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My nomination for STUD of the Year! CBP Jacob Albarado

CBP officer Jacob Albarado runs into Uvalde school with barber’s shotgun to save daughter

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Some great News for a Change! Swatara Township Police Officer being hailed for act of kindness by: Ben Schad

SWATARA TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — A story about a Midstate police officer is making its rounds on social media.

Officer Anthony Glass from Swatara Township Police was assisting an elderly man whose card was not working at the Capitol Diner. Police say the senior called them for assistance and that’s when Officer Glass showed up and paid the bill with his own card.

The man offered to pay Officer Glass back but he declined. A release from the Swatara Township Police Department praised Officer Glass saying, “One of the core values of the STPD is caring which was demonstrated by Of. Glass’ actions this morning.” Hundreds more are commending the officer for this act of kindness.

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Pat Tillman: Portrait of an American Hero by WILL DABBS

Behold the face of the real Captain America. Pat Tillman was a genuine hero.

Politicians refer to themselves as public servants. Swamp creatures like Joe Biden will extol their many decades of employment in Washington DC as though they had been some kind of galley slave toiling away on an Athenian man o’ war. I have actually met a couple of those guys. Their idea of selfless service does not quite match my own.

I wouldn’t pee on these guys if they were on fire.

American legislators spend money like drunken sailors. Actually, that’s not true. Drunken sailors couldn’t even begin to burn cash in as profligate a manner as might your typical freshman congressman. They’ve raised wasting money to an art form.

Hanging with a group of US Congressmen for a week back in the 1990s soured me on the American political system forever.

You think I’m kidding. Back when I was a soldier I spent a week as a local liaison officer for a group of congressmen on a fact-finding mission after the First Gulf War. It was amazing just watching them eat. They’d go to the nicest restaurant in town and order one of anything they might be curious about. Then they swapped plates around so everybody got a taste. One of my several duties was to scurry back and forth to the Officers’ Club cashing $500 government traveler’s checks to pay for it all. It was surreal.

I willingly voted for both of these people. However, I don’t trust anybody in Washington DC. If you weren’t broken before you got there, you were after you’ve been there a while.

Everybody in DC has sold their soul to somebody. I’ll champion the folks on my side of the aisle in the vain hope that they might someday just leave me the heck alone, but they are all irredeemably corrupt. The system perpetuates itself. It will never get better.

This is Pat and Kevin Tillman. They were both real public servants.

On May 31, 2002, Pat Tillman and his brother Kevin walked into a local recruiting office and enlisted in the US Army. Pat walked away from a $3.6 million professional football contract and Lord knows what else so he could serve his country in the immediate aftermath of 911. Pat Tillman’s story is that of a conflicted man and a horribly flawed system. However, his is a tale of epic sacrifice and genuine selfless service.

Origin Story

Pat Tillman excelled at everything he touched.

Pat Tillman was the eldest of three sons born to Patrick and Mary Tillman in Fremont, California. By NFL standards, Tillman was not a terribly big man. He stood 5’11” and weighed 202 pounds when dressed out as a safety for the Arizona Cardinals. Pat personified the axiom, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

That is one seriously intense guidon bearer.

In high school Tillman preferred baseball, but he failed to make the team as a freshman. At that point, he turned his attention to the gridiron. Throughout his childhood and adolescence, Pat was powerfully close to his friends and family. He married his childhood sweetheart just before he enlisted in the Army. He and his brother Kevin enlisted together, trained together, and were eventually both assigned to the 2d Ranger Battalion based at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Pat Tillman really came into his own as a college football player.

Pat Tillman attended Arizona State University on a football scholarship and excelled as a linebacker. An exceptionally deep young man, Tillman was well read and made good grades. He maintained a 3.85 GPA in marketing and graduated in 3.5 years despite the rigors of starting on his college football team.

Pat Tillman had everything the world could offer, yet he gave it all up to serve his country.

Pat thrived in the NFL. Sports Illustrated writer Paul Zimmerman named Tillman to the 2000 NFL All-Pro team based upon his stellar performance as a defensive player. He turned down a $9 million offer to move to the St. Louis Rams out of loyalty to his Arizona team.

Once he completed his 2001 NFL contract Pat Tillman enlisted in the US Army.

Eight months after the 911 attacks and with the remainder of his 15 games completed from his 2001 contract, Pat Tillman left $3.6 million on the table to go to Army basic training alongside his brother. Pat’s brother Kevin gave up a burgeoning career in minor league baseball for the same path. These two men put their love of country ahead of the sorts of things the rest of us would just about kill for.

