Indiana’s own Eugene Morrison Stoner cut his teeth in small arms as a Marine Corps armorer in World War II and left the world some of the most iconic black rifles in history.
Born on Nov. 22, 1922, in the small town of Gosport, just outside of Bloomington, Indiana, Stoner moved to California with his parents and graduated from high school in Long Beach. After a short term with an aircraft company in the area that later became part of Lockheed, the young man enlisted in the Marines and served in the South Pacific in the Corps’ aviation branch, fixing, and maintaining machine guns in squadrons forward deployed as far as China.
Leaving the Marines as a corporal after the war, Stoner held a variety of jobs in the aviation industry in California before arriving at ArmaLite, a tiny division of the Fairchild Engine & Airplane Corporation, where he made soon made his name in a series of ArmaLite Rifle designs, or ARs, something he would later describe as “a hobby that got out of hand.”
The all-new SAINT Edge Accurized Tactical Chassis, or ATC, from Springfield Armory, uses a monolithic lower chassis and is guaranteed to deliver sub-MOA accuracy.
The rifles, offered in a standard black model as well as an Elite Coyote Brown model with a better trigger and stock, are both built on a one-piece monolithic lower that is machined from 6061 T6 aluminum. Working towards precision use, they both use 18-inch 1:7-twist Ballistic Advantage barrels with .223 Wylde chambers in a truly free-floated design that ensures the barrel and gas system are not in contact with the lower. An Accu-Tite tensioning system eliminates play between the upper and lower.
The rifles use a direct impingement mid-length gas system and M16 bolt carrier groups along with a GI-style charging handle and a carbine “H” heavy tungsten buffer. The receiver extension is mil-spec and has a QD receiver endplate. The upper is made of 7075 T6 aluminum and has M4 feed ramps while the handguard has M-LOK accessory slots. The guns ship with 20-round Magpul PMAGs.
Looks like a combination of an HK91/PSG-1 and an old-school AR15/ M16 handguard, or, taking it a step further, an HK SL8 with a bit more Stoner.
Warship Wednesday, June 30, 2021: Cleaning Up After the Queen
Here, in this grainy still from a 16mm camera, we see one of the last organized surrenders of Japanese forces, some 70 years ago today– 30 June 1951– on the island of Anatahan to a whaleboat sent ashore by the Abnaki class fleet tug USS Cocopa, whose hull number (ATF-101) can be seen on the boat. The group of Japanese had previously refused to believe World War II ended in 1945, but surrendered to LCDR James B. Johnson, after losing their queen.
But we will get to that.
The 27 hulls of the Abnaki-class were intended for far-reaching ocean operations with the follow-on tail of the fleet. Constructed during the war, they were large for tugs, stretching out 205-feet in length and weighing almost 1,600 tons when fully loaded. Capable of 16.5 knots, they could steam a whopping 15,000 miles at half that clip on a quartet of economical GM diesels. Fairly well-armed for tugs, they carried a 3″/50 DP main gun, two twin 40mm/60 Bofors, and two Oerlikons.
USS Abnaki (ATF-96) underway at Pearl Harbor, February 1952, showing the simple and effective layout of the class, which kept their WWII-era armament well into the 1950s. Cocopa surely emulated the above impression at Anatahan.
Named for Native American tribes, Cocopa carried the name of an Arizona tribe and was constructed by Charleston Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Charleston, S.C., commissioned 25 March 1944.
Cocopas by Balduin Mollhausen, circa 1860. DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University
Her war history was largely skipped over by DANFS, with just 88 words dedicated it the period, but it was interesting if not the stuff of military legend, taking the tug from the Palmetto State to Shanghai with stops in the English Channel and brushes with German U-Boats while in two cross-Atlantic convoys.
Amazingly, she did not earn a single battle star for her WWII service.
Following a postwar overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, she was assigned to Alaskan waters, which at the time were still strewn in wartime wreckage and threats of mines. While operating out of Guam in 1951, she was dispatched to a far-off island to respond to the strange story of a group of Japanese holdouts that the war had forgotten.
Located in the Northern Marianas, the natives there were removed by the Spanish in the 17th Century to turn the 8,300-acre volcanic island into a large coconut/copra plantation. This continued under the Germans, who picked up Spain’s remaining Pacific territories in 1899, and by the 1920s or so, the plantations had fallen into disrepair and, with the Japanese in charge, they stayed that way.
Fast forward to June 1944 and U.S. air assets from the 15 carriers of VADM Marc A. Mitscher’s TF 58 found a Japanese convoy in the area, sailing from Tanapag to Japan.
Over the next three days, as a sideshow to the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot” they had easy pickings, splashing the torpedo boat Otori, net layer Kokku Maru, transports Batavia Maru, Hinko Maru, Kamishima Maru, Imizu Maru,Nitcho Maru, Reikai Maru, and Tenryugawa Maru: the freighter Bokuyo Maru, Japanese Army cargo ships Fukoku Maru and Moji Maru, and the coaster Tsushima Maru.
