The Scoop Deck

VIDEO: Blue Angels pilot makes Rob Riggle squeal for this ‘Top Gun 2 audition tape’

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This post was written by Battle Rattle’s James Sanborn.

Comedian and retired Marine Rob Riggle takes to the skies in this “Top Gun 2 audition tape” skit for popular comedy website Funny Or Die.

In it, Riggle posits that he’s a dead ringer for the supporting actor post beside the famed flier Maverick. When he mounts up and begins to practice his lines, the Blue Angels pilot goes full throttle in the two-seater F/A-18 Hornet.

Spoiler alert: Riggle lets out some kind of squeal, and then passes out.

In addition to his career as a comedian featured in movies including The Hangover, The Other Guys and Step Brothers, Riggle served 23 years in the Marine Corps Reserve rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel before announcing his retirement on Jan. 1, 2013.

Coming soon: gourmet Navy chow. Really.

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Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Nelle Kigembe and Culinary Specialist 1st Class (AW/NAC) Jamie Wyckoff plate a meal April 9 at NAVSUP's Sea Air Space booth. (Meghann Myers/STAFF)

Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Nelle Kigembe (left) and Culinary Specialist 1st Class (AW/NAC) Jamie Wyckoff (right) plate a meal April 9 at the Sea Air Space exposition near Washington, D.C. (Meghann Myers/STAFF)

Hundreds of exhibitors came to show their wares at the 2014 Sea Air Space expo near Washington, D.C., but none drew a crowd as much as Naval Supply Systems Command’s booth around lunchtime.

Smiling attendees milled around with small plates of seared snapper and field greens prepared by Navy culinary specialists, getting a small taste of the Navy’s plans for meals underway.

“What it does is, it cuts the edge off of all the technology that’s going around here,” Cmdr. Danny King, director of food service for NAVSUP, said of his booth. “So you’ve got all this great technology, millions and millions of dollars, but at the end of the day a sailor’s still got to eat.”

Sailors underway are a captive audience for culinary specialists, but they can still go the ship’s store or the geedunk machine when they’re hungry. King said the idea is to draw them to the mess by cooking fresh, tasty dishes they recognize, like steak and shrimp.

One mouth-watering example: Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Matthew Susienka’s pan-seared red snapper with candied pecans and frisée salad. It isn’t included on a ship’s meal plan, but it could be.

“We can absolutely do this underway. We have all of the ingredients to do it underway,” Susienka said.

Culinary specialists prepared marinated hangar steak with Israeli couscous and cambozola cheese April 9 at the Sea Air Space Exposition outside Washington, D.C. (Meghann Myers/Staff)

Culinary specialists prepared marinated hanger steak with Israeli couscous and cambozola cheese April 9 at the Sea Air Space Exposition near Washington, D.C. (Meghann Myers/Staff)

This is part of the Navy’s shift away from “advanced food products” — packaged meals you can heat up and serve, like school lunches or airplane meals — toward fresher, more nutritious ingredients. NAVSUP plans to kick the underway menus up a notch.

As it turns out, purchasing, storing and refrigerating fresh foods isn’t much more complicated or expensive than buying processed foods instead.

“Advanced food products actually decreased our space size. Those boxes are more bulky and it took up more space,” King said.

And thanks to technology, the Navy has  blankets they can lay over food supplies that absorb food-spoiling ethylene gas from the air, extending freshness for 21 days. King also described a light system that sanitizes the air in storage spaces, to keep bacteria and fungus at bay for longer periods of time.

As far as cost goes, King said, fresh ingredients are cheaper than packaged foods, and the health benefits to the sailor come out in the cost of medical care later on.

Meet rack lamp 2.0

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Energy Focus’s LED rack lamp comes with a USB drive, as seen at the 2014 Sea Air Space convention.

If you’ve spent any time in an enlisted berth — outside of gilded officer country  –  then you know it’s kind of a dive. This despite the XO’s best efforts. For sailors, it’s really the little things that matter: A TV that works, working showers, a working berthing iron that isn’t caked with burnt starch and an ironing board that doesn’t look like somebody was body-slammed onto it (even though somebody was probably body-slammed onto it).

