Thursday, February 29, 2024

Thought for the Day ...

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
“And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn , The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956 (Source)
Think about it.

Also, go read this. We must not give away that which the Founders left for us and for which so many have fought, and died, over the decades which followed 1775.

Last rant for the week¹, new laptop is in the house, need to set it up and (ahem) check it out.

I will endeavor to write about something else on Thursday ...


¹ Maybe I'll do a thought for the day only on Leap Day. Yes, 'tis the 29th of February.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Tree of Liberty

Lexington Minuteman
Sculpted by Henry Hudson Kitson
Yesterday the Tree of Liberty came up in the comments, I had mentioned that it needed watering from time to time with the blood of tyrants (preferably). Boat Guy, good and learned man that he is, reminded me that the original quote also included the blood of Patriots. I knew that, but, as is my wont, I went further afield.

Now Thomas Jefferson, learned man himself and much maligned for his ownership of "enslaved persons"¹ coined the phrase we're talking about in a 1787 letter to William Stephens Smith, the son-in-law of John Adams. (Not to drop names, but there you go ...) The letter, in its historical fullness (with spelling from the original), is as follows:
I do not know whether it is to yourself or Mr. Adams I am to give my thanks for the copy of the new constitution. I beg leave through you to place them where due. It will be yet three weeks before I shall receive them from America. There are very good articles in it: and very bad. I do not know which preponderate. What we have lately read in the history of Holland, in the chapter on the Stadtholder, would have sufficed to set me against a Chief magistrate eligible for a long duration, if I had ever been disposed towards one: and what we have always read of the elections of Polish kings should have forever excluded the idea of one continuable for life. Wonderful is the effect of impudent and persevering lying. The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, and what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion. The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order. I hope in god this article will be rectified before the new constitution is accepted. (Source)
There is a lot of good stuff in the letter but this bit really jumped out at me -
The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. (Ibid)
Sound familiar?

I often wonder if Mr. Jefferson would have been willing to shoulder his own musket to water the tree if such a thing had proven necessary. I like to think that he would have, however I seem to recall one of the Founders protesting that he was too fragile to go to war (not Jefferson, one of the Adamses as I recall). Can't find the quote or who said it, maybe I misremember, which is getting all too frequent at my age.

Something else I found in my research for this post was over at -
Armed revolution can be a political community’s use of lethal force to collectively defend its members from an oppressive government. Like acts of individual self-defense against criminals, acts of collective defense against tyranny must be guided by certain universally applicable principles, including necessity and proportionality. Armed revolution is a last resort warranted only under dire circumstances, where a government’s egregious and widespread abuses threaten to inflict serious harm on the natural rights of its citizens and the normal democratic processes for addressing these threats reasonably appear to be foreclosed.

It is just as unwise and reckless to view armed revolution as a solution to every perceived injustice as it is to take a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to individual self-defense. And, just as those who use lethal force against criminals must be capable of justifying their actions in criminal or civil court, those who would use guns against their government should remember that their actions will be judged by both their contemporaries and by posterity—if not also in a court of law. (Source)
Something to keep in mind for those keyboard commandos out there who constantly cry for armed rebellion at the drop of a hat. Pick up thy musket and lead the way sonny boy. Or sit the f**k down and be quiet. But that's just me. I know war, I've seen war, and believe me, I want no part in it if I can avoid it.

But if push comes to shove, who is willing to die?
"Face down in a pile of warm brass surrounded by the bodies of my enemies sounds a lot better than cancer in the old folks home."
Like Boat Guy said, you gotta die of something, right?

One of those things which gets closer as one ages, death that is. While I'd like to hold off on that for a bit yet, if push comes to shove, I might hazard all.

Author's Note: Why yes, I am in a bit of a funk this week. Hopefully things will get better soon. Perhaps this day being the 14th anniversary of my father's passing has something to do with it.

¹ Apparently it is now considered rude to refer to such people as "slaves." If someone would care to enlighten me as to the difference, I would be obliged. I am, you must know by now, not "woke." (Though I am very much wide awake as to what's happening in the world.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

WTF, Over ...

So Davis Monthan AFB is getting ready to replace it's A-10s with F-35s. Replacing a combat proven aircraft with one which, to my knowledge, has yet to prove itself to be anything other than an expensive Pentagon boondoggle. (See the source under the photo.)
We don't have enough ships in the Navy to stand up to a peer opponent.

We wasted how many billions on the Littoral "Combat" Ships?

The services are allowing retirees under 60 to return to the fold, though with nearly no benefit to doing so. (See juvat's post from yesterday.) (When will that become non-voluntary, I wonder?)

The services can't make their quotas for new accessions (officer and enlisted).

