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Report: Russian warships fire missiles at ISIS targets in Syria

Russian warships fired six missiles at ISIS targets in Syria on Friday, according to the country’s state media.

According to CNN, a statement from Russia’s Defense Ministry that was posted to RIA said that the missiles were fired  from the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. The Cailber missiles were fired from the frigates “Admiral Essen,” “Admiral Grigorovich,” and the submarine “Krosnodar,” the RIA said.

Dramatic video shows aid worker, Texas Aggie rescuing child from ISIS gunfire

Among the many things that are required of a freshman in Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets — from buzzed hair, to shined shoes to elaborate rituals for nearly every situation — is to memorize a simple Bible verse, John 15:13.

“Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

These are not hollow words in Aggieland. It happened famously in Corregidor; tragically in Fallujah; in the trenches of World War I and mountains of Afghanistan.

>> Read more trending news

Texas A&M graduate David Eubank knew this when he saw a girl of about 5 amid the remains of her family, slain in the ruins of the streets of Mosul, Iraq.

The girl was alive. There was a wall between her and deadly ISIS snipers.

For one little Iraqi girl, Eubank was prepared to stretch the definition of greater love. 

“I thought, ‘If I die doing this, my wife and kids would understand,’” he later told the Los Angeles Times.

His dramatic rescue was caught on video and can be seen on Youtube. (Warning: The video contains graphic content that may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.)

Eubank’s heroism is hardly out of character. He was a Texas toddler when he knew he wanted to be a soldier and a third-generation Aggie. After completing A&M’s Corps of Cadets, the class of ‘83 graduate served 10 years in the U.S. Army. He was a Ranger and, ultimately, a Special Forces commander.

If that seems like enough service for most, Eubank was just getting started. The son of missionaries, in 1997, he founded the Free Burma Rangers to help those displaced by the civil war in Burma. He moved his wife and kids across the world to help provide food, medical care and Christian outreach to those in need.

Nearly 20 years later, the Free Burma Rangers shifted their focus to Iraq, Syria and the victims of Islamic State terrorists.

That brings us back to Mosul, where this month’s dramatic rescue happened.

Nabih Bulos, reporting for the Los Angeles Times, described how it unfolded:

As clouds from the smoke canisters swirl about, he prepares to dash from behind the tank to save the girl. He’s wearing a helmet and a bullet-proof vest over a black T-shirt. He runs out as his colleagues, armed with machine guns, give covering fire. He scoops up the girl with his right arm, stumbling as he runs back. He’s gone and back in 12 seconds. The girl’s hair is in pigtails, secured with what appear to be pink ribbons.

It wasn’t quite a Hollywood moment. Another toddler seen alive disappeared in the chaos. A wounded man didn’t make it. As for Eubank? He’s not playing the part of action hero. Instead, he works to keep the humility of a Christian aid worker.

“I believe God sent me here, and I don’t think about security,” he told the Times. “... but I always ask myself if I’m doing it out of pride.”

Read the Los Angeles Times interview with Eubank about his rescue and work in Iraq.

Read a Texas Aggie magazine story from 2012 on the Free Burma Rangers.

Read a Washington Post story about the Eubank family and their work in Iraq.

F-16 jet crashes on takeoff from Houston airport; pilot ejects

A pilot suffered minor injuries Wednesday morning while ejecting from an F-16 Fighting Falcon jet that crashed during takeoff at southeast Houston’s Ellington Airport.

>> Read more trending news

The pilot, who was not identified, was being evaluated at a hospital after the crash around 10:30 a.m. local time, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The pilot was conducting a training flight as part of a detachment of the 138th Fighter Wing, stationed at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, according to NORAD.

The Houston Fire Department said the crash prompted officials to evacuate people within a 4,000-square-foot radius of Ellington Airport. The evacuation was expected to last about six hours.

A spokesman for the Texas Air National Guard 147th Reconnaissance Wing told KPRC that the F-16 had ammunition on board when it crashed.

Officials with the 147th Attack Wing told Houston officials that no residents were in danger due to the crash.

U.S. shoots down Syrian warplane that attacked American-backed fighters

The U.S. military has announced that it shot down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet on Sunday after it dropped bombs near U.S. partner forces who were fighting ISIS.

>> Read more trending news

U.S. officials say that the shoot-down was done in the “collective self defense” of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), allies in the fight against ISIS.

A U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet shot down the Assad regime’s SU-22, which “wound[ed] a number of SDF fighters and [drove] the SDF from the town” of Ja’Din.

>> Read the news release here

“The coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat. ”

The coalition said the Russia was contacted before the Syrian plane was shot down.

Navy sailor presumed overboard found hiding on ship: report

A sailor, whose disappearance from a naval ship off the coast of Japan last week sparked a days-long search and presumptions that the man had fallen overboard, has been found alive aboard the ship.

>> Read more trending news

The U.S. 7th Fleet said Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 3rd Class Peter Mims, 23, was found Thursday, one week after he vanished from the USS Shiloh as the ship was 180 miles east of Okinawa, Japan.

The circumstances surrounding Mims’ disappearance remained under investigation Thursday. Citing unidentified sources familiar with the situation, the Navy Times reported that Mims apparently hid in one of the ship’s engine rooms.

He will be transferred to the USS Ronald Reagan for a medical evaluation.

Mims’ disappearance triggered a multinational search.

The U.S. Navy, Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Japanese Coast Guard spent more than 50 hours combing 5,500 square miles of the Philippine Sea in search of Mims. The search was suspended on June 11, although crewmembers on the Shiloh continued to look for the missing sailor.

