Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why "Gun People" don't trust "Anti-Gun People"

Snell: Waking the dragon — How Feinstein fiddled while America burned - Iowa State Daily: Opinion:

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because in a single breath they tell us that the Second Amendment is irrelevant today and should be repealed because semi-automatic weapons didn’t exist when the Bill of Rights was written, then turn around and say the First Amendment protects radio, television, movies, video games, the Internet, domain names, Facebook and Twitter. Carrying liberal logic on the Second Amendment through to the First Amendment, it would only cover the town crier, and hand-operated printing presses producing only books and newspapers, and nothing else. Even anything written with a No. 2 pencil or ballpoint pen would not be included. And those of you belonging to religions that formed after the 1790s? You’re screwed under liberal logic, too.
Two Things:
First, thanks to The G-Man for pointing us at this extended article.  It is thick with links and references, and I have not yet managed to follow them all up.  As G-Man says: "this is a long article ..." -- but worth the time you might choose to spend following the thread.

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because, while liberals seek to expand government regulation and services — things that may not be bad or ill-intended on their own — they simultaneously try to curtail the Second Amendment. We don’t trust anti-gun people for this reason because history shows us that every genocide and democide is preceded by expansion of government power and gun control. We don’t trust anti-gunners because here in America, gun control is rooted in slavery and racism, with some of America’s modern anti-gun laws being direct copies of former Nazi laws that banned gun possession for Jews, blacks, gays and other “undesirables.”

Second: someone has done his homework; has learned how to construct an essay; has a passion for his subject matter; has determined to provide references to sources; and found an audience.

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because they keep saying they “respect the Second Amendment” and go on about how they respect the hunting traditions of America. We don’t trust you because you have to be a complete idiot to think the Second Amendment is about hunting. I wish people weren’t so stupid that I have to say this: The Second Amendment is about checking government tyranny. Period. End of story. The founders probably couldn’t have cared less about hunting since, you know, they just got done with that little tiff with England called the Revolutionary War right before they wrote that “little book” called the Constitution.


I don't know any more about the author than you do, but I'm terribly impressed.  This author has said everything I have been trying to say for the past eight years, and compressed into 3,000 words (give or take) everything I have tried to say in 10,000 word (and probably, considerably more ... and more precisely!)

Liberals always make the common plea, “We need to get some experts to solve this problem!” for any public policy issue that comes along, which is a good thing. But when it comes to the gun issue, gun expertise is completely irrelevant to the anti-gunner — people who probably have never fired a gun or even touched one in real life, and whose only experience with guns is what they’ve seen in movies or read about in bastions of (un)balanced, hyper-liberal journalism, like Mother Jones. That a pro-gun person might actually know a lot about their hobby or profession doesn’t stand up against the histrionic cries of the anti-gunner.
How can we “gun people” honestly be expected to come to the table with anti-gunners when anti-gunners are willfully stupid about guns, and openly hate, despise and ridicule those of us who own them? There must first be respect and trust — even just a little — before there can be even the beginnings of legitimate discussion of the issue.
I can't make you read this article, let alone follow the (very informative) links which the author provides.

So .. consider it a 'project'.  Go to the link and take just a few bits here and there.  I suspect that you will, as I have, take a moment to reflect on how the issues have been so dramatically skewed to fit the Liberal psychology and bias, in the referenced links.

For only one example: Rev, Al Sharpton et al

Published on Jan 9, 2013

VP Joe Biden To Meet With NRA Gun-NUTS

Connecticut Massacre & How Right-Wing 'Gun-NUTs' Have Twisted The 2nd Amendment

Thursday, June 27, 2013

First Day On The Job; Vietnam, 1969

Y'know how your first day on a new job is suppose to be a sort of  'breaking in' experience?   Somebody welcomes you at the door, shows you around the workplace, introduces you to your co-workers.   Maybe you take a coffee break with them, to kind of establish the first blush of an interpersonal bond.   Probably the Boss takes you into his office and tells you what to expect, and just were you fit in.

September 29, 1969:   First Infantry Division Base Camp at Dian, Republic of Vietnam

I had been in country for a week, during which time I went through In-processing  and assigned to the First Division.  We had a day in the repo-depot first ("replacement depot"), where we were 'housed' in crude buildings and slept on cots with springs but no mattresses no mattresses. We were given one pair of jungle fatigues, one pair of boots, and a helmet.  No underwear except for an Olive Drab T0shirt; nobody wore underpants in Viet Nam because of the heat and the humidity..  We also received 'back pay' ... I was issued $355 ... in five dollar bills.  I walked around with this wad in my pocket until I was assigned to a Company, when it went into the Company Safe by the First Sgt.

