[su_heading size=”30″]“Those guys were S**t-Hot, and could swing like Tarzan, think like Einstein and climb like Spider-Man,” remembers a member of Delta Force, who deployed with SOWTs and Combat Controllers during the fierce early months of the war in Afghanistan.[/su_heading]
When you think about what goes on in a theater of war, you’ll think of things like the number of troops deployed, the location of friendly bases nearby, and even things like the rations that the soldiers will receive. What isn’t so common to think about is the weather and how it affects the battleground.
Normally, this isn’t an issue for the United States government. How most countries work is that they report on their weather on the ground which is then relayed to countries all over the world for the purpose of getting an idea as to how the conditions are.
The only problem with this setup is that it involves trusting governments to reliably put this information out there. But when the Taliban swept in in 2001 and took control of Afghanistan, weather reports stopped altogether.
The reason for this stoppage is the fact that the Taliban operates under a very strict interpretation of the Koran. This meant that all women would be required to wear a burka. All men must be bearded at all times. Television and movies were outlawed. And lastly, weather reporting was banned.
The reason for this confusing ban is that weather reporting is considered by the Taliban to be a form of sorcery. They doubled down on this belief, in fact, by shelling meteorological centers and forcibly removing weather people from their positions.
The United States has weathermen of its own.
In order to better wage war in Afghanistan and understand the data so that troops could be best protected, the government sent a number of weathermen to the theater of war.
These weathermen are also known as special operations weather technicians or SOWTs. In fact, these are the only commando forecasters that the Department of Defense has in its employment.
These operatives are tasked with visiting the most hostile and dangerous places in the world and then recovering important meteorological data that ground forces can then act upon once they’re brought into duty.
Video: Being a SOWT
Video: Weather & Warfare
These weathermen are not technically combat-oriented soldiers. Instead, they move into these hostile locations and gather their data. This sounds easy, but it’s anything but. If it goes wrong, not only can the operative be captured or killed, but that highly valuable data will be lost forever, compromising any future operations.
These operatives go along with the absolute best in the field. They often team up with Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, and Delta Force.
Before a major operation is going to be conducted, before any boots touch the ground or even get laced up, a SOWT will have to move into the location and give the okay. These truly are the unsung heroes of war, as they’re literally responsible for whether or not an operation will happen.
In one instance, the use of satellite data pointed toward there being totally clear skies in an area of operation. The only thing is that there was no ground data along with that and ground data is just as imperative as is satellite data.
Not only were the former meteorologists fired, not only were all of the meteorological sites turned to rubble but the decades of weather reports there were destroyed as well. Never before or since has there been such a blackout on incredibly simple and useful information. While this has made it more difficult for United States troops to conduct ground operations, this wasn’t the primary reason for everything.
On one occasion, a SOWT was brought to a location that was hazy and indistinct as the result of a substantial sand storm. This weather man risked his life by leaving the helicopter along with a small team of commandos.
While under the cover of night, they scaled a mountain and then dug into a nearby ledge. It was here that the SOWT got to work at obtaining meteorological data. He used a device to study how high in the sky clouds were, sent out weather balloons at night, and used a small device he had with him for all other tasks.
What this special operations weather technician essentially did was create a forecast that operated in real time. He then checked his data with the forecasts that were already made and tweaked the data until it seemed to line up properly. From there, commando teams were able to be dropped into locations with safe weather conditions all thanks to this brave SOWT.
As a matter of fact, it was as a result of this initial operation that the ground invasion of Afghanistan began. As such, the data had to be absolutely precise in order to be considered actionable. These fair consditions that the SOWT were enough for the Joint Chiefs of Staff to move ahead with their operation.
While it is possible to obtain satellite forecasts without ever having to use a real person, these special operations weather technicians humorously liken this process to an eager child on Christmas shaking a box to guess what’s inside. You might come relatively close sometimes, but not enough for the data to be actionable.
Every member of the United States’ military has an important job to do, a reaon strong enough for them to leave their freidns and family for months at a time. What many don’t realize is that there’s quite possibly even more dangerous position in the military that rarely gets spoken about or even acknowledged.
This position is that of a special operations weather technician. Before any boots can touch the dirt, one of these professionals must go in and single-handedly get a hold on the weather fluctuations in the area. Without these brave souls, there would be no boots on the ground and the mission would be lossed before it even started.
by J Hines
Source: Wikipedia, Military.com, USAF Public Affairs, Videos and Intro Excerpt from Nbcnews.com/pages/weathermen
[su_heading size=”30″]Fly-away security teams guard planes, crews on high-risk flights[/su_heading]
THE FOLLOWING IS A MEDIA RELEASE FROM THE STARS AND STRIPES
The military branch USAF is unique when it comes to job specialty (MOS), force protection back in the old days of guarding an aircraft was different. The Air Police would just issue a rifle to an airman to guard the aircraft or resources. Fast forward to modern day, the ‘Air Police’ name progressed to Security Police and finally ‘Security Forces’. With recent conflicts USAF Security Forces have had to adjust and expand its role in the terrorist war. One of them is the Fly-Away Security Team, also known as ‘FAST’. These hand picked elite USAF Security Forces members are also part of the USAF Phoenix Ravens unit, you can see one of our past stories on the USAF Ravens here.
