Friday, July 06, 2018

Independence Day Blues ... Second Draft ... The Real Story

In the aftermath of Independence Day, my thoughts often veer toward a consideration of my role during the war in Viet Nam.

I was drafted, and that was no excuse.  I could have migrated to Canada, I could have refused to serve, I could have opted for a non-military role ... oh, no!  I couldn't.   I decided to serve my country, comforted by the  arrogance that I was competent to lead men into battle.

I went where I was told, did what I was told, and the world is a better place because I did my duty as an American.

Well ... perhaps not.  Allow me to tell the story of my failure to lead and to protect the men who bravely accepted my leadership and died as a result of it.

US v MILLER in coments

Why the AR15 Shouldn’t Be Banned - Omaha Outdoors

This is an interesting 2nd Amendment-challenging article in itself, but in the comments someone brought up the question of "US v MILLER":

@mrsatyre "private ownership is, and has been proven in court time and time again, unrelated to militias"
Not exactly. DC v. Heller (2008): "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."
But then, US v. Miller (1939):

I take this opportunity to (once again) discuss the MILLER decision:

Note in passing that US v Miller was lost because the attorney assigned to defend Miller failed to attend the hearing ... Miller was lost by default, not because the original argument was specious.

DETAILS: Miller, a bootlegger, had a shotgun to defend himself and his still. When his still was raided and T-men found that Miller had used a sawed-off shotgun to defend it,

Miller decided that the game wasn't worth the ante, and disencumbered himself of the still, the firearm and his lawyers.

His lawyers, no longer having a client and thus no fiduciary interest in the case, declined to attend subsequent hearing(s).

The Federal government, finding itself with an 'easy win', filed for closure.

The judge(s) had only one side of the case upon which to base their decision. Thus the Judicialannouncement:
"In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has **some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia ..."
(All Emphasis Added! The basis of the judgement was that the defense offered no defense!)

In order to assign the appropriate weight to that decision, I ask you to consider that the defense would have/should have been that the type of firearm used by Miller (a shotgun, if I recall correctly) was inaccurately described by the winning attorney as "not a firearm which had been historically used by the military" or words to that effect)

Any defense attorney in the country could have ... SHOULD HAVE ... pointed at the "Trench Gun" (used by American soldiers during World War 1); which was a 12-gauge shotgun.

But nobody spoke to the 2nd Amendment issue. Nobody cared enough ... except the judges who were left with a Federal case with no defendant ... and they had  recourse except to rule in favor of the only attorneys who appeared to give a damn; the Federal government.

BECAUSE OF THIS COMEDY IN ERRORS we are left with "The Miller Decision" which ignores the 2nd Amendment in favor of a federal prosecutor who was gleefully willing to get a WIN over a bootlegger ... who may, in fact, have been well within his Second Amendment rights to defend his person and his business ... however nefarious both he and his business might be.

The Supreme Court reversed the district court, holding that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual the right to keep and bear a sawed-off double-barrel shotgun. Writing for the unanimous Court, Justice James Clark McReynolds reasoned that because possessing a sawed-off double barrel shotgun does not have a reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia, the Second Amendment does not protect the possession of such an instrument.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Climbing the Stature of Liberty to protest Immigration Policies?

I can't say that I agree with her politics ...
Woman escorted down after scaling Statue of Liberty following anti-ICE protests | Fox News: A woman was escorted down from the Statue of Liberty on Wednesday after she scaled the bottom part of the national monument in protest of U.S. immigration policy, sparking a nearly four-hour standoff with authorities.

But I must admire her  dedication to a cause which is important to her!

Music: "We are climbing Jacob's Ladder (4 minutes)

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


It's the Fourth of July, a day when Americans celebrate their independence.

I won't be celebrating.  The truth is, I dread this day.

"... And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air ...."

That's what I dread.

All that noise, the flame and flare and confusion brings back memories when those bombs were real bombs, or hand grenades, or mortars, or the rat-tat-tag of machine guns.   Outgoing munition, and the guy who always belabors the obvious when he screams INCOMING!!!!

I've done a pretty good job of inuring myself to the sound of gunfire, as I've always been a competitive shooter and a hunter (although the first three years of deer season I had a hard time hitting a deer). 

It's that whole "Bombs Bursting In Air" thing that gets to me.

In Oregon, most fireworks are illegal.   That doesn't bother anybody ... they drive to Washington State and buy hundreds of dollars worth of Screamers and flares and things which make glittery shows of sparklers and smoke and fire.

One, back in the 1980's, I was installing new brakes on my van by the fading light of the sun when my neighbor across the street started exploding firecrackers and rockets and God only knows what all.  I tried to work through it, but the tension increased as my neighbor had a seemingly limitless number of *illegal* fireworks.

I became so agitated, I grabbed the handle of the jack and started across the street; I was mindlessly determined to beat him to a bloody pulp.

I marched down my driveway, and it wasn't until I actually started across the street that I realized I had not grabbed the jack handle, but the pneumatic jack itself.   I realized then the inanity of my reaction, and just went back into my house and had a drink or four.  Or ... lost count.

