Posts filed under ‘Weaponry and Equipment’

THE FRIDAY FOTO (May 26, 2023)


(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Matthew Plew)

A specially-painted U.S. Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon, assigned to the Colorado Air National Guard’s 120th Fighter Squadron (FS), commemorated the 100th anniversary of the unit in a flight flies over Leadville, Colorado and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on May 8, 2023.

Accompanying the Colorado ANG fighter was an F-35A Lightning II, the Air Force latest fifth-generation fighter, assigned to the 134th Fighter Squadron of the Vermont Air National Guard. TheF-35s are replacing the F-16s and other fourth-generation aircraft.

The “Redeyes” of the 120th FS began service on June 27th, 1923, flying the Curtiss JNSE “Jennie” (or Jenny). The 120th Fighter Squadron, while flying P-51 Mustangs in 1946, became the first Air National Guard unit to obtain Federal recognition, thus the motto “FIRST IN THE AIR GUARD,” visible on the Falcon’s tail below a rendering of a Jenny biplane.

Today the Redeyes are a dual-purpose fighter squadron with pilots qualified to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions including Offensive Counter-Air , Defensive Counter-Air, Offensive aircraft interdiction, Close Air Support and Combat Search and Rescue missions.

May 26, 2023 at 1:57 am Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (May 12, 2023)


(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sergeant John Schoebel)

U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team,  maneuver an M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle during exercise Arrow 23 in Niinisalo, Finland on May 5, 2023. Regular 4GWAR visitors may remember the Finland became the newest member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization ion March 30.

Exercise Arrow is an annual, multinational exercise involving armed forces from the United States, United Kingdom, and the three Baltic nations — Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — all of them NATO members. They train with the Finnish Defense Forces in high-intensity, force-on-force engagements and live-fire exercises to increase military readiness and promote interoperability among partner nations.

The troops  in this week’s FRIFO are from the 1st Cavalry Division.

We were struck by the sharp detail of this image, while photos of tanks and armored vehicles are a little flat, either because the vehicles were moving or photographed at a distance, but the imagery in this FRIDAY FOTO just pops.

BTW, the U.S. is sending about five dozen Bradleys to help Ukraine in the war against Russian invasion.

May 13, 2023 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: Okinawa Dragon Boat Race Winners


The Army Ladies’ Dragon Boat Team competes in the 49th Naha Hari Festival Dragon Boat Races in Okinawa, Japan, May 5, 2023. The team won the championship trophy for the event. (Photo by Brian Lamar, 10th Support Group)

With a come-from-behind finish, the U.S. Army Ladies’ Dragon Boat Team became the first all-women crew to win the 49th Naha Hari Festival Dragon Boat Races on May 5th, 2023 in Naha City, Okinawa. It was the first time the races were run in three years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Army all-women team dominated the event, placing first out of 21 teams in the trial heats with a time five minutes and five seconds for the 630-meter (688.9-yard) course. Only three teams qualified for the finals — the Army Ladies, the Army Black Knights and the Japanese Airlines team.

The Army women began to fall behind in the first half of the final race, while the Black Knights began to pull ahead. But at the turnaround, the Army Ladies’ team made up all the lost ground. After the turn, all three teams were within a half boat’s length of each other.

The Ladies’ boat crossed the finish line at 5 minutes and 8 seconds. The Black Knights finished second and the Japanese Airlines Team was a distant third.

Finals of the 49th Naha Hari Festival Dragon Boat Races on May 5, 2023 in Naha City, Okinawa. (Photo by Brian Lamar)

The Black Knights needed help achieving a full crew for the dragon boats, which require 32 rowers, two more people to steer the boat and two drummers. The gaps were filled by affiliated Army personnel and members of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.

Haarii (dragon boat races) date back hundreds of years in Okinawa. The festivals are held to pray for a safe voyage and a good catch and to thank the sea for its blessings. Fishermen compete against each other during haarii in sabani (small dragon-shaped fishing boats). Haarii, which have been held by fishermen in Itoman City and Naha City for 600 hundred years, are traditional events celebrated by people who live with the sea, according to the Okinawa Island Guide.

May 9, 2023 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (May 5, 2023)


(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Samantha Jetzer)  Please click on the photo to enlarge the image.

Hula students perform on the Nohili Dunes at the Pacific Missile Range Facility during a cultural site visit the island of Kauai, Hawaii on April 1, 2023.