Now a company has come up with another gadget to make berthing life better: a re-invented rack light. Lighting company Energy Focus removed the fluorescent bulb and replaced it with an LED light. No more flickering or that annoying humming noise fluorescent lights make. It also lasts up to 50,000 hours and consumes way less energy than the old lamps.

Even cooler: An optional USB outlet where you can charge your phone or iPad. Energy Focus executive Merl Toyer said this is the most popular feature with sailors. It would also be helpful if Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens gets his tablet initiative into the fleet. (Read more about that here.)

Toyer said there are about 1,000 of these new rack lamp fixtures in the fleet today, so if you are one of the lucky ones, drop us a line and let us know what you think of it. All in all, it looks like it could be a nifty upgrade for sailors, even if it’s not a luxury item.

Former SEAL after getting shot in the gut: ‘Must catch people.’

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Former SO1 Chris Heben in his hospital bed after a March 28 parking lot shooting. (Photo via Facebook)  

Former Special Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Chris Heben was headed to buy his mom a birthday gift March 28 when, following an altercation, he was shot in the parking lot of a Bath Township, Ohio, shopping center. The bullet pierced Heben’s lower abdomen.

Rather than call for help, Heben, 44, hopped in his truck and tried to chase down his assailant while holding a finger in his bullet wound. Within minutes, he was seeing stars, he told Navy Times, so he decided to pull over at a police station and get some medical attention.

It all started when a gray, low-profile sports car nearly backed up into him in the parking lot. Heben said they exchanged strong words, but no one was yelling.

“You almost ran me over,” he recalled saying. “If I wasn’t paying attention, I’d be under your car right now.”

Thinking the situation was over, he headed for the Mustard Seed Market & Cafe. But then the car came back and Heben got shot.

Navy Times spoke to Heben over the phone April 3, following his discharge from the hospital.

Q. What happened when the car pulled up?

A. I’m going toward the store and he comes up next to me and shoots me through the door, basically. He said, “you got a real big mouth and you need to learn some respect. Where I come from we have to earn respect. I’d be willing to help you with that right now,” or something like that.

And then he looked at his buddy, turned back and looked at me, and that’s when I felt like I got mule-kicked in the gut. I never saw a gun.

I had a gun in my car at that time, a Glock. If I would have had the gun on me, I still think, legally, I couldn’t have shot because I didn’t see a gun.

Q. Did you see the plate?

A. No, but that’s why I gave chase. I’m all amped up. You know, I’m a SEAL — I’m not thinking 911, I’m thinking, ‘must catch people.’

Q. How long did you follow the car?

A. I could never get more than 75 yards from them because I have a truck, they have a souped up little car. At some point in time, I’m like, I can’t follow these guys anymore. There’s a police station literally right here, I’m going to pull in there and get some help.

I went from seeing stars to like, looking through a kaleidoscope into a lava lamp. Everything was kind of blue.

I would just guess it was less than five minutes. My belly was on fire. I got shot about five inches below my belly button and about an inch over from that.

It was burning, my heart’s racing, I’m sweating, my eyes aren’t working. And I’m thinking, what’s the end game here? If you catch up to them, and you probably won’t, what are you going to do?

You’re going to pit maneuver them, and spin them out, and hope you can get out with your gun? And you still haven’t seen a gun, and now you’re pursuing people, which is outside of the concealed carry statutes. Dude, just get help.

Q. Had you ever been shot in combat?

A. I was never shot in combat, no. I’ve been fragged, you know, from nearby explosions, [rocket-propelled grenades], things like that. Maybe a bullet hitting a wall and getting metal fragments.

It’s funny, because the doctor comes out, and my parents are in the room. And he goes, “I just have to tell you, you have a lot of other metal in you.” He’s pointing at my body, going, “You have it here, you have it here, you have it here.”

And my mom looks at my dad, and she’s glaring at me, and she’s like, “So you’ve been hurt before, and you never said anything?!”

Apparently this penetrated a few inches into my abdomen and the doctor said he had to repair a few holes in my small intestine. They pulled it out, but I don’t know what it is, what caliber it is.

Q. Do the police have any leads?

A. No, I think they’re kind of at a loss. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t keep anyone in the loop. They just kind of do their thing, you know, and that’s understandable.

Then-SO2 Chris Heben during a post-9/11 deployment to Pakistan.

