Leadership

ep 49: Finding Faces with Ryan Kern

Ryan Kern is a former news anchor and reporter for a Nevada NBC affiliate. Now, as an independent journalist, he is the host/reporter/producer of the Finding Faces podcast. You may remember Chris and Jody talking about Ryan and Finding Faces in Episode 37.

“Finding Faces: The Search for the Missing Pictures of Fallen Vietnam Heroes” is about the hunt for photos of servicemen who did not return home from Vietnam. In 2001, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (the organization running The Wall memorial in Washington D.C.) started collecting at least one photo of all 58,000+ who died in the war. Twenty years later, they’re down to around 100 servicemen who do not have pictures. These photos are all featured on a virtual “Wall of Faces” online. Ryan’s podcast searches for the families of Vietnam servicemen in order to collect the best pictures possible for the Wall of Faces and help investigate or resolve any issues or questions these family members are still dealing with 50-years later.

Finding Faces, Season 1, aired in 2020 from September through December. It was 12 episodes long and about 12 hours of content, but day one of recording the series actually began in February of 2019! So while some episodes were recorded over the span of one week, others covered 17-months…and everything in-between. Season 2 is currently in production and Ryan took time out of his busy schedule to talk to The Digression Podcast Guys!

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ep 48: Extremely Unserious

In early February, in the aftermath of the January 6th Capitol “riot,” Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, ordered a 60-day stand-down within all the military branches in order to address extremism in the ranks. Despite an October 2020 Pentagon report commissioned by Congress that concluded extremist views were not widespread and identified “a low number of cases in absolute terms,” this was an urgent matter that needed to be addressed immediately.

In the weeks following, the Pentagon released training materials to guide military units in conducting their stand-down events. Appropriately, within this guidance were examples of unacceptable and impermissible extremist activities. The only problem? All were examples of white supremacy as if that’s the only form extremism takes. There was no mention of ANTIFA anarchists who assaulted federal facilities, from ICE facilities to courthouses for a year. And the subject of Black Lives Matter (BLM) was described as an acceptable discussion of a social policy issue although BLM was responsible for 90% of the “protest” violence that occurred during the summer of 2020. And let’s not forget Major Nidal Hasan, the Islamic extremist who killed 13 people and wounded 30 others in a Fort Hood killing spree.

Are there people serving or who have served in the military who hold extremist views? Certainly. We’re an all-volunteer force, so the military is a reflection of society. However, narrowing the definition of extremism to that of white nationalism without including or ignoring outright its other manifestations, demonstrates the Pentagon’s and Secretary Austin’s lack of seriousness in truly addressing this issue.

Pictured in the cover art: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

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ep 47: Conduct Unbecoming

IN THE NEWS: Grandpa Doc; Biden Trips; Space Force growing Techs; SFJROTC; GAO gets in on Space Command HQ relo; UFO report coming due; Space Force NATSEC Nip Slip; National Guard D.C. extension; And we’re staying in Afghanistan; Generals acting badly; Where are the cars and buildings we bought in Afghanistan?; Iran satellite psyche-out; A new LGBTQ champion; Searching for the drunk airman who stole a plane; Air Force drone washes up on the beach; Affirmative action for pilots; Ukrainian jet Volkswagen add-on; Army discovers men and women are different; Jetpack soldiers; Navy drone swarms; Stress-o-Meter; Remembering the El Toro Jet joy ride; No benefits for jet fuel lungs.

Pictured in the cover art, from L to R: Sgt Maj Michael Grinston; Lt Gen Theodore Martin; MGySgt Scott Stalker; Maj Gen Patrick Donahoe; Maj Gen Paul Funk; and Sgt Maj Benjamin Lemon.

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ep 46: Florida Fiasco

In 1812, the United States government tried to annex Spanish East Florida by a combination of covert action and direct invasion. Then the plan went horribly wrong.

The “Patriots’ War’” in Spanish East Florida during 1812-13 was an early example of a military disaster caused by a secret, flawed political policy. The characteristics of this fiasco bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the United States’ undeclared wars in the late 20th century—covert paramilitary operations, convoluted chains of command, restrictive rules of engagement, Congress at odds with the president, and increasing public dissatisfaction. As always, the troops paid the highest price for bad policy.

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ep 45: TRUMP!

IN THE NEWS: Mike saves Tiger; Space takes a back seat; Trump; Paski mocks Space Force; Floaty Bois; IG probes Space Force relo; Trump; Capitol fence ain’t going away any time soon; The National Guard may not either; Biden’s Three Stooges Syria Solution; ‘American is Back’ like it was before; Trump; We ain’t leaving Afghanistan; or Iraq; Trump brings deaths to zero!; Weeding out extremists; Taking sexual misconduct out of the chain of command; Sunday Ferrari; Action orders; Army gender issues; Bowe Bergdahl goes to court; Navy learns 3-D printing; Pueblo survivors beat North Korea; Marines need cobra blood; Mohawk drug score; Uranium and Gulf War Illness; Better late than never for 99-year-old soldier; Skynet IS real; Premature detonation.

