Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

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July 3, 2014 at 7:26am

Thursday Morning Joe: First female combat force commander, new Army handgun, military tracks Facebook, John Oliver excels ...

The 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, throw coffee during skills training at Kunduz province, Afghanistan. Original photo by Sgt. Avila

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Iraq chases Baghdad sleeper cells as "Zero Hour" looms over capital.

Israel said today it was beefing up its forces along its frontier with the Gaza Strip.

Iran has reduced demands for the size of its future nuclear enrichment program in talks with world powers.

The latest delivery of Russian-made Su-25 Frogfoot aircraft to the Iraqi Air Force originated from Iran.

The White House is expected to nominate Lt. Gen. Lori Robinson to head up Pacific Air Forces and receive a fourth star, making her the first U.S. female four-star commander of combat forces.

Top U.S. officials return to Farnborough as F-35 debuts.

How the Pentagon could save $108 billion over the next decade.

Will U.S. switch sides and back Assad?

There hasn't been a real adjustment in the U.S. definition of national security since the end of the Cold War and the extension of business as usual has simply diminished the U.S. in its role as a world leader.

Forget terrorism. The Pentagon's best chance to field the best military with the smaller budget imposed by sequestration may just lie in preparing for nuclear war with Russia and China.

China: Leap-frogging U.S. deterrence in the Pacific.

VA medical inspector retires after scathing report.

The U.S. Army wants to replace its Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol with a more powerful handgun.

Army: Bergdahl venturing out in public.

The Army-led Future Vertical Lift program is being developed to replace the service's aging helicopter fleet, and the aircraft of other services, at some point in the future.

94th Infantry Division vets reunite to remember World War II.

25th Transportation Battalion carries out certification exercise below DMZ.

The www.defenseone.com/technology/2014/07/military-already-using-facebook-track-moods/87793/?oref=d-topstory" target="_blank">military is using Facebook to track your mood.

Top five misconceptions about evolution according to scientists.

Cool demonstration of self-driving cars.

Too Much Free Time: Watch how American cities grow through thousands of historic maps.

Variety has a piece about John Oliver's show and how it has "shattered TV's comedy-news format."

Tour buses for Styx and Foreignercaught on fire yesterday.

LIST: 50 greatest summer blockbusters

What?

LINK: Original photo by Sgt. Avila

July 2, 2014 at 11:09am

Seattle Seahawks bring Lombardi Trophy to Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Seattle Seahawks and Sea Gals pose for photos with Col. David Kumashiro and other leaders at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Gail Wood

It was one hero thanking another.

The Seattle Seahawks, winners of Super Bowl XLVIII and the heroes of the fans, came to say thanks to what they called the real heroes - the military and their families at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"They're the real heroes," said Armando Mejia, assistant manager with the Seahawks community relations. "We want to thank them. That's what this is all about."

Hangar 9 on McChord Field, with a C-17 Globemaster III as the backdrop, was turned into a Seahawks shrine, complete with the Lombardi Trophy, which the Seahawks won for winning the Super Bowl. The Seahawks have paraded the trophy to five military bases in the Northwest, thanking the military for their service.

"We appreciate you guys a lot," said Seahawks wide receiver Bill Bates, one of three Seahawk players at the event. "Without your support we wouldn't be here today."

Other special guests besides the Lombardi Trophy, which fans stood by and got their pictures snapped, included Seahawks linebacker Korey Toomer and cornerback DeShawn Shead. Six members of the Blue Thunder and six members of the Sea Gals also came, entertaining the crowd of about 1,000 military families.

"My kids are very excited," said Erin Philippart, who brought her three children to the Seahawks event. "It's awesome."

With her husband in the Air Force, she appreciated the thank you from the Seahawks.

"It's so awesome," Philippart said. "They've come to say thanks to the troops. It's greatly appreciated."

Col. Pete Stavros, who was at the event with his wife and children, was impressed with the Seahawks coming to JBLM, allowing the base to be part of the celebration.

