Posts tagged with "navy"

Challenger: The Final Flight

By Cassandra Yany

On Wednesday, Netflix released “Challenger: The Final Flight,” a four-episode docuseries about the tragic explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

The doc was directed by Daniel Junge and Steven Leckart, and executive produced by JJ Abrams and Glenn Zipper. It provides a complete look at the events leading up to the takeoff and includes interviews with family members of the seven astronauts who died in the explosion.

According to CNN, the series uses archival footage and home videos, along with interviews from officials and crew members to shed light on the poor decision-making and systemic failures that led up to the disaster, as well as the aftermath that followed.

Challenger took off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral on January 28, 1986. Just 73 seconds after it launched, the shuttle began breaking apart, due to malfunctioning O-rings in the rocket boosters, which hardened as the temperature decreased. NASA had reportedly known about this damaged hardware for months prior, according to Vanity Fair.

The purpose of mission STS-51-L was to deploy a satellite to study the approaching Halley’s Comet, but it had been delayed multiple times because of technical difficulties.

The crew was one of NASA’s most diverse to date, as reported by the New York Post. One of the astronauts was a teacher, so school children across the country watched in class as the shuttle went down, engulfed by a huge, ominous cloud of smoke. The explosion devastated the nation, especially all of the young children who had watched it live.

Nearly thirty-five years later, we remember the passengers who lost their lives on that dreadful day:

Christa McAuliffe

Christa McAuliffe was a teacher at Concord High School in New Hampshire who learned of the Teacher in Space Project— NASA’s plan to fly an educator into space. NASA had hoped that this would help increase public interest in the space shuttle program. 

Along with 11,000 others, McAuliffe applied in 1984 to be the first teacher to communicate with students from space. She was chosen as one of two finalists from New Hampshire, then was selected to be part of the STS-51-L crew by a Review Panel in Washington, D.C.

McAuliffe took a year off from teaching to train for the space shuttle mission. While in orbit, she was planning to conduct experiments in chromatography, hydroponics, magnetism and Newton’s laws. She also would have taught two 15-minute classes— one providing a tour of the spacecraft, the other about the benefits of space travel— which would have been broadcasted to students on closed-circuit TV. 

The nationwide excitement of having McAuliffe in space was a significant reason why the explosion had such a lasting impact on the country, and was especially upsetting for young students who watched the takeoff or extensive coverage in class. 

Gregory Jarvis

Gregory Jarvis was an engineer for Hughes Aircraft who served as Payload Specialist 2 on Challenger. In 1984, he was one of two employees from the company that were selected for the Space Shuttle program. 

Jarvis was originally supposed to make his shuttle flight in April 1985, but was rescheduled to early January 1986, then rescheduled again, landing him a spot on the STS-51-L crew. From space, he planned to conduct experiments on the effects of weightlessness on fluids. 

Dick Scobee

Dick Scobee earned his pilot wings in 1966 and served as a combat aviator in the Vietnam War, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.

After the war, Scobee graduated from the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School and became an Air Force test pilot. He was the commander on Challenger and died a lieutenant colonel.

Judith Resnik

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon, Judith Resnik worked as a design engineer in missile and radar projects at RCA (Radio Corporation of America). There, she performed circuit design for the missile and surface radar division. She later developed electronics and software for NASA’s sounding rocket and telemetry systems programs. 

Resnik qualified as a professional aircraft pilot in 1977 and was recruited into the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1978. She was one of six women selected for the program out of 8,000 applicants. At NASA, and piloted the Northrop T-38 Talon, trained intensely, conducted research, and developed different systems and software. 

Resnik served as a mission specialist on the maiden voyage of Discovery in 1984 for her first space flight from August to September. During this flight, she operated a shuttle’s robotic arm (which she created), and deployed and conducted experiments on a solar array wing to determine if there was a way to generate additional electric power during missions. She was the second American woman in space and the first Jewish woman in space. 