War rages in Ukraine and Gaza.

People are setting themselves on fire outside Israeli embassies in this country.

The world has gone insane and we have a doddering old man at the helm of the ship of state.

The former President who wants to replace him has had the Deep State trying to send him to prison since the day he took office. And is still trying.

What lies ahead for this nation?

I wish I knew.

But the current crop of "leaders" simply ain't cutting it.


Makes me sick it does. Makes me sick ...

What say you?

Monday, February 26, 2024


 So, before I get to the explanation of the title of this post, an update on THE important facet of my life lately.

Mrs J is doing pretty well.  (Bottom Line Up Front first rule in effective writing).  Her last infusion, the icky/sticky portion of Chemo, is this Friday.  Then the usual 21 day follow up cycle of daily pills.  Once that is over, she'll start a 5 days per week for 5 weeks of Radiation treatments.  She'll follow that up with surgery to remove the dead little bastiges (I hope and pray they're dead because the only good bastige is a dead one).  

She's been handling this pretty well both mentally and physically.  Me? As the Brit's might say I'm "keepin a stiff upper lip"...somewhat.

We'll see what's what sometime in April. Anyhoo, on with the show!

So...There I was...* kinda bored, so found myself mindlessly searching through the Tube of  You ( that's sounds borderline disgusting, so...) youtube and came across this video. One of the hosts on the video, C.W. Lemoine's name rang a bell for me. (I figured out later at that link that I had read a few of his books. Pretty good AF and USN fighter pilot stories. He'd been both.)

In any case, the title of the video caught my attention. It described a program to reduce the current and very large USAF Pilot Shortage by returning  retired pilots to Active Duty.  One of my first thoughts therefore was, "I wonder if I..."

So I watched it. 



Then I got to this Slide.

 That started the YGBSM thought pathway.  It received another jolt when the panel also discussed that all Retired  Pay to include VA Pay would be discontinued.

Oh...And...There would be absolutely No flying.

 That thought changed to "YGBFKM"!  

(As that's a new Acronym, I will spell it out... You Gotta be F'in Kidding Me!  I know Beans, it's not completely spelled out.  It's still a family friendly blog doncha know.)

 There's some additional talking points that blindingly point out the utter stupidity of the program and while I'm sure they're planning on the "Best and Brightest" to volunteer, I'm almost positive they're going to get the bottom of the barrel folks that were likely thrown out for cause.

Just the type we need more of in the Air Force. Thought you might find that idea kinda interesting in a deeply depressing, yet very illustrative, view of the state of things today kinda' way.

So.... If something sounds too good to be true, It is.

To end on a gentler/kinder/happier note.


Moon rise from our front door Saturday Evening with a Jet on takeoff from the County Airport.

Oh! And winter seems to be waning.

 The Mesquite trees are budding, spring is rapidly arriving.  Unless you live up North!

Peace out y'all!

* Standard juvat start but it's been awhile, It's also the beginning of a "War Story" where the truth contained therein may or may not be entirely truthful.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

A Rerun From Ten Years Ago

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- Senior Airman Ben Vincent guards the flightline during a chemical exercise here.
He is assigned to the 51st Security Forces Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Bradley C. Church)
As I mentioned the other day (here), I once was given the opportunity, no, the sacred trust, of guarding stuff at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen in Germany. While I didn't have the awesome ride nor the magnificent M-2 .50 caliber machine gun which SrA Vincent has above, I did have an amazingly heavy German rifle to lug around for 12 hours at a time. Oh yeah, I had the MOPP* gear too. Which also had to be lugged around. Though sometimes I got to wear the MOPP gear. I'm still of two minds as to which was harder, lugging it, or wearing it. But we'll get to that.

German G3 Rifle (7.62x51mm NATO)

On the Security Augmentation Force (SAF), most of us carried the German G3. In the picture above, it's the one in the foreground, with the wooden stock. This rifle weighs in the neighborhood of 10 pounds. However, the longer you have to carry one, the heavier it gets. By the end of the standard SAF 12-hour shift, your rifle weighs (and this is an approximation) roughly 350 metric tonnes. Or thereabouts.

Now when guarding stuff during a NATO exercise, it is absolutely essential to carry your MOPP gear with you. Because if you have the sheer bad luck to be assigned to the day shift, you know that they are going to sound the chemical attack siren, at least once. You also know that they won't sound the "All Clear" for at least 2 hours after the initial "attack".

So odds are, you're going to need that stuff. And there will be exercise evaluators (or a$$holes as we called them) wandering about hoping (praying) to catch someone who is not fully "playing the game". Those types get to be declared "casualties" and sent off to a central holding point. Perhaps you're thinking "Sweet. Sent off. Don't have to play anymore."

