Chris Kyle, a former U.S. Navy SEAL credited with the largest number of confirmed kills, was one of two people fatally shot at a North Texas shooting range Saturday, Texas Highway Patrol confirmed to Fox News.
Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant told the Star-Telegram that Kyle, 38, was shot by a suspected gunman, identified as 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh, around 3:30 p.m.
Routh allegedly opened fire on the two men before fleeing in a pickup truck belonging to one of the victims, according to the report.
Routh was apprehended and taken into custody in Lancaster, southeast of Dallas, where he was arraigned on two counts of capital murder.
35-year-old Chad Littlefield was also killed in the shooting.
Kyle set the record for confirmed sniper kills at 150 and received multiple valor awards, including five Bronze Stars with Valor and two Silver Stars, according to US military records.
Kyle wrote the best-selling book, “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History,” detailing his 150-plus kills of insurgents from 1999 to 2009.
I published an article regarding this hero a while back. Here it is.
Iraq war veteran who lost all four limbs in blast proudly shows off his double arm transplant
An Iraq veteran who lost all four limbs in a roadside bombing in Iraq almost four-years ago said today he’s looking forward to driving and swimming after undergoing a double-arm transplant.
‘I just want to get the most out of these arms, and just as goals come up, knock them down and take it absolutely as far as I can,’ Brendan Marrocco said Tuesday.
The 26-year-old New Yorker spoke at a news conference at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was joined by surgeons who performed the arduous and complex 13-hour operation.
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U.S. Army Sgt. Brendan Marrocco of Staten Island, New York, who lost his four limbs in a 2009 roadside bomb attack in Iraq, speaks during a news conference after receiving double arm transplants, performed at John Hopkins Hospital
After he was wounded, Marrocco said, he felt fine using prosthetic legs, but he hated not having arms.
‘You talk with your hands, you do everything with your hands, basically, and when you don’t have that, you’re kind of lost for a while,’ he said.
Marrocco said his chief desire is to drive the black Dodge Charger that’s been sitting in his garage for three years.
‘I used to love to drive,’ he said. ‘I’m really looking forward to just getting back to that, and just becoming an athlete again.’
Retired Infantryman Brendan M. Marrocco sits with his two transplanted arms resting in his lap during the news conference
Although he doesn’t expect to excel at soccer, his favorite sport, Marrocco said he’d like to swim and compete in a marathon using a hand-cycle.
Marrocco joked that military service members sometimes regard themselves as poorly paid professional athletes.
His good humor and optimism are among the qualities doctors cited as signs he will recover much of his arm and hand use in two to three years.
‘He’s a young man with a tremendous amount of hope, and he’s stubborn – stubborn in a good way,’ said Dr. Jaimie Shores, the hospital’s clinical director of hand transplantation. ‘I think the sky’s the limit.’
Shores said Marrocco has already been trying to use his hands, although he lacks feeling in the fingers, and he’s eager to do more as the slow-growing nerves and muscles mend.
‘I suspect that he will be using his hands for just about everything as we let him start trying to do more and more. Right now, we’re the ones really kind of holding him back at this point,’ Shores said.
The procedure was only the seventh double-hand or double-arm transplant ever done in the United States.
The infantryman was injured by a roadside bomb in 2009. He is the first soldier to survive losing all four limbs in the Iraq War.
This graphic shows an illustration of one of Brendan Marrocco’s arm transplants. A surgical team led by Johns Hopkins physicians performed the institution’s first bilateral arm transplant on 18 December 2012
Brendan Marrocco lost his four limbs in a 2009 roadside bomb attack in Iraq. With him are Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Director W.P. Andrew Lee (right) and Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation Program Scientific Director Gerald Brandacher (left)
Retired Infantryman Brendan M. Marrocco wheels himself into a news conference followed by surgeons, (from left, W.P. Andrew Lee, M.D., Jamie Shores M.D., Patrick L. Basile M.D. and Gerald Brandacher M.D.) on Tuesday, January 29th 2013 at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore
Marrocco also received bone marrow from the same donor to minimize the medicine needed to prevent rejection.
He said he didn’t know much about the donor but ‘I’m humbled by their gift.’
The 13-hour operation on December 18th was led by Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, plastic surgery chief at Hopkins.-
Marrocco was being released from the hospital Tuesday but will receive intensive therapy for two years at Hopkins and then at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.