Resnik was a mission specialist on Challenger. After the explosion, further examination of the cockpit shows that her Personal Egress Air Pack was activated, indicating that she may have been alive after the cockpit separated from the vehicle to activate it. Her body was the first to be recovered from the crash by Navy divers. 

Ellison Onizuka

Ellison Onizuka served as a flight test engineer and test pilot for the U.S. Air Force in the early 1970s. After attending the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School from 1974 to 1975, he became a squadron flight test engineer there and worked as a manager for engineering support in the training resources division. 

In 1978, Onizuka was selected for the astronaut program and later worked in the experimentation team, orbiter test team, and launch support screw for the STS-1 and STS-2. At NASA he also worked on the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory test and revision software team. 

Onizzuka’s first space mission was one year before the Challenger explosion, on the mission STS-51-C on the shuttle Discovery. This was the first space shuttle mission for the Department of Defense, and he became the first Asian American to reach space. 

Onizuka was a mission specialist aboard Challenger. Similar to Resnik, it is speculated that he could have been alive when the cockpit separated from the vehicle because his Personal Egress Air Pack was also activated. When he died, he held the position of lieutenant colonel, but was later promoted to the rank of colonel. 

Ronald McNair

Ronald McNair received his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976 and became nationally recognized for his work in laser physics. After graduation, he worked as a staff physicist at the Hugh Research Lab in Malibu, CA. 

McNair was one of the ten thousand applicants to be selected in 1978 for the NASA astronaut program. He became the second African American astronaut in 1984 when he flew as a mission specialist for STS-41-B on Challenger from Feb. 3-11. 

McNair later served as a mission specialist for STS-51-L. During this flight, he had planned to record the saxophone solo for a song he had worked on with composer Jean-Michel Jarre for his upcoming album Rendez-Vous. This would have been the first original piece of music to be recorded in space. 

McNair was also supposed to participate in Jarre’s Rendez-Vous Houston concert through a live feed from Challenger. To honor McNair, Jarre dedicated the last song on the album to him and subtitled it “Ron’s Piece.”

Michael J. Smith

Michael J. Smith served in the Vietnam War, then attended U.S. naval Test Pilot School. After graduation, he was assigned to the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland, where he worked on the A-6E TRAM and Cruise missile guidance systems. In 1976, later returned to NTPS for 18 months as an instructor. 

Smith was selected for the astronaut program in May 1980, in which he served as a commander in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, the Deputy Chief of Aircraft Operations, the Technical Assistant to the Director, and the Flights Operations Directorate. 

Smith was the pilot for Challenger, and was set to pilot another mission the following fall. His voice was the last heard on the flight deck tape recorder with his final words being “Uh oh.”

All seven passengers were awarded with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 2004.

Ricardo Zaldana Navy Illustration by Mina Tocalini

Navy SEAL Gear

Considered by many to be the most rigorous and highly trained military force in the world, Navy SEALs work in sometimes hopeless conditions to carry out special operations. This branch of the military was established by President John F. Kennedy to perform a variety of operations of unconventional warfare. Because of the nature of their work, Navy SEALs use only the best equipment to increase the chances of success and safe returns. Although some of this equipment is top-secret or restricted, many items that are regularly used by Navy SEALs are available to the general public.

Weapons

As a military branch, it’s natural that SEALs carry a variety of weapons. Missions can vary from quiet reconnaissance to explosive takeouts. Because of this, many styles of weapons might be in a SEAL arsenal. Common weapons include carbines or assault rifles, machine guns, concealable handguns, sniper rifles and even missile launchers. In most of the United States, this gear requires a permit to own and many deadly weapons are not available to the general public. One fun way to explore SEAL weaponry without the dangers is to purchase a plastic replica or even to build an accurate model.