USAF Fly-Away Security Teams (FAST) are staged out of many undisclosed places in the European and Far West Asian theaters. The FAST team provides security for the aircraft while at a hot (high threat) location. And while in-flight responsible for deterring and neutralizing any threats on board the aircraft. The least known responsibility is to collect intelligences of the air strip and surrounding areas from local resources. The skills required to perform as a FAST operative is wide in range from marksmanships, Foreign Clearance Guide Advisor, SERE to diplomatic relations with host nations.
Now to our featured story:
The two craned their necks and swiveled their heads, checking the fast-approaching ground below through the bank of cockpit windows. Soon joining them in this ritual was Staff Sgt. Thomas Tyrone, 26, a member of the late September mission’s Fly-Away Security Team, or FAST.
In teams of two to four, the “air marshals of Afghanistan,” as one member calls them, guard the flight deck from potential hijackers on certain flights and provide added perimeter security around the aircraft while parked at high-risk airfields like Shorab.
On the ground, the team is responsible for keeping asylum-seekers at bay and fending off attackers long enough for the pilots to get the turboprop-powered Super Hercules airborne, even if that means the team stays behind.
Their added combat training and firepower — M-4 rifles, compared with the aircrew’s 9 mm handguns — are a comfort “when you’re someplace sketchy,” said Capt. Michael Morrison, Svendsen’s co-pilot. See original story below.
[su_heading size=”30″]The American Military Continues To Inﬂuence Many Segments Of Society, And The Hunting Community Is No Exception[/su_heading]
STORY AND PHOTOS BY SCOTT HAUGEN
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]F[/su_dropcap]or those who’ve attended or read about the SHOT Show for the past 15 years, you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say that the American military has had an increasing positive effect on the shooting sports, especially hunting. This welcome development is nothing short of phenomenal, and it becomes more evident with each passing year.
I make my living as a hunter, TV host, writer and speaker, so it’s been intriguing and inspiring to watch the inﬂuence of our country’s armed forces transition into every facet of the world I love so much. Take equipment, for example. Many hunters took their ﬁrst deer with a government-issued .30-caliber riﬂe, one that may have been their dad’s or granddad’s. Today, the hunting riﬂe and optics world is dominated by military representation, and Trijicon scopes are a testimony to this.
It’s been more than 10 years since Trijicon entered the hunting world, and a television show I hosted was the ﬁrst one they sponsored. I later went on to host and produce Trijicon’s The Hunt, which currently airs on Amazon Prime and in more than 40 countries. Even though Trijicon has become well known to hunters, not everyone is aware that the company had made quality riﬂescopes and sights for military and law enforcement use for more than 15 years.
Settling in for a long-range shot at a deer, Haugen (right) relied on a bipod, shooting bags and a specially designed tactical scope to make good on the 960yard shot. Having a spotter made the hunt even more “special forces” like, and brought a unique element to the total experience.
Guns are another example. Some old school hunters didn’t like it when ARs entered the hunting world, but as people became more educated on what ARs were, the literal translation of what an AR platform riﬂe is and how they worked, they quickly gained traction. First, predator, varmint and hog hunters used them, now they’re popular with many deer hunters.
Accessories that go with guns and hunting have also evolved, having been deeply rooted in America’s military history. Knives, ﬂashlights, survival kits, boots, packs, navigation devices, even clothes, have stemmed from our military. Not long ago I was in Alaska’s Arctic with my son. For lunch one day we broke out some MREs, and although any current or former member of the military would know these as a ﬁeld ration or “Meal, Ready to Eat,” it was something he’d never had. He’s 14 years old and loved it, and was intrigued when I shared stories of how this is what many military men and women survived on. MREs have come a long way, or so I’m told, but it’s just one more example of our military having an inﬂuence on hunting and the outdoors.
The very ﬁrst riﬂe sling I had was one given to me from my grandfather, from when he served our country. It was an old leather sling with multiple holes for length adjustment. The sling was an inch wide and tough as nails, and it is still one of my favorites.
Predator hunters have greatly beneﬁted from military inﬂuences. From ARs to dual-mounted optics, the end result has been more efficient hunts that help control predator populations.
Not only has military-designed gear had a visible impact on hunting, but on shooting form as well. For decades hunters went aﬁeld with their riﬂes, maybe a pack, but that was it. When it came time to take a shot, it was usually done standing, off-hand. If a tree was close, the hunter might try to lean on it to get steady. Or, if the grass wasn’t too high, the hunter might lay down in order to attain a stable shot.
Then bipods, shooting sticks and shooting bags made their way into the hunting world, thanks again to our military. Attaching a bipod to a riﬂe was something I’d never heard of or seen while growing up hunting in the 1960s and ’70s. Like all things “new,” they came
into the hunting world, but many hunters from previous generations wouldn’t use these shooting aids, which is unfortunate.
The author’s wife, Tiffany Haugen, connected on a one-shot kill on this pronghorn, thanks to shooting off a steady bipod from a prone position. For generations, hunters have beneﬁted from what military personnel have shared with us, from gear to shooting form.
Last fall I was in deer camp in Wyoming. It was public ground and the sagebrush-studded hills were full of hunters. What amazed me was not the number of shots I heard during the ﬁrst two days of the season, but how many people I talked to headed back to camp, transporting deer that had been shot in the leg, face, guts and everywhere bullets shouldn’t hit. None of them had used shooting aids.
One hunter in our camp, an older, retired man, missed nine shots at three different bucks. When I asked him why he doesn’t use a bipod or shooting stick, he replied, “Never have, don’t need one.” “No, obviously you do!” I insisted. I took him aside, showed him how to work my Bog Pod tripod shooting stick, and told him to take it. He killed a buck with his next shot.
