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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!

Runways are overrated

Meet ZELL– short for Zero-length Launch, a kind of Will-e-coyote strapped to a rocket way of launching a jet from the back of a truck.

“Program began with a launch of an F-84G in 1955. Each test utilized a USAF fighter mounted on the back of a flatbed truck and had a rocket motor attached to the airframe. The footage in the clip took place in Indian Springs, Nevada in 1958 when an F-100 was used.”

Then of course, in the 1960’s there was the Marine Corps’ Short Airfield for Tactical Support (SATS), which used a jet turbine powered trackless catapult to sling A-4s and A-7s down a short improvised runway that could be set up in a snap and doesn’t look to have more than a few hundred failure points.

 

Semper Paratus at 227

Point Class Cutters of USCG Squadron ONE stand out of Subic Bay in July 1965 for duty in Vietnamese littoral waters as part of Operation Market Time

Happy 227th Birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard!

From the top:

FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//CG-092//
TO ALCOAST
UNCLAS//N05700//
ALCOAST 228/17
COMDTNOTE 5700
SUBJ: COAST GUARD’s 227TH BIRTHDAY
1. August 4th, 2017 will mark the Coast Guard’s 227th birthday.
2. On that date in 1790, President George Washington signed an Act, passed by
Congress and championed by the Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton,
that authorized the creation of a federal fleet of 10 revenue cutters charged
with enforcing laws and protecting commerce of the new nation. Since the
federal government did not have a navy at the time, the small federal fleet of
sea-going, revenue cutters was the only naval force capable of protecting U.S.
maritime interests on the high seas and along the coastline. National defense
has therefore been a core mission since our founding.
3. Revenue and later Coast Guard cutters, along with the men and women in
Coast Guard service, participated in all of the nation’s major conflicts since
its founding, including the Vietnam War. Now 50 years hence, we honor those
who served our nation in Southeast Asia.
4. Coast Guardsmen first answered the call after the Navy requested Coast
Guard support for operations in the waters off South Vietnam. Coast Guard
afloat units, both WPBs and WHECs, served in two Coast Guard squadrons in the
waters of Southeast Asia and engaged in combat patrols, gunfire support, and
humanitarian missions. After a request for navigation support, the Coast Guard
established Long Range Navigation (LORAN) stations throughout Southeast Asia,
in an important operation codenamed “Tight Reign”. Additionally, Coast Guard
aviators served with Air Force search and rescue units and the buoy tenders
established maritime aids to navigation. A Port Security and Waterways Detail
and Explosive Loading Detachments ensured the safe loading and unloading of
vital munitions in theatre and a Merchant Marine Detail provided needed
support of merchant marine personnel and vessels. Many Coast Guardsmen and
their Public Health Service shipmates conducted numerous medical support
visits to South Vietnamese villages and distributed food, clothing, and toys
to those in need.
5. The Coast Guard role in South Vietnam ended with the closing of LORAN
stations in South Vietnam and Thailand in 1975, as Saigon fell to North
Vietnamese forces. The Coast Guard’s service was not without cost, as eight
Coast Guardsmen perished in the line of duty in Vietnam, while another
61 were wounded in action. It would do well, on this Coast Guard birthday,
to remember their sacrifices along with the sacrifices of all Coast Guardsmen
who gave their all in service of their country.
6. Over the next years the Coast Guard will continue to support efforts to
recognize the service of its veterans in Vietnam. For more information
please visit our website at https://www.uscg.mil/history/ops/wars/VTN/VTN
-Index.asp. Eligible Coast Guard Vietnam Veterans may obtain lapel pins from
The Vietnam War Commemoration. For details please see:
http://www.vietnamwar50th.com/lapelpins/.
7. Ms. Ellen Engleman Conners, Acting Director of Governmental and Public
Affairs, sends.
8. Internet release authorized.

Getting Hydra-matic….

Did you know General Motors (GM) made M16 rifles for the US Army during the Vietnam war? Here is your chance to own a replica of those made by Runner Runner of Texas. This fully functioning stripped 100% AR-15 lower (FFL required) has the same design as the originals but with modern day AR-15 specs. You can put this on display or you could build into a M16 clone, which is all the rage these days.

Specs:

Semi-auto AR15 lower receiver
Machined from 7075-T6 forged aluminum
Matte black hard-coat anodized Mil 8625 Type 3 Class 2
Works with standard AR15 components and magazines
Completely Mil-Spec; works will all uppers and LPKs
Upper tension screw (uses 1/16” Allen wrench)
Captured take down pin spring/detent with set screw (uses 1/32″ Allen Wrench)
Safety Selector settings: SAFE, FIRE & AUTO

Runner Runner is selling these for $79 here.