Clothing

Clothing is an approachable way to explore Navy SEAL equipment since there aren’t restrictions and these items are less expensive than weapons, vehicles, or special gear. SEALs are equipped with some remarkably effective clothing, including pants and shirts made from durable materials with reinforced stitching. Even items such as socks and belts are specifically constructed for naval activities. If these basic items aren’t interesting enough, try out some tough all-weather military boots or specially-designed Luminox watches. Although some SEAL clothing is specialized for specific applications, much of it is qualified for sea, air and land. Some factors to consider for all these environments include waterproofing or water-resistance, durability through pressure and temperature differences, resistance to abrasion and dust and comfort despite any of these elements.

Vehicles

A collectors item only for the really dedicated, SEAL vehicles are among the most powerful and expensive. One famous item is the SEAL Delivery Vehicle, which is a small submarine that is designed to be as close to undetectable as possible. Some are large enough to hold up to six people, but some missions have been carried out by fewer personnel. Piloting a personal submarine isn’t a practical choice for most civilians, but replicas and models are fun ways to enjoy them anyway. However, a Humvee or desert vehicle might be a more practical collector’s item. These vehicles were designed to replace Jeeps and can be outfitted with a variety of essential equipment. For more fun, try out a Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicle, which can be as small as the average 4-wheeler or a bit larger to hold more people and equipment. Although expensive and not always practical, military vehicles are a great conversation piece.

Other Gear

Although SEAL stands for Sea, Air, Land, the successes of aquatic activities stand out as some of the more unbelievable tasks the SEALs have completed. To safely perform underwater missions, SEALs have to have the best in scuba, wetsuit and water-safe equipment to perform their jobs. SEALs rely on other items as well, though. According to one of the SEALs who participated on the raid that stopped Bin Laden, there are a number of items that SEALs carry with them almost everywhere, including water bottles, small point-and-shoot cameras, bolt cutters, tourniquets or first-aid supplies, helmets, night vision goggles, body armor, knives and multipurpose tools such as Swiss Army Knives. Although they come in handy for life-saving missions, most of these tools have everyday uses as well and are easy to obtain from stores. Even casual shops like My Gift Stop carry these kinds of useful items.

Whether you’re looking to outfit yourself in some of the most effective equipment in the world or you just want a few collector’s pieces, Navy SEAL gear is top of the line. Simple apparel items augment one’s closet with durable options, while equipment and home decor items are both interesting and educational.

Ricardo Zaldana Navy Illustration by Mina Tocalini

Navy Outreach – Ricardo Zaldana

Yeoman 2nd Class Ricardo Zaldana, from Westbury, New York, communicates with the anti-terrorism watch officer via a hand-held radio during an anti-terrorism training evolution on the pier of U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19). Anti-terrorism training evolutions test Sailors skills and knowledge on the various responses to terrorist situations and threats. Blue Ridge is the oldest operational ship in the Navy and, as 7th Fleet command ship, actively works to foster relationships with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region. 

The Navy Office of Community Outreach (NAVCO) connects Americans with their Navy. With most of the Navy’s personnel and equipment logically concentrated on America’s coasts, NAVCO oversees a number of community outreach programs designed to bring America’s Navy to cities throughout the country which do not enjoy a significant Navy presence. The Navy Office of Community Outreach travels the globe to collect Sailors’ stories and distribute them to their hometown media.

Follow Navy Outreach: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Guillen illustration

The Murder of Fort Hood Soldier, Vanessa Guillen

By Emmet McGeown


“How can this happen on a military base? How can this happen while she was on duty? How can this just happen and then let it go under the rug like it was nothing?” These were the words of Mayra Guillen, sister of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, who has been missing for months and is now confirmed dead.  

On April 22nd, Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old Hispanic Small Arms and Artillery Repairer, went missing. She was last seen alive at a parking lot at squadron headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. For months, Pfc. Guillen’s family held out hope that their beloved was still alive, yet the discovery of remains near the Leon River, north of Austin, has vanquished that hope. While the FBI is still awaiting a positive DNA analysis, the family believes that the remains belong to Vanessa.  