We went through a two-day "refresher" training where, since we were Infantry, we did "Patrol Exercises".  Nobody was issued ammunition, although we had M-16 rifles.

At Day Six, I was told I would join my platoon (Third platoon, or "Third Herd") of Lima Company 1st of the 16th, the next day. I would be picked up by the resupply helicopter at 0900, but I would be given ammunition by the Executive Officer at 0800.  Also .. magazine carriers, "Light combat" (LC or 'Alice') butt-pack and webgear, etc. would be issued an hour before the liftoff.

Sure enough the helicopter was at the appointed place at the appointed time, and so was I.  I had my ten magazines (loaded to 18 rounds hardball each) three canteens of luke-warm water, harness, aid kit (a bandage suitable for wrapping around my chest in case I suffered a "sucking chest wound").  They didn't issue me my claymore mine, but we all carried one as a rule.  Oh, and no insignia was to show unless it was 'demure', which means it was black and nobody could tell your rank unless they were close enough to touch you.

This was the big day, I was finally out of school forever.  I climbed aboard the Uh-1 "Huey" helicopter, capable of carrying 6 combat-loaded infantry men.  There was me, and a stack of C-rations four feet high, wide and deep.  Plus about a dozen 5-gallon disposable plastic jugs of water.

Plus the pilot, co-pilot, and crew-chief/door-gunner with his bungie-cord-mounted M-60 .30 caliber machine gun.
That was when I  discovered the Thrill of Flying!  It was great!  When you're 1,000 feet high, the heat and the humidity don't matter.  Both side-doors were open and for the first time since the 737 jet had landed at the airport in Saigon, I wasn't sweating and the air didn't smell of rotten lettuce!



20 minutes later we landed in what I later learned had been a "hot LZ".  The Landing Zone was under fire from VC troops (or NVA ... who knew who was shooting at us?  I rarely knew that much about the enemy unless we were close enough to actually see them) and all the Crew Chief had to say was:

"OUT!  OUT!  OUT OF THE CHOPPER NOW!   But first, grab a couple of C-cases 'cause we're dumping our load right here right now!"

So I slung my rifle, and with a case of C's under each arm (same size and weigh of a case of Budweiser Beer, I discovered: I can do this!) I jumped the four feet from the deck of the chopper to the floor of the small clearing which was --- soggy.  I sank up to my ankles in muck, stumbled, dropped the C's, planted my face in the ground in the Front Leaning Rest Position.

Welcome to The Real Viet Nam.

Nobody picked me up, but they surely picked up the C's.   I later learned that this was all the food that a full platoon had available to eat for the next two or three days.  They had their priorities, and a FNG  (F*cking New Guy .. even if he was a Staff Sergeant and a potential Platoon Sergeant) was not among the things they cared about.

That was Lesson 1.

SOMEBODY came around and mentioned quickly that they were taking fire from the woodline across the way (an open area) and that they were going to be picked up in 10 minutes to be re-inserted in another area.  For general information, they would NOT break down (distribute) the food now; they would carry it individually to the next LZ.

I got the impression that their priorities were:
  1. Get the hell out of here
  2. save the food
  3. make sure everyone got on their assigned chopper
  4. leave nobody .. even the FNG .. behind
I found some comfort there, even though I had no idea what was going on.

In fact, the first Eagle Flight (five helicopters each) had already left, carrying the Platoon Leader (Lieutenant Commanding), Radio Operators for all 3 squads, and most of the men before Specialist 4 Somebody told me what was going on.

There was an unknown force of unknown force of unknown size "plinking at us" from the treeline across the open area .. I already had figured out that the 'open area' was tall grass in a bog .. nobody could cross it in an assault, but it provided good visual acquisition of any targets who were so stupid as to stand out in the open.

Unfortunately, the only place where the helicopters could land to pick up our troops was at the verge, where the bog wasn't so deep.  The choppers couldn't actually LAND, of course, but they could hover "real close" to the ground.  Comforting thought, that, and it explained my face-plant when I jumped out of the chopper a few minutes ago.