Heben served from 1996 to 2006 with SEAL Team 8, with deployments to  Iraq, Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Later he became a close quarters combat and urban operations instructor with Naval Special Warfare Group 2. Since his discharge, he’s served as a special operations contractor overseas and been featured on numerous television specials, in addition to expert panels on CNN and FOX News.

For more information on his work, check out



The Last Dive Bomber

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SB2C-5 gunner station2 jb040114

All photos by John Bretschneider

A World-War II era Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver was unveiled at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven  F. Udvar Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. April 1.

The Helldiver was the last purpose-built dive bomber to enter Naval service and was designed as a replacement for the smaller SBD Dauntless dive bomber.

Poor lateral stability in the early Dash-1 versions led to its not-so-flattering fleet nicknames: Son-of-a-Bitch, Second-Class (for SB2C) or simply “The Beast.”

By the end of WWII, guided bombs and rockets eliminated the need to point the entire airframe at the target in order to insure a successful bomb run.

Perhaps the most historic accomplishment of Helldiver aircrews was the sinking of the Japanese battleship Yamato.

SB2C-5 restoration dive brakes2 jb040114

Restoration specialists from the Smithsonian’s Mary Baker Engen restoration facility at the Udvar-Hazy Center attach flaps and dive brakes onto the left wing in the final days of the aircraft’s re-assembly.

The restoration hangar is named for the wife of former FAA chief, Navy Vice Admiral, and SB2C pilot, Donald Engen.

SB2C-5 curtiss employee cadettes2 jb040114

Former Curtiss Aircraft employees Betty Maskett (empenage fabrication) and Jackie Davis (quality control) stand in front of an aircraft they helped design and build 60 years ago.

The women — members of the Curtiss Cadettes — were recruited in the 1940s by the manufacturer to learn aeronautical engineering due to manpower shortages at the height of the war.

MA2 Mayo could rate rare medal

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NavmarineA petition to award Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark Mayo the Medal of Honor has appeared on the White House’s website, but a leading expert in military decorations says that’s not in the cards.

Navy officials say Mayo was gunned down the night of March 24 while attempting to protect quarterdeck watch standers on the destroyer Mahan, after a man identified as 35-year-old truck driver Jeffrey Savage, an ex-convict, gained access to the pier and disarmed the ship’s petty officer of the watch.

“He doesn’t qualify for the Medal of Honor because it wasn’t in combat,” said Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran who manages the Military Times’ Hall of Valor awards database. “But what this sounds like is a Navy and Marine Corps Medal.”

If the early accounts of Mayo’s actions bear out in the investigation, his actions would rate one of the rarest of all military decorations, Sterner said.

“It’s no small honor,” he said. “It’s what’s known as the non-combat Medal of Honor.”

Sterner said the Navy and Marine Corps Medal has only been awarded between 5,000 and 10,000 times since its creation in 1942.

In order of precedence, the medal ranks below the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross, but above the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.

Notable recipients of the award include President John F. Kennedy for his actions to save his crew on PT-109, and James E. Williams, the most decorated enlisted sailor in history.

Navy Medicine wants you to use spice. No, not that kind.

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The chart includes a list of herbs and spices with their health benefits, and how to use them. (Navy Medicine)

In an effort to shape up the force and get sailors off the frozen/microwave/fast-food train, the Navy Bureau of Medicine has released a handy chart to help you add some zest to your adventures in home cooking.

The list of herbs and spices includes the usual suspects, like cinnamon, pepper and mint, but if you feel like branching out, there’s also cardamom, turmeric and wasabi.

The alphabetized chart breaks down each seasoning by their health benefits, their forms (seed, ground, whole, leaves), what they taste like, and what they’re used for. Many of them include a link to a recipe as well.

Example: Paprika, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, is a ground spice. It can taste sweet or smoky and hot, and you can use it to season everything from veggies and soup to fish, poultry, beef, lamb and pork. Included is a recipe for rotini pasta with red pepper and almond sauce.

The complete list is here. And if you just can’t say no to burgers and frozen corn dogs, use the spices and these recipes to make them at home, a healthy and often cheaper option.

Anything look interesting? Let us know in the comments.

