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“OK, We’ll Go.”

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With those words, or maybe similar words, General Dwight D. Eisenhower committed Allied troops to the invasion of France.

The original plan was to go on June 5th, but the weather was too bad and the invasion was postponed. June 6th was the last day when the tides in the English Channel would be favorable for a seaborne invasion. If June 6th wasn’t possible, the next date would be in July.

As a practical matter, it would be impossible to disembark tens of thousands of troops from ships, stand down paratroops, have ships return to port and wait. Someone would talk and German spies operating in England would figure out what was going on.

The Germans expected an invasion and had spent over two years preparing for it. They suspected that it would come at Calais, as it was the closest point to England. They didn’t know that for sure, but it made sense. They also didn’t know when and so thousands of Axis troops were tied down along the coast of France.

For now, the Allied troops were kept in place waiting for a final decision.

At a meeting early in the morning on June 5 General Eisenhower and his top commanders met to make a decision. The weather report for the morning of June 6 was “acceptable.” Less than ideal, but good enough for the paratroops to drop, the ships to sale, and the landing craft to approach the beach.

The decision was made, the invasion would start as scheduled.

Sometime after midnight the first paratroops landed behind German lines. Their mission was to capture and hold roads, bridges, and causeways for follow on troops. A bit later glider borne British commandos landed near Caen Canal. Their mission was to capture and hold a key bridge across the Canal.

The naval bombardment started at 0550 on the morning of the 6th. The first landings of troops at 0630.

I could write a blog post each day for the next month and not tell the complete story. Fortunately, there are several resources available that tell the story much more completely than I ever could.

The Longest Day is the classic telling of the invasion. Published in 1959, it includes many interviews with soldiers that landed and fought. The movie is well worth watching as well, but not as comprehensive as the book.

D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose. Published in 1995, is also very well detailed. It covers the 24 hours from midnight June 6 until midnight June 7.

Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944 also by Stephen Ambrose. Tells the story of the British capture and hold of the Bridge over the Caen Canal.

The National WWII Museum in New Orleans started out as the “D Day Museum” and has an exhaustive number of displays. It’s expanded to include all of World War II. When I was there a couple of years ago, there were some WW II veterans discussing what they experienced.

There are several videos available with footage from the invasion. They tell the story better than any written words can.

 

 

Finally, a video from 7 years ago featuring interviews with veterans who landed in Normandy.

Roma Liberata

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June 5, 1944 Rome was liberated by the Allies. This was a big deal, although it did not mark the end of the Italian campaign.

The Allies invaded the island of Sicily in early July 1943. On July 24, Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was deposed and then arrested. By August 17, Sicily was secured although a large number of German and Italian troops had escaped to the mainland.

On September 3, British troops landed on the tip of the Italian “toe.” On September 8, and armistice between the  government of Italy and the Allies went into effect.

On September 13, Mussolini was rescued by German Commandos from his prison in the mountains.  He fled to Germany, came back to Italy where he declared a new government. Things went from bad to worse for Mussolini and on April 27, 1945 he and his mistress were arrested trying to flee to Switzerland.

Mussolini, his mistress, and a number of other members of his government were shot the next morning.

Back to the Liberation of Rome.

On October 13, Italian government in exile declared war of Germany. Italian troops joined the Allies to fight their former partner.

From that point on, it was the German Army fighting against the Allies. Italy had gone from being a partner with Germany to a conquered territory.

The campaign to liberate Rome went on through the fall, winter, and into spring 1944. Finally on June 5, 1944 Allied troops marched into Rome. Which the Germans had declared an open city and evacuated from previously.

After Rome was liberated, the Allies continued advancing north throughout the rest of the year and into 1945.

The fighting was vicious and the Germans weren’t expelled until April of 1945, about a month before Germany surrendered.

A good example of how vicious the fighting was can be found in this documentary,

Although it was filmed very shortly after the battle, the film is true to the events of the battle. Fighting in Italy was like this or worse for almost two years.

In general, the fighting in Italy and southern France was overshadowed by the Invasion of France and subsequent march on Berlin.

Ironically, the invasion of France was originally intended to take place on June 5, so no matter what the Liberation of Rome would be overshadowed by events in western Europe.

 

 

The Battle of Midway

Just about six months after the Imperian Japanese Navy (IJN) attacked the United States Naval and Army bases at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the United States Navy handed the IJN a stunning defeat on the ocean near the Midway Islands.

