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    The two Marines who were killed after their tactical vehicle flipped over in North Carolina last Wednesday have been identified by the U.S. military's 2nd Marine Logistics Group, to which they were both assigned.  Lance Corporal Jonathan Gierke, 19, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, and Private First Class Zachary Riffle, 18, of Kingwood, West Virginia, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which injured 17 other service members riding in the military truck, The crash took place around 1pm at the intersection of US 17 and Highway 210 between Verona and Holly Ridge, about five miles from Camp Lejeune. Louis Barrera was behind the wheel of the seven-ton truck carrying 19 fellow Marines, when he made a right turn onto US 17, lost control and overturned, causing the soldiers to be ejected.  Jonathan Gierke, 19, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, and Zachary Riffle, 18, of Kingwood, West Virginia, were identified as the two Marines killed when their military truck crashed in North Carolina   Another military vehicle behind the truck then hit one of the Marines as it could not stop in...
    NORCO (CBSLA) — The City of Norco unveiled a tribute to “The Fallen 13,” the 13 service members who were killed in Afghanistan in 2021, on Saturday in the form of a flower and stone garden on Sixth Street. Memorial for the Fallen 13. (Photo Credit: KCAL9 News) READ MORE: 2 Dead, 1 Critically Injured In Willowbrook Crash Stemming From PursuitThe memorial features pictures, inscriptions, American flags and plaques honoring the 11 marines, and two service members who were killed during a suicide bombing on August, 26, 2021, as troops were being withdrawn from Afghanistan. Dozens of locals gathered to remember those 13 service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice on that day, as they worked to help remove the remaining troops that were ordered to leave the war-torn country. The Fallen 13. Photo Credit: KCAL9 News) Three of The Fallen 13 hailed from Southern California – Corporal Hunter Lopez, 22-years-old, Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola, 20-years-old and Lance Corporal Kareem M. Nikoui, 20-years-old. READ MORE: Claremont Hit Hard By High Winds, With Nearly 20% Of Residents...
                 State Representative Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport) introduced a new resolution in the Tennessee General Assembly this week that said an Associated Press (AP) article on racism in the U.S. Military was untrue. The resolution claimed the authors of the article did not use proper statistics in their study on a “culture of racism.” “This data, provided by the military, actually makes the opposite case that racism in the U.S. military is uncommon and not a largescale problem,” the resolution said. The resolution added that issues of racism in the military should be dealt with “quickly and severely.” Also, it said the AP article identifies “a problem that does not exist.” Furthermore, the resolution said the article only represented 0.058 percent of all active-duty service members, and in 2020 only 0.18 percent of active-duty service members who are racial minorities reported discrimination. Due to this, the resolution said it is “grossly incorrect to state that the U.S. military is permeated with ‘deep-seated racism’ and fosters a ‘culture of discrimination.'” The AP article, if resolved, would “reprimand the AP for engaging...
    Lee Jae-myung, a left-wing candidate for South Korea’s upcoming presidential election, “voiced skepticism” on Thursday over suggestions Seoul should grant military service exemptions to members of “BTS,” a South Korean pop music boy band, Yonhap News Agency reported. “Mandatory military service is a public duty set by the Constitution and we must be prudent about granting exceptions,” Lee said when asked by a reporter about the issue at a campaign event on January 20. “We can’t deny (BTS’) contribution to the nation, but we must be careful because it will be hard to draw the line if we expand (the scope of exceptions) like this,” he said. South Korea’s constitution requires all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of 18 and 28 to serve in the Republic of Korea Armed Forces for a period of at least 18 months. BTS, a South Korean boy band that performs popular music, is comprised of seven members known as Jin (29), Suga (28), J-Hope (27), RM (27), Jimin (26), V (26), and Jungkook (24). South Korea’s left-wing, ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) chose...
    Valentine’s Day is a great day to show your thanks and appreciation to former and current service members. If you don’t happen to know a veteran or anyone who’s currently serving in the armed forces, there are Valentine’s Day card drives that are being hosted by several nonprofit organizations throughout the country. US NAVY SHARES 2021 HIGHLIGHTS WITH STUNNING 'THE YEAR IN PHOTOS' GALLERY Here are three nonprofits that are helping people spread Valentine’s Day cheer.Hugs for Soldiers You can send your best wishes to deployed service members through Hugs for Soldiers. The Georgia-based nonprofit helps civilians send patriotic cards and letters of appreciation to brave troops all year round. Hugs for Soldiers told Fox News Digital that the organization is accepting cards and will bundle them in care packages that are being sent to active service members who have asked for support. Valentine’s Day is a great day to show your thanks and appreciation to former and current service members. (iStock) FROM COMBAT BOOTS TO PUMPS, HOW ONE VETERAN IS CAPITALIZING ON FASHION Hugs for Soldiers recommends sending in...
