Special Forces Legend, “Iron Mike” Dies


Special Forces Legend, “Iron Mike” Dies

By Debbie Gregory

Last month, the Army lost a special ops legend.

Maj. Gen. Michael D. Healy, 91, spent 35 years serving in the military, completing tours in Korea and Vietnam. Healy began his career with parachute training followed by attendance at a number of Army Colleges, including Ranger School.

Maj. Gen. Healy earned the nickname “Iron Mike” while serving as a young officer leading Army Rangers on combat patrols deep behind enemy lines in Korea in the early 1950s. The nickname, which stuck with him throughout his life, was a testament to his stamina and ability to take heavy loads, as well as helping others with their loads.

The Chicago native enlisted in the Army at the age of 19.

He entered the Korean War as a Company Commander with the Airborne Rangers, which at the time was a newly formed unit of the Army. Most of his career was spent in Vietnam, where he served five and a half tours, leading the 5th Special Forces group for almost 20 months, and earning him his first Distinguished Service Medal.

When he retired in 1981, Maj. Gen. Healy was the nation’s most senior Special Forces soldier.

Iron Mike’s legend made it to the big screen as the inspiration for John Wayne’s character, “Col. Iron Mike Kirby,” in the 1968 film “The Green Berets.”

Maj. Gen. Healy’s legacy would not be forgotten in the close-knit Special Forces community, according to Retired Sgt. 1st Class Cliff Newman, executive director of the Special Forces Association.

“He was one of the first Americans to go into Vietnam and one of the last to leave,” he said.

Maj. Gen. Healy was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, two Silver Star Medals, a Legion of Merit with three oak-leaf clusters, a Distinguished Flying Cross, a Bronze Star Medal with valor device, an Air Medal with Valor device, a Navy Commendation Medal with valor device and two Purple Heart Medals. He is also a member of the Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame.

In 2016, Maj. Gen. Healy was inducted as a Distingished Member of the Special Forces Regiment. He had a special bond with the men he lead, and was a beloved hero of the Green Berets. He always credited his success to the men he lead.

In an interview, Maj. Gen. Healy said: “I would like to walk in the back gate at Fort Sheridan like I first did and say, ‘Yes, sir, I’ll go.’ But today, I’m in civilian clothes. My uniform is packed away.”

Maj. Gen. Healy will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery near his mentor, the late Gen. Creighton Abrams.



Two U.S. Servicemembers Killed in Afghanistan


By Debbie Gregory

Two U.S. Army Rangers who were killed in Afghanistan on April 26th  may have been struck by “friendly fire” according to the Pentagon.

Both Sgt. Joshua Rodgers, 22, and Sgt. Cameron Thomas, 23, were deployed from Fort Benning, Ga. A third soldier was wounded in the operation.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis confirmed that there is an investigation to determine whether the men had been killed by ground fire, either from American forces or Afghan commandos who were taking part in the raid.

“We are investigating the circumstances of the combat deaths of the two Army Rangers in the beginning of what was an intense three-hour firefight,” Davis said.

Davis said the target of Wednesday’s deadly raid was Abdul Hasib, whom Defense Department officials called the emir of the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Pentagon officials said they could not confirm that he was killed in the operation.

A spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Captain William Salvin said the deaths occurred in the same valley where the United States had dropped “the mother of all bombs,” the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast.

The soldiers were fighting the Islamic State in Nangarhar Province. They were taking part in a lengthy raid, supported by airstrikes from American warplanes, in Achin, a small district where a number of Islamic State fighters have been engaging in a long-running battle with Afghanistan security forces.

U.S. officials say intelligence suggests Islamic State is based overwhelmingly in Nangarhar and neighboring Kunar province.

U.S. officials have said they believe that IS has only 700 fighters in Afghanistan, but Afghan officials estimate it has more than double that number.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Sergeants Rodgers and Thomas “proved themselves willing to go into danger and impose a brutal cost on enemies in their path.Our nation owes them an irredeemable debt, and we give our deepest condolences to their families.”

Army Rangers “Interstate 10” Release New Song

we miss you

By Debbie Gregory.

When you are fighting for your country, it is inevitable to form a bond with your fellow soldiers. For Army Rangers 1st Lt. Andrew Yacovone and 1st Lt. Justin Wright, collectively known as “Interstate 10,” that bond goes even deeper.

The two share a love of music, and as a duo, have released a new song called “I’m Gonna Miss You” a Memorial Day tribute.

The contemporary country pop band members, currently deployed in Afghanistan, met on their first day of infantry basic training for officers in 2014.

“I called out to the crowd and asked if anyone played guitar,” Andrew said. “Lo and behold, Justin was standing right next to me and he was like, ‘Heck yeah, I play guitar!'”

They have a video on You Tube of their first collaboration entitled “Hometown Hero” as well as an EP.

The power of music should never be underestimated. Music can be magical, a salve for all of life’s emotional wounds. It can be a time machine, transporting the listener to another place and time, stirring up old memories.

Studies have been conducted on the healing power of calm music, its ability to sooth in a way unlike pretty much anything else imaginable. It’s transformative. It can change your mood, it can slow your heart rate, it can soothe invasive thoughts. There’s something about it that takes you out of a situation and gives you respite.

