After the death of “Papa” Hemingway, then-budding journalist Hunter S. Thompson swiped a pair of elk antlers while visiting the author’s home in Idaho in 1964.
Of course, when visiting Hem’s house in Key West (they have brochures available in like 30~ languages except for English) I found this was perhaps the most memorable souvenir out there, but hey, everyone has their own thing:
U.S.S. Robert E. Lee (SSBN 601) Pax Deterrendo Deep Dive Diploma
Be it known among all ye landlubbers and topside sailors that on 15 Nov 60 I was visited in the depths of my domain by the U.S.S. Robert E. Lee (SSB (N) 601) during a dive to DEEP DEPTH. And among the distinguished present at that time was Admiral A.A. Burke, USN He shall forevermore bear the mark of the confirmed Ballistic Missile Submariner.
For Davy Jones
His Majesty’s Scribe
His Majesty’s Servant
Arleigh Albert “31-knot” Burke was of course the longest serving Chief of Naval Operations, a job typically filled in two-year terms, serving from across the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations, working 15-hour days, six days a week, starting in 1955. Born 19 Oct 1901, he was just a couple weeks past his 59th birthday when he picked up his Deep Dive diploma above.
Upon completing his third term, Burke was transferred to the Retired List on August 1, 1961.
Though famous for being a destroyer man, he oversaw what became the Navy’s SSBN program, arguing that land-based missiles and bombers were vulnerable to attack, which made the U.S.-Soviet nuclear balance dangerously unstable. By contrast, nuclear submarines were virtually undetectable and invulnerable– the strongest part of the nuclear triad.
The Robert E. Lee was a George Washington-class fleet ballistic missile submarine and the third to join the fleet when she was commissioned 15 September 1960. She served until replaced by a more modern Ohio-class boomber in 1983 and was recycled by 1991. When commissioned (and while Burke took his cruise) Lee carried 16 UGM-27 Polaris SLBMs, each capable of being armed with a single Mk 1 re-entry vehicle, carrying a single W-47-Y1 600 kt nuclear warhead.
Former Delta pipehitter Larry Vickers came correct with slo-mo, HD imagery of Avtomat Kalashnikova’s internals in action that is so mechanically satisfying you can just sit back, AK and chill.
The gun: a milled receiver Bulgarian Type 3 made in 1968.
A lot of people forget that for centuries the Army has maintained both seagoing and coastal assets. Sure, there are bridging units with pontoon boats, Army Corps of Engineers dredges, and SF dive teams (trained in Key West) but I mean honest to goodness blue water Army ships.
In fact, there are more than 1,000 Soldiers in MOSs (88K Watercraft Operator, 88L Watercraft Engineer, 880A Marine Deck Officer, 881A Marine Engineering Officer) directly tied to watercraft operations and Big Green currently fields 49 oceangoing vessels (USAV’s) including:
35 1,100 ton, 174-foot Runnymede-class LCUs
6 1,000-ton, 128-foot MGen. Nathanael Greene-class tugs
8 4,200-ton, 272-foot General Frank S. Besson-class LSTs
From an interesting article put out by 7th Fleet PAO.
“We don’t call ourselves ‘sailors,’ because that title is already taken,” said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Carmen, with the 605th Transportation Detachment, 8th Theater Sustainment Command. “But we are Army mariners, and it is a full-time job, absolutely.”
On Friday, Aug. 12, Carmen and 30 other Soldiers — about eight warrant officers and 23 enlisted in all — boarded Army Vessel CW3 Harold C. Clinger, in Hawaii, and set off on an 18-day cruise that will take them to Nagoya, Japan, to drop off gear to be used in the Orient Shield exercise.
And they go relatively well-armed:
The 272-foot USAV Clinger is a “logistics support vessel,” or LSV. The Army has eight of these cargo ships in its inventory, and each can carry a load up to 2,000 short tons, whether it’s 37 Stryker vehicles, or 24 M1A2 Abrams tanks, or 50 20-foot cargo containers.
For security, the USAV Clinger is armed with four M2 .50-caliber machine guns, two M249 Squad Automatic Weapons, or “SAWs”, and two Mk 19 grenade launchers. The enlisted crew also carries M16 rifles, while the warrant officers carry 9mm pistols.
A 12-guage shotgun is also available to protect the ship, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Lloyd, who serves as master maritime of operations with 8th TSC.
