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A Victory! Good News for a change! Hard Nosed Folks Both Good & Bad I am so grateful!! Leadership of the highest kind Manly Stuff One Hell of a Good Fight Our Great Kids The Green Machine This great Nation & Its People War Well I thought it was neat!

CSM Franklin (Doug) Miller

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A Victory! All About Guns Good News for a change! I am so grateful!! Leadership of the highest kind Manly Stuff Some Red Hot Gospel there! This great Nation & Its People

Its just a pity that Scalia did not live to see this! Grumpy

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Hard Nosed Folks Both Good & Bad Leadership of the highest kind Manly Stuff One Hell of a Good Fight Soldiering Stand & Deliver The Green Machine This great Nation & Its People War

Meet Sergeant Major Payne:

He’s a senior NCO in the Delta Force. SGM Payne enlisted in 2002, serving as a sniper in the 75th Ranger Regiment until 2007, when he joined the Delta Force.

(SGM Payne in Afghanistan)

In 2015, then-SFC Payne’s unit was deployed to Iraq to help combat ISIS. His unit advised and trained the newly formed Kurdish Counter Terrorist Group. One day, fresh graves are seen outside of a known ISIS prison. The joint team is given the green light.

Payne’s team arrives with the CTG at night time. Upon arrival, they’re hit with volleys of gunfire. The Kurds not having conducted any operations before, are nervous and don’t move forward. The Deltas lead the way, giving their friends courage to press forward. Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler is killed leading his comrades into battle.

Meanwhile, SFC Payne and his team press into the building. They reach a bolted door that holds in the Iraqi hostages. The team attempts to break it, but there is too much fire coming their way. Payne braves the fire and breaks the bolt. The joint team then starts getting all of the hostages out. As the firefight continues, ISIS terrorists start setting off bomb vests, causing fires which cripple the building’s stability. After securing multiple hostages, they move outside.

(Then-SFC Payne, left or center)

However, plenty of hostages are left. SFC Payne keeps moving back inside to make sure no man is left behind. By doing so, he is risking getting crushed or burnt to death. At one point, a tired hostage believes he is going to die in the fire and can no longer walk to the outside. Payne helps him up and gets him outside.

Overall, due to then-SFC Payne’s actions, over 75 Iraqis are rescued. At first, he is awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest American military award. However, on September 11, 2020, SGM Payne was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military award in the US.

(President Trump awarding SGM Payne the MoH)

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Leadership of the highest kind The Green Machine This great Nation & Its People Well I thought it was neat!

William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan: America’s Alpha Spy by WILL DABBS

Soldier, statesman, Medal of Honor recipient, hero, and spy, “Wild Bill” Donovan was one of American history’s most remarkable characters.

Some folks are simply charmed. Their trajectory through life just flies a bit higher than that of the rest of us. Winston Churchill was just such a man. An accomplished writer, painter, soldier, and politician, Old Winston was the archetypal Renaissance Man. Over on our side of the pond, “Wild Bill” Donovan was a similar archetype.

Joseph Donovan briefly considered the clergy but ultimately felt he lacked the character for it.

Joseph Donovan was born in 1883, the son of Irish-American immigrants. The family name was originally O’Donovan but got anglicized when Joe’s dad settled in Buffalo, New York. Early on Donovan aspired to the Catholic priesthood before deciding “he wasn’t good enough to be a priest.” Instead, he attended Columbia University where he was voted both “Most Modest” and “Handsomest” out of his graduating class of 1905.

Donovan’s friendship with his law school chum Franklin Roosevelt helped drive his extraordinary career.

Donovan later attended Columbia Law School. He was a classmate of a young Franklin D. Roosevelt. His friendship with FDR would shape the rest of his professional career.

Donovan’s first taste of war was during the Punitive Expedition against Pancho Villa.

Joseph Donovan joined a respected Buffalo law firm and was commissioned into the New York National Guard as a Cavalry officer. In 1914 he married a New York heiress whose family connections immediately transformed him into American aristocracy. Donovan took acting classes under the esteemed stage star Eleanor Robson and went to war against Pancho Villa in 1916. Upon his return from the Punitive Expedition, Donovan was posted to the 42d Rainbow Division alongside Douglas MacArthur.

The acclaimed poet Joyce Kilmer, shown here in his WW1 mufti, was one of Donovan’s soldiers.

While fighting the Germans in France during World War 1, Joseph Donovan caught a load of shrapnel in one leg and was nearly blinded by mustard gas. He subsequently led an assault during the Aisne-Marne Campaign that ultimately cost hundreds of his comrades. Among the fallen was his acting adjutant, the esteemed poet Joyce Kilmer.

Wild Bill Donovan cut an undeniably dashing figure.

In combat, Donovan developed a reputation for being unstoppable, a man of limitless endurance. This led the troops under his command to refer to him as “Wild Bill.” While he publicly professed annoyance at the nickname, his wife later said that she “knew deep down that he loved it.”

Donovan honed his craft in the fetid trenches of the First World War.

As commander of the 165th Infantry Regiment Joseph Donovan led from the front, his rank insignia and medals plainly displayed. In encouraging his troops prior to a critical assault he said, “They can’t hit me and they won’t hit you.” He was nonetheless subsequently shot through the knee yet refused evacuation until all American forces including friendly tanks had been forced back by concentrated German fire.

Wild Bill Donovan, shown here receiving the Legion of Merit from a French General, was an exceptionally capable soldier.

