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Swede saved after months in snowed-in car

Swede saved after months in snowed-in car

Published: 18 Feb 2012 09:42 GMT+01:00
Updated: 18 Feb 2012 14:29 GMT+01:00

The man, who is from southern Sweden, was found on Friday in his vehicle parked on a forest track near the northern town of Umeå, according to a report in the local Västerbottens-Kuriren (VK) daily.

"Absolutely incredible that he is alive, in part considering that he hasn't had any food, but also bearing in mind that it was really cold for a while there after Christmas," a member of the emergency services told the newspaper.

How the man managed to get stranded at the end of the forest track and how he remained undiscovered for such an extended period of time remains a mystery.

The man, who is reported to have been seriously emaciated and barely able to speak or move when he was finally freed from his snowy lair, was discovered by a pair out snowmobiling.

The men spotted the seemingly abandoned vehicle, cleared some of the snow and peered in to find to their surprise that there was a person moving around inside, according to the VK report.

They called the emergency services and the police snowmobile search and rescue team and an ambulance were dispatched to the scene.

According to the attendant medical staff, it is estimated that he had been in the vehicle for around two months, the time period accepted as the limit for a human to be able to survive without food.

The man is now recovering from his ordeal in intensive care at Umeå University Hospital.

While mystery surrounds the man's plight, it has been concluded that he was able to remain alive due to the plentiful supply of snow embracing his vehicle.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

10:37 February 18, 2012 by skogsbo
not possible, he is not telling the whole truth. For the body to gain water from snow, you use a lot of body heat and calories, it is a very inefficient method for the body to get water. He would need food to supply this energy need, otherwise he would have been dead with 3 weeks or so. There is an old adage, 3 mins without oxygen, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. Clearly the boundaries of these can be pushed, but 2 months, sounds fishy to me.
10:39 February 18, 2012 by star10
Why did the plentiful snow helped the man survive? As source of water or? It may help as a source of water. But the cold also increases the need for food. Besides, at some point, the man gets too tired to drink water by himself even if his body is dehydrated. Human body is mysterious. So we may not have the answers to these questions at all. But the Local should then be reserved from making stupid speculations.
10:49 February 18, 2012 by Daho
star10, the snow works as insulation against the cold. It was -30 C outside during some nights, but with 50 cm of snow around it was much warmer inside than it would have been with no snow (the car in the picture is not the car the man survived in).

All facts in the case is not known yet, he could have had some food in the car to begin with, was it really two months or a couple of weeks he's been stuck there? The man is not very talkative yet.
10:51 February 18, 2012 by lewni
Yeah right. 2weeks maybe, but 2months ? Not a snowballs...where was this plentiful supply of snow inside his car aswell ? Ice perhaps, but what was he doing, licking the windows ? Nothing adds up.
11:45 February 18, 2012 by roaringchicken92
Glad he made it, but for future reference, sir, the doors open from the inside, too.
11:59 February 18, 2012 by Keith #5083
#Daho

Yeah, we should wait untill all facts are known,for example, how do the rescue services know it was 2 months? Did he tell them? Is he disorientated and not rational after such an experience and therefore unable (at this time) to give cogent facts?

Best we wait for clarification of facts - but in any event, to have survived even a much shorter period is somewhat praiseworthy.
12:16 February 18, 2012 by Coaxen
Was there such an amount of snow in the south of Sweden two months ago? I wouldn't be so sure.
12:26 February 18, 2012 by skatty
Even meat doesn't survive in refrigerator for two months; you should keep it in the freezer!
12:27 February 18, 2012 by dizzy09
i don´t believe this story. everything is wrong with it. for example, its difficult to find somebody without a mobile phone nowadays.
12:54 February 18, 2012 by JulieLou40
@ coaxen: he was found in umeå, didn't you read the article????