 

The military’s new 9mm, 1955 edition

In January 1955, United States Marine Corp. Lt. Colonel John Rentsch visited Smith & Wesson President Carl R. Hellstrom to examine the brand new Model 39 9mm pistol. Developed over six years and through 30 prototype changes, the Model 39 was the first double-action, auto-loading pistol manufactured in the United States.

(Photo: S&W)

Developed for the military, Uncle decided to stick with the millions of M1911s they had already on hand and do an open-handed shrug at NATO standardization when it came to pistol calibers until 1984, though the M39 did prove popular on the civilian market for years and was one of the best CCW guns of the 1960s and 70s. Just ask Paris Theodore.

Now with the 9mm Sig P320 winning the Army’s MHS competition, and the word that the Navy, Marines and Air Force are likely to tag on to replace their Berettas, it looks like the Devils are going Swiss-German (by way of New Hampshire) moving forward, with S&W being passed over yet again.

However, the Navy did end up using the M39 to one degree or another, in combo with the Hushpuppy Mk 22 suppressor in Vietnam.

52 years ago this week

Note the WWII-era M3 Grease Gun and cross-draw shoulder holstered M1911A1, both remained in U.S. military service well into the 1980s. Some things never go out of style.

Note the WWII-era M3 Grease Gun and cross-draw shoulder holstered M1911A1, both remained in U.S. military service well into the 1980s. Some things never go out of style.

On July 12, 1965, Lt. Frank Reasoner of the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, led by U.S.M.C. became the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor for action in Vietnam. Reasoner repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire, killed two Viet Cong, single-handedly wiped out an enemy machine gun emplacement, and raced through enemy fire to rescue his injured radio operator. Trying to rally his men, Reasoner was hit by enemy machine gun fire and was killed instantly. For this action, Reasoner was nominated for America’s highest award for valor.

Citation:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Commanding Officer, Company A, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, 3d Marine Division in action against hostile Viet Cong forces near Danang, Vietnam on 12 July 1965. The reconnaissance patrol led by First Lieutenant Reasoner had deeply penetrated heavily controlled enemy territory when it came under extremely heavy fire from an estimated 50 to 100 Viet Cong insurgents. Accompanying the advance party and the point that consisted of five men, he immediately deployed his men for an assault after the Viet Cong had opened fire from numerous concealed positions. Boldly shouting encouragement, and virtually isolated from the main body, he organized a base of fire for an assault on the enemy positions. The slashing fury of the Viet Cong machine gun and automatic weapons fire made it impossible for the main body to move forward. Repeatedly exposing himself to the devastating attack he skillfully provided covering fire, killing at least two Viet Cong and effectively silencing an automatic weapons position in a valiant attempt to effect evacuation of a wounded man. As casualties began to mount his radio operator was wounded and First Lieutenant Reasoner immediately moved to his side and tended his wounds. When the radio operator was hit a second time while attempting to reach a covered position, First Lieutenant Reasoner courageously running to his aid through the grazing machine gun fire fell mortally wounded. His indomitable fighting spirit, valiant leadership and unflinching devotion to duty provided the inspiration that was to enable the patrol to complete its mission without further casualties. In the face of almost certain death, he gallantly gave his life in the service of his country. His actions upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Thank you for your service, Lt. Reasoner.

About your grandpa’s old machine gun in the closet…

A Japanese Type 11 light machine gun– Kijiro Nambu’s take on the French 8mm Hotchkiss chambered in 6.5x50mm Arisaka– captured on Kwajalein Atoll in 1944 by American troops. Such guns, if not registered before 1968 and not demilled, are illegal in the U.S. (Photo: Rock Island Auction)

Many veterans legally brought back captured enemy weapons from overseas in the wake of America’s wars. Provided they had the right paperwork, some could properly register NFA items as Title II firearms before 1968. Others, who either didn’t have the paperwork or chose not to register, illegally owned their trophies after that date and often these guns are still in circulation– putting the possessor at risk of up to 10 years in prison.

Well that could change.

Legislation introduced in both chambers of Congress Tuesday would open a 180-day amnesty for veterans or their family to register guns captured overseas.

The bipartisan Veterans Heritage Firearms Act aims to allow former service members or their family to declare guns brought back to the states before Oct. 31, 1968 without fear of prosecution.

The bill would briefly open the National Firearm Registration and Transfer Record to veterans and their family to register certain firearms. The NFRTR is the federal government’s database of National Firearms Act items including machine guns, suppressors, short barreled rifles and shotguns, and destructive devices.

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