For his remarkable combat performance, Donovan ultimately earned the Medal of Honor. He initially refused the award, stating that it belonged “to the boys who are not here, the boys who are resting under the white crosses in France or in the cemeteries of New York, also to the boys who were lucky enough to come through.” Before his military service was complete Donovan also took home the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Purple Heart with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the National Security Medal, and some two dozen other combat awards.

Adolf Hitler loathed Wild Bill Donovan. He must have been doing something right.

Donovan spent the interwar years in private law practice as well as working for the US Justice Department. Along the way, he traveled the world gathering critical intelligence on world powers in Europe and Asia. He met Mussolini, Winston Churchill, and King George VI. Hitler despised him. During the speech in which Hitler declared war on the United States the German dictator castigated Donovan by name, declaring him “utterly unworthy.” That was high praise considering the source.

This was the original OSS unit insignia.

With the outbreak of WW2 President Roosevelt appointed “Wild Bill” Donovan the Coordinator of Information. While the United States had no formal spy agency back then, Donovan began laying the groundwork for a centralized intelligence apparatus based upon the British MI6. In 1942 Donovan’s organization was rechristened the Office of Strategic Services. The United States was in the spy business.

These days the path to special operations is both regimented and grueling. Back during WW2 those old guys just figured it out as they went along.

Nowadays intelligence officers and special operators are the product of an extensive selection process and grueling training program. Back then unconventional thinkers just came together and got the job done. Over in the UK the future James Bond novelist Ian Fleming was a good example of a neophyte who took to the world of espionage as a natural outlet of his peculiar personal proclivities.

Julia Child had her own TV cooking show for years. This grandmotherly-looking lass was actually a spy during the war.
Former spy-turned-TV chef Julia Child likely knew more about using a knife than one might think.

Donovan sought out unconventional warriors for his burgeoning team of misfits. He recruited the film director John Ford and the Hollywood actor Sterling Hayden. The poet Archibald MacLeish, the influential banker Paul Mellon, and the author Stephen Vincent Benet joined the team. The famed psychologist Carl Jung, the chef Julia Child, the industrialist Alfred DuPont, and the author Walter Lord as well as several influential members of the Vanderbilt family hung their hats at OSS headquarters. The extensive density of upper-crust aristocrats drove many in government to claim that OSS actually stood for “Oh So Social.”

Wild Bill Donovan’s unconventional crew had to contrive the guns and gear needed to support covert agents operating in hostile territory.

Building an intelligence and covert action organization from scratch is an overwhelming task. Donovan had access to money and resources, but this was uncharted territory. There were no manuals he could read or deep well of institutional insight he could mine. Wild Bill Donovan just figured it out as he went along. Among myriad other things, that meant brand new specialized covert guns and gear. Principle among them was the High Standard sound-suppressed H-DM/S pistol.

In an effort at selling FDR on his unconventional warfare techniques, Donovan emptied a magazine from his suppressed spy gun into a sandbag on the floor of the Oval Office.

Raw lead bullets were prohibited by the Hague Convention, so Donovan had to contract for special lots of jacketed .22 rimfire rounds. Once the gun was perfected Donovan wanted to show it off. He once slipped into the Oval Office while his friend FDR was dictating a note to his secretary. Dropping a sandbag onto the floor he proceeded to fire ten rounds as fast as he could squeeze the trigger. Donovan then dropped the smoking pistol onto the desk before President Roosevelt. FDR was so smitten with the quiet little gun that he refused to give it back.

The Weapon

The High Standard H-DM/S suppressed covert operations pistol began life as a semiautomatic H-DM target gun like this one.

The H-DM/S was an integrally-suppressed version of the High Standard H-DM target pistol. H-DM/S stood for H-D Military/Silenced. As the program was classified the original examples were spuriously described as “Impact Testing Machines.”

The High Standard H-DM/S suppressed handgun served for decades with America’s clandestine operators.

Chambered for .22LR, the H-DM/S was a straight blowback design that fed on a ten-round single-stack box magazine. The gun sported fixed iron sights, a five-inch ported barrel, and a heel-mounted magazine release. The H-DM/S came equipped with a slide lock that prevented the action from cycling. In this configuration, the weapon was indeed exceptionally quiet. Development began in 1942 with the first operational fielding in 1944.

CIA pilot Gary Powers was packing a suppressed High Standard H-DM/S when he was shot down over the USSR in 1960. This particular pistol is on display in a Moscow military museum today.

The first variants featured a blued finish on the pistol and a Parkerized suppressor. Later versions were completely Parkerized. The H-DM/S saw a fairly widespread issue among early special operations forces. Gary Powers had a suppressed H-DM/S on his person when his U2 was shot down in Soviet airspace in 1960.

The sound suppressor on the High Standard H-DM/S was radically advanced for its day.

The H-D/MS suppressor was developed during the war by Bell Labs and featured an initial chamber filled with a cylinder of zinc-plated bronze mesh that acted as a heat sink. The barrel was ported with four rows of eight holes that dropped standard velocity rounds into the subsonic range. Later guns featured four rows of eleven holes. A second distal chamber was filled with bronze mesh screens. This repackable design was typically good for 200 to 250 rounds.

This cutaway version shows the internal architecture of the sound suppressor on the High Standard H-DM/S pistol

For applications requiring extreme stealth the distal chamber could be charged with water, oil, or shaving cream. The muzzle was then sealed with a piece of tape. Thusly configured with the action locked the gun made no more noise than a human whisper.

The Rest of the Story

Wild Bill Donovan gifted one of his newfangled suppressed spy pistols to Navy Admiral Chester Nimitz who promptly started shooting it in public with the children in his neighborhood.

