A Day For Those Who Served

Power Day:  59th Ordnance Brigade recognizes achievement

Memorial Day comes very early this year, but for a grateful nation it is never too early to appreciate those who have served on behalf of their country.  On this day, we take time to remember the selfless men and women who have fallen, and to recognize those who are serving yet today.  We say thank you to the soldiers and sailors, to the Marines, the Air Force pilots, and the Coast Guard captains, and — because it is the 21st century, after all — to the members of the newest branch of the U.S. military, to the members of the U.S. Space Force.

Thank you for all you have done and are doing to keep our nation safe and strong!

The Rifle Of The Future?

The Army adopted its current battle rifle, the M-16, in 1963.  That’s 55 years ago — the year JFK was assassinated.  That’s an awfully long time by any measure, but an eternity when you consider how much technology has changed and developed since then.

1vjjxjmThe Army has been looking for a new gun for quite some time, and it may just have found it in an inventor’s garage.  The inventor, Martin Grier of Colorado Springs, calls it a “ribbon gun.”  It looks a space age weapon, and it’s clearly a technologically advanced device with a radically different design that would offer soldiers different firing options that could be used depending on the situation.  The article linked above states:  “The specifications are incredible, four 6 mm barrels cut side by side within one steel block. New ammunition blocks fired by electromagnetic actuators that could theoretically give the weapon a firing rate of 250 rounds per second.”  The gun also has a shotgun feature called a “power shot” that would allow soldiers to shoot four bullets simultaneously at the enemy.

The Army has ordered a military grade prototype of the gun for study purposes.  In the meantime, Grier has patented his ribbon gun, which involves inventions that change the nature of the ammunition and the bores through which the ammunition is fired and the method for machining the bores.  It also uses electromagnetic devices to fire the rounds rather than mechanical firing pins and gunpowder.

Inventions in garages are the stuff of American legend, and I’m all for developing new weapons that give our soldiers an edge when they are out protecting our country.  But if the new ribbon gun is the gun of the future, I sure hope its technology stays solely in the hands of the military and doesn’t get out into the civilian population.  Given the mass shootings we’ve endured lately, it’s hard to imagine the kinds of havoc that could occur if a few lunatics got their hands on “ribbon guns.”

Thank You

The Revolutionary War.  The War of 1812.  The Civil War.  The Spanish-American War.  World War I.  World War II.  The Korean War.  The Vietnam War.  The Gulf War.  The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So many wars — and those are just the ones that have official names.  In between there have been countless smaller conflicts and instances of service, where members of the armed forces have fought against the Barbary pirates, or rescued hostages, or delivered crucial supplies to survivors of hurricanes or earthquakes.  And in the middle of it all has been the individual Americans serving in the Navy, the Army, the Marines, the Air Force, or the Coast Guard, who have safeguarded our shores, fought against the oppressors, and delivered help in times of need — and often made the ultimate sacrifice.

To those who have fallen, to those who have served, to the veterans and to the active members of the armed forces:  Thank you.

D-Day Remembered

D-Day was 65 years ago today. The U.S. Army has an interesting website with information, photos, and a transcript of General Eisenhower’s famous speech to the troops. The successful invasion of Normandy marked the beginning of the end for the Nazi regime in Germany and changed the world — not forever or unalterably, but for the better.

D-Day was a day where ordinary men who had trained to be soldiers did extraordinary things. I think the photo above helps to capture — admittedly, in a very limited way — what it must have been like to be on one of the landing craft on that fateful day. I cannot imagine, however, what it must have been like to leave that craft, to jump into the water as the bullets flew and the artillery fire raged, to make your legs move and keep your head as friends were being killed, and then to take the beachhead. When the beachhead was taken and the pillboxes had been knocked out and the adrenalin flow began to return to normal, what was it like to stand on the heights and look back on the carnage? Did the men reflect with pride on their achievement, or mourn their dead friends, or pray, or just want to smoke a cigarette and thank their luck and their God?

We should never forget their sacrifice.