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What is a Tomahawk cruise missile and what does it do?

The United States launched roughly 60 Tomahawk cruise missiles from two ships in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday, targeting an air base in Syria following a chemical attack allegedly ordered by Syrian President Bashar Assad that struck civilians in rebel-held areas of his country.

The missiles were launched against an air base some 25 miles south of Homs, Syria. The base is small, and one U.S. official said that 50 Tomahawk missiles would do “significant” damage to the facility.

Tomahawk missiles are highly accurate weapons. The modern version was first used by the United States in the 1991 Gulf War.

Here’s what you need to know about Tomahawk missiles:

What are they?

Tomahawk missiles are subsonic, jet engine-powered missiles. They fly low, about 100 feet off the ground.

Where are they launched from?

Tomahawks can be launched from many surfaces, but the U.S. generally uses ships or submarines to launch the missiles. 

How much do they cost?

Each missile cost $1.41 million.

Who makes them?

Raytheon Systems Company makes the Tomahawk Block IV.

How fast can they fly?

The missiles travel at 550 miles per hour.

How big are they?

The Tomahawk is a 20-foot-long missile, and weighs 2,900 pounds. It has a wingspan of eight feet,  nine inches. It carries a 1,000-pound-class warhead.

How accurate are they?

According to the Navy, they hit their target about 85 percent of the time. How do they find their target?

The missile uses a system called "Terrain Contour Matching." An altimeter along with an inertia detector direct the Tomahawk along a flight path against a pre-loaded map of the terrain. They are unlike drones as they are not guided by pilots on the ground. According to Raytheon, “The latest variant (Tomahawk Block IV) includes a two-way satellite data-link that enables the missile to be retargeted in flight to preprogrammed, alternate targets. The Block IV design was initiated as both a cost savings and a capability improvement effort.”

Is the United States the only country with cruise missiles?

No. More than 70 nations have cruise missiles.

Sources: The U.S. Navy; Popular Science; Raytheon

Military jet crashes near Joint Base Andrews

A military aircraft crashed near Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday morning, Prince George’s County fire officials said.

>> Read more trending news 

Fire spokesman Mark Brady said one pilot parachuted out of the aircraft when it went down around 9:30 a.m.

Tucker Carlson blasts Drexel professor for tweet slamming act of kindness for soldier

If ever there was a made-for-Fox News topic, this was it. And Tucker Carlson didn’t disappoint in igniting a fiery debate with a professor who was disgusted after a passenger on his flight gave up his first-class seat to a U.S. soldier.

>> Watch the clip here

George Ciccariello-Maher, an associate professor of politics and global studies at Drexel University, tweeted his thoughts on the impromptu seat exchange, saying: “Some guy gave up his first class seat for a uniformed soldier. People are thanking him. I’m trying not to vomit or yell about Mosul.”

Carlson suggested to the professor that his beef isn’t really with individual soldiers, but rather with U.S. foreign policymakers, so why take out frustration on the soldier?

>> Drexel professor's tweet slamming act of kindness for soldier draws ire

“I think it’s really irresponsible to blindly support, for example, wars that send off young people into combat, risk their lives, kill many others as we’ve just seen in Mosul, 200 people incinerated by U.S. bombs and to not do that in a way that expands anyone’s freedoms, that makes anyone less secure."

“You’re blaming the soldier, you’re not blaming the policymaker,” Carlson interrupted.

“Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” Ciccariello-Maher said.

Carlson then asked why it made him "feel like throwing up?”

“I think U.S. troops need real support, they don’t need symbolic gestures,” the professor said. “What they need is not a first-class seat, they need health care support, psychological support, women in uniform need to not be subjected to epidemic of sexual assault, and more than anything, they don’t need to be deployed, have their lives risked, be taken away from their families for wars that do nothing and no good for anyone.”

