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Sonoran Desert Institute

All the Latest News, Reviews and Developments happening with the Sonoran Desert Institute!

SDI Makes Strong Move to Support Reservist and Guard Faculty and Staff

Our veterans, current active duty, and reserve personnel are so valuable to Sonoran Desert Institute, both in our student population and in our workforce.

As part of our continuous effort to ensure that our faculty and staff in the service are well taken-care of, SDI has decided to take strong action to ensure that those in the Reserves and National Guard’s schedules on the year are drastically easier with paid time off for the two weeks a year they are required to serve in an active capacity.

“We have recently adopted a new policy in support of our employees who serve in the National Guard or Reserves who are called to serve actively two weeks each year,” Marc Prochello, Vice President of Finance, has said.

“SDI will no longer require the use of accrued vacation to be compensated for that time… This time will be handled much like Jury Duty or Bereavement. (They) will not be working, (they) will be paid, and (they) will not be using any of (their) hard-earned vacation time.”

As our faculty and staff works so hard for us here at Sonoran Desert Institute, it is a blessing to have the ability to give these hardworking men and women the ability to take that time off without needing to schedule their vacation time. It gives them the chance to serve our country more freely, without needing to be concerned about their capability to sit back, relax, and enjoy a few personal days.

To all of our faculty and staff that serve or have served: Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do! We would not be who we are today without you!

What do you think about this news? Please share this on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

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Veterans Day Thank You

This Is How We Can Celebrate Our Veterans Today

If you count all of its various iterations, Veterans Day has been a portion of the American pantheon of holidays for 101 years.

How is it, then, that so few of us, veterans included, know how to mark the holiday?

We’ll talk about what veterans can do in a second. For civilians, this is a serious issue.

First and foremost, we need to acknowledge a reality — a massive segment of civilians on Veterans Day, not unlike Memorial Day, really don’t know what to do during these holidays. Many have a portion or the whole of a day off of work. Many don’t really plan to do anything on that day. While breaks are nice, that’s not really what Veterans Day is about.

So, what do we do?

First, we can thank a veteran. Second, we can thank the legion of waitstaff and customer service personnel who make all the discounts and free meals available to veterans on their day possible. Those are pretty easy, and even if you thank 10 veterans, the combined efforts have taken us about 15 minutes.

Veterans Day wouldn’t be a holiday is the appreciation of our men and women in  uniform was meant to take 15 minutes.

I recently spoke with the Dean of the School of Firearms Technology at SDI, Wes Lemay, who served in the Army for some time, and he answered that very question.

His answer was simple: be better today.

To be better today, Wes outlined a few action points:

  1. If there’s a veteran-recognizing event today, be a part of it.
  2. Donate. As you are able, donate resources to veterans in need. There are a number of charities that would love your help. A few of my personal favorites are the Wounded Warrior Project, Freedom Service Dogs of America, the Gary Sinise Foundation, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and the Semper Fi Fund. SDI has donated to the Fisher House Foundation.
  3. Fly the American flag, and do it respectfully and correctly. You can research proper flag display procedure here.
  4. Ask a veteran about their service, and don’t press into topics that appear sensitive.
  5. Write a letter to a service member.
  6. If you’ve got a VA hospital near you and there are people that can and will accept visitors, go and visit. Make someone’s day.
  7. Take advantage of the opportunities veterans sacrificed for.

Americans have fought and died for your freedom. They’ve sacrificed time. They’ve sacrificed sweat. They’ve sacrificed whole portions of their lives in the pursuit of your life and liberty.

If you can complete that list, you’ve lived Veterans Day to the fullest.

Now, for our veterans on Veterans Day: relax. this day is for you.

What do you think about this to-do list? Please share this on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

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SDI Thanks Our Veteran Employees

What is a veteran?

On the surface, a veteran is someone who has served in the military, but they are much more than that. Veterans are heroes, modern-day warriors, and ultimately, those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. Today, we want to recognize the many veteran employees for their continued efforts in bringing positive change to the world.

Thank you all for your service and for all you do for the betterment of everyone at SDI.


Bob Lee USMC
Bradley Sauls USMC
Chet McCoy USMC
Danny Guckenburg US Army and US Army National Guard
George Ackerman USCG Auxillary
Jacob Burden US Army
Jae Haney US Army and US Air Force
Jeff Lodholtz US Army
Jesse Orellana US Army and US Army National Guard
John Nightraven US Army
John Posner US Army
John Schlosser US Army National Guard
Kristen Shaw US Army and US Air Force
Martin Edge British Army
Reginald Finley US Army and US Army National Guard
Scott Griffin US Army and US Army National Guard
Scott Montgomery US Army
Tom Myers USAF
Travis Johnson USMC
Bryan Dolch USMC
Christopher Seaton US Navy
Wes LeMay US Army
Dustin Ford US Coast Guard
Gary Zito USMC
Lukas Pool US Army
Jonathon Speece US Navy
Marc Prochello US Air Force
Mark Gibbons US Navy
Mike Olson USMC
Pat Harphant USMC
Samuel Field US Army
Sam Schultz US Army
Simona Nichols US Army National Guard
Steve Bozich US Army
Richard Johnson US Army
Tabitha Reynolds US Army
Troy Hardwick US Army
Walter Howard US Army
Will Click US Army
We’d like to give an additional shout out to Martin Edge, who served in the British Army.
We love our SDI family veterans! Share this on Facebook and Twitter and help us give them some recognition for their service!