Marianas Operation, 1944. Caption: Burning Japanese cargo ship that was attacked by USS LEXINGTON (CV-16) planes off Saipan, 14 June 1944. Description: Catalog #: 80-G-236902
In the aftermath, a group of some 31 Japanese soldiers and mariners including navy seamen, army privates, and four merchant ship captains, the survivors of several of the ships that were sunk, made it to the lush shores of Anatahan where they lived with a handful of locals who were leftovers from the old plantation days alongside Mr. Kikuichiro Higa, the Okinawan plantation manager, and one Japanese woman, Kazuko Higa, his common-law wife. The senior-most Japanese military member was Sgt. Junji Inoue.
War came to the island when a Saipan-based B-29 Superfortress, T Square 42 (42-74248), from the 498th Bomb Group, 875th Squadron, 73rd Wing, crashed on 3 January 1945 on Anatahan, with no survivors. Meanwhile, the Japanese hid.
On 10 May 1945, elements of the U.S. Army’s 24th Infantry Regiment, carried by the USS Marsh (DE-669), LCI(L)-1054 and LCI(L)-1082, landed on Anatahan and scouted around a bit, staying for a week. The Japanese continued to hide.
In July 1945, the 6th Marine MP Battalion landed on the island and again the Japanese hid inland. They removed the 45 native Carolinians who remained in the village. Other Navy ships visited the island and, hailing the emperor’s remaining subjects there, urged them to surrender.
After the war, in February 1946, a U.S. Army AGRS search party visited the island, located the crash site near the top of its 2,500 ft volcano, and recovered the remains of the crew. Still, the Japanese remained in hiding, despite messages to them that the war was over, including Japanese newspapers and magazines chronicling the peace, which were dismissed as a trick.
As noted by the National Park Service, the Japanese eventually found the B-29, and their fortunes changed.
Early in September 1946, Kazuko and Kikuichiro Higa were crossing the steaming 2,500-foot volcanic crater atop the island when they stumbled upon the wreckage of an American B-29. Parachutes found in the aircraft yielded nylon for clothing and cord that was carefully unraveled, then rewoven into fishing lines. Using stone hammers, the men chopped away the duralumin plates and beneath them found aluminum, which was eventually formed into cooking utensils, razors, harpoons, fishhooks, spears, and knives. Wire from the springs in the machine guns was twisted into shark hooks. Oxygen tanks were modified for use as water catchments. Engine bolts were fashioned into chisels and other cutting and drilling tools. Plexiglass and strips of rubber were made into pairs of underwater goggles. Everything that could be carried away from this great prize was taken and zealously guarded. When one man discovered a method for making a new implement, the less inventive of the group made copies. One man designed a model sailing vessel from duralumin and copper wire from the aircraft. Another produced several banjo-like samisens, traditional Japanese three-stringed instruments.
It also provided instruments of death: A pair of 45 caliber automatic pistols. The weapons were seized by two of Kazuko’s suitors. For the remaining months of their lives, the two reigned as kings of the island.
Soon, Kikuichiro was killed, as were no less than three other survivors, in a series of feuds over crab fishing and Kazuko, who became something of the Queen of Anatahan.
In June 1950, LCDR James Johnson, Deputy Civil Administrator on Saipan, began to wage a hearts and minds campaign to get the Japanese on Anatahan to lay down their arms and go home. This included regular delivery of care packages under a white flag, amounting to letters from the soldiers’ relatives and Japanese authorities, Tokyo newspapers, magazines, food supplies, Japanese beer, and cigarettes.”
This brought about the “surrender” of Queen of Anatahan, who was eager to leave her subjects behind.
Johnson kept up his efforts to get the last of the marooned Japanese off the island for eight months. After dropping leaflets promising the 18 men who were left would be returned to their families, a white flag appeared and our tug sailed from Guam, complete with a platoon of armed Marines and a LIFE journalist, Michael Rougier.
By Rougier, via the LIFE Archives:
I found these two videos in the National Archives of the event and uploaded them to YT. They are silent but moving.
Junji Inoue, the day of his surrender at Anatahan, June 1951. (N-1993.05). Inoue reads a document urging his compatriots to surrender. Scene aboard M.V. Cocopa, Anatahan, June 1951. Inoue’s personal implements. Note fiber zoris, coconut husk hat, knives fashioned from B-29 wreckage. (N-1993.07)
Once the men arrived in Guam, they were hospitalized for a week then flown to Japan.
From the Aug. 1951 All Hands
The Lord of the Flies tale of shipwrecked soldiers and sailors fighting over a single queen while surviving on coconut wine and crabs was turned into several books and at least one internationally popular film, Josef von Sternberg’s Anatahan (1953).
Meanwhile, back to our ship!
With the war in Korea increasingly drawing in naval assets after the entrance of Chinese volunteers by the hundreds of thousands, USS Cocopa (ATF-101) was soon off to combat. Deployed to the region in the summer and fall of 1953, she was key in saving the Canadian Tribal-class destroyer HMCS Huron (G24), which had grounded while in range of Nork shore batteries. The mighty tug took the damaged Canuck, stern-first, to Sasebo.
