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June 2013

Charges dropped for NRA t-shirt teen

'Bout time.

A criminal charge has been dismissed against a West Virginia middle school student who refused a teacher's order to remove a National Rifle Association T-shirt he wore to school.

Logan County Circuit Judge Eric O'Briant signed an order dismissing an obstruction charge Thursday against 14-year-old Jared Marcum stemming from an April 18 incident at Logan Middle School.

Marcum was charged after a police officer told him to stop talking, but the student didn't.

Aside from the free speech issue, the asinine zero tolerance-ness, and the absolute idiocy of banning pictures of guns, this was a complete waste of time effort and energy. So....next slide.

Book Review: The Eye of God by James Rollins

The following is a special provided by Elise Cooper for BlackFive readers.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the far right sidebar.

9780061784804_p0_v1_s260x420James Rollins latest book, The Eye of God, is part thriller, part science fiction, and part fantasy.  He combined these storylines by making sure they merged in the climax of the book.  There were a number of messages presented in the novel, ranging from questioning how much of the world is real, to the relationships between family members.

The book’s early chapters are action packed as the main character, Seichen, searches for her mother with the help of other SIGMA members, Gray and Kowalski.  It is during these scenes that Rollins draws a realistic picture of the Triad gang’s ruthless and cutthroat behavior in Macau, the brutality of the North Korean regime, and the steam tunnels of the Mongolia capital where a sub-culture of children lives.

Rollins told blackfive.net, “I went to Macau ten years ago and was fascinated by it.  There is this weird Las Vegas glitz; yet, it is very colonial Portuguese mixed with some Chinese history.  Triads, Mafia types that will stop at almost nothing to achieve power, run the casinos.  Regarding Korea, I always wanted to put that setting into a story. To get some information I was able to interview someone who escaped from North Korea.  What I put in the book is just scratching the surface, especially the part about the prisons.  The life expectancy of someone put in the penal system is three years.  I am hoping I showed the tyranny and the suffering, how the atrocities are beyond the pale.” 

The storyline also delves into the importance of the family unit. Rollins does this well through the relationships between characters.  There is Seichen trying to find her mother and coming to grips as to how their family dynamics changed; Grey who constantly lives with the guilt of losing his mother; The scientist Dr. Jada Shaw who was inspired by her mother on the mysteries of the universe; and how two other characters, Rachel and her Uncle Vigor, are constantly looking out for each other. The author noted, “I lost my mother about a year ago and then my family found out my sister had breast cancer.  These tragic events in my life definitely echo in this book.  Writers pull things out of their life, and I did it by sharing through this story.  I am hoping to elicit emotions out of the readers. This plot deals with the issue of mortality, and how a family member handles the loss of a loved one.” This is very evident in the quote he ends the book with, “Live it now…who knows what will come tomorrow.”

The science fiction plot explores how human consciousness fits into the universe. Rollins acknowledges that at times the reader will think this sub-plot fits more into the fantasy realm, but that is because physics seems like such a complicated subject.  He opens the book with the Einstein quote, “The distinction between the past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Rollins is hoping his readers will understand how he attempts to walk the line between reality and what is going to come next. 

He conceived this sub-plot while being given a personal tour at Fermilab, and speaking with some of the physicists there.  “One scientist told me that the latest mathematical projection is that we are all living in a hologram, that everything occurring to us is fabricated.  This year there is going to be the construction of a Holometer to physically test if we are indeed living in a hologram.   That got me thinking, how much of the world is real? Likewise, theories of multiple universes are being considered, with many different conjectures about how they function, interact, and relate to one another. I speak of multiple universes at the end of the book.  Maybe we don’t actually die but shift into one of these universes where we don’t get that flip of the coin that kills us.”  He actually used this theory with a few of the characters, but wants readers to know that those characters will not be coming back in future books.

This next year he will be very busy because he will have three books coming out.  In October, the sequel to the Blood Gospel, Innocent Blood, will be published. He gave blackfive.net a heads up, that there will be a search for the First Angel with Judas trying to bring about the end of the world.  In April he will re-introduce the characters, Tucker and his dog Kane, in a stand-alone book.  In this novel he delves into flashbacks, PTSD for both handler and dog, around a fast-paced plot that has them trying to extricate a Russian scientist.  A year from now there will be another Sigma Series book with many of the returning characters just discussed.  This novel delves into the real threat of people having biological labs in their homes, the bio-punk movement.  The plot explores how the attempt to create synthetic life could bring the world close to extinction.

