Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

Difference Between SEALs and SF (Serious)

Here’s a recently retired SF LTC describing the (we’d say “a”) key difference between SF and SEALS. Probably good for the general public, who’ve seen a lot of frogman propaganda (some of which makes the frogs themselves roll their eyes) lately.

We’d also like to note that he misses one of the big differences, and that’s that SF is primarily a terrestrial operation. Sure, we do air or maritime ops to get to work, but the SEALs have a maritime capability that is quite literally without equal, not just in the United States but probably in the world. (Some of our NATO allies have some excellent maritime SOF capabilities, but they’re different from what the frogs inherit from their UDT ancestors and have developed in some amazing directions).


OK, we’re having trouble with the embed code, the video can be seen on Business Insider, maybe we’ll have time to hack at it this evening.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Drug Cravings

april corcoranWe give you April Corcoran, Mother of the Year. Washington Post, take it away:

“I can honestly say that, in three-and-a-half years on the bench, this is by far the worst thing that has come before this court.” So said Judge Leslie Ghiz of Ohio’s Hamilton County Pleas Court as she sentenced April Corcoran to 51 years to life in prison Tuesday, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Look, judges and cops are always saying, “This is the worst one,” the ultimate limit,  they’ve never seen worse, etc. etc. Is this just judicial hyperbole in this case? We mean, what did this woman do that got Judge Ghiz all wound up?

Corcoran, 32, had pleaded guilty in June to raising money to feed her heroin addiction by loaning out her 11-year-old daughter to her drug dealer, who, with the mother’s blessing, raped, sodomized and abused her, sometimes videotaping it, according to the indictment against Corcoran.

Jesus. H. Christ. On a flaming syringe. Her own daughter!

The preteen was being forced to have vaginal, anal and oral sex with a 40-year-old man. The mother pleaded guilty to multiple counts of complicity to rape, human trafficking and child endangerment.

OK, maybe the judge is right, and this is the worst.

“But wait!” as Ron Popeil might say. “There’s more!” Oh, please, no.

Because he preferred children younger than 11, prosecutors said, the mother dressed her up to look even younger, reported WLWT TV.  “Little did we know, I guess, her drug dealer had a propensity to film little kids when they are performing sexual acts on him,” Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Katie Pridemore said at the time of the plea. “She didn’t have the means or the cash to buy her heroin anymore from her drug dealer,” said Pridemore. “….So she offered up her child in return.”

The courts have been enervated by decades of misguided tikkun olam easing the sufferings of prisoners and convicts. There is no appropriate sentence for this maternal monster, because the threshold of justice in her case crosses right into the terra prohibita that the ostriches have defined as “cruel and unusual.” Ostriches? What else to call those who refuse to look on this extreme end of human misbehavior, lest they should have to admit what punishment Justice demands in this case.

“You showed no kind of mercy,” the judge told her, according to the Enquirer. ” …. I don’t know that you grasp the damage that has been done to this poor child.”

And then, of course, he proceeded to wrist-tap Corcoran, because a wrist tap — a 51-year-to-life sentence is a wrist tap in this case, and she could be out in some small percentage of that — is all the law admits to be meted out to a monster like Corcoran.

Did we tell you, there’s more? And it’s even more evil, or perhaps as evil in a new direction — the criminals of the world seem intent on exhausting our supply of comparatives and even superlatives, don’t they?

Corcoran had a special routine after her daughter was brutalized. As a “reward,” she gave her daughter heroin, the court was told. “Sometimes this defendant would give a little bit of heroin to her daughter,” Pridemore told the court. “The daughter didn’t want it but she said, ‘you’re a good girl. You did the right thing.’”

The middle-schooler vomited each time.

Jesus. H. Christ. Yes, we’re aware we said that already, it just seemed like by the time we scrolled down this far, another prayer was in order.

This happened four times between February and June 2014. Corcoran has not expressed any apologies to her daughter, the judge said in court Tuesday.

Shandell WillinghamHey, what’s to apologize for? Isn’t the Washington Post in favor of early sex education? Corcoran and her boyfriend/dealer, one Shandell Willingham (left), were just homeschooling the kid in that subject!

And the drugs? Why, what about ’em? Surely the Post can’t have a problem with sharing? 

