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We have the DOD FY18 budget briefs

In brief (pardon the pun) no 600 ship Navy or million-man Army any under these budgets, which, of course, still have to run the gauntlet. On the bright side, the A-10 gets to stay.

Army Budget Director Maj. Gen. Thomas Horlander briefs Pentagon reporters on the president’s fiscal year 2018 defense budget proposal, May 23, 2017.

Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget Maj. Gen. James Martin Jr. briefs Pentagon reporters on the president’s fiscal year 2018 defense budget proposal, May 23, 2017.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Adm. Brian Luther briefs Pentagon reporters on the president’s fiscal year 2018 proposal May 23, 2017.

The ‘Pineapple’ is no more

A source close to the family of Manuel Noriega says the former Panamanian dictator has died at age 83. The onetime U.S. ally was ousted as Panama’s dictator by an American invasion in 1989 and spent years in prison in several countries.

Operation Just Cause resulted in the death of 26 U.S. troops and more than 325 wounded. PDF casualties were estimated at about 235 military and wildly divergent (200-3,000) figured when it comes to civilian casualties.

A Panama Defence Force patch for the 7th Infantry Co. the “Macho de monte” mountain man unit which, along with Battallion 2000 were considered the elite of Noriega’s forces. Currently on display at the USAF Armament Museum (Photo by Chris Eger)

“Jump Into Night, Torrijos Airport by Al Sprague Panama, 1989” The operation used 27,000 U.S. active, reserve and National Guard troops and included combat parachute jumps, Delta operations to rescue high-value personnel, and extensive use of Naval Special Operations to hobble the PDF.

Troops on the ground in Just Cause, note the extra M203 rounds

U.S. Army M-113 near the destroyed Panamanian Defense Force Headquarters Operation Just Cause, 21 December 1989

An interview with ‘The Oldest Living Graduate’ and the last member of USMA 1933

LTG(R) Ely, (USMA 1933) at the recent West Point Alumni Review

The West Point Center for Oral History recently caught up with a living relic of the pre-WWII military academy and interviewed him for their collection. It is a great 45-minute talk with a man who has seen a lot.

LTG(R) William Ely was born in 1911, and graduated from West Point in 1933. He was notified of his appointment two days before he was expected to report, and that set into motion what would become a 33-year career in the Army. He graduated 18th in his class of 347, and commissioned into the Engineers. He is the sole surviving member of his class, and the oldest living graduate of West Point. His first assignment in the Army was with the Corps of Engineers on the Mississippi River, an experience he considers transformative because it provided a solid base for the rest of his career. He then went to Cornell to earn a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering. From 1938 to 1940, he was assigned to Midway Island on a harbor dredging project to support the eventual construction of an airstrip. After returning from Midway, he was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Engineers in Washington, D.C., and when America became involved in World War II, he spent the first two years planning base expansions for the growing Army. In 1943, he was reassigned to the 6th Army headquarters in the Pacific, where one of his primary responsibilities was conducting reconnaissance for future bases as the Army “island hopped” closer to Japan. In his book, “The Oldest Living Graduate,” written in 2015, LTG(R) Ely describes his dynamic and successful career, and reflects upon the highlight of his life, his 74-year marriage to Helen Mountford Ely.

In this interview, LTG(R) Ely talks about his childhood on a farm in Pennsylvania, and his decision to apply to West Point. He describes life at West Point in the early 1930s, and becoming an Engineer Officer. He discusses his experience in the Corps of Engineers and his service before and during World War II, mentioning Generals MacArthur and Krueger among others. Finally, he talks about the love of his life, his wife Helen.

The amazing interview is here.

Not your average Grease Gun

Ian with Forgotten Weapons takes a close look at an SMG used for clandestine operations by the OSS — as well as a booby trap attachment for the same.

While the M3 was a simple .45ACP burp gun popular with the late-war regular GI’s of the day and designed as a cheap and easy replacement for the much more complex Thompson, the gun in Ian’s hands was made for use in more covert operations. Specifically, for an assassination team behind the lines in German-occupied Europe.

The war ended before this specimen could be used, leaving it in collector-grade condition including its wire mesh screened over-barrel suppressor.

As for the booby trap trigger device, stick around and check that little dirty trick out separately.