By the way, I think it's highly unlikely he would have spent 2 months there!! I agree with other posters-it just doesn't add up. Why wouldn't he have left the vehicle before it got buried???
13:26 February 18, 2012 by swedejane
Sounds typically swedish to me. No thought of trying to do something about the situation, just sit and wait for it to be taken care of for you.
13:49 February 18, 2012 by darky
The Local, are you sure about this?? Hard to believe.... I still need to be convinced....
14:03 February 18, 2012 by Svensksmith
Weeks, yes. Months, no.
14:06 February 18, 2012 by charubun pananon
It might be so, the snow might be the mineral substance when he eat it and it would be good for himself to make him warm and not hungry for long time, two months is nothing for him to survive there, ha ha !
15:49 February 18, 2012 by zooeden
That is total BS, snow could get poisonous after constant eating it, follow the truth!!!
16:26 February 18, 2012 by redblue
The car arrived before the snowfall in late December, according to the Umeå police department. Survival expert dr. Lars Ståhle at the Karolinska Insitutet told svd.se that people survive for 63 days without food, on average.
16:35 February 18, 2012 by Ter76
Wow an amazing story, will be interesting to see the facts on this one, surely sitting in your car for so long would have caused many issues, like organ failure, clots, thrombosis's seems a miracle to me, hope after this ordeal the poor critter survives.
19:17 February 18, 2012 by samwise
it's reported on BBC and other places as well. This one appears to come from AFP.

http://www.calgaryherald.com/Swede+rescued+after+months+snow+covered+police/6175120/story.html
19:48 February 18, 2012 by skogsbo
it's just too flawed to be quite the truth. The volume of snow for water needed - he could have dug the car out in 2 months.

To drink enough fluid over 2 months to prevent kidney failure, you need to pee, so he would be out of the car several times per day, so no snow cover on that side, plus cold air into the car.

metal & glass ie. cars are like not well insulated, any heat in the car will quickly radiate away, try it yourself. So once he popped out for snow or pee, his body heat alone would never warm up the car, ever. Try it yourself, run the engine - warm the car, then see how long you last before you want to run it again.

The final and biggest, you need the will to live.. anyone who has survived extremes which require individuals to take action every day, day after day, had a very strong will. If your will is that strong, you won't have stayed put in the car or at the location that long. It just doesn't make sense.

I think it's either mixed up facts or a hoaxer. If the car was still running, but stuck in snow, you could either just sound the horn, like an alarm call. Leave a note & walk etc..
19:50 February 18, 2012 by Kevin Harris
He might have used the heat of a running engine to melt the snow. If he had a plastic bottle, he could have melted and stored a few litres at a time, and kept it from melting using his body heat. In those temperatures, he wouldn't need to drink too much.

Depending on his footwear, leaving the car and walking out might not have been an option.

If he's in intensive care in an emaciated condition and close to death, he's clearly been starving for several weeks. This might actually be true. Someone sign him up for a book and movie contract.
20:25 February 18, 2012 by dizzymoe33
If you have some type of water bottle than you can fill it with snow and hold it against your body and use your body heat to melt it more efficiently to make some water for drinking. It is possible the other thing is maybe he had enough body fat to help him survive for the two months. Too many factors that were not reported in this story to come to a proper conclusion.
20:31 February 18, 2012 by enders
i wouldnt have gotten out of the car while the snow was falling and walked, but as soon as it stopped its time to start walking. the fact that he failed to do so makes me wonder how he had the will power to live.
21:31 February 18, 2012 by AmericanSwede16
Do these people have no family? Why wouldn't anyone report him missing? Followed by a thorough search and rescue???
21:39 February 18, 2012 by skogsbo
dizzy, snow to water has a 10:1 ratio. That's a massive amount of snow to collect, melt against your body (without giving yourself hypothermia) every day.

Have done numerous survival courses, lived on glaciers for extended periods where we had to melt snow (using stoves) everyday, keeping 2a few litres bottles of water by our sleeping bags at night to prevent it freezing ice etc.. I just simply think something is wrong.