After a major surgery, human nerves regenerate at a rate of an inch per month, Lee said.
‘The progress will be slow, but the outcome will be rewarding,’ he added.
The infantryman also received bone marrow from the same dead donor who supplied his new arms. That novel approach is aimed at helping his body accept the new limbs with minimal medication to prevent rejection.
The military sponsors operations like these to help wounded troops. About 300 have lost arms or hands in Iraq or Afghanistan.
W.P. Andrew Lee, M.D. talks about the bilateral arm transplant on Infantryman Brendan M. Marocco during the news conference today
Surgeons at John Hopkins Medical centre in performing double arm transplant on Brendan M. Marrocco attach one of the transplanted limbs (center circle)
The surgical team led by Johns Hopkins physicians performed the institutions first bilateral arm transplant, together with an innovative treatment to prevent rejection of the new limbs
Unlike a life-saving heart or liver transplant, limb transplants are aimed at improving quality of life, not extending it. Quality of life is a key concern for people missing arms and hands — prosthetics for those limbs are not as advanced as those for feet and legs.
‘He was the first quad amputee to survive,’ and there have been four others since then, Alex Marrocco said.
The Marroccos want to thank the donor’s family for ‘making a selfless decision … making a difference in Brendan’s life,’ the father said.
Brendan Marrocco has been in public many times. During a July 4 visit last year to the Sept. 11 Memorial with other disabled soldiers, he said he had no regrets about his military service.
‘I wouldn’t change it in any way. … I feel great. I’m still the same person,’ he said.
Lee led three of those earlier operations when he worked at the University of Pittsburgh, including the only above-elbow transplant that had been done at the time, in 2010.
Marrocco’s ‘was the most complicated one’ so far, Lee said in an interview Monday. It will take more than a year to know how fully Marrocco will be able to use the new arms.
‘The maximum speed is an inch a month for nerve regeneration,’ he explained. ‘We’re easily looking at a couple years’ until the full extent of recovery is known.
While at Pittsburgh, Lee pioneered the immune-suppression approach used for Marrocco. The surgeon led hand-transplant operations on five patients, giving them marrow from their donors in addition to the new limbs.
This photograph from December 18th shows the surgical team at Johns Hopkins Hospital during their 13-hour operation on Brendan Marrocco
All five recipients have done well, and four have been able to take just one anti-rejection drug instead of combination treatments most transplant patients receive.
Minimizing anti-rejection drugs is important because they have side effects and raise the risk of cancer over the long term. Those risks have limited the willingness of surgeons and patients to do more hand, arm and even face transplants.
Lee has received funding for his work from AFIRM, the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a cooperative research network of top hospitals and universities around the country that the government formed about five years ago.
With government money, he and several other plastic surgeons around the country are preparing to do more face transplants, possibly using the new immune-suppression approach.
The team at Johns Hopkins physicians perform the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s first bilateral arm transplant on 26-year-old patient Brendan M. Marrocco
Brendan Marrocco has become the first quadruple amputee injured in Iraw to have a double arm transplant
Brendan Marrocco pictured around 10-months after he was injured in a roadside explosion in Iraq – clearly visible is the scar running along his carotid artery
Brendan Marrocco relaxes on duty in Iraq before his devastating accident in April 2009
Marrocco expects to spend three to four months at Hopkins, then return to a military hospital to continue physical therapy, his father said.
Before the operation, he had been fitted with prosthetic legs and had learned to walk on his own.
He had been living with his older brother in a specially equipped home on New York’s Staten Island that had been built with the help of several charities.
Shortly after moving in, he said it was ‘a relief to not have to rely on other people so much.’
The home was heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy last fall.
Despite being in a lot of pain for some time after the operation, Marrocco showed a sense of humor, his father said.
He had a hoarse voice from the tube that was in his throat during the long surgery and decided he sounded like Al Pacino. He soon started doing movie lines.
‘He was making the nurses laugh,’ Alex Marrocco said.
Iraq war veteran who lost all four limbs in blast proudly shows off his double arm transplant
LIFE magazine war photographer, Larry Burrows, covered the fighting on the front lines during the Vietnam War and is now being remembered for his extraordinary work as the 41 year anniversary of his death approaches.
Mr Burrows captured the compelling images of Operation Prairie, the U.S. offensive against the North Vietnamese near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), that lasted from August 3 to October 27, 1966.