Hmm. How do you think the kid is doing?

Now 13 years old, the girl is living out of state with her father and stepmother. She is taking medication, has had suicidal thoughts and is undergoing medical care, Ghiz said in court Tuesday. There’s doubt she will be able to cope.

Doubt, my eye. The girl is going to be as screwed up as the Pentagon, for life.

“I saw my granddaughter. I heard her small voice,” the girl’s grandmother said in court. “It was horrific. How could she (Corcoran) do this? I don’t know if my granddaughter is going to be able to have a normal life.”

She isn’t. We’ve encountered a number of these victims as adults. Each was a basket case in her own way, but basket cases they were.

The authorities learned of the case in June 2014, when the girl moved in with her father, who reported it.

Now, if you’ve read this far, your ability to feel shock and dismay probably has a bunch of fibrous scar tissue on it by this point, but we’re going to shock you one more time.

The girl’s plight didn’t shock locals in the rural area of Ohio where Corcoran lived, the paper reported at the time of her arrest. “I mean, things like this happen a lot down here,” resident Keith Benson said. “Probably not to this degree, but there’s constantly being reports of animal abuse and fights breaking out around. It’s a little bit surprising but not entirely unexpected.”

via ‘Worst thing that has come before this court’: Mother financed addiction by letting drug dealer rape her child – The Washington Post.

To recap: this girl’s mother pimped her out for drugs, tried to get the kid hooked on heroin too, and the Man In Da Street that the Post finds says that’s “not entirely unexpected.”

Our Article III (and the State equivalent) courts don’t have the powers to levy an appropriate sentence in cases like this. An April Corcoran requires a judge with the imagination of Caligula, who can match her depravity for depravity, and conclude the matter, with the human race conclusively cured of the infection that is April Corcoran.

Anything else may be process, but it is not justice. 

How Insurgencies are Broken

"Is it safe?"

“Is it safe?” Torture makes for great entertainment, but it’s seldom needed to roll up an insurgent network.

We bumped into an interesting post at a blog called The Lizard Farmer on the subject of COIN intelligence TTPs. He uses the example of an imaginary Texan resistance cell and describes how intelligence practitioners would roll up a would-be “militia” unit. They do this without even a State of Emergency, or tapping the NSA liasons’ at the fusion centers’ direct warrantless access to domestic mass phone and digital surveillance. They just apply the tactics, techniques and procedures that police use now to close criminal cases, which are very close to what intelligence organizations use to unravel, expose, and annihilate insurgent entities.

His specific example begins with a dead body found after a small unit contact. The decedent was sanitized of serial numbered equipment, electronics, ID and identifying marks, and had even defaced his fingerprints. But he still was the thread they pulled to unravel his entire cell. In the end, modern technology (and psychology) have made no man an island — not even a dead man.

He concludes:

These tactics are how insurgencies are broken.  They’re what enabled the system to pin Bin Laden down, catch the Tsarnaevs, and identify drone strike targets in the middle east.

We have to interrupt here to say two things about the Tsarnaevs — they were not caught until after they acted, and there was no great effect of the intelligence effort to hunt them. They were caught because they got in a gunfight with the cops; one (Speedbump) was killed, finished off when his brother ran him over, and one (Flashbang) wounded badly enough that a citizen found him and turned him in, after a botched Gestapo-style house-to-house razzia failed to find him.

Networks are deadly to an insurgency.  Even operating in meatspace can be deadly without the right precautions.  All it takes is for one person to use that phone to call or that debit card to pay and they’ve been nailed in time and space.   Sure you may be using your regular phone (and not your disposable one) to call ma but you’re there and the records show it.  And if your battle buddy does something similar he’s fixed at that time and place as well – so now both of you are associated.  The key is discipline.  When you meet you go completely off the grid.  Completely.  No phone use, no debit card use, nada in and around the geographic area and  timeframe you meet.  Recon and identify how you could expose yourself.  Does a certain route have license plate readers?  Then don’t use it.  Convenience stores?  They all have cameras at the counter and pumps. Nearby ATM machine? Cameras and transaction records.  The golden rule at all times (and I mean all times)  is to ask yourself: How will what I’m doing at this second expose myself and others to identification?

via How They Hunt | The Lizard Farmer.