Much to Donovan’s consternation, FDR displayed his top-secret pistol at his home in Hyde Park, occasionally showing it to visiting guests during the war. Donovan also gave a copy to Admiral Chester Nimitz. He was known to shoot the classified weapon with neighborhood children. A photograph of such an outing actually made it into a local newspaper in 1944.

Wild Bill Donovan enjoyed some prescient insights into many of the hot button issues of his day.

Wild Bill Donovan was, by all accounts, a genuinely good guy in possession of some remarkable insights. He opposed the internment of Japanese Americans during the war, rightfully predicting that this was an unnecessary solution to a non-existent problem. In his roles as America’s espionage chief, he also took part in many of the major combat actions of the war.

Wild Bill Donovan was trapped along with a subordinate during the Normandy invasion and planned his suicide in the event of imminent capture.

Donovan and his commander for covert ops in Europe, Colonel David Bruce, went ashore early during the Normandy invasion. Pinned down by German machinegun fire, Donovan said, “David, we mustn’t be captured. We know too much…I must shoot first,” Donovan said.

You can’t fault Donovan’s commitment to the cause.

Bruce replied, “Yes, sir, but can we do much against machine guns with our pistols?” Donovan explained: “Oh, you don’t understand. I mean, if we are about to be captured, I’ll shoot you first. After all, I am your commanding officer.”

Apparently, Donovan and Truman did not much get along. However, Wild Bill continued to have an outsized influence on the American intelligence services until well after the war.

Donovan ended WW2 as a Major General but fell afoul of post-war politics. President Truman sidelined him with a task to produce a study of the nation’s fire departments. Under Eisenhower, he was made ambassador to Thailand. Throughout the early bits of the Cold War, Donovan helped influence the formation of the CIA from the shadows.

Wild Bill Donovan is venerated in American intelligence circles today. Yes, that is Daniel Craig in character as James Bond visiting the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia. Wish I could have been there for that visit.

Wild Bill Donovan died in 1959 from complications arising from vascular dementia. His statue graces the lobby of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, today. In 2011 Vanity Fair writer Evan Douglas described Donovan’s exploits as “a brave, noble, headlong, gleeful, sometimes outrageous pursuit of action and skullduggery.” Wild Bill Donovan was the real freaking deal.

William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan was a genuine American hero.
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All About Guns Hard Nosed Folks Both Good & Bad Leadership of the highest kind Manly Stuff Soldiering This great Nation & Its People

AYOOB FILES: CONSUMMATE MARINE CHESTY PULLER, .45 IN HAND! WRITTEN BY MASSAD AYOOB

 

Situation: Famous as a leader in combat, Chesty Puller was a skillful pistol fighter as well.

Lesson: Training, skill and the best equipment are enormously helpful. Perhaps most important, though, is the fighting spirit that made General Puller a legend. And … a pre-war start in guns and hunting can shape a more survivable combatant.

Lewis “Chesty” Puller. In his time, his name was a household word, and if asked “Who was the most famous U.S. Marine?” — many people today would answer, “Chesty Puller.” He first made his mark in “police actions” in places like Haiti, rose to fame in the South Pacific campaign during World War II, and became solidified in legend by leading the Breakout in the Korean conflict.

There are many books about Puller. Most focus on his leadership and courage. One book is even devoted to his famous quotes. But most give short shrift to the general’s formidable pistol fighting skills.

Burke Davis (1913-2006) was the author of many historical non-fiction books, specializing in war and warriors. One of his trademarks was a personal touch, with deep insights into the heroes about whom he wrote. One of Davis’ classics is Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller, subtitled The Only Marine in History to Win Five Navy Crosses.

It is to Burke Davis we are primarily indebted for the following accounts of General Puller’s pistol fights, his training and background with guns and his general attitude toward related matters.

Puller In Combat

 

Puller’s first deployments were in Haiti and Nicaragua, supporting friendly governments who were fighting anti-American insurgents. In the latter country in 1929, he found himself traveling with a Thompson submachine gun, cased with ample spare ammunition.

Two years later, he found himself fighting for his life with his .45 pistol in Nicaragua. Davis tells us, “They were more than a hundred miles from Jinotega, Company M marching over open country on high ground beside the swift Cua River. Puller and (Col. William) Lee were not far apart when they saw, almost at the same instant, a native dugout canoe speed around a bend to their rear, bearing two men. One of these men fired, wildly. There was also a burst of rifle fire from across the river — another attempt at ambush.

“Puller reacted as usual. He ran at top speed toward the riverbank, straight for the canoe, pulling his pistol as he went. He fired in motion, and one of the canoeists fell across the gunwale. The patrol killed the other Indian, and when men splashed across the river, they found the band had fled.

“Lee thought Puller’s action a climax of the fighting in Nicaragua: ‘It was the greatest field shot I ever saw. He shot that bird from 15 to 25 yards away from that canoe, going at full speed, and the canoe moving, too. He drilled him right in the ear, so perfectly that we looked over the body for several minutes before finding the wound. He had shot him precisely in the opening of the ear. I don’t think such shooting was accidental.’” (1)

Some of the accounts of Puller’s personal engagement in combat are sketchy and short on details. Here is one, from when he was a Colonel on Guadalcanal: “A grenade fell near the Old Man — no more than eight yards away, Captain Zach Cox estimated, but Puller turned when he saw A Company scatter and yelled: ‘Oh, that damned thing ain’t going off.’ It helped steady the men. The grenade was a dud. Cockrell’s B Company was being cut up in the woods by snipers in trees with light machine guns, and fire from Puller’s front became spotty. The fight was now at close quarters: The Colonel had killed three men with his .45 — one of them a Japanese major.” (2)

