So much happens in October!

The streets are empty and there have been whispers about a gathering in the woods.

 

Oktoberfest 

It all started with a horse race which the national guard staged for the people on 17th August 1810 to mark the wedding of the Ludwig Crown Prince of Bavaria (later King Ludwig I) to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. The race was such a success that it was staged again the following year on the Theresienwiese – the meadow named in honor of the Princess. From 1870 onwards the number of stalls began to increase and in 1896 the very first beer tents were erected which sold only beer brewed in Munich – a tradition which has remained to the present day. Due to lack of space, the horse races with which it all began were staged for the last time in 1936.

German beer is unpasteurized and that’s one reason that it tastes so much better than the horse urine that’s peddled elsewhere.

 

S&W’s New Home

Smith & Wesson is relocating their corporate headquarters from Springfield, where it’s been since before the Civil War. It’s leaving Massachusetts and will begin doing business in Maryville, TN, bringing 750 new jobs, that Massachusetts didn’t want anyway. Good move S&W!

 

Harvest

Thanks, farmers. Without you, none of us eats.

 

Snipers

The word appears to have originated in India in the mid-1700s, coined by the British Military when the troops were hunting the Snipe bird, which was fast and hard to shoot. Marksmen who were able to shoot the bird in flight were called “Snipers.”

“One man can change the world with a bullet in the right place.” — Malcolm McDowell

During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese placed a $30,000 bounty on the head of U.S. Marine Corps sniper Gunnery Sergeant Carlos N. Hathcock.

Standard Method of Operation – Camouflaged with local vegetation, he crawled inch by inch across a grass-covered meadow into the enemy camp to kill a North Vietnamese Army general.

While creeping through the tall grass, he was almost bitten by a bamboo viper — a nasty little green snake with an extremely painful bite. A wound would feel “as if it had been branded with a hot iron, and the pain does not subside until about 24 hours after being bitten (and) within minutes…the surrounding flesh dies and turns black.”

Just after sunset, as he lay motionless and camouflaged in the foliage, an enemy soldier almost stepped on him. He was about 700 yards away when the general emerged from his quarters onto the porch and took a stretch.

“I thought to myself, ‘This’ll be good…really good,’” he said.

Carefully lining up his target in the crosshairs of his scope, Hathcock slowly squeezed the trigger. The shot hit the general square in the chest.

Hathcock challenged the enemy snipers looking for him by wearing a white feather in his hatband. They called him “Trắng Lông,” meaning “White Feather Sniper.”

By the time he was sent back to the U.S. in 1969 having suffered severe burns while rescuing seven Marines from a burning vehicle, he’d killed 93 enemy combatants — maybe hundreds more that couldn’t be confirmed under military protocols.

While serving as a combat commander in Vietnam, retired Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel and Annapolis graduate Kenny Moore of Hayden was part of a staff conference that included talking about the best firing techniques.

Hathcock said, “Breath in…breath out…relax… then squeeze.”

“That’d be easy for him,” Moore said. “He had a heartbeat of only 41.”

It takes incredible training and mental toughness to become a military sniper.

Shooters and spotters are trained to work as a team, with the objective of hitting the enemy target with one shot. Before they take that shot, however, there are a lot of variables that must be factored in — such as type of rifle and ammunition used, distance to the target, point of impact, bullet trajectory, wind conditions, humidity, elevation, and the Coriolis Force caused by the Earth’s rotation, and other factors.

Some of this is calculated by electronic and optical equipment — the rest by the sniper and spotter. Handheld computers with ballistic prediction software help contribute to the accuracy. All of this has to be calculated quickly: adjusting the rifle for the conditions and shooting before anything changes, or the target moves.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Adelbert “Bert” Waldron of Virginia was another renowned sniper, who served in Vietnam as a sniper with the 9th Infantry Division, and during his eight-month tour of duty had 109 confirmed kills — the most by any American sniper during the Vietnam War.

He rode shotgun on a U.S. Navy Tango “brown-water” boat in the  Mekong Delta.

One night as his boat was moving along the river, Waldron shot and killed an enemy sniper in a tree 900 yards away. He was good at shooting at night. On another night, his recon patrol ran into about 40 armed Viet Cong, and a battle broke out.

Ignoring the danger, he left the patrol to take a sniper position. With his night vision scope, he could see the VC moving in the dark. He killed and wounded so many of them that they disappeared into the jungle. That earned him a Bronze Star.

