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Eighteen Years After

As I have on September 11 every year since I started the blog, I publish a post about the attacks that put to rest any thoughts that we were immune from Islamoterrorist attacks here in the United States.

Many people had forgotten the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Others thought it was nothing more than an attack by a fringe element. Attacks on US assets around the world didn’t wake people up, either.

Now there was no ignoring the threat to our country and our way of life. For at least a while, anyway.

Here is a link to the timeline of the all of the attacks on that day. It seems like a long time ago, because it was a long time ago.The war ignited that day is still going on all these years later.

President G.W. Bush gave the Taliban, who ran Afghanistan, and ultimatum. Give up the Al Qaeda terrorists who perpetrated the attack or face military action. They refused and on October 7, 2001 “Operation Enduring Freedom” started. The Taliban were quickly ousted from power (not defeated) and many of the Al Qaeda fighters were killed or captured.

Still the primary objective, capturing Osama bin Laden was not met for years afterward. The Taliban still control large swathes of the country side outside of the major cities and attack the major cities frequently.

As most people know, bin Laden fled into neighboring Pakistan where he hid until in May of 2011. The Pakistani government, or at least important people in that government, knew where he was and kept that information from the United States. Some allies.

There is a large Taliban presence along the frontier with Afghanistan and they move back and forth across the putative borders with impunity. Part of that is the rugged terrain, part of it is sympathetic officials in Pakistan, and part of it is corrupt and lazy officials in Afghanistan.

Part of it too is how the United States has chosen to wage war. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has decided not to wage total war of the type waged in World War 2.

Throughout recorded history, the only way to win a war is to destroy the enemies ability to  and crush it’s willingness to wage war. From Korea on the US has engaged in a doctrine of limited war.

Add to that the attempts of the US to engage in “nation building” in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Iraq has been a bit more successful, but billions have been wasted in Afghanistan trying to build a nation while the other side is still actively fighting. Think of it as trying to change a tire while the car is still driving.

Which, somewhat depressingly, brings us to 2019. We’re still waging a limited war, and at best holding our ground. It’s more likely that the Taliban and their allies are winning, at least incrementally.

As I mentioned earlier, outside of the major cities there is no “Afghan government.” The Taliban control much of the territory and war lords control much of what’s left. Afghanistan is a convenient name on a map, not a country.

Oh, and Al Qaeda is still out there, but it now goes by the name ISIS. A premature troop withdrawal from Iraq mixed with the ongoing civil war in Syria gave the remnants of Al Qaeda a place and time to reorganize and if anything become more vicious.

Minds much greater than mine have tried and failed to figure out what to do. So, don’t expect an answer to me.

One one hand, we can’t win in the conventional term. On the other, a withdrawal will be a huge victory for an enemy that hopes to impose it’s will on the entire world. Not just the Taliban, but Islamofascism in general. On the third hand, the police and military of Afghanistan have proven wholly insufficient and mostly disinterested in standing up for their own country.

President Trump was trying to negotiate a peace deal of some sort, but the Taliban proved it’s untrustworthy nature by staging a terrorist bombing the very weekend that their leaders were supposed to be here in the US to negotiate with what passes for a central government in Afghanistan and the United States.

The President cancelled the scheduled meeting an notified the world of what he’d done. Frankly, I think he showed more restraint than I could have. I’d have ordered the Taliban representatives taken to Guantanamo left there to rot. Such is diplomacy.

Speaking of Guantanamo, eighteen years of ineffectual war, diplomacy, and “nation building.” The date for the trial of five men accused of planning the attack is scheduled for January 11. Of 2021. Yes, almost 20 years after the attack, the trial MIGHT actually begin down there in Cuba.

In setting the January 11 2021, start, Mr Cohen noted that the trial at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, “will face a host of administrative and logistics challenges”.

Which might mean that there never will be a trial.

So, here we are eighteen years after the attacks, with an enemy still undefeated, and the alleged “master minds” still not brought to justice in any form.

I also have to wonder which media outlets will provide coverage on tomorrow’s anniversary? The American public seems to have little interest in the events of eighteen years ago. The people who responded still remember and many of them continue to die each year from illnesses contracted while they were on the scene.

The politicians only seem to be interested in the attacks and the sequelae both medically and emotionally when they can use it to pound on their political adversaries.