There were many men in combat along with Puller who were glad they, too, were carrying pistols. One was Captain Regan Fuller, who spoke of an experience he had on Guadalcanal. “It was rough country, up and down everywhere, with plenty of cover. I sent one of my boys, Corporal Turner, up a grassy hill to our right, where we were trying to persuade the Old Man to stop for the night. I walked behind Turner — and we almost stepped on two Japs who were eating rice by a hidden fire at the base of a big tree. They were as astonished as we were, and we all scrambled. I fired three clips from my .45 and killed one of them, but the other ran down the trail toward our main body. Turner’s squad had deployed into line behind us. There was a little shooting, and then quiet …” (3)

 

The Guns Of Chesty Puller

 

Most of the time when an enemy was killed by Puller’s own hand, it appears to have been with his service pistol.

While there exists a photo of Puller shooting offhand with a very long barreled, non-issue DA revolver, virtually all the photos of him in the South Pacific and Korea depict him wearing a standard .45 auto. Burke Davis’ anecdotes all refer to him using a .45. I’ve been unable to find if or where Puller’s sidearm still exists today. Most photos of him wearing it are taken from the front, so we can’t see whether it wore a flat (1911) or arched (1911A1) mainspring housing.

There actually exists a chest holster named the Chesty Puller, but it appears to be a modern play on the great Marine’s nickname. In every photo I’ve seen of him in combat theaters, his .45 is in a standard issue flap holster on his right hip, backed up with a web double magazine pouch at the left front of his web belt. While many military officers did carry their .45s in the tanker-style chest holster during WWII, I’ve seen no indication Puller was one of them. He became a Marine early enough he was presumably issued a 1911, since the A1 dates to relatively late in the 1920s. Of course, if he preferred the 1911A1’s features (slightly better sights, longer grip tang to minimize hand bite, shorter trigger, arched housing), he had the “pull” to requisition one once they became available.

In any case, whenever Puller personally fought with a pistol in hand, it was the government-issue pistol known colloquially in his time as simply “the .45 automatic.”

Puller had specific opinions on other small arms. Pictures of him in the field almost invariably show him wearing a pistol and two spare magazines, and he expected fighting men to be constantly armed when in danger zones. Davis writes of one day when Col. Puller was selecting staff members: “When he was choosing his intelligence officers, his exec pointed out a major sent in for the purpose by headquarters. Puller scoffed loudly, ‘Hell, that man hasn’t even got on a weapon. Find me another one.’” (4)

 

Only The Best For His Men

 

He also worked hard to make sure his troops had ample ammunition. Again, from Burke Davis: “As the time for a new campaign drew near, Puller drove his staff to complete the last detail in preparation. He warned the regimental supply officer, an Army Quartermaster general, was to check their requisitions. ‘Notify me at once when he arrives,’ Puller said. ‘I want to explain things in person.’

“The Army general arrived when Puller was out, and the lieutenant took the inspector to the supply dump. Puller found them there and overheard their conversation:

“‘Lieutenant, your requisitions are excessive.’

“‘I’m sure Colonel Puller would never have signed for more than we need, sir.’

“‘But he’s asked for 10,000 brass buckshot shells. What the devil does he want with those?’

“‘To kill Japs with, sir.’

“‘Doesn’t Colonel Puller know buckshot is prohibited by the Geneva Convention?’

“‘Sir, Colonel Puller doesn’t give a damn about the Geneva Convention — any more than the Japs did at Pearl Harbor.’” (5)

It should be noted short barrel pump shotguns were indeed used in the Pacific Theater. My late mentor, Bill Jordan, a veteran of that campaign, told me he used a Winchester slide-action trench gun and an S&W 1917 .45 revolver when clearing enemy pillboxes in the island campaign. The brass buckshot shells had been requisitioned because paper shells swelled up in the heat and humidity there, getting stuck in the magazines and chambers.
Puller’s demands for the best equipment for his Marines weren’t limited to guns and ammo. Wrote Davis, “(Puller) spoke to War Production Board officials in Washington: ‘I want to ask you why American troops shouldn’t have the world’s best fighting equipment. On Guadalcanal we saw our trenching shovels break at the first use. All of our men now have Jap shovels because they’re better and more dependable. Jap field glasses are better, too. I have good ones myself, German glasses I’ve carried for 20 years. Why should American glasses be so poor? Not worth a damn in the tropics. They fog up because they are improperly sealed, and once they get damp, they’re done for. I’ve seen hundreds of pairs tossed away in the jungle or the sea, because men know they can see as well with the naked eye. What kind of American ingenuity — or patriotism — produced those?’”
Yet, curiously, Puller wasn’t a fan of the M-1 Garand that George S. Patton had called “the best battle implement ever devised.” Davis reports the following:

“There was a squabble between A Company and some of the 164th Army men, for Regan Fuller’s men had bartered for, or stolen, some new M-1 rifles during the big night’s fighting, and Army officers wanted them returned. The Colonel was amused by the affair. For himself, he favored the old rifle they brought to Guadalcanal: ‘For sheer accuracy, if you want to kill men in battle, there has never been a rifle to equal the Springfield 1903. Others may give us more firepower, but in ability to hit a target, nothing touches the old ’03. In my opinion, nothing ever will. A perfect weapon, if ever there was one.’” (6)

The following seems contradictory to the above, but Davis noted, “… Puller was asked by Marine Corps Headquarters for a full report on his experiences with the Thompson submachine gun under field conditions and sent in an enthusiastic report on the weapon’s value on patrol.” (7)

 