The U.S. Navy facility is the world’s largest instrumented, multi-domain missile range capable of supporting surface, subsurface, air and space operations simultaneously.What that means is U.S. Missile Defense Agency, in cooperation with the U.S. Navy, can test things there like the Aegis Weapon System and  demonstrate the capability of a ballistic missile defense (BMD)-configured Aegis ship to detect, track, engage, and intercept a medium range ballistic missile target in the terminal phase of flight.

Barking Sands started out as an Army Air Force Base during World War II. Early in 1942, the single existing runway was paved and lengthened to 6,000 feet with a width of 200 feet. Soon a second, equally sized runway was added. They were built to accommodate heavy bombers like the B17 Flying Fortress and B24 Liberator, as well as C47 and C54 cargo planes.

Traditionally, Hawaiians congregated at these dunes to fish and gather sustenance.

For the record, the Hula haumāna (hula students) with Hālau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leinā‘ala dance group were performing a hula to the mele (song) called “Ike I ke One Kani AʻO Nohili (The Barking Sands of Nohili)” at the wahi pana (legendary place) of Nohili Dunes.

May 5, 2023 at 12:38 am Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (April 28, 2023)

“High shall our purpose be.”

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Hillard) Click on the photo to enlarge image.

Coast Guard personnel conduct maintenance aloft on the Coast Guard cutter Eagle, a three-masted barque, in the Atlantic Ocean on April 9, 2023.

The Eagle is the only active (operational) commissioned sailing vessel in the U.S. maritime services. A permanent crew of eight officers and 50 enlisted personnel maintain the ship year-round. They also provide the knowledge and seamanship for training  up to 150 cadets at a time.

In early April, Eagle began a four-month summer deployment to teach practical seamanship skills to officer candidates from the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Corps, as well as foreign military personnel.  During this voyage, cadets and crew will meet with U.S. allies in Northern Europe (the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark), the Portuguese archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira — and later, Bermuda.

Eagle will return to its homeport in New London, Connecticut by mid-August.

The German-built Eagle is an actual war prize, taken from the Nazis at the end of World War II.  Launched in 1936 by the Blohm + Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, the sailing ship was commissioned as Horst Wessel, after the Nazi icon and “martyr.” Originally operated by Nazi Germany to train cadets for the German Navy, the ship was taken over by the United States after World War II. In 1946, a U.S. Coast Guard crew – aided by the German crew still on board – sailed the tall ship from Bremerhaven to its New London.

By the way, the words of the headline are taken from the Coast Guard marching song, Semper Paratus, Always Prepared.

April 28, 2023 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (April 14, 2023)


(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Ramsammy)

This is not how they deal with traffic scofflaws in the United States Marine Corps.

What this photo does show is a Marine AAV7A1(assault amphibious vehicle) from 2d Marine Division’s 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, crushing a car during Gator Week on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on April 6, 2023.

Gator Week is an annual field meet with physical team building events that increase unit cohesion and commemorates the history of the 2d Marines 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion.

April 14, 2023 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: New Tongue-Twister Name for Greenland’s Thule Air Base


Thule Air Base, Greenland — the northern-most U.S. military base on the planet — has a new name: Pituffik Space Base. U.S. and Greenland officials unveiled the new base sign during the base renaming ceremony on April 6, 2023.  (U.S. Space Force photo by Senior Airman Kaitlin Castillo)

In an era when a number of U.S. military facilities are having their names changed to eliminate their links to the Confederacy and the Southern Rebellion’s ties to slavery, Thule Air Base, the Defense Department’s northernmost installation, has been renamed for entirely different reasons.

The name change to Pituffik Space Base has a two-fold purpose: To recognize Greenland’s cultural heritage and better reflect that the installation is now a U.S. Space Force Base.

Pituffik (pronounced bee-doo-FEEK) is the traditional Greenlandic name of the region where the base is located. The renaming better reflects its role in the U.S. Space Force, while paying homage to its ties to the Greenlandic people and culture, according to U.S. Space Force . The base is located approximately 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the northwestern coast of Greenland (see map below).

“This renaming represents our wish to celebrate and acknowledge the rich cultural heritage of Greenland and its people and how important they are to the sustainment of this installation against the harsh environment north of the Arctic Circle,” Chief of Space Operations U.S. Space Force Gen. Chance Saltzman, said  in his opening remarks at the April 6 ceremony.

He was joined by officials from both countries. Shown in the photo at the top of this post, from left to right, Colonel Brian Capps, 821st Space Base Group commander; Saltzman; Greenlandic Minister of Affairs, Business and Trade Vivian Motzfeldt, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark Alan Leventhal and Chief Master Sergeant Christopher Clark, the 821st Space Group command chief.