“Just like any mariner out there in the world, like the U.S. Navy and Merchant Marine, we follow a set of drills from abandon ship, to man overboard, to fire drills, and in the case of our vessel, we also do battle drills,” Lloyd said.
During the darkest part of the war in the Pacific, a group of Marine Raiders stormed Japanese-held Makin Island. Today one of their Garands left behind is undergoing long-term preservation.
Scarcely eight months after the attack on Pearl Harbor and just weeks after the fall of Corregidor, the U.S. Navy was planning to take the war to Imperial Japan at a little known island in the Solomons by the name of Guadalcanal. As part of the initial assault on that chain, “Carlson’s” 2nd Marine Raider Battalion were to carry out a diversionary strike on Makin Atoll in the Gilbert Islands.
Carried to Makin by two submarines, USS Argonaut and USS Nautilus, some 211 Raiders came ashore in rubber rafts in the predawn hours of August 17, 1942. By the end of the day they had annihilated the Japanese garrison, sunk two of the Emperor’s boats, and destroyed two of his planes. As part of the withdrawal the next morning, 19 fallen Marines were left behind in graves on the island.
In 1999 the military returned to Makin, now known as Butaritari in the island nation of Kiribati, to recover the Marines, 13 of whom are now interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
Now, attention is being paid a rifle found during the recovery process, a corroded M1 Garand discovered in the grave and returned to Hawaii before its eventual transfer to the Raiders Museum located at Marine Corps Base Quantico.
After an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team inspected the rifle to make sure it was not loaded, it has now been transferred to the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch at the Washington Navy Yard.
There, the archaeological conservators are formulating a plan to treat the rifle, buried in wet sand on a Pacific battlefield for over 50 years, and preserve it for future generations.
Alan Seeger was born in New York City on June 22, 1888, and received a BA from Harvard University in 1910 where he edited and wrote for the Harvard Monthly– alongside future 10 Days that Shook the World author John Reed and had T.S. Eliot and Walter Lippmann in his classes.
A poet and idealist of sorts, he moved to Paris and was a resident of the City of Lights when the Germans came in 1914. A foreigner in France, he did what many both before and after did– joined up in the Foreign Legion. Fighting at the time in metropolitan France, a rarity for the unit, Seeger was killed at Belloy-en-Santerre in the Somme, riddled by a Boche Spandau while cheering on a charge of his fellow legionnaires, age 28.
He gave his last full measure on July 4, 1916 along with 900 other legionaries, including fellow poet, Camil Campanya. Able to seize the battlefield, the Germans withdrew from the ruined village on July 8.
The Legion remembered him in a ceremony on the 100th anniversary last month, and unveiled a marker.
Seeger is perhaps best remembered for his poem, I have a rendezvous with Death.
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.
It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.
God knows ‘twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear…
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.
Here we see a group of of the 2nd General Krukovskii’s Mountain-Mozdok Regiment of the Terek Cossacks, with their distinctive Cossack model Mosin-Nagant Model 91s.
The Cossacks were organized somewhat differently than the regular line cavalry and also varied slightly between the different “hosts” (voyska)—Don, Kuban, Terek, Astrakhan, etc.—however, in general, a Cossack regiment consisted of six companies (sotni), grouped into two battalions (diviziony) of three companies. Each host maintained a “1st regiment” of men on active duty with the regular army. Each of these regiments had a “2nd regiment” back home on the farm of those who had recently completed service and could be recalled within two weeks. Then there was a further “3rd regiment” of older men in their 30s and even 40s who could muster to the flag inside of a month if needed.
The small Terek host hailed from the Caucasus Military District along the banks of the Terek River and had their headquarters at Vladikavkaz, now the capital city of the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania, Russia.
In peacetime the Terek host provided four “1st regiments” (1st General Krukovskii’s Mountain-Mozdok, 1st Sunzha-Vladikavkaz, 1st Volga, 1st General Yermolov’s Kizlyar-Grebensk) along with four batteries of horse artillery while the Terek Guard Watch [Terskaya Okhranaya Strazha] remained in the krug itself to handle bandits and raiders and the Terek horse farm kept breeding and breaking ponies. The Tereks also had the honor of providing two squadrons [Terskaya Kazach’ya Sotnya] to the Tsar’s own personal household cavalry escort [Sobstvennyi EGO IMPERATORSKAGO VELICHESTVA Konvoi].
When the war kicked off in 1914, the four “2nd regiments” as well as the quartet of “3rd regiments” were swiftly called up, which is what you see in our brave, if aging, lads above.