Three nights later, he was camouflaged in a sniper location when he spotted a large group of Viet Cong. Stealthily moving from one position to the next through the rice paddies, he killed 11 of them — making them think they were being attacked by multiple shooters. His actions won him the Silver Star. Bert Waldron died in obscurity in California in 1995 at age 62.

Waldron used the National Match quality M-21 with a Leatherwood 3-9X Adjustable Range Telescope (ART) graduated to 600 yards, with standard leather M1907 sling. Rock Island Arsenal converted some 1,435 of them for Vietnam in 1969, becoming the primary Army sniper rifle until 1988. The M21 was accurate to about 900 yards, firing M118 standard NATO 7.62mm rounds, using an early AN/PVS-2 Starlight night vision scope and suppressor.

_______________

During the Warren Commission investigation following the assassination of President Kennedy, a mockup of the site was built at the Marine Corps sniper school at Quantico, Va., to recreate what happened. Even with the best sniper rifle, ace Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock could not duplicate assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s fatal shot. That finding was not included in the final Warren Report.

There needs to be a Wolf. 

24 COMMENTS

  1. There seems to be a fascination with pumpkins on this blog, LL… “Breath in…breath out…relax… then squeeze.” 😉

    There always needs to be a wolf.

    • To me, carved pumpkins were always something that I did at Halloween with my girls. Now the mantle has passed to them with their children. Here at the White Wolf Mine, I thought about planting pumpkins last spring, for now, both to be used as pie filling and jack-o-lanterns, but health issues precluded that.

      • The date of ‘Oktoberfest’ is about as difficult to explain as the rules of cricket.
        In short, Oktoberfest lasts for three weeks: the last two weeks of September and the first week of October. This is tradition and therefore it doesn’t need any explanation or justification; at least for us Bavarians.
        The rest of the global population should just be glad that Oktoberfest exists, whatever the date is.
        Hugh, I have spoken.

  2. Horse urine would be a step up from the canned crap that’s claiming to be beer. One of the more civilized things i saw in Germany when I was stationed there was the beer machines. They were exactly like the old bottled pop machines of days gone by only instead of pop, they contained beer. Insert one mark. about 33¢ back then, and you could pull out a bottle of that good German beer.

    • Snipers…a special breed. My first hunting trip was with a new friend and boss after moving to Colorado. Up in the Flattops. He filled his elk tag at 700 yards, uphill. He and his hunting buddy served together in Nam, after they worked as engineers for Redfield, developed the Illuminator scope. Rarely spoke of their time “over there”. I never asked but figured he was a sniper based on pieces of stories. Said his best way to “stay calm” was to get out on horseback for a ride (lifelong cowboy family).

      October, best time of the year. Cutting and splitting wood today in the 60 degree temps (finally got past hot). Getting the place ready for the snow in a month or two. Always lots to do, clears the mind and lifts the spirit.

  3. Had not heard the story about duplicating the shot that killed President Kennedy at Weapons Training Battalion. Knew Gunny Hathcock during my time there. He might and might not have mentioned it -did not to me.
    Have been on the ground at Dallas. The shot from the Texas School Book Depository to JFK’s vehicle was less than 100 yards and didn’t seem particularly difficult. The limousine was moving slowly and almost directly away from Oswald.
    Graduated from the Scout Sniper School myself -albeit during a time when the school was not as rigorous, nor any particular big deal.
    Some of the other details are a little off. Don’t think Waldron was pictured with an ART II scope -but memory might be faulty.
    Worked with Second Rangers at Fort Lewis trying to get any kind of performance with the M-21. That was early eighties. The scope was supposed to be jumped in a padded container, then attached upon landing and hold zero. Did not. Finally gave up. Suggested that they let a couple of my shooters select inherently accurate M-16’s from their armory [1/2 mil guns] and issue them to good shots. Sort of an unsophisticated predecessor to the Designated Marksman program.
    Make no claim to that -was all I could come up with since I felt the M021 was junk.

    • Thank you for the first-hand account.

      There were several drafts of the Warren Report…it was a mess.

      The account (above) included in this blog was at best, third hand and there are always inconsistencies when that happens. As I write this, I’m looking at the bookshelf in my den at a book written in England. A chapter was written about me and can hardly recognize myself in it.
      The book, written and published in England at least twenty-five years ago, was based on an account, told and re-told until it got to the author.

