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Kassarine Lost: Part 4

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Night time in the desert isn’t what most people would think it’s like.   It can be scorching hot during the day, and absolutely freezing at night.    Geoffrey pulled the thick woolen blanket around his shoulders.   But that wasn’t what was irritating him.  Dale Collier snored like some large dying beast.   Full of volume and stuttering resonance, like Geoffrey had never heard before.  He looked over at Nathan.

Even in the dark, Nathan caught the glance and just shook his head.   “Let the lad be, Poulden.”  He said quietly.  “It’s best he gets what rest he can.  He’s cross when he doesn’t get enough… and then he burns through more ammo.”

Geoffrey nodded, consenting to the logic.   “What gets me is that he’s maybe only twelve stone at the most… but snores like a gigantic fat man.”

Continue reading Kassarine Lost: Part 4

Kassarine Lost: Part 3

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Captain Geoffrey Poulden double checked the Sun Compass to verify their heading.  It was crudely mounted above the dash right where the windshield would have been.  The trucks used to have the newer P8 compasses but those had been ruined some time ago, forcing them to use the old and still reliable Sun Compass.  The sun remained the most reliable thing the LRDG had.  Geoffrey glanced up.  It was still there, burning exposed skin, and bleaching everything else.   Thankfully, the second most reliable things they had were their trucks.

When these trucks arrived in North Africa, they were brand new Chevrolet WB 30 cwt 4×2, straight from Detroit.   Once they got into the hands of the New Zealanders that formed the original LRDG, hacksaws and cutting torches were used to remove the tops and anything that would be otherwise useless.  Then they were painted the same color as the desert sand.  After the trucks had been passed down from squadron to squadron to the Englishmen who formed “G” Patrol there was little of the original trucks left save for the frames.  As trucks broke down, they were cannibalized savagely to keep the rest of the trucks operational.   There are been seven trucks in Poulden’s squadron, and twenty five men.  Now it was down to three, crewed by nine.

The first truck was marked with a crudely painted scorpion in a circle, right in the center of the hood.  Geoffrey rode shotgun, while Staff Sergeant Nathaniel Allum drove, and Sergeant Dale Collier, the young man from Cambridge manned the new dual Browning fifty cal machine guns mounted in the back of the truck.  Geoffrey looked in the back and saw that Collier was fast asleep again on top of a pile of rolled camo netting.  Dale was good with the guns, and while he should be keeping an eye out for aircraft, Geoffrey let him sleep.  Dale had been awake longer than the rest of them, and they were still well within friendly territory.   It would be dark soon and it wouldn’t matter.  He wanted Dale to be well rested tomorrow come sunrise.  Because they would be deep in the desert with no support then… and the skies wouldn’t be trusted.

The second truck had Lieutenant, Eugene Baskett commanding, Staff Sergeant Roger Friedman driving, and Richard O’Carroll standing in the back of the truck holding on to his dual mounted, .303 caliber Vickers guns.  Richard looked like he was wiping them down with a rag.  They were good guns, but required a lot of care. Richard O’Carroll was probably the youngest man in the squadron, having come to the LRDG from the 2nd Lancers.  He was used to tanks instead of trucks, having trained extensively with the Crusader light tanks.  Fat lot of good that did him here, but along the way he learned how to run a Vickers K Machine Gun, so he was useful.  Their truck was also their Wireless Truck.  It had several long antennas and radio sets that worked well… most of the time.  

The third truck was their Gun Truck, they called it Anvil.  Unlike the first two truck, Anvil was sporting a 37mm Bofors Anti-Tank gun.  Sergeant Roberto Goss was a wizard with it. They had tried to give him one of the captured Breda 20mm guns, but Roberto insisted that the Bofors were better and hit harder.  Most thought the Bredas were more accurate, but Roberto just laughed and asked when was the last time he missed.   No one could argue that point.  Roberto Goss never missed.   The gun truck was called the Anvil because when Roberto fired that Bofors, a few seconds later you would hear the loud “clang” of the shell slamming into target.  The gun might not be able to punch the newer Panzers, but anything lighter would be wrecked.    Roberto had made thousand yard hit on a moving German 232 Scout car.  One shot, one kill.  No one tried to take the Bofors away from him after that.

Staff Sergeant Logan Weston drove Anvil.  He was able to somehow keep Anvil from getting stuck even with the heavier weapon and ammunition she carried.    Lieutenant Philip Clayton was Anvil’s commander, and had a knack for positioning Anvil so Roberto had a good angle to biggest problems.  Philip had been given a wide brimmed Stetson hat from an American cavalry unit, and he’s worn it ever since.  

