23 March 2011

Model 57, Soccer Ball & Шљивовица, Mission accomplished!

From the Soldier side: Some of the things we did as soldiers had nothing to do with our duties or missions. Much of the time, while on deployments we had to “make our own fun.” For my Bosnia mission “making our own fun” was pretty easy. To this point in my life, I still think Bosnia was about the most fun job I ever had!

For some reason, one of my more popular post, was about the time I visited a Bosnian dude. He had been an Army commander during the war. Despite the law about possession of a pistol, he had kept his Model 57 7.62 MM army pistol. Go read: Model 57

In that story, I the “retired” commander handed me his Model 57, 7.62 MM pistol and told me to shoot an old soccer ball on the hill in his back yard. ( I did check the background and we had a safe field of fire.)  I had never fired a pistol like that before (a Yugoslavian version of the Tokerav) so I missed. When I asked if he had any more bullets, he regretted to tell me that was the last one. AND I MISSED! I couldn’t believe that I missed. It was only about 20 meters away.

Well, I had to right that wrong. Last year, I found a gun dealer who had a bunch of cherry Model 57 pistols in stock. I ordered one.
CI Roller Dude's M9 and Model 57

Then I went to the sport store and range with my best friend and we set up a soccer ball to be executed. I hate to make excuses, but the sights on the Mod 57 are way off. So it took me a few rounds to find the target…then I laid waste to the soccer ball.
"J" suggested taping the target down- a good idea!

Then a few months ago, I went to a combined police agency pistol qualification. I took the Model 57 and was able to qualify with it. Everybody else was shooting Glocks, Sigs and other modern pistols. It’s not the best combat gun in the world, but in the right hands, a rock and stick can be deadly.

Funky sights!
The cool thing about these old pistols is, the ammo is so cheap.  There's tons of former Commie stuff being imported into the US now. 

08 March 2011

Bring out your dead....after a pint....

From the Soldier side: I find it kind of funny, but often when I read something on another blog or someplace, it may jar a memory of something from the past. I did so many “little adventures” in the Army and National Guard over the years, that I’ve forgotten many of them. However, I was reading America’s First Sergeant at: http://castrapraetoria1.blogspot.com/   post the other day about the troops from Wales and some history with the US Marines.

Well, when I was stationed in the Berlin Brigade http://www.berlinbrigade.com/  I met some soldiers from Royal Regiment of Wales: http://www.rrw.org.uk/

The troops I met were in mortars like me, so we first started looking at each other weapons and kit on a professional point of view. Then, since they were about my age, away from home and liked to consume alcoholic beverages, we started drinking.

One night they invited me over to their pub… we had a “few pints” and they asked if I wanted to go to the cinema. I had to think for a minute and translate that into American…”oh, you mean a movie?”

Yes, Yank a movie. I asked what was showing…they told me something called “Monte Python.”

I had no idea what or who that was, but after a few pints, I’d try anything.

It was Monty Python and the search for the holly grail. Let me tell you, it was 100 times better watching it for the first time drunk. Damn it was funny.

Bring out your dead http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grbSQ6O6kbs

Black Knight http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eMkth8FWno&feature=fvsr

Gwell Angau na Chywilydd - Better Death than Dishonour

Rhowch i mi peint!

03 March 2011

10th Mountain Div, WWII hero- Bill


From the Soldier side: It’s funny when I look back at my career of being a Soldier, that one thing seems to remain the same in the military. The people.

Don't they look sharp! 

In any team, squad, platoon, company etc you will have a number of troops who you could take from 1944 and drop into a unit in 2011 and except for the uniforms and equipment, they’d be the same type of person. These types of people are the ones who will volunteer for stuff and get the job done.

A few years ago I had the privilege of finally meeting a hero from the US Army’s WWII 10th Mountain Division. He was one of the original members from WWII who fought in Italy and was wounded. His name is Bill.

Bill is my uncle’s father in law and I first had a chance to chat with him via e-mail while I was deployed. I remember when he saw pictures from Iraq, he asked me what all the "stuff" was.  I told him the M-4 replaced the M1 Carbine, the M249 SAW replaced the BAR, and the Humvee replaced the jeep, half track and a few other vehicles. 

I finally got to meet Bill a few years ago. He and I got to sit down and tell war stories. I would have loved to have been in his unit or for him to have been in mine. He was funny and I could tell that he was the kind of guy to tell jokes and pull pranks, but when you needed a soldier to get the job done…he was the guy you looked for.

