Not bad for a platform that some deride as a 300-yard rifle, at best

Sgt. Cleland got it done 80 out of 80 times, out to 600 yards, with an M16 (Photos: U.S. Army)

A member of the U.S. Army’s elite Marksmanship Unit’s Service Rifle Team landed all 80 rounds in the 10-ring at a High-Power Rifle Course earlier this month.

The competitor, Sgt. Benjamin Cleland of Swanton, Ohio, pulled off the feat with a score of 800-34x. This means Cleland not only notched 80 back-to-back hits in the 10-ring but that 34 of those nailed the even smaller “X” ring at the target’s dead center. For reference, at 600 yards, the 10-ring measures 12 inches while the “X” is 6 inches.

According to the AMU, it is something that has never been recorded as on a service rifle in this type of match. Outstanding job, Sgt. Cleland!

More in my column at Guns.com.

Dragoon Snubbie?

Photo and caption via the University of Utah’s collection:

Colt's 1st Model Dragoon Revolver, Serial No. 3262 Stekes Utah Historical Collection

“This was Colt’s 1st Model Dragoon Revolver, Serial No. 3262. This revolver was made in 1848 or 1849 as records show that “a little over 4000 of the first model were made in 1848.” The barrel has been shortened from the original 7 1/2 inch length to 2 1/2 inches. The loading lever has been removed and a new front sight has been dove-tailed in on the barrel. This was a common practice to enable quicker drawing and firing & to carry concealed. The revolver was allegedly brought to Salt Lake City in 1936 by a lady from “Southern Utah,” who said that it had some connection with John D. Lee. It could hardly have belonged to Lee as William Stokes, Deputy U.S. Marshall, who arrested Lee at Panquitch on the morning of Nov. 7, 1874, related that Lee was curious about a similar revolver that he (Stokes) used. Could this perhaps be the Stokes modifed “dragoon pistol?” C.K. Gift of Charles Kelly. “

For reference, John Doyle Lee was famously convicted as a mass murderer for his role in the 1857 Mountain Meadows massacre and executed by firing squad at the Mountain Meadows site in 1877.

For further reference, this is what an unmodified Colt Dragoon looks like:

Pvt. Mabry W. Wafer, Company C, First Texas Partisan Rangers Colt Dragoon revolver Texas Historical Society Civil War

Pvt. Mabry W. Wafer, Company C, First Texas Partisan Rangers, shown with his Colt Dragoon revolver, photo via the Texas Historical Society

You can never really wear out one of these…

When I was a kid, as a military brat, I inherited a very well-traveled OD M65 Field Jacket and wore it throughout junior high and high school. It finally came up missing at a party in college and I suspect that somewhere it remains, probably in the closet of a hipster, with mustache wax on the collar.

Later, in the state guard, I got one of my own woodland camo model– that my son now wears occasionally– before they were phased out altogether in 2009.

This Vietnam-era OG-107 classic, which has long since past its (official) wear-out date, is still in use at the Washington Naval Yard with the 8th & I Marines.

Basic bicycle repair class, Normandy edition, 75 yrs ago today

Canadian Army Pvt. R.O. Potter of The Highland Light Infantry of Canada repairs a flat tire on his bicycle shortly after the Allied D-Day landings in Normandy. France. 20 June 1944.

Note the No. 4 Mk I Enfield .303 and skrimmed helmet

Both the British and Canadian Army had issued their soldiers bicycles for the initial landings (Operation Neptune) on 6 June 1944 to help the soldiers get off of the beaches quickly and allow for more mobility during the ensuing Battle of Normandy (Operation Overlord).

Infantrymen of the Highland Light Infantry of Canada cook a meal aboard a landing craft en route to France amidst piles of bikes. (Photo: Library and Archives Canada)

Personnel of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade landing on “Nan White” beach on D-Day

Personnel of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade landing on “Nan White” (Juno) beach on D-Day. Whole lotta bikes in the sand. (Photo: Library and Archives Canada)

looking east along the “Nan White” beach, showing personnel of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade landing on D-Day

looking east along the “Nan White” beach, showing personnel of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigade landing on D-Day. (Photo: Library and Archives Canada)

 

D-DAY – BRITISH FORCES DURING THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 6 JUNE 1944 (B 5078) Troops from the British 3rd Infantry Division, some with bicycles, move inland from Queen beach, Sword Area, 6 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205818

D-DAY – BRITISH FORCES DURING THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 6 JUNE 1944 (BU 1184) Film still showing commandos of No. 4 Commando, 1st Special Service Brigade, coming ashore from LCI(S) landing craft on Queen Red beach, Sword area, 6 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205373104