Emphasis was in the original. Note that already the police work around legal restrictions on using “forbidden” or warrantless unlawful surveillance by the fiction of “parallel construction,” which means, quite literally, presenting false records to the court that were generated to plausibly explain government possession of illegally collected data. Parallel Construction is not a novel GWOT era technique but was used at least as early as the early 1990s in drug cases, both running warrantless wiretaps against organized crime figures and using military intelligence assets against domestic crime groups. In those cases, it was justified in part by a drug case carve-out to Posse Comitatus engineered into being in the 1980s, but once they began doing it they were on the slippery slope of doing it whether they had a drug nexus or not.

The 1990s-vintage botched raids at Waco and Ruby Ridge both used military assets (physical and human) acquired by ATF and FBI agents simply lying and manufacturing a nonexistent “drug nexus” to get what they wanted. They were coached in this by DOJ lawyers (which should be a reminder to you that a lawyer is a man who is trained to lie for a living; that’s why they do so well as politicians). And these seemingly extreme measures of the 1980s and 1990s were taken in the face of routine and small-time crime. You may rest assured, you would-be revolutionaries, you, that the gloves would come off in a shooting insurgency, and you haven’t seen gloves-off yet.

In some ways this is new; in others, it is as old as the Roman suppression of the Jews 2,000 years ago. A good overview of the techniques, minus the modern technology, can be found in the movie, The Battle of Algiers, and that puppy’s over 50 years old.

Even now, in the FBI, which is increasingly redefining itself as the Sword and Shield of The Party1, monitors what it calls “extremists” and is making long lists of who it would like to round up, when The Party lets slip its leash. Erdogan isn’t the only one who had an “enemies list” cued up for neutralization.

So, if you are, say, an antiauthoritarian personality, if the will to resist is strong in you, what can you do without winding up on a slab like “Bob” in Lizard’s post, or in a death-row holding cell like his brother, or having his kids passed to the probable molesters of the state’s Child “Protective” Services like Bob’s brother’s kids?

One notes that the FBI has been extremely poor at detecting troublemakers who act alone. This is a general truism of police work. Criminals get caught because they interact: they talk, and seal their fate; they associate with other criminals, and the capture of one gives investigators a powerful lever with which to pry loose the rest.

Or, to put it in the words of an old western movie, if you’re going to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.


  1. You may have heard that phrase before. We were reminded of it by the Bureau’s reluctance to support a prosecution of Mrs Clinton for a more egregious version of an offense that it has arrested and helped imprison several for every year of the last decade, while snapping-to immediately in pursuit of the hackers that embarrassed The Party. The former alone might simply have been a case of how the Beltway operates increasingly on a Code of Hammurabi type law, with “different spanks for different ranks.” But in conjunction with the second, and various other activities, it’s clear that FBI is increasingly comfortable viewing itself as a partisan political police. People fear a military coup in the United States, but that is very unlikely; however, the Bureau’s higher echelons are starting to see themselves as the Praetorian Guard.

AR-10 Sniper Reweld — On GB and Sold in a Flash

Seeing that this had already come, and gone, on GunBroker, was a bit like being King Arthur and the boys and hearing that the French knight would not join our quest for the Holy Grail, ’cause “‘E’s already got one.”

original AR10 sniper 01

Some lucky knight has now got the Holy Grail of early AR collecting, albeit a rewelded semi-auto version; but it’s as near as an ordinary mortal will get to the original as long as the Hughes Amendment stands.

Well, here it is, deep from the recesses of my collection, the legend of legends……………….For sale one each original 1960 Portuguese AR-10 sniper rifle manufactured by “Artillerie Inrichtingen (AI) of Holland.

original AR10 sniper 03

No-this isn’t a pretend AR-10 such as the contemporary Armalite, DPMS, or any of the other .308 AR-15’s, THIS IS A REAL AR-10. Original AR-10’s in and of themselves are scarce; this is an EXTREMELY RARE sniper rifle.

