Friday, April 27, 2018

"Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result." - Churchill

Infanterie von Hessen-Kassel in der Schlacht bei Krefeld - Richard Knötel
I dunno Sir Winston, I can think of any number of other things, not all involve fast aircraft.

I have never, to my knowledge, been shot at. I daresay the hiss of a bullet passing close by might induce me to soil my britches. I can't imagine such a thing. After all, I was in the Air Force, a most civilized service, as in days of yore, we send our officers out to fight. We enlisted pukes just make sure that their trusty steeds are capable of taking them "there and back again*." Rather like knights and squires dontcha know. (Though I do believe that squires were supposed to eventually become knights.)

I have just finished reading Ralph Peters' book, The Damned of Petersburg, and regardless of what you might think of his politics, he writes gripping military fiction. The mud, the blood, the dysentery, the pain and agony are all in there. (I've two of the others in what I just learned is a series of five, Cain at Gettysburg and Hell or Richmond. I think it's safe to say that I'll be ordering the other two, Valley of the Shadow and Judgement at Appomattox in right short order.)

I bring this up because in my blatherings over the past cuppla weeks I think I may have mentioned the purchase of a new war game for my computer, The Seven Years War, which is rather complicated and detailed. Just the way I like 'em. When I have the time to play that is.



I may have been a staff puke in an earlier life, because in this game you can reorganize your units, reassign commanders, and even rename the individual regiments, a thing near and dear to my fussy brain. No doubt I will spend lots of time reorganizing and planning rather than actually marching and fighting.

But I digress, getting shot at, that's today's topic.

In my studies of warfare in the 1600s up through our own Civil War (gomennasai, I'm a Yankee, that's what we call it) I am always fascinated at the fact that the troops stood (for the most part) in tight formations, shoulder to shoulder, out in the open. There was no taking cover for most of the troops. You stood there.

Bear in mind, you were standing there probably after marching some distance to even get to the battlefield. Eating (if there was food) and sleeping when you could, in all sorts of weather. LTC Peters mentions these kinds of things in his books, the kinds of things that the history books and the movies always leave out. (Though in fairness, I have a book, somewhere, with a painting called, I think, The Asides of Glory, which shows a young recruit scrambling out of the bushes, pulling his trousers up, as his sergeant bellows at him to "fall in!")

So now you're standing there, probably hungry, most certainly filthy, and probably dog-tired from marching and trying to sleep the night before and failing miserably. (The prospect of battle in the next 24 hours isn't very conducive of sleep.) Across the fields there are the enemy, also tired, also dirty, probably hungry as well. Then the cannon start up.

That's the thing about these old battles, you didn't just march on up and start shooting at the other side, no, you needed to "soften them up" first. Usually with artillery. You see the flash, then the smoke, and a few seconds later the balls start to arrive. Round iron balls fired from a cannon tend to tear apart the things they hit. When fired at a body of troops, these iron balls will plunge through the ranks leaving a gaping hole. The troops on either side of this hole have been spattered with the blood and gore of the men who are now lying silently, or screaming their lives out, where that ball just passed through.

After a bit of this, some general will decide that it's time to move forward. The drums beat, orders are shouted, and your unit starts to move forward. In formation mind you. There are sergeants with spontoons behind you and to the sides to keep you and your buddies aligned. The spontoons can be used to "coax" the troops into line, I mean spontoons are long and straight so you can keep the line straight, right?

"Uh Sarge, why does it have that nasty pointy thing on the end?"

Sergeant with spontoon
(Source)
"Eyes to your front Chuckles! Mind your alignment."

(For the detail oriented, these guys were known, in some armies, as "file closers." As men dropped gaps would open, these fellows would ensure that the gaps were filled. Right smartly as well. Poking and prodding, yelling, and what have you. At Waterloo a British soldier noted that the sergeants in a nearby German unit, with many young recruits, were literally shoving and beating the near insensate soldiers into the gaps made by French artillery.)

Remember, you're marching forward over crops, maybe a plowed field, maybe brush and long grasses as well. We're not talking about a nice neat parade ground. You're trying to maintain your alignment and your interval, there's stuff on the ground trying to trip you, people are yelling at you, and people are shooting at you.