If you have the means to survive, you have the means to escape and he never.
21:51 February 18, 2012 by planethero
This is an awesome interesting story, glad he is alive, bookmarked! & popcorn!
23:38 February 18, 2012 by RobinHood
This guy either starved himself close to death deliberately, or he really is telling the truth. You can't fake malnutrician and emaciation.
00:42 February 19, 2012 by BritVik
A story with more holes in it than a Swiss cheese.
01:39 February 19, 2012 by LoneWolfiNTj
I think everyone is missing the obvious: the news reporters are (admittedly! openly!) *ASSUMING* the man was in the car for 2 months, based on their (almost certainly mistaken) belief that 2 months is the upper time limit a person could survive under such conditions, ASSUMING THE MAN WAS IN PERFECT HEALTH BEFORE THE ORDEAL BEGAN. But there is no logical reason to make that assumption. He very well could have been emaciated for some other reason, and was only snowed-in for 1 or 2 days, not 1 or 2 months. Unless and until he can talk and tell us what really happened, we won't know for sure, but I'm guessing he was only in the car a few days, or even just a few hours. An undernourished man in a car under a snow bank in Sweden in the winter from Dec 15 to Feb 15? No way in Hell. He'd have been dead before Christmas.
02:44 February 19, 2012 by liban91
thats miracle from God, God saved him mashallah.
05:01 February 19, 2012 by Oliver May
We know that the Irish Hunger strikers lasted between 59 and 73 days (except for one who died of dehydration after 40 days without food and 6 days without water).

Laurence McKeown survived 70 days without food.

Rita Chrétien (from B.C. Canada) survived for 49 days in Nevada (rescued May 8, 2011 and she survived on melted snow in a car (her husband is missing presumed dead - he took the walking idea and is assumed to have fallen or succumbed to the elements).

Chretien said they called 911 with their cell phone for days but kept getting cut off. I believe she use the car heater as long as she could.

To survive 62 days is doable but he probably had some food at the start at least.

liban91 - If true, he kills millions. Why? I'd rather believe in Locaha.
06:23 February 19, 2012 by johnoleson
Something tells me we are all being snowed. Lets nurse him back to health and extract the truth out of him. Number one great question-why did he not dig out and walk to safety?
07:30 February 19, 2012 by Rishonim
@ 21:31 February 18, 2012 by AmericanSwede16

Do these people have no family? Why wouldn't anyone report him missing? Followed by a thorough search and rescue???

This is Sweden. Families aren't as cordial towards each other. They get together or talk to each other twice a year (Xmas and Midsummer): This guy was probably doing his Xmas round and at got stuck doing so without his family missing him too much.
09:04 February 19, 2012 by yorkswede
I saw this on the news last night. It seems he had a warm sleeping bag, warm clothes and beer and energy drinks with him. From the pictures from inside the car, it looked like he had some food aswell. Very strange to go for a drive with all that stuff in the car! Maybe it was some kind of attention seeking, survival experiment?
11:24 February 19, 2012 by pomi123
http://www.tradera.com/utmarkta-handarbete-johanson-i-glas-flaska-auktion_341132_149568005
11:38 February 19, 2012 by skogsbo
If he did have all that clothing and food, why didnt he just set off walking at first light the following day, even the most humble of paces would cover a lot of ground, looking for the nearest inhabited house. Life is as tough as you make it. Still an odd tale. Perhaps it was the british geophysicist who was looking for lodging near ostersund sometime ago on the forum?
13:59 February 19, 2012 by RobinHood
@skogsbo

Boots Skogsbo, boots. Without boots, or at least decent waterproof shoes, he would succumb to frostbite on his feet in a couple of hours. Then he would have to stop, then he would die. Does he risk it? Also, walking through snow is very slow and tiring work, after his first two or three days without food, he would not have had the strengh to walk out; maybe if he was very fit, he might have done a little better. Either way, he would have to find shelter by dark. That far north, he would only have about six hours, at a slow pace. Again, if he didn't find shelter by dark, in his poor condition and very tired, he would die. Those were tough choices, and as he is still alive, he called them right.
16:12 February 19, 2012 by skogsbo
If you wait or waste 48hrs without leaving the car then yes. But he should have eaten, slept or drank all night. Then stuffed his pockets with food and drink, leaving the car at the very brink of dawn. If you are moving, you generate heat, his feet would be fine for at least a day or two. Its cold but survivalable. You can cut holes in sleeping to make improvised jacket, if its that bad. 6hrs, 2 or 3 kph, gets yoy a fair way. At least far enough to see light to aim for.
17:03 February 19, 2012 by jake neilson
Two months? I've been stuck in traffic longer than that!
18:07 February 19, 2012 by EagleOwl
Thought I would just post a few things here for everybodys information, as many seem a bit unclear of what facts actually apply in situations like these and what the best action to take is.