Greenland maps (The World Factbook 2021. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2021.)


Saltzman noted that renewed strategic competition in the Arctic can be expected with Russia’s historically significant presence in the region and the People’s Republic of China, a self-proclaimed near-Arctic power, seeking opportunities to expand its influence.

“From here, we have maintained an unbreakable bond working towards the collective defense and stability of the northern Arctic,” said Saltzman. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the people of Greenland and Denmark for their partnership and friendship over the years. Today marks a new chapter in our shared history, one in which we recognize and celebrate the contributions and traditions of this land and its people…Together the men and women of Pituffik Space Base and our Greenlandic and Danish partners will ensure a safe, secure, and prosperous future both in space and above the Arctic Circle.”

Motzfeldt expressed her pride in Pituffik and Greenland and their part in ensuring the security and defense of the people of Greenland, the United States, and the transatlantic community.

“With the decision to re-name, the U.S. has demonstrated its respect to the friendship between us, recognizing cultural heritage, and the history of the base,” said Motzfeldt. “I hope that this day will serve as an example of the ability of great nations to listen to even their smallest neighbors…Today the U.S. has proclaimed to the world, that here lies Pituffik Space Base, where even this far north, there is a people, and they have a name for the place from where we keep watch over all our peoples.”


The renaming ceremony was hosted in conjunction with the Greenlandic Heritage Week festival held annually at the base. Greenlandic Heritage Week is a festival that celebrates Greenlandic Inuit culture and is attended by residents from local villages, with some making the multi-day trek by dog sled across the sea ice.

The base, built in 1951, provides installation support for vital space-based missions, is home to the DoD’s northernmost deep-water port, and has a 10,000-foot runway. It is operated by the 821st Space Base Group, a geographically separated unit of Space Base Delta 1 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The 821st SBG provides mission support to the base, including security forces, airfield management, and the day-to-day operations to enable force projection, space superiority, and scientific research in the Arctic region for North America and its allies. Pituffik Space Base also hosts the 12th Space Warning Squadron and 23rd Space Operations Squadron, Detachment 1.


Greenland, the world’s largest island, is about 80 percent ice-capped. Vikings reached the island in the 10th century from Iceland; Danish colonization began in the 18th century, and Greenland became an integral part of the Danish Realm in 1953.

Greenland was granted self-government in 1979 by the Danish parliament; the law went into effect the following year. Greenland voted in favor of increased self-rule in November 2008 and acquired greater responsibility for internal affairs when the Act on Greenland Self-Government was signed into law in June 2009. Denmark, however, continues to exercise control over several policy areas on behalf of Greenland, including foreign affairs, security, and financial policy in consultation with Greenland’s Self-Rule Government, according to the CIA’s World Fact Book.

The village of Qaanaaq, formerly Thule, located about 65 miles north of the base. Qaanaaq is home to about 600 people. This photo was taken in late summer 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Colonel Lee-Volker Cox) Click on the photo to enlarge image.

April 11, 2023 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (April 7, 2023)


(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff SERGEANT Nicholas Ross) Click on photo to enlarge image.

U.S. Air Force Captain Lindsay “MAD” Johnson  flies her A-10C Thunderbolt II jet with a heavenly backdrop over Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona on March 26, 2023.

Johnson was certified the new A-10C Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team’s pilot and commander, by Air Combat Command chief General Mark Kelly just 13 days earlier on March 3, 2023.

As the Demonstration Team pilot, Johnson is responsible for showcasing the A-10 Thunderbolt II at over 20 airshows annually around the country and internationally. As commander, she is also responsible for leadership of a 10-person team that includes maintenance and public affairs Airmen.

During her performance on March 26, Johnson — a veteran instructor pilot, who has amassed over 1,250 flight hours, including 431 combat flight hours in support of both Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the Resolute Support Mission — showcased different aerial maneuvers, including simulated gun runs,  highlighting the A-10’s capabilities as the Air Force’s close air support fighter.

April 7, 2023 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (March 31, 2023)


(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sergeant Max Archambault) Please click on the photo to enlarge the image.

U.S. Army Sergeant Hunter Johnson conducts a mountain rappel during training for the Edelweiss Raid, on February 26, 2023 at Training Area Lizum, Innsbruck, Austria.

The Edelweiss Raid is an international, military competition sponsored by Austria’s bundesheer [national army] designed to test the alpine skills of mountain soldiers. Competitors must be able to quickly transition from skis to technical mountaineering and back into skis to overcome obstacles on the course.