When you got close enough to the enemy, they would fire a volley in your general direction. Usually not until you were within a hundred yards. Really good units would hold their fire until you were within 25 to 30 yards as smoothbore muskets weren't very accurate beyond about 80 yards. Though they could be lethal much further out, but, as one officer of the time said,
A soldier's musket, if not exceedingly ill bored, will strike the figure of a man at 80 yards; it may even at 100; but a soldier must be very unfortunate indeed who shall be wounded...at 150 yards, provided his antagonist aims at him; I do maintain...no man was ever killed at 200 yards, by a common soldier's musket by the person who aimed at him. - British Col. George Hanger, 1814 (Source)
Now if your unit stopped to fire when in range, the enemy would, no doubt, return the favor. Sometimes the battle would stall right there, two units blazing away at each other, both refusing to advance no matter what the officers and sergeants wanted. The powder smoke would build to the point that if there were no wind, it was like being in a thick, cloying, sulfurous fog. (Burnt black powder smells rather like rotten eggs, and that smoke is white, not black as some historians natter on about. They've probably never seen black powder weapons being fired, let alone a lot of them at once. I have.)

A lot of times the unit which had advanced would gradually back away from the fight, sometimes they might get up the nerve to go in with the bayonet. Bayonets didn't cause a lot of casualties but the sight of a bunch of yelling madmen charging at you with sharp objects on the ends of their muskets might be enough to induce one to recall an appointment elsewhere.

Other times a fresh unit would stumble out of the smoke, fire a volley, and cause the troops to up and vamoose. The really good generals always kept a reserve. Fresh troops applied at just the right moment against wearied and worried soldiers was often enough to yield a victory.

Other times men on big horses would charge out of the smoke and make a hash of tired infantry. To be ready for cavalry (by forming a square formation, though more of a rectangle in reality) you had to know the cavalry was out there and a threat. Because a square made a very nice target for cannon fire.

The old battlefields were nasty and inglorious places. The smell of burnt powder, spilled blood and bowels were nothing like the old paintings. Men didn't fall down and die, looking as if they were only asleep. No, they were blasted apart by cannon, disemboweled by musket shot, limbs lopped off by fire and sword.

It was noisy as well. The roar of all the cannon and musketry in some of the bigger battles must have been deafening. The roll of drums, the blast of trumpets, the shouted orders, the screams. I daresay it must have been absolutely terrifying.

Not exhilarating at all, truth be told.

Unless you survived. Then who knows?

Robert E. Lee, who saw his fair share of battle in Mexico and while commanding the Army of Northern Virginia, is famous for having said, 
It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.
Perhaps it's why the history of humankind reveals a never-ending fascination with warfare. I know I am guilty of that, even knowing its cost. Still and all, I am glad I have not been in combat. Though there is part of me that regrets that. The stupid part.




* With apologies to Bilbo Baggins...

54 comments:

  1. A young man I know told of the sound a bullet makes when it hits a rock right behind you, a split second after you trip and fall... He said the stars the rest of his tour were amazingly bright and beautiful. He said the sound of a recoiless rifle round impacting the cliff just below your outpost was pretty loud and shook the ground. There is a certain bass note in an IED, but a mortar round sounds a bit different. The ziip... ziiip.... of AK bullets passing close by your helmet were un-ignorable....

    I've evolved a bit on my understanding of PTSD. Some of that is just the survival mechanism kicking into action. When the sounds we attribute to a car backfiring, loud mufflers, doors closing, bees or wasps winging by are really distant or close explosives, IED's, and bullets buzzing like insects, your reactions will change. They have to. And those changes are at a baseline level. Those sounds are now deadly until proven otherwise. No time to think, you act. That's why he went to ground when some one slammed their car door.... and I just turned my head to look.

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    1. Once you've seen Hell, I'm guessing it's tough adjusting to "normal."

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    2. PTSD acts like an allergy. You're not really allergic to a thing, you're actually allergic to yourself, caused by interaction with a thing. Totally messed up.

      And they have found that controlled exposure to the triggering objects, just like in anti-allergy meds induce controlled amounts of the allergen to induce a controlled reaction, helps fight PTSD. Whether it is playing first person shooting games, or going to the target range or hunting for those with PTSD over gunfire, or taking a rape victim out safely into controlled groups of the rapist-analogs.

      We're doing much better with the treatments today than the old days of 'shell-shock.' (And the Patton-slapping treatment actually has some validity, to some sufferers. Weird, isn't it?)