D-DAY – BRITISH FORCES DURING THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 6 JUNE 1944 (B 5003) Beach Group troops wade ashore from landing craft on Queen beach, Sword area, on the evening of 6 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205090225

Although we here in the States often see D-Day as an Omaha Beach main event and Utah Beach sideshow, the fact is that of 160,000 Allied troops to hit Normandy on 6 June, half were British and Canadians. This included around 24,970 men of the British 50th Division (Northumbrian) and elements of the 8th Armored Brigade on Gold Beach, 21,400 Canucks of the 3rd Canadian Division on Juno Beach, 28,845 men of the British 3rd Infantry Division and 1st Special Service (Commando) Brigade on Sword Beach, along with 7,900 airborne troops of the British 6th Airborne Div with attached 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.

By July 4, a cool million Allied troops were ashore and looking to break out, many on two wheels.

Goodbye, BREN, hello BREN 2

CZ’s 805 BREN line, a commercial variant of a modular light carbine developed for the Czech military, was nice. I say was because, with the exception of its select-fire cousin still being made for military sales (France, Egypt, Hungary and about a half-dozen other countries have entered into contracts for them of varying sizes) the 805 BREN was discontinued in its semi-auto commercial version.

The replacement?

Meet the new CZ BREN 2 Ms pistol, offered in both 7.62×39 and 5.56:

More in my column at Guns.com.

Filed Under: Other Navy Ships Named for Coasties

With the news earlier this month that SECNAV will be naming one of the Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers after the late (great) Capt. Quentin Walsh, USCG, I’ve seen several news sources– both mainstream and in the military blogosphere— say this is the first occasion that the U.S. Navy has named a warship after a member of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Simply not true.

To the best of my knowledge, there are at least three other occasions (and likely more that I can’t think of) that have predated them.

1. USS Newcomb (DD-586), a Fletcher-class destroyer is named for Commodore Frank H. Newcomb of the Revenue Cutter Service, the Coast Guard’s predecessor. After Civil War service in the Navy, Newcomb was commissioned as an officer in the USRCS and in 1898 while in command of the plucky little USRC Hudson, came to the assistance of the crippled torpedo boat USS Winslow during the Battle of Cárdenas in the war with Spain.

Cutter HUDSON rescues the USS Winslow from Spanish land batteries off Cardenas Bay, Cuba

He was given a special Congressional Gold Medal for his part in the Spanish–American War– the only one issued by Congress for the conflict. USS Newcomb only made it to the Pacific in 1944, but received 8 battle stars for World War II service, having been present from Saipan to Okinawa. At the former, she sank Japanese submarine I-185, and on 4 July 1944 “her well-directed fire broke up a Japanese banzai attack north of Garapan.”

2. Canadian-born S1C Douglas Albert Munro, USCGR, was 22 when he gave his last full measure at the Second Battle of the Matanikau on Guadalcanal in September 1942 when he was placed in charge of the extrication of a force of the 7th Marines that had been overrun by the Japanese. He was killed while using the boat he was piloting to shield a landing craft filled with Marines from Japanese fire and received the MOH for his “extraordinary heroism,” endorsed by Halsey himself. His dying words before he slumped into the great beyond were, “Did they get off?”

Douglas A. Munro Covers the Withdrawal of the 7th Marines at Guadalcanal by Bernard D’Andrea.

The Butler-class destroyer escort USS Douglas A. Munro (DE-422) was named in his honor in 1944, serving in both WWII and the Korean War. Further, the Coast Guard has named two large sea-going cutters after Munro, who is the service’s only MOH recipient.

3. DDG-133 was named earlier this year for former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn. Of course, the fact that he served as the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee from 1987 to 1995 likely had more to do with that than his time in the Coast Guard (1959-60) and USCGR (1960-68), but nonetheless, it was mentioned in the calculus of the decision by SECNAV for bestowing his name to a $1 Billion+ cruiser-sized destroyer.

190506-N-DM308-001 WASHINGTON (May 6, 2019) An artist rendering of the future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sam Nunn (DDG 133). (U.S. Navy photo illustration/Released)

Honorable mention:

Then, of course, there is the case of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, who as Secretary of the Treasury founded the Revenue Marine (the Coast Guard’s ancestor) in 1790. While the Revenue Cutter Service/USCG has named at least four ocean-going cutters after the storied Revolutionary War hero and service founder– one of which was lost to a U-boat in WWII– the Navy has also counted a warship with the same name on the Navy List: the ballistic missile submarine USS Alexander Hamilton (SSBN-617), from 1963 to 1993.

Any others that you know of? Please share with me so we all do!