"The kids get to see the trophy, which is pretty cool," said Stavros, the commander of the Western Air Defense Sector. "We're celebrating an outstanding season."

While the fans' focus was on the Seahawks, the Seahawks' focus was on thanking the military.

"For them to come down on this day it's a great statement about the relationship between the Seahawks organization and the military," said Stavros, who did a flyby over the stadium prior to the Seahawks-Dallas game in the 2012 season. "It means a lot."

Capt. Tim Slater, holding two footballs to get autographed, was among the eager fans standing in long lines waiting to get an autograph.

"It's almost hard to put into words about them coming," said Slater, who didn't miss a Seahawks game on TV last season. "That's the Lombardi Trophy. How cool is that? The Seahawks came here. It's fun."

 Seahawk fans were hoping Russell Wilson, the Seahawks quarterback and team leader, would show up, but he wasn't among the Seahawks that came.

"Russell usually goes to the Children's Hospital on Tuesdays and Wednesdays," Slater said.

The Lombardi Trophy was a big attraction. There were also life-size standup posters of Seahawks Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. There were also huge cutout mug shots of coach Pete Carrol, Wilson, Sherman and Marshawn Lynch. Kids would hold up the mugs and get their pictures taken.

"We want to thank the military and their families," Mejia said. "We understand that the Super Bowl trophy is cool, but here is where it counts."

After a 30-minute presentation that included the Blue Thunder playing and the Sea Gals dancing and Tony Ventrella, the Seahawks PR director and former local TV sports announcer, interviewing the three Seahawks, asking them questions, the players began signing autographs. Long lines more than 200 deep formed and the players began signing.

It was their way of saying thanks.    

July 2, 2014 at 7:00am

Wednesday Morning Joe: Helicopters to Iraq, China's missiles, troop food study, brain hacking, greatest water gun ...

Nemesis Troop 4-2 Cavalry Scouts throw coffee during a small-cup range training exercise on Forward Operating Base, Farah. Original photo by Lt. Chad A. Dulac

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The United States has sent Apache attack helicopters to Iraq as part of the buildup in U.S. military personnel.

A team of 100 contingency response airmen have been ordered into Iraq to protect U.S. assets at Baghdad International Airport.

Democrats are defending the Obama administration for submitting a war-funding request nearly four months after sending Congress its base military spending plan.

When Iraq's security forces crumbled in the face of militants, they were labeled cowards. But in the case of one brigade, at least, what emerges instead is an account of mismanagement and treachery.

China's missile forces are growing.

Benghazi suspect organized attack out of ideological fervor.

People who knew Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Idaho paint a fairly consistent portrait: hard-working and socially awkward, full of restless energy and romantic plans.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) has introduced a bill that would provide military service members who were discharged under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy with separation pay.

A former Marine facing a murder trial was portrayed as a hero, escaped POW and Navy Cross recipient. None of it was true.

DoD: Curbs on pay and benefits finally taking hold.

Concerns about the comparative scarcity of healthy food choices on military installations have led defense officials to launch a comprehensive study of dining facilities, fast food and vending machine options.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers faces aging technology, shortage of funding and a lack of citizen awareness.

Autonomous vehicles to exploit capabilities of machines, soldiers.

DoD's brain hacking breakthrough.

Five ways to sleep outside without a tent.

The world's greatest water gun.

See Bill Murray in the new trailer for St. Vincent.

IFC shares little-known facts about the '60s Batman series.

David Duchovny is working on an album.

Too Much Free Time: A graphic timeline of the '90s.

Listen: Captain America song

Finally: An ambitious list of the 100 greatest Simpsons guest stars.

And here's today's theme song ...

LINK: Original photo by Lt. Chad A. Dulac

June 30, 2014 at 7:09am

Monday Morning Joe: New VA leader, Tikrit turmoil, Blackwater threat, Army armored anger, Army blimp, Seinfeld turns 25 ...

