Surprising Everyday Conveniences Developed By or For the Military


By Debbie Gregory.

We can thank (or blame) the U.S. Military for a lot of the convenience foods many of us eat or buy each week at the grocery store.

If you’re a fan of Dippin Dots, the technology that’s used to make the freeze-dried dessert was first used widely during World War II as a way of preserving medical supplies that otherwise required refrigeration.

Pringles came out of the project that was done by the Quartermaster Corps and the USDA to develop dehydrated potato flakes, which were then used to create these reshaped, formed chips,”

M&Ms addressed the age old problem of chocolate that melted. Forrest Mars Sr. partnered with Bruce Murrie under the Hershey company, and together they developed a process for  bite-sized, rainbow chocolate pieces that wouldn’t melt. They began exclusively selling the “M&Ms” to the U.S. military in 1941, when sugar was made unavailable to civilians.

In order to preserve fruits and vegetables for troop consumption, the military began using high-pressure processing (HPP) to ensure the longevity of fresh foods. Ready-to-eat fruits and veggies were available as a result of HPP.

Chef Boyardee, the Americanized version of the Boiardi family’s Italian food became a multi-million dollar corporation, thanks to the military purchasing their canned food as military rations.

And of course, there’s instant coffee. Although around since the Civil War, the age of instant coffee really came into its own during WWI.

But there are other everyday items that we must thank for the military for.

Jeeps have come a long way since they were first manufactured for American troops to use on reconnaissance missions in WWII.

In 1942, duct tape was invented for the military as a way to seal ammunition cases so that water couldn’t get in. Soldiers during WWII quickly realized that it worked well for fixing army gear, too.

The first electronic computer that was capable of being programmed to serve many different purposes, ENIAC, was designed for the U.S. military during WWII.

And last, but not least, in 1945, an American scientist realized, by accident, that the radar transmitters used by the U.S. Army throughout WWII actually released enough heat—in the form of “microwaves”—that they could cook food. Need we say more?

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Toxic Pollution Investigation on U.S. Military Bases


By Debbie Gregory.

Like many U.S. military bases, Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana generates large volumes of toxic waste. That includes thousands of pounds of toxic powder left over from cleaning, painting and maintaining airplanes.

Barksdale had found a contractor, Ohio-based U.S. Technology Corp, that was willing to take the powder and then recycle it into cinder blocks to be used in construction. U.S. Technology had won some 830 contracts with other military facilities — Army, Air Force, Navy and logistics bases, totaling more than $49 million, many of them to dispose of similar powders.

It sounded great in theory. But it turns out that rather than recycling the waste, U.S. Technology Corp was stashing it in warehouses across the country, in violation of numerous federal regulations, not to mention the potential health and environmental risks.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency got involved last year, and the investigation revealed systemic failures in military oversight and corruption among contractors hired to eliminate dangerous waste.

“How Military Outsourcing Turned Toxic,” a report by Abrahm Lustgarten for ProPublica, focused on contractor abuse in Pentagon hazardous-materials disposal.

One of the biggest issues was that the Pentagon didn’t have enough staff or resources to oversee cleanup operations.

“Some of the most dangerous cleanup work that has been entrusted to contractors remains unfinished, or worse, has been falsely pronounced complete, leaving people who live near former military sites to assume these areas are now safe,” according to ProPublica.

Raymond F. Williams, president and owner of U.S. Technology Corporation, was no stranger to legal problems. He and his company were investigated in Macon, GA for dumping hazardous waste nearly identical to what Barksdale had produced onto the grounds of the Middle Georgia Raceway. Williams was also indicted in Georgia for paying a Department of Defense official $20,000 a year to make sure that Air Force contracts required U.S. Technology’s services, and no other company could compete.

In April 2015, U.S. Technology Corp. fired all of its employees. The next day, the new owner who had purchased the patented products and the recycling process from Williams, hired everyone back and renamed the company U.S. Technology Media, and is located in one of Williams’ old recycling buildings.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Air Force Ultimate Battle Plane


By Debbie Gregory.

The Air Force’s AC-130J Ghostrider is just about ready for combat, although the aircraft won’t actually deploy to a war zone for a couple more years, according to Lt. Gen. Marshall “Brad” Webb, head of Air Force Special Operations Command.