The Edelweiss Raid covers 40 kilometers with an overall rise in elevation of 4,000 meters. The competition includes up to 12 stations with required military tasks, including high-angle shooting, call for fire, and mountain casualty evacuation. The event intends to challenge soldiers, foster camaraderie, and build relations between mountain warfighters across the world.

Sergeant Hunter is an instructor at the Army Mountain Warfare School, operated by the Vermont Army National Guard at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Jericho, Vermont.

For the record, of the 22 participating teams, 18 finished the grueling two-day competition. According to the event’s Facebook page, Germany’s  Mountain Battalion 233 from Mittenwald took the winner’s trophy and a gold medal. A team of the Hochgebirgsjägerbataillon 26 (High Mountain Rifle Battalion 26) from Spittal an der Drau, Austria won the silver medal and a team of the 53rd Mountain Combined Arms Brigade from the People’s Republic of China earned the third place bronze medal. No word on how the U.S. team fared. Other teams came from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Switzerland.

March 31, 2023 at 9:34 pm Leave a comment

BALTIC-2-BLACK: UPDATE – Finland Approved for NATO Membership

UPDATE: Finland becomes newest member of NATO

Finland: Turkey’s parliament ratified Finland’s application to join NATO Thursday (March 30), clearing the way for a country with a longstanding policy of military neutrality — and an 830 mile (1,300-kilometer) border with Russia — to join the Western defense bloc.

NATO rules require all 30 member nations (soon to be 31 with Finland’s entry) to approve any new countries joining. Turkey was the last NATO member to approve Finland.  Hungary voted its approval earlier this week, March 27.

“All 30 NATO Allies have now ratified the accession protocol. And I have just spoken with President Sauli Niinistö to congratulate him on this historic occasion,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “Finland will formally join our Alliance in the coming days. Their membership will make Finland safer and NATO stronger.”

A member of the Finnish Navy High Readiness Unit, on patrol with U.S. Marines, during bilateral training on Russaro Island, Finland on August 11, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Yvonna Guyette)

NATO rules require all 30 member nations (soon to be 31 with Finland’s entry) to approve any new countries joining. Turkey was the last NATO member to approve Finland. Hungary voted its approval earlier this week. However, neighboring Sweden, which applied for NATO membership with Finland in May 2022,  “remains on the outside looking in,” as Breaking Defense put it. However, there is some belief among European sources that Sweden may still get into NATO this year, depending on the outcome of Turkey’s elections in May.

Both Turkey and Hungary are holding out on giving it the green light to Sweden despite expressing support for NATO’s expansion,” the Associated Press reported. Turkey’s government accuses Sweden of being too lenient toward groups it deems to be terrorist organizations and security threats, including militant Kurdish groups and people associated with a 2016 coup attempt.

More recently, Turkey was angered by a series of demonstrations in Sweden, including a protest by an anti-Islam activist who burned the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy.

Hungary’s government contends some Swedish politicians have made derisive statements about the condition of Hungary’s democracy and played an active role in ensuring that billions in European Union funds were frozen over alleged rule-of-law and democracy violations.

“All Allies made a historic decision last year to invite Finland and Sweden to join our Alliance,” Stoltenberg said, adding “Since then, we have seen the fastest ratification process in NATO’s modern history. All Allies agree that a rapid conclusion of the ratification process for Sweden will be in everyone’s interest. I look forward to also welcoming Sweden as a full member of the NATO family as soon as possible.”

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WHY BALTIC-TO-BLACK? Russia’s February 24, 2022 invasion of Ukraine and Moscow’s brutal continuation of that unprovoked war has rattled it neighbors in both the Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions, prompting several to increase their defense budgets, reinstate a military draft, and send military supplies including air defense artillery and armored vehicles to Ukraine. In the case of Finland and Sweden, two countries with long histories of neutrality in Europe’s hot and cold conflicts, both are seeking to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Western mutual defense bloc. Finland’s was approved March 30.

Here are other recent developments.


Germany, a NATO member, has committed to about 8 billion euros ($8.7 billion) to buy weapons and equipment for Ukraine. German will be releasing a total of about 12 billion euros ($13 billion) related to the Ukraine conflict over the next decade, according to the Aljazeera news site.

Since the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States has provided more than $32.5 billion of security assistance in the form of military hardware and ammunition.

But the United States, its partners and allies also have provided substantial training to prepare Ukrainians to make good use of the equipment that’s been supplied, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder told reporters March 30.