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    3. One of the lessons learned from the American Civil War (see how I skirted calling it either way) was forgotten by about 1900. Which is have soldiers' homes for those down and out or retired. Very popular after 1865 until they were reduced by lack of new faces by 1900. A place for soldiers to come together, to help each other, to talk about stuff that even well-learned (vs well-educated, often two separate things entirely) civilians just didn't understand. And the ex-soldiers had to do the upkeep of the facilities, and keep their bunks and rooms squared away.

      Somehow this simple method of coping with 'sickly' veterans was forgotten, and we really haven't gotten back to that. (It's one of the functions of VFW and American Legion halls.) Places for veterans, those who have seen the elephant, to come together to talk about the elephant.

      And the VA isn't the answer, definitely isn't the answer. Need to give the VA to the Salvation Army to run. Bet the SA would have the VA fixed up within 10 years.

      Overall, we need to do better for all sufferers of PTSD. I know quite a few who have it from bad childhoods or just being beat down by the man, so to speak. (Not belittling the suffering of military PTSD sufferers, but PTSD isn't exclusively a veteran (or single traumatic event victims) thing. It is just that the veterans (and single traumatic event victims - like a bombing or 9/11) have always been a easily studied and understood group, easily quantifiable. Abuse and rape victims, those abused at work by evil bosses, much less easily quantifiable, but no less real.)

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    4. Having been stationed @ DaNang, and been thru the TeT offensive we saw our fair share of incoming arty fire. IIRC mortars created a WHUMP sound, while 120mm rockets produced a distinctive loud metallic BLANG!.

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  2. "Anyone who says a bullet sings past, hums past, flies, pings, or whines past, has never heard one—they go crack!" David Niven.

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    1. And Lieutenant Colonel Niven (Rifle Brigade, Highland Light Infantry) would know!

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    2. Does working in the target pits at Camp Perry count? Wasn't being shot at in anger, but a 5.56 zipping by still makes a pretty good crack... On the other hand, a 240gr semi-wadcutter from a .44-40 sounds like it's from the Jetsons ( Fig. 4).



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    3. No offense, but Niven was apparently "only" ever shot at with modern supersonic ammo on a 20th century battlefield. His experience is certainly valid, but not universal.

      Other weapons in other time periods won't yield the same results. Not sure what a subsonic .58 Minié ball sounds like, let alone thousands in close proximity ("swarm of bees" in some accounts?). Am sure I don't want to find out firsthand, though.

      (Saw somone claiming that "of course you can't hear artillery rounds before they hit you, they're supersonic!" Sorry, no - who am I gonna trust, you, or Ernst frickn' Jünger?)

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    4. I would think that having bullets go over your head certainly does count. While you're not being shot at, it's near enough to be unnerving.

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    5. True as regards LTC Niven. I've heard that subsonic ammo hisses, or buzzes. Accounts from Waterloo tend to confirm that.

      Copy that on artillery rounds. Again, depends on the era and the weapon. Troops in WWII got a feel for how close a round was going to land based on the sound. So I've read anyway.

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    6. I'm reading McBride's "A Rifleman Went to War" (kindle version, I think it was a buck(!)) and he writes a fair bit about listening to the various sounds of artillery, including some super-heavy German (naval?) guns that were basicaly "don't bother listening for them, if you hear it it's too late and you're either dead or you're not."

      I'd imagine there's a large audible difference between slower high-angle projectiles designed to drop into a trench vs low-angle higher-velocity things.

      (I think it was Jünger who described hearing a shell, knowing it was going to hit at his feet, and knowing he was dead - but it went "plop" and not "kablooey." I can't imagine living through the things those guys did.)

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    7. When you figure it's all over and the shell's a dud?

      Yeah, can't imagine what they went through.

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    8. I can rather imagine after Jünger heard the shell go "plop" at his feet he subsequently heard a "plop" in his pants. Way too close. Waaaay too close.

      That whole, "I'm still alive, so far, is fuse slow or a dud, am I just dead, mostly dead or alive?" thingy, where you eventually want to jump for joy but can't because some sniper will drill you quicker than a dentist on a time limit. Does not sound like fun at all.

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  3. Those who have experienced both say being shot at, and being shot, are two different things.

    My late father, who lived through many Japanese bombings in India, never stopped jumping if a multi engine airplane engines got out of sync.