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ep 43: Bits and Bytes

IN THE NEWS: We were right about COVID; Space Force is here to stay; Star Gate; Alabama wins Space Force; The Cyber Force?; A General understatement; Specialists; Lockheed to the rescue for $5B; Space Force season 2; Biden locked out; National Guard parked in the garage; “Let them eat cookies”; Extremists in the Guard; 404-1776 Commission Report; Waiver for new SECDEF; Back to Afghanistan; Military fights climate change; MIA snoops on cells; Air Force recruits influencers; Electromagnetic woes; Awesome Super Bowl flyover; The combat Cloth Face Covering; Top Army soldier cleared; Army okays bald women; Bradley still broke; China and Iran flex; PC Navy fires CO; Marine grooming on deck; Downtime chess; Private Jerry Garcia?

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ep 39: I Want A Lawyer

IN THE NEWS: Spotify’s #1 Podcast; Space Force theme song; Space Force has new Chiefs; China rivalry; Missile warnings; Vets in Congress at all-time low; Gen Mattis doesn’t get it; Military’s biggest AI challenge; DISA did Teams; Pandemic stirs bio-attack worries; NASA says mystery object is not an asteroid; C130s to influence election runoff?; Old soldier aids terrorists; Soldier earns astronaut device; Holiday toy dive; This soldier is not a dad; Landing on six classes of carriers; $30-million to scrap the boat; Marines have a drug problem; Just infantry; Coast Guard deploys to the Persian Gulf; Military’s pandemic shutdowns are stupid; Rule change for service animals; Remember Pearl Harbor, but not here; Icons of Armor; The Neutral Zone.

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ep 36: Top Secret Courage

In 1968, Chief Master Sergeant Richard “Dick Etchberger was part of a covert CIA and USAF team working out of a small radar site on a remote mountain in Laos called Lima Site 85. He was part of a highly-classified operation called “Project Heavy Green.” At this time, Laos was a neutral country, so it was illegal for either the United States or North Vietnam to have military forces in the country, so, Chief Etchberger and his team had to “voluntarily” resign from the Air Force and become civilians. As “employees” of the Lockheed Corporation, the Lima Site 85 crew directed USAF bombers to their targets in North Vietnam using mobile, computer-linked radar. However, what started as a mission to link bombers to targets in North Vietnam, soon moved closer to “home”, as Lima Site 85 started directing strikes in Laos as the People’s Republic of Vietnam Army moved closer and closer to their position. With the enemy at their doorstep, top brass considered evacuating Lima Site 85, but they were a day late and a dollar short as a group of specially-trained North Vietnamese Dac Cong sappers attacked the site on the evening of March 10, 1968. And the only thing between the Dac Cong and the crew of Lima Site 85 was Chief Dick Etchberger. This is his story.

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ep 34: YOU’RE FIRED!

IN THE NEWS: You’re fired!; Space Force deploys; Charlie Brown in TIME’s 100; Training for the new Cold War; What’s old is new again; Nellis leads the way; Army’s new A.I., sorta, not really; Three big Army deployments! What could it mean?; Beetle Bailey turns 70; The Navy has a real pirate ship; Big new mission for the Carl Vinson; Marines reshape from within; Diversity saves lives; Diversity quotas; Military couples still divorcing; SECDEF guts military healthcare; State Department restores auto-citizenship; Appeals Court says the male-only draft is Constitutional…for now.

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ep 33: Surviving COVID with The Fired-Up Chief

Chief Master Sergeant Juan Lewis served 28-years in the U.S. Air Force before retiring from active service. During his career, the former Services troop held many key billets on Joint Task Forces, NATO, and as the Wing Command Chief on several bases. He was given the moniker, the “Fired-Up Chief,” by the Airmen he led due to his passion to serve and champion their interests. In retirement, the Fired-Up Chief continues to serve the Airmen he loves. To him, each one of them is HERO (Helping Everyone Realize Opportunity) and his job is to keep them fired-up with Pride, Enthusiasm, and Passion (PEP). And he does this through motivating PEP talks as he travels around the Air Force and as a consistent source of encouragement to his tens of thousands of followers on social media. But in April of this year, the Fired-Up Chief found he was the one in need of motivation and encouragement as he fought for his life after contracting the coronavirus. Lying in his hospital bed in the Dutch city of Sittard, which lies just across the border from Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base in Germany, the Fired-Up Chief thought that at any moment, he would breathe his last.

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