“Since Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in 2022, U.S. European Command, U.S. Army Europe and Africa and Security Assistance Group Ukraine have trained more than 7,000 members of the Ukrainian armed forces,” Ryder said. “Just this week, 65 Ukrainian air defenders completed Patriot training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and have now arrived back in Europe.”

Back in December, the Pentagon announced that the U.S. will also provide combined arms training to Ukrainian soldiers using U.S. ranges in Germany. That training has been underway, and some of it is now coming to a close.

“At the close of this month, more than 4,000 Ukrainian soldiers in two brigades — one equipped with M2 Bradleys and one equipped with Strykers — will have completed combined arms training and have returned to Ukraine,” Ryder said.


Tanks and More Tanks

Germany and Britain have delivered the first consignment of battle tanks to Ukraine – providing much-needed ground support as Russian forces intensify attacks in the east of the country, according to Aljazeera. The Leopard and Challenger tanks were promised to Kyiv earlier this year and arrived on March 27 in time for an expected spring offensive by Ukraine’s forces.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told journalists that Berlin provided “very modern” Leopard battle tanks to Kyiv with the defense ministry later saying 18 were delivered.

In London, Britain’s government said Ukrainian crews – who have been training to use the Challenger 2 – are now ready to deploy to the front line. The training began shortly after London announced in January it would send 14 of the tanks to Ukraine. The crews learned how to command, drive and “effectively identify and engage targets” the defense ministry said in  statement.

Meanwhile, Spain — another NATO member — said it will send six German-made 2A4 Leopard tanks to Ukraine in early April.

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No to F-16s, But Yes on MiG-29s

Top U.S. defense officials told Congress this week that the U.S. would not be providing aircraft—neither manned nor unmanned—to Ukraine anytime soon.

Kyiv has repeatedly asked for F-16 fighters and MQ-9 drones, the Biden administration has declined to do so, arguing the systems would be of limited use to Ukraine in the current phase of its fight against Russia’s invasion, according to Air & Space Forces magazine. Instead, U.S. officials say Ukraine has more pressing needs such as air defense, armor and artillery. They also contend that Russia’s own capable air defense systems would limit the utility and employment of manned aircraft.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off on a mission at dawn from Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Feb. 11, 2014. ( U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sergeant Gary J. Rihn)

“That air domain is a very hostile airspace because of the capability that the Russians have for air defense,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 28.

But Slovakia is sending Soviet Era fighter aircraft to Ukraine, according to Defense News. Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced his country will deliver 13 out-of-commission Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine as part of Bratislava’s support to the nation’s struggle against the Russian invasion. “Promises must be kept,” Heger said in a March 17 tweet,, adding that Slovakia’s military aid was designed to help Ukraine defend itself and “entire Europe against Russia.”

The latest move comes one day after Polish President Andrzej Duda declared his country will supply the first four MiG-29 jets to Ukraine soon  with more aircraft to be delivered in the future, Defense News reported.

MiG-29 fighter jet. (Photo by Artem Katranzhi from Bakashikha, Russia via wikipedia)

The Polish Air Force has between 11 and 19 MiG-29s in its fleet, according to the president. Duda said Poland’s military will replace the Soviet-made fighters with FA-50 aircraft the country’s Ministry of National Defense ordered from South Korea last September.

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Ukraine Black Sea Grain Deal Renewed, For Now

A deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain was renewed March 18, for at least 60 days, Reuters reported — although the extension is only half the intended period — after Russia warned any further extension beyond mid-May would depend on the removal of some Western sanctions.

The pact was brokered with Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey in July and renewed for a further 120 days in November. The aim was to combat a global food crisis that was fueled in part by Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine and Black Sea blockade.

(Black Sea region map Norman Einstein via wikipedia)

The deal, which will allow for the continued exportation of crucial grain supplies from Ukraine, had been due to expire on Saturday evening. The shipments from Ukraine are an essential part of the food supply for countries stretching from North Africa to the Middle East to South Asia, CBS reported. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and normally supplies around 45 million tons of grain, according to the U.N.

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BALTIC-2-BLACK is an occasional 4GWAR posting on the rising tensions between Russia and the West in the regions of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, where former Russian satellite nations — now members of NATO — border Russian territory. Both NATO, and the United States in particular, have stepped up their presence in the region since Russia began throwing its weight around after annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. Since then, some Nordic countries have been boosting defense budgets even restoring a military draft as Russian aircraft and naval vessels have acted more aggressively in the region.

March 30, 2023 at 11:59 pm 1 comment

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