Puller’s Training & Quals

 

While based in Hawaii, having shot Expert Rifleman five years running, Puller was affronted when a grizzled sergeant offered to teach him to shoot. When the sarge promised to bring his rifle score up 20 points in two weeks, Puller accepted the challenge. Davis reported, “Puller became the sergeant’s pupil, shooting when targets became vacant during the training, and shot an average of two bandoleers daily. He improved rapidly, and brought his record score from 306 to 326, of a possible 350. During all these years he qualified as expert with both rifle and pistol, and when a rifle team was sent from Pearl Harbor to a competition in San Diego in 1928, Puller was a member.” (8)

Davis adds, “… in the first report period, Puller posted an average score in bayonet drill; a fellow Marine, Lieutenant Gerald Thomas, finished 10 places ahead of him. But in marksmanship, with the automatic pistol, he ranked as expert, with a score of 91.13 out of 100 points. As a rifleman, he fired 335 of a possible 350, and stood 16th in the class of officers. He also ranked as expert with the machine gun, in which he stood high in the top third of the class, with a score of 340.” (9)

The quality of marksmanship training in the United States Marine Corps is, of course, legendary. That said, Puller famously credited his survival and many of his accomplishments in battle to having been a young armed citizen before he enlisted in the Marine Corps.

Born in Virginia, he learned guns and hunting early. He was about 10 years old when cancer took his father, and he supplemented the larder by shooting small game and wild turkeys. He became a trapper, selling muskrat pelts to pay for his ammunition. “Lewis learned both accuracy and frugality, for he bought his own ammunition,” biographer Davis wrote. (10)

Another writer, Michael Martin, wrote, “After his military fighting career was over many years later, Chesty noted he learned more about the art of war by hunting and trapping than he learned from any school. He insisted the skills he learned as a kid, living off the land, saved his life many times in combat.” (11)

 

Lessons

 

The constant presence of his sidearm saved Chesty Puller’s life more than once. It is no surprise you see his holstered .45 in almost every photograph taken of him in a combat environment, from his early days in the banana republics to the Pacific Theater to Korea. Note he insisted all his men be within reach of their guns in combat environments, at all times. It saved his life multiple times over … and, doubtless, the lives of many of his troops, including Captain Regan Fuller, as noted above.

Puller was a contemporary and friend of Herman Hanneken in his early combat days. Hanneken was the man who had killed the revolutionary leader Charlemagne Peralte in Haiti in 1919, with a single .45 slug to the heart from Hanneken’s USMC-issue Colt 1911. Puller had doubtless incorporated this knowledge into his trust in the same weapon, which he learned to keep constantly close.

His critics felt too many USMC casualties had accrued from Puller’s aggressive tactics, while his defenders argued those aggressive tactics were what won his major victories. Both sides need to remember Puller was a casualty himself, blown up on Guadalcanal with shrapnel savaging his legs, yet he returned to lead from the front sooner than his doctors wanted. Many who served under him were heard to say they’d follow him into Hell … and that he actually led them there and did his damnedest to get them back out after they’d won.

It is vital to remember this legendary Marine gave credit to his survival and victories to the hunting and shooting skills he learned in boyhood and adolescence. This sort of “pre-service preparation” has served American fighting men since the beginning of our nation. Woods-wise citizen soldiers with their own rifles and muskets won the Revolutionary War. The National Rifle Association was founded in 1871 by Yankee officers who had noted the superior fighting ability of individual Confederate soldiers who had grown up hunting and shooting. Sergeant Alvin York in WWI, WWII’s most decorated soldier Audie Murphy, Carlos Hathcock in Vietnam and Chris Kyle in the most recent conflict all fit the same mold: super-soldiers whose skill at arms had been developed before they joined up. This heritage is one reason why we at the Second Amendment Foundation where I currently serve as interim president have brought lawsuits to allow young Americans ages 18 to 20 to buy their own AR15s and prepare for a career defending their nation with firearms similar to the faster-shooting true assault rifles they’ll be issued when asked to die for their country.

There is much, much more to the history and legacy of Lewis “Chesty” Puller than can be presented in this short space. We conclude with thanks to the late biographer Burke Davis, who gave us so many valuable details from this particular side of the Puller legend. He is the one to thank for what you’ve just read; hell, I merely “wrote the book report.”

For more info: SAF.org. References: 1) Davis, Burke, Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller, P. 56. 2) Ibid., P. 118. 3) Ibid., P. 118. 4) Ibid., P. 181. 5) Ibid., Pp. 169–170. 6) Ibid., P. 148. 7) Ibid., P. 61. 8) Ibid., P. 46. 9) Ibid., P. 61. 10) Ibid., P. 9. 11) Martin, Michael. “Chesty” Puller and the Southern Military Tradition, Abbeville Institute Press, 2018.

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A Victory! Good News for a change! Leadership of the highest kind This great Nation & Its People

Well if I had just beaten the British Empire like them, then I’d of had a drink or two myself!

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Now here was a Man! One of my Icons TR

A picture of President Theodore Roosevelt

 Portrait of U.S. President Theodore (“Teddy”) Roosevelt. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th president of the United States, ascending to the office following the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901.
At 42, Theodore Roosevelt became the youngest president in the nation’s history and was subsequently elected to a second term. Dynamic in personality and filled with enthusiasm and vigor, Roosevelt was more than a successful politician. He was also an accomplished writer, a fearless soldier and war hero, and a dedicated naturalist.