Has it only been ten minutes?  And why isn't anyone shooting at us now?  There are still a dozen troops here .. the army will have to send at least two more choppers to complete the extraction.

The Nameless Spec4  (Specialist Fourth Class .. what the Marines would call a Lance Corporal) I had been talking to explained it to me.

"They're waiting for the helicopters to come back.  They know we're here, and they know we're not going to stay.  here, so when the choppers pick us up they'll unload with everything they've got as soon as we load onto the birds.  That's when the bad shit starts."

He had an idea, though, and he had  an M-72 Rocket Anti-Tank Missile (disposable).  Actually, that's the American version of the RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) ... reasonably accurate up to 400 yards (yeah, right!) and although it is an Armor Piercing Missile, if it hits a tree trunk it could conceivably be considered an "area weapon".  His plan was that as soon as the choppers hit 'hover', he would fire the M-72 into the opposing woodline.  That should disconcert (not his word) the opposition (not his word either) long enough for us to board and lift off.

Damn!  He was the ugliest man I had ever seen, but he was at that moment the smartest man I had ever met.  I agreed with his plan, and when the final 2 choppers came in for the pickup, I told him to pick his time and do his stuff.  It barely crossed my mind that I had the rank and the training, but he had the smarts and whatever he suggested I would agree to.


So the choppers came in, started their landing (they had to hover first because we were in the trees and they were in the open), and Spec4 Ugly launched his rocket against the treeline.


I made sure he carried the empty M-72 tube ("Charley" could use it for a mortar, or a booby trap) but we hopped onto the chopper and I swear we walked across the water getting to the PZ (Pickup Zone)!

Later, we learned that the first Eagle Flight had taken fire; the bird that the LT, his radioman, his platoon medic and his closest people were on had several AK-47 strikes against the floor of the chopper, but nobody was injured and the bird wasn't injured.

We received NO incoming fire during our extraction, as nearly as I could tell.  The Crew Chief was working the woodline with his M60, and we had a couple of attack choppers providing covering fire.  Well, we may have been shot out, but we weren't hit and nobody bled; that's good enough news for any hot extraction.

The SOI in the Swamp:
Five minutes or an hour later (I was still on some kind of adrenalin rush, my sense of time was short-circuited so I have no idea how much time had elapsed) we were the last pair of choppers to put down in our new Area of Operations.  I never learned why we were sent there.

We disembarked on what turned out to be the wrong side of a swamp.  It was essentially open water (as opposed to the grassy bog which had been my first real introduction to Viet Nam terrain), but the place where we put boots on the ground was relatively high and dry.

The first order of business was to distribute the C-rations and the water.   Everybody took enough C-rats to last them for the next two days (six rats, 3 per day) and there was some squabbling about who got which of their favorite foods.  I later learned that this was typical; the first thing you do is grab food and disperse.  Later, you can horse-trade, but it gives you a stronger 'trading position' if you can get your favorites first.  Second priority .. get something you know somebody else wants; you can always jerk him around and end up with better food.

Then the Platoon Leader, Lieutenant Maverick, sought me out and introduced himself to me.  I am using mostly nom de'gueres here; not to protect them but because it was 40 years ago and I don't remember everyone's names.  He had been an E6 Staff Sgt, but went to OCS for his commission.  They call this transition from NCO to Officer a "MAVERICK", so that works for me.

He told me that they were going to distribute their resupply, burn the excess, then move east across the northern edge of what was called "The Heart Shaped Woods".

This was a notorious VC/NVA  sanctuary.  It was all low brush ... mostly less than 6' high but very dense.  It was guarded by booby traps and ambushes at all times.  We were looking for trails, and for VC/NVA hunting parties who were looking for game or other food sources to feed the majority of the units which were known to be hiding there.

There was one problem, which escalated to another.

First, we had to cross a large, wide (if shallow) swamp to get to the Heart Shaped Woods.  It was only knee-deep, but had a soft silty bottom and footing was tricky.  We crossed it single-file, widely separated so as to offer the smallest possible number of targets in what was, essentially, an open area.

Unfortunately, the Platoon Kilo (Radio Man), slipped and fell into the water.  He struggled back to his feet and completed the crossing, but a few minutes later he discovered that he had lost his "S.O.I."

The SOI (Strategic Operating Index, if I recall it correctly) was his Radio Code Book.  It had all the daily codes for the entire Division in it, and it was classified TOP SECRET!

