Tag Archives: airborne

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!

If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training

Also translated as “If it’s not snowing, we ain’t going.”

1-10th Special Forces Group Soldiers maneuver through shooting range at Panzer Range Complex, Boeblingen, Germany, Nov. 08, 2016., Photo: U.S. Army Special Operations Command

1-10th Special Forces Group Soldiers maneuver through shooting range at Panzer Range Complex, Boeblingen, Germany, Nov. 08, 2016., Photo: U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Click to big up.

“Through rain, sleet, snow or storm our Special Forces Soldiers will deliver to your front door…or back door, window, roof, basement crawl space. You know…wherever they see fit.”

John Gresham has passed

john Gresham

In the small world of top-notch military commentary, there were a handful of legitimate experts. That pool has grown smaller with the untimely passing of John D. Gresham.

If you ever thumbed through Tom Clancy’s his best-selling series of non-fiction “guided tour” books about military units published in the 1990s:  Submarine, Armored Cav, Fighter Wing, Marine, Airborne, Carrier, and Special Forces, it was Clancy’s name that sold the book– but the insides were all made possible by the hard work of Gresham.

In all, he had some 15 books of his own in circulation as well as the annual The Year in Special Operations and a lot of the best open-source defense analysis in circulation. I corresponded with Mr. Gresham on a number of occasions.

He will be missed.

The more things change

Breach, Bang, Clear has an interesting photo piece matching up WWII era airborne photos with that of today’s Joes. Interestingly enough, the modern ones are of the Texas Army National Guard’s 143rd Airborne Battalion of the 36th Infantry Div (ARNG).

The 143rd is not the stereotypical National Guard unit. The battalion is full of combat veterans and Rangers, including many 75th Regiment veterans.

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The rest here