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Marinestan
Townhall.com ^ | May 20, 2010 | Victor Davis Hanson

Posted on 05/20/2010 5:52:20 AM PDT by Kaslin

HBO's 10-part series on the Pacific campaign of World War II just ended. That story of island-hopping was mostly about how the old breed of U.S. Marines fought diehard Japanese infantrymen face-to-face in places like Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Guam and Okinawa.

We still argue whether it was smart to storm those entrenched Japanese positions or whether all those islands were strategically necessary. But no one can question the Marine Corps' record of having defeating the most savage infantrymen of the age, thereby shattering the myth of Japanese military invincibility.

Since WWII, the Marines have turned up almost anywhere that America finds itself in a jam against supposedly unconquerable enemies -- in bloody places like Inchon and the Chosin Reservoir in Korea, at Hue and Khe Sanh during the Vietnam War, at the two bloody sieges of Fallujah in Iraq, and now in Afghanistan.

Over the last two centuries, two truths have emerged about the Marine Corps. One, they defeat the toughest of America's adversaries under the worst of conditions. And two, periodically their way of doing things -- and their eccentric culture of self-regard -- so bothers our military planners that some higher-ups try either to curb their independence or end the Corps altogether.

After the Pacific fighting, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson wanted to disband the Marines Corps. What good were amphibious landings in the nuclear age? Johnson asked. His boss, President Harry Truman, agreed and didn't like the cocky Marines either.

Then came Korea -- and suddenly the Pentagon wanted more Marines. The fighting against hard-core North Korean and Communist Chinese veterans was as nasty as anything seen in three millennia of organized warfare. The antiquated idea of landing on beaches proved once again a smart way of outflanking the enemy.

The Marines survived Korea, Louis Johnson and Harry Truman -- and continued to carve out their own logistics, air-support and tactical doctrine. Marine self-sufficiency was due to lingering distrust of the other services dating back to the lack of air and naval support in World War II, and to Marine paranoia that the other services liked their combative spirit but not their independence.

We are once again seeing one of those periodic re-examinations of the Corps. This time, the old stereotype of the lone-ranger, gung-ho Marines supposedly doesn't fit too well with fighting sophisticated urban counterinsurgency under an integrated, international command.

After all, America is fighting wars in which we rarely hear of the number of enemy dead, but a great deal about the need to rebuild cities and infrastructure. In Afghanistan, there have been rumors about a new medal for "courageous restraint" that would honor soldiers who hesitated pulling the trigger against the enemy out of concern about harming civilians.

The Marines are now starting to redeploy to Afghanistan from Iraq and are building a huge base in Delaram. They plan to win over southern Afghanistan's remote, wild Nimruz province that heretofore has been mostly a no-go Taliban stronghold. While NATO forces concentrate on Afghanistan's major cities, the Marines think they can win over local populations their way, take on and defeat the Taliban, and bring all of Nimruz back from the brink -- with their trademark warning "no better friend, no worse enemy."

So once again, the Marines are convinced that their own ingenuity and audacity can succeed where others have failed. And once again, not everyone agrees.

The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, retired three-star Army General Karl W. Eikenberry, reportedly made a comment about there being 41 nations serving in Afghanistan -- and a 42nd composed of the Marine Corps. One unnamed Obama administration official was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, "We have better operational coherence with virtually all of our NATO allies than we have with the U.S. Marine Corps."

Some officials call the new Marine enclave in Nimruz Province "Marinestan" -- as if, out of a Kipling or Conrad novel, the Marines have gone rogue to set up their own independent province of operations.

Yet once again, it would be wise not to tamper with the independence of the Marine Corps., given that its methods of training, deployment, fighting, counterinsurgency and conventional warfare usually pay off in the end.

The technological and political face of war is always changing. But its essence -- organized violence to achieve political ends -- is no different from antiquity. Conflict will remain the same as long as human nature does as well.

The Marines have always best understood that. And from the Marines' initial mission against the Barbary Pirates to the battles in Fallujah, Americans have wanted a maverick Marine Corps -- a sort of insurance policy that kept them safe, just in case.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 05/20/2010 5:52:20 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
After the Pacific fighting, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson wanted to disband the Marines Corps. What good were amphibious landings in the nuclear age? Johnson asked. His boss, President Harry Truman, agreed and didn't like the cocky Marines either.

Johnson was just about the worst SecDef post-WWII. A pure political appointee by Truman, and he was out shortly after the Korean War started.