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    1. I think I can agree with your first statement without reservation and without having experienced either.

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  4. I assume you know of Bernard Cornwell then.....have you read Agincourt? It is undoubetly one of the most thrilling and scary battle stories I've ever read.

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    1. HUGE fan of Mr. Cornwell. Agincourt is brilliant. The Sharpe Series, the Saxon Tales, the Winter King, his non-fiction book on Waterloo...

      Love his work, he puts you right there in the shield wall. Excellent!

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  5. You mentioned movies never getting it right. This is very true. My many years of foot-armored fighting taught me so much about 'the line,' (line of shields and spears, in this case.) To break the line is to die, horribly. Whether it is running solo into the enemy line or turning your back on the line (where about a quarter of the time your own side cuts you down.) Movies tend to do 'movie fighting' where they have vast formations of carefully lined up soldiers march to the field, array themselves splendidly, then charge like loony idiots, intersperse at least 3 ranks before swinging and then immediately break into stupid one-on-one fighting, sometimes while some idiot swings two swords at the same time. Much bullscat. That's more middle-eastern Bedouin fighting than European. See Hastings as the perfect example of shield wall.

    As to explosions and gunfire... Well, hate shows where the explosion is supposed to be C4 or plastique and it looks like someone set off some oily propane. Or the aerial bombs explode in huge gouts of red-boiling flames that climb just like your dad's bbq that one 4th of July. I've even seen a semi-modern war movie where the smoke from the guns (firing smokeless powder) obscured the field more than a good Gettysburg reenactment.

    But...

    Better it be the movies than real life. Just saying.

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    1. Explosions in movies are "dolled up" to impress the audience. Anyone who has seen artillery or grenade explosions knows better.

      I think the BBC's The Last Kingdom series did a fairly good job of depicting the shield wall. Well, as well as can be expected.

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    2. "The Eagle" (with Channing Tatum) showed good Roman shield tactics vs Celts. So did the mini-series "Masada" and the fun, totally hoaky, but totally testosterony rushy movie "300." (Saw "300" right before an SCA war. I was 'roided up for a week after that movie. Whoooo, what a rush!!!)

      I am more impressed by reality than any fake hokey stuff. In the BBC series "By the Sword Divided," about the English Civil War, there was a scene where the defenders used a short howitzer full of nails and junk against a Roundhead unit that was assaulting. "Boom" said the gun. "Whirr, whirr, whirrrrr," said all the metal scraps flying through the air. And the finger of doom reached out and touched this person, that person, that other person, random dead in a formation. Very impressively done.

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    3. SCA... There was one event where I got my fangs out and got out ahead of my line... Just like you say I was "dead" in short order.

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    4. Sometimes enthusiasm can get one in trouble. Quickly.

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    5. I usually pushed a large shield in my unit, and was the 'shield end' or file closer. I really found my worth was when I 'died' my fat body and shield could stop a whole unit charging. Ha. Fat guys rule, even when dead!

      Though there was the time the knight of the previous administration (long long story there) assigned me to some other household known for running (and dying, like, well, Joe-bots die.) Me not ever run well. In fact, my 'speed' was a joke kingdom wide. So there the unit goes haring off with me struggling to keep up, I gas out, do the bend over and breath movement, stand up, join up with the unit that is now on my right, and keep going (fortunately they were walking...) So, not recognizing these guys, I look to my right, see The Royal Surcoat next to me. Royal Surcoat of the other side. Me being friendly and glib, say, "Hi, your Majesty." He looks at me, I ding him betwixt the eyes and boot scoot boogie out of there (okay, I can run fast when chased.) The subsequent beat down by the royal guard was well worth it. (Really nice that he, the Royal Surcoat, congratulated me on being a sneaky bastard, too) (Of course, one must wonder how I got hooked up with a bunch of scruffians in Yellow with a Black Star when me own royal peeps wore Blue with a White triskele.)(bonus points to anyone who gets the correct players...)

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    6. Sounds like some interesting stories concerning the SCA.

      (Hint...)

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    7. Yes, yes there are... I've never seen anyone pinned to a tree with a padded spear to the cup, no, never seen that or did that. Or there was the time I... hehe.

      Hey, Angus McThag. I canna evah comment on your blog. Do you have it somehow blocked for most users or am I just dumb? Do I need a secret squirrel password? And thanks for fighting for us Florida gun owners. (which is why I've been trying to comment on your page, but it doesn't give me any selections to choose from.)