Yet, this story does not begin with her disappearance nor does it end with her death. Prior to her vanishing, Pfc. Guillen, according to her sisters, was having difficulties with sexual harassment while stationed at Fort Hood, outside Killeen, Texas. The attorney representing the family in the case revealed that Guillen had confided to her sisters and several other soldiers that a superior had walked in on her while taking a shower and that he proceeded to sit down and watch her. Other relatives and Pfc. Guillen’s boyfriend have noted on social media that something is “not right” and that Vanessa felt unsafe at the military base.  

However, during a press conference on Thursday, July 2nd, senior special agent for the Fort Hood Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), Damon Phelps, reported that there was no evidence backing the claim that she had been sexually harassed. He affirmed that “there has been no information — and we have interviewed hundreds of people… There is no credible information about that.” Despite this rebut by CID, family attorney, Natalie Khawam said, in an interview with PEOPLE, that she believes Pfc. Guillens was sexually harassed by Spc. Aaron David Robinson.

Spc. Robinson was the leading suspect in Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance, and as authorities caught up with him on Tuesday evening, he shot himself. It has since been revealed that Robinson was, in fact, responsible for the murder of Pfc. Guillen’s. Guillen’s was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in the armory where she worked, according to the family’s attorney. They made this discovery through an extensive investigation, in which witnesses divulged that they saw Robinson transporting a large box labelled “very heavy in weight.”

Then, after consenting to an examination of his cellphone records, court documents reveal, it was discovered that Robinson made several phone-calls to his girlfriend Cecily Aguilar on the night of Apri 22nd and into the early hours of the April 23rd. After being interviewed multiple times, Aguilar finally told investigators that her boyfriend had murdered Guillen. She also revealed how she and her boyfriend had met up and dismembered Guillen’s body together with a “hatchet or machete type knife” and, after attempting to set her corpse on fire, buried Guillen’s body parts in three different holes. Texas Rangers have since arrested Aguilar and she now faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.  

The issue of sexual harassment within the Army remains a problem in this case, given that Guillen’s family, according to their attorney, claimed that Vanessa was planning on reporting Robinson the day after she was murdered, and had delayed over fear of reprisal and inaction. Yet the Army says there exists no credible evidence that she was sexually harassed before her disappearance, and in a statement from the Fort Hood Press Center, officials said that the criminal investigation “has not found any connection between sexual harassment and Vanessa’s disappearance.” They plan to continue their investigation in light of new revelations. 

Lupe Guillen, another sister of Vanessa’s, told NPR that her sister wanted to be in the military since she was a little girl, “she wanted to be a fighter. She wanted to be a hero. She wanted to be someone in life. … The military failed her.

The family is now pushing for legislation to create an independent agency for soldiers who are victims of sexual harassment and assault. 

The Lucky Onez

“Express a fashionable look with The Lucky Onez Zippered T-shirts and a Navy Blue and Gold TLO Dad Hat Available online.

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The Lucky Onez Black and Navy Blue Logo Zippered T-shirts are extremely comfortable and pleasant to wear both indoors and outdoors. These shirts are made up of 65% cotton and 35% polyester and they have a very fashionable sense to them with zippers placed on the lower part of the shirt on the left and right sides of each shirt. In addition to the navy blue and black zippered t-shirts; we also have red zippered t-shirts with black print.

The Lucky Onez Zippered T-shirts are designed very with The Lucky Onez logo popping out in a dominant and profound way in the upper center of each shirt. Also, our TLO Navy Blue and Gold Dad hats truly complement the navy blue and gold shirt and the TLO dad hats are adjustable to fit all individuals. The Lucky Onez TLO Navy Blue and Gold Dad Hats are also very unique with the fact that its colors are bright and the dad hats bring a fashionable sense to styles of casual wear, street wear, and everyday wear as well. When it comes to The Lucky Onez we want you to live well, look well, and feel well.

Dark Sky Movement

Once monthly from May through October Holiday River Expeditions (http://www.bikeraft.com/) shares the mystery and romance of the Dark Sky with star-struck guests who are participating in one of this veteran travel company’s 2018 Stargazing adventures.