2 posted on 05/20/2010 5:58:52 AM PDT by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: Kaslin
One unnamed Obama administration official was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, "We have better operational coherence with virtually all of our NATO allies than we have with the U.S. Marine Corps."

Hey, the source is an Obama Admin official. What else would we expect from such a weasel?

3 posted on 05/20/2010 6:00:53 AM PDT by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: Kaslin
"That story of island-hopping was mostly about how the old breed of U.S. Marines fought diehard Japanese infantrymen face-to-face in places like Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Guam and Okinawa."

Methinks this guy did not watch Pacific and does not know a lot about the Marine Corps. In Pacific, they did not show the battles of Tarawa, Saipan or Guam. They did show the battle for Cape Gloucestor on the island of New Britian. Also, "The Old Breed" was not a generic name given to Marines. "The Old Breed" represents a nickname given to the 1st Marine Division which was the unit mainly shown throughout the series.

"The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, retired three-star Army General Karl W. Eikenberry, reportedly made a comment about there being 41 nations serving in Afghanistan -- and a 42nd composed of the Marine Corps."

I liked that line. How true, how true. Ooh Rah boys!
4 posted on 05/20/2010 6:01:44 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Kaslin

“One unnamed Obama administration official was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, “We have better operational coherence with virtually all of our NATO allies than we have with the U.S. Marine Corps.”

That’s because the US Marines fight FOR America not against it!

OOOH RAH!


5 posted on 05/20/2010 6:05:58 AM PDT by Keith Brown (Among the other evils being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised Machiavelli.)
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To: Keith Brown

I suspect the USMC may be an embarrassment to the Administration simply because the Corps gets the job done.....in comparison to the Stateless Department.


6 posted on 05/20/2010 6:13:57 AM PDT by Pecos
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To: Kaslin

When a Marine kills the only thing he feels is the recoil of his rifle.

Uh Rah


7 posted on 05/20/2010 6:23:25 AM PDT by lakeman (,)
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To: lakeman

VDH nails it again.

I wish he would have mentioned that the Corps wrote the first counter-insurgency manual in the 30’s.


8 posted on 05/20/2010 6:27:29 AM PDT by IGOTMINE (1911s FOREVER!)
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To: Old Teufel Hunden
Read the book by Hugh Ambrose (son of Stephen Ambrose) but haven't seen the series save for two episodes. The Marine nicknamed 'Lucky'scarcely is mentioned in the book, and there is a sizeable portion of the book devoted to a Navy pilot Vernon “Mike” Micheel and his squadron, which didn't seem to be covered in the series at all. E B Sledge wrote With the Old Breed about his time on Pelilieu and Okinawa.
9 posted on 05/20/2010 6:30:19 AM PDT by Rummyfan (Iraq: it's not about Iraq anymore, it's about the USA!)
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To: Old Teufel Hunden
I have no problem with that line ~ and good on the Marines.

Concerning Chosin Reservoir in Korea, the battle there was really, really bloody and the Marines got cut up bad, but they were still there and needed some help withdrawing from the scene ~ plenty of material on the net can give you an idea of what went on there.

Some really bright guy somewhere in Department of Defense decided that the unit to send to "hold the door open" and serve as a "rear guard" for that withdrawal was the 1/15 Infantry ~ Audy Murphy's unit ~ in terms of military awards and battle streamers quite arguably the BEST Army Infantry there's ever been.

Whether they were really up to the task at the Frozen Chosen was beside the point ~ the Marines deserved the best and they got the best and the 1/15 accepted the honor.

BTW, our top supply sergeant at Harvey Barracks had been in the 1/15 Infantry "way back when" that happened.

10 posted on 05/20/2010 6:31:20 AM PDT by muawiyah ("Git Out The Way")
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To: Kaslin

The current fascist regime doesn’t like the Corps because they can’t control them to the point that they will do their bidding. They take the oath to protect and defend the Constitution seriously and that is something the democrat party cannot abide in their program to set up a socialist dictatorship. Semper Fi!

FUBO


11 posted on 05/20/2010 6:50:47 AM PDT by RJS1950 (The democrats are the "enemies foreign and domestic" cited in the federal oath)
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To: Kaslin

This quote kind of gets to the heart of the issue:

“We have two companies of Marines running rampant all over the northern half of this island, and three Army regiments pinned down in the southwestern corner, doing nothing. What the hell is going on?”

- Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., USA, Chairman of the the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the assault on Grenada, 1983


12 posted on 05/20/2010 7:25:07 AM PDT by 2nd Bn, 11th Mar (The "P" in democrat stands for patriotism)
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To: Rummyfan

“With the Old Breed” is a great book. The series seems to take mostly from that book and “Helmet For My Pillow” by Bob Leckie. One of my favorite lines in the movie came in the last episode.

The character of Bob Leckie was sitting at the dinner table with his family. There was the usual chit chat around the table and they were talking about TVs and Leckie seemed to be really knowledgable on the subject and said he was saving up to get one. Other family members were poo poohing the TV and complaining about the strikes going on and the bad economy and asking rhetorically “Is this what our country fought for? To go on strike?”. Leckie says, you know what I fought for? There was this silence as everyone wanted to hear what he had to say, thinking it would be profound. He said, television....


13 posted on 05/20/2010 7:29:07 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: muawiyah
"Whether they were really up to the task at the Frozen Chosen was beside the point ~ the Marines deserved the best and they got the best and the 1/15 accepted the honor."

The problem was not whether the Marines were up to the task at the Frozen Chosen. The problem was the Army and Marines were kicking the North Korean's a$$ all the way up the peninsula, there were reports that the Chinese were massing at the border, that they were going to get into the fight. McArthur believed it was a bluff and assured Truman (when they met on Wake Island) that the Chinese would not get involved. He was wrong and the First Marine Division were surrounded by 6 divisions of the Chinese 9th Peoples Volunteer Army.

They retreated to the port of Hugnam for evacation. They inflicted heavy casualties on the Chinese. The only support they got to my knowledge was indirect fire support. No Army unit came in and linked up with them. They fought their way out. As General Julian Smith said: "Retreat Hell! We're just attacking in another direction."
14 posted on 05/20/2010 7:48:34 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: muawiyah

whoops!! I meant to say O.P. Smith. Not Julian Smith, a WWII Marine General.


15 posted on 05/20/2010 7:50:46 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Kaslin
I am convinced that there is no smarter, handier, or more adaptable body of troops in the world. Prime Minister of Britain, Sir Winston Churchill
16 posted on 05/20/2010 7:51:00 AM PDT by Charlespg
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To: Rummyfan

Exactly


17 posted on 05/20/2010 8:05:18 AM PDT by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: Old Teufel Hunden
I thought the miniseries “The Pacific” was not half as good as the earlier “Band of Brothers.”
18 posted on 05/20/2010 8:11:03 AM PDT by SoCal Pubbie
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To: Kaslin

Basic Military Rules

Marine Corps Rules:

01. Be courteous to everyone, friendly to no one.
02. Decide to be aggressive enough, quickly enough.
03. Have a plan.
04. Have a back-up plan, because the first one probably won’t work.
05. Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.
06. Do not attend a gunfight with a handgun whose caliber does not start
with a ‘4.’
07. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is
expensive.
08. Move away from your attacker. Distance is your friend (Lateral &
diagonal preferred.)
09. Use cover or concealment as much as possible.
10. Flank your adversary when possible. Protect yours.
11. Always cheat; always win. The only unfair fight is the one you lose.
12. In ten years nobody will remember the details of caliber, stance, or
tactics. They will only remember who lived.
13. If you are not shooting, you should be communicating your intention to
shoot.

Navy SEAL’s Rules:

1. Look very cool in sunglasses.
2. Kill every living thing within view.
3. Adjust Speedo.
4. Check hair in mirror.

US Army Rangers Rules:

1. Walk in 50 miles wearing 75 pound rucksack while starving.
2. Locate individuals requiring killing.
3. Request permission via radio from ‘Higher’ to perform killing.
4. Curse bitterly when mission is aborted.
5. Walk out 50 miles wearing a 75 pound rucksack while starving.

US Army Rules:

1. Curse bitterly when receiving operational order.
2. Make sure there is extra ammo and extra coffee.
3. Curse bitterly.
4. Curse bitterly.
5. Do not listen to 2nd LTs; it can get you killed.
6. Curse bitterly.

US Air Force Rules:

1. Have a cocktail.
2. Adjust temperature on air-conditioner.
3. See what’s on HBO.
4. Ask ‘What is a gunfight?’
5. Request more funding from Congress with a ‘killer’ Power Point
presentation.
6. Wine & dine ‘’key’ Congressmen, invite DOD & defense industry executives.
7. Receive funding, set up new command and assemble assets.
8. Declare the assets ‘strategic’ and never deploy them operationally.
9. Hurry to make 13:45 tee-time.
10. Make sure the base is as far as possible from the conflict but close
enough to have tax exemption.