Many of our armed forces pride themselves on shooting accuracy, and more and more hunters are starting to do the same. We owe it to ourselves, our fellow hunters and the animals we pursue to deliver quick, clean shots.
AR platforms, complete with specialized scopes, continue to grow in popularity among the hunting community. Here, an AR topped with Trijicon’s ACOG – a widely used scope in military and law enforcement circles – goes to work on a prairie dog town.
For people like me who make a living hunting, we can’t afford misses. Every miss costs time and money for everyone involved on the hunt, from myself to camera crews, outﬁtters, producers, editors and even networks. There’s pressure to hit the mark, which is why, for the past several years, all of my shots have come off a shooting stick, a bipod mounted to my gun, or shooting bags.
A couple seasons ago I took my ﬁrst buck with a longrange riﬂe, what my dad and his friends, in their late 70s and 80s, refer to as a “sniper riﬂe.” Now, the gun wasn’t really a sniper riﬂe, but the $4,000 scope I had atop it was designed for snipers, and the sturdy bipod and shooting bags I relied on were used primarily by tactical shooters. I devoted many hours of practice to shooting that riﬂe from a prone position, learning about everything related to long-range shooting. I was able to connect on a nice buck at 960 yards while ﬁlming for a TV show.
Today, we see more hunters shooting from prone positions using shooting aids on television, in magazines, and on the Internet. Why? Because it’s more accurate, that’s why. Think about it. We wait all year for hunting season, then spend days, even weeks aﬁeld, and yet our success or failure often comes down to a single shot. It only makes sense to make that one shot as accurate as possible.
Many hunters who spend time in the dense deer woods, stalking with shotguns and open-sight riﬂes are now carrying their guns differently, thanks to the inﬂuence of the military and armed forces. Gone are the days when hunters trudged through thick brush, gun slung over their shoulder, and then quickly forcing it into a shaky shooting position when a buck pops up.
These days, guns are more frequently carried in a semi-shooting position, butt held above the shoulder, one hand on the stock, the other on the forestock. This allows a shot to be taken in a fraction of the time of the other hold, something that’s not only applicable in some deer hunting situations but when tracking dangerous game or wounded animals anywhere in the world.
Veteran Orlando Gill gets a congratulatory handshake from author Scott Haugen on his ﬁrst bear. Orlando served in Afghanistan, where he lost a leg in action.
Last but not least, the discipline and hard work that our special forces are built on has entered the hunting world. Physical training and dedicated shooting practice has never been so prevalent, and our military is largely to thank.
I’ve never served in the military, but have many relatives and friends who have. My great uncle was a paratrooper who jumped on the beaches at Normandy and served on the front lines. I couldn’t get enough of his stories while growing up.
To the men and women who’ve served our country over the years, and continue to serve, I thank you. You help keep America free, and great. Your efforts and dedication
have prevailed in upholding our Constitution and Second Amendment rights, and for that, all hunters in the United States should thank you. Keep up the great work, and may God bless you and your families. ASJ
Editor’s note: Scott Haugen has been a full-time writer for 15 years. To see instructional videos on shooting, hunting and more, visit his new website,OutdoorsNow.com.
[su_heading size=”30″]‘Sky Cops’ Protect Bases, Bombers, Missile Fields, And Take On New Roles[/su_heading]
STORY BY TROY TAYSOM
Editor’s note: Part I in this series last issue covered the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations.
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]T[/su_dropcap]he United States Air Force is a unique service for a multitude of reasons. It was the ﬁrst branch of the service to allow women into combat roles (security police) and has an entire career ﬁeld dedicated to protecting air bases, aircraft, Air Force personnel and nuclear weapons. All of the other services require individual units to provide security for themselves, i.e. an Army aviation unit’s members, including her mechanics, are armed and trained as riﬂemen. In the Air Force, only one group is trained in the art of Air Base Ground Defense (ABGD).
Chuck Norris started his martial arts training when he was an air policeman in Korea. Besides Norris, the “Sky Cops” have a storied past full of unsung heroes, hard-fought battles and the distinction that not a single air base was ever overrun during the Vietnam War – and not for lack of trying on the North Vietnamese’s part either. It has taken nearly 70 years for this career ﬁeld to gain its true identity. Here is that story.
POST WORLD WAR II
In 1947 when the Air Force was officially separated from the Army, the need to protect not only the aircraft but now a cache of nuclear weapons became paramount. The old-time bomber pilot and commander Curtis LeMay saw the need for a unit to function like the infantry, but on Air Force bases. These airmen needed to be versed in the use of small arms, crew-served weapons, and squad- (ﬁre team in the Air Force), platoon- (called a ﬂight) and company- (called a squadron) level tactics. These units needed to be highly specialized in the deterrence and detection of unauthorized people or groups attempting to access a base (especially ones with nuclear missions) or missile ﬁeld. The Strategic Air Command led the way in developing their APs into highly trained soldier airmen, known unofficially as “SAC Trained Killers.”
During the Korean War, very few air bases came under attack. The APs were basically law enforcement on the base and guarded aircraft. No tactical plans had been implemented, let alone training for a base attack. The Air Force was lucky, but their luck would be tested mightily in the next go-around. The SAC model wasn’t followed by units in Korea, as the nuclear weapons were kept stateside.