      • No knock on you Mr. Lambert. Your stuff is brilliant. Am an avid reader. Don’t read fiction or I’d try your books as well.
        The whole business of sniping is riddled with inaccuracies and exaggerations.
        Can see a Senate committee member asking for a mock-up and test and the Marine Corps jumping through their butts to cooperate.
        Not sure why Gunny Hathcock would have been picked. He was DM and Camp Perry National Long Range Champion in 1959, but there were others at the time more notable and useful -like Colonel MacMillan.
        Hathcock’s claim to fame was his long range shooting.
        Anyway, come the late eighties, sniping became fashionable and the services poured money into it. Henderson wrote his book about Hathcock and the next possible chance -Operation Iraqi Freedom – the game was on with prizes for the longest shot, most killed with a single shot and, of course, largest scalp count.
        During a long ago episode, not connected with sniping, recall a nasty old sergeant saying, “Those are men downrange, not eight point bucks.”

  4. German beer. Circa 1960’s our company had a tradition of introducing newly arrived troopers from the States to German beer at the EM club. For a day or two they stayed close to latrine.

    Snipers. My qualification scores in Basic drew some attention. While the Army didn’t have a sniper program as such then, good shooters were offered incentives. Alas, I’m one of those people utterly defeated by camouflage.

    • Denver had a brewery until around 1980, Tivoli, that supplied unpasteurized beer to local bars. By the time I went into the Army, my gut was well conditioned.

  5. Visited Munich I was in USAFE, enjoyed both times but I managed to miss Octoberfest, lousy timing. Certainly liked the German beer though.

    We will probably never know what a disparate impact snipers have had through the years. Certainly has saved a lot of US lives. Tough job that is almost always done well.

    As an aside, where you trying to warn us about upcoming events in “Red Mist”? There certainly seems to be a lot of volcanoes erupting all of the sudden. Between Kilauea, La Palma, Mt. Etna and the underwater volcano off of Madagascar it seems volcanoes all across the planet are making themselves felt.

    • Life imitates art.

      Are BIG eruptions in the Canary Islands (La Palma) as you mentioned and of course in Iceland, remarkable eruptions.

      Loki’s Fire is finished and is off for editing and so forth.

  6. Pumpkins. Same here. Had a ball carving them with our kids, but now that mantle has been passed on.

    Oktoberfest. I was stationed in West Germany in the Mid-70’s. Three buddies and I piled into one buddies Opel sedan with our issue sleeping gear and headed to Munich in October ’76. You could have put sheets of plywood on the heads of the crowd and stacked another layer. We drove into the country side and bedded down in the forest at night. Good times.

    Snipers. Have an autographed copy of Gunnery Sergeant Hathcock’s book. Hard to tell what scope is on the M-21 in the photo, and what is that on the muzzle? About James M. Leatherwood–

    https://hi-luxoptics.com/pages/50-years-of-the-art-scope

    Back in the early 2000’s, I bought an M1A from an older gentleman. It had a standard contour NM barrel and an ART/MPC scope, which is the civilian version of the scope made by Weaver. Still have both. I recently swapped out the ART for a 2-7 X 32mm Redfield. The Redfield only weighs 11 oz., and the optical quality is head and shoulders above the ART. Seen here (I am the one in the white T-shirt)–

    https://lonestarparson.blogspot.com/2020/10/shoot.html

    Warren Commission. This site is devoted to commercial M-1 carbines. Warning–class III time sink. Buried somewhere in there is a story about the Secret Service visiting a surplus outfit. They had back tracked the scope mount on Oswald’s rifle. This tells me that the scope and mount arrived separately at Klein’s Sporting Goods.

    Another interesting story–

    https://jfkcountercoup.blogspot.com/2014/03/oswald-got-very-very-lucky-gunsmith.html

  7. I snipped/sniped this from an article published in the old Precision Shooting magazine (R.I.P.) written by one Brian K. Sain about a po-lease sniper class he attended that was taught by Gunny Hathcock. He handed out this “cheat sheet” that he called his “Bible” and Mr. Sain laminated his copy.

    Body Alignment – Natural Point Of Aim
    Firm Hand Shake Grip
    Firm In Shoulder
    Eye Relief – Spot Weld – No Shadow
    Stare At Crosshairs – Target Is a Blur
    Slow Steady Pressure on Trigger To Rear
    Normal Respiratory Pause
    Follow Thru

    Students of the rifle will probably posit that the 4th line is about putting yourself in the exact same place behind the scope, every time. It makes a difference, in my experience. Your mileage may vary.

    If you’re interested in reading the rest of the article, it was in the June 2001 issue of P.S. magazine.

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