Eric Kocher on the Marines
Question: Why did you join the Marines?
Eric Kocher: I think the commercials got me. Maybe I was watching... I think for as long as I remember, I wanted to join the military, not specifically the Marine Corp. I went and actually looked at all of them. The Navy, the Air Force. I was originally, actually going to join the Navy for their Nuclear program, and it was a $60,000.00 signing bonus, and it sounded all sexy and high-speed, and then I went over to the Marine recruiter, and they offered recon, which at the time, I had no fucking clue what it was, and they offered me a $3,000.00 signing bonus, which sounded so much better than the sixty. So I signed the paperwork. The next thing you know, I was in recon. I signed up when I was 18 for like delayed entry, and I actually didn’t go until I was 19.
Question: Was boot camp tough?
Eric Kocher: It wasn’t. I thought it would be a little more physical than what it was, but it was definitely great. Now, I look back, I mean boot camp’s... it hasn’t changed for decades, because it’s designed so perfectly to kind of break you down and then build you back up, and you see the quality of Marines across the generations, and it really starts at boot camp. Boot camp, it kind of strips you down as an individual. It starts like teaching you how to work as a team and build you up that way and just start engraining like discipline. I always say the biggest thing they teach you, which, to most people, wouldn’t matter, is like, you gotta tie your shoe...your boot laces left over right. They teach you all the little small details so that that’s what you pay attention to.
Question: Why do those small details matter?
Eric Kocher: That’s what you think, “What the...why am I wasting my time tying my boot laces?” but they teach you to be precise on everything you do, and it’s kind of some of the stuff that you don’t really see in like the Army, the Navy, boot camps and everything. The Marine Corps starts at the smallest detail and then works up to, you know, the bigger picture, and that’s why the level of troops that you see from the Marine Corp I think are, you know, are totally different, because the Marine Corp, it’s a 24/7. It’s a lifestyle. Where like the Army, it’s a 9-5 job, the Navy, 9-5 job, fuckin Air Force. I don’t know what they do. <laugh>. I think, you know, Full Metal Jacket is like a perfect window into what boot camp is. It still hasn’t changed. The squad bays are the same the way the early army depicted it. It’s still the same for the past, you know, lifetime in the Marine Corp, and it’s probably always going to stay that way. So I don’t know how bad the stereotypes are with boot camp, but it’s the rest of the Marine Corp. A lot of people think people are mindless, you know, crazed individuals that, you know, aren’t independent thinkers. They’re not critical thinkers, and you’re not seeing that. A lot of these guys are a lot sharper than they’ve ever been that are serving in the military today.
Eric Kocher: I did my first tour in Afghanistan. It was kind of strange. We were still peacetime military, and we didn’t have big budgets. That’s why you see a lot of stuff in like the series where people complain about batteries and not having equipment. Afghanistan, our team, we had one set of night vision for the entire team. We went over there with a Spotting Scope. It’s called M49 Spotting Scope. The thing was built in 1949. We just got M4s. That was new equipment we had, and we were happy as shit to have those. But we didn’t have plates. We didn’t have <inaudible>. We didn’t have helmets. We had the bare minimum gear, but for us, we had everything we ever needed, you know, and we started doing reconnaissance. A place called Camp Rhino, and just punching out doing perimeter security, and kind of, I guess, really getting our feet wet to what we were going to do, but it was truly so very peacetime military, and we’re just executing what we’ve trained over the past multiple years.
Question: When was the first time you saw combat?
Eric Kocher: The first time I really saw combat was probably Iraq. I mean, Afghanistan-- our true job is not to fire a weapon. We observe. We report. We call in air strikes, and we did do a lot of operations up in Kandahar that included that, but our first time we’re actually engaging, the enemy was Iraq.
Question: When was the first time took fire?
Eric Kocher: The first time I think we really saw it was in Nasiriyah, the bridge scene, but it was kind of weird for me. It was like- it’s actually- it’s funny, a lot of people refer to watching a Vietnam movie. I think it’s ‘cause Bravo, my company, we were stuck inside. We couldn’t fire, and we were getting hit by artillery, mortars, and incoming rounds, but we were surrounded by friendly. So we were in a position where were forced to punch in Nasiriyah and medi-vac people, and so it was kind of very surreal. It kind of felt helpless. We had to just sit there and couldn’t return fire. We’re punching up a canal to actually like kind of do a feint into Al Garaf. We pushed up along the canals, and you could tell the locals- everyone was disappearing out of the
cities, and right away I had that intuition that, you know, we’re going to be in it up here in a little bit. The locals were telling us that it was an unfriendly city, you know. Everything was saying there was going to be fire fight up ahead. Right when we rolled into the city just gunfire erupted. My driver got shot in the arm. It’s pretty much... it’s kind of like chaos, because it wasn’t a conventional military that were fighting. It wasn’t red versus blue. It wasn’t these guys that were even very well trained. They were just shooting from the hips spraying everywhere, and I mean, if you really look at the distance that they’re engaging us, and we took one guy got hit, and I think it from a ricochet, it was just very untrained military just trying to shoot us, and it was kind of... we were almost... we didn’t stop and engage. It was almost... for us it was just a drive-by, and we drived. The only difference is we are pretty good shooters, especially at the distance we were engaging at, at 30 yards roughly. We were hitting what we wanted to hit, and they were hitting nothing. For us though, every... it’s funny, ‘cause every fire fight you survive, it’s kind of like a snowball effect. After we survived that, it was like, “Wow! They can’t hit us,” and you just kind of feel more bulletproof and more confident in your training, and that’s how for us for the progression of that deployment, which was roughly about seventeen pretty sizable fire fights where we really didn’t lose anybody, and it just built that confidence that, “Hey, our training is worth a damn.”
Recorded on: 7/17/08
Eric Kocher goes inside the marine corps.
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What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.
Apple sold its first iPod in 2001, and six years later it introduced the iPhone, which ushered in a new era of personal technology.
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
A biologist-reporter investigates his fungal namesake.
The unmatched biologist-reporter Tomasz Sitarz interviews his fungal namesake, maślak sitarz – known in English as the Jersey cow mushroom.