We needed to have it, almost as much as we need Charley to NOT have it!
  1.  Each page was a daily "one time" code, upon which all of our radio transmissions would be based.   Without it we could not be confident that our transmissions would be 'transparent' to Charley.
  2. If we couldn't recover it, we would have to resort to 'ad hoc' obfuscations, such as "we are 3 clicks north of the blue line, and 1 click west of the red line'.  "Blue line" is a water source, such as a river, and usually the most prominent terrain feature on the map we were currently using .. designated by a six-digit code.  "Red line" was a road, usually the main road on the same map.  Unfortunately, Charley had maps, too, and he could usually tell the general area from our transmission strength, so this was exceedingly poor security.  We obviously did not want the enemy to know our location, even in general terms (within 1000 meters).
  3. If Charley found the SOI (code book), he would have the codes for EVERY transmission in the Division for the rest of the month. 
So ... most of the platoon spent the next x-minutes (20?) wading through the swamp, looking for the SOI.

We never found it.  Instead, the LT decided that it was too dangerous for us to linger in a known insertion LZ, and we should move out.  Besides, if we couldn't find the SOI .. by the time Charley found it, it would be too soggy to be readable.  He checked with "higher" (ie: Division Command) and received permission to 'combat loss' the SOI.  Bonuse: we would be extracted before nightfall, and a new emergency SOI would be issued "soon".  ( I doubt that ever happened, but it could have.)

So, we performed three actions before we moved out to check the perimeter of The Heart Shaped Woods":
  1. We distributed the water, and the C-rations; we could move farther, faster, when we had no load other than what we carried in our Alice Butt-Packs.  (I knew by then just how much it slowed a man down to carry a case of C-rations ... and you were NOT combat-ready in that configuraion!)  LESSON 3
  2. We dug a hole, and put all the leftovers in there, and lit them on fire.  This includes the used PRC-25 (Personal Radio Combat/Model 25) batteries; they got hot and blew up which along with the general fire helped keep the left-behinds from becoming assets to the enemy.  They LOVED our C-rations!
  3. We designated a 'rear guard', a small (3-man) detachment to watch our back trail.  They could see if Charley sneaked in to steal our left-overs, and fire him up.  They could tell if Charley was searching the bog for the lost SOI.  And finally, they could tell if Charley was following us on our patrol.
We heard the Batteries blow up as we worked our way away from the swamp.  Twenty minutes later, after the fire in the disposal pit had died out, our rear guard caught up with us.  They saw nothing, they saw nobody. On the other hand, who knows how long they really stayed that far behind us?  It's possible that they may have waited only a few minutes before they started following us.  I never knew; I never asked.

I was assigned (informally) a position halfway down the single-file line of our platoon.  I couldn't see the Platoon Leader near the head of the line; I couldn't see the rear element.  I was was the Senior NCO in the platoon at the moment, but I had not been designated the Platoon Sergeant.  I was still a "FNG"  (F*cking New Guy), and  I was learning quickly things that they had NEVER told us in NCO School.

My DTQ  ("Daily Terror Quotient") was humming around between 40% and 80%;  I was scared all the time, but not enough to panic and just enough to keep me from becoming complaisant.

Being a FNG, I didn't realize it at the time; but it was turning out to be a pretty good day.

Then it got worse.

"Uh .. Sarge?"

This was the guy walking behind me.  His name was Tennesee, and he was a 6'5" blonde from Tennesee who carried a Tennessee Toothpick and an M-60 Machine Gun.  (Note to myself:  I have GOT to get some knives over here!)  Have I mentioned he was from Tennessee?  He never let us forget it!

I stopped, turned around, and he had this most odd expression on his face.  Consternation, embarrassment, apology, and the reek of fear.

"Yeah, what?"  (I wasn't in a mood for conversation; don't know why, since I had only been shot at deliberately for the first time in my life ...

"Uh ... Sarge?  I think I'm hung up here.  I think I'm standing on a Booby Trap.  Can you fix it?  What do I do now?"


Okay, so I called (softly) for the folks ahead to pass the word; stop now, and send the platoon leader back down the line now!

The LT comes down the line.  He wasn't chewing tobacco, but he should have been.

"Yep, that's a booby trap.  Probably two or three hand grenades, with wire between the rings holding the pins in.  If he moves, it's gonna blow up sure as shit.  Sarge, you may want to move your folks back a ways?  And someone send for my  Chu Hoi, okay?"