There’s really no telling how far Pat Tillman might have gone in life.

Appreciate the details here. I’m a happily married hetero man, and even I admit that Pat Tillman was an exceptionally good-looking guy. Intelligent, articulate, and well-educated, Tillman had the world by the tail. Once his time in the NFL was complete Pat Tillman could have easily parlayed his gifts and experiences into a career on television or in Hollywood. Instead, he opted for the Ranger Regiment.

The Rangers have an undeniably sexy cool mission. However, life in a Ranger Battalion is unimaginably grueling. The Ranger Regiment is the only unit in the Army to have been deployed continuously throughout the Global War on Terror.

I was an Army aviator, but I worked with those guys on occasion. Theirs was an absolutely miserable life. Junior enlisted soldiers don’t get paid beans, and the optempo in the Ranger Battalions is utterly grueling. In less than two years on active duty, Pat Tillman completed basic training and AIT as well as the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program. He was deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in September of 2003 after which he attended Ranger School at Fort Benning. Once a fully tabbed Ranger, he returned to Second Bat at Lewis and deployed to Afghanistan where he was based at FOB Salerno.

It’s easy to sit back in the comfort of our living rooms and lose track of exactly what this stuff costs.

Up until this point, Pat Tillman was the US Army’s poster child. An American superhero with a face right out of central casting, Tillman’s story could not have been any more compelling had it been drafted by an action novelist. Then Something Truly Horrible happened.

The Incident

Combat is not the clean sanitary thing Call of Duty might have us believe. The reality is vicious, messy, and sad.

Combat is an ugly, filthy, chaotic thing. It is seldom as tidy or predictable as the movies and sand table exercises depict it to be. On April 22, 2004, the fog of war claimed a genuine American hero.

Even today nobody really knows exactly what happened to Pat Tillman’s mounted patrol.

On a forgotten road leading from the Afghan village of Sperah about 40 klicks outside of Khost, Pat Tillman’s small HUMVEE-mounted patrol ran into trouble. Their mission that day was to retrieve a disabled HUMVEE. This tale is made all the more tragic in that we abandoned tens of thousands of these vehicles when we fled Afghanistan recently. The details are fiercely debated to this day, but here is the official description.

Pat and his fellow Rangers moved on foot to support the element they thought was in contact.

Tillman was in the lead vehicle designated Serial 1. Serial 1 passed through a mountainous pass and was roughly one kilometer ahead of Serial 2, the following HUMVEE. At that point, Serial 2 was purportedly engaged by hostile forces.

It was chaotic, and the situation was confusing. The end result was a tragedy.

Upon hearing of the ambush, the Rangers in Serial 1 dismounted and made their way on foot back toward an overwatch position where they could provide supporting fires for Serial 2. In the resulting chaos, the Rangers of Serial 2 lost touch with the specific location of the lead Rangers. In the violent exchange of fire that followed Tillman’s Platoon Leader and his RTO (Radio Telephone Operator) were wounded. An allied member of the Afghan Militia Force was killed. Pat Tillman caught three 5.56mm rounds from an M249 SAW to the face from a range of 10 meters and died instantly.

The Weapon

M249 Squad Automatic Weapon |
The original FN Minimi was a fairly revolutionary weapon.

First introduced in 1984, the Belgian-designed M249 Squad Automatic Weapon was an Americanized version of the FN Minimi. An open-bolt, gas-operated design, the M249 was conceived to provide the Infantry squad with a portable source of high-volume, belt-fed automatic fire. The M249 has seen action in every major military engagement since the US invasion of Panama in 1989.

The M249 weighs 17 pounds empty and 22 pounds with a basic load of 200 linked rounds. The weapon fires from an open bolt and features a quick-change barrel system. The gun will feed on either disintegrating linked belts or standard STANAG M4 magazines. In my experience, the magazine feed system was never terribly reliable.

Army Ranger Automatic Rifleman

USSOCOM adopted a lighter, more streamlined version of the M249 titled the Mk46 for use with special operations forces. The M4 magazine well, vehicle mounting lugs, and barrel change handle were all removed on the Mk 46 to save weight. The USMC has aggressively supplemented their rifle squads with the HK M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle in lieu of many of their SAWs. These weapons are currently issued at a ratio of 27 IARs and 6 SAWs per rifle company. The Next Generation Squad Weapon-Automatic Rifle program is tasked with finding a suitable replacement for the aging M249’s in the Army inventory.