Well, yes, that's true. But you need to factor in the a$$-chewing and the assignment to guard the perimeter fence on the opposite side of the base in the middle of the night on the next shift. Yup, immediately after the shift you just pulled as a "casualty". It pays to play the game according to the rules.

As a member of the SAF, I had the opportunity to guard three different places. During two separate exercises. The first exercise I had the day shift. Guarding a supply building. I was told to "stay out of the way" and "look busy".


During that stint, all I did was pace back and forth near the building. Grimacing at all and sundry and making potentially menacing gestures with my rifle. That was fun for a while. Then the attack siren sounded. Yes, the chemical one. Crap!

Rifle gets propped against a tree as I squirm into my MOPP gear. Once the mask is on I am now, to all intents and purposes, an armed Mister Magoo. Yes, the fellow below. Myopic star of stage and screen.

Mr. Magoo

For you see, I had the old style gas mask -

For which I did have eyeglass inserts (which would typically fog up and stay fogged up right after donning said mask) but didn't bother with. With them I was effectively blind due to the fogging issues and they would occasionally fall off, inside the mask. (The way they were mounted was rather awkward.)

Without them I could at least see somewhat clearly out to about ten yards. I could see shapes beyond that range. If I had ever been near a "real" war I would have been screwed. To put it bluntly, our chem gear (while allegedly effective) was cumbersome, uncomfortable and made one essentially 50% effective after a couple of hours. It was most certainly made by the lowest bidder. (Oddly enough, when I joined the NBC team, we used German-issue chem gear which was far better than the US variety. Though the mask wasn't as good, everything else fit better and was more comfortable. Unless we were on the vehicle decontamination team. Where we wore all-rubber suits. It's like having your own personal sauna. Which you can neither turn off nor leave!)

Fortunately I didn't have to menace anyone while I was wearing my MOPP gear. Primarily because most people stay inside (if they can) during these drills. So the a$$holes, I mean evaluators, can't spot them not wearing their chem gear. Not that I would ever do that. Ever. (There's no evidence and all participants were sworn to secrecy. Besides which, that was in the old days, on the flight line. Generally they left us alone during exercises as the jets still needed to get fixed, regardless of the games being played. Hhmm, there's another blog post right there. Again, I need to write that down somewhere...)

So that was my one time on day shift.

For the second exercise in which I got to simulate standing firm against the Soviet hordes (which had ceased to exist when I was doing all this) I was assigned to the night shift. Guarding the USAF clinic. For this I was instructed, "No one goes near the clinic without you challenging them and checking their ID cards." Awesome. I get to mess with medical types. They are of a semi-military nature, these medical types. We're not talking corpsmen attached to Marine battalions or your "out in the field with the grunts" Army medics. Nope, these are partially militarized doctors and nurses and their attendant flunkies staff.

While the "staff" (Air Force enlisted types) are as military as the rest of the Air Force (i.e. not that much), the doctors and nurses are simply medical types who received direct commissions due to their medical skills. I think they go to a two week school where they learn how to wear a uniform (training which was wasted IMHO) and learn about who had to salute them and who they had to salute. And how to salute, many of them never mastered that skill. (But that's okay, I've never, ever seen a fighter pilot who knew how to salute. Or cared for that matter.) So yeah, doctors and nurses were essentially civilians wearing uniforms.

So I started my shift to keep the clinic safe from the simulated (non-existent) Soviet hordes. Shortly after night had fallen, I saw my first two victims approaching. What appeared to be an Airman First Class and a captain, probably a doctor.

Now bear in mind, I'm semi-concealed in the shadows, trying to be stealthy and all. The doc and the airman had no idea I was there until I stepped from the shadows and barked "HALT! Who goes there?" In my best martial voice mind you.

I think the airmen may have wet himself, the doctor went from startled to indignant...

"What the hell are you playing at? You scared the sh!t out of us!"

"ID! NOW!" Said while racking the bolt back to chamber a round. (While all I had was blank ammunition, they didn't know that. Though the blank adapter would have been a dead giveaway to an actual military type.)

Now the airman is scrambling to get his wallet out. The doctor (bless his soul) is still trying to be all rough and tough.

"Now look here Sarge, we need to get into the clinic..."

"ID! NOW!" Rifle is now swinging to a rather menacing position.

The light finally comes on for the good doc and he produces his ID card.

"So what would you have done if I didn't show you my ID?" The doctor asked, politely this time.
"Well Sir. First move would be to put you on the ground with your hands behind your head. Had you refused or if the airman tried to jump me, I would have shot you both."

"You're kidding, right?"

"No Sir. I'm not kidding."

"So can we go in now?"