The IJN had planned to lure the USN out of Pearl Harbor by attacking and capturing Midway, and then ambushing the fleet. The idea was not so much to take Midway, although that would be helpful to the Japanese. The main goal of the attack was to destroy the two (so the Japanese thought) US aircraft carriers that were operational in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

Taking Midway and destroying the US fleet would allow Japan to directly threaten Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States. The Japanese thought that this would force the United States to sue for peace and exit the war.

Which is not to say that the Japanese would invade the US mainland, but it’s likely that the US would have had to cede Hawaii and probably Alaska to the Japanese.

Losing those territories would make it impossible for the US fleet to operate in the Pacific Ocean beyond a couple of hundred miles from the coast. That in it’s turn would have made supporting Australia nearly impossible because US ships would have to go across the Atlantic, through the Suez Canal, and then through on to southern Australia.

Japan would be free to press their attacks on to the west towards India and China as they would have more than enough resources.

The outcome of the war hung on winning at Midway.

At least it would seem so.

Unknown to the Japanese, USN cryptographers had broken the Japanese naval code and knew where and when the Japanese planned to attack. This allowed the USN to set up a counter ambush using the THREE carriers that were actually operating in the Pacific.

Early in the morning of June 4 the Japanese commenced aerial operations against Midway. In it’s turn, the US sent land based Army bombers out to attack the Japanese ships. They did little damage, as did land based USN torpedo bombers.

About the same time, United States aircraft spotted the Japanese fleet. Torpedo and dive bombers, along with fighters launched from the US carriers.

The Torpedo Bombers were Douglas Devastators, of pre war design and pretty much obsolete by the time the war started. Slow, under armed, under armored, they were easy prey for the fighters protecting Japanese ships.

14 Devastators from the USS Enterprise (Torpedo 6) launched against the Japanese. Five returned, the rest were shot down.

13 Devastators launched from the USS Yorkgown (Torpedo 3) against the Japanese. Two returned.

15 Devestators launched from the USS Hornet (Torpedo 8) against the Japanese. None returned. Of the crew members, only one, Ensign George Gay survived.

No Japanese ships were damaged.

Here is a video of the crews of Torpedo 8 taken by director John Ford just shortly before the battle.

Their sacrifices were not in vain because while the Japanese were busy slaughtering the torpedo bombers, the dive bombers were able to locate and bomb three of the Japanese carriers.

Starting at about 10:30, the dive bombers struck three of the four Japanese carriers. In about 10 minutes those three ships went from pride of the IJN to burning hulks which would soon be at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Later in the day, the last Japanese carrier was located and hit. It too would eventually sink.

Perhaps more important than the loss of the ships and planes, was the loss to the IJN of experience pilots, aircrew, mechanics, armorers, and other support personnel.

Unlike the United States, the Japanese did not rotate experience crews back to the homeland so that they could train other pilots.

Combined with losses at the Battle of the Coral Sea, this was a loss from which the IJN could never recover. The war was far from over, but from this point forward the Japanese were on the defensive in the Pacific.

This is a two part documentary, also by John Ford, about the battle.

 

There is a lot more that you can read about the battle.

Miracle at Midway, was published in 1983 and was the first definitive book on the battle

Shattered Sword was published in 2007, and tells the story from the Japanese side. It is an exhaustive study of the equipment, tactics, and decisions that were in play during the battle.

Never Call Me A Hero A first hand account of the Battle of Midway and US naval operations in the months immediately after Pearl Harbor. This was authored by a pilot who flew many missions up to and including Midway.

Finally, there are other resources on the web. Wikipedia and You Tube have some good information as well. As always, read and watch carefully because not everything is accurate.

 

 

Ghost Rider In The Sky

The United States Air force has reactivated a B52H from the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The plane will replace one that was destroyed in a crash three years.

A B-52H Nicknamed “Wise Guy” Becomes The Second To Ever Come Back From The Bone Yard

For only the second time in U.S. Air Force history, the service has brought a B-52H Stratofortress bomber out of storage Boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona and delivered it to an operational unit. The aircraft, with the serial number 60-0034 and nicknamed Wise Guy, touched down at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana earlier today, where it will join the 307th Bomb Wing, the only bomb wing in the Air Force Reserve.

The entire story is well worth reading. The last B52H left the factory in October of 1962, ironically in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The first B52H to be reactivated was “Ghost Rider” in 2016. It too was brought back to replace a plane that had been damaged.