His photographs of the bloody aftermath of the attack, juxtaposed against the lush and picturesque scenery of the Southeast Asian nation, are being revisited on LIFE.comas the London-born photojournalist is remembered.
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U.S. Marines carry the injured during a firefight near the southern edge of the DMZ, Vietnam, October 1966
An American Marine during Operation Prairie
Marines carry an injured soldier back to the medics for treatment following an assault on Hill 484, Vietnam, October 1966 (top). An American soldier (bottom) with a bandaged head wound looking dazed after participating in Operation Prairie just south of the DMZ
An estimated 1,329 Americans were killed during the operation. More than 58,000 Americans lost their lives in the conflict in Indochina that ended in 1975.
One of the most famous images in the collection by Burrows is the shot ‘Reaching Out,’ the moment when wounded Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie, photographed with a blood-stained bandage tied around his head, is drawn to his fellow soldier, who lays wounded on the ground.
Though some of the pictures by the renowned war photographer did appear in the magazine in the 1970s, some never made it to publication and are being seen for the first time in theLIFE.comgallery.
The war correspondent has been praised for his indefatigable commitment to chronicle the conflict through pictures that communicated the horror of the fighting and honored the lives lost in the conflict in a way words just never could fully transmit.
Wounded Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie (center, with bandaged head) reaches toward a stricken comrade after a fierce firefight
A dazed, wounded American Marine gets bandaged during Operation Prairie
Four Marines recover the body of Marine fire team leader Leland Hammond as their company comes under fire near Hill 484. (At right is the French-born photojournalist Catherine Leroy)
Burrows himself suffered a tragic end as he worked on the front lines, he was killed on February 10, 1971 over Laos when his helicopter was shot down. He was 44-years-old.
Fellow photographers Henri Huet, 43, of the Associated Press, Kent Potter, 23, of United Press International and Keisaburo Shimamoto, 34, of Newsweek were also killed in the crash.
Ralph Graves, then LIFE magazine’s managing editor, remembered the Englishman as ‘the single bravest and most dedicated war photographer I know of,’ in a moving tribute he wrote following Burrows’ death.
‘He spent nine years covering the Vietnam War under conditions of incredible danger, not just at odd times but over and over again.’
‘The war was his story, and he would see it through. His dream was to stay until he could photograph a Vietnam at peace,’ Mr Graves added in the 1971 issue dedicated to the fallen correspondent.
U.S. Marine Phillip Wilson as he fords a waist-deep river with a rocket launcher over his shoulder during fighting near the DMZ. Five days after this photograph was taken, he was killed in combat
American Marines tending to a wounded soldier during a firefight south of the DMZ
Though the lost photographers were mourned, their remains were not discovered until 37 years later thanks to the tireless effort spearheaded by AP writer Richard Pyle.
The remains of Mr Burrows, Mr Buet, Mr Potter and Mr Shimamoto now sit in a stainless-steel box beneath the floor of the Newseum in Washington, D.C., part of a memorial gallery honoring journalists killed in the line of duty.
A total of 2,156 individuals, dating back as far as 1837, are included in the museum’s memorial.
War correspondent: Terry Fincher of the Express (left) and Larry Burrows (right) covering the war in Vietnam in April 1968
In memory: The remains of Larry Burrows and the three other war photographers killed in the helicopter crash over Laos in 1971 were finally discovered some 37 years later. They now reside at a memorial (bottom) to fallen journalists at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
The owner of a run-of-the-mill Toyota wasn’t satisfied with the style and protection the car came with, and spent $160,000 to add a champagne bar, a widescreen TV and grenade proof armor.
The Toyota Sequoia SUV, which retails at $48,000, has been converted to withstand driving over a landmine as well as the lavish additions on the inside.
Its exterior remains as anonymous as before, but open the door and the changes are far more noticeable.
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Although the Toyota looks the same on the outside, its inside has been significantly spruced up
The SUV already costs $48,000 but it wasn’t enough for its owner who spent another $160,000 to convert it into a luxurious – and bomb proof – supercar. The result is a fortress on wheels which includes a widescreen TV, wood trim, leather thrones, champagne compartments and mounted tablet computers on the side. The outside has been armored to withstand 7.62x51mm rifle rounds, hand grenades and landmines.
Kim Pemberton, director of sales at Lexani Motor Cars said: ‘It is the only Toyota Sequoia we have done although the owner has another one coming next week as well as a Sprinter for us to do.