As the Vietnam War ramped up in the 1960s, so did the need for the Air Force’s presence in and around America’s ally in Southeast Asia. The U.S. focused most of its air bases in South Vietnam and Thailand, with others further away in places like Guam and the Philippines. Those bases located on the mainland endured the greatest risk of attack, as they sat close to enemy forces. Amazingly enough, few of the Air Force bases came under attack in the beginning years of the war. The tactics and mindset were still very Korean War-oriented. Many APs arrived at bases in Southeast Asia to ﬁnd no weapons had been sent for them to use. Other bases had WWII leftovers – Browning Automatic Riﬂes (BARs), .30-caliber Browning machineguns, grease guns, Colt .45 ACP 1911s and M1 Carbines.
I spoke with Senior Master Sergeant Pete Piazza (retired) at length about what the Sky Cops (as they were lovingly dubbed) endured from 1966-72. Piazza served three tours of duty in Vietnam as an AP and then as a SP. He witnessed ﬁrsthand the Air Force go from no real idea of how to defend a base to being awarded the Silver Star for his actions at Bien Hoa Air Base on Jan. 31, 1968, during the Tet Offensive.
Piazza took charge of his bunker when his leader, Capt. Maisey, was killed by a rocket. A staff sergeant at the time, he spent the next eight hours running through heavy machinegun ﬁre, rockets and sniper ﬁre to keep his men fully supplied with much-needed ammunition and water. Piazza was quick to educate me on a couple of little known facts.
“Ninety percent of the SPs that were at Air Force bases when Tet started had never seen combat,” he told me.
Air police, security police, security forces – the protectors of our country’s air bases and overseas assets have had several names, but the job they’ve done has never wavered. (TROY TAYSOM)
He also said something that intrigued me: “The Air Force was the only branch of the service that didn’t have one of their bases overrun by the enemy.”
Why was that? Men just like Piazza. But ask him and he’ll say, “I was just doing what everybody else was doing.” While humility is the true sign of a hero, I will have to disagree with Pete on this one. Silver Stars aren’t just handed out, especially to enlisted USAF airmen.
Undoubtedly, there were others who performed as bravely as Piazza did on that January day so long ago. I can’t possibly ﬁnd and speak to them all; some, including his direct supervisor, Capt. Maisey, were killed on that day and in the days to come as Tet raged on. Piazza certainly wasn’t part of any “chair force.” He was every bit an infantryman that day as Audie Murphy and Chesty Puller.
Ask any soldier and he or she will tell you: Whoever owns the night has the advantage. The SPs were some of the ﬁrst units in the Vietnam War to receive ANTVS-2 scopes, nicknamed “Starlight” because of their use of ambient star and moon light. These scopes were some of the ﬁrst real attempts at night vision and changed the face of war forever. The riﬂemounted scope gave the user night vision out to 400 meters, while a crew-served weapons version, the ANPVS-4, worked out to 1,000, and an off-weapon version, the ANPVS-5, allowed sight out to 1,500 meters. For those airmen who had them, night shifts became a little less nerve racking.
One asset was in great supply, and gave the SPs another advantage at night – military working dogs, MWDs or K9s. The Sky Cops would walk the perimeter at night with their dogs. The SPs couldn’t see any better just because they had a dog, but the dogs could sense the presence of intruders, and on more than one occasion they stopped enemy sappers before they had the chance to breach the perimeter fence. For whatever reason, the Viet Cong also had a healthy fear of these K9s and kept their distance as word spread of their presence on the air bases. At the height of the K9 program, in January 1967, there were 476 dogs deployed. The dog handlers carried a special version of the M16, called the GAU-5/A. It was shorter and allowed the handler to control the dog and ﬁre the riﬂe one-handed if needed.
It wasn’t until after Tet that the Air Force wrote its ﬁrst deﬁnitive, battle-tested, air-base ground defense manual to be used in the years ahead – especially during the Cold War. THE MAYAGUEZ INCIDENT
On May 12, 1975, Cambodian naval ships captured the S.S. Mayaguez, a U.S. merchant marine ship, in international waters. Negotiations broke down and a rescue mission was planned. The closest unit with combat experience was the 56th Security Police Squadron stationed at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand. After the CH-53 Knife helicopters plus some HH-53 choppers left the base, Knife 13 disappeared from radar 40 miles out. It is widely thought that mechanical issues caused the crash. All 18 security policemen and four crew members and a linguist died.
Moments before take-off, a picture of the ill-fated Sky Cops in Knife 13 was taken. Thirty minutes later all 23 passengers were dead. The image leaves a haunting legacy of sacriﬁce and how short life can be in a combat zone. COLD WAR As the Cold War heated up, America’s nuclear arsenal followed suit. Most nuclear assets came under the purview of the USAF, and more speciﬁcally SAC. SAC was the brain child of LeMay and was arguably the best run major command in the Air Force. SAC operated bases for bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons, as well as bases that
supported missile ﬁeld operations. These wings were subject to remarkably stringent inspections, the failure of which would result in the ﬁring of the senior staff of the wing.
The USAF was the first branch of the military to deploy female snipers and has since trained multiple women in this role. (USAF)
The SPs were responsible for several missions on SAC bases: the protection of the weapons storage areas, where the nukes were stored; and the physical guarding of the B-52s and KC-135s, air refuelers, that were on “alert.” Being on alert required the aircrews to live in a special facility next to the aircraft. At the sound of the klaxon, the crews rushed to their aircraft and were ready for take-off to top secret destinations. The SPs guarded all of these locations, day and night, 24/7/365. At places like Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, guard duty tested one’s desire to be a cop.