“Most of our music is written on deployment,” Justin said. “You think of the restaurant where you want to eat at, and you think of where you’ll take a girlfriend on a date — what beaches you will go to, which mountain you are going to climb. You think of all these clear pictures of a dream life that most people don’t live, but you know you’re going to because you can do anything after you’ve been to Afghanistan for nine months.”

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Military Connection: Can Women Cut it In Ranger School?

rangersBy Debbie Gregory.

At, we have been keeping you updated on the opportunities opening to women in the military. We are happy to report on the progress the female warriors undergoing the Airborne Ranger Training Brigade at Fort Benning.

While it isn’t unusual that a class of 399 soldiers started their 62-day course to become  U.S. Army Rangers, what is unusual is that 19 soldiers were women. This is the first time in the 64 year history of Ranger School that women were allowed to train.

After the first four days, there are 184 men and eight women left.

Capt. Marcelle Burroni, an assigned observer/advisor called this event “historic.” For her colleague, Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sun, it was just another day.

“I am an instructor. I am going to instruct whoever they put in front of me just the same,” Sun said.

The training kicked off with “RAP week” or Ranger Assessment Phase, which consisted of candidates meeting the following standard:

  • 49 pushups
  • 59 sit-ups
  • Running 5 miles in 40 minutes or less
  • Six chin-ups

There is no change in standards for women.

Burroni said she was not surprised at the results from the physical assessment and has “no doubt” there will be women successfully complete the course. But for now all eyes are on the women, she said.

“I think the challenge for them is to even show up here,” Burroni said.

That is the challenge for any soldier, Sun echoed.

“It takes a lot of guts to come here and try male or female,” Sun said. “… This is one of the few schools where if you fail, you are out. There is a stigma attached to failure in the Army. If they have the guts to come and try, that is a lot more than I can say for a lot of people,” something Burroni concurred with.

“Not everyone even on the male side of the house has the intestinal fortitude to show up for Ranger School,” she said.

And the statistics don’t lie. Only around 3% of the Army has earned a Ranger tab.

All of the women who started the course had successfully completed a two-week Ranger Assessment Training Course at the Warrior Training Center on Fort Benning.

The training course mirrors the first couple of weeks of Ranger School with the physical fitness test, land navigation and marching.

“The senior leaders of the Army want to set the women up for success, best we could,” Deputy Commandant of the Infantry School Col. William J. Butler said. “We wanted everybody to have a common reference and common framework. That is why we brought all of the women who wanted to come to the course to this pre-Ranger course.”

The most recent test was the Darby Queen, nearly a mile of rolling Chattahoochee County terrain on the far eastern reaches of Fort Benning, presenting 26 obstacles for Ranger School students to navigate.

They will work out of Camp Darby until May 8th, when they will be told if they have met the standards to move to Camp Merrill in the North Georgia mountains. The course concludes at Camp Rudder near Destin, Florida

“We are a long way from whatever decision is made on gender integration in the Army, but this will provide valuable information,” Commandant of the Infantry School Gen. James Rainey said.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor. Rangers, lead the way

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Military Connection: Can Women Cut it In Ranger School?: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Females with Ranger Tabs? By Debbie Gregory

Female RangersWhile opportunities in all branches of the armed forces are less abundant than they were just a few years ago, there is one population that appears to be in high demand for military officials. The Army could be looking for female volunteers to attend Ranger school.

Last week, Secretary for the U.S. Department of the Navy, Ray Mabus, voiced his desire to see more females in Navy and Marine Corps uniforms. Now it seems that senior Army leaders might be looking for female soldiers to participate in a one-time opportunity to attend the elite Army Ranger training.

The invitation is part of the military-wide effort to assess how to open combat-oriented occupational specialties to women. The Army is expected to decide in January if it wants to proceed with its experiment of an integrated Ranger school. If the Army does move forward, it would more than likely happen in Spring, 2015.  At that point, the Army will need female volunteers already in place and ready for Ranger school.

As part of this potential experiment, the Army is looking for two groups of volunteers, as outlined in two separate All-Army Activity messages.The Army is seeking female soldiers in ranks E-4 through O-4 who would be interested in attending Ranger school as students. All applicants must meet the same prerequisites and physical qualifications that males are held to in order to attend Ranger school.

Any female soldier who volunteers and manages to successfully complete and graduate from Ranger school will receive a graduation certificate, and be awarded and authorized to wear the Ranger tab.

However, women who graduate Ranger school may or may not be permitted to receive the associated Ranger skill identifiers, or be assigned to Ranger coded units or positions, pending future decisions about whether women will be allowed to serve in combat arms MOSs.

Female soldiers can also volunteer to serve as observers and advisers to the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. These slots are open to enlisted personnel E-6 through E-8 and officers in paygrades of CWO 2-3 and O-2 through O-4. Volunteers for this assignment will not be Ranger instructors, and they will not evaluate students in the course.

Selection packets for both groups are due by October 10, 2014. Interested soldiers should work with their personnel officers and chain of command to submit their applications.

Applicants should be able to find out the results of their applications in December.

The Army has not yet determined how many volunteers it needs, part of the open-call is also is to determine the level of interest among female soldiers.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit, the go to site.

Military Connection: Females with Ranger Tabs? By Debbie Gregory