I'm channeling the theme from "JAWS", and Spielberg hadn't even made the movie yet.

The term "Chu Hoi" is vietnamese.  It's an "I Surrender!" phrase.  Ex-Viet Cong who are captured are given the choice to be re-educated or to suffer lesser punishment; I think there's a "firing squad" option in there somewhere, but actually they get more food and less political bullshit than they did from the VC, so Chu Hoi's tend to make pretty good assets.  They call them "Tiger Scouts" and they get special camouflage uniforms.

And they know all about booby traps.  Lord knows they've set enough of them.

So this Chu Hoi (which is NOT a derisive term!) comes wandering down with a toothpick hanging over  his lips and says "yep, booby trip.  I fix."

I took it upon myself to direct the rest of the platoon to "form a permeter, at least 20 meters radius" (American Hand Grenades have a 5 meter "kill zone") and 'get down'.  Best order I ever gave; everybody obeyed it immediately .. except for Tennesee, of course.

The Chu How knelt down beside Tennessee, and said: "don't move until I tell you".  Good advice.

The "device"  (it would be called an IED, or Improvised Explosive Device in today's terms) featured 3 hand grenades .. American, who knows where they got them ... mostly buried in the ground' their top part was above ground, the rings were above ground.  There were thin wires between the three rings, and the pins were straightened, which means that it was very easy to pull the pins by pulling the wires.

The wires were very slack; they stood up above the top of the grenades, so it was easy to hook on to them with your foot if you happened to be using the most obvious path and were experienced enough that you SLID your foot instead of picking it up and laying it down.  (*I was so green, I hadn't yet learned yet how to walk in the jungle.)*

Tennessee's shoe-laces on his boots were all jammed up in the wires.  it took some doing, but the Chu Hoi managed to untangle the wires and the laces, and softly talk Tennessee into moving his foot back, and out of the entanglement.

Finally, the machine-gunner was free of the wires.    We didn't bother to try to recover the booby trap; we just put a Claymore mine right beside it, and detonated the entire array with a 50' wire which command-detonated the 'mine'.  All three devices flew up, after we were hunkered down in a safe position  at a safe distance.  Well, except for the Chu Hoi .. he was given the "clacker" which initiated the device; he was still proving his reliability, this was a part of his initiation process.

Frankly, the whole rest of the day was a fog.  I have no idea what happened after the booby trap was demolished.  And I don't much care, 'cause it was much of a nothing.  We set up an ambush on the booby trap site, but nobody came to check it out.

I learned from that;  if you set up a booby trap, and it blows up ... you stay away from it until "The Other Guys" have a chance to clear the area.  They're gong to be pissed.

Of course .. you set up a secondary booby-trap, just to catch them.

But that's another story.

I was glad when my First Day On The Job Ended.  I figured .. that's going to be my worst day on the job.

I was wrong, of course.

And .. I still only knew the names of four people:  SP4, Tennessee, LT, and Chu Hoi,

I would learn the rest of them eventually.
It didn't help much, though; especially when they started dying.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mistrial in NV ex-prostitute's hammer attack after juror sends text messages to lawyer | Fox News

Mistrial in NV ex-prostitute's hammer attack after juror sends text messages to lawyer | Fox News: ELKO, Nev. –

An ex-prostitute accused of attacking a co-worker with a claw hammer in a dispute over missing beer at a rural Nevada brothel will be retried on an attempted murder charge after a judge declared a mistrial because a juror sent text messages to a public defender about the jury, prosecutors said Friday. Elko County Deputy District Attorney Mark Mills told The Associated Press on Friday that "numerous jurors" disregarded the court's warning to not discuss the trial while the case was ongoing. One juror texted a public defender Wednesday night about two other jurors talking about — among other things — the ethnicity of the victim, Sang Fowler, who suffered severe injuries to her head and hand in the beating at Sharon's Bar and Brothel in Carlin about 25 miles west of Elko last August. Elko County District Judge Al Kacin acknowledged the case is full of "salacious details" before declaring the mistrial on Thursday and ordering Lisa Wong, 50, back to the county jail, according to the Elko Daily Free Press ( ). "It's the type of case that gets the tongue wagging," Kacin said''
 You think?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Evil Lighters in the Jungle; Viet Nam, 1969

Yeah, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I shall fear no evil; for I am the evilest  son-of-a-bitch in the Valley.

