Dead Drop: June 14

MAJOR MALFUNCTION: We recently heard the sad news that former astronaut William Anders died when a plane he was piloting crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Anders led a remarkable life – as evidenced by the fact that he was still flying at the age of 90. He was most famous, not for flying, but for taking the iconic “Earthrise” photo from the Apollo 8 spacecraft on its mission as the first spacecraft to orbit the moon. Naturally, most major U.S. media carried extensive obituaries (many which were probably prepared years in advance.) And there’s the rub.  We’ve mentioned before that it is increasingly noticeable that many news organizations are unfamiliar with pretty common military matters. Anders was an Air Force fighter pilot who was a major at the time of the Apollo 8 mission.  He elected to leave active duty in 1969 and took a series of jobs in government and the private sector.  But Anders remained in the Air Force reserve and retired as a major general in 1989. But many of the news organizations referred to the death of “Major Anders” last week.  The New York Times called him “major” more than a dozen times. That title was accurate when describing his rank while on his lunar orbital flight – but not when discussing his later years.  To their credit, The New York Times eventually corrected their mislabeling – and owned up to the mistake.  We understand The Washington Post was also notified of the error in their obit – but when last we checked – they had failed to fix the error.  It may seem like a small issue to some – but giving an American hero the respect of calling him by the proper rank – seems to us like the right thing to do.

HATS OFF TO THE RUSSIAN JUSTICE SYSTEM: Say what you will about the Russian concept of free speech – well, maybe say it just beneath your breath. Because saying the wrong thing can result in a lengthy stay in a jail cell.  As evidence – look to this story from The Moscow Times which reports that a man in Russia’s Ural region encountered an 11-year-old boy who was wearing a hat with the Z symbol – which implies support for the ongoing war (umm, make that “special operation”) in Ukraine. The man, Alexander Neustroev, must have been a little cranky since he told the lad: “shove that hat up you’re a**, moron.”  He later apologized – but the Russian courts were not mollified and have sentenced Neustroev to three years in prison. Apparently, Russian courts are really concerned about the tender ears of their youth. Either that or the sanctity of their Z hats.

STICK THAT IN YOUR HAT AND SMOKE IT:  Meanwhile, Moscow’s Justice Ministry has labeled a domestic group called “The Path Home” (which works to defend the rights of those mobilized and sent to war in Ukraine) as “foreign agents.” The group has been charged with creating a “negative image” of Russia and its army.  It is unclear what impact being called “foreign agents” will have – but the Kremlin apparently hopes that “The Path Home” – which has held demonstrations in Moscow in the past – will keep any of their complaints going forward – under their hats.

UKRAINIAN DRONE CAPS OFF A MISSION:  Video posted on Russian Telegram channels appears to show a drone installing a Ukrainian flag on a communications tower in the Belgorod region of Russia.  We are not entirely sure who was flying the drone – but the flag was right side up – so it was probably not Mrs. Alito.

THE BAND DROPPED IN: Back in March, we told you about a group of actors who starred in the HBO mini-series “Band of Brothers” over two decades ago, and who were training to parachute into Normandy for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. The jump was intended to honor the soldiers the actors portrayed in the series. has video of the troupe of actors acting like paratroopers and doing their subjects proud. Sadly, none of the original members of Easy Company (portrayed in the series) are still with us – but happily all of the actors who jumped at the chance to make a dramatic arrival in Normandy, landed safely.

POCKET LITTER: Dead Droplets and bits and pieces of interesting /weird stuff we discovered:

THE RIGHT TO BARE ARMS (OR NOT): Video has surfaced of a man who says he is a U.S. Marine veteran by the name of Seth William Baker, who has joined the Russian Armed Forces. The man says he is now serving in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. The folks at Task & Purpose say that the identity of the man in the video cannot be absolutely confirmed – but there seems to be a lot of circumstantial evidence that he is indeed a former lance corporal who served in the USMC as a bulk fuel specialist for just under three years, getting out in May 2022. The guy in the video says he was bounced from the Corps due to his refusal to take the COVID vaccine. We’re not at all sure that the gent’s rights to bodily autonomy are going to be respected as part of Putin’s army – and the Donbas may not be the best place for a young man apparently afraid of shots, but the video shows that some people will go to great lengths to avoid an inoculation.