While promoting this Sigma Series book, The Eye of God, this July, Rollins will also be raising awareness and funds for USA Cares.  He is a huge advocate for those in the military and has organized twenty-two authors, Authors United for Veterans, under the auspices of USA Cares. The bus tour, with the cover of the book displayed, will be ending at Fort Knox and Fort Campbell Kentucky on July 1st.  Before that Rollins will be close to the Navy base when he does a book signing in San Diego on June 26th. He is hoping the troops come out to say hello and receive a free book.  

DOMA Ruling: SECDEF Hagel's Unprofessional Pronouncement

As you may have read, the SCOTUS struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act or "DOMA".  This was a law that enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress, and was signed by President Bill Clinton.  

Let's leave aside for a moment your personal feelings about the definition of marriage.

I want to get to an announcement by the Secretary of Defense, Mr Chuck Hagel, and his announcement re: the DOMA ruling:

"The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court's decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act. The Department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court's decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies. The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses -- regardless of sexual orientation -- as soon as possible. That is now the law, and it is the right thing to do...."

Excuse me Mr Sec'y, but that isn't your call to make as to the "right thing to do".  First off, your glee in such an announcement is unprofessional.  It is not the place of any Cabinet official to give such voice in official correspondence.  But more directly, what this tells me about your respect for the rule of law is more appalling. To paraphrase a comment i saw posted, the SECDEF embraces, and is tickled pink, over the ruling. Such unmasked joy crosses the line of supposedly remaining apolitical. He should have simply said, this is the ruling, and here's what we are directed to do by the President as a result of the ruling.(By the way, that instruction sure didn't take long to get out, eh?) 

Cheering SCOTUS's DOMA decision also means that you are cheering an Executive Branch that opted NOT to defend a bipartisan law arrived at through a Constitutional process. It was overturned not because of a violation of the Constitution, but because 5 justices disagree with it.  In so doing, they've usurped (once again) the 9th and 10th Amendments which clearly put such a matter in the hands of the several States.  The Executive Branch abrogated its responsibility to defend this law in court, essentially opting to not act on behalf of the Nation and defend statutorily arrive at law.

This is akin to a defense attorney not only passively hoping that the prosecution wins a conviction for their client, but actively aides in that prosecution.  

Supporters of this ruling should temper their happiness.  Remember this feeling when the Executive Branch opts not to defend a law you agree with but was arrived at via bipartisan consensus and is challenged, not within an accountable legislature, but through unelected judges. Whether or not there is a need for DOMA is a legislative action. In 1996, the Legislative Branch acted, and a previous Administration signed that consensus into law. Using judicial fiat to overturn this on the basis of disagreeing with the policy is tyranny. It is unseemly.  And to have the SecDef not very subtlely support such judicial fiat is a bit scary.

And to double down, SECEF wrapped it in a bow of "patriotism":

Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment. All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country and their qualifications to do so. Today's ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve.

Yeah...right... So does that mean that all of those folks who got "contract marriges" to get out of the barracks will have their UCMJ punishments absolved?  Those folks either lost careers or risked doing so. I'm sure they are/were patriots.  What is the difference now?

Any takers on a bet that the Military will NOT crack down on same-sex "contract marriages" the way it does on heterosexual ones?

The irony in all of this is that you can marry same-sex and be a social justice paragon, but it will probably STILL get you in trouble if you have a "spouse swapping" party.

Hat tip to "Powerpoint Ranger" for the link.  Full text of the SecDef/DOD announcement here:  http://www.defense.gov/News/NewsArticle.aspx?ID=120364


A senior officer discusses a recent exercise

Over the last few days, I've gotten to go out with the Interagency Border Unit as they conduct exercises that are the capstone to the basic training being given the unit.  Exercises are always good for generating discussion of how to do things better next time, no matter how well they went this time.  Nor was the scenario being done today any different, and here I share a shot of a senior officer discussing things with the leader of the OpFor group for the exercise, while one of the U.S. trainers observing the exercise listens in.  There is more to come. 