1st Platoon, Blackjack Troop, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry, trains Afghan National Army soldiers how to throw coffee, Camp Clark, Khowst province, Afghanistan. Original photo by Spc. Kimberly Trumbull

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President Obama has picked an Army veteran and retired chief executive of Proctor & Gamble to head the embattled VA.

Iraqi troops battled to dislodge an al Qaeda splinter group from the city of Tikrit after its leader was declared caliph of a new Islamic state in lands seized this month across a swathe of Iraq and Syria. 

North Korea fired two short-range Scud missiles into its eastern waters Sunday.

The US Army is threatening to slash modernization funding for Stryker, Abrams and Bradley vehicles if the service is forced to halt a $10 billion program to replace thousands of M113 infantry carriers.

Magic Money: DoD's overseas contingency budget might dry up.

A State Department investigation of Blackwater's activities in Iraq was abandoned after the company's top manager there threatened "that he could kill" the chief U.S. investigator.

Sneak peak into Marines' quiet mission in Central America.

Marine corporal who disappeared nearly a decade ago and faces a desertion charge has turned himself in to the military.

Army's Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System blimp has been placed in a "strategic reserve."

The Navy is implementing specific design and engineering improvements to its Littoral Combat Ship.

Tactile belts let soldiers feel their way through the field.

The nearest Earth-like planet is only 16 light-years away from us.

A machine that can disintegrate any tree in seconds.

Disco Game of Thrones.

Chef Gordon Ramsay scares us.

New York magazine has a story about the 25th anniversary of Seinfeld.

Could Phil Collins be mulling a comeback?

Here's a great piece about one writer's cinematic road trip.

See Jack White cover Metallica's Enter Sandman.

Good News: What Sharknado 2 looks like ...

Finally: Weird things you can buy on Amazon.

RIP Bobby Womack ...

LINK: Original photo by Spc. Kimberly Trumbull

June 28, 2014 at 7:12am

Saturday Morning Joe: VA overhaul, Iraq report, commander-subordinate debate, Amy Adams Army, Thundershorts ...

The 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Oregon Army National Guard, practices throwing coffee at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore., during pre-mobilization training in preparation for a deployment to Afghanistan. Original photo by Spc. Marilyn Lowry, 115t

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A scathing review of the Department of Veterans Affairs released Friday calls for a complete overhaul and warns a "corrosive culture" led veterans to have to wait longer for care.

The Iraqi military and witnesses say government helicopter gunships have conducted air strikes in the northern city of Tikrit.

Institute for the Study of War: Iraq Situation Report

Why ISIS won't take Baghdad.

Iraqi parties pursue talks that could oust Maliki over insurgency.

U.N. experts trace recent seized arms to Iran, violating embargo.

The European Union signed an historic free-trade pact with Ukraine.

Senior congressional Republicans are vowing to closely scrub President Barack Obama's new war-funding request, with one saying it "cries out for oversight."

The Air Force's removal of a squadron commander has ignited fierce debate over commander-subordinate relations.

America's floating prisons

The swift, quiet rise of Lt. Gen. Joseph Votel to SOCOM chief.

The Army, along with its sister services, allies and first responders from across the country tested lines of communications during a month-long Joint Users Interoperability Communications Exercise, or JUICE.

Army watercraft, divers, sustainment troops participating in RIMPAC 2014.

RIMPAC 2014: The ins and outs.

Transforming the B-52 into a maritime patrol plane.

Actress Amy Adams gave up her first-class seat on a flight from Detroit to Los Angeles to a soldier she saw onboard.

How the Fukushima disaster is changing the future of robotics.

What a lightning storm looks like from space.

Scientists blow up 100 tons of TNT in the middle of nowhere not just for the fun of it.

What's in your wallet?

Beer may be as old as civilization itself, but modern molecular biology could teach craft brewers some new tricks.

Old Daily Show clips mocking camera phones and texting are hilarious.