The Rest of the Story

What happened next was a blight on the US Army. To have Pat Tillman, the real live Captain America killed due to friendly fire in a botched combat operation was not the story the Army wanted pushed. As a result, several senior Army officers moved to massage the narrative and outright suppress the story to both the media and the Tillman family. The end result was an absolutely ghastly mess.

                             Silver Star - WikipediaPurple Heart - Wikipedia
Pat Tillman earned a posthumous Silver Star for his actions in Afghanistan. He has been rightfully revered as an American hero.

There were allegations that Tillman, by now disillusioned with the war in Iraq, was about to offer an interview with controversial activist Noam Chomsky upon his return from his Afghanistan deployment that would be critical of the Bush Administration. As Tillman’s death occurred in a crucial time leading up to the 2004 Presidential elections conspiracy theorists even proposed that he had been intentionally murdered. However, interviews with his fellow Rangers verified that Tillman was a popular and selfless member of the team. In the final analysis, it all seems to have been a truly horrible mistake. After several investigations undertaken by the military, three mid-level Army leaders purportedly received administrative punishment as a result.

A word on the conspiracies. Soldiers don’t fight for mom, apple pie, and America. They fight for each other. There’s just no way you could get a Ranger to intentionally shoot another Ranger to protect the reputation of a sitting President. This was simply a horrible accident.

Pat Tillman - Wife, Death & Facts - Biography
Pat Tillman gave his life for his country at age 27.

The sordid circumstances surrounding the death of Pat Tillman in no way diminish the truly breathtaking scope of the man’s patriotism and sacrifice. Tillman was an avowed atheist throughout his life. After his funeral, his youngest brother Richard asserted, “Just make no mistake, he’d want me to say this: He’s not with God, he’s f&%ing dead, he’s not religious.” Richard added, “Thanks for your thoughts, but he’s f&%in’ dead.” It was an undeniably strange end for a genuine American hero.

Soldiers in combat will often pen a “just in case” letter to be opened in the event of their death. Pat’s note to his wife Marie said, “Through the years I’ve asked a great deal of you, therefore it should surprise you little that I have another favor to ask. I ask that you live.”

And live she did. Marie Tillman today is Chairman and Co-Founder of The Pat Tillman Foundation. This non-profit works to “unite and empower remarkable military service members, veterans, and spouses as the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self.” The Foundation has sponsored 635 Tillman Scholars and invested some $18 million in philanthropy. Marie has since remarried and is the mother of five children.

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About the author: Will Dabbs A native of the Mississippi Delta, Will is a mechanical engineer who flew UH1H, OH58A/C, CH47D, and AH1S aircraft as an Army Aviator. He has parachuted out of perfectly good airplanes at 3 o’clock in the morning and summited Mount McKinley, Alaska, six times…always at the controls of an Army helicopter, which is the only way sensible folk climb mountains.

Major Dabbs eventually resigned his commission in favor of medical school where he delivered 60 babies and occasionally wrung human blood out of his socks. Will works in his own urgent care clinic, shares a business build-ing precision rifles and sound suppressors, and has written for the gun press since 1989.

He is married to his high school sweetheart, has three awesome adult children, and teaches Sunday School. Turn-ons include vintage German machineguns, flying his sexy-cool RV6A airplane, Count Chocula cereal, and the movie “Aliens.”

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Wherein a sweptback bolt becomes an insomniac’s grand pursuit. [by Rusty Ward]

JUDGING BY THE NUMBER OF COMMERCIALS promoting sleep aids (my favorite features a piano-size moth guiding a perfectly coiffed woman to an immaculately turned-out bed), insomnia is a thing to be fought. I can’t understand why, because history is awash with famous insomniacs who benefitted from their sleeplessness. At the head of this list stands Marcel Proust, whose insomnia enabled him to enshrine such childhood trivialities as a goodnight kiss from his mother and a bit of petite madeleine dipped in tea in a literary masterpiece spanning thousands of pages.

Remembrance of Things Past, or as currently translated, In Search of Lost Time, is not for the faint-hearted. I began reading it as a young man and greedily sucked in the first 500 pages, began to lose traction in the next 500, and spun out completely in the second 1,000. I still return to it occasionally, knowing in the same way that I know I’ll never see all of the Rocky Mountains that I’ll never finish Proust’s 1.3-million-word masterpiece. What I gained in my time with Proust was a conviction that my own nocturnal adventures were gifts that revived past pleasures and sometimes illuminated future ones. Case in point: Lying awake one night in softly filtered moonlight beneath the ceiling fan’s gentle whir, I glanced at the bedside clock to see how much of the night remained to be enjoyed. Glowing numerals said 2:43, and off I went.