"Of course, Sir. Have a nice night, Sir."

The word got out. Everybody else coming to the clinic that night had their IDs out and ready as they approached the entrance.

NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen (Part)

Now that yellow delimited area to the left is the USAF Clinic at Geilenkirchen. That area to the right is the base headquarters (HQ). That wooded area in between is behind the NATO Clinic and is fenced in with a chain link fence topped with barbed wire. Sort of an invitation to stay out of said area.

So of course, while making my rounds around the clinic, while in the lower right part of the yellow bordered area, at (or around) 0300 local, I saw approximately 6 armed individuals climbing over the chain link fence.

I jumped into a convenient ditch (which provided cover and concealment) and brought my weapon to bear on those 6 individuals. (Who were making very slow time over the fence. Remember, it was topped with barbed wire.)

My first instinct was to bellow "HALT OR I'LL SHOOT" and then commence firing if they did not halt. My second thought was to call this event into the command post. Perhaps those were good guys doing something.

Command post responded with "don't shoot, we got this".

As I watched, the guys trying to go over the fence stopped their efforts and schlepped back the way they came. Seems they were pretending to be "Soviet hordes" and I (and my trusty G3) had stopped them in their tracks.

When it was all said and done, the Luftwaffe guy guarding the building across the street asked me, "What was that all about?"

Apparently his idea was to stand blithely in the middle of the road and watch the proceedings. I guess he didn't feel the need to get involved.

His sergeant disagreed. This worthy showed up as I was explaining to my German colleague what had just happened. The sergeant (Hauptfeldwebel if you must know) replaced the guy with an American and could be heard chewing the lowly flieger's butt all the way down the road. Yes, they were in a vehicle. The sergeant did not sound happy.

So, you may wonder, what was my reward for this brilliance in guarding stuff? Why, the second (and last) night of the exercise, I actually got to guard the command post itself. Wonder of wonders that I was entrusted with that responsibility.

But in retrospect I shouldn't be that surprised. After all, I had stopped the rampaging, simulated (non-existent) Soviet hordes on the first night. Who better to protect the command post?

But that was a long, long time ago. In a land far away. But it was somewhat fun. Though nowhere near as fun as Skip's adventures in the Shore Patrol. Not even close. Though Skip didn't mention any firearms in his story, at least I got to carry a rifle. (A big heavy rifle mind you...)

*MOPP = Mission Oriented Protective Posture. Think chemical warfare protective clothing. Think wearing this for hours at a time. Think hot, sweaty and absolutely cumbersome.

From 24 Feb 24, that is, Saturday - As I'm having fun at a wedding reception, so ...

You get a rerun!

Saturday, February 24, 2024

'Tis Done ...

So Friday was a bit of a busy day. Car repairs (The Missus Herself-mobile needed new brakes, tires rotated, oil change, nope, didn't do it myself, I'm handy but I ain't that handy), my hair, such as it is, was chopped back to make me more presentable for the wedding we're attending on Saturday, and I pulled the trigger on a new laptop.

I went with the beast in the opening photo, I pinged The Naviguesser (our family computer genius) and he pronounced it a "nice machine." I think he wanted me to go more expensive, but the machine above has the gear I want (the picture pretty much tells you what's under the hood), a decent HD¹, lots of RAM², and a nice graphics card.

I did spring for a new backpack to lug it around in, that 17-inch screen makes it too large for the laptop bag I have. I also spent some bucks on a cooling pad. The laptop sits on top of it, the beast has a speed adjustable fan to help the built-in fans in the computer to keep everything from melting, I hope. Heat is what killed my last laptop, I think.

2011 Toyota Corolla S in Black Sand Pearl
That's the ride of The Missus Herself, it's a sweet little car, but it's starting to get a bit long in the tooth. Still runs well, oil change. new brakes, and the like will keep her on the road for a while longer. I will say this though, the thing eats batteries. Not literally mind you, but everything seems fine until it's not. There have been a couple of times when The Missus Herself has been out and about, making stops here and there, then boom, bloody thing won't start. While I make a big deal about it, three new batteries in thirteen years ain't that bad. It's just that they seem to die with no warning.

Oh well.

Anyhoo, busy, busy, busy, no time for a long post. No doubt things will get worse when the new laptop comes in ...

We'll see.


¹ HD = Hard drive, where the computer stores long term stuff
² RAM = Random Access Memory, where the computer runs the stuff you need to use the computer. Operating system, games, etc. Note that the graphics card has its own onboard memory as well.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Comme Ci, Comme Ça¹

So I was wandering the Internet, looking for blog fodder, stumbled over that picture above, absolutely love it. The name leads me to believe that the photo was taken at Carnival time in Europe, probably Italy based on the uniforms. They are very Napoleonic-looking, especially the fatigue cap on the drummer in the middle which is pretty much an exact copy (except the color, see below) of the early French fatigue cap.

