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Use of deadly force authorized

These unusual facilities dot the landscape across southeastern Wyoming and northeastern Colorado. It always seems a bit odd to find these silos out in the relative open. On one hand it is pretty cool to see but also a bit disconcerting when you think about what is inside and what could happen in a worst case scenario.

For every 10 silos there is one underground Launch Control Center (LCC) where two officers have primary control of the missiles. The LCC is what you oftentimes see depicted in Cold War era movies with the monstrous blast doors and the two guys that have to ‘turn the keys’ to launch.

If you ever find yourself in central South Dakota, check out Minuteman Missile National Historic Site where you can actually go down inside an inactive LCC and view a silo whose top has been removed. It is absolutely fascinating.

A Minuteman Missile silo stands guard on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Minuteman Missile silo stands guard on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Veterans Day 2015

General Norman Schwarzkopf famously said, “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.”  Today, Veterans Day, we honor the brave men and women who wrote that blank check to Uncle Sam,  payable with their own blood.

From the birth of our nation to a devastating war that would pit brother against brother and threaten to tear the country apart, veterans have served.

From a time when a cowardly attack at Pearl Harbor woke a sleeping giant, to another, similarly devastating event 60 years later on our shores in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington DC, veterans have answered the call.

Not all have served in combat but they have served with distinction and honor.  These men and women are the real “1%” – the ones who have stood up for something greater than themselves.

They chose not to whine or cry about the hand life dealt them nor did they sit idly by and blame their failures and inability on others.  Instead they saw an opportunity to serve the greater good.  They  donned the nation’s uniforms proudly and bettered themselves, served their fellow man and defended freedom across the globe.

The legacy of these men and women is seen not only in the peoples they liberated and protected but also close to home.

I am honored to have served this nation and, more so, am humbled at the deeds of those who came before me, those I served with, and those who continue to serve today.  They are my brothers and sisters in arms – my shipmates – and I thank them all for their service and sacrifice.

Happy Veterans Day!

Veterans Day.  Thank you for your service, your sacrifice and our freedom. (© Tony’s Takes)

Veterans Day. Thank you for your service, your sacrifice and our freedom. (© Tony’s Takes)

Thunderbird Thursday

These birds fly a bit faster and higher than the ones I normally photograph.

With the US Air Force Thunderbirds in Denver, Colorado this past weekend for the Rocky Mountain Airshow, I of course had to snap a few pictures. Okay, I took more than just a few, but here is a look at some of my best images of this amazing aerial demonstration team.

This was the first time photographing high-performance military aircraft for me since I was in the Navy so it was a bit of a challenge but lots of fun.

Mirror, mirror

I know these aren’t the typical kind of birds I post pictures of but they are the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds? after all. Taken today at the The Rocky Mountain Airshow? here near Denver.

Here, the two solo birds come together, one inverted. You’ll have to indulge me for sharing some of these images in the coming days.

I was in the Navy and worked on jets during my time in the service so aviation is something that has always been of great interest to me. Granted, I am partial to the U.S. Navy Blue Angels? but since neither team has been to the area in so long, I was ecstatic to get a chance to see one of them again. ?

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds solo jets perform a flyby with one inverted. (© Tony’s Takes)

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds solo jets perform a flyby with one inverted. (© Tony’s Takes)

U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds practice for Denver airshow

After work I raced out east of Denver where there is a major airshow this weekend in hopes of catching the Air Force Thunderbirds practice. Found a great spot to watch other than the fact the performance smoke was blowing right at me making for a good bit of haze.

Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun to watch. After I got out of the #Navy, the last thing I wanted to do was see more planes. Now that time has passed, I finally can once again appreciate these amazing machines and the extraordinary people that fly and maintain them. I do kind of wish this was the Blue Angels though. 😉

A four ship of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performs a flyby.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A four ship of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds performs a flyby. (© Tony’s Takes)

A landscape of stone

Marble headstones mark the graves of our nation’s veterans at Fort Logan National Cemetery. Each of these represents someone who has served, some who have made the ultimate sacrifice giving their lives in service of this great nation.

As Americans we have given our own blood – our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers – for our freedom and for the freedom of others. When He comes to call, we mourn their loss but sadly we all too quickly forget. Memorial Day serves as a catalyst to ensure that we do not let their sacrifice be in vain, that we always remember what these brave men and women have done.

Never forget!

Marble headstones mark the graves of our nation’s veterans at Fort Logan National Cemetery. (© Tony’s Takes)

Marble headstones mark the graves of our nation’s veterans at Fort Logan National Cemetery. (© Tony’s Takes)

Paying respects on Memorial Day 2015

As I watched this man at Fort Logan National Cemetery this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder who he was there to see. He was clearly moved as his eyes went between the grave and the flag.

Perhaps a grandfather that had served in the Battle of the Bulge and demonstrated extraordinary heroism against an enemy onslaught?

A high school buddy who he went to Vietnam with but whose life was cut short in a God-forsaken jungle?

Perhaps a son, daughter, niece or nephew who went to a foreign land seeking vengeance against those who dared harm our nation on 9/11?

I saw many people there today while I visited my dad and a few others I knew. All of the visitors undoubtedly have stories to tell about those buried on this hallowed ground, just as I do. It is humbling to walk among those who have served and sacrificed in defense of our great nation. May God bless the United States of America.

A man stands alone, paying his respects to the fallen at Fort Logan National Cemetery.   (© Tony’s Takes)

A man stands alone, paying his respects to the fallen at Fort Logan National Cemetery. (© Tony’s Takes)

Honoring those who served

The Thornton Veterans Memorial in Thornton, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

The Thornton Veterans Memorial in Thornton, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

For nearly 240 years, brave men and women have answered the call to service and donned the uniforms of this nation’s military. Like myself and my family, millions of veterans have served this nation in all capacities.

No matter their assigned job, they have served with honor, courage and commitment from back here in the states to places overseas like Tora Bora, Fallujah, Normandy, Anzio, Guadalcanal, Khe Sanh, Inchon and many other God-forsaken hell holes across the globe.

Each has made their own sacrifices for God and country. Sacrifices of time, mind, body and soul.

All of us, all veterans, believe in this country and believe in the cause.

I, as they do, firmly believe that the United States of #America is a beacon for all others – where we lead, others follow because the liberties and freedom we have and offer are cherished by all beings and are a God given right.

That spirit of patriotism and loyalty echoes loudly throughout the hills of Arlington National Cemetery and in the voices of veterans you can talk to today.

Our service men and women are the finest examples of what this great nation stands for and all are worthy of the highest praise and greatest honors.

Please take time today to remember the veterans of this great nation and what they have given to all of us – our very freedom and freedom to millions of others.

Persian Gulf sunrise aboard the USS Carl Vinson

One for Throwback Thursday. Taken in August 1996 while in the Persian Gulf conducting Operation Desert Strike. The ‘island’ of the massive aircraft carrier and F/A-18 Hornet and EA-6B Prowler aircraft are silhouetted by the rising sun.

Combat operations were taking place against Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein’s genocidal attacks against Kurds in nation’s north. Tensions were further heightened by the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia two months before that killed 19 U.S. service members.

For those that don’t know, I served six years in the +U.S. Navy primarily working on the electronics on S-3B Viking anti-submarine warfare aircraft. Lots of stories from those days and I am proud to have served my nation.

The sun rises behind the USS Carl Vinson in the Persian Gulf in 1996. (© Tony’s Takes)

The sun rises behind the USS Carl Vinson in the Persian Gulf in 1996. (© Tony’s Takes)