Cocopa did receive a battle star for Korea.
USS Cocopa (ATF-101) moored pier side, date, and location unknown. Note The tug’s engineers have managed to paint their battle efficiency “E” on their ship’s tiny smokestack. NHHC
By 1954, she was supporting Operation Castle, a series of atomic tests at Bikini Atoll.
Then came numerous trips to Vietnam, deploying there five times between 1963 and 1972, earning five stars for her service in Southeast Asia. One of the most interesting taskings during her time there was as a “Yankee Station Special Surveillance Unit” to deceive and jam Soviet Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) and Electrical Intelligence (ELINT) trawlers that were monitoring American operations in the Gulf of Tonkin.
USS Cocopa (ATF-101) underway,1969, still with her 3-inch gun but with her Bofors and Oerlikons removed. L45-54.04.01
Decommissioned, 30 September 1978, she would go on to continue her service in more North American waters.
Sold under the Security Assistance Program to Mexico, 30 September 1978, Cocopa was commissioned into the Republic of Mexico Navy as ARM Jose Maria Mata (ARE-03) until 1993, then as ARM Seri with the same hull number.
She is still on active duty, based in Tampico.
ARM Seri ARE03 Tampico Mexico 2016 via ShipSpotter IMO 7342691
Check out this video of her underway in 2017, looking good for her age.
Of Cocopa’s 26 Abenaki-class sisters, they have been very lucky with two exceptions– USS Wateree (ATF-117) was sunk during a typhoon, 9 October 1945 with a loss of eight crew members; and USS Sarsi (ATF-111) met her fate during Typhoon Karen in 1952 at the hands of a drifting naval mine off the coast of Korea. The rest lived to a ripe old age with the U.S. Navy, eventually being retired by Uncle Sam in the 1960s and 70s. While the last of her class in U.S. service, USS Papago (ATF-160), was disposed of in 1997, many were transferred overseas– such as Cocopa, who continues to serve alongside classmates ARM Yaqui (ex-Abnaki) and ARM Otomi (ex-USS Molala ATF-106).
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.
With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.
PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.
The humble original M16 was originally Armalite’s AR-15, and was first ordered for military service with a contract issued to Colt Firearms in May 1962 for the purchase of early Model 01 rifles to be used by Air Force Security Police.
Note, these guns had waffle-pattern 20-round mags, no forward assist, a thin 1:14 twist barrel, and the early three-prong flash hider.
Fast forward to the XM16E1, which became the M16A1 in 1967, and you started to come closer to the standard Army/Marine rifle used in Vietnam and throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. It used a forward assist and a 1:12 twist barrel.
By 1983, the M16A2 came about, it had a thicker barrel in front of the front sight, a modified flash suppressor (closed on bottom), a new polymer buttstock (lighter and stronger), faster barrel twist (from 1:12 to 1:7), and a spent case deflector for left-hand users. Considered downright vintage by the Army and Marines, the Navy still sports them these days.
M16A2- check M9 in drop leg holster- check Body armor- um, about that……
By 1998, the M16A4 was in play, primarily for the Marines, which had a removable carry handle, a Picatinny top rail to allow for optics, short rails on the handguard for accessories, and a 20-inch barrel with a 1:7 RH twist rate.
Note the size difference between the compact M4 Carbine, top, and the full-length M16A4 rifle, bottom. (Photos: Department of Defense)
Designed in 1955 by Winchester as their answer to the vaunted .257 Roberts and .244 Remington, the .243 Winchester is fundamentally a necked down .308 cartridge case topped with a lighter (70-100 grain) bullet. It has since become one of the most popular of rounds for medium game and just about every rifle maker produces multiple offerings in the chambering– the same cannot be said of .244 and .257 today.
However, besides its use for whitetails from thin-barreled budget guns from the big box store, the .243 has a crowd of die-hard users who like it for serious target shooting to 1,000-yards and beyond.
Five-time NRA High Power Long Range National Champion John Widden only uses the .243, preferring a hand-load that hits the sweet spot.
“My .243 Win. shoots inside a 6.5 mm-284 Norma with 142-grainers,” says Widden. “Nothing out there is really ahead of the .243 Win. in 1000-yard ballistics unless you get into the short magnums or .284s—and those carry a very significant recoil penalty … I went to the .243 Win. because it had similar ballistics but had much less recoil. It doesn’t beat me up as much and is not as fatiguing.”
The guys at Long Range Shooters of Utah have an open challenge to those who can peg a milk jug with a precision rifle at extreme distances, and Chad Kinyon just pulled it off.
Rules for the challenge at LRSU are that each shooter has a maximum of 10 shots within 10 minutes and can attempt it three times in 24 hours. The distance is verified by laser rangefinder and GPS and is witnessed and officiated by LSRU.
Kinyon pulled it down on the 6th shot (who doesn’t need correction at 1,200-yards) using a Ruger Precision Rifle topped with an Athlon Argos 6-24 x 50mm scope. The round was a 115gr DTAC going 2963 FPS.