Then there are the drummers' uniforms (the guys in the bicorne hats), they are red and green, Italian colors. How many of you knew that the Emperor Napoléon was also the King of Italy? Well, he was.

The Italian army of Napoléon's era wore uniforms identical in cut to French uniforms, green replaced the blue of the French. The Italian tricolor of today was essentially the same as the French tricolor of the later Napoleonic era. Again, green replacing the blue.

The Italians fought well for the Emperor, his stepson, Eugène de Beauharnais, son of Joséphine, was titled the Viceroy of Italy, meaning he ruled there in Napoléon's stead. Kid was a pretty competent general in his own right.

Anyhoo, that's the why of the photo, I found it interesting.

The search for a laptop continues, but the field is narrowing. I must pick one soon or I'll have to wait a few weeks. The Missus Herself is forward deployed for the first two weeks in March so there'll be no one home to sign for any high value packages. C'est dommage.

One thing I have noticed is that sans laptop, I am catching up on a lot of shows and movies across the various streaming venues I have access to. The latest True Detective series on Max (what used to be called HBO) was quite good, stars Jodie Foster and is set in Alaska during their very long night. Very freaky, very entertaining murder mystery.

A show I've watched clips of on YouTube is my latest addiction, Mr. Inbetween. Which has me watching two to three (okay, sometimes four) episodes a night. I have to admit though that I have to keep searching for some of the things said in the show, my Australian slang is seriously lacking. That being said, I like the accent they have Down Under. (The Nuke travels there for work a cuppla times a year, she's starting to pick up some of the lingo.)

One last thing before I take my leave, what's up with the seeming lack of visitors to the blog on Thursday? Have I worn out my welcome with the historical fiction? Bad title? Anyhoo, comments are welcome, help me improve my game.

Hooroo, mates.²

¹ Literally, "like this, like that," hand extended out, palm down, tipping the hand from side to side at a shallow angle. A very French thing to say when asked "How's it going?" The figurative meaning is "so so," neither good, nor bad. And to me, a lot of the world is so so right now.
² How they say "goodbye" Down Under.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Need a Lift?

Gefreiter Georg Hansel was trying to keep up with his fellow crewmen, but his head was aching something fierce. Eventually he slipped on a patch of ice and fell to the roadway, his MP 40 clattering as it skidded away from him.

Feldwebel Fritz Weber was to Hansel's front, he turned when he heard Hansel's weapon hit the ground, he gasped as he saw his loader down on his knees, the bandage on his head leaking blood.

"Hold up guys, Georg is all messed up."

Oberfeldwebel Willi Hoffmeister turned to his two other men, Feldwebel Horst Krebs and Panzerschütze Peter Schmidt, and quietly ordered them, "Horst, Peter, keep an eye out," as he hustled back to his downed man.

Weber had his own first aid kit out and was rebandaging Hansel's wound, as he finished he looked up at Hoffmeister, "Wound is worse than we thought, Chef, looks like he opened up the artery over his left eye. He needs to get this stitched up."

Before Hoffmeister could say anything, Weber took Hansel's left hand and told him, "Keep your hand pressed down right here, tight. The blood loss has made you woozy. Chef, he can't walk far, are we near anything? A town, anything?"

As if in answer to Weber's question, the men heard an engine, it sounded like a Kübelwagen. Hoffmeister barked at Krebs and Schmidt, "Cover!" as he scrambled to get off the road.

Weber joined him, dragging Hansel with him. "Scheiße, I left his weapon in the road."

Gefreiter Robert Langhoff, Robby to his friends, was carefully nursing his ailing Kübelwagen down yet another icy road. He had managed to fulfill the mission that Hauptfeldwebel Otto Krämer, Fourth Company's Spieß¹ had given him that morning.

"Robby, there are two disabled Tigers near this road junction," the Spieß had said as he jabbed his finger at the map, "go there and grab any spare parts you can. We have one Panzer left but it's in sad shape. The workshop boys say they can fix it but they need this."

Langhoff looked at the drawing the Spieß presented to him. "Ah, might be dicey, Spieß, that thing is on the side of the engine, might be hard to get to."

"There should be spares in the turret bustle, I don't expect you to disassemble the whole vehicle."

When Krämer saw Langhoff grinning, he nearly struck the man, "You push things sometimes, Gefreiter!"

Langhoff smiled as he remembered the look on Krämer's face, then his smile dropped as he saw a discarded MP 40 in the road, next to a glistening puddle of fresh blood.