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  6. Beg to differ on bayonet use. It was the killing device on the 18th century battlefield. Your musket was just a pole to carry it with the other occasional use. Soften with musket fire, finish with the bayonet.

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    1. Bayonets, much like hangers(short or small swords) were not that effective in line-to-line combat. It was the tool of the rout, on the other hand. And the tool of the open skirmish of light troops. So, in reality, on the ordered battlefield, the bayonet is just an anti-cavalry devise (more as a prickly hedge that horses don't want to get near rather than actually hurting horses) and occasionally an anti-personnel devise. The real killer on the ordered battlefield is Artillery or massed volley (from either foot or horse.)

      For some strange reason the great stories and sagas of the battlefield don't count the rout phase, where many more casualties would be taken than on the ordered battlefields. on both sides. One of the many reasons good commanders tried to not have their troops chase a rout, or go beserk, or any sort of breaking the cohesion of the line. (Which is where light foot, or skirmish troops come in. Let them be the harriers while the heavy foot secures the field and the big prizes (like the artillery and baggage trains.)

      The First Rule of Rout is: Never Ever Rout.
      Second Rule of Rout is: If you do Rout, drop everything, an unladen man can run faster than a laden man.
      Third Rule of Rout is: If you do Rout, Don't be the first or the last. The first will be killed by their own side, the last will be killed by the other side. The Middle may or may not be killed by either side.

      We are so much more civilized than in the old days, thank God.

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    2. .45ACP+P, depends on the era and the army. In the Thirty Years War the muskets had plug bayonets, couldn't shoot when they were inserted. The big killer was the pike.

      In the wars from the 1700s on, the bayonet, though beloved of Suvorov, still was not the big killer. I agree with Andrew's comment above.

      The bayonet is scary against those who don't have one, or whose unit is fleeing. Easy to stab someone in the back, not so easy when the other fellow is fighting back.

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    3. There is a whole art in fighting bayonetted weapon vs bayonetted weapon. Best analogy is, well, European Martial Arts. Keep the opponent focused up, use the butt of the weapon and your knees and legs to strike, then poke with the blade and twist.

      The only art needed in chasing down a broken enemy with a bayonetted weapon is the art of running a broken field. (Example: Try running through a freshly plowed field perpendicular to the rows while keeping your eyes focused 5' above the ground. Or doing that running through linked tires on the ground without actually looking down at the tires. There is art to running while bringing your knees up around your ears, so to speak. Not much art in gakking someone with a pig-sticker when they are running or flat on the ground.)

      As to bayonet training, I feel, even though 'we' don't 'use' it in 'modern' fighting, it (or something like it) still needs to be taught. Real Bayonet Training (big letters) is a way of fighting that uses, as described above, the whole body and the rifle as the weapon system. Substitute shovel, pickax, big assed Tanker wrench, prybar, an actual spear (hey, you never know when you're going to find a linstock, a spetum, a marshal's baton or an assegai lying about in this weird world) or any appropriately sized rod/bar/2x4 length of something. Real BT is 'wrasslin' with a stick. Teaches the student that anything is a tool, the mind is the weapon.

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    4. In Army ROTC back in '72 we learned bayonet drill.

      Germans in WWII would sharpen one edge of their entrenching tool, very nasty weapon. I have one, wouldn't want to get hit with one, let alone a sharpened one.

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    5. The only actual bayonet training I ever received was from an ex-recon Marine (Viet Nam era) He showed me how far you could drive the butt of a wood-stocked rifle through someone's gonads. I was very impressed, once I got my breath back and the twins came out from hiding behind my kidneys. Good thing I was wearing my cup that day. He said to the effect that if the enemy is lying on the ground moaning like a sissy (his actual words) then they are easy to finish.

      Okay, he was kinda a weird dude. Never saw anyone chuckle about watching elephants walk before, as he recited a funny story about his time in-country (one that would horrify PETA or Greenpeace or any other eco-friendly group.)(Okay, one should never get secondary explosions from an elephant hit by artillery fire. Really weird and funny story...)

      As to sharp shovels, the Spetsnaz practice throwing sharpened entrenching tools as their signature take-down move. (Whereas US SpecForces practice their signature take-down move of using a silenced pistol firing sub-sonic ammo, or a nice throat-slice...)