Considered by many historians to be one of our greatest presidents, Theodore Roosevelt is one of the four whose faces are depicted on Mount Rushmore. Theodore Roosevelt was also the uncle of Eleanor Roosevelt and the fifth cousin of the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Dates: October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919
Presidential Term: 1901-1909
Also Known As: “Teddy,” TR, “The Rough Rider, “The Old Lion,” “Trust Buster”
Famous Quote: “Speak softly and carry a big stick—you will go far.”

Childhood

Theodore Roosevelt was born the second of four children to Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. and Martha Bulloch Roosevelt on October 27, 1858 in New York City. Descended from 17th-century Dutch immigrants who made their fortune in real estate, the elder Roosevelt also owned a prosperous glass-importing business.
Theodore, known as “Teedie” to his family, was an especially sickly child who suffered from severe asthma and digestive problems his entire childhood.

As he grew older, Theodore gradually had fewer and fewer bouts of asthma. Encouraged by his father, he worked to become physically stronger through a regimen of hiking, boxing, and weightlifting.

Young Theodore developed a passion for natural science at an early age and collected specimens of various animals.

He referred to his collection as “The Roosevelt Museum of Natural History.”

Life at Harvard

In 1876, at the age of 18, Roosevelt entered Harvard University, where he quickly earned a reputation as an eccentric young man with a toothy grin and a tendency to chatter constantly. Roosevelt would interrupt professors’ lectures, injecting his opinion in a voice that has been described as a high-pitched stammer.
Roosevelt lived off campus in a room that his older sister Bamie had chosen and furnished for him. There, he continued his study of animals, sharing quarters with live snakes, lizards, and even a large tortoise. Roosevelt also began work on his first book, The Naval War of 1812.
During the Christmas holiday of 1877, Theodore Sr. became seriously ill. Later diagnosed with stomach cancer, he died on February 9, 1878. Young Theodore was devastated at the loss of the man he had so admired.

Marriage to Alice Lee

In the fall of 1879, while visiting the home of one of his college friends, Roosevelt met Alice Lee, a beautiful young woman from a wealthy Boston family. He was immediately smitten. They courted for a year and became engaged in January 1880.
Roosevelt graduated from Harvard in June 1880.

He entered Columbia Law School in New York City in the fall, reasoning that a married man should have a respectable career.

On October 27, 1880, Alice and Theodore were married. It was Roosevelt’s 22nd birthday; Alice was 19 years old. They moved in with Roosevelt’s mother in Manhattan, as Alice’s parents had insisted they do.
Roosevelt soon tired of his law studies. He found a calling that interested him far more than the law—politics.

Elected to the New York State Assembly

Roosevelt began to attend local meetings of the Republican Party while still in school. When approached by party leaders—who believed his famous name might help him win—Roosevelt agreed to run for the New York State Assembly in 1881. Twenty-three-year-old Roosevelt won his first political race, becoming the youngest man ever elected to the New York State Assembly.
Brimming with confidence, Roosevelt burst upon the scene at the state capitol in Albany. Many of the more seasoned assemblymen derided him for his dandified apparel and upper class accent. They ridiculed Roosevelt, referring to him as the “young squirt,” “his Lordship,” or simply “that fool.”
Roosevelt quickly made a reputation as a reformer, supporting bills that would improve working conditions in factories. Re-elected the following year, Roosevelt was appointed by Governor Grover Cleveland to head a new commission on civil service reform.
In 1882, Roosevelt’s book, The Naval War of 1812, was published, receiving high praise for its scholarship. (Roosevelt would go on to publish 45 books in his lifetime, including several biographies, historical books, and an autobiography. He was also a proponent of “simplified spelling,” a movement in support of phonetic spelling.)

Double Tragedy

In the summer of 1883, Roosevelt and his wife purchased land at Oyster Bay, Long Island in New York and made plans to build a new home. They also discovered that Alice was pregnant with their first child.
On February 12, 1884, Roosevelt, working in Albany, received word that his wife had delivered a healthy baby girl in New York City. He was thrilled by the news, but learned the following day that Alice was ill. He quickly boarded a train.
Roosevelt was greeted at the door by his brother Elliott, who informed him that not only was his wife dying, his mother was as well. Roosevelt was stunned beyond words.

His mother, suffering from typhoid fever, died early on the morning of February 14. Alice, stricken with Bright’s disease, a kidney ailment, died later that same day. The baby was named Alice Lee Roosevelt, in honor of her mother.

Consumed with grief, Roosevelt coped the only way he knew how—by burying himself in his work. When his term in the assembly was completed, he left New York for the Dakota Territory, determined to make a life as a cattle rancher.
Little Alice was left in the care of Roosevelt’s sister Bamie.

Roosevelt in the Wild West

Sporting pince-nez glasses and an upper class East-Coast accent, Roosevelt didn’t seem to belong in so rugged a place as the Dakota Territory. But those who doubted him would soon learn that Theodore Roosevelt could hold his own.
Famous stories of his time in the Dakotas reveal Roosevelt’s true character. In one instance, a barroom bully—drunk and brandishing a loaded pistol in each hand—called Roosevelt “four eyes.” To the surprise of bystanders, Roosevelt—the former boxer—slugged the man in the jaw, knocking him to the floor.
Another story involves the theft of a small boat owned by Roosevelt. The boat wasn’t worth a lot, but Roosevelt insisted that the thieves be brought to justice. Although it was the dead of winter, Roosevelt and his cohorts tracked the two men into Indian Territory and brought them back to face trial.
Roosevelt stayed out West for about two years, but after two harsh winters, he lost most of his cattle, along with his investment.

He returned to New York for good in the summer of 1886. While Roosevelt had been away, his sister Bamie had overseen the construction of his new home.