He applied the brakes and reached for his StG 44, something was amiss, he'd been down this road in the morning, it hadn't snowed, no one had been on this road that he knew of, what was a discarded weapon doing there? And what was up with the fresh blood?

He nearly had a heart attack when a soldier in a filthy white snow suit stepped into the road, his MP 40 aimed at Langhoff's chest.

"Damn it, Robby, what are you doing out here all by yourself?"

Langhoff relaxed when he saw the face of Willi Hoffmeister, a Panzer commander in 4th Company.

"I might ask you the same, Herr Oberfeldwebel, and where's your beast?"

"Gun smashed up, out of fuel, and about six kilometers back that way," he pointed down the road from whence Langhoff had come from.

"413, right?"

Hoffmeister gave him a puzzled look, then Langhoff explained, "Der Spieß sent me down there to scrounge parts from two Tigers outside the village. One was a complete wreck, the interior burned to a crisp. Your beast, 413, was nearly intact, well, except for the gun. I pulled some parts from the bustle. Want a lift? Der Spieß might have a new ride for you, he has a busted up Tiger and no crew to man it. Oh, we could drive it off, but no one knows how to fight her."

"If it's busted up ..." Hoffmeister began.

"With the parts I scrounged, she'll be good as new by nightfall. Hop in."

The five men from Panzer 413 squeezed into the small car and off they went.

We might be able to get into the fight after all, Hoffmeister mused. Then it struck him, was he ready for all that right away?

Was his crew?

"We shall see," he muttered.

"What?" Langhoff shouted over at him, "I can barely hear you."

Hoffmeister grinned, damned Langhoff was irrepressible, a noted "comedian" in the 4th Company.

"Do you know how to load an 8.8 gun?" Hoffmeister shouted at him.

"Huh, what? Why?"

"My loader is kinda banged up, we might need some help. Worse comes to worst, we can stick you on the bow MG, Schmidt here," he said nodding to the back of the car, "went to the Panzerschule so he knows how to load the gun."

"I was a gunner back in '41, on a Panzer III, I can load the gun alright." Langhoff began to wonder what he was getting himself in to.

"Ah, an experienced man," Hoffmeister laughed and slapped Langhoff on the shoulder, "we'll get you the Iron Cross yet."

Langhoff shook his head, well, might be safer on the roads in a Panzer, he'd seen enough cars and trucks littering the highways to know they weren't safe in an air attack.

"Don't do me any favors, Herr Oberfeldwebel."

"I won't lad, I won't, but maybe I can get you home alive?"

"That works for me." Langhoff admitted.

Their new Panzer, turret number 11, which Weber had painted over with some white wash and a crude "413" roughed in with a burnt piece of wood as a brush, was quickly brought back into service with the parts Langhoff had scrounged. As the engine roared to life, Der Spieß had "organized" enough fuel to fill 413's fuel tank, Hoffmeister leaned out of his hatch to hear the Spieß yelling at him.

"Head east down this road until you get to this crossroads," pointing at Hoffmeister's map, "then turn east and you should pick up the road to Heckhuscheid, that's our rally point. Don't dawdle and don't travel the roads by day, the Amis have more birds in the air than the entire Luftwaffe ever fielded in the East."

Krämer tossed a salute at Hoffmeister then climbed off 413. Sliding back into his cupola, Hoffmeister yelled out, "Take us home, Horst!"

"Which way, Chef?" Weber said with a grin.

"East my boy, east!"

¹ German term for a First Sergeant/Sergeant Major, literally means "Spear."

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

There Is No Time For This ...

What's in today's post ...
As to the title, I mean that literally.

"This" being the blog, between work, shopping for a new laptop, and going out to eat with friends (the only good thing I have planned on Tuesday) I am at a deficit for ticks on the clock to give you anything meaningful or interesting.

Laptop shopping: The Naviguesser recommended one after I asked him "What do you think of this one?" Sort of an offer/counter-offer kind of thing.

I liked my suggestion as it had a nice big hard drive, solid state as a matter of fact, very fast, very big. Son didn't like it as it had a lesser quality graphics card.

I looked into his, many poor reviews, mostly along the lines of the thing overheats too fast.

So I thought I'd made my choice ...

Upon further review, the one I selected also had a lot of bad reviews for overheating.

Mind you, my last laptop died because of, you guessed it, overheating. So yeah, once burned, twice shy. (Almost literally, the heat fried the motherboard.)

Work was frustrating beyond relief on Tuesday, so thoughts are straying to retiring early. So "the three bad days in a row" rule must be invoked.

Any suggestions for a good gaming laptop? Asking for a friend. 🙄

See you tomorrow.

