Meanwhile, 36 years later

While Commandant Paul X. Kelley was visiting an intensive care ward at Frankfurt, Germany on 25 October, he observed Jeffrey Nashton "with more tubes going in and out of his body than I (Gen. Kelley) have ever seen. When he heard me say who I was, he grabbed my camouflaged coat, went up to the collar and counted the stars. He squeezed my hand, and then he wrote...'Semper Fi'," Gen. Kelley explained. The Commandant later recalled, "When I left the hospital, I realized I had met a great human being, and I took off those stars because at the time I felt they belonged more to him that to me."     From the Paul X. Kelley Collection (COLL/3348) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division     OFFICIAL USMC PHOTOGRAPH

While Commandant Paul X. Kelley was visiting an intensive care ward at Frankfurt, Germany on 25 October 1983, he observed Jeffrey Nashton “with more tubes going in and out of his body than I (Gen. Kelley) have ever seen. When he heard me say who I was, he grabbed my camouflaged coat, went up to the collar and counted the stars. He squeezed my hand, and then he wrote…’Semper Fi’,” Gen. Kelley explained. The Commandant later recalled, “When I left the hospital, I realized I had met a great human being, and I took off those stars because at the time I felt they belonged more to him than to me.” From the Paul X. Kelley Collection (COLL/3348) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division OFFICIAL USMC PHOTOGRAPH

In the U.S. House, H.Res.515 has recently been introduced “Expressing support for the designation of October 23, 2019, as a national day of remembrance of the tragic 1983 terrorist bombing of the United States Marine Corps Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.”

You don’t see that everyday

This image from the VDKM, the Lithuanian national archives, shows infantrymen of the newly free Lithuanian Armed Forces mugging with a (Bactrian?) camel reportedly seized from the Bolsheviks. The photo comes from Kaunas (Kovno), in 1919.

Note the mix of German and Russian gear with Stalhelms and Mauser 98s very present. The camel jockey, meanwhile, sports a Mosin.

The Lithuanians, who later benefitted from Allied military missions and inherited a lot of surplus Tsarist gear, also managed to land lots of the Kaiser’s swag as well. This gave them a very peculiar arsenal from 1919 through 1939.

Lithuanian army troops, 1919. Note the Mosin 91s and Russian Pulitov-Maxim gun while the uniforms are a mix of East-meets-West

Lithuanian soldiers practice firing their U.S.-made British P14 .303-caliber rifles in a 1931 summer training exercise, along with German infantry gear. 

Still, they probably just had the one camel.

An aircrewman’s best friend

This flak-damaged M1911A1 .45-cal pistol and cap badge were worn by USAAF Sgt. Roy Zeran, 97th Bomb Group, when his B-17 was shot down on November 20, 1942, during WWII. It stopped a piece of shrapnel that would have likely ruined more than the slide of his pistol.

USAF Museum #170405-F-IO108-031

I recently got to handle a minty correct 1943-issued Remington Rand and matching holster, reportedly used by a B17 bomber pilot during the war. It was an honor.

If only guns could talk.

Wolverines!

Opening 35 years ago this week, the film Red Dawn brought World War III to a small American town.

Of course, as actual Warsaw Pact military gear was hard to come by in 1984 California, director and directed by noted Hollywood gun guy John Milius — legend has it that 1911-toting bowling purist Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski was partially based on him — had to improvise. This meant that semi-auto Egyptian Maadi ARMs and Finnish Valmet M78s were made up by Stembridge to look like Soviet AKMs (although the Reds at the time had been increasingly switching to the super-secret AK74) and RPKs. Likewise, even though you can buy MiG-29s and T72s for chump change today, they were hard to find during the Reagan years, which led to some very unusual vis-modded vehicles and aircraft.

Even the smocks worn by the faux Russki Guards Airborne troops were something unique to the movie. While at the time the VDV was heavily involved in Afghanistan and did indeed wear camo smocks (the one-piece KLMK), Milius and the gang only had access to grainy photos that left shading and color up to the imagination.

Example: Actual Soviet KZS “Sun Ray” pattern camouflage of the late 1970s and early 1980s, seen in two different lights.

And the late pattern KLMK over-suit, which is a little brighter.

Contrast this with the Red Dawn film camo:

Now that is some BRIGHT camo! And yes, that is a CZ 75 9mm, rather than a more correct Makarov PM

 

Of interest, Kaplan’s in South Africa used to make the Milius-pattern stuff in the 1990s.

Anyway, Wolverines!

Dawn patrol

“Heavy fog covers the flight line as a Navy Fighter Weapons School F-5F Tiger II adversary aircraft is prepared for an early morning mission. Referred to as Top Gun, the school provides air combat maneuvering (ACM) training for Navy and Marine Corps pilots. The F-5F is painted to simulate a Warsaw Pact camouflage pattern,  8/15/1982” 

National Archives Identifier: 6382508. DOD Photo #DN-SN-84-09588

Looking for a deal on LE trade in tactical Tupperware?