>> Drexel University responds after professor's 'white genocide' tweet

Carlson agreed that those were fair points, but the perplexed host still pressed Ciccariello-Maher on the issue of what’s so wrong about the passenger giving up his first-class seat and the amenities that come with it to a soldier: “OK, that’s fine, but why is it bad to give him a first-class seat, I’m missing that? Someone’s trying to be nice to the guy who’s going through all these hardships you just described, and that makes you mad. Why?”

>> Read more trending news

Ciccariello-Maher answered: “I’m all for generous gestures devoted toward those who most deserve them in our society and I have the deepest respect for anyone who, particularly for economic reasons, makes difficult decisions, whether it’s joining the military, whether it’s doing other dangerous work that has to take place in our society, whether it’s being an economic immigrant migrant, and I think these people all deserve better, they deserve to not have to join the military if they would rather just get an education."

The professor received plenty of blowback on Twitter, and he later made his account private.

Drexel professor's tweet slamming act of kindness for soldier draws ire

If you think you have heard of George Ciccariello-Maher, you probably have. The Drexel University professor has a habit of stirring controversy on social media.

Last week, Ciccariello-Maher sent out a tweet about an encounter involving a veteran he witnessed on an airplane, and it sparked outrage.

>> Drexel University responds after professor's 'white genocide' tweet

“Some guy gave up his first class seat for a uniformed soldier. People are thanking him. I’m trying not to vomit or yell about Mosul,” Ciccariello-Maher wrote on Twitter. His account was later made private, but the tweet was captured in screenshots

Needless to say, people weren’t pleased.

Late last year, Ciccariello-Maher stirred controversy with a tweet about “white genocide,” a term that he claims that many white supremacists use.

"All I want for Christmas is white genocide," he wrote.

The next day, Ciccariello-Maher explained to the Philadelphia Enquirer that he was making a joke about white supremacists who believe a white genocide is underway.

>> Read more trending news

“On Christmas Eve, I sent a satirical tweet about an imaginary concept, ‘white genocide,'" he said. "For those who haven’t bothered to do their research, ‘white genocide’ is an idea invented by white supremacists and used to denounce everything from interracial relationships to multicultural policies.”

Ohio stepfather, son deploying overseas on same day

A Huber Heights family with strong military ties will send two members into a combat zone

Ellie Carr said Wednesday her husband and son, both members of the Ohio Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, are preparing to deploy Saturday to Afghanistan and Iraq. 

>> Read more trending news

Ellie Carr’s husband, 1st Sgt. Robert Carr — expected to be promoted to the rank of sergeant major this week — will head to Afghanistan, while her son, Pfc. Dustin McReynolds, will take off for Iraq. Both will be gone for a year.

“We found out first my husband was deploying to Afghanistan,” Ellie Carr said.

She said her son enlisted in 2016 and completed basic training in January -- this will be his first deployment.

“It worried me a little bit at the time because I really didn’t want … my son being so new in the military, I was worried about him,” Ellie Carr said.

Ellie Carr said some of that worry has since subsided after meeting her son’s chain of command.

“They’re a great group of people; I’m thrilled he’s going with them,” she said.

During the next year, Ellie Carr said she’ll be going through major life changes as well.

She quit her job of 10 years working in logistics to enroll full-time in nursing school. She said it’s been a dream of hers.

“This will definitely keep me busy,” Ellie Carr said. “It’s just going to be me and my dog,” Lexi, a miniature Australian Shepherd.

Robert Carr, who previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, and McReynolds are just two of more than 2 million military service members who have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001.

“It makes me proud,” Ellie Carr said.

She said her family has a strong military history. Her father, who recently died, retired from the Army after 25 years, she said.

“It was natural,” she said, of her son joining the military. “If you’ve never been around it, it’s different. Military families are unique.”

Ellie Carr said holidays will be the toughest part of her husband and son deploying, especially because her immediate family is out of state.

Come Saturday, “The emotions are going to be running crazy. I’ve been trying to be strong,” Ellie Carr said.