‘The most popular models are Cadillac Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Suburbans, and GMC Yukon Denali.
‘Our client base comes from affluent professionals and heads-of-state who appreciate luxury but also want something unique that very few will have.’
The car relies on a driver as the divider between the back and front has been turned into a widescreen television and champagne bar
As well as the tablets on the walls, the outside is strong enough to withstand landmines, hand grenades and rifle rounds
: The owner has not spared the change for the driver either with a comfortable wide leather seat and wood panels
‘The cost for a Lexani Motors interior on an SUV generally runs around $150,000 give or take depending on options.
‘The interiors are handmade by our craftsmen in house and we are a small boutique company so we don’t mass produce our products like many.’
‘When we are through with our executive vehicles they not only offer the luxurious appointments the client has chosen in designing their environment but also will function as a mobile office.’
A former Army staff sergeant who helped fight off one of the largest and most brutal attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan will receive the Medal of Honor next month, the White House said Friday.
President Barack Obama will bestow the medal on Clinton Romesha of Minot, North Dakota, for his ‘courageous actions’ in Afghanistan in 2009 while he was serving as a section leader during combat operations against armed enemy forces at Combat Outpost Keating in the country’s Nuristan Province.
Romesha, 31, will become the fourth living service member to receive the nation’s highest award for valor for overseas duty in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Deadly battle: The attack against Romesha and his comrades remains one of the deadliest against coalition forces in Afghanistan
Seven other service members have been posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in those wars.
The husband and father of three was a section leader in B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during the October 3, 2009, attack on the remote mountaintop in eastern Afghanistan.
The attack remains one of the deadliest against coalition forces in Afghanistan and is chronicled in the book ‘The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor’ written by CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Eight U.S. soldiers were killed and two dozen others were wounded in the battle in Nuristan as they fought against an overwhelming Taliban insurgent force that launched the hostile attack to overrun them.
The Taliban had been harassing the troopers at Keating for several months, attacking them three or four times a week, according to an account of the battle on Examiner.com.
Location of attack: The October 3, 2009, attack took place on the remote mountaintop in eastern Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province
In total, 50 American, 20 Afghan and two Latvian soldiers were stationed at the post in addition to a dozen or so Afghan Security Guards.
Nearby, 19 American and 10 Afghan soldiers at Observation Post Fritsche also came under heavy fire as well.
The enemy quickly brought mayhem on the two posts firing a recoilless rifle, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, machine guns and rifles.
Two minutes into the attack, the first U.S. soldier was killed as the enemy targeted the COP’s mortar pit and pinned down the soldiers stationed at Fritsche, preventing them from providing supporting fire to Keating.
The Afghan troops and security guards reportedly abandoned their posts, leaving the Americans and Latvians to fight alone.
The attack occurred at Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province while Romesha was serving as a section leader during combat operations
Within the first three hours of the battle, mortars hit the two stations every 15 seconds, and in less than an hour, the enemy swarmed Keating, eventually setting fire to the outpost and destroying almost 70 per cent of it.
Romesha and his fellow soldiers fought back for hours as heavy enemy fire came down on them from all directions.
The staff sergeant moved under intense enemy fire to observe the battlefield and then went to seek reinforcements from the barracks, according to the citation accompanying Romesha’s Medal of Honor.
He returned to action with the support of an assistant gunner, who is identified in ‘The Outpost’ as Corporal Justin Gregory.
Romesha ‘took out an enemy machine gun team and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds,’ according to the citation.
Despite his injuries, Romesha continued to fight, and as another soldier arrived to aid him he ‘rushed through the exposed avenue to assemble additional soldiers.’
Romesha then mobilized a five-man team, which he led back to the battle.
The deadly attack on Romesha and his team is chronicled in the book ¿The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor written by CNN’s Jake Tapper
‘With complete disregard for his own safety, Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire as he moved confidently about the battlefield, engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter,’ the citation reads.
As the insurgent group attacked the outpost with even ‘greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifle rounds,’ Romesha ‘identified the point of attack and directed air support to destroy over 30 enemy fighters.’
As soon as he learned that soldiers at the other battle position were still alive, he and his team provided covering fire, allowing three of their wounded comrades to reach the aid station, according to the citation.
Romesha and his team also ran 100 meters under fire to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades.
