “other people’s money” slogan, but if you know what he’s talking about, my email’s at the end of the article.)

Sadly, the Ricky Bobby homage never made it onto an NRO patch; the supervisor took a pass on all Latin phrases, deeming them “hard to understand and remember,” before settling on the epically bland “Explore — Discover — Know.”

The adopted logo design for the National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-76 mission patchNational Reconnaissance Office/MuckRock

There is no greater joy in the world than the email threads of bored government employees.

Photo: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

A former sailor who was busted buying firearms with his military discount and then reselling some of them to criminals is proving to be a wealth of information for federal investigators.

Julio Pino used his iPhone to record most, if not all, of his sales, court documents said. He even went so far as to review the buyers' driver's license on camera.

It is unclear how many of Pino's customer's now face criminal charges of their own. Federal indictments generally don't provide that level of detail and Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson declined to comment.

Read More Show Less
Photo illustration by Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

It all began with a medical check.

Carson Thomas, a healthy and fit 20-year-old infantryman who had joined the Army after a brief stint in college, figured he should tell the medics about the pain in his groin he had been feeling. It was Feb. 12, 2012, and the senior medic looked him over and decided to send him to sick call at the base hospital.

It seemed almost routine, something the Army doctors would be able to diagnose and fix so he could get back to being a grunt.

Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army Cpt. Katrina Hopkins and Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Rogers, assigned to Task Force Warhorse, pilot a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during a medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operation at Camp Taji, Iraq, Dec. 18, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Javion Siders)

U.S. forces must now ask the Iraqi military for permission to fly in Iraqi airspace before coming to the aid of U.S. troops under fire, a top military spokesman said.

However, the mandatory approval process is not expected to slow down the time it takes the U.S. military to launch close air support and casualty evacuation missions for troops in the middle of a fight, said Army Col. James Rawlinson, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

Read More Show Less
Army Spc. Clayton James Horne

Army Spc. Clayton James Horne died in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 17, making him the eighth non-combat fatality for Operation Inherent Resolve so far this year, defense officials have announced.

Horne, 23, was assigned to the 351st Military Police Company, 160th Military Police Battalion, an Army Reserve unit based in Ocala, Florida, a Pentagon news release says.

Read More Show Less
Joshua Yabut/Twitter

The soldier who was arrested for taking an armored personnel carrier on a slow-speed police chase through Virginia has been found not guilty by reason of insanity on two charges, according to The Richmond-Times Dispatch.

Joshua Phillip Yabut, 30, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle — in this case, a 12-ton APC taken from Fort Pickett in June 2018 — and violating the terms of his bond, which stemmed from a trip to Iraq he took in March 2019 (which was not a military deployment).

Read More Show Less