First, the absolutely safest thing to do if you ever get stuck on a remote little lumber road in the middle of nowhere in a place like northern Sweden during winter, is STAY IN THE CAR. I cannot emphasize this enough, people who abandon their vehicle thinking they can "walk out" generally tend to die in the snow somewhere, because the strenous exercise of walking that far simply is too much for the body to withstand given it's also extremely cold outside - not to mention it can be extremely hard to navigate with everything snowed over. You can't necessarily tell the road from the woods in many parts of Sweden when the snow gets deep enough, even though I'm sure downtown people think it'd be a piece of cake to just walk home ;)

The fact is, people who stay in the car more often survive than not. This man was lucky he knew that fact, and I hope the rest of you who would leave the car and start walking will reconsider just in case you ever end up in a similar accident yourselves. There are many, many things you can use in and around the car for shelter, starting fires, melting water etc and even cooking food, but on foot in the woods in the cold of winter you are extremely badly exposed to some very harsh conditions.

Technically speaking about the snow, yes eating it cold is bad for you (not only due to energy consumption but can cause stomach cramps as well) and this guy must have melted it first. He probably rolled down/kicked out a window, grabbed handfulls of snow and melted it in something in the car, then drank it. And like somebody said, snow does insulate. There's a reason people can live in igloos and other snow caves all winter long if needs be.

As far as the "rule of 3", these are values rounded off to help teaching the difference in needs and not to be taken literally. For example, the body can survive up to 2 weeks without water, not only the 3 days given in the rule, and the same "error of margin" applies with the "3 weeks without food" rule.

Whether this guy actually was in the car 2 months or only 2 days, nobody can know. All I'm saying is it's not as impossible as some claim it is :)
20:12 February 19, 2012 by skogsbo
eagleowl, you are right in some respect, however sitting tight is fine, if you have the means summon help and it worked, you know where you are & folk will pass by soon, someone will miss you and they know where you went. NONE of this was clearly happening here.

To do nothing, is to sit down and wait to die, however long that maybe. If true, he was found by chance and nothing else.

As for hard work yes, walking in deep snow is graft, but if you life depended on it? He must have known roughly where he was and which way to walk, failing that head downhill, always down hill, or just pick a direct and go, east in this case probably, unless he know better. If in doubt he could do 2 hours work in each direction each day, leaving double the time to get back to the car in daylight.

Firelight yeah, base of spruce have great dry wood, bit of paper or car seat material and cig lighter, may have got a first going? If car and battery worked that is.

Insulation, yeah a few metres of settle snow is great, I know I slept in a variety on snow shelters for at least a hundred days of my life, probably more. But, when the car parked up, it probably had a mere dusting in comparison, plus he had to get in and out. Snow shelters are relatively warm (but still below zero) by design; cold are sinks and rasied sleeping platforms, good insulation and kit/moisture management is what make it comfortable and survivable for multi night trips.

As for folk dying, I spent 20 plus years doing SAR and as a mountain instructor, I seen and found more bodies from folk who did not, or gave up, many we so close and should have pushed on, but made so hash attempt to shelter etc.. Better to use you last 3 hours of good energy travelling, than making your coffin.

Yes it is possible if you are organised and have good admin to live that long, but if your skills and discipline is that good, you would just sit around, you would get yourself out, especially when you knew you wouldn't be missed.

As for hunger strikers, they weren't living outside where even modest dehydration and low energy levels can lead to radid and irreverisble hypothermia. Plus, some hungers strikers (allegedly) secretly ate a little to prolong their campaign hoping for success, if they want to die quickly just don't drink.
00:44 February 20, 2012 by entry
I do not know if this story is true or not. It is however possible. The rules as taught to me were always 3 months without food/3 days without water and you are dead.
02:59 February 20, 2012 by johnoleson
This is so typical. Swedes are so used to government help and intervention that they have lost their basic survival instinct. Did he even have permission to go driving into such a remote and dangerous place?
07:47 February 20, 2012 by skogsbo
johno, do you live or have you ever been to Sweden?
08:28 February 20, 2012 by EvelinaL
I think his very lucky that he survived!
08:29 February 20, 2012 by nathaliie94
I think that was werid how can this person survived in this car and only eat snow?
08:32 February 20, 2012 by Malinkarlsson
Is he really telling the hole truth?? If it's so he is really amazing!!
08:35 February 20, 2012 by NatalieDavidsson
I don't think he tells the whole truet, but if he does, It's pretty amazing.
09:51 February 20, 2012 by The fall guy
He's a gruff viking. We need to be like him to survive in this world.