ONCE UPON A TIME, in the closing years of the 1960s, the decade one writer defined as when our country suffered a nervous breakdown, there was a kid undistracted by flower children, assassinations, moon walks, and unpopular wars. That kid, obsessed by forest and field, lake and stream, couldn’t concentrate on anything else for longer than two seconds. Today he’d be labeled ADD and introduced to the local pharmacist. But luckily he had a sympathetic father and an indulgent mother who allowed him to self-medicate with heavy doses of open air and wild places. While his peers were obsessing on cars, rock-and-roll, and girls, our protagonist, indifferent to the first two and unready for the last, extended his obsession for woods and fields to include rifles—a tough act in the Deep South, which in those days was a shotguns-only world. There was no Internet, no TV hunting channels, no virtual anything to feed his rifle obsession, so the kid absorbed hunting magazines like a sponge, coming to know the writers better than the adults in his own neighborhood. Firearms catalogs littered his room, and he rushed through homework to pore over ballistics tables and study the comparative anatomy of the Model 70 vis-à-vis the Model 700.

The years passed, and one autumn day in the early 1970s the kid wedged himself into the fork of a solitary oak in a South Alabama bean field. The Ruger Model 77 on his shoulder was only a couple of years out of the womb, but like most kids, he wanted to try new things. Winchester and Remington had been around almost since the days of stone axes, and founders Oliver and Eliphalet looked like Dickens characters. Bill Ruger, on the other hand, was dapper and hip and no older than the kid’s parents, and he built things like inexpensive .22 autoloading pistols (one of which the kid had already worn free of bluing), cowboy-style revolvers long after Colt had dumped the design, and an unlikely single-shot rifle, all of which the shooting public took to like free ice cream.

Later, Ruger would be written up in Forbes, design his own car and yacht, acquire a world-class art collection, and be compared to John Browning as a firearms designing genius. Before those things, though, Ruger announced his Model 77 bolt-action rifle about the time the kid’s obsession was peaking. For the kid, it was the right thing at the right time. His gun writer gurus called it an instant classic, though the kid struggled to see the similarity between the Model 77 and the ancient civilizations his teachers used the same word to describe. Beyond its innovative design features and uncluttered lines, reviewers were amazed that Ruger offered the 77 only in what the ad-men called “short stroke” calibers—language that would have killed it instantly in the sexually obsessed decades that followed.

The kid liked everything about the new rifle, from its clean lines down to its flattened, oddly angled bolt handle, and he meant to have one. That you couldn’t get it in the all-American .30/06 or O’Connor’s pet .270 merely added a dash of spice to its appeal. The .243 Winchester was the wunderkind cartridge of the day, claimed by some writers to drop deer like Thor’s hammer, inexplicably quicker than more powerful rounds and without their backlash. The concept being hammered out in the kid’s mind was that a Ruger 77 in .243 topped with one of the new generation of variable scopes (it would be a Weaver V7 from the old El Paso firm) was about as cutting edge as you could get. And the kid made it happen.

AS DARKNESS SETTLED OVER THE BEAN FIELD, a buck stepped out of the shadows. The kid gulped, steadied the crosshairs, and got a shot off before the shakes could introduce him to the darker side of gravitational acceleration. The buck dropped without a quiver, just as advertised. The kid never forgot the way he felt when his dad’s ridiculously finned ’59 Chevy hove into view, and he knew his dad could see him standing over his buck in the headlights.

Other deer fell to his magic .243 before the kid had a run of bad luck; accepting poor judgment and bad shooting as the real culprits lay miles of maturity into his future. In the meantime, companies were turning out new wonder cartridges, and the kid was relieved to read that his failures may have been equipment related. He dropped the .243 as quickly as it had downed that first bean-field deer, and a new obsession took flight.

If there was an “it” cartridge in the early 1980s, it was the .280 Remington. Introduced in throttled-back form to accommodate its namesake company’s semiautos and pumps, then jacked up to .270 speeds and renamed 7mm Express in an effort to bolster lagging sales, then back to the .280 when consumers found the dual names confusing, it seemed a cartridge in search of an identity. But the rifle cognoscenti took to it like ants after honey, and the articles poured forth like free wine. Mystical ballistic qualities were once again hinted at, and our kid, still clay to the printed word and hungry for the cutting edge, jumped in with both feet. He still liked 77s and scoured the land until he found one in .280.