U.S. Military Academy graduation ceremony. Photo: Brandon O'Connor/U.S. Army
On Saturday, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point graduated the most diverse class in the academy's history.
Of the 980 cadets who are commissioning into the U.S. Army as second lieutenants, there was the highest number of African American women, Hispanic women, and highest number of women overall since the first class of women graduated in 1980, according to a West Point press release.
Frank Demaro, West Point spokesman, told CNN that last year's class had 27 African American women graduates — this year had 34 — and they expect "next year's class will be even larger than this year's."
The academy also graduated its 5,000th female cadet, 1,000th Jewish cadet, and the first international student from the Netherlands. The number of African American graduates from Saturday, 110, is double the number it was in 2013, according to CBS.
Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the commencement ceremony, recognizing the "historic milestones that we're marking today." He also told the graduates that the world is a "dangerous place," where they will almost certainly see combat.
"It is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life," Pence said. "You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen. ... [W]herever you're called, I urge you to take what you learned here and put it into practice. Put your armor on so that when, not if, that day comes, you'll be able to stand your ground. ... You'll stand your ground because the United States Army never quits, never accepts defeat, always puts the mission first, and you my friends are Army strong," Pence said.
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."
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:
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.
Protesters and militia fighters gather to condemn air strikes on bases belonging to Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces), outside the main gate of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq December 31, 2019. (Reuters/Thaier al-Sudani)
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.
U.S. Army Soldiers, assigned to the East Africa Response Force (EARF), 101st Airborne Division, board a C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, on January 5, 2020. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Daniel Hernandez)
The Defense Department has remained relatively tight-lipped regarding the brazen Jan. 5 raid on a military base at Manda Bay, Kenya, but a new report from the New York Times provides a riveting account filled with new details about how the hours-long gunfight played out.