He’s got a point there. The only other one of these we’ve seen was in a government museum.

original AR10 sniper 04

I’ve had it since 1995 (which is the last time I shot it) and it’s time to pass it on to somebody else. The rifle is complete and original. The lower receiver was expertly welded together from an original band saw cut and de-milled Portuguese AR-10 by Lloyd Hahn who received permission from the ATF before he did the work so it’s all done in compliance with the law (I don’t do “grey area’s).

original AR10 sniper 02

Unlike the various after-market AR-10 receivers such as Central Kentucky Arms, Specialty Arms, H&H, Telco, Sendra, etc. this actually looks like an original AR-10 lower (cuz’ it mostly is) receiver markings and all.

The aluminum H&H is pretty good, but it doesn’t duplicate the original markings, except for the serial number.

original AR10 sniper 12

SCOPE-original Delft, 3.6 X 25, excellent condition with clear optics

original AR10 sniper 19

*UPPER RECEIVER-a real sniper upper (in case somebody should ask, it would next to impossible to correctly machine the proper sniper scope cuts in an ordinary Portuguese upper) *You may notice a piece of tape behind the ejection port in the photos, no it ain’t holding the rifle together ;-)I put that on in 95’ to mitigate any brass “dings” on the upper receiver.

original AR10 sniper 14


BARREL-NO Shaw repro, it’s a very good condition Portuguese with a shiny bore (most Portuguese aren’t)

Again, the seller is on the level here. Our AR-10 barrel is “pretty good for a Porto” and the usual run of them is more in the “what were they doing with these things, growing potatoes?” condition.

original AR10 sniper 20

STOCK-Unlike most Portuguese stocks this one has an excellent rubber butt pad. There are however several very small cracks in the stock which have been expertly repaired.

The early fiberglass stocks were brittle and the resin degraded under ultraviolet light.

original AR10 sniper 10

HANDGUARDS-The fiberglass is in excellent condition with no cracks or scuffs, most Portuguese bipod handguards are a little “scruffy”, this is the best Portuguese bipod handguard I’ve ever held in my hands.

Haven’t seen one this good (including the one in the museum), ourselves.

Bipod-good-very good condition fully functional with no rust, mostly original finish. MAGAZINES-four come with the rifle.

Well, at least we’ve got more mags than that.

original AR10 sniper 17

Thanx for looking! PS-This is the same sniper rifle which was featured in the book, “The ArmaLite AR-10 Rifle”. Hit “Buy it now” and I’ll throw in the book with the sale,

via ORIGINAL ArmaLite AR-10 SNIPER Rifle (Portuguese) : Semi Auto Rifles at

The “Buy It Now” price was $12,000, and the running joke is that half of it was for the rare Maj. Sam Pikula book. (Which has fortunately been replaced, finally, by a better book after decades out of print).

Exit question: was the knight in question Reed Knight? He has most variants of AR-10 in his collection, but we don’t think he had the ultra-rare sniper.

“Black Spot” and Night Battlefield Dominance

NC-123k period 2In 1967, the Air Commandos began to develop a night special operations gunship capability called Project Black Spot. They leveraged the capabilities of primitive imagery intensifiers to create an aircraft that could defeat the darkness and interdict enemy movement in areas where the threat situation was too “hot” for a low-and-slow-flying fixed-wing gunship. While a couple of these areas were obviously the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and Cambodia, the ship was also used to hunt clandesting agent-landing boats off the coasts of South Korea.


The airframe selected was the Fairchild C-123K Provider, which after modification was called the NC-123 (formal name) or AC-123 (as used by crews). Instead of side-firing guns, the Black Spot birds had cluster bomb unit (CBU) dispensers and carried a war load of over 6,000 1-lb dual-purpose CBUs, of which 24 could be delivered (2 x 12-unit racks) in a single pass. The CBU racks could then be in-flight reloaded by the crew.

Some sources say three airframes were modified, but only two show up in most references: 54-691 and 54-698.

NC-123k period photo

The key to the system was the sensors: X-Band Radar, Doppler terrain-following radar, night-vision Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR), night-vision Low Light Level TV (LLLTV), a Radar Homing and Warning (RHAW) countermeasures device, and a laser range-finder/illuminator.  Some of these systems were new, and some had been developed for strategic bombers, but taken together they greatly improved the situational awareness of the crew.

In a harbinger of what was to come, the the TFR, FLIR and LLLTC were housed in a gimbaling “ball” in the nose.

c-123k pod

The outcome of the Korean tests is unknown. The Vietnam theater tests were successful, despite the aircraft having gross weight and density altitude limitations. In addition, a limitation of the cluster bomb dispenser required the pilots to fly the plane at 4,800 feet — no more, no less.