Missile ﬁelds also demanded the attention of the SPs. These ﬁelds were vast and remote. Cops worked seven days straight, often living out of campers attached to the back of pick-up trucks. The missile ﬁelds weren’t located in tropical locales either. They were spread across states like Montana, Kansas, Wyoming and South Dakota. Working conditions for the cops were less than ideal; in fact, at times the conditions resembled the Arctic Circle more than the continental United States. But defend these locations the SPs did, and to this day, still do. In 1997 security police career ﬁelds of law enforcement and security specialist were merged into one ﬁeld and renamed Security Forces. This change gave the cops more ﬂexibility in manning assignments, as well as providing cross training.
MODERN-DAY WAR ON TERROR
The USAF’s modern-day Security Forces function even more like infantry units than the cops in the past. They have all the weapons of the infantry – the M240, M249B, M4, M9, M203, 81mm mortars and M24 sniper systems. They are the ﬁrst service to deploy female snipers and have now trained multiple women in this role.
Couple of Ravens in back of C-17 Aircraft – Photo by J Hines
The Air Force’s cops continue to become a “high speed, low drag” group. They have a squadron that is airborne qualiﬁed, stationed in Georgia. This group of cops even made a combat jump with the Army into Iraq. Air Mobility Command has also developed a group called the Ravens. In this group of Security Forces, airmen accompany aircraft into dangerous regions of the world where there is no on ground security for the aircraft. These men and women travel the world providing security for these USAF assets and serve as Force Protection advisors to aircrew members. Other major commands have similar.
In addition to guarding U.S. Air Force missile fields, “Sky Cops” also protect the nation’s bomber fleet. Here, Airman 1st Class Arlando Budd, assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron, provides security near a B-2 Spirit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (SENIOR AIRMAN NICK WILSON, USAF)
The Air Force continues to change with the times. It just so happens that the “Sky Cops” are leading the way when it comes to installation, asset, nuclear and personnel security. The lessons learned in the Jungles of Vietnam and Thailand, as well as the lessons of the Cold War in Europe and the frozen missile ﬁelds and bomber facilities of America are the foundation under which the new generation of Sky Cops continue to grow and evolve. ASJ
[su_heading size=”30″]The Reasons Women Carry Are Diverse – Here’s Why Veteran And Mother Rachel Trexler Does[/su_heading]
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RACHEL TREXLER
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]“T[/su_dropcap]his is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.” The Rifleman’s Creed vibrated through my bones the day I became a United States Marine, and has recently taken on a whole new meaning. As the years have passed by, I find it challenging to recall the entire creed, which has intermittently faded over time. However, that first phrase always remained near my heart and astonishingly enough, relates to my children. I know that might sound different – the words gun and children combined together – but just like my rifle, my children are mine, there “are many like” them, but these two are mine.
After college, Rachel Trexler (right) joined the ranks of United States Marine Corps, which solidified her natural tendency towards patriotism and protecting people. On the left is her drill instructor Sgt. Parrish at her USMC graduation on Parris Island in South Carolina.
My name is Rachel Trexler and I grew up in the rural backcountry of Mims, Fla., I am a Marine Corps veteran and a mother of two adorable hell-raising tiny humans: my son, four-year-old Rylan, and his nine-month-old sister Raven. As I kiss their faces, my warrior heart echoes the reminder that there is no limit to the fierceness with which I will protect my family, which is why now, as a stay-at-home mom, I still choose to carry a gun in my day-to-day life.
I WASN’T RAISED AROUND FIREARMS. It wasn’t until the age of 14 that I fired my first gun. I can recall being anxious – it was a revolver – and I was qualifying my horse to receive a law enforcement certification. It is necessary to train any horse that might be used in a law-enforcement capacity, to include search-and-rescue and crowd control, to be accustomed to gunfire, a condition known as being “gunfire neutral.”
It is necessary to train any horse that might be used in a law enforcement capacity, to include search-and-rescue and crowd control, to be accustomed to gunfire, a condition known as being “gunfire neutral.”
Years later, I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology and an Associate of Science in Crime Scene Technology. However, it was when I answered the call to join the ranks in the military that cemented the magnitude of our country’s freedoms, and the sacrifices others have made defending them. I can unequivocally say being in the military made a huge difference in becoming the woman I am today. It is not to say a woman has to be trained by the military to appreciate and/or own and shoot guns, but I still have fond memories of the M-16A2 service rifle with old iron sights. There is nothing compared to learning to shoot day in and day out – and it was all about you and your rifle. I memorized its statistics and range, I field stripped it, cleaned it and put it back together a million times over – I literally slept with it pretty soundly too, if you ask me.
After honorably discharging from the Marine Corps and spending several years in security, not to mention becoming a mother, Trexler wasn’t finished. She put herself through the law-enforcement academy in Florida.
I HAVE SINCE HONORABLY DISCHARGED from the Marine Corps, but have not stopped improving my shooting skills, and I now practice the art of tactical accessorizing. Much like the awesome feeling of getting a new pair of heels, I felt like a newly crowned beauty queen when I was gifted an Eotech Holographic sight for my AR-15 – was it Christmas Day? Being fashion conscious, I can’t leave the house without my Emerson Karambit knife. For Valentine’s Day, I was the girl who got a Tiffany’s dog tag with my children’s and fiancée’s initials inscribed, as well as a Gerber Ghostrike blade to take down the mountain with me as I shred on my snowboard. Outstandingly, women are now influencing the firearms market, which at one point exclusively targeted male consumers. I’m proud to be one of these women. Not all people choose to carry a weapon. Some choose to carry nothing at all, and that’s OK in my eyes. This is one of the rights protected by the United States Constitution. Anyone can choose.