    At least four U.S. military service members will join Team USA as it looks to win gold medals at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing next month. The crew includes:  Army Sgt. Emily Sweeney (luge) from Suffield, Connecticut; Air Force Airman 1st Class Kelly Curtis (skeleton) from Princeton, New Jersey;Army Spc. Frank Del Duca (bobsled) from Bethel, Maine; andArmy Spc. Hakeem Abdul-Saboor (bobsled), from Powhatan, Virginia, FOX 13 of Seattle reported. "The challenges have come from every angle, really. It’s been unbelievable how many different challenges we, as a team, have had to face this year," Sweeney told the World Class Athlete Program.  NBC VOWS WINTER OLYMPICS COVERAGE IN CHINA WILL INCLUDE 'GEOPOLITICAL CONTEXT' FOLLOWING OUTCRY FROM LAWMAKERS Second time aroundThis will be the second time Sweeney, 25, will compete in the Winter Olympics, after she previously participated in the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. She also won seven World Cup medals and is a 2013 Junior World Cup Champion.  Skaters compete during the Speed Skating China Open, a test event for the 2022 Winter Olympics, at the National...
    Paws of War, a nonprofit that offers a wide range of services for active-duty military, veterans, and first responders, is currently flooded with demand for its services. The nonprofit has seen a surge in requests from service members who need to get their pets out of Afghanistan. This happened as a result of the hasty evacuation last year. Robert Misseri, the co-founder of Paws of War, said, “Abandoned and homeless animals often are befriended by caring service members who can’t bear to see them suffering and dying. Several parts of the world are not kind to cats, and especially dogs, and the suffering is hard to see. The soldiers there befriend these dogs and cats and fall in love with them, and these troops know that if they don’t save them, they most likely will not survive. These animals provide all the joy and love that pets can give, and that is especially appreciated by troops who are far away from home and family. When the service members are redeployed or sent back home, though, they have to leave...
    A military truck crashed in Onslow County, North Carolina Wednesday afternoon causing "multiple casualties," the 2nd Marine Logistics Group has confirmed.  The 2nd MLG said it was aware of a vehicle rollover in Jackson, which involved service members. The 2nd MLG said was working closely with Camp Lejeune and Onslow County officials to gather more details.  They said there have been "multiple casualties" but did not elaborate.  MARINES' CLAIM OF GRANTING 2 RELIGIOUS COVID-19 VACCINE EXEMPTIONS LEADS TO MORE QUESTIONS Local outlet WITN reported that two marines have died and seven others have been critically injured.  Camp Lejeune in North Carolina (blogs.va.gov) The crash reportedly happened around 1 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 17 and Highway 210, between Verona and Holly Ridge.  CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP State Troopers and Camp Lejeune military police were on the scene investigating the cause of the crash, WNCT reported.  This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.  Bradford Betz is a reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to bradford.betz@fox.com  and on Twitter:...
    A MILITARY vehicle crash on Wednesday has resulted in an unknown number of injuries as crews continue to work at the scene. Local reports suggested that there may have been two fatalities in the rollover crash. 1Credit: Alamy Stock Photo It was also reported that at least seven others were critically injured. The crash is believed to have involved US service members. It happened in North Carolina in the area of US Highway 17 and NC Highway 210 around 1pm. Most read in NewsSCHOOL LOCKDOWN Students in code red shutdown as cops catch suspect who shot classmateAMASSED QUESTIONS What you should know about President Biden's press conference todaySICK FIND Epstein's sick sex toys found by cops who raided pedo's mansion picturedROYAL 'TRAP' Lawyer quizzing Andrew about 'sex attack' plans to use 'seductive style' More to follow... For the latest news on this story keep checking back at Sun Online. The-sun.com is your go-to destination for the best celebrity news, sport news, real-life stories, jaw-dropping pictures and must-see video. Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheSunUS and follow us from...
    CHICAGO (CBS) — Activists are calling the upcoming release of Jacon Van Dyke from prison a slap in the face. In October 2018, Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the 2014 death of Laquan McDonald. Three months later, he was sentenced to almost seven years in prison. READ MORE: Newborn Baby Found Dead Inside Duffle Bag Outside Fire Station In Chicago“If Jason Van Dyke is released, it will set us back for naught,” said community activist William Calloway. Saturday demonstrators at the 95th Street L Station called on CTA union members to stop service is Van Dyke is released. READ MORE: Violent Crime On CTA Buses, Trains Is At A Six-Year High And Is A Growing ProblemThe former CPD officer is scheduled to get out of prison on Feb. 3 after serving just over three years. In 2019, Van Dyke was moved to a state prison in Maryland. It was not immediately clear where he was being held as of Friday. MORE NEWS: Teen Found Shot In Parking Lot In Park ManorActivists want...
    SAN BERNARDINO (KABC) -- Many veterans had their high school educations cut short by military service to our country. The "Veterans Diploma Project" in San Bernardino County recognizes the sacrifice made by many of those vets.James Kiyabu, originally from Hawaii, never graduated high school before deploying for his service in the Army. It was always his dream to receive that diploma - and this week he finally got it, posthumously."It's a bittersweet moment, because this something my dad really wanted and talked about for many years," said his son Randy Kiyabu. "We kind of felt it was a chapter that needed to be finished."It's part of the San Bernardino county superintendent of schools "veterans diploma project"... in partnership with the county department of Veterans Affairs. Since 2009, they've awarded nearly 300 diplomas retroactively to eligible veterans."For veterans who served the Korean War, Vietnam War or WWII, those individuals can receive a diploma because of their service to their country," said Ted Alejandre, San Bernardino County Superintendent.But the group is dwindling - evident by the fact that Kiyabu was the only...