At the end of the test, the NC-123s were converted back to ordinary C-123K trash haulers. All of the sensors proven on the NC-123 were used in subsequent gunships.

Not all experimental sensors from this period went forward. Black Crow, for example, was a truck-ignition detector that zeroed in on the ignition “noise” produced by unshielded wires in the typical Otto-cycle gasoline engine’s spark-ignition system. It was deadly effective on the trucks of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but wouldn’t work on newer trucks. Black Crow was only installed on -698, but did become standard on the AC-130s for a time.

Proving this technology on large airplanes like transports and bombers was necessary and laid fundamental groundwork for US dominance in low-light sensing systems in present years. It is a matter of some concern that, while we continue to exploit, miniaturize and field these 1960s technologies, the rate of development has slowed, and we’re resting on our, sometimes 1960s-vintage, laurels.


Chinnery, Philip D. Air Commando: Inside The Air Force Special Operations Command. London: Airlife Press, 2008. pp. 210-218. 

Johnson, E.R. American Attack Aircraft Since 1926. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2008. pp. 210-211.

Images found here and there on the internet.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Bridges

wile_e_coyote_gravityRemember, when you hear about “gun violence,” with staggering numbers, 2/3 of the numbers used by the Democrats’ gun control groups like Everytown and Americans for Responsible Solutions are suicides.

What do people without guns do, when they want to snuff it? Turns out, a firearm is not a necessity. A suicide has options from the old Sylvia Plath gas oven to Socrates’s poison to the ever popular leap into eternity from a high place.

A woman who jumped from the Interstate 95 bridge last Thursday died from her injuries and was identified as Tanya Neal, age 38.

Responders from multiple agencies were called Thursday when a witness reported seeing the woman jump from the northbound side of the I-95 bridge, which spans the Piscataqua River. Responding at 10:11 a.m. were police and firefighters from Portsmouth, Kittery and Maine State Police, said Portsmouth Fire Chief Steve Achilles. Assisting were the Coast Guard and Marine Patrol, both of which recovered the woman from the river, Achilles said.

Neal was transported by Marine Patrol and the Coast Guard to Portsmouth firefighters/EMTs who were waiting in Prescott Park, Achilles said. She was then transported by ambulance to Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

via Woman dies after jump from I-95 bridge – News – – Portsmouth, NH.

Somewhere, Shannon “40” Watts is furious that Ms Neal did not use a firearm to end her sad life, thereby depriving Watts of a statistic.

We’re grateful for the USCG and the Marine Patrol for fishing her remains out of the river. If not immediately recovered, the leapers’ carcasses wash up on the beach in my town in three weeks to a month, in a state of advanced ripeness.

Better yet, if you’re thinking about killing yourself, don’t. It might end your suffering, but it casts misery into many lives, and those good people don’t deserve to have you messing their heads up. So suck it up, Sunshine, and seek help for your depression before it gets to the bridge catwalk.

Defense Incompetence: It’s Not Just American Anymore

bundeswehrAs a week of wanton violence in Germany by the equivalent of issei immigrants and nisei sons of immigrants wrapped up with a suicide bombing, Mutti Merkel’s defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, spilled to the German media that the Bundeswehr is training Syrians in noncombat specialties.


Like every other aspect of Merkel’s foreign and defense policy, the answer seems to come down to feelz.

The German military is training more than 100 Syrian migrants for civilian roles suited to helping the eventual reconstruction of their country, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in remarks released ahead of publication on Sunday.
Von der Leyen told the Frankfurter Allgemeine daily that the pilot programme was focused on training migrants in a variety of areas such as technology, medicine and logistics.

It was not immediately clear if von der Leyen planned to expand the programme to include more of the one million migrants who arrived in Germany last year.

“The idea is that they will go back to Syria one day and help with the reconstruction” of their war-shattered country, von der Leyen told the newspaper.

Do the German people get to pick the “one day”? If so, look for this word: the German for “yesterday” is Gestern. Germans are joining the citizenry of the US and UK in a certain loss of faith in their Anointed Ones.

