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1 million ACOGs now in circulation

In 1986, Glyn Bindon, a Ford aeronautical engineer who had previously worked on the F-8U Crusader project, started fooling around with a half pair of binoculars in his Detroit home and soon had the theory down for a project that would produce the Trijicon Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG)– a minimalist battery-free optic that used tritium to provide a red reticle inside a sealed aluminum tube that could be used for rapid shooting in both day and night conditions.

The first 4×32 TA01 hit the market in 1987 and two years later a few were used by the military in the Panama invasion. Then, the SEALs started fielding them in Desert Storm.

Slowly, ACOGs grew more popular around the world with special operations units until 2005, when the Marines ordered 104,000 4×32 TA31’s to equip the rank and file riflemen.

“The ACOG mounted on the M16 service rifle has proven to be the biggest improvement in lethality for the Marine infantryman since the introduction of the M1 Garand in World War II,” later said Maj. Gen, J.N.Mattis, 1st MARDIV, Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2005, the Army chose the ACOG 4×32 RCO as their field carry optic and the rest is history– with the 1-millionth ACOG produced by the Trijicon last month.

Congrats.

Hanging by a thread, 45 years ago today

F-4J-34-MC Phantom II BuNo.155743 of Fighter Squadron 92 (VF-92, the Silver Kings) photographed aboard the USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64) on 9 December 1972. Note the crew is no longer aboard, courtesy of their Martin-Baker seats!

“The crew (Lt. J. R. Brooke & Lt. G. B. Bastian) was able to hook up the cable, but the plane at a certain point ‘swerved’ suddenly left to the left of the bridge. The two men were able to eject and were recovered shortly after an SH-3 Sea King, but the poor rhino was hanged as a crooked painting until the return to the port of San Diego.”

It was in this same year that, while on Yankee Station off Vietnam, another VF-92 Phantom, F-4J #157269, flown by LCDR James McDevitt and Lt. Curt Dose, shot down a Vietnam People’s Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 with an AIM-9 Sidewinder.

VF-92 was disestablished on 12 December 1975 but the hapless 155743 was saved, put back into service, and was later even converted to F-4S standard, flying with VF-154 and the Marines of VMFA-312 until 1985 when she was put into storage at the AMARC bone yard. Odds are, she was probably scratched as a target drone sometime later.

“Connie,” on the other hand, remained in service until 2003 and was only recently scrapped at Brownsville, Texas.

The broken Hart

Awakened about 3:00 A.M., 8 December 1941 (2:00 P.M. Washington, D.C., time; 8:30 A.M. Pearl Harbor time, both 7 December), Admiral Thomas C. Hart scribbled this message to alert his fleet.

“Asiatic Fleet, Priority
Japan started hostilities. Govern yourselves accordingly.”

With the Philippines indefensible from a naval standpoint, by 14 December Hart had managed to withdraw his outgunned fleet in good order to Balikpapan, Borneo and continue operations from there. While his submarines kept slipping through the Japanese blockade of the PI, he engaged the Japanese at the Battle of Balikpapan Bay and came out ahead.

Hart held the command of the U.S. Navy Asiatic Fleet in WWII until 5 February 1942, at which point the command ceased to exist though not a single ship was lost while he was in charge of the force.

An excellent 95-page overview of the two months between the two bookend dates is here

Ward, who fired Pearl Harbor’s first shot, located after 73 years

New video in from the Philippines of Paul Allen’s RV Petrel exploring and documenting the remains of the Wickes-class destroyer, USS Ward (DD-139/APD-16).

USS Ward fired the first American shot in World War II on December 7, 1941, and of course is a past Warship Wednesday alumnus.

In a twist of fate, she was lost December 7, 1944, in Ormoc Bay and is now found and announced to the world again on that, now hallowed, date.

The beginning, and the end

A Navy officer views the shrine at the Arizona Memorial, where a marble wall bears the names of 1,177 officers and crew killed on the USS Arizona (BB-39) on 7 December 1941.

(Photo: VA)

A view of the USS Missouri (BB-63), site of the Japanese surrender ceremony in 1945, from the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. To this day, oil can be still seen rising from the wreckage to the surface of the water. The oil seeping is sometimes referred to as “tears of the Arizona” or “black tears.”

(Photo: VA)

The quiet before the storm

1941 Original Press Photo dated December 6, 1941, the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Shows a class of sailors in class as they train to become part of a water-cooled M2 .50-caliber Browning AAA gun crew.

Putting in guard time at Great Lakes

Here we see Seaman David J. Lohr, USN. Serving with the Seaman Guard at Great Lakes, Illinois, after Boot Camp, 1917. Note the M1905 bayonet and scabbard with M1903 Springfield rifle to go along with his flat cap and Cracker Jacks.

Copied from the collection of David J. Lohr, by Courtesy of RM1 Pamela J. Boyer, USN, 1986. NH 100998

Next, we have a crisp new Blue Jacket at Great Lakes in the 1960s guarding a stack of M1s and the platoon guidon, likely during chow. Even while the fleet, by and large, was using M14s at the time, M1s (along with M1917s and 1903s) remained in use as training rifles not only there but at Orlando and San Diego for some time.

And M1903A3 drill rifles with M1 bayonets still clocking in to one degree or another in 2002 in the below image. I’ve seen lots of images since then of Great Lakes trainees with M1s but they have all been chromed rubber ducks I believe.

020208-N-5576W-005 Great Lakes, IL (Feb. 8, 2002) — The Honorable Gordon England, Secretary of the Navy, inspects the recruit rifle team during the Recruit Pass in Review Ceremony held at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, IL. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Michael Worner. (RELEASED)

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