Service & Sacrifice: Upside Down

A snapshot of the burdens being shouldered by brave U.S. troops and military families around the world.

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lighting II pilot performs aerial acts over spectators at the Gowen Thunder Airshow on August 27, 2023, in Boise, Idaho.

By Tom Sileo Published on September 22, 2023


The most bizarre military story of the week was undoubtedly the F-35 fighter jet that went missing after a Marine Corps pilot ejected from the aircraft over South Carolina.

Joint Base Charleston set off a social media firestorm when it initially asked for the public’s help to find the approximately $100 million F-35B Lightning II. More than 24 hours later, the base’s X page posted that a debris field had been found in Williamsburg County, South Carolina.

On Thursday, NBC News reported an eyewitness account that said the fighter jet was flying “inverted” before it crashed. Military officials have not confirmed the account and “questions remain as to why the pilot ejected from the aircraft and why the jet appeared to have continued flying undetected.”

As The Stream‘s Al Perrotta asked earlier this week in The Morning Brew, “how on earth does the U.S. military lose a plane?” An investigation is underway.

Most importantly, the pilot is thankfully said to be in stable condition. Whatever led to this mishap, we are glad no U.S. service members or civilians on the ground lost their lives.


While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the United States this week to ask for more military aid, the wide-ranging impact of the Russia-Ukraine war continued to affect thousands of American troops and their families.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Army announced that about 200 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division will deploy to Europe in the fall. The soldiers, who are stationed at North Carolina’s Fort Liberty (formerly Fort Bragg), are replacing 10th Mountain Division soldiers who will soon return to New York’s Fort Drum, according to the Army Times.

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The Army Times reports notes that the soldiers being replaced have been cycling “through postings across Eastern Europe this month and are currently preparing for joint exercises with the Romanian military.”

Another 3,400 soldiers based at Fort Campbell in Kentucky will replace the same number of U.S. troops and “fan out across Eastern Europe,” according to the report.

Please say a prayer for these soldiers and the more than 100,000 U.S. military service members currently serving in Europe.

Coming Home

A large group of U.S. Army soldiers recently returned to Colorado after a nine-month deployment to Eastern Europe.

Military Homecoming Ft. Carson

Family, friends and fellow Soldiers stand for the National Anthem during a homecoming ceremony at Fort Carson in Colorado on September 13, 2023.

Welcome home, heroes! Thank you for your service to our country. We hope you enjoy some well-deserved quality time with your families!


Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is the author of the forthcoming I Have Your Back, the recently released Be Bold and co-author of Three Wise MenBrothers Forever8 Seconds of Courage and Fire in My Eyes. Follow Tom on X @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.

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