“We are thankful to have found our missing shipmate and appreciate all the hard work of our sailors and Japanese partners in searching for him,” said Rear Adm. Charles Williams, commander of Carrier Strike Group 5 and Task Force 70. “I am relieved that this Sailor’s family will not be joining the ranks of Gold Star Families that have sacrificed so much for our country.”

Mims, who has ties to Putnam County, Florida, according to WOKV, enlisted in the Navy in February 2014. He reported to the Shiloh in August 2014.

Officials said he had earned a number of awards, including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Navy Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon and the Sea Service Ribbon. He was last promoted in August 2015.

U.S. Army offering up to $90,000 re-enlistment bonuses to lure soldiers

To combat a shortage of troops, the Army has announced that it will triple the amount it will pay in bonuses this year to over $380 million — with the goal of getting soldiers to re-enlist. By committing to another four or more years, some soldiers could get a bonus of up to $90,000.

According to The Associated Press, the incentives follow Congress’ decision to enlarge the Army and comes as the armed service hopes to reverse some of the downsizing that happened under the Obama administration. The move also comes after President Donald Trump has promised to increase military personnel and power.

>> Read more trending news

“We’ve got a ways to go,” Gen. Robert Abrams, head of U.S. Army Forces Command, said in an interview. “I’m not going to kid you. It’s been difficult because a lot of these kids had plans, and their families had plans.”

The president has unveiled a plan to grow the Army to 540,000 soldiers, with the goal of having 476,000 soldiers by October. To fulfill that goal, the Army must find 6,000 new soldiers, convince 9,000 current soldiers to commit to another term and add 1,000 officers.

According to Mst. Sgt. Mark Thompson, the new bonuses have convinced 2,200 soldiers to re-enlist since the end of May. Usually, around one-third of soldiers re-enlist each year, but the Army’s goal this year will require nearly three quarters of them to sign back on for another four years.

“Time is our biggest challenge,” Maj. Gen. Jason Evans said.

Read more here.

Memorial Day 2017: Soldiers place 280,000 flags on headstones of fallen service members 

As part of a Memorial Day tradition, soldiers placed 280,000 flags on the headstones of fallen service members at Arlington National Cemetery.

>> Read more trending news

The tradition, which soldiers call “Flags In,” has been held every year since the 3rd U.S. Infantry, known as the “Old Guard,” was designated as the Army’s official ceremonial unit 70 years ago.

RELATED: On Memorial Day, President Trump honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice

Specialist Kristen Pinnock participated in the tribute for the first time this year, telling WFLA, “I’m thinking about the families -- what they had gone through, what they still go through.”

“It really pulls at your heartstrings as it reminds you that we’ll always be there. We’ll always honor our guys,” Staff Sgt. Jason Kohne said.

RELATED: Take a look at this moving memorial dedicated to soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan

It takes nearly 1,000 soldiers to complete the ritual, and they also perform the same task at U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

“I would do this every single year I could until I retire, if I could,” Army Pvt. Wes DeFee said told The Washington Examiner. “It’s such an honor to help the families and support them with honor and respect.”

Memorial Day sign at Kansas restaurant goes viral 

For Memorial Day, it was the perfect sign of respect.

The photo of a sandwich board outside Mayberry’s Bar & Grill in the northern Kansas city of Washington that pays tribute to the American servicemen who have lost their lives fighting for their country has gone viral. 

>> Read more trending news

“We have 619,300 reasons to be closed on Monday,” is written in chalk on the sign, referring to U.S. service deaths from World War I, World War II and the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The sign was the idea of Mayberry’s employee Kelly Ray, the Wichita Eagle reported. Ray moved from Missouri to northern Kansas earlier this year, and he brought a sign he made while working at a previous restaurant. Mayberry’s would be closed on Sunday and on Memorial Day, but the sign posted outside the restaurant would be photographed and shared across social media. By late Sunday it had been shared more than 109,000 times.

“I just love the message,” Ray told the Wichita Eagle on Sunday. “You don’t have to like our president or like some of the things our government is doing, but you sure better respect those who have laid down their lives for us to be able to live here.”

According to official U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs numbers, and depending on how deaths are calculated, the sign totals are not completely accurate, but the message is still relevant.

Ray told KWCH that many patrons have thanked him for putting up the sign. One veteran thanked him in person, but Ray, who is the restaurant’s manager and chef, stopped him.

“I said, ‘No, thank you,’” Ray told KWCH. “You guys are the reason we’re here and we appreciate that.

“He said ‘Damn shame more people don’t think like that,’” Ray said.

Ray said the idea for the sign was formed when he worked at a Missouri restaurant.

“I mentioned to the owner that we should be closed for Memorial Day, and he said, ‘I can’t think of one good reason why we would do that, because people are going to be out and they’ll want to eat,’ ” Ray told the Wichita Eagle. “I saw a post on Facebook with the number of people who have died in our wars, so I basically just put that on a sign and showed it to him.”

The owner closed the restaurant.

“People talk about Memorial Day being the start of summer and that sort of thing,” Ray told the newspaper. “But what it’s really about is those people who died. I hope people think about them.”

Afghanistan car bomb explosion kills 18

At least 18 people were killed and six others were injured Saturday in a car bomb explosion in eastern Afghanistan, CNN reported Saturday.

The attack occurred near a bus station in the city of Khost, said Najib Danish, spokesman for the interior ministry.

There has been no claim of responsibility.

Nation marks Armed Forces Day

Dignitaries are taking time Saturday to mark Armed Forces Day.

The nationally-recognized day was created under the Truman administration, and is marked every May 20 as a way to honor all branches of the military, according to the Department of Defense. People are encouraged to pay respects to those serving in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. 

>> Read more trending news 

President Trump, who is on his first trip overseas, tweeted a thank you message to the armed forces. Other dignitaries are also marking the day on social media.

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