Inside the CMP, and the word on M1s coming back from overseas and possible 1911s…

To see just what the non-profit has on the shelf, I visited the Civilian Marksmanship’s South operations in Anniston. Co-located near the Anniston Army Depot — which is actually in nearby Bynum — and stores much of the Army’s stockpile of guns and items not needed for current operations, the CMP has a series of warehouses dotting the rolling hills of the area.

Unfortunately, most of them are nearly empty.

While now-retired CMP boss Orest Michaels told me back in 2010 the organization had 125,000 M1 rifles on hand including complete rifles, stripped receivers, and welded drill rifles, the group is coy about just what the numbers are today after several years of brisk sales and surging interest in U.S. martial rifles.

As Jim Townsend, CMP’s business development officer, walked me through a tour of their largest warehouse, he swept his arms over a large expanse of empty floor space and said, “When I first started here, this whole side of the building was full of M1s.” Repurposed crates that once contained M1s returning from allies in Greece and Denmark now hold everything but.

Repurposed crates that once contained M1s returning from allies in Greece and Denmark now hold everything but.

Why keep the empty space?

Check out my column at Guns.com for the answer.

Who wants some postcards?

I like estate sales and enjoy attending them as I tend to find great old knives, militaria, and firearms up for grabs. One sale I recently attended was for a late local Biloxi-area photographer who took a number of images up and down the Gulf Coast in the 1970s and 80s that were turned into postcards. Apparently, as part of his payment, he got a stack of each postcard that was printed. While a lot were your standard lighthouse-shrimpboat-sand dollar-bikini girl scenes, there were also some military subjects that I picked up.

I got a *stack* of each of these five.


They are detailed as such:

“The 6-inch disappearing rifle located at Battery Cooper in Fort Pickens. The uniforms shown were from the late 1890s. The Fort only saw about 60 hours of combat; that during the Civil War. “

U.S. Air Force Armament Museum outside of Eglin AFB, showing a B-17, F-4, and T-12 “Cloudmaker” 44,000 lb bomb

USS Kitty Hawk underway. No note as to when the image was taken but she still has A-7 Corsairs and SH-3 Sea Kings on deck and CIWS aft, so I am guessing mid-to-late 1980s.

“Pascagoula” showing the mouth of the river at Ingalls-Litton’s East Bank with the USS Wisconsin (BB-64) berthed undergoing her post-mothball modernization 1987-88. I attended her recommissioning as a kid! An LHD (likely Wasp) and a late batch VLS CG-47 are visible in the postcard on the West Bank, though I can’t tell which numbers

Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island off Gulfport. This image is pre-1998 as the island has changed significantly since then. Everything to the right of the fort is now underwater due to Hurricanes Georges and Katrina and the casemates are currently very close to the beach at high tide

Bottom line, I am never going to use several hundred postcards, so I am bundling one of each of the above (five in total) together to send for free to anyone that wants a set. So if you want a set of the five above, email me your shipping address at: egerwriter@gmail.com and I will drop an envelope in the USPS mail box headed your way.

Be advised some of these are 30-40 years old and, while they never took up store space or were circulated, they were not stored in museum conditions (rusty old filing cabinets marked “NASA Marietta”). But they are free and I will not use your address for anything but scribbling it on the envelope.

Did I mention they are free?

Disneyland for Shooters…

I recently had the opportunity to visit the immaculate ranges used by the Civilian Marksmanship Program to support public firearms training.

The CMP is a federally-chartered non-profit corporation tasked with promoting firearms safety training and target practice. It originated as the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship in 1903 under orders from Congress to improve the country’s marksmanship skills to minimize training in case of war.

Split off from the U.S. Army under the Clinton-administration in 1996, it still conducts training courses and holds shooting competitions and clinics nationwide but draws its primary source of funding through the sale of surplus firearms to qualifying members of the public which were donated to the organization by the Army.

With an eye to see just what all those M1 Garand sales have helped pay for, I visited the CMP’s Alabama operations to get a better idea about what they offer the public:

How about a covered 54-positon 600-yard range with targets at 100-200-600, all electronically scored with a monitor at your station…

15 different clays stands on golf-course quality grounds..

Olympic-quality 10m airgun ranges set up for 80 competitors at a time– also with electronic targets

It’s almost like they are into civilian marksmanship training or something…

More in my column at Guns.com.

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