Geoffrey was a little envious.  The hat was almost ridiculous, but it did good work keeping the sun out of Philip’s eyes and off his neck.  Like the rest of the men, Geoffrey wore the Arab style headgear called a keffiyeh, which was pretty much a scarf held to his head with some black rope called an agal.  It did fairly well in the heat, but a cowboy hat would be better, Geoffrey thought.

 

Kassarine Lost: Part II.

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The men were laying around on top of supplies in improvised bunks and hammocks.  Each one was filthy looking, smelled of sweat and oil, and appeared to have forgotten what a razor was.  They had made some sort of hovel from parking three trucks together in a semi circle and used tarps to fashion a large but rudimentary tent.   

Corporal Carter looked around at the men, offended by their lack of decorum and military bearing.  “Where is your Commanding Officer?  Who’s in charge here?”  Carter said, with a raised voice full of repudiation.  

Continue reading Kassarine Lost: Part II.

Kassarine Lost

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Prologue:
“Where is he?  I can’t see the bastard!”  Wallace craned his head around, looking into the clouds and sun. 
“He’s playing with us.”  Quinton moaned from the radio position, holding a rag against the hole in his gut.
Wallace looked back at the cockpit’s instruments.  He could see daylight through the holes.  The artificial horizon was drilled through and what was left of the compass had fallen out and was now behind the rudder pedals.  Most of the cockpit was splattered with blood.  Some of it was the Hendrick’s, the pilot. Some of it was his own.   The pink chunks of brain matter across the canopy was most likely all Hendrick’s as well.  
The Lancaster shuddered.  This time, not from more hits, but from engine two, which had just failed.  He reached out to throttle back the damaged engine.  His whole arm burned from fingertips to shoulder.  The ragged hole through the forearm was a good indication of why his arm burned, and why that was all he could feel.  He saw his hand hit the throttles, but he didn’t feel them. Wallace concentrated and made his hand hook the lever and leaned back to pull it.  The lever moved some, but it was slick with blood and his hand slipped off.  He couldn’t grasp the lever enough to make it move anymore.  
Wallace looked up through the shattered canopy and was about to say a prayer when he caught sight of the BF-109 that had been killing them.   It was directly above them. 
“Look at that, Quinton.”  Wallace said.  “I found him.”
Quinton didn’t respond.
Wallace let out a sigh of resignation as the German fighter rolled in the air and dove.  He almost didn’t care anymore.  He saw the glittering of the muzzle flashes as it began it’s attack, but the firing stopped.
The BF-109 flashed passed the cockpit.  Wallace lost sight of it again so he turned his attention back to the flying the stricken aircraft.  The Lancaster was down to two engines, leaking all it’s fluids, leaving a trail of smoke, and was losing altitude by the minute with half its crew dead or dying.  Wallace tried to at least keep the wings level and the nose from pointing down, but his hand slipped again and fell back into his lap.  He felt so tired…
A glint of sunlight caught his attention outside again and he turned to look at the German fighter, just feet away.  The German pilot was clearly visible as he waved, and then curiously, peeled off and took a heading away from the British bomber.
“That’s it, bugger off now.”  He tried to laugh, but only coughed on the blood in his throat.
Wallace could only guess he had run out of ammunition.  Not that it mattered.  They were as good as dead anyways.   He looked out and saw they were down to about two thousand feet.  The only thing he could see below was rolling sand dunes of North Africa.  At least they wouldn’t drown. 
Wallace tried to grab the yoke with both hands again. Only one reached it.  The other hand dangled from the arm that didn’t want to rise.  He looked down and saw the gaping hole in the leather jacket at the shoulder.  Blood was pouring from it at an alarming rate.  Not much he could do about it. 
When he looked out again, out to the ground ahead.  He saw what looked like a dry lake bed.  Maybe he could put the Lancaster down there.  With the same effort as pushing a truck, Wallace pushed the left rudder pedal.  It moved only so slightly… but it was enough.  The lake bed was soon straight in front of him. 
His eyes were heavy.  He wanted to sleep.
But he had to land the plane.
Don’t worry, he said to himself.  The plane would land all on its own… One way.  Or another. 
He closed his eyes.

My All Time Favorite Bad Guys:

You can’t have a Hero without a great villain.  Your Protagonist needs an awesome Antagonist if he or she is going to be awesome.   I like a good Bad Guy.  Someone that really leaves a mark.   Here’s a short list of my all time favorite bad guys.