“It’s easy to get excited about this special trip series. Seeing how it has deepened our guests’ understanding and our guides’ awareness of the night sky is reason enough to offer these trips,” said Lauren Wood, Holiday Trip Director. “The inexplicable boundlessness you feel staring up at the stars is just a bonus.”

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2017 EOD Undefeated Bike Ride

EOD Warriors Hold 2017 EOD Undefeated Long Distance Bicycle Ride to Benefit Bomb Disposal Techs

Cycling enthusiasts can choose a ride to raise money for the mission of helping EOD Warriors

On Saturday October 7, 2017 the annual EOD Undefeated Bike Ride will kick off at locations around the country, benefitting the EOD Warrior Foundation. The annual fundraiser will offer various ride distances, some spanning two days and over 150 miles, giving cyclists various rides to choose from, while supporting a great cause. Ride participants include wounded EOD warriors, active duty military Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians, veterans and civilians. All funds raised from the event go to support the EOD Warrior Foundation’s mission to improve the quality of life for the EOD family by providing financial relief, scholarship opportunities, physical, social, and emotional support.

“This is our largest annual fundraising event, and it is one that people look forward to year after year,” explains Nicole Motsek, executive director of the EOD Warrior Foundation.

The 2017 EOD Undefeated Bike Ride has routes scheduled that go through San Diego and Orange County in California, as well as Gulf Coast ride from the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. There are additional rides scheduled in Denver, Virginia Beach, and there is a virtual ride option in Texas or on your own. There are various pledge amounts and ride lengths to choose from, including 6 miles, 25 miles, 60 miles, 100 miles, and 200 miles, giving everyone an opportunity to join in.

The annual EOD Undefeated Ride was started by Navy EOD Commander Kevin Childre. He passed away in 2015 as a result of injuries he sustained during a bicycle accident while raising awareness for the EOD Warrior Foundation. The annual ride that he started has not only raised over $2 million for in support of EOD Warriors, it also helps keep his memory and passion alive.

“Those who love to bike can take a beautiful ride and raise money to help bomb disposal technicians,” added Motsek. “Get registered, air up your tires, and enjoy a day of exercise and camaraderie all in the name of fun and charity. It will be a great day for everyone involved.”

The rides that have been staged include:

  • West coast 2-day ride – October 7-8, 2017, starting from Carlsbad, Calif. This route offers a scenic coastal ride, and a 4,900’ climb.
  • West coast 1-day ride – October 8, 2017, starting from Carlsbad, Calif.
  • Gulf coast 100/60/25/6 mile ride – October 8, 2017, starting from Eglin Air Force Base in Fla.
  • East coast ride – October 7, 2017, starting from Virginia Beach.
  • Denver ride – October 8, 2017, starting from Denver.
  • Virtual ride – October 7-15, 2017, starting from a location of your choosing.

To get more information and register for the 2017 EOD Undefeated Ride, visit: www.eodride.org.

The EOD Warrior Foundation is an organization that helps the families of the 7,000 people in our military who are Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians, and perform bomb disposal duties. Engaging in the most dangerous job in the military, EOD technicians often sustain serious injuries, lose limbs, or are killed in action. The EOD Warrior Foundation helps this elite group by providing financial relief, therapeutic healing retreats, a scholarship program, care of the EOD Memorial Wall located at Eglin AFB, Fla. and more. Their work is supported by private donations and the generosity of those who support the organization. To learn more about the EOD Warrior Foundation, or see their fundraising events calendar, visit their site at: www.eodwarriorfoundation.org.

About EOD Warrior Foundation

The EOD Warrior Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help EOD warriors and their family members with a priority on wounded EOD warriors and the families of fallen EOD warriors. Specific programs include financial relief, college scholarships, hope and wellness programs that include therapeutic healing retreats, and care for the EOD Memorial Wall located at Eglin AFB, Fla. To learn more about the EOD Warrior Foundation, or see their events calendar, visit their site at: www.eodwarriorfoundation.org.