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Military standoff between North, South Korea quells after talks

support our troops military standoff north south korea North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un (left) and South Korea's Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan Photo: AFP/Getty Images/EPASEOUL, Tuesday - After days of escalating military tensions between North and South Korea, the contentious countries have agreed to end a standoff, according to ABC News. The countries had been quarreling over a series of events that led to one of the most serious escalations of military intent in over five years.

The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, ordered a "quasi-state of war" and South Korea had raised its military readiness to the its highest level. The two Koreas fired artillery shells across their heavily-fortified border, known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and South Korea broadcast anti-North Korean messages over a loudspeaker. The exchange of fire did not result in any damages or injuries, but the two countries argued over who had fired first.

Had the military standoff escalated, the implications could have potentially sparked a global conflict, one that the United States Military might have intervened in. North Korea said it would lift its semi-state of war and said it "regret" causing injuries to South Korean soldiers from a landmine blast on Aug. 4. South Korea, starting on Tuesday, will stop its broadcasts over the border.

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Two women soldiers are the first to pass Ranger School

support our troops women soldiers pass ranger schoolU.S. Army Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut, speaks with reporters Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, at Fort Benning, Ga., where she was scheduled to graduate Friday from the ArmyÂ’s elite Ranger School. Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver are the first two women to complete the notoriously grueling Ranger course, which the Army opened to women this spring as it studies whether to open more combat jobs to female soldiers. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)FORT BENNING, Ga. - Since 1972, only male soldiers were allowed to attend Ranger School, one of the most grueling tests the army has to offer. The two month course is so notoriously difficult that only 3 percent of soldiers ever finish it. Last Spring, for the first time, women were allowed to enroll. Recently, according to Yahoo News, Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver were the first women ever to complete the training.

Griest, 26, of Orange, Connecticut, and Haver, 25, of Copperas Cove, Texas, will become the first women to wear the Army's coveted Ranger tab when they graduate alongside 94 male soldiers Friday at Fort Benning.

Currently, women are still unable to join infantry, armor and special forces units, but that could change next year after the Pentagon makes its recommendations. Haver and Griest — both graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point — not only finished the course they started in April. They both had to start from scratch, having failed two previous attempts. Haver is an Apache helicopter pilot stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, and Griest is a military police officer and Afghanistan veteran stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

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Tampa Humidor raises money for Support Our Troops

suppor our troops tampa humidor raises moneyA check presented to Support Our Troops®TAMPA, recently – Mike Howe, the co-owner of Tampa Humidor, a cigar shop in Tampa, noticed something interesting about sales at his store. In addition to the regular customers around the area, he was getting a lot of troops - former servicemen and women, and veterans of recent wars and military service persons. In fact, so many service members were coming into the store and buying cigars online that he decided to memorialize them. "They're a part of our customer base," he said, "We have a lot of current and ex-military folks and customers. We get a lot of pictures from guys that are on active duty - flags and stuff too - so we put those up on the wall. We call it the wall of honor." The interactions with these men and women spurred Howe to do something more than just put up pictures.

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Meet Your Military: Military Leader by Day, Spin Instructor by Night

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Bethany Watson, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 18th Wing First Term Airman Center, sits on her lead stationary bicycle July 13, 2015, in the Risner Fitness Center at Kadena Air Base, Japan. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lynette RolenAir Force Tech. Sgt. Bethany Watson, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 18th Wing First Term Airman Center, sits on her lead stationary bicycle July 13, 2015, in the Risner Fitness Center at Kadena Air Base, Japan. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lynette RolenKADENA AIR BASE, Japan: With her energetic voice, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Bethany A. Watson commands the room full of cyclists from her lead stationary bicycle as they pedal vigorously in the dimly lit, music-filled exercise room at Risner Fitness Center here.

As she guides the rapidly exhausting class members through the rigorous spin workout, it becomes more and more evident: leading is in her blood. Watson is the noncommissioned officer in charge at Kadena’s First Term Airman Center, and she’s one of the first leaders new airmen meet when they arrive here for their first duty assignment. "The whole reason I came to FTAC in the first place is because I had a rough time as an airman," she said. "I wasn't focused. I didn't know what I was doing and many other things. I was just floundering. That's really why I wanted to come and do this job specifically. I just really have a heart for the airmen -- to get them started out on the right path. "

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Meet Your Military: New York Guard Officer Becomes Champion Powerlifter

support our troops guard capt dead liftNew York Army National Guard Capt. Jeremy Hillyard pushes upward during a powerlifting competition in Rochester, N.Y., August 8, 2015. Hillyard, who began weightlifting while stationed at Guantanamo Bay in 2011-2012, successfully defended his weightlifting records set in previous competitions.WEBSTER, New York– What started as a weightlifting hobby at the gym while deployed at Guantanamo Bay in 2011 and 2012 has become a record-breaking event for New York Army National Guard Capt. Jeremy Hillyard.

Hillyard, a battle-staff officer in the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team headquarters based in Syracuse, took five prizes in the Aug. 8-9 Revolution Powerlifting competition in Rochester. More than 300 weightlifters took part in the regional competition, one of the largest on the East Coast. “Nothing compares to the adrenaline when you are competing against yourself; it takes mental and physical strength when you are no longer in front of just a mirror but instead hundreds of people,” Hillyard said. “Getting your body to do something you may not have been able to do a month ago is something special.”

Hillyard discovered weightlifting when he was serving as part of Joint Task Force Guantanamo with the New York Army National Guard’s 107th Military Police Company. He looked for something to fill time in a productive and positive manner and followed the path of fellow soldiers to the base gym. Hillyard said he excelled at lifting weights but he stopped lifting weights when he redeployed here from Cuba.

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U.S. Soldiers enjoy donations

support our troops soldier shows off care packageU.S. Soldier shows off care packageRecently, Afghanistan - Master Sergeant James -- works with the deployed 72nd Medical Detachment (VSS). They are a small unit that handles all the veterinary treatment and food inspection for working soldiers. Support Our Troops sent care packages to the soldiers, and James provided us with photos of his fellow troops enjoying some rare treats from home. The packages, he said, brought smiles and cheer to his fellow soldiers.

 Here is Master Sergeant James --’s letter: SOT Group, I would like to thank you for bringing a little piece of home to our unit during our deployment. We are a small dispersed unit that conducts all the veterinary treatment and food inspection in theater.

We received your package last week and have disbursed throughout the theater to our other sites and I have asked for more pics. If they come in I will surely pass them along to your organization and thank you again for the support and smiles you bring.

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