Police trade-in guns are often a good deal. Carried often, they have cosmetic issues such as a worn finish and grips. Cleaned infrequently, they often have crud build-up in nooks and crannies such as the takedown lever and sight grooves. However, these guns often only got taken to the range infrequently– even departments that are very conscious of training and stay on top of qualifications only shoot 3-4 times a year, running about 50 rounds during each event. This means that, while a police-issue handgun after a decade of use (during which it was probably only issued for something like 2/3rds of that time) may look gnarly, it probably is a low mileage gun with well under 5,000 rounds through it.

I’ve collected several police surplus firearms over the years including a former California Highway Patrol S&W .40, ex-Italian Carabinieri Beretta 92S, a Policía Metropolitana de Buenos Aires-marked Ballister Molina .45, and a former Spanish Guardia Civil Star BM– and they all shoot great.

My 1970s Italian police Beretta 92S runs great– but I made sure to change out all the springs when I got it just in case. Don’t knock LE surplus guns

With all this being said, Big Tex Outdoors has a deal on LE trade-in Glock 22 (40S&W) and G19 (9mm) models. Both of these third-gen guns come with 3 mags and night sights for a decent price ($300s).

The G19s seem to all have come from the Asheville (NC) Police department. Don’t ask me how I can tell…

I spent a month in Asheville one week back when I worked as a trainer for AT&T

No word where the .40s came from.

Anyway, just passing on the deal. 

Bluejackets and scatterguns

A thin but undeniable thread throughout U.S. Naval history is getting in a little bit of MW&R while underway via some shooting sports, primarily with shotguns. Now to be clear, I am not talking about stubby riot guns used in security and by response teams but rather long-barreled field guns.

While many ships in the 19th Century carried a few such smoke poles for use by hunting parties to add some variety to the cook’s pot, in modern times these firearms have been more relegated to use in shooting clays.

Sidewheel gunboat USS Miami 1864-65: After a shooting trip ashore, officers of the gunboat Miami relax on deck with the hounds, circa 1864-65. Note officer with shotgun and game bag, with two hunting dogs NH 60987

A hunting party from USS NEWARK (C-1) in the ruins of a Spanish building on Windward Point, entrance to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 3 September 1898– although it looks like they are armed primarily with M1895 Lee Navy rifles. NH 80791

NH 119234 Shotgun practice aboard USS UTAH -BB-31, in 1911. Note the mix of sailors in flat caps and dixie cups as well as the mix of both SXS double-barrel shotguns and at least one pump, which looks like an early Winchester

Another Utah 1911 shot. Note the sailor with the handheld pigeon thrower NH 119233

Utah NH 119235

A double-barrel shotgun-armed and appropriately safari-costumed Lt. JG Pat Henry, JR., USN, boar-hunting on Palawan, Philippine Islands, circa 1936. Henry was an aviator attached to USS AUGUSTA (CA-31) at the time, flying Vought O2U Corsair floatplanes, and would retire after WWII as a captain. Note the M1903-armed bluejacket accompanying him. NH 78385

USS Chicago (CG-11): Captain S.H. Moore is seen skeet shooting on the fantail, February 1965 NH 55151

During a lull in Vietnam combat ops in the Gulf of Tonkin, the deck of USS HOEL (DDG-13) becomes a skeet range, December 1966. USN 1119308

During a lull in Vietnam combat ops in the Gulf of Tonkin, the deck of USS HOEL (DDG-13) becomes a skeet range, December 1966. USN 1119308

A crew member uses a Remington 1100 12-gauge shotgun to shoot clay targets during skeet shooting practice on the fantail of the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63). 1993 DN-ST-93-01525

A Remington 870 Wingmaster 12-gauge shotgun, two Remington 1100 12-gauge shotguns, boxes of shells and clay targets are laid out on the fantail of the battleship USS MISSOURI (BB-63) in preparation for skeet shooting practice. 1993 DN-ST-93-01524

U.S. Navy Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Robert Goode, left, and Chief Gunner?s Mate Blair Pack inspect 12-gauge shotguns during a Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation program skeet shoot on the flight deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) Nov. 28, 2010. The shotguns look to be Remington 870 Express models. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell, U.S. Navy/Released)

Seaman Alonzo Bender, boatswain’s mate (left), fires a 12-gauge shotgun during morale, welfare, and recreation skeet shoot on the flight deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor is part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group, which is transiting the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

While the ships of the future are still in the artist’s rendering stage, hopefully, they may have a sporting shotgun or two onboard– using biodegradable clay pigeons and non-toxic bismuth shotshells, of course.

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