Warship Wednesday, June 19, 2019: Coming Full Circle, OTD 104 & 75 Years Ago

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, June 19, 2019: Coming Full Circle, OTD 104 & 75 Years Ago

Launch of USS Arizona (BB-39) UA 476.12

NARA Photo UA 476.12

As a special Warship Wednesday, above we see Battleship No. 39, PCU USS Arizona at her launch on her builder’s ways at the New York Navy Yard, 19 June 1915– some 104 years ago today.

The second ship of the Pennsylvania-class, Arizona‘s keel had been laid on 16 March 1914 with then-Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt in attendance. The ceremony included FDR closely observing the nailing up of the ship’s good luck horseshoe.

Laying Keel of U.S.S. Battleship Number 39, Nailing of the Horseshoe. NARA 10-a2-131-0004-00011 AC

Detail of the above, with a very mobile and bowler-wearing FDR circled, peering down on the ceremony. He would not be stricken with polio until 1921

Her launching, just 15 months after she was laid down, was attended by a reported crowd of 75,000 including Roosevelt, NYC Mayor John Purroy Mitchel, most of the big name naval brass of the era– the modern battleships Florida, Utah, Wyoming, Arkansas, New York, and Texas were in the Hudson for the event– and various luminaries of the day. It was quite the affair.

USS ARIZONA (BB-39) Launching Ticket. Courtesy of Mr. R. Lincoln Hedlander, USS LEVIATHAN Veterans Association. NH 75450

Secretary of the Navy invitation to the ship’s launching, at the New York Navy Yard, 19 June 1915. Note Secretary of the Navy flag and Arizona State seal. Courtesy of Mrs. Worth Sprunt, 1974. Collection of Rear Admiral B. F. Hutchison. NH 81429

There was a huge delegation from her namesake state led by Arizona Gov. George W. P. Hunt and including Sen. Henry F. Ashurst and pioneer Miss Esther Rose– the latter a sponsor who brought a carboy of the water from the state’s Salt River first spilled over the Theodore Roosevelt Dam in 1911, for use in the double christening of water and wine across the ship’s bow.

The good people of Arizona would, over the next year while the ship was fitting out at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, go on to fund an extensive Reed & Barton silver service for “their” new battleship by popular subscription. It was ready to present to the dreadnought upon her commissioning in 1916.

Removed during a “strip ship” by the US Navy at Bremerton, Washington in late 1940-early 1941 in preparation for the war, the service was later carried aboard the light cruiser USS Tucson (CL-98) and returned to the state in 1953. Today, the treasured relics are on display at the Arizona Capitol Museum

The 1915 event was, by contemporary accounts, the top news of the day.

Heading down the ways. NARA Photo 19-N-3339

USS Arizona afloat after launch NARA 19-LC-19A-24

USS Arizona pushed by tugs after launch. The third warship named after the territory/state; the Navy has never again issued the name. NARA 19-LC-19A-10

Fast forward from that joyous day in 1915 and Arizona would be a happy and lucky ship– remaining stateside during World War I– across more than two decades of faithful service until that fateful Day of Infamy, as later-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would describe her loss to the world.

On 7 December 1941, she was hit multiple times in the first few minutes of the Japanese attack with one air-dropped bomb penetrating the armored deck near her forward ammunition magazine, sparking a massive explosion that killed 1,177 of the sailors and Marines on board. Mortally damaged, Arizona still lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor’s Battleship Row.

Curiously, on the 29th anniversary of Arizona‘s christening (19 June 1944– 75 years ago today) the opening acts of the pivotal Battle of the Philippine Sea, one of the last gasps of the Imperial Japanese Navy, was well underway.

Remembered as the “Marianas turkey shoot”, the Japanese lost three precious aircraft carriers and 600 warplanes of their fleet air arm along with their irreplaceable pilots– which amounted to something like 90 percent of their effective naval aviation strength across the IJN.

A VF-1 Top Hatter F6F-3 fighter is launched from USS YORKTOWN, to intercept enemy forces during Mariana's turkey shoot 19 June 1944. Note target information board under the propeller. 80-G-248440

A VF-1 Top Hatter F6F-3 Hellcat fighter is launched from USS YORKTOWN, to intercept enemy forces during Mariana’s turkey shoot 19 June 1944. Note target information board under the propeller. 80-G-248440

Among those Japanese flattops scratched that day included Shokaku, one of six Japanese carriers of the Kido Butai to participate in the Pearl Harbor attack that sunk Arizona. Shokaku was struck at 11:22 on 19 June by three to four torpedoes from the submarine USS Cavalla (SS-224) and slipped below the waves just after midnight on the 20th, taking some 1,272 men with her.

The scale, you could say, was balanced.

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

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