The family plans to Skype and write letters to stay in contact. And Ellie Carr said her son will be getting plenty of deliveries of Airheads and Zebra Cakes.

Military K9 gets final honor as partner drapes remains in American flag

An unsung military hero has received a final honor

Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Smith found out that his former partner-turned-pet was going to have to be put down.

Bodza was paired with Smith during a deployment in 2012 to Kyrgyzstan. But while Bodza was a working dog, meant to keep his partner and national interests safe, Smith considered his partner a gentle giant.

"He was trained to bite, but I swear he only did it to make people happy. He had no interest in the world of hurting anyone," Smith told Inside Edition.

>> Read more trending news  

When Bodza was retired from service two years later, Smith's superior had a surprise for him.

"They went out and put a bowl, a brand-new leash and two collars, and they put (Bodza) at the back of my Jeep. I got to take him home the same day he retired," Smith said.

Smith noticed last year that his companion wasn't doing well. 

He thought a case of hip dysplasia prevented the dog from being able to jump into his vehicle. But he eventually realized that Bodza was in pain and wasn't able to easily walk, Inside Edition reported.

Bodza was diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy. Smith made the decision to put Bodza out of his misery.

That day came last week.

"I just kept holding him, rubbing and kissing his head, telling him, 'I'm going to miss you'," Smith said.

When his bosses found out what was happening at the veterinarian’s office, they went there to give Smith and Bodza their support.

Then asked staff for a special honor: the building’s American flag to drape over Bodza to honor him for his service. 

A soldier drapes an American flag over his former military dog partner's body after he is put down.— Inside Edition (@InsideEdition) March 7, 2017

"The worst thing you can do is not to recognize these dogs for what they are. For these guys to do this for a dog they've never even met... he got a good sendoff that day," Smith told Inside Edition.

Marines accused of sharing nude photos of female colleagues, reports say

Hundreds of United States Marines are under investigation after allegedly sharing photos of nude service women and veterans, multiple media outlets are reporting.

According to the New York Daily News, the Marines may have shared hundreds or even thousands of nude photos in a private Facebook group since Jan. 30. The Center for Investigative Reporting reported that "more than 2 dozen women" were featured in the photos, which included their names and ranks.

>> Read more trending news

“There is no place for this type of demeaning or degrading behavior in our corps,” Sgt. Major Ronald Green told CBS News. “Let me be perfectly clear: No person should be treated this way. It is inconsistent with our core values, and it impedes our ability to perform our mission.”

The War Horse is the first organization to make the news of the photos public. According to reports, a female corporal was photographed bending over to pick up equipment, and the photos drew several explicit comments on the Facebook group.

Some of the photos reportedly were shared with consent, while many were intended to be private.

The Marine Corps reportedly has fired a government contractor who shared the initial link to the images.

Photo appears to show veteran lying on ground while waiting at North Carolina VA

A couple posted photos on Facebook and said veterans waited for hours in pain inside the Durham VA Medical Center.

Stephen McMenamin, a former U.S. Marine, was there for treatment, and said his wife took the pictures because she "found it upsetting."

McMenamin said a veteran who was lying on the ground was using his bag of medication for a pillow after being denied an available reclining chair.

>> Read more trending stories

"The nurse started yelling at him, telling him he can't do that," McMenamin said. "He's, like, 'I can't get up and I won't get up. I will be here until you can see me. Can I please have a blanket?'"

The Facebook post from McMenamin's wife, Hanna McMenamin', was shared more than 80,000 times.

McMenamin said they started hearing from other veterans and their families.

"All these people, and it was, you know, it's been kind of heartbreaking," he said.

The hospital's chief executive nurse responded and told McMenamin that the matter is being investigated.

Rep. Robert Pittenger said this just reaffirms his push to hold Veterans Affairs employees more accountable.

"It’s absolutely tragic,” he said. "It’s frankly reflective of what we've seen from the VA, and that’s why I sponsored last year and this year, the VA Accountability Act."