    Omicron continues to hit the Metro system — and area riders — hard. “It’s been a very tough period for us, to be frank,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld told agency board members Thursday. “We have the most COVID cases that we’ve had since the pandemic [began].” The shortage of drivers has forced Metro to make cuts to bus service, but Wiedefeld hopes those cuts will be reversed soon. “We’re all hopeful that this spike is going to come down very quickly … if that occurs we will bring back the service as quickly as we can, as soon as those absentee-isms start to soften some,” Wiedefeld said. His comments came after multiple D.C. council members sent a letter to Metro on Wednesday asking it to restore weekday bus service to normal levels. Tracking D.C. Metro 24/7 Wiedefeld also insisted that “definitely over 85%” of the Metro workforce is vaccinated against COVID-19. When it comes to vaccination, “there are a few people that have not done that, and we’re pressing toward discipline in that case, but that is...
              by Casey Harper   A group of Navy SEALs obtained a victory in their legal battle against COVID-19 vaccine mandates that could have broad implications for all branches of the military, but they still face a rocky path ahead. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Judge Reed O’Connor issued a preliminary injunction in favor of the service members, who argue their requests for religious exemption from the vaccine mandate was unfairly denied. That ruling comes ahead of the beginning of oral arguments Friday for the Biden administration’s other vaccine mandates for private employers. “The Navy servicemembers in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect,” the ruling reads. “The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.” The legal battle began when Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced in August that all U.S. service members would be required to take the COVID-19 vaccine. The Biden administration’s mandate, however, has left many...
    Former Marine Lt. Col. Stu Scheller, who lost his career after demanding accountability over the botched withdrawal in Afghanistan, argued in an exclusive interview with SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily on Thursday that criticism of military generals is needed to help junior service members. Scheller told show host and Breitbart News Editor in Chief Alex Marlow, “Military leaders that should be advising on [Afghanistan] absolutely can be held accountable, and it just goes back to [how] we’ve been lionizing the military. People want to show appreciation, and criticizing them almost feels un-American. But the truth is, we need criticism of those general officers more than we ever have before to help the junior service member.” He said while senior officers have closed ranks and expressed disapproval over his speaking out against the military chain of command, junior enlisted Marines have privately supported him. “I couldn’t drive into the gate without somebody wanting to shake my hand, or give me a hug, or take a picture with me,” Scheller said. He said there is a “long list” of military and civilian leaders who...
    SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/BCN) – The nonprofit St. Vincent de Paul of San Francisco reported an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at two shelters in the city Wednesday. The Division Circle Navigation Center on South Van Ness Avenue has had more than half of its 88 residents test positive as well as three staff members, while the Multi-Service Center South on Fifth Street has had 17 clients and nine staff members infected with the virus. READ MORE: COVID: More Than 600 SFUSD Teachers, Aides Out Amid Omicron Surge“This one really surprised us,” Shari Wooldridge, executive director of the nonprofit, said in a statement. “It just suddenly flared at both shelters.” READ MORE: Body Found Inside Burned Vehicle in East OaklandOfficials with St. Vincent de Paul, which started in Paris and established its San Francisco chapter in 1860, said quarantine hotels are reaching capacity so the nonprofit is working with the city to find places for its clients to stay isolated after testing positive. MORE NEWS: Video: Brazen Thieves Break Into Home Garages in San Francisco© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and...
              
    A federal judge has blocked the firing of 35 members of the US Navy who refused to comply with the military's COVID-19 vaccine mandate on religious grounds, as the military branches began axing non-compliant soldiers and officers. On Monday, US District Judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction saying there is 'no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment' and that the pandemic doesn't give the government the license to 'abrogate those freedoms.' The troops sued the Department of Defense - along with President Joe Biden and top military officials - in November.  They argued that getting injected with vaccines developed 'with aborted fetal cell lines would force them to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by causing them to participate in the abortion enterprise,' according to the lawsuit. O'Connor, 56, a Republican, was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007.   Pentagon spokesman Charlie Dietz told DailyMail.com that they are 'studying the decision.' A judge has blocked the firing of 35 members of the Navy, including Navy SEALs, who did not want to get...
    They represent a small number of service members who have yet to receive the vaccination. As of early November, 99.4% of active-duty Navy personnel had been fully vaccinated against the virus, according to court documents. In seeking religious accommodation from the vaccine mandate, the service members cited beliefs ranging from "opposition to abortion and the use of aborted fetal cell lines the development of the vaccine" to "direct, divine instruction not to receive the vaccine." O'Connor, in his ruling, noted that it was not up to the court to decide whether the plaintiffs' beliefs were true, but only whether they were sincere. And in the end, determined that "the plaintiffs' loss of religious liberties outweighs any forthcoming harm to the Navy." "Even the direst circumstances cannot justify the loss of constitutional rights," the judge reasoned. "Fortunately, the future does not look so dire. Nearly 100% of the Navy has been vaccinated. Hospitalizations are rising at a much slower rate than COVID-19 cases. COVID-19 treatments are becoming more effective and widely available." The ruling, which is likely to be appealed by...
    Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Sunday evening he tested positive for the coronavirus earlier that day, despite receiving two vaccine doses and a booster shot. “I tested positive this morning for COVID-19. I requested the test today after exhibiting symptoms while at home on leave,” he said in a statement. My symptoms are mild, and I am following my physician’s directions. In keeping with those directions, and in accordance with CDC guidelines, I will quarantine myself at home for the next five days,” he said in a statement. Austin credited getting fully vaccinated as well as a booster shot for his mild symptoms. “As my doctor made clear to me, my fully vaccinated status — and the booster I received in early October — have rendered the infection much more mild than it would otherwise have been. And I am grateful for that,” he said. “The vaccines work and will remain a military medical requirement for our workforce. I continue to encourage everyone eligible for a booster shot to get one. This remains a readiness issue,” he said. I...
    The Marine Corps has kicked out 206 troops for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, while reporting that least 95 percent of active-duty jarheads have gotten the jab.  The Corps made the announcement Thursday. The more than 200 Marines kicked out is up from 169 reported last week.   All unvaccinated Marines without pending or approved exemptions will be processed for administrative separation, officials confirmed.  Overall, 95 percent of the more than 182,000 active-duty Marines are at least partially vaccinated, while 94 percent are fully vaccinated, a Marines spokesman said.     The vaccination rate for Marine reservists went up, as well, with 86 percent of reservists at least partially vaccinated and 83 percent fully vaccinated.  The Marine Corps also announced it has received 3,247 requests for religious exemption. The military branch has not approved any of the 3,115 requests it has reviewed so far.      Active-duty Marines had until November 28 to be vaccinated while the deadline for reservists to comply was Tuesday.   The Marine Corps announced Thursday that it let go of a total of 206 troops for refusing the vaccine - which...
    Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. As the world watched a terrorist mob attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the fallout showed a more sinister reality. Of the thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the building, many were veterans, and at least one was an active duty service member.  The attack prompted newly appointed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to sign a memo in February 2021 directing commanding officers in the military to institute a one-day stand-down to address the racist extremism in the country’s armed forces. On Monday, President Joe Biden signed the new $770 billion National Defense Authorization Act into law. But there’s nothing in the bill that addresses hate crimes or racial disparities in military law.  Furthermore, a new investigation by the Associated Press (AP) shows that the new guidelines fall far short of what’s needed for real change.  First off, disparities in military justice are completely ignored. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, Black and Latino service members were disproportionately investigated and court-martialed. Black Marines were convicted and punished at a rate five times...
    In February, with the images of the violent insurrection in Washington still fresh in the minds of Americans, newly confirmed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin took the unprecedented step of signing a memo directing commanding officers across the military to institute a one-day stand-down to address extremism within the nation’s armed forces. The stand-down came in response to the participation and the subsequent arrests of several veterans and at least one active duty service member, who along with thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, stormed the U.S. Capitol in a melee that sent lawmakers scrambling for safety, left one person fatally shot by Capitol Police and caused millions of dollars in damages to the building largely seen as the symbol of American democracy. Austin’s order, which also came as America as a whole was grappling with how to address systemic racism, was the latest in a series of decades-long efforts by the military to purge its ranks of extremists and white supremacists. Last week, in response to the order the military issued new rules to deal...
    A U.S. Navy ship is moored alongside in Guantanamo Bay after an outbreak of the coronavirus, despite its crew being “100% immunized,” the navy announced on Christmas Eve. The vessel, the littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee, is stuck in port after a “portion” of the crew tested positive for the virus. The ship is home-ported in Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida, and was in port Naval Station Guantanamo Bay for a scheduled port visit. It left Florida on December 15 for a regularly scheduled deployment to the 4th Fleet area of operations, or U.S. Southern Command. The Navy said in a statement: The crew is 100% immunized and all COVID-19 positive Sailors are isolated onboard and away from crew members. A portion of those infected have exhibited mild symptoms. The vaccine continues to demonstrate effectiveness against serious illness. The Navy said the variant of the coronavirus has yet to be determined and all CDC guidelines are being followed, including contact tracing and testing protocols. The Pentagon has required every service member to be vaccinated, and is discharging those who...
    DENVER (CBS4) — A group of Colorado veterans is working hard to make things easier on other veterans. The vets and volunteers offer free rides from the airport for all active military service members and retired veterans. (credit: CBS) It’s a Christmas tradition that started six years ago by Wes Love. He was a local veteran who passed away earlier this year. For one military couple coming back to Denver from a trip home for the holidays, it meant a lot to see veterans watching out for one another, especially for some who didn’t get the same treatment when they came home. “All these guys they didn’t get the benefits like what we have. They didn’t get their military discounts, they didn’t get free rides like we did. So their era — they saw how bad it was for them and they don’t want us to live like that,” said Jacob Doogan, Army National Guard Servicemember. (credit: CBS) “We are very grateful for it. I know it’s not something that’s expected, but for veterans to help other veterans and those...
    BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania church with a 221-year history held its final service and is scheduled to close at the end of the year because of declining membership and attendance. The First Presbyterian Church of Bellefonte, which is nearly as old as the borough itself, held the final scheduled service on Christmas Eve after having welcomed generations of families over the course of more than two centuries. READ MORE: New $2.4 Million Permeable Parking Lot Opens In South Park“There’s just such a love among this congregation. We’ve all known each other so long and we know each other’s foibles,” church elder Candace Dannaker told the Centre Daily Times. “I’ll miss our personality, our laughter and our joy in just being together. And, of course, the faith aspect of sharing that with other like-minded people.” The church was established in 1800 by the same men who founded Bellefonte in 1795 at a time when there were only 16 states and counted among its members two former Pennsylvania governors. The church met at the courthouse for almost two decades and...
    BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania church with a 221-year history held its final service and is scheduled to close at the end of the year because of declining membership and attendance. The First Presbyterian Church of Bellefonte, which is nearly as old as the borough itself, held the final scheduled service on Christmas Eve after having welcomed generations of families over the course of more than two centuries. “There’s just such a love among this congregation. We’ve all known each other so long and we know each other’s foibles,” church elder Candace Dannaker told the Centre Daily Times. “I’ll miss our personality, our laughter and our joy in just being together. And, of course, the faith aspect of sharing that with other like-minded people.” The church was established in 1800 by the same men who founded Bellefonte in 1795 at a time when there were only 16 states and counted among its members two former Pennsylvania governors. The church met at the courthouse for almost two decades and then in a stone edifice; the current structure was built shortly...
    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden marked his first Christmas in office by making calls to military service members stationed around the world, offering them holiday wishes and gratitude for their service and sacrifice for the nation. Joined by his wife, Jill, and their new puppy, Commander, the president on Saturday spoke via video to service members representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard, stationed at bases in Quatar, Romania, Bahrain and the U.S. “As your commander in chief, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you, thank you, thank you,” he told the service members. “We’re grateful for your courage, your sacrifice, not only your sacrifice but your family’s sacrifice.” Speaking from a studio set up at the White House, Biden told them they’re “the solid steel spine of the nation,” and emphasized the “truly sacred obligation” the nation has to care for soldiers and their families. Jill Biden expressed empathy for the difficulties their families experience spending the holidays away from their loved ones, noting that the Bidens experienced the...
    President BidenJoe Biden Harris tests negative for COVID-19 after close contact with aide Standing with Joe Manchin Holiday caller to Biden: 'Merry Christmas and let's go Brandon' MORE and first lady Jill BidenJill BidenHoliday caller to Biden: 'Merry Christmas and let's go Brandon' Biden, first lady make Christmas Eve visit to Children's National Hospital Bidens welcome new puppy, first feline coming in January MORE thanked U.S. service members overseas during a call on Saturday, while also expressing sadness the troops could not be celebrating Christmas at home with their families. Biden, alongside the first lady and their new dog, Commander, named the countries service members were calling in from — Bahrain, Qatar, Romania — before adding “everywhere but home, sorry.” “We are sorry. You know, one of the things we know, because we are a military family, we know what it's like to have you, you know, our loved ones serving and being away during the holidays. And so, I'm sorry you have to be away, we know what it's like for your families to have that empty seat at the...
    Washington (CNN)President Joe Biden thanked service members stationed across the globe for their service in a Christmas Day virtual meeting from the White House."The holidays really bring into sharp focus, being apart is -- it's just part of the job, but it's the hard part of the job, and it's who you guys are," he told representatives of all six armed services. "I know hard it is for you, but quite frankly, it's harder for your husbands, wives, moms, dads, children, to be apart or on duty during a season of togetherness, and we Bidens understand that," the President told military units stationed in Bahrain, Qatar, Romania and Colorado via video conference. "We still, every once in a while, look at that empty chair -- and, you know, service to your country is, whether you're in Iraq, or you know -- Beau spent a year in Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard. We remember that, what it felt like, as I said, and all those birthdays and other occasions, celebrations where you're not together." Biden calls NORAD and updates...
    (CNN)Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey delivered a Christmas surprise to dozens of military families by paying off their layaway balances.The running back announced through his foundation that he'd worked with the non-profit Pay Away the Layaway to pay the balances at all Army & Air Force Exchange and the Navy Exchange Service Command locations in North Carolina, South Carolina and southern Virginia.Buy now, pay later is a huge hit with shoppers. Just how dangerous is it?The foundation paid off the layaway accounts for 363 families, according to a news release.McCaffrey, who's been with the Panthers since 2017, shared the news earlier this week in a video call with 22 members of the military -- which is also his jersey number."We are extremely happy to do it and so grateful for all of you guys who have served," McCaffrey said in the video.Read MoreRegulators open probe into red hot buy now, pay later industryThe recipients clapped and raised their hands in celebration, thanking McCaffrey multiple times as he was speaking.McCaffrey was nominated in November for the 11th annual NFL Salute to...