Bill Cutting “The Butcher” – Gangs of New York.
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What makes Bill the Butcher so awesome is his grand sense of patriotism and American Exceptionalism… in the form of himself as the most Exceptional American.   America is Great, because He is American… and he’s going to keep it that way.  His City.  His State. His Nation.  We’re just living in it.  And he’s got a great sense of style… And honestly, who else other than Slash can pull off a Top Hat like that?  And that Mustache is Ultra Boss.

Hans Gruber – Die Hard.
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Hans is cold and calculating… He’s planned things out. He knows what’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen.  This gives him confidence in his success, and when he needs to, he changes his accent and character so he can reposition.  Very smooth, Hans.  His team is well trained, well skilled, and well equipped… and he personally carries an HK P7… Good Taste.  Great taste.  Hans has his own sense of style that no one else can really replicate.

Roy Batty – Blade Runner
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Roy’s goals are simple and pure… He just wants to live longer.  He’s strong.  Powerfully built.  And smart.  He is brutal when it comes to getting what he wants, and enjoys toying with the good guys.  And like The Terminator – He will not stop.  What makes him so bad?  He smiles.  He makes jokes.  And then he kills you, brutally, painfully… because he likes too.  That’s what makes him scary.  He doesn’t even know it… but he likes hurting and killing.  In his own, childlike and almost innocent way.  His backstory alone would make an epic movie.

Archibald Cunningham – Rob Roy
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You really get to hate Archibald.  He is evil in a most unique way… And aristocratic fop who is all about whoring and drinking and spending money, and taking advantage over everyone around him… and he’s very very good with a sword.  You Really Get To Hate him.  In fact, you hate him so much – it takes you time to get over seeing Tim Roth in other roles because the knee-jerk reaction is to hate those characters too.  He is unforgettable, and unforgivable… and he has one of the best deaths in film history.

The Sheriff of Nottingham – Robin Hood Prince of Thieves
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Robin Hood is an old story told many times in film and in literature… but if you do a Google Image Search – there is only one Sheriff of Nottingham, and that’s the one played by Alan Rickman.  Yes, the same Hans Gruber Alan Rickman.  He’s the only Sheriff that not only cancelled Christmas, but also ordered a one wench to his bedchambers, and then ordered another one to come an hour later… and to bring a friend.  You can argue who did the best Robin Hood – but no one…. No One…. Can touch The Sheriff of Nottingham.

Handsome Jack – Borderlands 2
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Handsome Jack might not be well known… But he’s my #1 favorite Bad Guy.  He’s funny.  He goes about everything he does with a sense of humor only matched by his sense of self entitlement.  He didn’t start out that way though… He started out as a hero.  But that’s another story… We first meet Jack in the video game “Borderlands 2” where he mocks you and taunts you – constantly – and hilariously.  And he has a diamond pony named after you… “Butt Stallion”.

Gravity Fields

Being a huge fan of Science Fiction, the actual discovery of Gravity Waves gets me excited.

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

– Nikola Tesla

The Discovery of Gravity Waves changes the future of what is possible.   Waves can be generated.   Waves can be manipulated. This means Gravity can be manipulated.    We can make Interference Waves, which cancels out other waves… Which means we could create Anti-Gravity.

If we can manipulate gravity, we can manipulate Space-Time. Which means we could have Star Wars/Star Trek type Space Travel. Which means everything we’ve seen in Science Fiction suddenly becomes something very special… It becomes Possible.

The difference between Science Fiction and Fantasy is that Science Fiction is based on what is Possible.

Rest in Peace, Zachary.