US Navy Rules:

1. Go to Sea.
2. Drink Coffee.
3. Deploy Marines


19 posted on 05/20/2010 8:15:04 AM PDT by SolidRedState (I had that somewhere...)
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To: SoCal Pubbie
"I thought the miniseries “The Pacific” was not half as good as the earlier “Band of Brothers.”

I agree with you. I think the main reason for that is that it takes place over a longer period of time and because of how the war was fought you could not really concentrate on one unit. In Band of Brothers, you had one unit that the main characters stayed in for the whole time and it took place a little under a year. During the Pacific war, hardly any Marines were in one unit from beginning to end fighting in all of their campaigns. That took place over the course of three years. Even people that were in from the beginning campaign to the ending campaigns usually moved from one unit to fill other units (such as the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th divisions) because they needed experienced people. It does not make for as good a storyline.
20 posted on 05/20/2010 8:20:54 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Old Teufel Hunden

I would agree also, but from my limited knowledge I believe it captured the essence of the Pacific Theater. The distances and the fact that it was an island hopping campaign makes it very different from the eleven months from D-Day to VE day.

I’m sure we only got a glimpse of the savagery our forces had to face.


21 posted on 05/20/2010 8:25:43 AM PDT by wordsofearnest (Brad Ellsworth is giving Indiana a twofer.)
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To: wordsofearnest
"I’m sure we only got a glimpse of the savagery our forces had to face."

Yes, if you want to see that more, read the books it was based on. With the Old Breed by Sledge and Helmet for my Pillow by Leckie. Sometimes, a movie can only tell so much of the story where a book can get far more in depth. I felt that the series might have moved along too quickly because it was covering a lot of ground. It had to skip over a lot of important points.
22 posted on 05/20/2010 8:34:43 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: wordsofearnest
"The distances and the fact that it was an island hopping campaign makes it very different from the eleven months from D-Day to VE day."

Perhaps I'm biased because I'm a jarhead, but truly for America the war in the Pacific was far more important than the war in Europe. For one thing, it was the Japanese, not the Germans that attacked us. For another, our vital interests were being threatened far more in Asia than they were in Europe.

I'm not minimizing the war in Europe. We had to fight Hitler just for the sheer evil and atrocities that were being committed. However, from the standpoint of American interests, the Pacific theater was far more important. Germany was never going to launch an invasion on us. Hitler couldn't mount an invasion across the English channel much less the Atlantic ocean. Yet, I've always felts that in the minds of the public, the war in Europe has always been looked upon as the more important theater.
23 posted on 05/20/2010 8:40:31 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Old Teufel Hunden
They fought their way out past the 1/15. All histories note that.

I know some Marines would like to forget that, but it wasn't a case of the Army "linking up with" them, just being there. They were there.

24 posted on 05/20/2010 10:12:22 AM PDT by muawiyah ("Git Out The Way")
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To: muawiyah
"I know some Marines would like to forget that, but it wasn't a case of the Army "linking up with" them, just being there. They were there."

I'm not going to argue with you. I don't know anything about Army unit 1/15. I'm telling you that 1st Mar Div broke out of the Chosen Chinese Cordon and fought their way back to the port of Hugnam where they were evacuated by ship along with a lot of other Army units. The only support they received was fire support from X corps of which they were part of.

I'm not afraid to admit if the Army helped out the Marines. The X Corps was made up of the 7th infantry division and ROK units. So the Army did help out in fire support.
25 posted on 05/20/2010 10:22:58 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Pecos

Good point.

But we know how it was going to go when obammy insulted the Marines during his campaign.

Then the Marines blew him of when he tried to hang out with them at the K bay chow hall.

Good times.


26 posted on 05/20/2010 11:04:29 AM PDT by Keith Brown (Among the other evils being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised Machiavelli.)
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To: Old Teufel Hunden
Yes, fur shur, everybody was up to their eyeballs in Chicom troops at Chosen. DOD has a continuing series of posters that reflect various battle situations. One that struck me was a tank or mobile artillery piece firing in close proximity to Chicoms trying to overrun American troops.

I've talked to some guys who swore they were in that one ~

27 posted on 05/20/2010 11:09:33 AM PDT by muawiyah ("Git Out The Way")
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To: Old Teufel Hunden
"The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, retired three-star Army General Karl W. Eikenberry, reportedly made a comment about there being 41 nations serving in Afghanistan -- and a 42nd composed of the Marine Corps."