Jerry Seinfeld's series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is back.

Check out new comedic Web series Thundershorts.

What happens when you mix William Shatner, a bottle of wine and a celebrity guest? Brown Bag Wine Tasting.

Finally: Ben & Jerry's new Saturday Night Live flavors.

Hope you have more fun today than this guy. ...

LINK: Original photo by Spc. Marilyn Lowry, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

June 26, 2014 at 7:37am

Thursday Morning Joe: No Bergdahl evidence, Militants near Baghdad, $60 billion military, Artic Army, Amazon takeout food ...

B Troop, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment throw coffee to conceal their movement during a platoon live-fire certification at Yakima Training Center. Original photo by Spc. Kimberly Hackbarth

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The U.S.-led international coalition in Afghanistan says one of its servicemembers has been killed in an attack in the country's south.

Militants take Iraqi gas field town, close in on Baghdad.

There is no evidence that during the five years he was held captive that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl helped the Taliban.

The White House will ask the US Congress for $60 billion to fund military operations in Afghanistan and other global contingencies.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Russia to disarm separatists in Ukraine within "the next hours" as the European Union prepared to discuss deeper sanctions against Moscow.

History's Warning: A U.S.-China war is terrifyingly possible.

More than six in 10 people believe the captured Benghazi attack suspect is an enemy combatant who should be tried by military commission. 

Veterans who suffered brain injuries while in the service were more likely to develop Alzheimer's decades later.

Two more high-ranking Veterans Affairs officials announced plans to step down from their leadership roles.

Libya has become a "magnet" for terrorists since the U.S.-led ouster of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Artic warriors summit Mount McKinley, put Army gear to test.

The commandant of the Marine Corps pushed back on criticism of the Marines' amphibious combat vehicle, calling development of the vehicle his top priority for the remainder of his tenure.

The military is about to get new spy glasses.

Moto 360 Hands-On: This smartwatch will make you swoon.

Read a paper's lengthy apology to David Bowie.

The A.V. Club is holding a "Tournament of Episodes" where, say, Breaking Bad goes up against Community.

Amazon is launching a food takeout service.

Finally: An anatomical chocolate skull for sweet-toothed cannibals.

Greet every personwho walks into your office today with the Red Tail Hawk Scream!

LINK: Original photo by Spc. Kimberly Hackbarth

June 24, 2014 at 7:19am

Tuesday Morning Joe: VA hid deaths, Special Forces vs Iraq, another MOH, Guided By Voices beer ...

Marines with Company L, Battalion Landing Team 3/8, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, throw coffee during non-lethal tactics training on the flight deck aboard USS Carter Hall in the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet Area of Responsibility. Original photo by Lance Cpl.

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The White House announced former Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts will receive the Medal of Honor for his combat actions during an enemy engagement in Wanat in the Waygal Valley of northeastern Afghanistan, July 13, 2008.

Iraq: Residents of farming villages describe being gunned down by Sunni militants and fleeing their homes amid shelling.

The al Qaeda-splinter group, Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant, has bragged about its capture of Iraqi army equipment, including Humvees, blast-resistant trucks and tanks.

U.S. teams of special forces going into Iraq after a three-year gap will face an aggressive insurgency, a splintering military and a precarious political situation as they help Iraqi security forces improve their ability to battle Sunni militants.

Iraq has offered legal guarantees to shield U.S. special operations forces sent to the country as advisers to help its forces battle Sunni radicals who have seized tracts of territory.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that two-thirds of Americans oppose sending U.S. troops to Iraq.

Jordan has reinforced its border with Iraq after Sunni Arab militants overran a crossing with Syria.

The last consignment of declared chemical weapons has been handed over by the Syrian government.

The U.S. military is expected to significantly increase the number of troops, ships and watercraft rotating through Australia.

President Vladimir Putin asked Russia's upper house on Tuesday to revoke the right it had granted him to order a military intervention in Ukraine.

