Category Archives: sadness

PFC Milton L. Cook

Original Caption: On 8 January 1967, PFC Milton L. Cook (Baltimore, MD) fires his M60 machine gun spraying a tree line. The platoon received sporadic sniper fire from the tree line earlier. PFC Cook was one of many Soldiers from “C” Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Mechanized Infantry, 25th Infantry Division on a search and destroy mission. The mission was a part of Operation “Cedar Falls” conducted in and around the Filhol Plantation near Cu Chi, Republic of Vietnam.

Killed on at least his second tour in Vietnam, according to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund; Cook’s name is inscribed on the wall on Panel 49W, Line 54.


Take Care of Your Local Public Range

On the final day of 2020, the Bureau of Land Management issued guidance to its local, state, and district offices to preserve and expand recreational shooting opportunities on the millions of acres of public lands under the agency. When I say millions of acres, I should actually clarify that it is hundreds of millions, as BLM controls some 245 million acres, with some 99 percent of it open to some sort of recreational shooting.

This, of course, is a good thing as there are some 50~ million American sports shooters and hunters, most of whom are always looking for a good place to shoot.

This brings me to my soapbox. As someone who regularly visits a public range in DeSoto National Forest, provided by the USDA Forest Service, please, please leave it as or better than you found it.

For instance, this was the trash area at the Black Creek Range this weekend:

I cleaned up a lot of this and physically packed out my own trash as well as some other litter, but you get the point.

These ranges belong to everyone, so please make sure they are useable for your grandchildren as well.

Cold Iron Watch Still Needs Lots of Cash

The Battleship New Jersey Museum in Camden, New Jersey has been the caretaker of the retired Iowa-class battlewagon USS New Jersey (BB-62) for the past 20 years, picking up the legendary ship after its 4th stint in mothballs. The museum normally has 92 staff, mostly part-time guides and giftshop clerks whose hours peak in summer (May-Sept), while 10 full-time maintenance and security personnel operate year-round.

The thing is, 2020 wasn’t a normal year and the vessel is closed to the public at least until March.

Further, they have a dire revenue shortfall due to COVID lockdowns. No tours = no cash. 

And it’s not Uncle Sam’s problem. In other words, lots of pork in the COVID relief bills but not a dollar for historic battleships. 

We had to cancel several of our major revenue-generating programs, including group tours, special events, and overnights. Due to the closures and elimination of programs, the ship has lost over $1.5 million this past year.

Unfortunately, our expenses do not stop. As much as we have cut back in personnel and energy usage, we still have required expenses to maintain and preserve the World’s Greatest Battleship. Below is a list of some of the expenses the ship incurs on a weekly basis:

• Gas & Electric (in energy savings mode) $7,238 or $1,034 per day
• Liability & Property Insurance $3,500 or $500 per day
• Maintenance $5,754 or $822 per day
• Security $3,500 or $500 per day
• Curatorial & Education $4,585 or $655 per day

The Battleship needs to raise $56,176 or $3,511 per day to cover the above costs through the end of the year.
We need your help now! Please consider making a donation to the Battleship, or becoming a Member, or even purchasing a gift from the online Ship’s Store this Holiday Season.

The Battleship New Jersey has answered the call to defend our nation since World War II. Now we ask you to answer the call and support our nation’s most decorated battleship.

Donations to help the Battleship New Jersey can be made through:


Battleship New Jersey
62 Battleship Place
Camden, NJ 08103

If you are one of the 4+ million Stabilizing Brace Owners, now is your time

Federal regulators on Friday set off the starting pistol in the race to establish what stabilizing brace makers term the largest firearm registration scheme in American history. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives scheduled its proposed 15-page “Objective Factors for Classifying Stabilizer Braces” to publish Dec. 18 in the Federal Register, the official journal of the federal government, for public inspection. Americans have two weeks to provide feedback on the plan, which could be the last chance to make their voice heard on the issue before ATF moves forward.

Written comments on the ATF proposal must be postmarked by, and electronic comments must be submitted on or before Jan. 1, 2021, by midnight Eastern time. SB Tactical is also encouraging members of the public, who are concerned about the issue, to reach out to their lawmakers in Congress as well as the White House.

More background on the brace issue in my column at here and here.

