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Looks like a story board from Apocalypse Now, but it’s real

On the night of October 27-28, 1965 Viet Cong forces launched an attack on a newly built helicopter facility at Marble Mountain, southeast of Da Nang, RVN.

“Reflected Night Battle, Marble Mountain” Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Gene Klebe; 1965; Framed Dimensions 31H X 39W NHHC Accession #: 88-162-I

After 30 minutes of fighting, American casualties were three dead, 91 wounded, 19 helicopters destroyed, and 35 damaged.

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100 years ago today: Spandaus-a-go-go

Can you say, Maschinengewehr?

“Two German Machine Guns at Main Advance Salvage Dump of the 77th Division. These guns, which have been put in order by the French, will be used to fire back captured ammunition against the Boche. The large gun is a heavy Maxim marked, ‘Deutsche Waffen Und Munitons fabriked, Berlin 1917.’  The small gun is a light Maxim marked, ‘9238 MG 08/15 Gwf Spandau, 1917.’ 77th Division near Chery-Chartrevue, September 12, 1918”

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Dragoon at 73: The Forgotten D-Day

THEOULE-SUR-MER, France (Aug. 14, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) is anchored off the coast of Theole-Sur-Mer, France, for a port visit. During the port visit Sailors assigned to the ship participated in events commemorating the 73rd anniversary of Operation Dragoon, the liberation of southern France by Allied forces during World War II. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan U. Kledzik/Released)

Overshadowed in military history by the Torch landings in North Africa, the Husky/Avalanche/Baytown/Slapstick landings in Sicily and Italy, and of course Overlord in Normandy, the month-long amphibious invasion of South France by the Allies in August-September 1944, Operation Dragoon, is often overlooked.

This is largely because the “walk-over” resulted in comparatively few casualties to the U.S. 7th Army/8th Fleet and Free French Armee B, and bagged over 130,000 German prisoners of Gen. Fredrich Wiese’s 19. Armee– though to be honest the Axis force was composed largely of fresh conscripts, shell-shocked second line troops and Hiwis.

Still, tell that to the more than 4,000 U.S. and French killed and missing from the op.

Pritzker on Southeast Asia

“Home Cookin’, 1967. A member of the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division eats his first hot meal in five days after operating in the Quảng Ngãi Province. Photo by Specialist 5 Robert C. Lafoon, U.S. Army”

“…He was known for his Mohawk haircut. He’s sitting there eating some turkey and some peas. We had been out and had humped all day long and I mean humped—it was mountains. Fortunately, they flew in hot chow. In that unit itself he was known for that Mohawk haircut so I said hey, I gotta get a shot of this guy.”— Photo commentary shared by Specialist 5 Robert C. Lafoon, U.S. Army 1967

Visit the Pritzker Museum & Library in Chicago or go to this website to explore more than 150 images and listen to dozens of firsthand accounts of those who fought and documented the Vietnam War.

New skins for an old warrior

When my grandfather joined the National Guard at 17, but before he headed off to war on active duty, he bought a “fighing knife” from a local hardware store as any strapping youth in olive drab needed just such the item.

It was a PAL RH-36.

The PAL Cutlery Company of Plattsburgh, NY. was established in 1935, specializing in kitchen implements. The company was a merger of the Utica Knife & Razor Company of Utica, NY and the Pal Blade Company of Chicago, IL. Pal used both the “Blade Company” and “Cutlery Company” monikers interchangeably during the next two decades until they went out of business in 1953. They purchased the cutlery division of Remington in 1939, along with all of their machinery, tooling and designs and soon began production in the old Remington owned factory in Holyoke, MA.

The design of the RH-36 came from that Remington acquisition, as the designations meant “Remington, Hunting, Pattern 3, 6” blade”. These were one of the most common US fighting knives of WWII, these were bought by all branches during the war, often with unit funds, and were also available as private purchase knives– such as my gramps.

Overall length is 11-inches with the razor-sharp blade just over 6, thus balancing well. Though some blades were parkerized, this one is bright though there is some patina. The old “PAL RH-36” markings are clear on the ricasso. The leather washer grip with red spacers is still tight, though dark. The pommel and guard are still surprisingly tight after more a half-century of use.

It has been sharpened and resharpened perhaps hundreds of times and was used by my grandfather overseas until he left the military in 1974, then sat in a box until I recently inherited it. The original sheath has long since broken, and subsequently discarded, leaving the blade naked.

Now, with the help of my friend Warren at Edged Creations who handcrafted the new sheath with three layers of leather, hand stitching and copper rivets, it should be good for another 70 years.

Thanks, Warren!

That OPFOR, tho

This just in from the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum:

This C.1948 shirt was used at Fort Riley, Kansas, the site where the Army’s full-time Aggressor Force training concept was articulated from its inception in 1946 until its discontinuation in 1978, at which point transformed to the dedicated OPFOR groups at Forts Polk and Irwin.

Your standard OD had been dyed darker and collars and shoulder straps sewn over in red to mimic Warsaw Pact style uniforms.

Known as Circle Trigon forces, they also had vismodded M1 helmets with a wire ridge down the top, kinda like Flash Gordon badguys.

Circle Trigon forces OPFOR at Fort Riley

Full video below:

This can’t be good for the Army’s XM17 program

The U.S. Army earlier this year awarded a contract estimated as being worth up to $500 million for the Modular Handgun System (XM17 & XM18 pistols). The winner of the competition was a variant of the Sig Sauer Model P320.

Now Andrew Tuohy with Omaha Outdoors (yes, the VuurwapenBlog guy who tested FireClean and said it was basically Crisco) found the P320 under certain conditions will go boom when dropped at some angles and with some triggers.

Yikes.

And did I mention that a Stamford cop is suing Sig in federal court because he picked up a bullet from his holstered P320 after it went off when dropped?

Double Yikes.

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