B-52H resurrected from the ‘boneyard’ to re-enter service

A B-52H bomber named “Ghost Rider” is back from the dead.

The bomber was sitting in the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, when it was selected to replace another B-52 that was damaged in a fire, said Maj. Phillip Ventura, spokesman for the 2nd Bomb Wing.

On Jan. 28, 2014, two airmen suffered minor injuries when an oxygen leak caused a fire on a B-52H, which was undergoing routine maintenance, Ventura said in an email Thursday to Air Force Times. Although the plane was not destroyed, repairing the damage was deemed to be too costly.

I have to wonder if the plane just happened to be the next one up for reactivation or if someone thought that the name was cool.

It’s good to see that surplus planes are being kept ready to return to service if that should ever become necessary.

Of course, this is also an excuse to stick a music video in a post. Note the only thing these two items have in common is the name.

The Older Shooter

At the NRA Annual Meetings (NRAAM), addition to the speeches and huge exhibit hall, there are educational seminars for all sorts of firearms related activities.

In addition to the typical “how to shoot better” classes, classes about equipment, political topics, there are medical classes and even classes for non traditional shooters.

While the fastest growing demographics in shooting are women and minorities, another rapidly growing demographic is older people. Many of the traditional shooters are not reaching the age where they are “senior citizens.” They are still interested in shooting, but as age creeps in, there physical abilities are changing in and some ways diminishing.

Just because people get older doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to defend themselves. In fact, the older and maybe more frail one gets, the more they may have to rely on firearms and other tools for defense.

Which is where the NRA Adaptive Shooter program comes in. While originally intended for outreach to “disabled” shooters it has rapidly expanded to older shooters with various challenges to being able to shoot.

One of the classes, and I’m approaching the age, if not afflicted with the disabilities (yet), was “The Older Defender”, which talked not just about self defense but other issues older shooters face.

Presented by Joe Logar, whis is the director of the Adaptive Shooter program there was a review medical issues that can affect older shooters.

The review covered vision, muscle, and joint issues that older shooters can face. Then there was a review of both techniques and equipment to help shooters to be able to continue shooting as they age

There one also reviews of some equiopment to help with various issues shooters face.

One issue that is commonly encountered is cycling (racking) the slide on semi automatic pistols. In addition to hand strengthening exercises, there is some hardware that will help.

First is the Handi Racker. This device slides onto the slide and makes cycling the slide much easier. I probably won’t buy a set of these immediately, but they are very likely to be in my future. If for nothing else, occasions where I am teaching older or weaker people how to shoot.

There are other devices, which likely work the same, but this is just the one I saw on the exhibit hall floor.

There was also advice on discussing focal distance for eyeglasses with your eye doctor. That makes a lot of sense, although it’s likely not something that people think of. Focal distance has a large effect on how you see the your sights and your target.

On of the more interesting points was that in addition to exercises to increase grip strength, exercises to increase the ability to release your grip are also helpful.

As a result, I ordered a set of finger stretcher resistance bands like these,

I’ll be adding a set of exercises with these to my work out routine.

Speaking of hands, lightweight shooting or weight lifting guns are a good addition to the your range bag. While you probably won’t want to wear them all the time just in case you get into a self defense situation, they are good for reducing wear and tear during practice.

If you are going to be shooting 100 rounds or more, that’s a lot of wear on your hands. Shooting gloves will reduce fatigue and in my case at least, blisters on the web of my hand.

Weight lifting gloves provide additional support to your wrists. Again, you probably won’t need that sort of support during an actual self defense situation, but at the range they’ll be helpful.

Gun manufacturers are starting to get on board as well. Semi automatic pistols with slides that are easier too cycle and have softer recoil are becoming very popular items.

Smith & Wesson recently introduced the M&P 380 Shield EZ which features an easier to cycle slide and a grip safety.

While some “traditional” shooters don’t like the concept of a large .380ACP pistol with a grip safety, those folks aren’t the target market. The target market is shooters with smaller hands and weaker hand and forearm strength.

While I was on the exhibit hall at the S&W booth I saw several people looking at and holding the sample guns. The remarks I heard were pretty favorable.

Here’s a picture of the M&P Shield 380 EZ,

As the “traditional” shooter demographic ages, existing manufacturers are going to adapt and new ones are going to appear to cater this new market.