FOR ABOUT EIGHT YEARS, I was head of security for a restaurant/bar in the historic downtown district of Melbourne, Fla. Closing in the dark and very early hours of the morning, I was grateful for my Second Amendment rights, as I retrieved my Smith & Wesson M&P Shield from the safe and headed for home. While the current debate on the legal right to carry intensifies, the number of women who are choosing to bear arms is increasing exponentially. My Shield is a prime example of this; gun manufacturers continue to increase products geared towards the ladies. After all, it’s a .40-caliber that can be worn on the waistband of my yoga pants and offers the luxury of a low recoil. The fact that two perfect worlds – gun carry and yoga pants– collide with my 5.11 range/yoga pants solidifies that women have made their presence known and manufacturers are listening.
It was clear in the academy that Trexler was not only serious but skilled, taking second place in a shooting competition – second only to a former Army Ranger.
IN BETWEEN HAVING my son and daughter, I chose to attend the police academy, ultimately achieving my law-enforcement certificate. It was during one of these academy days that I found myself competing against a fellow veteran – former 1st Battalion Army Ranger Nicholas Worthy (see American Shooting Journal’s Behind The Badge feature Heart Of Bronze in the July 2015 Issue) – in the tactical shooting challenge. Even though I took second in that competition, it was that decorated ranger who took first. He is now a field training officer with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and my handsome fiancée. Our beliefs run parallel – whether you are purple, minion blue, male or female, everyone is equal.
The Second Amendment, by varying degrees depending on the state, has recently led to a controversial topic – open carry. In Florida, legislators are introducing bills that would allow citizens to carry weapons openly. In my own rationale, any person who carries a gun also bears the very heavy yet necessary burden to carry responsibly. This responsibility extends to whether I carry openly or concealed. However, if Florida does pass open-carry laws, I just might be able to accessorize a few new holsters that would match my daily wardrobe.
As my wardrobe collection expanded, I found a convenient place for my Heckler & Koch P2000 SK .40, which is now secured under my steering wheel. It’s kind of the same to me as Burberry in the fashion world, and I love them both. There are plenty of other mothers like me, such as my children’s godmother, Deputy Michelle Sweet. She works for the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and was a stay-at-home mother for 10 years. One day, she put on a pair of combat boots, pulled up her hair and enrolled alongside me in the academy. Deputy Sweet’s importance to the law-enforcement field is magnified because she is a woman and her leadership cannot be overstated.
Because of women in strong roles and their resilience in a historically male-dominated career, other women confidently set their sights on similar positions, and are getting the opportunity to serve alongside male counterparts in all areas of formerly male-only jobs, including military combat roles, SWAT teams and other special operations units. This is proof that we as a society are evolving when it comes to understanding the capabilities women possess.
As a strong supporter of our Second Amendment rights, not only does Trexler enjoy shooting as a hobby, she is often found armed to the teeth in daily life. The bad guys would choose poorly if they targeted her.
IN 1788, RICHARD HENRY LEE proclaimed, “To preserve liberty, it is essential the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them … ” It is pertinent that those of us who carry and train with weapons aid in the next generation’s safety, so mothers like us will practice, as well as teach our children the importance of gun safety and awareness. What is the best part of being friends with other mothers who carry? I don’t need to discuss why I just locked my purse up in her safe and opened that bottle of wine for a girl’s night in. The responsibility to maintain our guns in a safe manner falls directly on our shoulders. Practicing safety is paramount; there is no room for error.
When it comes to shooting, my family-owned Armalight AR-10 will always leave me smiling like I’m back cheering on the football field. My Burris 8-32×44 scope is excellent at spotting the rounds I’m sending down range. After all, it’s a long, long walk to that target. That unmistakable sound of a .308 or 7.62×51 will turn heads like a woman in a red dress.
What’s so exciting about our present day is there is no longer a norm for how things should be. Our rights protected under the Constitution are applied equally to everyone, as they should be.
MY NEXT MISSION IS LAW SCHOOL, although now that military infantry divisions are open to women, a girl could be tempted.
A mother of two and engaged to marry former Army ranger Nick Worthy – the man she met in the police academy who bested her in a shooting competition – Trexler is at the top of her game these days and a great person for ladies who want to be inspired.
Going forward, I’ll be keeping a close watch on the evolution of new gun laws that may allow firearms to be carried on school campuses. Human beings have an inherent right to protect ourselves, our families and our properties. Our founding fathers placed such importance on this, it is second only to my freedom of speech.
Our first president, George Washington, declared, “Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself … They are the American people’s liberty … ” The Bill of Rights is just as ingrained within my veins as my blood type. The Second Amendment, withstanding all opposition thus far, still remains to ensure that individuals who wish to bear arms can do so. And with that, the numbers of women who choose to legally own, carry and shoot guns will continue to multiply.
THE REASONS A WOMAN CHOOSES to carry are often as diverse as women themselves. But for me, I carry because I choose to be a wife and mother who will always be at the ready; to fiercely guard and protect those I love. I’m the woman who chooses to accessorize with an extended mag in my everyday carry, because the cop I’m marrying just simply wouldn’t fit in my purse. ASJ
Rachel Trexler is a modern-day woman by all standards, and represents what is fast becoming the norm across the nation. What many do not realize is the journey she took to go from girl to badass, with the credentials to prove it.