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Know Your Firearms History: The German PAK 40 [WITH VIDEO]

As Americans, we are lucky to live in the age in which we do.

Sure, we have a mess of problems, but we have made a lot of exciting concepts a reality: everyone gets a vote (if you’re not a felon), violent crime is far less than it has been in recent decades, despite what some would have you believe, and in the field, we have the world’s best and most advanced military safeguarding our freedoms.

We’re also incredibly lucky we don’t have to contend with PAK 40s anymore, as our fathers, grandfathers, and even great-grandfathers had to do.

The PAK 40 is one of those inventions turned out by Germany during the Second World War that showed that not only did the United States need to up its technological game, but they were way late to the party.

For those unfamiliar with this massive firearm, the PAK 40 was an anti-tank artillery piece created by Germany to upgrade their anti-tank arsenal in the face of ever-increasing levels of proficiency in Soviet armor.

File:Pak40 cfb borden 3.JPG

As most of you are already aware, the back half of the 1930s saw a race between the major powers to see who could hold the technological advantage when it came to arms and armor. One of the resulting creations — really a product of general German rearmament — was the PAK 36 — a 3.7 mm, which the Tank Encyclopedia claims to be the first German anti-tank gun.

The piece acquitted itself extremely well during the Spanish Civil War, but was reportedly believed to be in need of upgrading to stay ahead of the ever-cycling armament-armor circle. That upgrade materialized in the form of the PAK 38, a 5 cm gun.

That’s a good bit of firepower. However, as the Tank Encyclopedia notes, “soon after the factories geared up for production, the German military became aware of newer tank designs by the Soviets (thanks in part to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact) and therefore ordered an upgunning of the Pak 38.”

That upgunning eventually turned straight into a new gun — the PAK 40.

About here is where I’d normally insert another photo — but I found a video instead. Check it out:

Isn’t that incredible?

“This gun is a beast! As you can see the muzzle blast is incredible. The WWII German PAK (PanzerAbwehrKanone) 40 was developed in early WWII but didn’t see widespread production until about 1941. The gun was often used by allied forces whenever they would over run German positions which shows the effectiveness of the gun,” the YouTube publisher, PossumPopper89, noted in the video’s description.

The extremely effective gun saw use until the end of the war, and had a reputation for being able to put a hole in just about anything fielded against it.

The gun shown wasn’t in the excellent, fighting shape it is in the video above.

Specifically, it didn’t look so… reasonable.

“This gun was resurrected from an art museum where the owner had painted it pink!” PossumPopper89 reported. “It was restored to working order and the federal paperwork required to build and possess this gun was obtained. It is not legal for an ordinary citizen to have a working field piece like this.”

The scourge of thousands of tanks on both fronts — painted pink.


What do you think about this gun? Please share this on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

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Meet the New Military-Centered Netflix Series You’re Going to Have to Watch

As most are aware, the wildly popular streaming service Netflix has recently ramped up their production of original films, shows, and mini-series.

This is largely thanks to their quest to be attractive to consumers not just for shows you miss from TV, but for those who miss premiering shows they might experience if they had cable — Netflix would love to be the new cable, and many would argue that they are well on their way to making that happen.

We get the benefits of that with some fantastic new shows, one of the more recently-released is particularly exciting.

It’s called “Medal of Honor.”

I bet you can guess what it’s about. The new show, which first aired November 9, will highlight some of the greatest acts of valor this nation has ever known.

The eight-part anthology will cover eight Medal of Honor recipients from World War 2, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan: Sylvester Antolak, Edward Carter, Vito Bertoldo, Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, Joseph Vittori, Richard L. Etchberger, Ty Carter, and Clint Romesha, according to Task & Purpose.

The stories of these eight men’s heroism will be shown through a combination of cinematic recreation, historian, veteran, and military leader commentary, and archival footage. The trailer is powerful.

“When you read citations of [Medal of Honor] recipients, often times it would not be far fetched to think to yourself there is no way this person could have done this,” Mike Dowling, a Marine Corps veteran of Iraq and the technical advisor for the series, told Task & Purpose. “Only they did do that, and their stories deserve to be told.”

“Everything we did that day, we didn’t do it because we hated the enemy,” Romesha says in the series trailer.

“Combat is not a great thing to be in, and it’s not a motivation to hate, by no means. It’s a motivation to love your brothers.”

Greater love hath no man.

For those who subscribe to Netflix, get ready — this is likely going to be a powerful series.