But how much does it snow in one night up there?
09:52 February 20, 2012 by StarQuality
An undernourished man in a car under a snow bank in Sweden in the winter from Dec 15 to Feb 15? No way.. He'd have been dead before Christmas if that was true. As I understand from the article theres no truly evidence that he had been in the car for 2 months? I wait until the man start talking before I believe this.
10:09 February 20, 2012 by JosefinJ
It's incredible how he could survive for months eating only snow from the roof and lip balm. I think it's strange though why he didn't leave the car from the beginning to search for help. or why he didn't make a call. Maybe he was trying to comit suicide after his life got so complicated..
11:09 February 20, 2012 by klubbnika
Not an abnormal behaviour for a Swede. Probably, he was not feeling that well mentally and took to the extreme to ease the pain.
11:36 February 20, 2012 by Lemon1987
Chill out all of you guys !! , That was just ultimate part of Bear Grylls`s Man vs Wild :D
12:07 February 20, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
Agree with many here that 2 months sounds like too long a period of time to survive without food.

Having said that, two obvious questions are:

Q1: Was he delirious, and told the health care workers two months, but was actually away only 3 or 4 weeks?

Q2: Does the usual 3 week limit for starvation still apply if the man was overweight or obese to begin with, and sleeping most of theim? Would seem odd if the 3 week rule applies even if you have two dozen kilos of spare fat in storage, which is the most efficient way (in terms of body weight) to store energy. Bears hibernate all winter.
14:03 February 20, 2012 by KarlBertilHitman
The chanses for this lad to survive weren't big, but still he managed it. Still a bit strange that he didn't leave when he was strong enough.. Maby the doors were totally blocked by the snow so he just had to last there before anyone could come and find him. Maby he had a water bottle which he poored snow inte and kept it near to his body to provide body heat to make the snow into clear water. That could have made him manage a little longer.
15:33 February 20, 2012 by lith
I think it's wierd that nobody has been looking for him. He missed Christmas, somebody must have wondered where he was. I think it's amazing how he still is alive after two months without real food. But I wonder: why didn't he get out of the car before the snow was covering it. I think the whole situation is a bit wierd, it sounds unbelievable.
16:54 February 20, 2012 by AmmandaB
It is amazing that he still are alive but i don´t think he tell the truth!
17:38 February 20, 2012 by EagleOwl
Skogsbo, of course I do agree with a lot of what you're saying, not looking to argue but I still stick to the best advice for people in this situation being to generally stay in / near the vehicle. Of course I would also recommend brushing off the car roof from snow as well as leaving visible SOS-marks, colored objects etc around it so you can be spotted from the air, but walking away from a stranded vehicle in a very remote spot in the winter time is generally adviced against by most survival / outdoors safety instructors and there are good reasons for that.

Keep in mind that this guy was found at the end of a long lonely lumber road, parked on the turnaround spot that usually end these types of roads somewhere deep in the woods. I don't know how many of these roads you've been down yourself in northern Swedens vast forests but I at least know that a "couple of hours" walking back along a road like that, in cold weather and heavy snowfall, wouldn't necessarily get you anywhere at all.

You would likely be forced to stay at least one night outdoors, maybe even more, before you arrived at any more civilized areas and I think both you and I can agree that an average individual with little to no "survival knowhow" will likely not survive sleeping outdoors in the wintertime without a proper shelter and firemaking skills. Many people who even just sit down in the snow to take a short break during a walk like that sadly end up being found dead of hypothermia as I'm sure you know.

Anyway, I read somewhere that the way the scene looked actually indicates that he had at least been trying to get his car doors open but was unable to do so because of the amount of snow built up around the car, and was forced to stay put (and maybe that's what saved him, never disrupting his heat pocket all too much, although if he never left the car the smell in there couldn't have been pretty either!)

How that much snow built up that fast I don't know, but I remember the freak winter of 1998 down here in Gävle where so much snow fell during one night we couldn't get our house doors open in the morning but had to jump out from the balcony and shovel our way in. It took days before the military could clear the roads enough to drive anywhere at all (not to mention shoveling our cars out) so it's at least very easy for me to imagine a car getting blocked in over night during a snow storm.