Report: Ukrainian ‘killer dolphins’ switch sides

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Biologist Sergei Antonov puts a sensor for locating lost objects on the snout of  9-year-old dolphin Diana at the Ukraine Defense Ministry dolphinarium in Sevastopol, Ukraine on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 1996. The only, and until recently secret, military scientific research dolphinarium in the former Soviet Union, where about 50 dolphins are trained for multipurposed military programs including searching missing ships and missiles, rescuing drowning people and destroying naval objects. (AP Photo/Sergei Svetlitsky)

A biologist works with a dolphin at the Ukraine Defense Ministry dolphinarium in Sevastopol, Ukraine, in 1996. The former Ukrainian marine mammal unit will serve Russian masters, a Russian news agency reported. (Associated Press photo by Sergei Svetlitsky)

An elite team of Ukrainian special operators will help Russian forces find explosives on the bottom of the Black Sea, a state-run Russian news agency reported.

The reason for the defection isn’t clear: Team members aren’t talking, and it’s tough to get inside the head of what RIA Novosti calls “Crimean combat dolphins.”

In 2012, Scoop Deck brought you the story of 10 dolphins being trained by the Ukrainian navy to attack human combat swimmers, possibly using knives and guns strapped to their heads. The program resurrected training efforts that dated back to the Soviet Union and had operated under Ukrainian military control briefly, then shifted to civilian jobs such as working with disabled youth. The whole unit shut down in February, RIA Novosti reported.

Soon after, the dolphin’s training center in Sevastopol — along with the rest of Crimea — fell under Russian control, leading to a series of tense standoffs between military forces and some high-profile defections, including the top man on the dolphins’ organizational flow chart.

News of the dolphins’ defection went viral, naturally. And new movie-themed memes probably won’t be far behind.

The U.S. Navy uses dolphins for some mine-detection duties, but plans to stop the practice in the coming years. Sevastopol and San Diego host the only known facilities that train marine mammals for such use. Learn more about the U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal Program here.

WATCH: Navy football goes full “Walking Dead” in 2014 season-preview video

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The 2014 Naval Academy football team began its spring practice earlier this week. Judging from the short clip below, the Mids will be ready for all comers — including a zombie horde:

2014 Navy Football Teaser from Navy Football Video on Vimeo.

If the music doesn’t cause a bit of a jump in your blood pressure, you’re probably not a devotee of the most-watched program on cable television:

The Walking Dead - Opening from Josip Kostic on Vimeo.

The regular season starts Aug. 30 against Ohio State in Baltimore. It’ll end there, too — Dec. 13 against Army, when the Mids will be going for a 13th-straight win over the Black Knights.

Insert your own “Walking Dead” jokes here.

For more work from the folks behind the Navy football cameras, go here. For Military Times’ always-handy guide to surviving a zombie apocalypse, go here.

VIDEO: TNT’s ‘The Last Ship,’ starring fictional destroyer, gets premiere date

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Start with a Cold War-era novel. Replace the nuclear missiles with a deadly pathogen. Have the man behind the “Transformers” movie franchise toss in action sequences with snowmobiles and helicopters. Add aquaflage, and you’ll get something like this:

YouTube Preview Image

TNT announced last week that “The Last Ship,” a drama following the crew of the fictional destroyer Nathan James as they rush to save the planet from a deadly outbreak, will premiere June 22 at 9 p.m. Eastern. Michael Bay will produce the series, which stars Eric Dane (“Grey’s Anatomy”) as the ship’s captain. See more about the show and the first, longer, trailer here.

lastship_inpostThe above trailer premiered as part of SXSW, also known as South By Southwest — an Austin, Texas-based festival that mixes major corporate sponsors and TV giants with independent films and budding music superstars. TNT also screened the premiere episode at the festival.

“The Last Ship” could be the lone Navy-related offering on broadcast or big-time cable television this year that doesn’t have “NCIS” in the title. The submarine-based thriller “Last Resort” went under in 2012, and a TV reboot of the “Act of Valor” franchise — the movie starred real-life Navy SEALs — that had been set for the National Geographic Channel first morphed into a show about Air Force pararescuemen, then disappeared entirely.

So, based on the 102-second sneak preview above (and the promotional poster, right), will “Last Ship” sink, or save the day? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.