So now I have a new solution, which I'm trying out this year.  I don't think it will make a difference, but I posted a cardboard sign in my driveway:


It won't matter.   I'll still have trouble sleeping tonight, as the ruckus goes on from dusk to dawn.

But I have already pledged myself to expect to be upset, and not over-react to it.

I use to love Independence Day celebrations.   It was the sound of Liberty.

Now it's the sound of War.  After nearly 50 years, the ghosts still haunt me.

Just this one day a year.   And ... a few nights.

Image result for combat infantry badge

Trip-Wire: Dusk 'til Dawn

The problem with setting up booby-traps in defense of a friendly village is that you must know the daily routine of the "friendly" villagers who use their familiar trails.

This was the quandary that I faced in December of 1969 when I was charged with the mission of intercepting Viet Cong raiders who were suspected of receiving support from a 'friendly village" in my Area of Operations.

There was one main trail .. well used ,.. which was the most advantageous access to villagers whose daily chore it was to work the fields; every morning, they walked the familiar trail  to work their field: out to the fields at dawn, back home at dusk.

Everybody (villagers and Viet Cong) knew we were in the area, and everybody knew that our intention was to intercept VC as they entered the village to receive food, other supplies and intelligence about our counter-VC activities.

And everybody knew the trail that the VC used to enter the village for re-supply; it was the same well-trodden trail that the villagers used to go to their fields to work every damn morning of the year.

I had been putting squad-sized ambushes on that trail for a week, and the members of my squad were on a first-name basis with many of the villagers who walked that trail at dawn on their way to their fields.  Finally I decided that the VC were entering the village just before dawn or dusk, quickly taking their daily supplies, and then exiting the area from the same well-trodden trail.

So every night I placed directional Claymore Mines on the trail, and put scouts overlooking the mines to ensure that they didn't harm villagers on their way to work their fields in the morning,

After a few days, I realized that my assumptions were wrong: the VC were not meeting the villagers on the trail; they were using that same trail to boldly enter the village during the dark hours.  They knew we couldn't reliably monitor the trail 24/7, and were taking advantage of our "down time" to resupply.  And they knew when we set up the Claymores, and avoided those hours.  Or else they merged with the villagers, and we could not discern who was a "local" and who was  VC, so we didn't attack ANYONE!

Yes, we assumed (and rightly) that the villagers were supporting the VC with food and other supplies .. but not arms or ammunition.  I was sure of that.  (Maybe not so sure now ... but nobody got hurt!)

My counter decision was to mine the trail during the dark .. after the villagers had returned to their homes and before they had legitimately entered their fields in the early morning.  My hope was to rely on the villagers to NOT use the trail at night, but for the VC to use the trail to actually enter the village for resupply.

We were not able to position ourselves to watch the trail at night ( it proved impossible to discern movement at night at that time of the year, and the villagers watched our every movement) so I elected to mine the trail with trip-wires attached to Claymore Mines.

It may have been "A Good Idea", except that the mines would destroy ANYONE who walked that trail .. including the villagers who rose at dawn to go to the fields!

Fortunately, it was my habit to take "Last Watch" on every ambush position, and when I saw villagers entering the trail at Dawn I rousted all of my patrol and directed them to help me disarm the mines.

 I had to go "approximately" on the trail (remember, this was semi-dark) where I had set the booby trap ... find the battery which powered the mine(s), and follow the wires to the initiation device.  I disconnected it, and then was safe to remove the trip-wires and the Claymore mine and the battery (and attached wires).

I was accustomed to setting-up battery-powered Claymore mines on a nightly basis.  I examined each individual mine for any booby traps which might have been added by VC (they did that sometimes) and found no problems in de-activating the directional mine.  Then I recovered the wires to the battery and disconnected the battery.  (The VC sometimes booby-trapped our mines, rather than avoiding or removing them; they wanted to kill the Americans who had set the command-detonated mines, so we always examined each Claymore for "enhancements".)


The VietNamese villagers have a .. refined sense of humor; they enjoyed changing their work hour to impose the greatest variation of the time when we needed to be aware of friendly activity; they would rise early, or leave late, so that I was required to rise at the most inconvenient time to remove or de-activate the mines I had placed on their common route of travel to the fields.

It became something of a game, when and by which path they would exit their village to enter their fields. I don't think they were trying to aid the VC in this; they were just playing with the "Amers" and they enjoyed the game.   They knew who was VC and who was not; and I guess they knew that nothing they could do would cause me to endanger them.

At least, that is what I have always hoped.

By the time I DEROSed Viet Nam, I gained a great deal of respect for the folks who spent their lives in a war zone, and the way they dealty with it.  Both US troops and VC/NVA were trying to "Win the Hearts and Minds of the Viet Namese People.  I hope that by allowing them to play their silly games, I was able to convince them that we Americans were not only trying to protect them, but to assure them that we also had a sense of humor.

Either that, or they decided that we were incompetent  buffoons.

That was okay, too.  I always felt that way in Viet Nam.