Most of the stories center on police and fire responders, but there were thousands of other people who responded and stayed for varying lengths of time and have suffered as well.

All those who have died or become ill in the years following the attacks are also victims of the enemy.

It all seems so futile in so many ways.

You can’t wage a war “humanely” if you expect to win it. Which has been the problem since September 11, 2001. Large numbers of Americans in public and private life refuse to consider that this prolonged war is anything buy humane.

As I said, I don’t have the answers. In fact, I don’t even know all of the questions.

So, I’ll just think about the horrific events of that day as I watched the 21st Century version of the attack on Pearl Harbor unfold on TV.

And think of the dead.



Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Prostate Cancer is the second most common cancer among men, after Sking Cancer. It’s the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men, after Lung Cancer.

It’s deadly. It can be treated successfully, but early discovery is the key. If you’re a man and over about 40, you need to be tested.

The PSA test requires a blood draw, but a rectal exam is still the best way to discover it. Yes, a rectal exam is, if you’ll excuse the pun, a pain in the ass. That said, a bit of momentary discomfort is nothing compared to a late diagnosis.

If the PSA or rectal exam are positive, the next step is a confirmatory biopsy. Again, not a pleasant experience, or so I’ve been told, but it’s better than the alternative.

There are about 175,000 cases diagnosed each year and over 31,000 of the patients will eventually die from the disease.

You can go to the Kilted To Kick Cancer page on Facebook to learn more. I don’t know of the coterie of bloggers are going to have a contest this year, but I’m sure you can find somewhere to donate.

Don’t become a statistic, get  screened.

Donate so that we can someday have a prostate cancer free world.

That is all.



I’m Not Sure This Is A Good Idea

Before all the dog lovers send hate emails, let me just say that I love pets. I don’t currently own a dog, but have owned several in the past.

That’s not the issue with this,

Bill that would allow emergency treatment for police dogs filed after 7NEWS investigation

I’ll leave aside the self congratulatory headline, after all that’s what second rate media does.

BOSTON (WHDH) – Action on Beacon Hill after a 7News exclusive investigation: It’s shocking but true: All the brave law enforcement officers in Massachusetts do not get equal opportunity for medical treatment when they’re injured in the line of duty. Hank Phillippi Ryan Investigates.

I know that this might be shocking, but dogs aren’t people. I know a lot of people who treat their dogs as people, but they aren’t people.

After our investigation, Representative Crocker filed Nero’s Bill. “It’s absolutely time for this to change in Massachusetts,” Crocker said.

The bill would allow injured working police K-9s to be treated and transported by EMT’s. It even requires emergency responders to get special canine training.

Here are some of the problems I see with this proposed law.

Who pays for the “special canine training” that EMS will be required to get?

Certainly not the TV station, nor the police, nor the state. Which will mean that ambulalnce services will have to pay to train their staff in skills that most won’t ever need.

Who pays for the equipment? Dogs aren’t people, so some specialized equipment will be need to go with the “special canine training.” Among that equipment will likely be some sort of restraint system so that the injured dog isn’t tossed around in the back of the ambulance.

What happens to an ambulance that transports a canine? On a guess, it will have to be cleaned thoroughly if not decontaminated. Yes, we clean ambulances after ever call, but I c can’t help but wonder if the state will require a different level of  cleaning for this.

Who pays for the medical care and transport? For that matter, where is EMS supposed to transport only to human medical facilities. 9-1-1 responses are required to go to Emergency Departments.

That includes where do the ambulances go during off hours? Is the system supposed to transport a significant distance outside it’s normal response area to go to a 24 hour animal emergency department?

What about liability? Both for bad outcomes for the dog and the likely traffic crashes that ambulances will be involved in.

There is some interesting language in the bill, which can be found here.

I also wonder about “mission creep.” Will this lead to treating of police horses? Seriously, some larger departments have mounted units and those horses do get injured. In fact, if my aging memory serves me colleagues of mine were called upon to treat an injured horse some years back.

Finally, somehow I think this will lead to calls to treat non police canines. After all, if a police canine needs an ambulance and emergency treatment, what about Fido after he is hit by a car?

I know some people read this will think I’m kidding about the last two, but these things have a way of getting out of hand.



Lest We Forget

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

“OK, We’ll Go.”


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


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 now 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.