This trip and other embeds sponsored by MilitaryLuggage.Com and B.N. Shape Clothing.  My thanks to them and to everyone who has contributed to make this and other trips possible. Be sure to check out my Facebook Page and Laughing Wolf for other photos, stories, and more. 

A variety of advertising sponsorships are available, and you can contribute to this trip and other embeds at GoFundMe

BlackFive Special: Vince Flynn Remembered by fellow best selling authors

Elise Cooper, who provides some of our book reviews as a special service for BlackFive readers, wrote the following and I couldn't agree more with the sentiment.  We lost a great one in Vince Flynn.


Vince Flynn was a prolific political thriller writer.  His main characters were no-nonsense CIA officials Mitch Rapp and Irene Kennedy. These characters have the same qualities the readers have grown to love: Mitch Rapp is unabashed, fearless, and cantankerous. Irene Kennedy is analytical, cunning, and supportive. Through these characters words and actions he is able to get his point across, that America better wake up and stop being soft on terrorists. Not only was he able to touch the minds and hearts of his readers but he also affected his fellow writers. Some New York Times best-selling authors wrote dedications to Vince Flynn for BlackFive.net.

Nelson DeMille, the dean of thriller novelists whose main characters are John Corey and Kate Mayfield wrote, “Vince was a fan of my writing and we exchanged correspondence over the years.  He was a really excellent writer and craftsman plus of course he was politically mature.  We kept in touch for years before I finally met him about two years ago on Glenn Beck’s radio show.  He was a gentleman, a down-to-earth guy, and a good family man.  Everyone in the writing community will miss him.”

Glenn Beck whose main character is Molly Rose wrote, “Vince was an incredible entertainer to many, a good friend to some, and a great husband and father to just a lucky few—but to me he was something else: a true American hero. Vince did more in a single novel to spread the truth and engage average Americans than most people do in a lifetime. I know that his family, friends and readers will miss him, but his country will miss him, too. Vince, I hope you’ll rest in peace knowing that the millions of people you influenced and inspired will not let you, or your message, ever be forgotten.”

Alex Berenson whose main character is John Wells wrote, “I am sorry to say I never met Vince, but we ran in the same circles, and whenever his name came up, people always said the same thing:  "He's a really good guy."  Not in an over-the-top way, just a statement of fact:  Vince is a really good guy.  He was way more conservative than I was, but I never had the sense that his stances were opportunistic or meant to help his sales (something I can't say about every conservative spy novelist).  He came by his beliefs honestly, one of seven kids, a graduate of a Catholic high school and a Catholic college.  He was by far the most commercially successful of the new generation of spy novelists, a sleeker, more believable Clancy, but he carried his celebrity modestly and loved to blurb new novelists.  His word carried weight, too -- I've lost count of the number of readers told me they bought The Faithful Spy because he endorsed it.

Sometimes readers asked me if Mitch Rapp and John Wells would ever team up, and I told them the truth -- both men were too alpha to coexist.  Wells would see Rapp as a knuckle-dragger, and Rapp would wonder about Wells' conversion to Islam and tell him to put his big-boy pants on and get going.  They'd both be right.  I'd like to think my novels are more sophisticated than Vince's -- but -- and I hate admitting this -- his are probably more entertaining start to finish.  In our genre, the latter is really what counts, as Vince's sales prove.  Over the course of his career, Vince entertained millions of readers.  They -- and I -- are sorry that he and Mitch Rapp have left us behind.”      

Ben Coes whose main character is Dewey Andreas wrote, “It is truly difficult for me to write this, much less even believe it, but Vince Flynn has died. It just doesn't get any sadder than that. Like many authors who came after Vince, I owe a lot to him. He created a new standard, a new definition, of the modern thriller. His best quality if you ask me was his kindness. Even though he didn't have to, even though he had his own books to write, he took the time to help out many, many unknown first time authors, including me. I'm sorry you had to go so soon, Vince. We lost a great American today.”

Jeffery Deaver whose main characters are Dr. Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs wrote, “As a reader, I've been a huge fan of Vince's books over the years. I always looked forward to spending time with Mitch Rapp, who's about as good an action thriller hero as you can find. As an author, I admired him even more. On the occasions when we had a chance to talk about the business of writing, I was struck by the way that he put his readers first, crafting every book with them in mind. For him, writing his novels was a way to both entertain his audience and talk about values that have made this country great. I will miss him greatly.”