The 2nd Mountain-Mozdok Regiment found itself part of the Russian Imperial Army’s 1st Caucasian Cavalry Corps of Lt. General Nikolai Nikolayevich Baratov (Baratashvili) fighting the Turks in Persia during the Great War. The corps, as its name implies, was formed of almost two-thirds horse mounted units but did have some artillery (38 guns) and infantry attached. It was composed of the Cossacks mentioned above and reinforced by such exotic units as the Georgian Cavalry Legion (which Colonel Kaikhosro Cholokashvili, later a white partisan leader in the Russian Civil War served in), Omansky Cossack Regiment, the Katerinadraski Cossack Regiment, a unit of Armenians, and Shkuro’s Kuban Special Cavalry Detachment (under Andrey Shkuro who would also lead white partisans in the Civil War). This assemblage of units was as colorful and interesting as any that graced the battlefields of the Napoleonic Wars. It would fight the Ottoman Turks and their German allies across the deserts of modern day Iraq and Iran for the next four years and survive to be the last of the Tsar’s armies.
The Russians supported the Persian Shah and even provided officers for his own Cossack brigade of bodyguards. They fought rebellious tribes, demonstrators and bandits on the Shah’s behalf and served the greater Russian political good in the region.
General Baratov landed at Bandar-e Pahlavi in November 1915 and marched rapidly to Tehran where the Shah (Ahmet) was in hiding at the Russian Legation after being forced out in a coup. The Russian force reinstalled the Shah and then marched to the Hamadan to scatter the pro-German tribes and small units of Turkish troops.
He attempted to relive the British Forces under siege at Kut and indeed made it as far as Hamadan (some 100 miles away). Baratov fought Ottoman forces consisting of scattered Mesopotamian infantry, some Persian irregulars, and a handful of German officers. The Russians routed a Turkish force under German Count Kaunitz at Kangavar. Pushing on, they captured Kermanshah on February 26, 1916 and Kharind on March 12th where the army encamped and awaited an advance on Baghdad. It was not until the Turkish Gen. Ali Ishan Bey’s XIII Corps entered the theater (June 1916) that Baratov was finally met by a sizable force. The two forces met at Khanaqin where Baratov withdrew after a sharp skirmish.
Gen. Baratov led his force back into Persia to regroup and attempt to link up with British forces in northern Mesopotamia. In January 1917 the Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich Romanov was sent to join Baratov’s unit as punishment for taking part in the assassination of Rasputin. The Grand Duke met the general at the Cavalry Corps headquarters at Kasvin in northern Persia. The two became fast friends and the young Romanov, who had represented Russia at the 1912 Olympics in equestrian events, served on the general’s staff.
After the Russian Revolution (March 1917) Baratov’s forces began to suffer terrible desertions. By the time the Bolsheviks opened peace negotiations with the Germans and Turks in November 1917 Baratov could barely field an effective regiment. Many of his Cossacks would return hundreds of miles from Persia to their stanisa villages only to join the new White cause in the brewing Russian Civil War.
Baratov did in fact meet with a force sent north from the British in April 1917 which included a Col. Rowlandson, who would served as a liaison until the Caucasian Cavalry Corps linked with the British Dunsterforce in February 1918. By this time the Caucasian Cavalry Corps only consisted of Baratov, Gen. Lastochkin, Col. Bicherakov, Col. Baron Meden and about 1000 loyal Kuban and Terek cossacks (including our veterans of the 2nd Mozdoc). The rest of the Russian soldiers had left for home or deserted and milled around the town on their own recognizance. Baratov and his men, largely a forgotten army with no home, assisted the British in Persia until the end of World War One.
Many of the Russian officers found appointments as aides and eventually transitioned into the British Army. The Grand Duke Dimitri even came away with a commission as British Captain at the time. When the last of Baratov’s troops dissolved near Baku as part of Dunsterforce in August 1918, the old Ossetian general supported the fledgling state of Georgia, which was briefly independent. He lost a leg to a terrorist’s bomb there in 1919 and left the country just before the Red Army occupied it. He died in 1932 while in Paris in exile. While in France he worked as senior editor of the Russki Invalid newspaper and was president of the Union of White Officers veterans group. He is buried in the Russian cemetery in St-Genevieve de Bois and his diaries and correspondence are held at the Hoover Archives.
As for the distinctive rifles shown above, the Soviets used the Cossack/Dragoon pattern to convert the overly-long M91 into the more common M.91/30 that we know today.