Marriage to Edith Carow

During Roosevelt’s time out West, he had taken occasional trips back East to visit family. During one of those visits, he began seeing his childhood friend, Edith Kermit Carow. They became engaged in November 1885.
Edith Carow and Theodore Roosevelt were married on December 2, 1886. He was 28 years old, and Edith was 25. They moved into their newly-built home in Oyster Bay, which Roosevelt had christened “Sagamore Hill.” Little Alice came to live with her father and his new wife.
In September 1887, Edith gave birth to Theodore, Jr., the first of the couple’s five children. He was followed by Kermit in 1889, Ethel in 1891, Archie in 1894, and Quentin in 1897.

Commissioner Roosevelt

Following the 1888 election of Republican President Benjamin Harrison, Roosevelt was appointed Civil Service commissioner. He moved to Washington D.C. in May 1889. Roosevelt held the position for six years, earning a reputation as a man of integrity.
Roosevelt returned to New York City in 1895, when he was appointed city police commissioner. There, he declared war on corruption in the police department, firing the corrupt chief of police, among others. Roosevelt also took the unusual step of patrolling the streets at night to see for himself if his patrolmen were doing their jobs.
He often brought a member of the press with him to document his excursions. (This marked the beginning of a healthy relationship with the press that Roosevelt maintained—some would say exploited—throughout his public life.)

Assistant Secretary of the Navy

In 1896, newly-elected Republican President William McKinley appointed Roosevelt assistant secretary of the Navy. The two men differed in their views toward foreign affairs. Roosevelt, in contrast to McKinley, favored an aggressive foreign policy. He quickly took up the cause of expanding and strengthening the U.S. Navy.
In 1898, the island nation of Cuba, a Spanish possession, was the scene of a native rebellion against Spanish rule. Reports described rioting by rebels in Havana, a scenario which was seen as a threat to American citizens and businesses in Cuba.
Urged on by Roosevelt, President McKinley sent the battleship Maine to Havana in January 1898 as protection for American interests there. Following a suspicious explosion on board the ship a month later, in which 250 American sailors were killed, McKinley asked Congress for a declaration of war in April 1898.

The Spanish-American War and TR’s Rough Riders

Roosevelt, who, at the age of 39 had waited his entire life to engage in actual battle, immediately resigned his position as assistant secretary of the Navy. He secured for himself a commission as a lieutenant colonel in a volunteer army, dubbed by the press “The Rough Riders.”
The men landed in Cuba in June 1898, and soon suffered some losses as they battled Spanish forces. Traveling both by foot and on horseback, the Rough Riders helped to capture Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill. Both charges succeeded at running off the Spanish, and the U.S. Navy finished the job by destroying the Spanish fleet at Santiago in southern Cuba in July.

From Governor of NY to Vice President

The Spanish-American War had not only established the United States as a world power; it had also made Roosevelt a national hero. When he returned to New York, he was chosen as the Republican nominee for governor of New York. Roosevelt won the gubernatorial election in 1899 at the age of 40.
As governor, Roosevelt set his sights on reforming business practices, enacting tougher civil service laws, and the protection of state forests.
Although he was popular with voters, some politicians were anxious to get the reform-minded Roosevelt out of the governor’s mansion. Republican Senator Thomas Platt came up with a plan for getting rid of Governor Roosevelt.
He convinced President McKinley, who was running for re-election (and whose vice president had died in office) to select Roosevelt as his running mate in the 1900 election. After some hesitation—fearing he would have no real work to do as vice president—Roosevelt accepted.
The McKinley-Roosevelt ticket sailed to an easy victory in 1900.

Assassination of McKinley; Roosevelt Becomes President

Roosevelt had only been in office six months when President McKinley was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz on September 5, 1901 in Buffalo, New York. McKinley succumbed to his wounds on September 14. Roosevelt was summoned to Buffalo, where he took the oath of office that same day. At 42 years old, Theodore Roosevelt became the youngest president in America’s history.
Mindful of the need for stability, Roosevelt kept the same cabinet members McKinley had appointed. Nonetheless, Theodore Roosevelt was about to put his own stamp upon the presidency.
He insisted the public must be protected from unfair business practices. Roosevelt was especially opposed to “trusts,” businesses that allowed no competition, which were therefore able to charge whatever they chose.
Despite the passage of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890, previous presidents had not made it a priority to enforce the act. Roosevelt did enforce it, by suing the Northern Securities Company—which was run by J.P. Morgan and controlled three major railroads—for violating the Sherman Act.
The U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that the company had indeed violated the law, and the monopoly was dissolved.
Roosevelt then took on the coal industry in May 1902 when Pennsylvania coal miners went on strike. The strike dragged on for several months, with mine owners refusing to negotiate.
As the nation faced the prospect of a cold winter without coal to keep people warm, Roosevelt intervened. He threatened to bring in federal troops to work the coal mines if a settlement was not reached. Faced with such a threat, mine owners agreed to negotiate.
In order to regulate businesses and help prevent further abuses of power by large corporations, Roosevelt created the Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903.
Theodore Roosevelt is also responsible for changing the name of the “executive mansion” to “the White House” by signing an executive order in 1902 that officially changed the iconic building’s name.