Jim DeFelice whose main characters are Danny Freah, Brenna and Zen Stockard wrote, “While we have several mutual friends, like most people I knew Vince Flynn best through his books - tautly plotted thrillers that kept you on the edge of your seat while making you think at the same time. Most people know how entertaining he was as a storyteller; those of us lucky enough to have spent even a small amount of time with him know he was maybe even better in person. But what struck me about Vince was how generous he was to other writers, most especially those just starting in the field. I once witnessed him give upwards of an hour to a "newbie" at a gathering when other famous authors would surely have ducked out. And as someone who benefited from his "blurbs," I can attest that he was most generous and gracious with those as well. His pen and presence will be sorely missed.”

Matthew Dunn whose main character is Will Cochrane wrote, “Vince Flynn has departed our shores to reside in a place of peace and tranquility.  In doing so, we should all bid this truly great American author a bon voyage.  Mr. Flynn is a man chiseled from the same granite as heroes who stood in trenches with pen or camera in one hand and gun in the other.  As an Englishman who’s done his time in the trenches, I can tell you that Great Britain is bereaved that Mr. Flynn’s noble warrior spirit and expert writing skills are no longer with us.  Our thoughts are with his devoted family.  I suspect that right now Mr. Flynn is on the shores of bass fishing heaven, casting a line alongside Hemingway, Twain, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Kerouac, and other brilliant American writers. God bless you Vince for your novels and the impact they’ve had on the world.”

Alan Jacobson whose main character is Karen Vail wrote, “Many have expressed profound sadness over the loss of someone whose life was cut tragically short: a quality individual, a husband and father. The passing of Vince Flynn is all this and more. But rather than mourn his death, let’s for a moment consider a few of his accomplishments. Vince hurdled enormous obstacles to succeed as an author, beating back dyslexia—and something nearly as debilitating: several dozen rejections from the New York publishing industry, until he found a home at Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Books. He not only went on to pen 14 bestselling novels, but he created a character with whom legions of readers could relate: a hero who took matters into his own hands to keep America safe. Although I didn’t know Vince well enough to call him a friend, I knew him as a colleague, and as a person. When I asked him if he’d read my thriller, Hard Target—despite his looming deadline—he read it, loved it, and offered to endorse it. It would’ve been easy, and understandable, to just say he didn’t have the time. But that wasn’t Vince. Not only have his wife and three children suffered a loss, but the literary world has, as well.”

The late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle who wrote an autobiography and his latest book about guns significance in history once told me,  “Vince Flynn is one of my writer role models. I love to read Vince Flynn with ol' Mitch Rapp.  Vince gets it right.  The enemy are savages and should not be humanized.” 

Brad Meltzer whose main characters are Clementine Kaye and Beecher White wrote, “I just heard the news that bestselling author Vince Flynn died. I'm still gathering my thoughts (and why this one hit me with such shock), but here goes: Fifteen years ago, just after my second novel came out, I was sitting in a hotel restaurant in Portland, Oregon. This tall Ken doll of a man walks over to me and says: You're Brad Meltzer, right? He tells me that his name is Vince Flynn...that he's starting out too...and that he wants to be like me, on the bestseller list. He tells me that he's got his next 8 books already planned out. I loved the confidence -- and the honesty -- and I laughed, since I still didn't know what my next book was. But in that restaurant, both on book tour, we became quick friends. Over the years, Vince and I would trade info, advice, and even sources (how else do you think we found all the details about the secret tunnel below the White House?). I'd always cheer for him, thrilled to see one of us young newbies actually making it. As more time went by, he surpassed me when it came to sales. In fact, a few years back, at a charity event we did in his home state, I told the crowd I wanted a Vince action figure (Have you ever seen him? Again, Ken doll). And last I heard from him, he was doing well, fighting cancer. But as I sat here this morning, reading the first news reports of his death (and life), it just tore a piece of my youth from my chest. Maybe it's because Vince was so young and alive. Maybe it's because I still picture that Portland restaurant and that determined-at-all-cost grin that only young people are dumb and smart enough to have. Maybe I'm feeling old (though I always loved that he was older). Maybe it's simply because today is my daughter's birthday. And of course, I know it's because we were friends. But whatever the reason, I'm taking the rest of the day off. The books can wait. Rest easy, brother Vince.”

