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Kiowa road warrior

Seen on the I-10 corridor in South Mississippi.

First adopted in 1969, the Army used more than 2,200 OH-58 Kiowa variants throughout the Cold War as well as in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf (off the back of Navy FFGs!) Panama, Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, only moving to retire the type in 2013, which in my humble opinion is a mistake.

Big Green still had something like 300 late model OH-58D Kiowa Warriors on hand just a couple of years ago but they have all been pulled from front line service. Headed East, this bad boy is most likely either A) headed to Fort Rucker in Alabama where they still use the type as trainers and will continue to do so for the next few years, or B) to a port where it will be shipped to an overseas ally as military aid. Either way, hopefully, it is still got some life left in it.

Lead up to D-Day

The 75th Anniversary of D-Day is under a month away. Here we see a beautiful Kodachrome original color image depicting posed North European Invasion Rehearsals sometime either in late 1943, or early 1944:

NARA 80-G-K-13347

Here a Beachmaster uses an SCR-536 handie-talkie/walkie-talkie to maintain contact with other sections of his battalion during exercises on the English Coast. Other communications men, in the background, stand ready to use the signal lamp and semaphore flags.

Note man digging foxhole as another stands by with an M1 Thompson Submachine Gun.

One special Colt Commando, delivered

Maj. John Plaster went on 22 missions while as an enlisted Green Beret attached to MAC-V-SOG in South Vietnam. Of course, none of those missions were IN Vietnam. He made contact on almost every mission. Later the recipient of a battlefield commission, he retired from the Army and went on to become a noted author and expert on sniping and military history. I must admit that I have almost all of his books on my own library and have attended several presentations of his over the years.

That’s why I made sure to squeeze his 2-hour talk in Indy last month on the guns of MAC-V-SOG into my schedule and ignored calls from my editor during that slice of time. And I was glad I did. After 50 years, he was given “his” XM177E2 back.


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Send it! Or, ‘Why I learned to use shoot-and-scoot from an LCM last weekend at drill’

It is always nice to see a 105mm M119 light howitzer doing its thing:

1bn 111th Field Artillery Regiment 116th BCT waterborne artillery fire Operation GATOR April 24-25 2019 Camp Lejeune North Carolina Army LCMs 105 shells

(U.S. National Guard photos by Mike Vrabel)

Especially when it is from the front of an old-school (Army owned!) LCM landing craft while just barely beached on shore:

The photos come from Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team as they conduct waterborne artillery live-fire exercises during Operation GATOR April 24-25, 2019, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

They are aboard mechanized landing craft operated by active duty Soldiers from the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek—Fort Story-based 11th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Brigade.

“The Thunder Soldiers received and carried out their fire missions from the Intracoastal Waterway running through Camp Lejeune along the Atlantic Ocean. It was the first waterborne artillery mission for the 111th since D-Day during World War II, nearly 75 years ago.”

For more analysis of what this is all about, and why it is a useful tactic being dusted off now, check out the below from The Warzone

SCW, anyone?

Earlier this year, Brugger & Thomet won the Army’s Sub Compact Weapon contract to supply up to 1,000 very short SMGs to DOD for use by security details. The gun had to be ambidextrous, very compact — under 15-inches overall with some sort of provision for a stock — and light. For reference, the very short HK MP5K, with no allowance for a stock, is 12.9-inches.

The winner: B&T’s APC9K, which has a 13.6-inch overall length with the stock fully collapsed. Further, the receiver can be made in a variant that accepts Sig P320 pattern mags, and keep in mind the Army just adopted that pistol as the M17/M18.

The B&T APC9K will almost fit in the palm of your hand– if you have really big hands. (Photos: Chris Eger/

The B&T APC9K will almost fit in the palm of your hand– if you have really big hands. (Photos: Chris Eger/

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The Trumpeteer Carbine has surfaced again

Giovanni Crisostomo Martino arrived in the U.S. from the Old World in 1873, just three years later, he was an orderly/bugler assigned to Co. H of the 7th U.S. Cavalry, then known by the more anglicized “John Martin.” On the morning of 25 June, famously bewhiskered Lt. William W. Cooke– a 30-year-old career horse soldier who earned his spurs as a 14-year-old member of the 24th New York Cavalry– dashed off a note to Capt. Frederick Benteen– who had D, H, and K Companies of the 7th just over the next hill– and gave it to Martino/Martin to carry at speed.

“Benteen. Come On. Big village. Be quick. Bring packs. WW Cooke. P.S. Bring Packs. “

Of course, the bulk of the 7th Cavalry (Coys C, E, F, I, and L), to include Cooke and his commander, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer (USMA 1860), were all killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn later that day. Cooke was reportedly twice scalped, once for his head and another time for his impressive whiskers. Benteen, along with Maj. Reno and his three companies, came only in time to catalog the battlefield.

As for Martin/Martino, he survived the engagement and went on to die in Brooklyn in 1922, a true immigrant’s tale.

However, prior to leaving Cooke, he apparently handed off his Springfield Trapdoor .45-70 to a fellow trooper who was not so lucky. It was used at the battle– as has been forensically confirmed– and is now at auction this week, called “one of the most historically significant American guns on the market.”

More in my column at

Have 63 foot of dockspace near you?

During WWII, Miami Shipbuilding Corp. cranked out some 740 63-foot AVRs (Auxiliary, Vessel, Rescue) for use in coastal search and rescue with as many as 200 being promptly sent as Lend-Lease to overseas allies. As most were co-located near seaside airbases and used to respond to downed planes they were typically dubbed “Crash Boats.”

Post-war, the type was largely sold off or abandoned, leaving very few to live on past the 1950s.

Speaking of which, this bad boy is up for grabs in British Columbia (via Craigslist of all things) :

The stunning P-619 is a WW2 AVR and is a major piece of US naval history. She is the last remaining AVR in the world in original military layout. Consigned by the USN, she was built in Oct/Nov 1943 by the Miami Shipbuilding Corp. Immediately transferred to the USAAF, she served in the Pacific from 1943-45. She went back to the Navy after the War and was stationed at a Sacramento air base until the ’50s when she left active service.

I acquired the boat in 2006 and began restoration which has involved hundreds of thousands of dollars and many thousands of hours. The boat is in excellent condition and while not all details have been completed, she is fully operational as a cruising vessel. She is very well built with a double planked hull of gorgeous Honduras mahogany, aircraft cloth, and fir. There are currently two Gray Marine 6-71s supplying power, and at 8 knots, consumption is about 6 gph. Supplied with the sale are four of the original Hall-Scott V12s with gears. Two of these motors are USN rebuilds (only one has been run) and the other two are apart and supplied on pallets. The two on pallets came from the boat used the 1997 movie McHale’s Navy. When installed, the boat could reach upwards of 40 knots when unladen.

I personally have run out of steam on completing details and the install of the V12s and would like to see someone(or some group) in the Washington area, acquire and look after our girl. Thus, our ‘crew’ could pay regular visits.

Price? $350K

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