I was just reading the latest news about guns from a reliable source: Virtual Mirage (http://symbolic-mirage.blogspot.com/) and had to add my own gun experience which is profoundly different than the erstwhile author LL's.
I grew up in suburban Eugene, Oregon in the early 1960's; significantly before the place was transformed into a poor man's Berkeley, where everybody is offended nowadays at the drop of a hat. "Fredd, how dare you say 'at the drop of a hat'??!! You pathetic neanderthal, don't you get it that hats are a male thing, and that you sound like a sexist pig spewing that hate?" Yes, I am just a lousy hater, I've come to accept that.
My household was a gun-free zone back then. Sure, as a little kid I was always playing cowboys and Indians (which went the way of the dinosaur decades ago as a racially intolerant activity), and us little kids emulated Vic Morrow and Rip Torn as WWII combat weary veterans in the black and while TV series "Combat." But real guns were just not in my life.
Then I went and joined the U.S. Army at age 19. All of a sudden, I was able to field strip and re-assemble an M-16 military combat rifle blindfolded, and was qualified as an expert marksman with this weapon.
My dad, a WWII veteran, had warned me before I shipped out to boot camp: 'when you're in the army, son, never volunteer for anything. Just don't do it, volunteering to anything, no matter what it is, it just never turns out good for you.'
Well, of course I volunteered as an E-6 staff sergeant to supervise an ordinance disposal detail. Because our battalion had such bad leadership, our annual TO&E allotment of ammunition for the battalion was never used up in gunnery range training, because our leaders always had other priorities than keeping the troops' weaponry skills in order. Then came the end of September, and thus the end of the fiscal year. If we still had ammo left over, the brass would get less the next year since we had not used what was issued in the prior year and we all know that officers simply cannot do with less of anything, under any circumstances.
I was assigned to supervise 5 enlisted men to take a 2.5 ton truck (lovingly referred to as a 'deuce and a half') loaded with our unused ammo out to the range: box upon box of 5.56 ball ammo for M-16's, box upon box of M-60 light machine gun ammo (with tracers every 5th round), a goodly amount of M-203 grenades, a ton of .45 rounds for the M-1911 Colt pistols issued to senior NCO's and officers. Since we were an intelligence unit, this was the extent of our ordinance, and no .50 cal rounds, fragmentation hand grenades, Claymore mines, or any of the fun stuff was issued to us 'REMF's'.
Still, this was a ton of ammo, and I was directed to bring back the spent brass casings so that it could be accounted for. I could hardly wait to go and blow off all of this, it was a detail that would only happen in my dreams.
Not so fast, there, Fredd. The first 15 minutes of popping off the M-60 rounds was great. Changing the red hot barrels every 200 rounds or so was tedious, but still, very cool. The next hour or two, things became pretty repetitive, and the fun of all of this was quickly disappearing.
Then we started on the bulk of our ordinance, the M-16 rounds. Those had to be loaded into the magazines (we had banana clips which held 30 rounds), and this was also incredibly tedious. After 5 or 6 hours of this, all of our hands were raw and blistered, holding onto and firing these weapons with no gloves. We started wrapping our hands in 100 mph tape (duct tape in the civilian world), and it helped some, but soon nothing really helped. We were all in agony.
Towards the end of this nightmare detail, one of the privates asked me 'sarge, I'm dyin' here, can't we just bury the rest of this shit, and get out of here?' As good as that sounded to me at the time, I had to account for the brass and was not inclined to get busted for not coming back with the correct number of casings, so this was not going to work, either.
In the end, this was perhaps the most miserable experience I ever had in the army. Our hands were dripping with blood, and not even the 100 mph tape kept it from flowing like water. We were to a man completely miserable to the bone. And to drive a stake through our hearts, we then got to the M-203 grenades. Although there were only a few boxes of those, they had to be fired from an M-16 mount, and those rounds kicked like a mule. It was hell trying to hold onto those weapons with bloody, blistered aching hands. I was convince I was in hell. I had never been more miserable. Ever. And this detail was supposed to be fun.
"Never volunteer for anything, no matter how good it sounds at the time"....I still remember to this day my dad telling me that, and how I blew off this sound advice much to my detriment.
I now own a .357 magnum caliber revolver, and this gun is for home protection only, and will only get fired at somebody who is intent on doing me or my family harm. And so far, the gun has never been fired. God willing, it never will be fired.
I will be a happy man if I meet my Maker, never having fired another weapon as long as I live. I've probably put more rounds down range than anyone else on the planet. Well, other than those other five guys on that detail from hell.
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