MJ Rose whose latest stand-alone book is Seduction wrote, “What most people don't know about Vince was that he self published his first novel, around the same time I did in the late 1990s. Neither the rejections he’d gotten nor the dyslexia he suffered could stop him. That determination defined him and was admiral. It was visible in his bravery in the face of his disease, too. Vince didn't just create heroes, he was one. And he will be missed.”

Beatriz Williams whose latest stand-alone book is A Hundred Summers wrote, “As I read the obituaries that mark the passing of Vince Flynn, I'm struck most of all by his tenacity. I knew he was a talented writer of top-flight thrillers; I didn't realize he received 60 rejections for his first novel, Term Limits, and wound up self-publishing the book––successfully! ––From the trunk of his car until Pocket Books gave him a hardcover deal. I knew he battled prostate cancer for three years; I didn't realize he also suffered from seizures related to a childhood car accident, and that he overcame dyslexia to reach the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I knew his books were taut and expertly paced; I didn't know they gave headaches to national security honchos in Washington who couldn't figure out where he got his uncanny information. All writers must overcomes obstacles and learn the craft in order to become successful; all writers dig deep to get the book right. Vince just overcame more and dug deeper, and the too-soon passing of this vibrant and vigorous writer leaves a larger hole than words can fill.”

Tom Young whose main characters are Major Michael Parsons and Sergeant Sophia Gold wrote, “Vince Flynn was more than a fine writer. He was a gentleman who offered encouragement to others in his field. A class act, all the way.”


All of Vince Flynn readers, including many of these bestselling authors, owe him a great debt of gratitude.  His books entertained, informed, and had powerful discussions concerning the threat of terrorism while setting political correctness aside.  His light has been taken from us but he will live on through his books. 

He will truly be missed.

Book Review: Slingshot

The following book review is a special provided by Elise Cooper for BlackFive readers. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the far right side bar.

9780062038029_p0_v1_s260x420Matthew Dunn’s latest book, Slingshot, is a continuation of the powerful series involving MI6 operative Will Cochrane. He lets the readers enter the dangerous realm of intelligence through powerful storylines. Many sub-plots that attempt to explain the lonely world of an operative surround the story.

MI6 officer Cochrane searches throughout Europe to find out who is responsible for a document that will cause the annihilation of the population of China. He soon realizes that someone very powerful, a shadowy former high-ranking East German Stasi officer is behind this horrific conspiracy along with rogue intelligence officers from the US and Russia. Besides these adversaries Will must also tackle a Soviet “Spycatcher” who is seeking to find the culprits and will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.

Because the East German Stasi officer will stop at nothing, he has threatened the only family Will has left, his sister Sarah. It is during these potent scenes that Dunn attempts to debate the issue: at what cost should an operative go to protect their country and fellow citizens. Dunn describes Sarah as the older sister who is anti-violence and repelled by the anger Will displayed while protecting her during their childhood. Dunn told blackfive.net, “The issue that I am playing with is how Will makes her uncomfortable with his sharp end of violence. I think in this book she is portrayed as selfish because she puts herself in a bubble.” She can be a metaphor for the liberal who chooses to ignore the overall picture of what civilian protectors must do to keep them safe. The theme throughout his novels is that there are no right or wrong answers.

To counter Sarah and expose her hypocrisy, he introduces the former MI6 officer, Betty. Dunn describes her as “very British, off the mold, who fought in WWII, and a non-liberal who straight talks saying this is what must be done, knowing that the reality is neither a black or white issue. I wanted to have the readers think when push comes to shove where are you going to stand as opposed to discussing this over a nice glass of wine in a safe environment. I put in the famous Churchill quote; ‘People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.’ I wanted to show that faced with a catastrophic situation at the end of the day you need somebody with guts to do something.”

It is obvious that in this book there is a shout out to senior citizens. Besides Betty there are three others that are enlisted to help Will. The author described in the book, “The old operatives were well past their prime, but they had something that a younger and more agile team couldn’t have: wisdom, and a been-there and seen-it-all wealth of experience.” Dunn is hoping people will understand that there is the ability to learn from their elders. He explained that one scene in the book was straight out of a personal experience. A senior, fragile woman at the shooting range of a training MI6 facility asked him about a handgun he was testing. He showed her how to position it to fire and after getting the gun, she completely ignored his instructions and proceeded to fire bullseye target shots.