There was a time in my life when men I knew bought Zippo lighters specifically to have those words engraved on it.

That was a very long time ago.

I haven't actually known many truly evil men.  A few, not many.  they had no need for engravings; what they did defined them, and that was enough for them.

Those with engraved cigarette lighters were usually frightened men, whistling in the graveyard, seeking to create their courage by assuming the trappings of "toughness".  In their essential innocence, they thought that being "tough" somehow equated to being 'strong".

These are not both physical attributes.  Strong is muscular; tough is -- mental.  Emotional, attitudinal.  Strong can be beaten;  Tough can only be killed.

("Cool Hand Luke:" was tough.  He did not win, but he was never beaten.  "Beat Up" .. yes.)

I liked those lighters.  They held a lot of lighter fluid, and they would burn forever.

 But they would leak in your pocket, and the fluid would burn the skin on your thigh, leaving a tender red patch which the rough cotton of your utility trousers would abrade as you crept through the jungle.  Life was shitty enough in those days, without wounding yourself.

"Get a good wound", they would say;   "Nothing crippling for life .. just enough for a ticket home."

Zippo Burn didn't qualify.  It was just a pain in the ass.  *(Well, no .. we didn't carry our lighters in our hip pockets.)*\

A lighter-fluid burn wasn't enough for a ticket home.  Neither was "Bamboo Poisoning", which I did get. It was merely inconvenient and uncomfortable -- unless you left it untreated so long that it became necrotic.    (Is that the term?  It's like Gangrene; infection sets in, and if left untreated the tissue literally rots in place.)  It took seven years AFTER I returned from Viet Nam for the lesions to completely heal and disappear.

Whatever the word is for "they  cut off your leg to save your life", that's the word.  I never did lose a limb, but I DID spend a couple of weeks, back in the Division Base Camp, being treated.     The medics back there in the Rear with the Gear scrubbed the dead tissue out of the lesions on my hands, arms, legs and feet with a rough, no-nonsense, efficient energy.   It took about an hour after the company Executive Officer spotted  me with my pant-legs rolled up at Pay call in the NDP ("Night Defensive Position" ... call it a Base Camp) for him to send me back to First Infantry Division Headquarters in Dian, where I immediately reported to the First Aid Depot.  They were using Hexaclorophene ... you know, that stuff that the workers in the early pizza parlors used to keep their hands clean, until the Surgeon General declared that it caused cancer?  Well, it cleaned me up pretty good, and it didn't kill me.  So I guess short-term usage was okay.

I had to scrub the dead flesh out of my sores three times a day for the period of my "Profile", which is like "doctor says the Sergeant  must keep his pants legs rolled up and wear shower shoes until further notice, and stay out of 'the field', so he can heal".  I didn't like the scrubbing ... hurts like a sonofabitch .. but I did like walking around a military base in a combat zone wearing shorts and sandals.  Field-grade officers quail at the sight of a Profile!  It's a God-like effect; you probably had to be there to appreciate the power it gave to a lowly Staff Sgt.

And there I was, in the Division Base Camp.  I wasn't allowed to keep a weapon.  But I was being guarded by a perimeter of armed soldiers too incompetent to be trusted with loaded weapons in the field, and/or too doped up on grass and narcotics (usually supplied at low prices by Vietnamese 'friendlies') to know when their shift was over.   They just slept in their bunkers and pooped in their pants.

Who says I missed out on the Sixties?

Division Base Camp, in Dian, Vietnam.  First Infantry Division.  The "Big Red One".  I loved that division.  I still have a couple of shoulder patches, a pin, and a coffee mug.

Call "Dian" (pronounced "ziahn") a village on the outskirts of Saigon.  Or call it what it was, an ulcer on the face of the earth.  Every semi-permanent Military Encampment deserves that description.  Did you know that when you had to piss, they had a military solution?  They called it a "Pissoir", after the french word for "pisser".  What it was, was .. they dug a hole in the ground, put a 4-foot long section of 6" sewer pipe in it, and then filled both the hole and the pipe with pea-gravel.  You stand in front of it, pulled out your Johnson, and pissed in the pipe.  Hence the name.