    Shields of Strength, a small, family-owned, faith-based company, is suing the Pentagon after it blocked it from continuing to produce replica dog tags with Bible verses on them. First Liberty Institute, on behalf of the company, filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon on December 17, asking a federal court to review and reverse decisions that forbid the company to print inspirational Bible versus on replica dog tags. Mike Berry, general counsel for First Liberty, said in a statement, “It’s a cruel insult to our service members to deny them a source of inspiration, hope, and encouragement simply because it contains a religious message.” “DOD officials caved to the empty threats of those who make their living by being offended. There’s no legal reason for the military to discriminate against Shields of Strength,” he said. Shields of Strength has been making dog tag replicas with Bible verses for the past 20 years, including for military units at the request of commanders. According to Berry, now-Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had requested them once for his unit. Berry said after the military branches in...
    The military services have begun discharging troops who have refused to comply with the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate, which could lead to tens of thousands of forces leaving at a time when the military is facing recruiting difficulties. The military services have all hit their deadlines for active-duty troops to be vaccinated, with the Air Force reaching theirs on November 2, the Navy and Marine Corps on November 28, and the Army on December 15. Yet there are still tens of thousands of active-duty service members who remain unvaccinated. That number is at least 30,000 — about 1.5 percent of the roughly 1.3 million active-duty force, according to the Associated Press. As of December 15, there have been 80 service member deaths due to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Department of Defense statistics. Air Force The Air Force has so far discharged 27 active-duty airmen but according to Air Force data, there are nearly 18,000 more airmen unvaccinated, according to Air Force data as of December 13. According to the Air Force, 7,139 active-duty airmen are unvaccinated: 1,358...
    The Pentagon issued new rules Monday that prohibit members of the military from participating in extremist activities. Fewer than 100 service members were accused of being involved in extremist activity the past year, according to the Pentagon, reported the Associated Press (AP). Generally, the number of service members accused of engaging in extremist activities is in the low double digits. BREAKING: Pentagon to issue rules aimed at curbing rise in extremism among troops, officials tell @AP. The new guidelines come nearly a year after some current and former service members took part in the U.S. Capitol riot. https://t.co/0GFk4xqK3s — The Associated Press (@AP) December 20, 2021 The new regulations provide 6 groups deemed extremist activities and also provide 14 different definitions for active participation, the AP reported. Banned activities include anything from supporting the overthrow of the government to “liking” or spreading extremist views on social media. The regulations don’t list out extremist organizations, but instead leave commanders in charge of determining whether a military member is engaging in extremist conduct, according to the AP. (RELATED: Pentagon Expresses ‘Full...
    Queen Elizabeth has decided to cancel her traditional Christmas plans at her Sandringham estate in eastern England for the second year in a row. Fox News can confirm the monarch, 95, will instead celebrate the holiday at Windsor Castle, west of London, and be joined by members of the Royal Family.  Buckingham Palace said the queen's choice "reflects a precautionary approach" as the COVID-19 Omicron variant continues to spread across the UK. Before the pandemic, every year members of the royal family would spend the holidays with the queen at the estate and open their presents on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas Day, they attend church services at St. Mary’s Magdalene Church. Afterward, they would head back to Sandringham for lunch and other festivities. QUEEN ELIZABETH SPENDS NIGHT IN HOSPITAL AFTER GIVEN ADVICE TO REST, PALACE SAYS Last week, Queen Elizabeth canceled her traditional Christmas lunch. She was hoping to host her extended family for the annual get-together next week after last year’s festivities were called off due to coronavirus restrictions. However, a source revealed on Thursday that this year’s...
    The Department of Defense unveiled new guidance regarding the promotion of what it defines as political extremism in the ranks. The rules, which the Pentagon announced on Monday, come nearly a year after some active and retired service members participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot while Congress sought to certify President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Specifically, the Defense Department defined “extremist activities” as “advocating or engaging in unlawful force, unlawful violence” or advocating or engaging in violence to achieve political, religious, discriminatory, or ideological goals, according to the report. Service members are also not allowed to engage in or support terrorism or plots to overthrow the government. “Liking something with the intent to promote or endorse an extremist activity would be violative of the policy,” a defense official told reporters. NO RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS TO COVID-19 VACCINE APPROVED AMONG ARMED FORCES DESPITE OVER 12,000 REQUESTS The policy also bars posting, liking, sharing, retweeting, or otherwise distributing content intended to promote or endorse extremist activities. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby declined to answer a question at Monday's briefing about whether...
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Warning that extremism in the ranks is increasing, Pentagon officials are issuing detailed new rules prohibiting service members from actively engaging in extremist activities. The new guidelines come nearly a year after some current and former service members participated in the riot at the U.S. Capitol, triggering a broad department review. Senior defense officials tell The Associated Press that fewer than 100 military members are known to have been involved in substantiated cases of extremist activity in the past year, but they warn that the number may grow given recent spikes in domestic violent extremism, particularly among veterans. Officials said the new policy doesn’t largely change what is prohibited, but is more of an effort to make sure troops are clear on what they can and can’t do, while still protecting their First Amendment free speech rights. And for the first time, it is far more specific about social media. The new policy lays out in detail the banned activities, which range from advocating terrorism or supporting the overthrow of the government to fundraising or...