Maybe ...¹

¹ We'll see how dinner with our friends went on Tuesday night.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The Long Walk Home

How 81mm mortar observers work, is demonstrated by SSGT Glenn K. Keller, Fairfield IA., left, and PFC Virgil Williams, Pitcairn PA., using binoculars and phone, near Oberwampach, Luxembourg. Both Men are with the 90th Infantry Division. Co. D, 358th Inf. Regiment, 90th Infantry Division, Jan 25 1945.
The American anti-tank round had clipped the muzzle brake on 413's cannon. Fragments from that shot had then stripped the outer cover off the gun mantlet. Fragments had also gotten inside the vehicle, wounding Gefreiter Georg Hansel, the loader.

"Gun is f**ked, Chef," gunner Gefreiter Fritz Weber announced.

"That hit on the muzzle brake and the fact that it knocked the cover off the mantlet probably explains why the breech is out of alignment. You might be able to feed a shell into the gun, but when it went off, who knows if the gun would hold. I wouldn't want to be in the turret to find out!" Weber said, just to add the detail his tank commander would have asked for anyway.

"Doesn't matter," Oberpanzerschütze Horst Krebs said from his driver's seat, "we're out of fuel."

"I thought it was awfully quiet in here," young Schmidt commented from his bow gunner's seat.

It was only then that Panzer 413's commander Oberfeldwebel Willi Hoffmeister noticed that the loader, Hansel, was quietly patching himself up and that there was blood splashed against the turret wall next to his position.

"Are you alright, Georg?"

"Just a scratch Chef, most of the blood is from my face, a fragment laid my forehead open."

"Let me see." Hoffmeister demanded.

"Ja, it isn't too deep but head wounds bleed like crazy."

Hoffmeister reached into a first aid kit near his commander's seat and pulled out a bandage. "Hold still, Georg."

After wrapping his loader's head Hoffmeister said, "Alright, the gun is busted, we're out of fuel, I guess we start walking. Take everything we might need, let's bail."

Panzerschütze Peter Schmidt no longer felt like a Grünschnabel¹ after two weeks in combat. As the crew began to head east, he kept glancing skyward. Hopefully the Amis wouldn't bother to strafe five lone men trudging down a back road in the Ardennes. Then again, they had an awful lot of aircraft.


Hoffmeister turned to look at his bow gunner, the kid seemed to be in good spirits. He'd proven himself in combat, he had a future, if he could stay alive long enough. "What is it, Junge?"

"Are you worried about the enemy's aircraft?"

"Of course I am. But it'll be dark soon and we're close enough to the front ..."

"Too damned close," Weber muttered.

"Ahem," Hoffmeister said as he cast a dirty look at his gunner, "close enough so that the Amis will be careful. The battle is fluid right now and units are mixed together near the front, so ..."

"Fluid, Chef?"

"He means we're running for our lives and the Amis are on our arses!" Weber groused.

"Up our arses more like it!" Krebs chimed in.

"Ja, what they said. The enemy in pursuit are close enough that the Jabos might shoot up their own guys, rather than us. So they'll hold off, they'll range ahead and hit the rear areas."

Schmidt asked again, "That's good for us, right? I mean, I do feel sorry for the guys in the rear ..."

"Not just that, Junge, but they'll be taking out bridges. It's too cold to swim the Our River, don't you think?"

"Which one is that, Chef?"

Hoffmeister sighed, "The one we crossed on Saturday the 16th. I know that was a long time ago, but ..."

"Ach, ja! I remember now, the mines!" Schmidt shivered as he said that, and it wasn't from the cold.

As night fell, the crew of Panzer 413 headed ever eastward, towards home and an uncertain future. The great offensive to seize Antwerp had failed. Germany was losing the war.

Author's Note: As I cast about for something to write about, it struck me that I never finished these guys' story at the Battle of the Bulge. So the next few posts will see them return to Germany, a new tank, a new unit, and a trip East. The Russian Front beckons!

¹ Green horn, rookie

Monday, February 19, 2024

Old Friends

Well, Campers, it's been a pretty exciting week around here since last we spoke.  For example, it's been a "Winter in Texas" week.  Friday the high was 73 on my highly accurate truck thermometer.  Sunday when we got up to go to Mass, it read 28.  But at least the wind was blowing so it felt quite a bit colder.

As the man says, if you don't like the weather in Texas, wait five minutes, it'll change.

Speaking of Sunday and in response to Sarge's post, I offer this.

Mustache AND a beard (the beard is still a work in progress),  Photo was taken at 0655 Sunday morning as I was consuming a coffee and reading his post.  Tuna, the balls in your court.

In a post a week or three ago, I had mentioned I was going to try my hand at turning an "Inside Out" ornament on the lathe.  I've used this site as my "teacher".  Learned a lot from him, and decided to get started.