[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”0″]Hogs, Dogs and Heroes[/su_heading]
Special Forces Wounded Warriors On The Hunt
Story by Walt Hampton • Photographs by Reaper Outdoors, SOWW and Walt Hampton
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”4″]H[/su_dropcap]aving been raised as a hunter, I am guilty of forgetting how important that simple pleasure is to my life. What defines my personality is the ability to take up a weapon and go to the woods to enjoy the sport with never a thought of what it would mean to lose that privilege, or what it would take to regain that part of me if, God forbid, I was so challenged.
Hunting has always been an integral part of my life; it is my connection to God, the land and to those who over the years have meant the most to me. It is a concept that many men far more articulate than I have tried to define over the years. I can only offer my belief that it is the hunt itself and not the kill that adds character to our lives, but the kill necessarily punctuates the act with the finality that completes the experience. When this activity is something you do well, imagine the struggle it would take to regain your soul if it was lost.
There are folks out there who have never been exposed to hunting, never considered taking it up or participated. What I have enjoyed over the years is watching when an introduction to the sport is done correctly and in the company of people with similar backgrounds and values – we gain another good soul to our ranks. Now, when you take men who already have focus and intelligence, such as our special operations personnel, and put them into this scenario, you see a transformation that is smooth and seamless from warrior to hunter; after all, these are just two different words for the same thing.
Bobby Dove was a Green Beret medic who lost his right arm and leg in Afghanistan in 2012; his road to recovery revolved around adapting to his situation so he could get back into the woods. Hunting was that one thing that would define being normal again. Three months after his medevac he was on Buck Mountain in Virginiawith us, and I watched him focus on the task at hand with repeated failures as he worked to regain what he thought he had lost. When he was eventually successful in completing his hunt by fair chase and on his own, you could see the transformation. He is a part of my family so I was there to see it, and it was the pinnacle of my hunting career.
Not long after that hunt, Dove was selected to participate in an event put together by an organization called Special Operations Wounded Warriors (SOWW) for their flagship event called Takin’ Bacon 2014. This is where wounded special operations personnel are teamed up with some of the finest dog men in the South just to hunt feral hogs.
When Dove and I initially arrived at the event, I was happily surprised to see Chris, an Army Special Forces wounded veteran who I had met in Dove’s hospital room when he first returned from overseas. Chris, a double amputee, was attending the event as one of the hunters. Chris had never hunted before this event, but ended up taking the most hogs – four all together – as well as the largest: 285 pounds. If you are one of those folks who likes to keep score, here is the breakdown of that weekend: eight special operations Purple Heart recipients took 24 hogs in three days. Oh, did I forget to mention that there were no guns allowed on this hunt – it was conducted solely with knives.
The lowland swamp country of North Carolina was the perfect setting for Special Operation Wounded Warriors’ (SOWW) flagship hunt, called Takin’ Bacon 2015.
This was not meant as a stunt. The knife was one of the first human weapons, and is often the weapon of last resort. It is a symbol of the level of commitment that each special ops person makes to ensure the job gets done – simply put, to never quit. A specialized knife was designed for this event by Mil-Tac Knives and Tools, and each of the hunters were presented with one of their own. It is a serious tool for men who understand the importance and value.
If you look at many special ops logos – Green Berets, Rangers, Navy SEALs, even the center of the Purple Heart – you will find the bladed weapon.
The hunt was purposely made to be difficult. It was imperative that these intensely committed individuals were challenged. If you were to take this group to a canned-hunt area and sit them in a box blind over a bait pile so they could pull a trigger on a released pig, they would laugh in your face. To be worthy, a thing must be earned.
I have attended several charity events over the years. The most remarkable impression I have from this experience was SOWW’s approach with these hunters; they were not going to be able to blend into the surroundings. Each was given a blaze-orange cap and told the only requirement of the weekend was that they wear them, so the focus of all other participants and visitors would be on them. Once the hunt began, they would be turned over to the dog-handler guides. The rest was easy; they were here to enjoy themselves. I also found that the warm family atmosphere represented by the presence of some very respectful kids made it feel as if I was attending a family reunion more than a charity function.
Each SOWW member had just one requirement: wear a bright orange cap for easy identification.
Over the course of three days 24 hogs fell to the blades of these operators.
If you are going to do something, you should do it right. It was no coincidence that SOWW masterfully orchestrated this event by pairing the hunters with dedicated dog men who know what they are doing. The low-country swamp is no place for amateurs, be they man or dog, and to watch the performance of both at the top of their game was a rare privilege for me. These dogs are not pets; they are just as dedicated and professional as the operators who followed them into the impenetrable brush and waist-deep muck. The demonstration of their singularity of purpose was, in a word, magnificent. Doing what their kind has done for man for thousands of years, these animals made the connection of swamp, man and dog to represent the very essence of hunting. For a moment this changed the focus of a wounded man from what he thought he couldn’t do to what he can.
Each SOWW member was paired up with a master dog handler and swamp hunter guide for the event.
The swamp does not care how many legs you have or who you are; you must earn your place here and when you have done this, in the company of men and dogs that must prove themselves every single time they face these obstacles, you become accepted into their circle, and the accomplishment makes an indelible mark on your soul.