The really classy bases preserved your dignity; they hid your nether regions by putting a semi-circle of the corrugated sheet-metal around one side of the pissoir.  It kept the vietnamese civilian employees ("Bunker Babes") from being exposed to your exposure.  Big deal, they were almost all men, trollops, or old women ... with significant leakage between the three definitions.  Enough to say, they had all seen enough of American Pricks that one more was not cause for concern.  And yes, they had seen a lot of American Penises, too.

Most of the bases didn't bother with the crotch-screening measures.  And when  we showered, the civilian women workers were always present.  We decided to consider this a gift from God for them.

The alternative choice was to never pee.  That didn't last very long, individually or institutionally.


But I digress.

Back to the Cigarette lighter.  And the necrotic flesh/bamboo poisoning:

Self abrading my tortured flesh three times a day, with a terry-cloth towel to scrub out the dead flesh?  That hurt a LOT more than those leaky Zippo Lighters did.  But I still carried a lighter.\

I admit, I did buy one of those lighters and I did have it etched with some pithy saying (darned if I remember what it said, but it was irreverent even though it didn't mention no stinking "Valley of Death"), but I didn't have it for long.

Someone stole it.

Over a period of time, someone stole everything I owned.

I'll get back to that in a few minutes.
No, I won't.   Suffice it to say that the REMFs  (Rear Echelong Mother F*ckers" were predators, and would steal anything  that we left in their keeping.  Their thought was that we were going to die anyway, so why not steal from us BEFORE we understood that we were dead?

You cannot fault their logic, but it pissed me off at the time.
Come to think of it, it still pisses me off!
I understand it, but I don't have any respect for the opportunistic MF's!


While I didn't  have a Zippo after the first one, I used a tiny little lighter the size of my thumbnails, which didn't hold much fluid but what it held, it did not leak.

I took that lighter off the body of an NVA (North Vietnamese Army) soldier who suddenly had no further use for it.  He wasn't going to be lighting any more cigarettes; he was living .. okay, not living ... proof that Lung cancer isn't the only thing that will kill you;  your political persuasion will do just fine, thank you, if you pursue it to the logical conclusion of fighting for your beliefs.  He was, instead, a testimonial to the motto that "Artillery Lends Dignity To What Would Otherwise Be An Unseemly Brawl".

[Actually, the Third Field Artillery Regiment motto is "Celeritis Et Accuratio" (Speed and Accuracy .. sound familiar?)  But we all really know what those red-striped trouser-legs REALLY think, don't we?  Eh?  Those Inglorious Bastards!  They kept firing on MY position for all the time I was in the field.  But that is a topic for a future post, so I'll let it be for now.]
Back to the body of the NVA private who had this cute little lighter on a string ... I kid you not.

I stole from him shamelessly.  He didn't need his web-belt with the red-star buckle or his "Ho Chi Minh" Sandals (made from the tread of a truck tire, and straps made from its inner-tube).  I left him his pith helmet .. his face was pretty much all f*cked up, and he looked better with his helmet over his face than off.  Besides, it was gruesome; I had enough nightmares to keep me awake for decades.

And I was in a hurry.  Clueless people were still shooting.  My men were bunkered up, but The Bad Guys didn't know that, and someone had forgotten to declare a "Cease Fire, You Guys Lost!"

 Oh, and we were still receiving  Friendly Fire from our own artillery ...  a fist-sized chunk of shrapnel hit [SPLAT!!!] in the mud six inches from my right boot heel ... enough cutting-edges in that flash-frozen hunk of metal to flay a thousand fish, and its impact sort of distracted me for a day or a week or a lifetime.  It was scald-your-hand hot when I picked up, and I thought for a while about keeping it as a souvenir, but it was too heavy to pack around when the alternative was to dump water, ammo, or "shrapnel'.

"Shrapnel" lost,  as a candidate for a "souvenir"; as it always does .. and should.

["Shrapnel" is a technical term, not referring to the shell casing of Artillary, but purpose-built devices, which include the current and latest American Hand Grenades.  But that's the subject of a future article.]

Getting back to the original point ....

I took the lighter off a dead NVA Soldier ... to the Victor go the spoils.  Remember that .. I'll come back to it.

I was never evil, and I was never tough.  LUCKY, perhaps ... nothing said "God Loves You, My Son" as convincingly as being shot at .. repeatedly .. and always missed.  Thank you Jesus, for putting crappy sights on an AK and scared boys behind them!