“We are declaring IOC, Initial Operating Capability, this month on the AC-J,” said Lt. Gen Webb. “This is a fully configured gunship.”

He added, “That doesn’t mean anything with respect to putting it in combat — we’re still just shy of two years away from wanting to put those in combat.”

The reason for the delay is that time is needed to train special operators on the new weapon system.

A heavily modified C-130, the AC-130J features fully integrated digital avionics. It also boasts a “Precision Strike Package” that includes a mission management console, robust communications suite, two electro-optical/infrared sensors, advanced fire control equipment, precision guided munitions delivery capability as well as trainable 30mm and 105mm weapons, according to the Air Force. The cannons can be mounted on both sides of the aircraft.

The AC-130J  has an overall length of 29.3m, a height of 11.9m and wingspan of 39.7m. It can operate at a maximum altitude of 28,000ft with a payload of 42,000lb. Its maximum take-off weight is 164,000lb. The aircraft can reach a maximum distance of 3,000 miles without refueling, and can fly at a speed of 362k at 22,000ft altitude.

The aircraft can accommodate two pilots, two combat systems officers, and three enlisted gunners. The aircraft is also designed to accommodate the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system.

The Air Force currently has 10 of the Ghostriders, and plans to buy a total of 37.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Elizabeth Dole to Chair New VA Veterans’ Family, Caregivers & Survivor Advisory Committee

Liz dole

By Debbie Gregory.

VA Secretary David Shulkin continues to demonstrate his commitment to supporting our nation’s veterans and their caregivers through the formation of the Veterans’ Family, Caregiver, and Survivor Federal Advisory Committee. The committee will be chaired by former U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole.

Dole is the founder of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the Hidden Heroes Campaign, both of which focus on military caregiving.

“Senator Dole is an accomplished and experienced advocate for Veterans’ caregivers,” said Secretary Shulkin. “I am honored that she will Chair this landmark Committee.”

The committee will advise the secretary on matters related to:

Veterans’ families, caregivers, and survivors across all generations, relationships, and Veteran status; the use of VA care and benefits services by veteran’s families, caregivers, and survivors, and possible adjustments to such care and benefits services; veterans’ family, caregiver, and survivor experiences, and VA policies, regulations, and administrative requirements related to the transition of Service members from the Department of Defense to enrollment in VA that impact veterans’ families, caregivers, and survivors; and actors that influence access to, quality of, and accountability for services and benefits for veterans’ families, caregivers, and survivors.

Senator Dole has walked the walk, as she was a caregiver to her husband, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole, a World War II veteran injured in combat.

Committee members were chosen from a diverse group, including family members, caregivers, survivors, veteran-focused organizations, military history and academic communities, the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, the Federal Executive Branch, research experts and service providers; and leaders of key stakeholder associations and organizations.

Former Marine Sherman Gillums, the executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America, will serve as vice chair.

Committee members, in alphabetical order are: Ms. Mary Buckler, Ms. Bonnie Carroll, Ms. Melissa Comeau, Ms. Harriet Dominique, Ms. Jennifer Dorn, Ms. Ellyn Dunford, Dr. Robert Koffman,  Lt. Gen. (U.S. Army, Ret.) Mike Linnington, Mr. Joe Robinson, Ms. Elaine Rogers, Brig. Gen. (U.S. Army, Ret) Dr. Loree Sutton, Mr. Francisco Urena, Ms. Shirley White, Ms. Lee Woodruff, and Ms. Lolita Zinke.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Las Vegas Veteran Hero Gifted New Truck

taylor winston

By Debbie Gregory.

Hero is a word that gets tossed around a lot. By definition, a hero is a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities. Heroic deeds are often performed by members of the military, veterans and first responders. The events at the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert shooting saw no shortage of heroic actions that saves hundreds of lives.

Marine veteran Taylor Winston was one of those heroes. Winston commandeered a utility truck he found with the keys in it, and over the course of two trips, ferried some 30 people to the hospital. The only reason he didn’t make a third trip was because emergency crews were on scene at that point. “I think a lot of my training in the military helped me in the situation,” Winston said.  And he brushed off the title of “hero,” as heroes often do.

Heroes never spring into action for reward or notoriety. But sometimes, that’s exactly what they get.

And thanks to B5 Motors, a Gilbert, Arizona car dealership, Winston has a new truck of his own.

