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100K MHS Series Pistols and Counting

New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer announced last week that they have reached a milestone in delivering new pistols to the U.S. Armed Forces.

Since winning the contentious Modular Handgun System contract in 2017, beating out big-name pistol makers from around the globe to replace the M9 Beretta, Sig has exceeded performance standards and recently delivered the 100,000th MHS series gun to the military.

The MHS system comprises the Sig Sauer M17 full-size, and M18 compact handguns, each based on the company’s P320 series pistols, as well as Winchester Ammunition’s 9x19mm M1152 Ball, M1153 Special Purpose, and M1156 Drilled Dummy Inert cartridges.

Over the coming five-to-seven years, upwards of 350,000 handguns and 100 million rounds of ammunition are scheduled for delivery to the Pentagon.

More in my column at 

Happy Turkey Day from Da Nang to Bagram

Official caption: TURKEY TIME—Lance Corporal Walter R. Billetdeoux (Johnstown, PA) takes a healthy bite from a turkey leg on Thanksgiving Day in Vietnam. Sitting in a foxhole on the front lines, just outside of Da Nang, the combat-clad Marine is enjoying his first hot meal in more than two weeks. LCpl Billetdeoux is a member of L Company, 3d Battalion, 9th Marines.

3m-1-142-65, III MAF, Da Nang, Vietnam, 26 Nov 1965, Photo By: Sgt W. Weih. Defense Dept Photo (Marine Corps) A186195

The more things change:


Bloody Tarawa

As a note, this week is the 76th anniversary of the bloody and hard-fought Battle of Tarawa.

Maj. Gen. Julian C. Smith’s 2nd Mar Div– consisting of the 2nd, 8th, 10th, and 18th Marines– hit the Red Beach 1, 2, and 3 and Green Beach. The Marines were opposed by 4,800 mixed Imperial Japanese Navy SNLF and Korean construction troops, who were holed up in more than 500 sand-and-log pillboxes under command of RADM Keiji Shibazaki.

The effort for the Gilbert Islands atoll raged for three days, resulting in 3,301 Marine casualties out of the 18,000 that landed– a rate of one-in-six.

Of the four Marines who received the Medal of Honor for Tarawa, three did so posthumously.

Busy Days

Find the journal entry of Marine Lloyd Fuller, covering Nov. 15 & 16 1942, below.

Fuller enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1941 and, assigned to Marine Fighting Squadron 121 (VMF 121), served as the ordnance man for Joe Foss– the leading Marine fighter ace in WWII– who allowed Fuller to name two of the squadron’s F4F Wildcat fighter planes “Miss Irene” and “Miss Irene II” after his hometown sweetheart, Irene.

Fuller details the aftermath of the Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, where the Japanese battleship Kirishima was sunk, and the general atmosphere of the famed Cactus Air Force operating from embattled Henderson Field in the darkest days of the campaign.

From the Lloyd D. Fuller Collection (COLL/4932), Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections

“November 15, 1942

Mike still throwing slugs. 2 came within 20 yards of me. Close shave. Yesterday afternoon we received 9 B26’s, 12 P38’s, and some F4F’s from Enterprise. Enterprise, Washington, So. Dak., etc. hit Jap convoy making their naval escort flee. We sank 7 transports and 5 are burning fiercely on the beach. P39’s set ships on fire with incendiary bombs. FBF’s, SBD’s, P39’s, P38’s, B26’s, F4F’s have been hitting hard. B26’s left for Roses & 10 F4F’s are going out to their ship, Enterprise. We destroyed approximately 12 Zeros & 1 bomber. Enterprise downed 21 bombers and unestimated number of Zeros. Tojo’s convoy was not successful. Miss Irene II got her first Zero. Col. Bower lost 14th in sea. Mann returned. Joe Palko was found dead with a 20 mm in his neck.

November 16, 1942

Quiet day for a change. General Woods’s statement said: “During the past 5 days, our air forces on Cactus destroyed 2 carriers, 2 battleships, 4 cruisers, 4 cruisers badly damaged, 8 destroyers, 12 transports and 30,000 men. He commended ground forces for “working untiringly, day and night, under constant shellfire and bombing, reducing danger to Cactus and assuring victory of Guadalcanal.” We destroyed 69 planes in 5 days. No supplies were landed. 155’s sank transports that were burning yesterday. Latest word is that Japs landed 5000 troops and 4 field pieces.”

VMF-121 produced fourteen fighter aces, more than any other Marine squadron in history, downing 208 Japanese aircraft.

Foss (fourth from left) joins members of Marine Corps fighter squadron VMF-121 on a Wildcat wing at Henderson Field, Guadalcanal. (U.S. Marine Corps)

As for Fuller, he survived the war and left the Marines as a Master Sergent. Lloyd and Irene were married following his return from the Pacific.

Don’t underestimate that aging vet in his big cap…you never know what he has seen.

Lloyd Fuller, circa 2008

Remember, today is not about saving upto 20% on select merchandise

Division Cemetery, Okinawa, 1945, Photo via Marine Corps Archives

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

Happy birthday, USMC

Semper Fidelis! To salute the 244th Anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps, established at Tun’s Tavern, November 10, 1775, here is the 168th poster, issued during the Corps’ hard-fought campaign for Guadalcanal.

Happy Birthday, Marines, (wherever you are)


Devils along the Rhine

A fairly salty looking Marine Sergent in dress blues, ca. 1917, via the USMC archives. Note his fedora at the ready and early pattern webbing.

The combat exploits of the U.S. Marine Corps in France in 1918 are legend. This can be attributed to the men of the 5th Marine Regiment who came over with the first round of American troops in June 1917, followed by the 6th Marines in February 1918. The two regiments, along with the 4th Marine Machine Gun Battalion, formed the 4th Marine Brigade, which fought with the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division. Proving a rock between the proverbial hard place in the Chateau-Thierry sector and Belleau Wood before helping to blunt the German St. Mihiel offensive in September before tackling Blanc Mont Ridge, capturing St. Etienne and ending the war on the banks of the Meuse River.

Then came their part in the Army of German Occupation, which saw the 4th Marine Brigade march into the Rhine on 13 December 1918, a duty they maintained until June 1919.

“Brigade headquarters were successively established at Margut, Bellefontaine, Anon, Usseldange, Berg, Eppeldorf, Neuerburgh, Waxweiler, Prum, Budesheim, Weisbaum, Antweiler, Neuenahr, Burgbrohl, Rheinbrohi, and Honningen.”

These photos come from the ersatz USMC Rhine River Patrol, likely during the early (winter) part of 1919 due to the presence of heavy greatcoats and other cold-weather gear. They were likely taken during the inspection by of SECNAV Josephus “Cup of Joe” Daniels, who reviewed the 2nd ID and its Marine units in Germany in April 1919 or perhaps by Pershing, who visited the group in March, as the crew are at attention and saluting.

Marine Rhine River Patrol ca 1919, George Barnett Collection, COLL1635, Marine Corps Archives. Note the bow-mounted water-cooled machine gun 

Of interest, the Polizei-marked patrol boat is not equipped with a USMC-standard Lewis gun, M1904 Maxim or M1917 Browning, but rather a German Spandau Maschinengewehr 08, or MG 08, to include its distinctive Schlittenlafette sled mount.

After all, there were probably a lot of them around as surplus in 1919…

Both the 4th Brigade and the follow-on 5th Marine Brigade (11th & 13th Marine Rgts, 5th MG btln) ended their European vacation in the summer and arrived back in the States in August 1919.

For more on the Marines in the Great War, the USMC Archives has a great 118-page historical reference on the subject, here. 

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