Unfortunately,, U. S. Artillarymen are much better shots than NVA or VC  grunts.  Even after all these years, I've not been able to count the number of times I've been pelted with "Shrapnel" from American Artillery.  (Or bombs .. ask me some time about the 2000 pound bombs from "Arc Lightning" ... B52 .. bombing strikes! Or don't, thank you.)

Ahhh .. I could tell you stories about close calls, and perhaps later I will.  it takes me longer than it use to, to get into the "story telling" mode.  usually it was "Pre-Emptive Bombing" or "Supportive Artillery" that ended up with shrapnel in our web gear, or our backpacks (or smashing into the ground all around us) with no greater effect than scaring the ever-loving CRAP out of us!

(One more page of the memoirs, and then I'll have it all out of my system.  Please bear with me tonite.)

"Usually we caught shrapnel (not the correct name) when we were operating as a "small unit", detached, at night.  That would be one or two squads .. less than a full platoon, call it 20 men ... going where they sent us because "RADAR REPORTED POSSIBLE ENEMY MOVEMENT IN THIS AREA!

A word about Ground Radar: 

We often received radio warnings about "unidentified/ potentially enemy images in your immediate area, moving toward your position".

We were there, we never saw them, but "Higher Authority" invariably decided to "defend (our) tactical position" by calling in Artillery Strikes on our position.  We caught hell, and a lot of Heavy Metal ... and we never were able to convince them to NOT shell us.

Perhaps it's significant that none of my troops, in the dozen or so instances when we received Heavy Metal from Artillery or Bombings ... were hurt ... implies something about the efficacy of Artillary?

Or maybe they were just hitting far away from us to save us?

Interesting, if so, because at least twice we later determined that they were reading OUR position  (our people) as the target .. they thought we were VC. Oh gee, that policy of using black instead of brass insignia isn't working for us?  [snide alert]

Getting Down To The Wire

Frankly, as far as Artillery Barrages and Bomb Runs were concerned?
I would just as soon have declined the honor.

The attention was  flattering, but the consequences were painful, and upsetting.  That American Military Command apparently considered us to be a threat  (they shelled us much more frequently than they ever shelled true-identified units of the VC)  was much more than the Viet Cong had done;  they  (VC) found us laughable, and apparently decided that their best response was to let us alone (with occasional sniper-shots to keep us on edge). We were no threat to them; they were no threat to us.  We all , however, feared American Artillery (and with good reason!)

We in The Field always figured it (artillery) was inevitable when unexpected, and unavailable when needed.  They (American Artillery, lending dignity to this unruly squabble) were busy blowing the everlasting crap out of some OTHER unspecting (American Infantry squad) target in the Area of Operations (AO).

Which is to say .. it simply wasn't OUR turn in the barrel.

Maybe tomorrow night, maybe not

Good night, sleep well, and if perchance to dream of small pieces of iron raining down on your night defensive position ...

....  Oops!  Sorry 'bout that!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Oh, please!

Madonna Stands up for Gun Rights? - Leah Barkoukis:

It’s rare to hear someone in the Hollywood scene speak the truth about guns, but that’s exactly what Madonna did in a recent interview with ABC News’ Elizabeth Vargas. 
When asked about the choice of choreography in her current tour, which drew criticism because of the first act’s heavy use of guns, the pop icon said she would have never left that part out. 
 "That would be like asking people to not have guns in action movies," she said. "I mean the thing is, guns don't kill people, people kill people. That whole first section of the show is like an action movie, and I was playing a super vixen who wanted revenge." 
Madonna even gave a statement that she does not condone violence, and that her work is art and nothing more. 
 "But I know there was several movies that delayed release because of the shootings, for example, at Sandy Hook Elementary school," Vargas said. 
"Well that's not going to change the situation," Madonna replied. "This all comes from fear and ignorance, and people not really raising their children, or not paying attention to what's going on."

Celebrity  "support" can be So detrimental for a societal or political issue!

Here, the aging "Like A Virgin" Celebrity hitches her star to the "Second Amendment" cause, about which she obviously has no affinity.  If she really cared about that issue, she would have spoken out sooner, and not in support of her own lame and dying career.

It's not even Christmas, but if I had one wish it would be that Celerity Activism would NOT muddy the waters on an issue which I consider important.

I feel embarrassed to even acknowledge  her publicity release,  except that it provided the opportunity to excoriate her ignorant self-seeking public contribution.