Thank the Troops This Veterans Day

Nov 04 2014

It’s almost Veterans Day, when civilians and military people alike will observe the sacrifices of our military servicemembers past and present through ceremonies, parades, and volunteerism. How will you celebrate?


Honor America’s veterans from home:


Marines from 6th Communications Battalion, Marine Forces Reserve, marched in the annual New York Veterans Day parade Nov. 11, 2010. Marine Corps Public Affairs Office New York Photo by Sgt. Randall Clinton. Image via Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of DVIDS.

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Mil Tech — Raytheon Upgrading U.S. Navy Phalanx Close-in Weapons Systems

Nov 03 2014

Published by under Technology

The U.S. Navy has chosen Raytheon Co. to overhaul, upgrade, and remanufacture the Phalanx Close-in Weapons Systems (CIWS) in the Navy’s fleet.

CIWS is an integral element in the Navy’s Fleet Defense In-Dept concept and the Ship Self-Defense Program. Work on the $115.5 million contract is expected to be conducted at Raytheon’s Tucson, Ariz., facilities and be completed by September 2017.

Phalanx CIWS supports multiple roles in ship self-defense and is carried on most U. S. Navy combatant ship classes, including carriers, destroyers, cruisers, and amphibs.

Phalanx is a rapid-fire, computer-controlled radar and 20 mm gun system that automatically acquires, tracks, and destroys enemy threats that have penetrated all other ship defense systems. The Phalanx CIWS footprint is 92 by 121 inches, its height is 188 inches, and it has a working circle of 107 inches. On deck, Phalanx weighs 13,600 pounds, which includes 1,500 rounds of its enhanced lethality cartridge.

“The primary mission of CIWS is terminal defense against anti-ship threats and high speed aircraft penetrating outer fleet defensive envelopes,” says Rick McDonnell, director of close-in defense systems for Raytheon Missile Systems. “Its secondary mission is Surface mode (Block 1B) to counter small fast surface craft and slow flying helicopters and aircraft.”

McDonnell points out CIWS automatically detects, evaluates, tracks, and alerts the operator to engage anti-ship cruise missiles and high-speed aircraft threats. He notes the current Block 1B Phalanx variant has the ability to counter small fast surface craft and slow flying helicopters and aircraft through the addition of a fused multi-spectrum (infrared/radio frequency) track capability.

“CIWS also can be integrated into existing ship combat control systems to provide additional sensor and fire control support to other installed weapon systems,” McDonnell says. “Additionally, the system allows the operator to visually identify threats.”

McDonnell says the Phalanx CIWS entered the U.S. fleet in 1979 and “has been continuously evolving to pace the threat, [to] improve reliability, and to exploit inherent capabilities.”

He adds CIWS is an international program with almost 600 systems in service with the U.S. Navy and 23 other nations.

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.


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World War II Symphony Comes to Life

Nov 03 2014

The U.S. Army Orchestra.

By Michael W. Michelsen Jr., originally shared in the October 2014 issue of Military Officer magazine

As the end of World War II neared, many veterans of that conflict began preparing for their post-war lives. Some created plans for new homes. Others wrote books about their wartime experiences. Army Reserve Col. Harold Van Heuvelen wrote a symphony.

“I wanted to write a symphony that told the story of the war,” he says. “I wanted to write a symphony that told the story of the entire conflict, from the shock and sadness of Pearl Harbor to the horrible loss of life, from both the fighting as well as the Holocaust, to the final victory march, so that’s what I did.”

Van Heuvelen, who had been trained as a classical violinist prior to the beginning of the war, took months to create his opus, but when he returned home and picked up his life, the opus remained untouched.

In 2013, one of Van Heuvelen’s sons found the volume and sent it to his father’s U.S. representative, who, in turn, sent it to the U.S. Army’s Symphony Orchestra, which performed it in December 2013.

“I never thought I would see the day,” says Van Heuvelen. “Even after 67 years, to hear it, along with my friends and family, the words ‘happy’ and ‘proud’ just don’t cover it.”

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Military-Themed Pumpkins

Oct 31 2014


Veterans United Network has come up with templates for carving military-themed pumpkins like these!

We couldn’t do this subject any justice on our own (we’re definitely not pumpkin carvers here), so we thought we’d share. In the NavyMilitarySealCarvingspirit of Halloween, check out their original post, “How to Carve a Military-Themed Pumpkin,” and download their free stencils so you can do it yourself!

We thought this one was pretty amazing, too. No template shown, though this person is a serious artist! Navy Seal pumpkin by Jamie.

Happy Halloween!



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Equine Therapy for Veterans in Virginia

Oct 30 2014

Published by under Health & Living


When dealing with issues like military-related stress, PTSD, TBI, sleep issues, self confidence or other problems, there are different tactics and forms of therapy. SPIRIT Serving Veterans is another resource to consider if you or someone you love is looking for an outlet.

Located at the base of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, SPIRIT Serving Veterans provides services in a quiet, private setting. SPIRIT Serving Veterans helps clients become more self aware, and to learn to trust their own intuitions and abilities in an emotionally safe environment.

Participants can include:

  • Veterans of any era
  • Members of the Virginia National Guard
  • Members of the Armed Forces Reserves
  • Family members of veterans and service members

Something to take a look at if you’re looking for alternative forms of therapy, though SPIRIT Serving Veterans also offers in-office psychotherapy sessions with a licensed mental health professional, too.

Check them out at for more information on their equine therapy program and even “meet” the horses online!

Photo of actual therapy horses from the SPIRIT Serving Veterans website.

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