    A group of Republican lawmakers are backing 35 Navy service members who are suing the Pentagon and Navy over the military’s coronavirus vaccine mandate. The group of 47 lawmakers — 38 House Republicans and nine GOP senators — filed an amicus brief in a Texas federal court supporting the lawsuit, which seeks to enjoin the Pentagon from enforcing the mandate because it violates religious freedoms. “Plaintiffs’ religious liberty and the government’s asserted interest in protecting our service members from COVID-19 need not be in conflict, especially where, as here, the individuals seeking an exemption are willing to adopt non-vaccination measures to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19,” the lawmakers wrote.  The Pentagon told The Hill that it would be “inappropriate to comment on any pending or ongoing litigation.” The Hill has reached out to the Navy for comment. Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — Military throws out unvaccinated personnel Abbott becomes 7th GOP governor to protest National Guard vaccine mandate Army says 98 percent of active duty personnel got vaccine before deadline MORE mandated...
    (CNN)'Tis the season of giving back, and Gary Sinise is doing just that.The actor held his annual Snowball Express for children of fallen military service members. Typically his event is held in person at Walt Disney World, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic the actor went virtual for the second year. Along with Sinise, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Steve Buscemi, Matthew McConaughey, Gordon Ramsay, Kristen Bell, Simone Biles, Caeleb Dressel and Jordan Chiles were among those who took part with messages. Idina Menzel even sang "Show Yourself' from "Frozen II."The kids were treated to a full day of virtual experiences from magic by Penn & Teller, Bindi and Robert Irwin from their animal sanctuary in Australia, yo-yo lessons from two-time world champion Gentry Stein, animation and even cooking lessons.For over a decade, Sinise has given back to veterans through his Gary Sinise Foundation.
    The name Gary Sinise is synonymous with selfless service. And true to form, the Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, and CSI: NY star and his eponymous Foundation honored more than 750 families of fallen military service members this week with its annual Snowball Express event, connecting families with celebrities who showered them with uplifting messages and praise. The COVID-19 pandemic derailed the foundation’s usually ritual of flying the families to the Walt Disney World Resort, which had been custom since 2018. This year’s event (like last year’s, watch it here) was hosted online. “Imagine you are a child and you’ve just been told your parent is never coming home,” Gary Sinise said in a video recently shared on his foundation’s social media channel, explaining that “At the Gary Sinise Foundation we serve thousands of the children of our fallen heroes through our Snowball Express program.” Watch below:  “And on December 11th we brought 1800 of these children together for a virtual online event of healing and joy, and many of my pals sent in messages of support.” Messages to family members at this year’s Snowball Express came from Tom Hanks, Tim...
    President Joe Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, claimed the United States “safely and effectively” ended its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. He did so during a speech Friday defending the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal ending in a Taliban takeover. Omitted in the remarks was any mention of the 13 U.S. service members killed in an explosion outside of the Kabul airport in August. An ISIS-K suicide bomber detonated himself in a massive explosion on Aug. 26 near the Abbey Gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport amid the U.S.-led evacuation effort following the fall of Kabul on Aug. 15. The 13 U.S. service members included 11 Marines, one Navy hospital corpsman, and one Army soldier. Numerous other U.S. troops were also injured in the blast, and more than 170 Afghans were killed. AIR FORCE SAYS IT SUCCESSFULLY TESTED NEW 5,000-POUND BOMB DESIGNED TO TAKE OUT BUNKERS Sullivan made the hourlong remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations on Friday, painting Biden’s foreign policy decisions in a positive light, including in Afghanistan, where the al Qaeda-allied...
    Washington, DC (CNN)The Marine Corps has discharged 103 service members for refusing to take the Covid-19 vaccine, as the military begins carrying out enforcement actions for its vaccine mandate. As of this week, 95% of active duty Marines are vaccinated, according to the latest data from the Marine Corps released Thursday, but the service is still processing exemption requests.More than 97% of the entire active duty military force is partially or fully vaccinated. The Air Force has fully or partially vaccinated 97.5% of its active duty force as of this week, while the Navy has vaccinated approximately 98%.The Air Force on Monday said it had discharged 27 service members for refusing the vaccine, and on Wednesday, the Navy said it would begin discharging service members who refuse to get vaccinated."We don't want to see anybody administratively discharged for not taking the vaccine, because we want to see them take the vaccine, because it's a valid military medical requirement," said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby at a press briefing Thursday. Read MoreUS military has vaccinated more than 97% of service membersDespite...
    The military has not approved a single religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine, even as more than 12,000 service members have sought one. Every active-duty military member must be vaccinated, now that each branch's deadline has passed, unless the person has been granted or is awaiting a response on an exemption request. NPR SUES DEFENSE DEPARTMENT FOR DETAILS ON CIVILIAN CASUALTIES IN BAGHDADI RAID According to data released by each branch, 1,746 soldiers, 2,751 sailors, 4,756 airmen, and 3,144 Marines have asked specifically for religious exemptions. While none have been approved thus far, many have not yet been denied either. Last month, a group of nearly three dozen Navy sailors, the majority of whom are Navy SEALs, filed a lawsuit seeking to get their religious exemption requests approved. The SEALs and sailors involved in the suit are either Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant. The archbishop for military services addressed many of those concerns back in October when he encouraged Catholic service members to get the vaccine, though he also defended their religious freedom. Archbishop Timothy Broglio said that it’s “morally...