She said Germany could also play a role in training Syrian security forces once it had a responsible government.

Well, it has several of them, and there’s no bottom to the depths of depravities that each of them is responsible for. But that’s probably not what she means.

Syrian refugees can carry out civilian tasks for the German military, but are not eligible to work as soldiers, she said.

She says that like it’s a bad thing. Why she’s tempted to suit up these warm bodies in Feldgrau is clear enough. Right now, the BW is at its lowest headcount ever since it was first fully established in the postwar era. That is matched by a similar weakness in the usual counters of military strength, like numbers of tank or combat aviation units (which are down) and percentages of equipment in a green readiness state (which is below 50% everywhere, even lower than the availability of trained human crews.

For crying out loud, the nation that powered the rise of Krupp can’t even get their infantry rifle sorted out, and they’re the literal descendants of the brilliant engineers and technicians that conceptualized, developed, and fielded the original assault rifle — while two mighty air forces were bombing them back to a first approximation of the Stone Age, and three and a half armies (½=the Free French) were gnawing at their every frontier.

Some of us are old enough to remember when American and Russian designers borrowed ideas from German arms. But the students have turned the tables on the teacher, here.

And now, they want to recruit the jihadi diaspora, of whom a good one in ten is a clandestinely sworn opponent1, into their Army, to try to arrest its decline towards Ruritanian status.

Ask a Roman, if only you can find one: how did the barbarians work out as legionaries?

Von der Leyen sparked controversy within her own Christian Democratic party recently when she suggested that EU citizens could in certain cases take over armed roles in the German military. The defence minister also advocates greater diversity in the German military and moves to recruit more immigrants.

via German Military Trains Over 100 Syrian Migrants.

The Germans have some history with foreign mercenaries, both using them during the Second World Unpleasantness, and being them during various 18th and 19th century conflicts, including the American War of Independence. Historically, mercenary armies have seldom benefited their paymasters much, and it’s seldom been a good deal for the individual soldiers themselves. (Maybe for those of George III’s Hessians who deserted and remained in the New World). Mercenaries have been effective from time to time against Arabs or Africans, but not against competent soldiers. One reason is baked into the whole thing: a guy who fights for a paycheck is always one tight spot away from deciding that they don’t pay him enough for this $#!+.

But then, if mercenaries generally make little sense for modern civilized armies, they make no sense of all when you recruit them from among civilization’s enemies.

Seriously, we thought it took an Ash Carter to be this stupid.


  1. We don’t know how many of the “Syrian” migrants accepted into Germany are cuckoo’s eggs; we do, however, know that 13% of them dropped off the radar on admission and never showed up at the refugee centers to which they were directed.

Negligent Discharge: The Shooter’s Story

think safety signThis story was told by a Marine, Private Johnathan T. Markert, while he was in the the Marine brig at Camp Hansen, Japan, for the negligent homicide of a friend. We believe that he has since been released from confinement on completion of his sentence.

You’ve heard the basic safety rules for handling weapons and undoubtedly will hear them again. Maybe you’ve heard them so many times you’re getting tired of them. But it’s vitally important that you understand these rules, accept their value, and, above all, follow them when you’re handling a weapon in any situation. Believe me, I know.

As we will see, his problem was not just a violation of common safety rules, but a complete lapse of self-discipline.

I graduated boot camp and infantry school with ease, and I was eager and motivated to hit the fleet. Being sent to Hawaii was a dream come true. Senior Marines were very encouraging and told me I was going to go places in the Corps. We went on our annual unit deployment program to Okinawa, Japan, and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was assigned to stand post as a sentry at the gates of Camp Hansen, which would involve handling loaded 9 mm pistols. Not a problem for me; I thought, “I’m a machine gunner and a pistol is my secondary weapon. I know this gun inside and out.” Unfortunately, I disregarded basic safety rules and ignored what a 9 mm round can do to a human being.

You wan to guess what comes next? If it were a crime, it would be “clowning with a firearm, First Degree, your honor.” But we’ll let Markert describe it:

On a quiet Sunday evening in June 2003, two Marines and I were scheduled for duty at one of Camp Hansen’s gates. We climbed into the back of a HMMWV to be driven to post. A quarter-mile ride to the gate was all it took for my life to change and a fellow Marine’s life to end.

toe tagA close friend and I pulled out our 9 mm pistols and began to play around with them. We pointed the weapons in all directions, including at each other; put them on “fire; ”and cocked the hammers. We then began a mock tussle, which was all it took for my pistol to fire.