VA hid deaths, whistleblowers says.

Report: VA overlooked whistleblowers.

House lawmakers expressed displeasure that the VA has not been more transparent in its efforts to improve patient wait times and pressed the agency's senior leaders to move faster to solve the crisis.

A Scary Scenario: Fewer nukes, lots of missiles.

A U.S. Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighter caught fire when attempting to take off from a Florida Air Force base Monday morning.

GI Bill benefit unlikely to be cut, acting VA secretary says.

Army looking for new ways to provide training and education materials.

Too Much Free Time: The biggest companies from each state in the U.S.

Cooking eggs Benedict according to science.

This city from another world is right here on earth.

Video: Is this the most offensive red-carpet interview of all time?

Some early Talking Heads recordings have surfaced.

AMC has renewed Turn.

Mental Floss explains obscure references in classic rock songs.

Finally: Guided by Voices beer!

Finally: Every national anthem in the world mixed into one single song.

He's Batman ...

LINK: Original photo by Lance Cpl. Santiago G. Colon Jr.

June 23, 2014 at 7:09am

Monday Morning Joe: Obama talks Middle East, Special Forces on horseback, military X-ray guns, Starbucks carbonation space

Fleet Combat Camera Group Pacific throw flashbang coffees into a shoot-house during Quick Shot 2010. Quick Shot is a Fleet Combat Camera Group Pacific semi-annual field training exercise. Original Photo by Seaman Martin Carey

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The militants' capture of Turabil late Sunday followed the fall of three more towns in Iraq's western Anbar province.

U.S. advisers sent to Iraq will likely find an army so lacking that it may not be able to win back significant chunks of territory from militants.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Baghdad to press Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to form a more inclusive government in response to the Sunni insurgency that is sweeping Iraq.  

Obama: Only Iraqi political leadership, and not U.S. military force, could help solve sectarian divisions threatening to plunge the country into a civil war.

Obama: Afghanistan could be gripped by Iraq-style sectarian violence after the full withdrawal of American troops by the end of 2016.

Fighting flared between Ukrainian and pro-Moscow separatist forces.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been moved to outpatient care at a Texas military base.

The U.S. missile defense system managed by Boeing Co. on Sunday hit a simulated enemy missile over the Pacific in the first successful intercept test of the program since 2008.

Military now has X-ray guns.

Special Forces conducts naval training as Army emphasizes amphibious.

The Army is evolving its current Integrated Training Environment into a single synthetic training environment that combines constructive, gaming and virtual systems.?

New horsepower for war zones: Special Forces saddle up.

5 revolutionary American weapons of war that never happened.

One handcrafted soda, please, barista. Venti. Light on the fizz. Iced, with a touch of anise.

A haunting look at some of America's abandoned shopping malls.

Slingshot is Facebook's second attempt at trying to jump onto the ephemeral messaging bandwagon.

Cool: YouTuber The Unusual Suspect has released a GotG-style trailer... for Star Wars!

Astronaut Reid Wiseman tweeted this Vine a few days ago from the International Space Station.

See what the women in Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" video look like today.

John Landis talks about the Close Encounters trailer on the latest ep of Trailers From Hell.

Watch Pearl Jam cover Let It Go from Frozen.

Finally: Interviews the voice actors for the classic Peanuts specials.

Ouch!

LINK: Original Photo by Seaman Martin Carey

June 22, 2014 at 1:49pm

Words & Photos: 64th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration in Olympia

Col. Paul Bontrager, deputy commanding general, 7th Infantry Division, helps a member of the Korean delegation lay a wreath. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Retired Maj. Gen. John Hemphill captured the mood of the moment when he said, "Old soldiers may fade away, but we haven't done that."

He made the remark during the 64th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration held on the campus of the State Capitol in Olympia June 21.

Often referred to as the Forgotten War, approximately 400 veterans, family members and friends attended the event.