Dunn’s next book will have Will falsely accused and on the run in the US. He is framed for something he did not do, which will be the book’s starting point.

Slingshot is a very character driven book that dictated the plot. Dunn enjoys writing about the Will character because it is loosely based on himself. Anyone who wants to understand the world of espionage will find this storyline interesting and insightful.

Standing Up

A local market

Imagine you are a country that has seen a huge increase in traffic through your land as U.S. and Latin American efforts have shut down air and naval smuggling routes.  Worse yet, as those things move one way, even more potentially destabilizing things are starting to move back in the other direction.  To make it even worse, as these things avoid your border checkpoints, goods on which you collect taxes and fees join them -- reducing income you needed. 

Your country not only has civilian control of the military enshrined in law and constitution, but has laws and regulations that can make posse commitatus seem weak in comparison.  You have no border patrol, never having needed one before, and to create such you have to bring together the judiciary, the local equivalent of District Attorneys, your Customs service, the police, and the military so that they work together seamlessly to provide one.  You want and need this, are determined to do it right and so commit the best of each branch to the effort. 

Part of the training cadre

Now, imagine that you are the United States government and that you want to help this country create an effective border patrol as a good bit of the bad things going through will end up at your border -- and beyond.  Air and naval interdiction has worked to reduce the amounts coming in by those routes, and increased the amount traveling over land.  Now imagine you are the U.S. Army South, and you've been tasked with helping this country in their efforts to create this new border patrol. 

What do you do?

You bring in the experts from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Texas National Guard, and other resources.  You help the country procure the equipment necessary, develop a training program that teaches law, best practices in border protection operations, and offer guidance and suggestions as the country creates a program that brings together the elements mentioned above under a cabinet level officer who reports directly to that country's president.  She is one call away from that office, and the head of the program is one call away from her.  You create a training program that brings all those groups together to learn to work together on an administrative level, to train together and figure out how to work together as a team on the squad level so that the strengths and duties of each group work together.  And, to make it even more challenging, after years of work and planning, you make this happen in less than a year. 

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what Army South is doing right now.  I've got the pleasure of being present for the final testing and exercises that will see the first battalion of this new Inter Agency Border Unit complete its basic training and begin operations and advanced training.  There is much more to come, stay tuned. 


This trip and other embeds sponsored by MilitaryLuggage.Com and B.N. Shape Clothing.  My thanks to them and to everyone who has contributed to make this and other trips possible. Be sure to check out my Facebook Page and Laughing Wolf for other photos, stories, and more. 

A variety of advertising sponsorships are available, and you can contribute to this trip and other embeds at GoFundMe

More To Come, But...

A most interesting statue

There is more to come on Normandy, but this week I am in Central America on embed, and I hope to be posting not only about Normandy, but perhaps a bit about what has brought me down here.  Stay tuned, the best is yet to come. 


This trip and other embeds sponsored by MilitaryLuggage.Com and B.N. Shape Clothing.  Normandy coverage also made possible by Enterprise Rent A Car Caen Railway Office.   My thanks to them and to everyone who has contributed to make this and other trips possible. Be sure to check out my Facebook Page and Laughing Wolf for other photos, stories, and more. 

A variety of advertising sponsorships are available, and you can contribute to this trip and other embeds at GoFundMe

Saturday matinee: Fort Eben-Emael

Following World War I, the Belgians built a system of fortifications - similar to France's Maginot Line - surrounding Liège to prevent another German invasion. Fort Eben-Emael, the largest fortress ever built, anchored the network and was completed in 1935. Eben-Emael featured multiple 60, 75, and 120mm gun emplacements protected by armor plating and reinforced concrete as thick as 13 feet. Barbed wire, cliffs, anti-aircraft batteries, machine guns and additional - albeit smaller - fortifications in the surrounding area protected the underground fort.

As the Wermacht moved west toward France in May, 1940, the Germans had to capture the bridges spanning the Albert Canal intact (they were rigged to detonate), and the guns at Eben-Emael had to be neutralized.

With some 1,200 soldiers manning the technologically advanced fortress, defeating Eben-Emael would be extraordinary difficult. But Adolf Hitler himself figured that a few dozen engineers with specialized explosives landing directly on top of the structure could pull off the operation.

What followed was the world's first combat glider landing and perhaps one of the most daring raids in military history.