 Did a pretty good job on the inside portion of the ornament.  The next step is to take the four pieces and rotate them so that the hole is now in the center of the rectangle.  Glue the pieces together and then turn the now outer side to the shape you want.  


Very shortly after I began turning it, it started to wobble and as I started to reach for the OnOff switch, the wood shattered and went flying across the shop.  Fortunately, my cranium was below the flight path of the wood and, therefore, is still intact.

No Blood, No Foul.  But, I'm going to do quite a bit more research on the "How To" portion of this mission before I start this type project again.  More to follow.

Shifting gears, earlier in the week on Sarge's Blog, we had had a scintillating conversation about insignia and patches and quality thereof, I went lookabout for the various insignia I had worn.

It was kinda interesting.

The top row is the Patch of the Command I was assigned too when I wore the patches in the second row.  L to R: Air Training Command, Tactical Air Command and Pacific Air Force.  The next row is the patch of the unit I was assigned to when I was in that Command.  Left to right, My UPT Class patch ("Beat's workin' for a livin' is the slogan at the top), my F-4 Training Squadron, the 80th TFS "The Juvat's" patch, my F-4 Moody Squadron, my AT-38 Holloman Squadron, my F-15 Training squadron, my  F-15 Eagle squadron at Kadena.  Bottom row, My TAC Nametag, My Juvat nametag, My TAC nametag, My Eagle Nametag and finally the nametag I wore at the Puzzle palace . (For the curious, that's located in DC and has 5 sides.)

Quite a bit of nostalgia there.

Which kinda enticed me to search through my old computer files from back in the day.  Boy, did I find a treasure!  

While I was flying Eagles on Okinawa, one of the guys in the squadron was big into making home movies.  I found some of them in my hard drive. One in particular got to me.  It's a 4 v 4 Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) fight against the Aggressors in F-5s.  Spud, the creator of the movie, was in the Back Seat of a very special Eagle.  Mine! 78-564. My name was on the canopy rail.

Now, this was in the days of the shoulder mounted movie camera, mind you.  So, we're not talking perfect film quality, nor was he doing much filming during the fighting.  (You try holding one of those up when the jet is pulling 9g). Many of the actual fighting scenes were cut and pasted into the video from the gun camera films taken during various additional DACT fights (which included F-4s and F-106s Mirage III's, My Bad, No 106's in the Pacific). Your humble scribe also has a few cameo scenes in it.  I was # 4 in the four ship.  

All told, watching that video, solidly brought forth a "Damn! I wish I was doing that again!

In any case, for your viewing pleasure.

Have a good week, my Friends!

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Why Yes, I Do Have a Moustache

OAFS Photo
Why do you ask?

It all started back at Thanksgiving when Roberto, Grandson #2, informed me that he had learned a new word. That's right, moustache.

"What's it mean?"

"It's hair over your mouth."

"Do you want Grandpa to grow a moustache?" I asked, knowing full well that it would drive The Missus Herself batsh!t crazy.


So that is how I came to have a moustache. Mind you, it's not my first moustache, but I think it's my finest moustache.

I had one in the Air Force for a short while, but based on Air Force Regulation 35-10, the hair could not extend past the corners of the mouth, nor extend over the lip. So, as my mouth is somewhat smallish, my moustache kinda made me look like a certain chancellor of Germany in the 30s and 40s.

Yup, shaved it off.

While I was in the Air Force and on leave back in the US of A, I grew another. This one was completely out of regulations but as I was on leave, I wasn't worried. (A buddy of mine in Germany went on leave for a month, grew a beard and a moustache. He got jacked up on a base in southern Germany for not shaving. Yup, back in the day one had to be in regulations all the time.)

I also had a moustache after I retired from the Air Force, a beard as well. I rather enjoyed not shaving everyday. It did get itchy at first but when it grew in, I was loving it. The Missus Herself not so much. She made me trim it, which became more of a hassle than shaving. But I endured, until one day after church we went downtown to get a bagel. I was wearing my nice suit and a fedora, felt very cosmopolitan I did. Until I saw my reflection in a shop window.

I looked like one of these fellows -

Union and Confederate veterans shaking hands at reunion to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg.
Now those guys don't look bad, they simply look old, I mean that photo was taken fifty years after the battle. Even the youngest among them would be in their mid to late 60s.

I was 47 at the time. I didn't want to look like an old guy.

As I now am, officially, an "old guy," the whiteness of the moustache and (sigh) the hair doesn't bother me.


As for the opening photo, I wasn't smiling, but I do know how ...

OAFS Photo
No, really, I'm smiling in that picture.

Be seeing you ...