For me the purpose of the entire event was captured in this example: One of the hunters, a veteran of Mogadishu – yes, that Mogadishu – who was reluctant to participate in the event at all and initially held back, eventually hit the swamp behind the dogs in the dark of night. He emerged from that experience wet to the waist, briar-cut and bruised, his hands stained with the blood of his quarry, and started immediately texting one of his wounded teammates to tell him how he should come to the swamp with him for next year’s event.
No one left the event without a smile on their face and plans to return next year.
Wounded special operations hunters come from all different branches of the military, but out here, they are all brothers and dedicated hunters.
Each step in the process of a wounded soldier’s recovery has its place and meaning. No one thinks that a single hunt is a cure-all, but there are wounded operators out there who sustain both the physical and mental effects of war, and who we must reach. We have to let them know what could be the most important message of their lives – you are not alone.
Having had this opportunity to meet and come to know these exceptional individuals has made an impression on me that is hard to articulate. I can only say that my pride in my country and love for our way of life has been reinforced. For those of you looking for what being an American truly means, I know some men who can show you. You can bet that I will be back amongst them next year.
With the camaraderie of other wounded operators on that hunt, Dove was so impressed that he became a SOWW board member. Please help support this organization, their events and the fine work they do. ASJ
* Bobby Dove and his Green Beret teammate Cliff Beard operate Hooligan Charters out of Destin, Fla., and provide inshore fishing adventures.
* Clint McDaniel, one of the dog handlers who volunteered his time and effort to the SOWW charity hunt, is a top-shelf taxidermist with Candler’s Taxidermy Studio in Pelzer, S.C.
[su_heading size=”24″ margin=”0″]Navy SEAL Looks For Those Missing In Action[/su_heading]
Interview by Danielle Breteau
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”4″]T[/su_dropcap]here are endless great causes out there and many dedicated to our veterans. Some are focused on our wounded, others solely to Special Forces and yet others might only address a specific demographic or mission. There is yet another group that many have forgotten, but they are never far from the hearts and memories of their brothers in arms and families. Battlefield Recovery is solely dedicated to locating, recovering and returning the remains of 83,112 servicemen and -women still listed as missing in action (MIA). These are veterans who expand past the barriers of specific groups – they belong to all of us.
Meet Frank Lauria, a retired Navy SEAL (over 20 years), former Director of Advanced Training for Navy SEALs with over 35 years in special operations and contract security work on six continents, who has multiple agency high-level clearances and has lead paramilitary operations with up to 2,000 multinational personnel. This only touches on a small portion of Lauria’s background and expertise, but he is now dedicated to the mission of finding our lost and forgotten, and has created a charity organization called Battlefield Recovery to do just that. Lauria’s goal is summed up by their motto: “Let’s bring them home.”
American Shooting JournalWhat is Battlefield Recovery?
Frank LauriaWe are a nonprofit 501(c)3 service-disabled veteran organization solely dedicated to locating, recovering and returning with the honor they earned the remains of the most forgotten and neglected of all veterans – those missing in action. Every service member knows the code: no one left behind!
What many do not realize is that tens of thousands of soldiers still remain listed as MIA:
[su_box title=”Listed As MIA” style=”soft” box_color=”#e6041b” title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”4″]
World War II – 73,515
Korean Conflict – 7,839
Cold War – 126
Vietnam – 1,626
Other Conflicts – 6[/su_box]
Unfortunately, for many who made the ultimate sacrifice to their nation, that promise has yet to be honored. Battlefield Recovery is an organization of men and women dedicated to fulfilling that promise. We decided someone has to do something.
ASJThis seems like quite a daunting task.Who are the people on your team?
FL At our core, the team consists of a highly decorated senior NCO from the Army’s Special Forces and survival expert, a former Marine sergeant, a dedicated law enforcement professional, the families who lost one of their own, and me. A few of us met while working together in Iraq, and through our own experiences in high-threat situations, we know the value of being absolutely certain someone would care enough to come and go to the ends of the earth to bring us home. No one deserves to die alone and forgotten. Battlefield Recovery wants to be there until every story ends.
Twenty-year Navy SEAL and former Director of Advanced Training for Navy SEALs Frank Lauria, sets his sights on bringing home thousands of veterans still listed as MIA. (N. NOWATNEY)
ASJ When do you expect to go on your first mission?
FL We are planning two missions starting in the fall of 2016. One to Papua New Guinea, north of Australia, and the other to Guadalcanal in the southwest Pacific. Logistics will determine which mission starts first, and we plan to leverage the latest technology and expertise of dedicated researchers, archeologists and field workers. No stone will be left unturned. No jungle left unsearched, and no location is too remote.
ASJ What if a family member wants your help to find a veteran who is MIA. Can they reach out to you for help?
FL Yes! We are already building our mission schedule, and have not even scratched the surface of knowing each and every story. We want to hear from these families, what they know of the final incident and what the impact has been to their families. We want to know their story.
ASJ How can people help bring our brothers in arms home?
FL There are a few ways to help. Many people have immeasurable expertise to include first-hand knowledge of areas, the backstory and historical data. We will be looking for more people to help with every individual mission. Each one is unique. People can also assist by making a tax-deductible donation so that the equipment, research vessels, dive and expedition gear can be readily accessed so no mission is ever without support. Help us return those who have been waiting for so long.
ASJ Thank you, Frank
FL My pleasure, thank you. ASJ
Editor’s note: If you want to help Battlefield Recovery or have a story of your own, visit them at BattlefieldRecovery.com.