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The man behind the 1911 poster

One of the most iconic images of the M1911 is the Great War recruiting painting “First to Fight” by James Montgomery Flagg.

Flagg’s portrait, made from a sitting by then-U.S. Marine Capt. Ross Erastus “Rusty” Rowell, graces man caves and military museums around the world.

Photo courtesy of Archives & Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps

According to the Marine Corps Museum, who provided the photos:

Flagg combined two important attributes of the Corps in the painting “First to Fight and Always Faithful.” He used quick strokes of the brush to create this work and only lightly painted the white stripes of the flag. And like many of the artists working for the Recruiting Bureau, Flagg donated his services.

The original painting is currently on display in the museum’s Combat Art Gallery exhibit A World at War: The Marine Corps and U.S. Navy in World War I.

As for Rowell, the Iowa State College grad and former U.S. Geological Survey topographer joined the Marines as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1906. Following WWI, he became a Marine aviator and early flight pioneer, later commanding VO-1M in Nicaragua during the Banana Wars and Commanding General, Marine Aircraft Wings, Pacific (MAWP) during WWII. He retired after 40 years of service in 1946, ranked major general. He is buried at Arlington.

We build, we fight,

This is why Seabees hate Camp Shelby:

Remember, at Shelby, you can always use your E-tool as a paddle. (U.S. Navy photo 180820-N-ZI635-258 by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class George M. Bell/Released)

Offical caption: “CAMP SHELBY, Miss. (Aug. 20, 2018) Seabees stand inside their fighting position during Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133’s field training exercise (FTX) at Camp Shelby. FTX provides a robust training environment where Seabee forces plan and execute multiple mission essential tasks including convoy security, force protection, and camp buildup prior to deployment.”

Spread out across 130,000 acres of Mississippi pine forest, gumbo mud swamp and Afrika Korps POW camp carved out of even more rugged DeSoto National Forest, Shelby is the largest state-owned training center in the country and I have spent much time there. Established during the Great War, the famous 38th Infantry “Cyclone” Division formed there before deploying to the Western Front. During WWII the even more famous 442nd RCT and 100th “One Puka Puka” Bn trained there before heading to eternal glory in Europe at places like Hill 140, Castellina and Vosges Mountains.

Since then, Guard units from around the Southeast trained there for the Sandbox– as well as the Gulfport-based Seabees, who attend regular FTXs there among the WWII Q-huts and hummingbird-sized mosquitos.

However, the base does have a great museum on site, open to the public, and you don’t even have to get your feet dirty to check it out.

Nothing beats a good cup o’ joe, 70 years ago today

National Museum of the U.S. Navy photo 80-G-707294

Coffee time on board USS Coral Sea (CVB-43). Fireman Apprentice Harold E. Dillahunt enjoying a cup of coffee while checking the boilers in the ship’s fire room, 30 August 1948.

Coral Sea, along with her two sisters FDR and Midway, at the time of Dillahunt’s java intake were the largest aircraft carriers in the world and would remain as such until USS Forrestal was commissioned in 1955, though Coral Sea would remain in the fleet until 1990, putting in an impressive 42-years.

The time machine that is Camp Perry

1908 California rifle team at Camp Perry, Ohio. The site of the National Shoot. 5×7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection via Shorpy.

When Camp Perry opened, the Krag Jorgensen rifle was still king of the range. It was not until 1908– as shown in the above photo– that enough of the Model 1903 rifles were available that they could be set aside for use in the National Matches.

Of interest in this photo from Perry in 1907 is the use by the shooter in the foreground of a Pope sight micrometer, attached to the rear sight elevation leaf. Harry Pope’s micrometers, unlike most of the several varieties that were made and sold, were intended to be left in place while the rifle was being fired. Photo via American Rifleman

At the 1907 National Matches, the rifle ranges accommodated 160 targets for shooting out to 1,000 yards, while the revolver targets (the M1911 was still a half-decade away from making an appearance at the match) numbered 5 each at distances of 15, 25, 50 and 75 yards.

US Army Rifle Team at the 1911 National Trophy Team Matches. Photo via Springfield Armory National Historic Site

Today the National Matches are a great deal more diverse and draw a slightly larger attendance, but one thing that hasn’t changed in the past 100 years is SAFS.

The Department of Defense first conducted the Small Arms Firing Schools (SAFS) as part of the National Matches at Camp Perry in 1918 and  Federal law continues to require the annual course– which now instruct nearly 1,000 pistol and rifle shooters each year in firearms safety and fundamental marksmanship skills.

The current token entry fee of $45.00 ($30.00 for juniors) provides SAFS shooters with classroom instruction, field training, live fire squadded practice session, entry to the M16 EIC Rifle Match, as well as ammo for the course. The winner gets a plaque. The top four get medals. All get a t-shirt, a lapel pin, and a memory to keep forever as their very own experience in the National Matches.

From CMP:

The Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) is a two-day clinic that includes a safety training and live fire portion (30 rounds) on the first day and an M16 Rifle Excellence In Competition (EIC) match on day two. The course of fire after five sighting rounds for the M16 EIC match consists of 10 shots slow fire prone in 10 minutes, 10 shots rapid-fire prone in 60 seconds, 10 shots rapid-fire sitting in 60 seconds and 10 shots slow fire standing in 10 minutes, all fired from the 200-yard line.

The two-day Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) is a two-day clinic at national matches, which often sees military instructors impart their knowledge to 1,000 or so budding marksmen. (Photo: CMP)

The program is designed for beginning marksmen or those looking to earn their first EIC points, which are earned and applied toward receiving a Distinguished Rifleman Badge.


Have a great weekend

Should you need me, I plan to be on somewhere along the Barrier Islands, camping.  I suggest you do something similar. Carpe and all that.

Happy birthday, Chuck

In 1920 Heinrich Karl Bukowski, better known as Charles Bukowski, was born in Andernach, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. After a move to Los Angeles and a stint at the U.S. Postal Service that smothered his soul, the barfly became something of a poet.

My own copy of Ham on Rye is threadbare and when the whisky flows, I suddenly become very capable in my recitation of Bluebird.

And as a tribute to Chuck, here is Tom Waits with The Laughing Heart and Nirvana:

Senta a pua!

At first glance, this flyboy looks like he came standard issue in the U.S. Army Air Force’s 8th Air Force in the European Theatre of Operations in 1944. Then you notice the strange nose art motto on the side of his Jug.

“Senta a pua!” was the motto of the 1° Grupo de Aviação de Caça or 1° GAvCa (1st Fighter Group) of the Força Aérea Brasileira (Brazilian Air Force) in Italy.

Meaning in essence “to launch yourself at the enemy with determination and destroy them,” it is part of the emblem of the Grupo which, equipped with Republic P-47D-25 Thunderbolt, fought in Italy as part of the USAAF’s 350th Fighter Group based first at Tarquinia and, afterward, at Pisa.

The “Jambocks” had 350 men, including 43 pilots, and flew 445 missions, 2,550 individual sorties, and 5,465 combat flight hours, from 11 November 1944 to 6 May 1945 in Italy, mainly geared to ground support. In the end, the very successful group picked up a U.S. Presidental Unit Citation.

They currently fly F-5EM Tigers from Santa Cruz Air Force Base outside of Rio.

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