November 11th, 2008 07:34 PM
A "Titanic" range day.
"Excuse me young man, mind if I sit down with you and look at your rifle"?
Last month, I picked up an M1 Garand from the CMP. It was a Service Grade, Springfield made it. It came with new CMP lumber. Except for the wood and an HRA bolt, it could be graded correct. The next weekend after I recieved it, I took it and some ammo out to the range on Ft. Riley that is open weekends for Id card holders. Got the gun pretty much zeroed, at the time it was real hot so I went home. The next weekend, I went back out. I was at table #1, 2-12 are to my right.
Since I volunteer to run the range a couple times a month, I pretty much know the regulars. During one time out from shooting, to adjust the targets, I noticed a green Jeep pull into the parking lot. It was Col. H. He had retired about 10 years ago. He has a son, a Major, who was back in the states on midtour leave from Iraq. The Major also had his son with him. As soon as the son graduates H.S. this spring, he will be entering the Army. There was another person, but I went back to shooting and didn't get too interested.
Col. H. came up to me, hit me on the shoulder, said "Hi David, got some of my family out here today with me. "I'll be over in a little bit and chat", I said. "Want to get this thing zeroed in good today". 15 minutes after that, I shot and the PING came as the clip shot out of the gun. Thru my electronic ear muffs, I heard someone say, "What was that"? Pushed in another clip and after 8 bangs, the clip went PING. "I know what that noise is now." I heard from 2 tables down.
I pushed in another one, had done 2 or 3 shots, when, thru the earmuffs, I heard someone shuffling up behind me in the gravel. "I thought that was what I heard, an Garand", says the voice. "I haven't heard that noise in a very long time. Young man, do you mind if I sit and look at your rifle"? I turned around and looked. It was an old, gray haired man and Col. H. "David, I would like you to meet my father".
"Yes sir, please sit and look all you want" I said to him. I cleared it so there would not be any accidents and handed it to him. "They gave me one of these back in '44, right before we invaded Europe", he said. "Pretty good rifle back then, does it shoot as good as it looks"? "Yes sir, it shoots pretty good for punching paper. Doesn't compare to what you had to do with it, tho".
He proceded to tell us about the training he went thru in England, getting ready for the invasion at Normandy. Told us about how he lost 1/2 the people in his platoon when the front door of the landing vehicle went down 1/4 mile from the shore on the 6th of June. About all the hell they went thru securing the beaches the next couple days. A couple times, you could hear his voice crack a little, and a few tears in his eyes when he talked about his buddies he lost.
He took us on a tour of the war for him and his unit. Thru France, then on to Belguim and then Germany. Told us about how many of his friends were killed or wounded during his trip thru Europe. It went on and on. I stood up to light a cigarette, and noticed that there was no one shooting. There was no one on line wanting to shoot. One by one, the others had drifted over to where we were at, probably seeing a group of people standing together, thinking maybe there was a story or jokes being told. Kinda like when the old lady was telling the others about her experiences on the Titanic.
He said, "Would you mind if I shot a couple rounds?. I instantly reached in my bag and pulled out a bandoleir of 6 clips. "Sir, I would be honored to have you shoot my rifle. Shoot till the ammo is gone if you want to". He didn't have the strength to push in the clips, so I did it for him. He laid it on the sand bag and started to shoot. PING. I started to put another clip in but he stopped me, saying they needed to get home soon. We shook hands and everybody went home.
2 weeks later, I am running the range. Col. H pulls in the parking lot. He comes up and shakes my hand. "Thank you very much for what you did, letting my father hold and shoot your M1", he said. "He talked about your Garand and firing it for 3 days after he got home". "In all these years, he has never opened up and told people about what he went thru back then. He had been acting kinda funny a couple days before we came out here and a couple after that day, but he sure had a good time out here with his family and some new friends he made here that day. I just want to thank you again ".
We shook hands and he turned to leave. I told him that if his dad or anyone else wanted to shoot my Garand, they would be welcome to do so. Especially your dad. He stopped, slowly turned around, and I could see a small tear in his eye. He walked back to me, put his hand on my should and said, " Dad passed away 5 days after he was out here".
I went to where he is burried today. Said it was an honor to meet someone that had made all of us free today and continue to do so. I saluted , then turned around and walked away. Man, it hurts.
A person is justified in the use of deadly force, if such person reasonably believes deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to such person or a third person.
November 11th, 2008 07:50 PM
Wow... just wow. Even got a tear in my eye, must be those allergies. My grand father had his that he served in WWII with. I always admired that gun. Well at least he is with his friends again.
The choices you make today define you of who you are tommorow
When you see the light at the end of the tunnel your life is not over..... it is just about to begin
COPS Protective Services
November 11th, 2008 08:02 PM
mech 1369 dlw:
Awesome post, really good. One of the better. My 2 great uncles were in the service and I loved them dearly. One was building gliders in England for the invasion to Normandy the other with a tank brigade. With tears, GREAT POST!
November 11th, 2008 09:19 PM
We've lost another hero.
Great post. I felt like I was there.
November 12th, 2008 12:43 AM
About a year ago a friend who teaches at the college where I work brought me a photo. He is the pastor of a small country church in our county. He was digging in a closet at the church and came across a plaque from WWII. It listed men from the church who were serving in the military. He asked if any of the names listed were of my relatives. On the plaque were the names of my father and four of his seven brothers. Also the name of my father's only sister's husband and two of his brothers. There were also other close relatives of both my father and mother. Having known all my life the these people served was one thing, but seeing their names on a plaque that the church had made while they were off serving brought it much closer to home. There in that little church with maybe 125 or 130 names on the roll was a plaque with 58 names of men from that church who were fighting in Europe and the Pacific or who were serving in some other capacity here in the US.
They really were the "Greatest Generation."
Thanks for sharing your experience.
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe. Albert Einstein
November 12th, 2008 10:31 AM
Great post! I heard yesterday on the news that there are currently 1,250,000 WWII veterans left alive and we are losing them at the rate of 900 per day. Hearing the stories, firsthand, before they are all gone is priceless....
Coimhéad fearg fhear na foighde; Beware the anger of a patient man.
November 12th, 2008 10:57 AM
Thank you for sharing that!!
We will be much better off when we learn to deal with things as they really are, instead of how we wish them to be!
November 12th, 2008 11:00 AM
What an amazing story.
Battle Plan (n) - a list of things that aren't going to happen if you are attacked.
Blame it on Sixto - now that is a viable plan.
November 12th, 2008 11:14 AM
That's a great story, we need their example of scarifice today more than ever.
“You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”
― Robert A. Heinlein,
November 12th, 2008 12:20 PM
Thanks for sharing,I'm sure you made the last few days he was on this earth a little happier.God Bless
"Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,"
--Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC .
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