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    6. You have some interesting friends!

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    7. Something about using an AF 20mm mounted on some weird man-portable thingymabob to shoot at... elephants. Seems the wonderful VC would skin an elephant, then load another elephant with all sorts of explody thingys and then cover the whole thing with skin of 1st elephant. 2nd and other elephants being trained to walk HCM trail by their lonesome. Thus some strange people from USA shoot up said elephants, and watch all the secondaries, teriaries, quadraries and such.

      This same guy was wearing full plate armor while riding a hog one day (where the hell on a Harley are you going to strap an armor bag?) and someone pulls out in front of him. He lays his bike down and goes skidding across the road in a shower of sparks. Except from some contact burns from hot rivets he was okay. And then there was the time he was again in armor and a bunch of Warlocks pull up next to him, look him over, give that 'you're cool' head toss, and ask him what gang he rides for...

      Very interesting friends...

      Then there was the lady who was doing a Scottish sword dance and just about cut off her foot...

      I have never seen a big drunken Mick standing on a shield in a huge fire taking chunks out of said shield with an axe one handed...

      Then there was the Rainbow Bridge...

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    8. Dang!

      (Another reason to hate the VC.)

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    9. What? Them being idealistic communist/socialists wasn't enough?

      (I find that those that look at the Viet Nam war as a pure political fight are somewhat lacking in reality. Something about the northern tribes hating the southern tribes for like forever, and everyone hating the Montagnards, had nothing to do with the hate between everyone.)

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    10. Well, that was enough, but booby trapping elephants? Beyond the pale!

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    11. Not so much booby trapping them, but using them to transport stuff on the HCM Trail without human leadership. Seems some agency somewhere in the USA developed an interesting human detector. There is some bug that only reacts to human presence, and said agency glued contacts to bugs, bugs to radio transmitters and dropped radio transmitters all over the HCMT. So air strikes would be directed at areas where bug transmissions (how "Starship Troopers"...) After a while, the VC figured out ways to move stuff on The Trail without human directors. Thus, elephants loaded down with war materials. But us dirty Americans figured out that an elephant with boxes strapped to it was a valid target. So more airstrikes. So VC tried to camouflage one elephant with another. Which worked, until really strange Americans figured out that elephants don't have suspicious box-shaped lumps under their skin.

      One of those fascinatingly horrifying yet kinda funny when you think about it moments in time. Just like eating eggplant, someone had to be the first to shoot the mumpy elephant.

      Some days the world is too weird for me.

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  7. I know of no one who's been thrilled at the sound of gunfire fired in anger.
    I know only one person who has actually been shot at.
    It was not at all exhilarating for him, though he did survive and finally retire as a full bird.
    The remains of the slug was finally removed a couple of years ago.
    His radio operator was not nearly as fortunate.

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    1. If they say they're thrilled, it probably didn't happen.

      Churchill might be an exception, he saw action in his early days, in South Africa, the Sudan, the trenches on the Western Front in WWI. Some do thrive on combat, not right in the head perhaps?

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    2. I know several who are thrilled at angry gunfire. Real violence makes them feel, well, real. There are always a certain percentage of the population who charge into the sound of the guns, a smaller percentage who charge with a smile on their face.

      Like the video of the female Pesh-merga sniper who cranks off a shot, then the wall above her head is struck, she looks up and breaks out laughing.

      One of the guys I know actually quivers like a lab puppy in anticipation when he hears gunfire. He lives near a range, says it keeps him happy. Maybe not the best example of a stable person, but he's got a long-lasting marriage, his kids are smart and squared away, and it keeps him calm so he doesn't have to actively be on the front-lines all the time.

      Right in the head? Lots more 'right in the head' than those who deny the existence of violence, especially those who deny violence by committing violence.

      There's a stupid lefty phrase: "Know War, No Peace. No War, Know Peace." Which is utter bullscat. It should be: "Know War, Know Peace. No War? No Peace!"

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  8. See, I told y'all that our Andrew is one of the smart ones.

    Thank for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

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    1. Yup, problem solving smart.

      😉

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    2. Y'all are gonna make me blush, or stutter (yet another reason I prefer interacting over the internet vs actually talking to someone.)

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    3. Hahaha!

      I can write all day and talk all night face to face. Get me on a telephone and I'm nearly mute.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)