And also btw you don't even need to start the car to make a fire, you can find ways to short out the battery to produce some sparks that can ignite for example a rag that you've dipped into the gas tank as well. I'm not saying this particular individual had the knowledge of how to do this, I'm just saying that you can easily convert a car into a pretty comfortable and warm shelter whereas this is a lot harder to achieve on foot with no tools in the middle of a blizzard while trying to hike out.
18:09 February 20, 2012 by Josefin
It's amazing that he only ate snow and that he survived. But one thing I can't fail to think about. If he could stick out his hand to grab snow, why didn't he tried to crawling out of the car? Or hit the glas so he could get out.

Well. It sounds anyway as an odd experience.
04:44 February 21, 2012 by Oliver May
We have a sighting from a store/gas station in December (from July to Dec.).

Sounds pretty convincing to me.

As I mentioned earlier, the Chretien's are a salutary tale. He (Albert) left after three days (he was a relatively fit man of 59) and didn't make. Rita lasted 49 days and was rescued. I recall a similar story from Montana.

She ate snow and pretty much nothing else.

I run in temperatures down to -20 C but running on a road or a plowed track is not in any way comparable to deep snow. You can't move quickly. You get cold quickly and you die quickly.

I'm with EagleOwl on this. I understand, skogsbo that Hunger Strikers are not a perfect comparison but they did die and some were on there second attempt (meaning they were not in the best shape). Also, being in prison is not very healthy, either. We don't have too many examples of people being stuck for 40+ days with water but no food.
08:06 February 21, 2012 by SaraOlofsson
The most amazing thing about this story is that no one missed him! He was gone for so long that at least some of his friends should have reacted? And he was gone for Christmas too, if he´s telling the truth, so at least one person must have reacted. Why was he not reported missing?

And the fact that he survived in a car for so long, only eating snow and ice, sounds pretty incredible to me. I´m not quite sure that he is telling the truth though.

I hope that he survives this, and that he will one day tell us the whole story - without lying.
08:33 February 21, 2012 by s-w-95@hotmail.com
True or false?

I must say it´s impressive to survive in a car, in the cold for two months! I´ve heard that he also had some candy and coke but still. I mean seriously.

I am suspicious like so many others but I guess we all have to wait and see what he tells us...
08:43 February 21, 2012 by John.Smith
Great way to lose weight. Listen up fatties!
17:04 February 23, 2012 by johnoleson
Now that more facts are in from other articles we see more clearly. The man was about one and a half kilometers from the main highway and preferred to stay in his car even after being rescued. All of you apologists who say he did the best thing for survival eat crow. The man was a lunatic.
11:25 February 24, 2012 by Da Goat
I was about to say this man is not the full quid and had a death wish!

perhaps he is a loner man who has nobody and ....... or is just craving attention!

if his car was bogged wait for the ground to freeze and drive out before the snow gets too deep ! too many odd things here .

maybe he went to top himself and got cold feet !
16:50 February 24, 2012 by EagleOwl
johnoleson, what this particular individual did (or whether he is insane or not) doesn't change anything in terms of what the "best things to do for survival" consist of.

Of course if you're that close to a trafficked road you could say he could have maybe just walked there (had he been able to get his car doors open) but the general advice still stands IF you're ever stranded in more remote parts. It's generally very unwise to leave your vehicle in the middle of nowhere in winter weather and temperatures unless you know exactly where the nearest house or well trafficked road is and how far it is to walk there.

It does seem though that this man was a recluse who had abandoned society due to financial issues and lived out of his car for 6 months even prior to getting snowed in, so his predicament was at least partway self-chosen. That doesn't have to make him a lunatic however, just depressed and without hope.
20:21 February 24, 2012 by tadchem
He should recover in Hospital - if he stays away from the killer doors.
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Minehunter HMS Koster takes part in the search in the Stockholm archipelago on Sunday. Photo: Marko Säävälä/TT

Vessel hunt continues at 'full strength'

The search for a suspected foreign vessel in the Stockholm archipelago continues with "full strength" on Tuesday morning, according to Sweden's armed forces. READ  

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