168024_1747442679284_1674515_nMy little Brother, Zachary Hill passed away suddenly and unexpectedly this morning. He leaves behind his sweet young bride, Mackenzie Hadlow Hill.
Please pray for her.
Zack is a gentile soul with big heart, an Artist, and was a two tour Combat Veteran. A true Warrior Poet… that always sought Peace. He loved to play games and chill with his family and friends. And he was a prolific writer.
Zack was also a Traveler… He adventured in other countries… Through Mexico, Japan, and Italy. Now he’s gone to the Undiscovered Country.
While he’s away from us for the time being, we know we will see him again.
This is a time of great faith and pain for the Hill Family. Zachary Hill is already sorely missed. We’ve wept for him ever since we got the terrible news. I have never wept so much or felt heartache so much. I’ve wept till I was sick and am still weeping. Zach wasn’t just a brother, he was also a dear friend.
Here’s something about us Mormons though… We believe that families are eternal. And our circles of friends are too. Those relationships we have on Earth will be the possessions we will always keep.
Humans do not have Souls, we ARE Souls and what we have are bodies. And while Zach left his body, he is still and will always be Zach. And one day we will see him again. He is still my Brother. And he always will be. While we are grieving, Deveni Hill and I believe that he too is grieving for having to leave behind his friends, his family and his new bride, Mackenzie Hadlow Hill. He would not have wanted to leave her now. But he had to… Our Father in Heaven has a plan for Zach, as he does for all of us. But things happen for a reason and it’s our struggle to make sense of it in this mortal world… through our limited and narrow optics that are full of confusion, distraction, and pain.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ… When you look at all of it in total… What is it all for? Just so we can one day kneel at his throne? No… That’s not what it is all about. It’s all about Love. It’s all about Family. It’s all about our personal relationships with those we love and how we can be together forever. I truly believe that. And it gives me comfort. Though I still grieve painfully… Zach always has been, and always will be, my brother.

We miss you, Zach.  We love you.

Paul Genesse has set up a GOFUNDME for Zach’s Widow.   She needs all the support she can get in this painful time.

Mike Kupari’s “Her Brother’s Keeper”

Mike’s new book, “Her Brother’s Keeper” is a fantastic mix of old school sci-fi and modern genre-blending.  I was highly enjoyable.  I  used an Audible credit to get the “Book on Tape”… having forgotten I had ordered the paper version.  So now my boys are reading it – and they too are enjoying it.  Get this book.  It’s an excellent Sci-Fi.  You will love it too.

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The gun is of course my Ruger GP100 Match Champion.  The Blade is… some Benchmade push dagger… I forget which.  The patch, was Mike’s “Team Duchess” patch.   It’s one of my favorites.

SIG Rising

There has been a lot of chatter about SIG’S quality control lately.  Statements that call it to question.
SIG started this themselves when they started offering a lot of 3rd party crap with the SIG stamp on it.  Holsters,  cheap Red Dots, bulky, overpriced lights… terrible stuff.
But this is mostly all in the past now and SIG has learned that lesson and taken it to heart.  What they are doing now is incredible.
SIG wants to be the best.  They want to offer the best to the American Gun Owner.  And to this right, they have to do it themselves.   This means they are bringing things in house. 
Optics.  SIG is quietly making some amazing optics, after headhunting the best talent in the USA for the project.
SIG is also rolling very high quality ammunition.
The QC on their guns remains stringent.   Any 22X gun is going to be top quality.   Questioning maybe their rimfire stuff… debatable.  But SIG’s core gun lines have never faltered.  And honestly probably better than ever.  Better than even the legendary “German Stamped” guns.  Yes, I went there.   I’d happily take a new M11 pistol over any German marked 228 or the like.  I have full faith and confidence in SIG firearms.  And SIG is one of the very few gun makers I’d bet my life on.

Home Built

There’s been tons of chatter about using 3D Printers to build your own gun at home.  Unfortunately there’s a problem with these… and that’s quality.  3D Printed frames are just not that strong.  And if you can afford one of the big fancy metal printers that make strong parts… well, you could pretty much buy any numbers of guns you wanted for that astronomical price.  And even then, those parts are still not as strong as factory forged or cast frames.
Then there are the Ghost Gun mills.  That’s going to take your 80% Lower and finish it.  Or a block of material and carve out that AR lower for you.  That’s good.  Certainly a step up.  But that’s still not where I’d want to be… Even though I have seen some very good results.   It’s very limited.  A small CNC Mill is certainly where it’s at, but the Desk Top mills are not quiet there yet.

I like where this is going.  This article is about Plastic Casting.  And I think it’s got greater potential than current 3D Printers that are within reach of the DIY crowd.    If you can Cast plastic… You can cast Aluminum.  If you can cast Aluminum, you can cast steel.   There are videos on how to make your own forges and smelters and pretty much anything you need to melt metal.

Ruger builds some awesome firearms using a Cast process.  One that can be replicated on a small scale in your back yard.   Now here’s where this gets interesting… You can cast just about anything.  Any part.  The small parts you can’t cast, you can order in.

I’m really digging the exploration people are doing in the making it yourself movement.  We’ve seen some crazy cool things come of it.  I’m expecting any day now to see someone build something truly unique in their back yard.