The Washington Korean War Meritorious Veterans League, the Washington-Tacoma Korean American Association and the Seattle Chapter of the National Unification Advisory Council sponsored the event.

The Korean War was a war between the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea). 

The war began in June 1950 when communist forces from North Korea invaded South Korea. The United States intervened in support of South Korea. Fighting ended in July 1953.

>>> Honor Guard soldiers assigned to 17th Field Artillery Brigade don ascots just prior to the beginning of the 64th Korean War Commemoration in Olympia. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"Sixty-four years ago the attack marked one of the first actions of the Cold War," said Col. Paul Bontrager, deputy commanding general, 7th Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"We have a heritage of respect; we have forged an alliance that continues today."

Reminiscences amongst Korean War veterans, speeches of remembrance and renewed friendship and numerous wreath layings characterized the hour-long ceremony.

>>> Retired Col. Don Roberts, who served two tours of duty in Korea and 26 years in the Army.  Note the two stars on his Combat Infantry Badge. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"It's really good to be here," commented Col. Don Roberts, a 26-year Army veteran who served two tours during the Korean War.

Above his ribbons was a rare Combat Infantry Badge with two stars.  He said only 400 have been awarded and that only 100 awardees are still alive.

Korean War veterans will fade away, but they will not be forgotten for the bravery and sacrifice they demonstrated that created today's free South Korea.

>>> Korean War veterans placed white chrysanthemums and saluted at the Korean War Memorial during the 64th  Korean War Commemoration. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

June 21, 2014 at 7:48am

Saturday Morning Joe: House OKs defense dollars, inside ISIS, when drones crash, tobacco ban, lego firewalk ...

Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, throw coffees during the Urban Operations portion of the 2010 Best Warrior Competition at Fort Benning, Ga. Original photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy

GRAB A CUP AND READ THE MORNING REPORT FOR 6.21.14 >>>

The House approved a $570 billion defense spending proposal on Friday that would save the A-10 aircraft fleet, prohibit another base closure round and reject most of the Pentagon's planned pay and benefits trims.

Sunni fighters seized a border post on the Iraq-Syria frontier, smashing a line drawn by colonial powers almost a century ago and potentially creating an Islamic Caliphate from the Mediterranean Sea to Iran.

Jihadists in Iraq captured a key Hussein-era factory for chemical weapons, but Washington downplayed the site's significance.

Behind the image of savagery that the extremists of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria present lies a sophisticated organization that deftly employs social media and financial strategies.

How Iran and America can beat ISIS together.

Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky has announced the Czech Republic is in talks to sell Russian-built Mil Mi-24 helicopters to the Iraqi Defense Ministry.

The Iraqi security forces were always America'sticket out of Iraq, so after many early disappointments, U.S. military leaders built the forces in their own image.

Pro-Russian separatists attacked Ukrainian posts on the border with Russia and a military base, and tried to storm an air force base overnight, putting a Ukrainian unilateral ceasefire under pressure.

Troops, vets campaign to award the Medal of Honor to fallen Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe.

More than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001, a record of calamity that exposes the potential dangers of throwing open American skies to drone traffic, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation.

Obama: Post-9/11 GI Bill keeps promise to newest vets.

A forcewide review of tobacco that could result in new restrictions on the sale and use of cigarettes is drawing some skepticism from the Defense Department's top officer.

27 high-tension photos of NATO jets intercepting Russian warplanes.

Facebook Pokes: Creepy or funny?

How the hell did Lady Gaga think her "Do Want U Want" video was OK?

America's Euro boyfriend, Benedict Cumberbatch, will teach us foolish colonists all about soccer.

LucasFilm is in talks with Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick, Breaking Bad) to write and direct Star Wars" Episode VIII and IX.

Can you survive the Lego firewalk?

It's Saturday!

LINK: Original photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy

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News and entertainment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s most awesome weekly newspapers - The Ranger, Northwest Airlifter and Weekly Volcano.

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