The commander of the Veterans Foreign Wars North said things in the state have improved drastically, but if an investigation confirms what is depicted in these photos, then the staff responsible should be fired.

"There's no question about it. I mean, there's no acceptable reason why this should have happened," Cmdr. Doug Blevins said.

Hanna McMenamin said in an update to her original Facebook post that "the VA is very unhappy that we have posted this photo and it has been seen around the country. They have asked us again to remove this photo, claiming one of the participants does not want this posted. They claim to have told him his face is blocked out. I am not sure that they actually told him that, and I am sure they did not mention he is not identifiable."

Durham VA Medical Center Director DeAnne Seekins issued the following statement Monday:

We take seriously any allegation of poor service. I was made aware of a regrettable incident that occurred in our Emergency Department over the weekend and am thankful someone cared enough to share the incident with us. Our mission is to provide the highest level of health care to Veterans, so upon learning of the incident, I took swift action. The employee was immediately removed from patient care pending the results of an internal review. It is an honor to serve America's heroes and actions that do not align with our core values will not be tolerated. We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality care to the Veterans we serve and being responsive to our patient's needs. Veterans deserve nothing less.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Seekins said he picture is not a reflection of the care her hospital provides. 

"We really do everything that we can to ensure that our veterans are treated with dignity and respect," Seekins said.

She has worked for the VA for more than 30 years and said that when she heard about the post, she immediately took action, reaching out to two of the three veterans in the photo.

"One veteran specifically said to me, 'I don't want anything to harm the Durham VA because they care for me,'" Seekins said. 

Seekins said the staff member involved will return to work but will be moved to administration, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Remains of missing Marine killed in Vietnam War heading home after 48 years

After almost 50 years, the remains of a missing Marine who was shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War are coming home.

The remains of Marine Corps Reserve 1st Lt. William Ryan, known as Billy, were found last year after a decades-long search and they were positively identified through DNA testing, according to the Bergen Record.

>> Read more trending news  

The New Jersey native’s plane was hit by enemy fire on May 11, 1969 and crashed along the southern border of Laos.

Ryan held one of the most dangerous jobs in the military as a radio intercept officer on an F-4B fighter jet, and after two years of training, he deployed to Vietnam in August 1968, according the newspaper.

Ryan’s son was just 3 months old when he left for Vietnam.

“I always knew my dad died in the crash, and that’s what my mom told me,” Michael Ryan, 48, told the paper.

“What she didn’t tell me is that part of her held out hope that maybe she’d see his face again.”

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here 

The family was notified last month of the identification of Ryan’s remains by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency at the Pentagon.

Ryan will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in a ceremony scheduled for May 10.

Soldiers told they are losing child care because of hiring freeze

Some U.S. soldiers serving overseas have been told that they are losing their child care.

A letter sent Wednesday to servicemen and women at Army Garrison Wiesbaden in Germany said all part-day preschool and day-care programs would close. The letter from the base’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Todd Fish, said: "This closure is a result of staff shortage due to the federal hiring freeze."

>> Read more trending stories

"President Trump should be embarrassed about the way his actions are impacting our men and women in uniform," said Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

A government-wide hiring freeze was one of Trump’s first actions in office. There are supposed to be exemptions for critical positions. In a Feb. 1 memo, the Pentagon singled out child care for military personnel as being eligible for exemptions.

Kelly Hruska of the National Military Family Association said parents at Fort Knox received a similar letter.

"No parent wants to worry about their child," Hruska said. "And so this just adds additional stress." An Army spokesman said that after those letters were sent to service members, the Pentagon approved exemptions for child-care workers at the bases. 

"With those approved exemptions, hiring actions to fill those child care vacancies can begin," said Nate Allen, an Army spokesman.

Allen said his office has not heard of any other bases or installations that have cut or eliminated child-care services because of the hiring freeze.

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