I wish I could have gone back and spent more time talking to him. For those serving now, did you know I learned a lot of little tricks I used in Iraq from vets who fought in the past? Some things that hold true through out history. The equipment changes, but the people don’t--- at least I hope they never change. Read some history from past wars…and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

Thanks Bill. You made the world a better place and you are a hero.

01 March 2011

More on Vet Posers....

From the Cop & Soldier side: For my 2 or 3 regular readers you know I got out of the “Regular Army” in the 1970’s. Since I actually joined before the Viet Nam war was over, I could have considered myself a Viet Nam ERA vet. I never chose to ever use that status when talking to people and as far as finding jobs, it did absolutely no good.

Since many years later I served in Bosnia and Iraq, I’ll gladly claim whatever status that grants me.
CI Roller Dude in Bosnia, Circa 2004
CI Roller Dude, Baghdad, IZ circa 2005

Over the last 30+ years I’ve been a cop in California, I have come across dozens of people claiming that they were some kind of war vet. In my early cop days, they usually claimed to be Nam vets. In those days, I was pretty gullible and would often believe the person’s stories. Then, a few times, I heard things that I knew could not have been possible…usually somebody spreading other bullshit I had heard before.

I lost track of how many criminals, drunks, crazies, homeless people and many “normal” people I heard make false claims. In almost every case, the person would claim something like they had served in some type of Special Forces unit—if it was Army,then they were Rangers or “Green Berets.” If they claimed Navy, it was SEALS, if it was Marines, then they were Recon or a Sniper.  If it was Air Force, then they were the Door Gunner on the Space Shuttle. 

Many times I’d get a call on a homeless person pan handling for money….holding up a sign claiming that they were a “Nam Vet and needed help.”

Since it was my police duty to contact the person and advise them that citizens were complaining, I’d get the begger’s info—date of birth etc. In most cases, I could tell since the person was really too young to have served in Nam, that they were lying. I’d challenge them on it. In most cases I found that they had never even served in the military, or, if they had, they had been kicked out early. I told them that they could not claim Vet status for begging as it was an insult to those who’d actually served in Nam and risked their lives, or gave their lives.

Several years ago I was called to a local college campus to investigate a violent student. He had gone around telling everybody that he suffered PTSD- that was why he attacked so many people and had been arrested for every single crime in the California Penal Code. When I finally arrested him and asked him about “what was your MOS in the Army Rangers---when you went to Grenada?”

He looked at me and asked what was MOS? I told him: “that is what proves you are full of shit.” He had NEVER been in the military, but he somehow had gotten a Veterans Administration medical card.
But, sadly it’s not just bums, drunks and criminals who fake being a war vet. I have run across a few cops who I figured out were also fakes. Fakes at some of the police stuff they’d claimed they’d done and a few who faked having been war vets. Many fakers start out where they may have actually been in the military during a war—but they never actually went to the war. In many cases I’ve seen them start out by putting a decal on their car, or wearing a hat or t-shirt.

After they’ve worn the sticker, hat or shirt for awhile, then some people start the think that the faker had been in the war…and it takes off from there.

I was in West Berlin, Germany in 1975 when we watched South Viet Nam fall on the news. The next day, we had an alert---loaded all our combat gear and headed to Tempelhof Air Force Base (now just an airport). We left the barracks before the sun was up…sat around the base until lunch, ate lunch, then went back to the barracks. That was as close as I got to Viet Nam.

Sonofagun …over 20 years later I did end up going to Bosnia and Iraq, twice as old as I was when Nam ended. I was lucky that I was a lot older and wiser when I went to war.  I think that helped me alot.

So, when you find a person faking being a vet….. once you are sure…challenge them in public. Simple checks: how old are they? Ask what MOS they had. Ask what unit they were in and where they served. If they are true and honest Vets, shake their hand. If they’re a fake poser….then do what you like.

On a positive note, for a REAL VET, a short time after I'd returned from Iraq, I was working my cop job.  I was called to a home where a man and his wife were having problems.  The man was a true Gulf War Vet.  When I got there, he only wanted to talk to me...because he'd read in the local paper a story they'd written about me. 

I sat and listened to him for an hour. He was a mess.  He'd never figured out who to talk to for his very real PTSD.  It turned out, that just me listening to him, relating a few of my experiences in Iraq and telling him it was OK to be bothered by what he experienced... he never had another problem. 

They lived close to the police station I had worked at...so I saw them a few times a week...walking down town, holding hands and smiling.  Life was going to be good.