I think we might also see growth in the Pistol Caliber Carbine market as older people start to use them for home defense. That’s just a guess, but the longer site radius, light recoil, two handed operation might appeal to older defenders.

I’ll add some more thoughts in a later post, after I’ve tried out some of equipment I’ve bought.

The Exhibit Hall

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It’s big. I don’t know if it’s the “15 Acres” of guns and gear that the NRA advertised, but it’s big. One can easily spend every moment it was open both days wandering the aisles and tire kicking the products and still not see everything available.

That “tire kicking” is both figurative and literal. In addition to Kubota, Yamaha was exhibiting. Both had what I still call All Terrain Vehicles, but which the manufacturers no doubt have come up with more modern names.

I’ll be completely honest here and say that I have no actual use for this vehicle. My lot is no where near large enough to justify this, plus I have someone who mows my lawn and clears the leaves for me. Even if it had a plow attachment, my driveway is not nearly long enough to need it.

I don’t hunt that much, and if I did, I’d still need to figure out how to get this to wherever I was going.

I believe it’s street legal, so could register it and drive it. Just no on the Interstate or any limited access road.

I suppose if I took up golf, it would make a great golf cart. If they’d let me use it.

Despite all of that, I’d still buy one if I could afford it. Or one of the other competing brands depending on price and features.

Wandering on, I found this. I’ll probably pack this on trips, but not on carry on. As I joked when I bought it, “You never know when a meal might break out and you want to be prepared.

Yes, it’s a K-Bar Tactical Spork. That snaps together to give you the Spork poart, and then can be snapped apart if you need to cut your food. I just couldn’t resist.

Mrs. EMS Artifact always appreciates gifts when I travel. She likes jewerly, so I try to find something she’ll like and wear. I was surprised the first time I bought her a revolver pendant that she liked it an actually wore it. Just not at school when she was teaching, because they frowned on that.

So far, she has the revolver, a 1911 with a turquoise grips, and a 5.56 round pendant. All a miniature and non functioning, but she wears them.

So, when I happened to find this bracelet I bought it. Made from spent cases with the heads removed and soldered to a base, it’s the type of thing she’ll wear and laugh when her liberal friends ask how it was made.

As long as I keep bringng her nice stuff, she’ll never complain about my taking trips without her.

On to actual firearms related items.

If you carry a revolver or do any sort of frequent shooting, you know that charging the cylinder can be a chore. Or a pain, if you prefer.

There are speed loaders and speed strips to make the job easier, but both have their drawbacks.

QuickLoad has come along to try to make the process faster.

They currently have a five round speed loader that will work with Smith & Wesson J frame revolvers along with guns from Charter Arms and other companies.

My picture didn’t come out that well, so here is a screen shot from their website. This is the five round speed loader with cover and is called the “Roundloader” . Simply place the rounds into the cylinder and push. Each round seats in it’s cylinder and pops from from the holder.

I bought one of these and will give it a try on a future range trip.

They also make a sort of hybrid of a speed loader and speed strip. Called the “Striploader” it comes in five and six round versions.

This too comes with an (optional) “Quickcase” that is also available separately.

I plan to buy a set of this and will also buy the six round speed loader when it becomes available. These seem like handy little items for anyone who carries a revolver for self defense.

The last item for today’s post is an AR 15 front sight post I picked up. This is a night sight front post from Night Fision. This is a white dot sight with, in my case, a yellow ring around the dot. This will go on my only AR15 to attempt to improve my open sight shooting skills.

The sight comes with instructions (of course) and a sight adjusting tool. Again, a range trip will be in order after installation.

Tough work, but someone has to do it, I guess.

Tomorrow’s post will include more stuff I bought, some I didn’t, and random thoughts.

Kelly over at Ambulance Driver Files, points out that suppressors seem to be the flavor the year on the exhibit hall. In addition to that Pistol Caliber Carbines are hot right now. I like the concept and will talk about that tomorrow.

A Blog Found

Yesterday I was sent a cartoon which I found hilarious. I’ll include it below and if you’ve been in EMS for any length of time, you’ll understand it. Actually, if you’ve been in any sort of occupation where you have to write lots and lots of reports, you’ll get it.

I visited the website, which is more than a blog, but includes a blog as part of it. The cartoons are funny, but funny because they are true.

I don’t know who the aurhor or authors are, but I can tell you that they are NOT new to EMS. Or drawing either for that matter. The cartoons are very well done. Would that I had any talent in that direction.