He says it likes it's supposed to be an insult or something. Hell, it's a compliment.

Semper Fi.

28 posted on 05/20/2010 11:22:38 AM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: Keith Brown
"Then the Marines blew him of when he tried to hang out with them at the K bay chow hall."

3rd Marines blew him off. Who woulda thunk the Marines would not like Barry [/sarcasm]

I was in 3/3 and third Marines at different times. Love Kanehoe Bay. Love the rifle range, right along the water. Similar to the one at Quantico...
29 posted on 05/20/2010 11:24:12 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Lurker
"He says it likes it's supposed to be an insult or something. Hell, it's a compliment."

Exactly!! Semper Fi...
30 posted on 05/20/2010 11:27:55 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Old Teufel Hunden

Actually I think it was the Wingers who gave him the cold silence.

Never made it to K bay but was on Okinawa for 2 years.

Semper Yhut!


31 posted on 05/20/2010 3:04:47 PM PDT by Keith Brown (Among the other evils being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised Machiavelli.)
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To: Keith Brown

One thing about K-Bay, its not a big base, but after you get in the front gate, the road goes straight down to the Regimental (I believe, I kind of forget) CO’s building. That road is the divider line. On the left as you go down is the Air Wing side and on the right is the Infantry side. And boy can you tell the difference.

I’m a weird one about Okinawa. I love Camp Schwab. It’s the camp farthest north and furthest away from society. That’s why most Marines hate it. But it has the best beaches to swim and snorkle on. That’s why I loved it. It’s just so dang hot and humid there!!


32 posted on 05/20/2010 7:17:31 PM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Old Teufel Hunden

Yeah

And I hate the rifle range at Schwab... the winds coming in from both sides of the point blow the little 556’s around at the 500 meter line!


33 posted on 05/20/2010 8:24:02 PM PDT by Keith Brown (Among the other evils being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised Machiavelli.)
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To: Keith Brown
"And I hate the rifle range at Schwab"

I felt the best shooting I ever did was at that range. It was only about a 225, but it was during terrible tsunami like conditions. You know how it gets there. A lot of multi award experts were po'd that day because they didn't shoot expert.

Semper Fi brother...
34 posted on 05/20/2010 8:34:05 PM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Old Teufel Hunden

That happened to me there!

Shot a pizza box that day....I am still p*ssed to this day!

This wasnt in ‘91 by chance was it?

LOL!!!


35 posted on 05/21/2010 6:05:44 AM PDT by Keith Brown (Among the other evils being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised Machiavelli.)
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To: Keith Brown
"This wasnt in ‘91 by chance was it?"

I think it was. I was in 2/5 at the time. We got back from the Gulf in May of 1991 I believe and went on that Okinawa pump to Camp Schwab in August of 1991. I want to say I went to the range about September (???) of 1991. My best score ever was a 238 on Pendleton's range. I was a multi award expert and had been a range coach numerous times. That may have been one of the lower expert I ever shot, but it was the best because of the conditions. Do you remember trying to do offhand in that? Brutal!!!!
36 posted on 05/21/2010 9:20:51 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Old Teufel Hunden

LOL!

I was a winger with MWSG 17 and yeah the R/O’s we trying to decide to close the range or not that day.

BTW by chance you werent a skinny dude w Calvin and Hobbs tatoos or a buffed out guy who was pissed because he was TAD to s-1?

We were in the butts together.


37 posted on 05/21/2010 10:29:06 AM PDT by Keith Brown (Among the other evils being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised Machiavelli.)
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To: Keith Brown

Wasn’t me. Though I did always like Calvin and Hobbes. I wish that dude had not quit creating that cartoon. I wasn’t expecting them to close the range. In all my years, I never saw a range closed down on qual day. Just doesn’t happen. They’ll have you out there at midnight with lamps to light up the targets if they have to!! Seriously, I have heard of times when they cancelled it and had people come back on Saturday. Usually only happens during a thunderstorm.


38 posted on 05/21/2010 10:40:40 AM PDT by Old Teufel Hunden
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To: Old Teufel Hunden

Yeah we had a typhoon bearing down on us and they didnt want to canx the range .....so we were firing into the wind...literally!

Semper Yhut!


39 posted on 05/21/2010 6:06:36 PM PDT by Keith Brown (Among the other evils being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised Machiavelli.)
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To: Kaslin

Bttt


40 posted on 09/01/2010 7:10:28 PM PDT by MinorityRepublican
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