A Captured Santa

Watercolor by the well-known turn of the century illustrator William Leroy Jacobs showing an old soldier bending over sleeping children by firelight with parents in the background, a cavalry saber at his side. It appears the older man is wearing a blue uniform while the younger’s is grey, with the 3-button pattern on his frock coat typical of a Confederate major general. Published in: A Captured Santa Claus by Thomas Nelson Page. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1902.

While I am not sure of the story behind the image’s depiction, it makes me recall the tale of the “Father of the U.S. Cavalry,” Virginia-born Brig. Gen. Philip St. George Cooke, who penned the country’s then-modern horse cavalry tactics manual in 1858 after being an observer during the Crimean War, where cavalry was famously ill-used. Cooke, who commanded a brigade of federal horse soldiers early in the conflict, was perhaps best known during the Civil War for being the father-in-law of Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, Lee’s flamboyant cavalry commander.

Flora, the good General Cooke’s daughter, wore black the rest of her life after Stuart was killed at Yellow Tavern in 1864. The couple had two children, in 1856 and 1857, respectively, only one of whom lived to adulthood, and Cooke was unable to see them during the conflict.

A family divided, indeed.

The Right Stuff

Brig. Gen. Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager, after service in WWII (where he finished the war with 11.5 official victories, including one of the first air-to-air victories over a jet fighter), Korea and Vietnam, holder of both the Collier and Mackay trophies, first (confirmed) man to break the sound barrier, and all-around good guy, passed away on Monday, aged 97.

Ironically, his last day on this humble planet was the 79th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, an event that enabled him to rapidly move up from being an aircraft mechanic in the USAAF to apply for flight training, eventually receiving his wings in 1943. The rest, as they say, is history.

Of course, he is best remembered for his deeds of October 14, 1947, when he became the fastest man in the world, dramatized below.

Trouble for the final River

The British completed 151 River-class frigates for a host of Commonwealth and Allied navies during WWII, and the vessels went to serve at least 19 different fleets around the globe. Of those, HMAS Diamantina, commissioned 27 April 1945, is the only one preserved as a museum ship, the rest of her sisters gone to scrap or reef.

Importantly during her 35 active years with the Royal Australian Navy– during which she had steamed 615,755 miles– she received the official surrender of Japanese forces in the Solomons.

The Ocean Island surrender is signed onboard HMAS Diamantina (Photo: RAN)

Handed over to the Queensland Maritime Museum as a self-touring museum, her fate is now up in the air as the QMM is closing for good at the end of the year, a victim of COVID closures and lockdowns.

No longer Fearless

Here we see the Project 956 (Sovremenny-class) destroyer Bezboyaznennyy (Fearless) arriving at the breakers to be turned into shveynyye igly, or sewing needles in the Russian naval parlance.

Laid down 8 January 1987 at built by Severnaya Verf 190 St. Petersburg, Bezboyaznennyy served with the Soviet/Russian Pacific Fleet from 1990 until 2002 when she was decommissioned. It had been thought that she would be refurbished and returned to service, after all, she had only served on active duty for about a decade, but it looks like she is in very poor shape indeed, and that will not be the case.

A big, almost cruiser-sized tin can, the 8,500-ton Sovremennys were Moscow’s answer to the Spruance-class with the bonus of toting big carrier-killing SS-N-22 Sunburn AShMs.

Some 21 were completed.

The Russians still have at least six Sovremennys on active service, one (Bespokoynyy) as a floating museum in St. Petersberg, and two others– Nastoychivyy and Burnyy— formerly in mothballs, being refitted to rejoin the fleet.

The Chinese also have four variants on their own.

Sally Update

Well guys, made it through the latest hurricane. Sally’s eye passed within about 40 miles of me. No serious damage here to report. Thank you all for your good wishes.

However, I have lots of friends on Dauphin Island/Gulf Shores that have suffered greatly from the storm, which passed directly overhead at an agonizing 2 knots. Trying to help out there as much as I can in the coming weeks through volunteering, fundraising et. al.

As you may know, I grew up spending summers in GS, set my zombie novel series there, and have a variety of personal connections to the Mobile Bay forts (Gaines and Morgan). Lot of sadness across the Bay this week.

For you history buffs, Fort Gaines has a variety of pictures posted of the damage there. While the 170~ year-old masonry and 120~ year-old portland concrete batteries are still ticking, it looks like the more recently installed roofing and wooden casemate doors have taken a beating while the Gulf has come in and will likely take weeks to fully drain away.

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