What do you think? Please share this on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

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WATCH: Army Tests Out Hawkeye 105 mm Howitzer

The United States Army recently tested out the Hawkeye 105 mm Howitzer mobile artillery system, developed by the Mandus Group, and man — it looks sweet.

How do I know it looks sweet? Well, a video showing some of that testing in slow motion made its way to Twitter and, well — it’s really, really nice.

Besides it being a big old boom stick with a great capability to reach out and touch, this weapons system is special because of the way it can make its way around the battlefield.

This baby was built to ride on a Humvee.

The “Mandus Group is proud to announce it has teamed with AM General to create the lightest weight, most maneuverable self-propelled howitzer in the world today,” the Mandus Group reported in a statement.

“AM General recognized that the unique “hybrid soft recoil” technology incorporated into the Hawkeye howitzer was a game changing development for artillery in general, especially for self-propelled artillery. Up to now, self-propelled artillery has been mounted on heavy vehicles in order to absorb the extreme shock of recoil from the howitzer.

“These heavy self-propelled howitzers are limited in their ability to be transported to the battlefield and also in their ability to maneuver on the battlefield due to their heavy weight… There simply is no other self-propelled howitzer in the world today that offers the strategic and tactical flexibility that the Hawkeye/HMMWV brings to the fight.”

It’s true — one of the greatest problems facing militaries since the days of antiquity has been getting on and off the battlefield in a timely order and deploying them where they will be the most effective.

Now, American artillery has long been on the cutting edge of this particular line of technology, if they haven’t been the edge.

If use of this weapons system became widespread, I’d imagine we’d be in solid command of that edge for a while.

If you want the nitty-gritty specs, you can take a look here. For those who just want to see something go “Boom!”, just look below.

As Task&Purpose’s Brad Howard noted: “Utilizing an inventive hydraulic system to reduce recoil, the Hawkeye was designed to lighten a tried-and-true artillery solution enough to allow such a large cannon on a small platform.

“It can fire up to eight rounds per minute via remote for three minutes or three rounds per minute sustained, and the mobility of the Humvee allows a small crew of between two and four to rapidly deploy the suspension system, fire, and get out of dodge within 60 seconds — or before counter-battery fire can hit back.”

That’s extra nice if you have to be the person worried about counter-battery fire, not that the United States has had to be real worried about the superiority of their artillery for the past few decades.

This is, however, a fantastic way to take tech we’re already using — the ultra-wildly utilized Humvee — and integrate it with improvements to American war-fighting capability to keep it relevant for years to come.

What do you think about this new equipment? Please share this article on Facebook and Twitter and let us know! Keep and eye out for our next installment on military tech!

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British Army to Cerakote Entire Infantry’s “Weapons Fleet”

Militaries evolve constantly, even if some would argue that they don’t change rapidly enough to reflect the times. Most of the time, that manifests itself in tiny changes that accumulate over time. Sometimes it’s something much larger, like finally fleeing the ACU-style camouflage for something much, much better.

One of the United Kingdom’s newest developments might not be as massive as a new tank model, but it’s big enough news for folks under combat arms, and what’s more — it’s highly visible.

The entire British infantry’s “weapons fleet,” as the British Army’s Soldier magazine termed it, is going to be going Flat Dark Earth — one of the better-known Cerakote colors and likely one some of you have at your hip or in your safe right now!

I won’t lie — it’s one of my personal favorites, and I’m extremely excited.

The British have a history of coloring their small arms to match where they’re going. As The Firearm Blog notes, “The British Army has a long history of painting weapons suitable colours for operational environments but the new initiative is set to see a shift to a new default weapon colour.”



British Army/MOD

What we’re seeing, essentially, is the hope to realize a military philosophy as conveniently as possible.

It seems as though the United Kingdom has a belief that it’s important to see to it small arms are brought to match the environment, just like a uniform ought to.

That’s both a good a idea and a big ol’ pain, re-working or re-issuing firearms as troops are rotated to different locations. The desire for a workaround is absolutely justifiable.

Here, we can see a colorization that will match its environment in nearly all environments, which is one of the reasons FDE is so gosh-darn popular.

Virtus L85A3

British Army/MOD

Major John Anthistle of the Equipment Directorate told Soldier that “The SA80A3 was the first weapon to be painted with this — it is hard wearing and resistant to the elements. As a result, it will enhance durability and the user’s camouflage as the black bodies stand out significantly against the PCS [the British Army’s current multi-terrain pattern Personal Clothing System] background.”

It’s a legitimate concern. I don’t think I have ever heard an American veteran complain about the color of their firearm, but I can certainly concede that I haven’t spoken to every veteran that’s ever served and this could well be a problem that I haven’t yet stumbled across.

The British are looking to act on this soon, lending more credence to the theory that to them, this is real important stuff.

“They will be painted this year but the size of the fleet is so vast users will see a mix of black and brown weapons for a number of years to come,” Anthistle noted.

What do you think? Is this something that the British are just smarter about than we are? Please share this on Facebook and Twitter, tag a friend or three, and let us know!

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