Since much of what I do these days is help newer EMS providers write coherent reports, this struck me as hilarious

I could do an entire post on the mistakes I see in documentation as well as the more serious mistakes I see in actual treatment. That aside, this cartoon sums up what I often have to do.

Frequently, I’ll caution against the use of the term “frequent flier” and suggest that those patients be thought of as “Value Repeat Customers”, but which in the report should be referred to as having “frequent contact with EMS.” It just sounds so much better.

If you’re in EMS, you should visit EMScapades.com and take a look. If you aren’t in EMS, you should visit as well, but keep in mind that dark humor is like food in Venezuela, not everyone gets it.

Day Zero at the NRAAM

Today is what I’ll call Day Zero at the NRA Annual Meetings. There is little going on here, mostly exhibit hall set up and registration for various attendees.

There is general registration, media registration, and exhibitor registration.

We got to the Indianapolis Convention Center, which is referred to as the “ICC” a bit after 9:00AM. Registration is pretty straight forward, although once in a while there is a glitch. For once, there was no glitch in my future.

After slurping down a few cups of free NRA coffee in the media room. Ambulance Driver and I decided to see what we could see.

The exhibit hall was closed to everyone but exhibitors and ICC staff. Which is understandable if you’ve ever been involved in exhibit hall set up. I have, and can attest that there is no fun to it. There is work and aggravation, but fun is not to be found.

The last thing anyone working in there want is people wandering through asking dumb questions. What about smart questions, you ask? There is no such thing when you’re trying to set up your exhibit and realize that half your equipment is either lost somewhere in transit or lost inside the warehouse attached to the exhibit hall.

We then wandered over to the lobby outside the exhibit hall. This is where, at just about any conference of any type I’ve ever attended, some “lesser” vendors or organizations set up. At one time an organization I was affiliated with was gifted a nice space outside the main exhibit hall. I don’t know what the retail cost was, but it’s likely less than inside the hall itself.

In our case, it worked out well because every attendee had to walk by our display/begathon. We got some really nice donations for our cause.

But I digress. We chatted with some nice folks and will go back tomorrow when they are open for business.

We looked at the “Wall of Guns” raffle. Even though my winning percentage in raffles is generally well under 1%, I’ll buy a ticket. Who knows, maybe Lady Luck will smile on me.

That was it for today, except for a drive by the NRA in crisis outfit. This is a subsidiary by the deceptively named “Everytown for Gun Safety” which is more accurately the “Lets take all the guns” organization.

They have a wonderfully decorated truck telling the world that the NRA is in crisis because the leadership has been looting it for some years. Do they have proof? No, but they have a lot of BS.

I’ll get a picture of the truck and any other protesters I see tomorrow. There are always protesters at the NRA Annual Meeting. They are always telling the world how dangerous and violent gun owners are. Which if true, would mean that the protesters are valiantly risking their lives to stamp out evil.

Fortunately for them, it’s not true and they are literally living proof.

We did get to walk around the Indiana Soldier and Sailors Memorial
which is pretty impressive. The link has some much better than my smart phone pictures, so go there to see what it looks like.

I’d have done more walking around, but the weather has taken a turn for the worse, getting pretty raining.

More interesting stuff tomorrow.

Indiana Wants Me

In addition to being the title of a song from the 1970s, I’m heading out early this morning for Indianapolis. There, I’ll be joining other like minded folks for the National Rifle Association Annual Meetings and Exposition.

While I’ll be covering the various speeches, I’ll be mostly on the exhibit hall floor checking out the latest in firearms, accessories, and other fun stuff.

I’ll be hanging with Ambulance Driver and other fine folks I’ve met over the years.

I’ll put up some posts with pictures for your reading enjoyment. I’ll also try to post my story about my great mail box adventure. The oddest part of which is that I discovered a road under the road in front of my house.

Yes, that’s as weird as it sounds. With any luck I’ll get that post going before the festivities start in Indianapolis.

Oh, both the President and Vice President are going to speak again this year. That will be a big event which I plan to watch from the media room. Last year the line to get in was long and slooooowwwww. Of course it was the one part of the whole show in which no one could bring a firearm. Which makes sense, of course.

Speaking of firearms, I haven’t seen any breathless media stories about how the NRA is banning guns from the meetings and exhibit hall this year. Or requiring everyone to carry unloaded.

Neither of which were true last year.

Stay tuned.