Romesha, the son of a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church in Cedarville, California, has been described as intense, short and wiry, according to Gannett’s Army Times.
The 31-year-old war veteran will be awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House on February 11, according to the announcement.
Intervening in the country’s general election campaign, Israel’s elder statesman warned of the perils of his country isolating itself from America.
President Barack Obama was “not convinced” that Israel’s current leaders truly wanted peace, he said.
“If there is no diplomatic decision, the Palestinians will go back to terror. Knives, mines, suicide attacks,” Mr Peres said in an extensive interview with the New York Times Magazine .
“The silence that Israel has been enjoying over the last few years will not continue, because even if the local inhabitants do not want to resume the violence, they will be under the pressure of the Arab world. Money will be transferred to them, and weapons will be smuggled to them, and there will be no one who will stop this flow.” [ The Silence that Israel has enjoyed? Really? In 2012 alone, over 2200 Palestinian rocket and motar attacks have rained into Israel. Nice silence Mr. Peres. ]
Most of the world would then blame Israel for the violence and brand it a “racist state”, warned Mr Peres. [ Most of the world already has been convinced they are a racist state by the politically correct left and the Islamic radicals ]
Israel’scurrent government has offered peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, but has also expanded Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Indeed in recent weeks Mr Netanyahu has angered the US by announcing plans for more than 6,000 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr Peres said this policy risked losing US support by undermining Washington’s belief in Israel’s desire for peace. [ Let’s clear this up once and for all; Israel does not “Occupy” the West Bank. Israel specifically told King Hussein of Jordan that if his country stayed out of the 1967 war, Israel would not fight against him. Hussein ignored the warning and attacked Israel in 1967. While fending off the assault and driving out the invading Jordanian troops, Israel came to control the West Bank. Had Hussein heeded the warning, the Palestinians of the West Bank would in all likelihood be living as Jordanian citizens. By rejecting Arab demands that Israel be required to withdraw from all the territories won in 1967, the UN Security Council in Resolution 242 acknowledged that Israel was entitled to claim at least part of these lands for new defensible borders.]
Asked if Mr Obama believed that Israel shared his ambitions for peace in the Middle East, Mr Peres replied: “Of course he’s not convinced. He demanded an end to settlements and got a negative response, and they [members of Mr Netanyahu’s government] are to blame for the ongoing activity in the settlements. President Obama thinks that peace should be made with the Muslim world. We, the State of Israel, do not appear to be thinking along those lines. [ THE COVENANT OF THE HAMAS (1988): ‘Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.’ Yes, Mr President, the Muslim World wants peace. Right! ]
“We must not lose the support of the United States. What gives Israel bargaining power in the international arena is the support of the United States.”
He added that standing alone from the US, Israel would be “like a lone tree in the desert”.
Mr Peres, 89, became president in 2007 after a 50-year career in the center-left of Israeli politics during which he served as prime minister three times. His comments will draw accusations from Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud-Beiteinu bloc that Mr Peres is breaking the convention that the ceremonial president should remain above party politics. Israel will hold an election on Jan 22 and the polls suggest both that Mr Netanyahu will be re-elected – and most voters are pessimistic or apathetic about the prospects of peace.
Mr Peres shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with the then prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, for jointly forging the ill-fated Oslo agreement. [ Says a lot for the Nobel prize, that the terrorist Arafat won one. Something to be proud of ]
In his series of interviews with the New York Times Mr Peres told the Israeli journalist, Ronen Bergman, that Mr Netanyahu was not providing positive leadership.
“I think that if the people of Israel heard from the leadership that there is a chance for peace, they would take up the gauntlet and believe it,” he said. “There are two things that cannot be made without closing your eyes – love and peace.” [ Quote from a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood: “Every night when I go to bed, I pray to wake up the next day to see Israel is wiped off the map” ]
Although Mr Netanyahu publicly committed himself in 2009 to the principle of Palestinian statehood, he has been dismissive of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and the leader of the moderate Fatah faction. The two men have not met for more than two years. Mr Peres, by contrast, said he had met Mr Abbas several times with Mr Netanyahu’s knowledge and described the Palestinian as an “excellent” negotiating partner. [ Moderate Fatah? You mean the moderate Fatah that has aligned with the Hamas? That one? ]
Mr Peres alluded to Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons by claiming credit for creating the country’s nuclear program. “I do not think there are many people in the world who can say they managed to create a nuclear option in a small country,” he said, while reciting the achievements of his long career. Israeli leaders have always held to a policy of “strategic ambiguity”, neither confirming nor denying the possession of an atom bomb.