B5 Motors launched a social media campaign to find Winston.

“Most of us would have ran and never came back,” said Shane Beus, owner of B5 Motors “His military training allowed him to think in a split second what to do.”

On Monday, October 9th, in an act of unbelievable good corporate citizenship, the dealership posted a Facebook Live video showing Winston driving away from B5 Motors in his new, silver truck.

“My message is that I hope people will recognize the heroism in him and others and become selfless,” Beus said. “It’s kinda what America is about, helping others.”

And it has been reported that Winston will be selling his current vehicle and donating the proceeds to victims of the shooting.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Band of Brothers in on Gender Reveal for Fallen Soldier


By Debbie Gregory.

The wife of a Fort Bragg soldier who was killed in Afghanistan in August had a lot of help when it came time to reveal the gender of the baby she is expecting in March.

Brittany Harris, pregnant with the couple’s first child, called upon her late husband’s band of brothers to pull the popper and reveal a sea of pink confetti. The men of the 82nd’s 2nd Battalion, 504th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team couldn’t have been happier.
On August 2nd , Spc. Chris Harris died in Afghanistan, one of two soldiers from Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne killed when an IED struck their convoy near Kandahar.

Earlier this month, Harris’ brother soldiers, who are still deployed downrange, posted a video welcoming  Christian Michelle Harris to the company, as soon as she arrives.

Pfc. Joel Crunk, who served with Harris, posted the video to his YouTube account. “August 2 2017 Chris Harris laid down his life for our country. His newly wed wife was expecting their first child,” Crunk wrote. “The reveal is in Afghanistan with the men who fought by his side. We are happy to welcome the new member of our company.”

“Spc. Christopher Harris was an extraordinary young man and a phenomenal Paratrooper,” said Col. Toby Magsig, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat team.

Harris joined the Army in Oct. 2013, and was killed, along with Sgt. Jonathon Hunter, on their first deployment.

Brittany said, “Everyone that I’ve met, before Chris passed and after, if they’re in the military, they’ve treated me like actual family or royalty, actually.”

Christopher Michael Harris’ daughter, Christian Michelle, will have no shortage of “uncles” who will always have her six.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

First Female Marine Officer Leads Assault Amphibian Vehicle Platoon

Mariah Klenke

By Debbie Gregory.

Second Lt. Mariah Klenke has made history.

On Tuesday,  October 3, the Camp Pendleton Marine became the first female to graduate from the Marine Corps Assault Amphibian Officer Course and earn the military occupational specialty (MOS) of assault amphibian officer.

Klenke was the first woman to start the course since the Pentagon nixed its ban on female troops in combat roles in late 2015.

Klenke’s first duty station will be with the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion with the 1st Marine Division.

“We cannot overlook the historic nature of this day,” Col. Dan Yaroslaski, commander of the Assault Amphibian School, told the graduates, family, friends, commanders and instructors at the ceremony.  “The Marine Corps has been through the process of integration. We can stop talking about integration. This is who we are. We have set the standards every Marine has to pass. There has been no distinction between male and female.”

The demanding 12-week amphibious assault officer course is designed to produce platoon leaders who command assault amphibious vehicle crews. Klenke learned gunnery marksmanship, water survival skills and offensive and defensive operations, both on shore and deep inland.

Previous to her service, Klenke attended and graduated from the University of Tennessee, where she played collegiate soccer, holding her own with her male counterparts.

Klenke said that her toughest challenge came during amphibious operations training, when she completed up to four missions daily.

“We operated pretty much all day. We got a couple of hours of sleep and then went back to operating the next day,” she said.

“I’m excited to finally get done with the course and onto the fleet,” she said after the graduation ceremony

As for women thinking about a career in the corps, Klenke said anything is possible.

“If you think you can do it, you can do it,” she said. “There were hard times in the class, but hey, I got through them. I’m nothing special. I just did my job and if you work hard you can get through it.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Russia Used Social Media to Spread Propaganda to Veterans and Troops

russia hack

By Debbie Gregory.

British researchers say they have evidence that Russia targeted U.S. military veterans and active-duty troops via social-media, especially Twitter, to spread anti-government propaganda in the spring before the presidential election.

The study by Oxford University traced the reach of three websites,,, and, known to have shown ads and posts linked to the Russian government.