              by Casey Harper   Congress passed a $770 billion defense bill Wednesday, authorizing a wide range of military spending for the next year. The Senate passed the bipartisan 2022 National Defense Authorization Act with an 89-10 vote, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden. The bill, which is passed annually in some form, includes a revamp of how the the military deals with sexual assaults as well as a 2.7% pay increase for military members and employees at the Department of Defense. The bill also creates an “Afghanistan War Commission” to evaluate the U.S. military’s presence – and withdrawal from – that nation. “The passage of this year’s national defense bill bolsters our security, ensures our nation’s defenders can effectively confront adversaries like Communist China and Russia, and directly benefits Tennessee’s military and research communities,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. The NDAA came after months of wrangling over the debt ceiling, funding for the government, and the infrastructure and “Build Back Better” spending bills. The legislation, which Biden is expected to sign, funds the gamut of military activity, from new equipment to...
    WASHINGTON (AP) — All of the U.S. military services have now begun disciplinary actions and discharges for troops who have refused to get the mandated coronavirus vaccine, officials said, with as many as 20,000 unvaccinated forces at risk of being removed from service. On Thursday, the Marine Corps said it has discharged 103 Marines so far for refusing the vaccine, and the Army said it has reprimanded more than 2,700 soldiers and will begin discharge proceedings in January. The Air Force said earlier this week that 27 airmen had been discharged for refusing the vaccine order. And the Navy laid out its new discipline procedure this week, and has already fired one sailor from his command job for refusing to be tested while he pursues an exemption. Military leaders have warned for months that troops would face consequences if they did not follow what is considered to be a lawful order to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But only in the last week or so have they publicly begun following through on those threats. It’s not clear how many could...
    Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, slamming him for discharging service members who have not obeyed his “ambiguous” vaccine mandate, Breitbart News has learned exclusively. In October, Johnson wrote that he sent a letter to Austin about his August 24 vaccine mandate. The Wisconsin conservative noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) admitted there is an insufficient “approved supply of Comirnaty, the only fully-licensed vaccine.” Johnson demanded to know, given the limited supply of Comirnaty, how Austin will make service members comply with the vaccine mandate. Reports suggest that 27 Air Force service members have been discharged for noncompliance with the vaccine mandate. Johnson wrote: Despite this lack of clarity, DoD has reportedly begun discharging service members “for not obeying orders to get vaccinated.” Reports indicate that on December 13, 2021, the Air Force discharged 27 service members for noncompliance with the DoD’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. An Air Force spokeswoman stated that these 27 individuals were “the first active- duty Air Force Members to be discharged over the Pentagon’s vaccination requirements for military...
    (CNN)The US military has vaccinated more than 97% for its active-duty force against Covid-19 as the Army, which had the latest vaccination deadline amongst the services, released its latest numbers. Despite the phenomenal success the military has had in vaccinating the armed forces, approximately 35,000 troops remain unvaccinated. That number includes thousands of pending requests, largely for religious exemptions. So far, no such exemption requests have been granted by any of the services. The Army, which hit its vaccination deadline on Wednesday, has fully or partially vaccinated 98% of its active-duty force, with 3,864 soldier refusals. Next month, the service will begin involuntarily discharging soldiers who refuse the vaccine without an approved or pending exemption.Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said vaccination was "first and foremost" about Army readiness as she thanked vaccinated soldiers and the medical staff who have supported the pandemic response.Read More"To those who continue to refuse the vaccine and are not pending a final decision on a medical or administrative exemption, I strongly encourage you to get the vaccine. If not, we will begin involuntary separation...
    (CNN)President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a bill that posthumously awards a Congressional Gold Medal to the 13 US service members killed in a terrorist attack outside Kabul's airport in August.Congress unanimously approved the legislation in November, sending it to the President's desk for his signature.The medal -- Congress' "highest expression of national appreciation" -- will be presented at a later date, before it's placed in the care of the Smithsonian Institution for display "as appropriate" and made available for research.The troops were among the dozens killed in the suicide bombing attack outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport on August 26, which ISIS-K claimed credit for, during the US evacuation from Afghanistan."The American servicemembers exemplified extreme bravery and valor against armed enemy combatants," the bill reads. "The American servicemembers dedicated their lives and their heroism deserves great honor."Read MoreThe 13 service members were identified as: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California Marine Corps...
    The Department of Defense (DOD) recently sent out a survey on “workplace and gender relations” to active-duty service members that asks about their attitudes towards women, which some service members are criticizing as “inappropriate.” The roughly 40-page voluntary survey, sent out December 9 and obtained in full by Breitbart News, has a section called “Social Perceptions & Experiences” that lists a series of statements about women that appear aimed at gauging attitudes within the military towards women. Respondents are asked to indicate the degree with which they agree, ranging from Strongly agree, Somewhat agree, Slightly agree, Slightly Disagree, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree. Some statements appear aimed at gauging whether the respondent has more traditional views about women. The statements include: “Many women have a quality of purity that few men possess,” “Women should be cherished and protected by men,” “Women seek to gain power by getting control over men,” “Every man ought to have a woman whom he adores.” Another set of statements include: “Men are incomplete without women,” “Women exaggerate problems they have at work,” “Once a woman gets a man...