Mr Netanyahu renewed his attack on Mr Abbas on Thursday by criticizing him for meeting Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader, in Cairo this week.
“Abu Mazen [Mr Abbas] embraces the head of a terrorist organization that declared only last month that Israel must be wiped off the map,” said the prime minister. “This is not how someone who wants peace behaves.” [ Bully for Mr Netanyahu! At least someone has the stones to tell the truth!There can never and will never be peace with islamists. They must be defeated at all cost. Only then would there be peace. ]
The Military Is Pushing the Bounds… of Food Science
Tremendous breakthroughs are often born out of military pursuits. In the past, military research has directly or indirectly led to technological innovations like the microwave oven, nuclear power, and the Internet.
You can also add M&M’s to that list — yes M&M’s. Those delightfully crunchy and satisfyingly chocolatey candies that melt in your mouth (not in your hand) were originally intended for American troops in World War II.
Legend has it that Forrest Mars, Sr., while traveling in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, found soldiers eating tiny chocolate pellets coated in hard, sugar shells. Returning to the states in 1940, Mars perfected the candy and negotiated an amicable deal with the Hershey Corporation, which already had an agreement to provide chocolate to the army. When World War II rolled around, M&M’s became an instant hit with the troops because the candies could travel well and withstand high temperatures without melting.
Today, M&M’s remain a troop favorite, but the battleground has changed. While the first rendition of the delectable candies could withstand the temperatures of Europe, Africa, and the Pacific fairly well, they were found to be no match for the incessant heat of the Middle East. So, in the midst of Operation Desert Storm, food technologist Tom Yang led a team that redesigned M&M’s so they wouldn’t turn into a “sticky mess.”
“Regular chocolate is protein in the center coated with fat, so that fat can easily melt,” Yang explained to PBS’ NOVA. “So we came up with sort of a reverse phase chocolate, putting the protein on the outside and the fat in the center. And protein is not that easy to melt.”
A Meat Roll-Up
Yang isn’t solely focused on the sweet side of food, however. He’s recently been investigating a method called osmotic dehydration for use in military MREs (meals, ready-to-eat). The process involves rolling meat into thin sheets, extracting water via osmosis, then running the product through a brine composed primarily of an oligosaccharide food additive called maltodextrin. The end product is a meat roll-up, very much like a fruit roll-up.
Yang plans to adapt osmotic dehydration to all sorts of foods. “The beauty of this technology is you can use beef, you can use pork, you can use poultry or you can even use fish or a combination of fruit, vegetable and meat together,” Yang said.
Years of Freshness
An American army soldier’s “meat and potatoes” is the MRE. Available in 24 different varieties, the meal must — as described by Director of Combat Feeding Program Jerry Darsch — have at least “a minimum shelf life at three years at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, six months at 100. It has to be stored, distributed for minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It has to be able to be thrown — free fall out of a chopper at 100 feet, and obviously airdropped with parachutes from about 2,000 feet and higher.”
It also has to be at least mildly pleasurable to eat. Military food scientists’ constantly try to balance taste and longevity — a difficult task — but recently they made a breakthrough by creating a sandwich that can stay fresh for three years! The key to the near immortal sandwich was limiting moisture, which is necessary for bacteria to grow. The scientists utilized three surprisingly simple ingredients — honey, sugar, and salt — to retain moisture and seal it off at the same time, thus keeping the sandwich fresh and safe-to-eat. Oxygen, a primary cause of food deterioration, was also limited. A small package of iron filings placed within the sandwich bag traps the gas in a layer of rust.
Another part of the food pleasure equation is warmth. All MREs come equipped with a flameless heater. It’s a small pad filled with magnesium dust, salt, and a little iron dust. Add water, and an oxidation reaction begins that releases a good amount of heat, which can be used to warm the food packages.
Military food scientists continue to push the envelope. During the Civil War, salted pork and hardtack was the faire du jour. Today, it’s lemon pepper tuna, chicken pesto pasta, and beef roast with vegetables. Vast improvements have been made, but the work is never done.
Soldiers have been clamoring for pizza, but technologists have yet to master a version that fits to the MRE’s stringent requirements.