The content led to “significant and persistent interactions” on Twitter over a one-month period, with a theme of news to undermine faith in U.S. democracy.

According to Philip Howard, a professor of internet studies who led the research, the study uncovered an entire ecosystem of junk news about national security issues that is deliberately crafted for U.S. veterans and active military personnel.

“It’s a complex blend of content with a Russian view of the world — wild rumors and conspiracies,” Howard said.

The Oxford study categorized 12,413 Twitter users and 11,103 Facebook users who had messages that referenced or carried content from one or more of the Russian-linked websites from April 2 to May 2, 2017.

On both Twitter and Facebook, Russian fingerprints are on thousands of fake accounts that regularly posted anti-Clinton messages. Many were automated accounts, called bots, that sometimes fired off identical messages seconds apart,  and in the exact alphabetical order of their made-up names

News from the study’s findings comes after Facebook revealed that Moscow purchased online ads that specifically targeted presidential swing states such as Michigan and Wisconsin. Specific demographic groups were also targeted in an attempt to influence the presidential election.

Both the House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating the extent and the success in which Russia disseminated false news or further fanned inflammatory reports.

Given the powerful role of social media in political contests, understanding what Russian did will be crucial in preventing similar attacks in the 2018 congressional races and the 2020 presidential election.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Navy Tech Jeffrey Thomas Awarded Silver Star

jeffrey thomas

By Debbie Gregory.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Jeffrey Thomas has received the Silver Star for his actions during a deadly 10-hour firefight with Islamic State militants that helped his fellow sailors navigate a minefield.

On September 20, 2017, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran recognized Thomas for his conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

“Today we recognize the heroic actions of individuals and the legacy of their teammates. This recognition is well deserved, and it’s an acknowledgment of bravery, training, and dedication to team and country,” said Moran.

On Oct. 20, 2016, while conducting combined clearance operations, Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Thomas exited his vehicle as bullets, rockets and mortar rounds targeted his unit. Thomas swept the area for explosives just after a roadside bomb struck another vehicle, mortally wounding a sailor. His actions allowed medics to get through the minefield and reach injured sailors to provide critical care.

“No one who was present on the 20th of October knew better than Jeff the dangers he was facing,” said Navy Cmdr. Geoff Townsend, the commander of Thomas’ unit. “After the EOD supervisor, a friend and mentor, was mortally wounded, Jeff knowingly exposed himself to hazards in order to protect the lives of his teammates and brothers in arms, and secure a [medical evacuation] for his wounded teammate. His actions that day saved the lives of his teammates and exceeded all measures of selflessness and devotion to his country.”

While the Navy declined to identify the sailor who died in the attack, the Pentagon previously announced Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, 34, was killed in action by an IED in Iraq on the same date, and Finan was an EOD technician assigned to the same unit as Thomas.

Also honored were Lt. Morgan Dahl, who received the Bronze Star with “V” for valor, and  Senior Chief Petty Officer Jon Hamm who was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat “C.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Advice on Obtaining VA Benefits


By Debbie Gregory.

Most veterans know that if they experience a disabling event while they are serving, they are entitled to VA disability compensation. But the process may be a little more involved than they might first anticipate. Here are some tips to help navigate the process.

The VA will require you to prove you have the condition you are claiming, and that this occurred or was first experienced during service. This can usually be accomplished through a physician’s diagnosis and service records. If the problem wasn’t reported, a buddy or witness statement may suffice.

Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes. Gather as much evidence as you can to support the claim. While the VA will assist you, it’s in your best interest to do the legwork on your own, since no one your case better than you do. Make sure you have a copy of your Official Military Personnel File, and if you don’t, request it from the National Personnel Records Center.

Double check what forms you need to fill out. This is a great time to ask the VA or your Veteran Service Officer for assistance. Their expertise will prevent you from wasting time filling out the wrong forms, and making sure you fill out the ones you need. Stay on top of deadlines and requests for additional information.

If the VA schedules a Compensation and Pension exam for you to meet with a VA examiner, you must show up for the appointment. Failure to do so may cost you your claim.

Don’t underestimate the value of your Veteran Service Officer. Their services are free, and they can help you navigate the system. They can also help you file appeals for denied claims. In addition to State Veteran Affairs Offices, the following organizations also have Veteran Service Officers nationwide:

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.