The Square Deal and Conservationism

During his re-election campaign, Theodore Roosevelt expressed his commitment to a platform he called “The Square Deal.”
This group of progressive policies aimed to improve the lives of all Americans in three ways: limiting the power of large corporations, protecting consumers from unsafe products, and promoting the conservation of natural resources.
Roosevelt succeeded in each of these areas, from his trust-busting and safe food legislation to his involvement in protecting the environment.
In an era when natural resources were consumed without regard to conservation, Roosevelt sounded the alarm. In 1905, he created the U.S. Forest Service, which would employ rangers to oversee the nation’s forests.
Roosevelt also created five national parks, 51 wildlife refuges, and 18 national monuments. He played a role in the formation of the National Conservation Commission, which documented all of the nation’s natural resources.
Although he loved wildlife, Roosevelt was an avid hunter. In one instance, he was unsuccessful during a bear hunt. To appease him, his aides caught an old bear and tied it to a tree for him to shoot.
Roosevelt refused, saying he couldn’t shoot an animal in such a way. Once the story went to press, a toy manufacturer began producing stuffed bears, named “teddy bears” after the president.
In part because of Roosevelt’s commitment to conservation, his is one of four presidents’ faces carved on Mount Rushmore.

The Panama Canal

In 1903, Roosevelt took on a project that many others had failed to accomplish—the creation of a canal through Central America that would link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Roosevelt’s main obstacle was the problem of obtaining land rights from Colombia, which held control of Panama.
For decades, Panamanians had been trying to break free from Colombia and become an independent nation. In November 1903, Panamanians staged a rebellion, backed by President Roosevelt. He sent the USS Nashville and other cruisers to the coast of Panama to stand by during the revolution.
Within days, the revolution was over, and Panama had gained its independence. Roosevelt could now make a deal with the newly-liberated nation. The Panama Canal, a marvel of engineering, was completed in 1914.
The events leading up to the construction of the canal exemplified Roosevelt’s foreign policy motto: “Speak softly and carry a big stick—you will go far.” When his attempts to negotiate a deal with the Colombians failed, Roosevelt resorted to force, by sending military assistance to the Panamanians.

Roosevelt’s Second Term

Roosevelt was easily re-elected to a second term in 1904 but vowed he would not seek re-election after he completed his term. He continued to push for reform, advocating for the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act, both enacted in 1906.
In the summer of 1905, Roosevelt hosted diplomats from Russia and Japan at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in an effort to negotiate a peace treaty between the two nations, who had been at war since February 1904.
Thanks to Roosevelt’s efforts in brokering an agreement, Russia and Japan finally signed the Treaty of Portsmouth in September 1905, ending the Russo-Japanese War. Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his role in the negotiations.
The Russo-Japanese War had also resulted in a mass exodus of unwelcome Japanese citizens to San Francisco. The San Francisco school board issued an order that would force Japanese children to attend separate schools.
Roosevelt intervened, convincing the school board to rescind its order, and the Japanese to limit the number of laborers they allowed to immigrate to San Francisco. The 1907 compromise was known as the “Gentlemen’s Agreement.”
Roosevelt came under harsh criticism by the black community for his actions following an incident in Brownsville, Texas in August 1906.
A regiment of black soldiers stationed nearby was blamed for a series of shootings in the town. Although there was no proof of the soldiers’ involvement and none of them was ever tried in a court of law, Roosevelt saw to it that all 167 soldiers were given dishonorable discharges. Men who had been soldiers for decades lost all of their benefits and pensions.
In a show of American might before he left office, Roosevelt sent all 16 of America’s battleships on a worldwide tour in December 1907.Although the move was a controversial one, the “Great White Fleet” was well-received by most nations.
In 1908, Roosevelt, a man of his word, declined to run for re-election. Republican William Howard Taft, his hand-picked successor, won the election. With great reluctance, Roosevelt left the White House in March 1909. He was 50 years old.

Another Run for President

Following Taft’s inauguration, Roosevelt went on a 12-month African safari, and later toured Europe with his wife. Upon his return to the U.S. in June 1910, Roosevelt found that he disapproved of many of Taft’s policies. He regretted not having run for re-election in 1908.
By January 1912, Roosevelt had decided he would run again for president, and began his campaign for the Republican nomination. When Taft was re-nominated by the Republican Party, however, a disappointed Roosevelt refused to give up.
He formed the Progressive Party, also known as “The Bull Moose Party,” so named after Roosevelt’s exclamation during a speech that he was “feeling like a bull moose.” Theodore Roosevelt ran as the party’s candidate against Taft and Democratic challenger Woodrow Wilson.
During one campaign speech, Roosevelt was shot in the chest, sustaining a minor wound. He insisted on finishing his hour-long speech before seeking medical attention.
Neither Taft nor Roosevelt would prevail in the end. Because the Republican vote was split between them, Wilson emerged as the victor.

Final Years

Ever the adventurer, Roosevelt embarked upon an expedition to South America with his son Kermit and a group of explorers in 1913. The perilous voyage down Brazil’s River of Doubt nearly cost Roosevelt his life.
Where He contracted yellow fever and suffered a severe leg injury; as a result, he needed to be carried through the jungle for much of the journey. Roosevelt returned home a changed man, much frailer and thinner than before. He never again enjoyed his former robust state of health.
Back home, Roosevelt criticized President Wilson for his policies of neutrality during the First World War. When Wilson finally declared war on Germany in April 1917, all four of Roosevelt’s sons volunteered to serve. (Roosevelt also offered to serve, but his offer was politely declined.)
In July 1918, his youngest son Quentin was killed when his plane was shot down by the Germans. The tremendous loss appeared to age Roosevelt even more than his disastrous trip to Brazil.
In his final years, Roosevelt contemplated running again for president in 1920, having gained a good deal of support from progressive Republicans. But he never had the chance to run. Roosevelt died in his sleep of a coronary embolism on January 6, 1919 at the age of 60.

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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 | Military.com
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.”