My world stopped moving at that point, and a tragedy began for me, my friend, our families, and many others.  I went into shock and thought it couldn’t be happening, but it was happening right in front of me. I’d shot my friend and fellow Marine in the head.

I froze as he slumped to the floor of the HMMWV. Blood pooled on the floor as I scrambled to give him first aid. By this time other Marines had converged on the HMMWV. Someone said he was dead, but I found he still was breathing.

I thought I could stop the bleeding with my shirt. But as I wrapped the shirt around his head, I felt tissue and other matter near the wound. I feared for my friend’s life and was numb with despair by the time EMT personnel arrived and took him from my arms. They took him to the hospital, where he languished for 8 days before succumbing to the wound I’d inflicted.

And then, as the saying goes, his troubles began.

I was handcuffed and taken to the provost marshal’s office, where the investigation and the longest night of my life began. The investigators asked detailed questions and focused on our horseplay. The process was painstaking and added a helpless feeling of regret to my fear and despair. I couldn’t see—let alone accept—that a moment of foolishness could lead to something so horrible. I was placed under suicide watch after questioning and on legal hold and liberty risk upon my release.

We’d like to add at this point that the M9 is an extremely safe firearm, to the extent that such an oxymoron can ever be true. It has several positive safeties, including a heavy first-round double-action trigger pull; a positive visual and tactile loaded-chamber indicator; and a simple operating system that can be taught to a basic operator in a couple of hours. It has been operated safely by literally millions of troops since its 1980s introduction. (And some of us had our hands on M9 precursors in the late 70s).

M9-pistolBut even this idiot-proofed weapon can’t compete with the natural skills of the improvisational idiot. He ignored the passive safeties and defeated the active ones, including the double-action lockwork of the pistol. He never looked at or finger-swept the loaded chamber indicator. He put it in a state of readiness to fire, and then, according to all the survivors, engaged in some kind of tussle. His buddy was just as big an idiot for playing along with him.

This is a relatively rare example of someone being court-martialed for a negligent discharge. It’s understandable in the light of the consequences, and, not to put too fine a point on it, in the light of Markert’s lowly rank at the time (about to get lower, of course). People make excuses for higher ranking officers in similar circumstances, but the services land with both feet on a junior enlisted guy.

This kind of make-an-example-of-him approach is hard on the negligent shooter, but he’s damaged, probably irreparably, at that point, so why not use him to send a message pour encourager les aûtres?

Six months of agony and anguish passed before my court-martial, which was as heart-wrenching as a funeral and as bad as reliving your worst nightmare. Facing more than 20 years in prison and discharge from the Corps was very frightening and difficult. However, nothing was as hard as seeing and hearing what my friend’s mother, father, and sister had been through. I also had to face the effect my trial had on my own mother and brother-in-law, a former Marine who’d accompanied her to Okinawa for support.

I stood up at sentencing and told my friend’s family how sorry I was. Somehow they were able to graciously accept my apology. I believe they understand their son was my close friend and his death was an accident. Even so, I must live each day knowing I killed my friend and a good Marine.

No matter how skilled or comfortable you are with a weapon, the basic safety rules still apply. Remember “Treat, Never, Keep, Keep:”

  • Treat every weapon as if it’s loaded
  • Never point your weapon at anything you don’t intend to shoot
  • Keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you’re ready to fire
  • Keep your weapon on safe until you intend to fire

I write this from the brig as a discharged Marine with the belief I can be of some help to anyone who reads or hears my story. This tragedy, with all its pain and suffering, could’ve been avoided if I’d simply followed the above rules. Weapons don’t care if you’re just playing around and have no regard for you, your skill, intentions, or brother Marines. It’s you who must think and act with care and purpose.

What a tragic story. And what a price paid by all concerned — including Markert and his Marine buddy — for two young men’s carelessness.

Sure, he seems to have matured considerably while in prison. But as he observed, his life has taken on a new direction. May he make the best of it.

OT: What’s Next in Space Exploration

This amazing graphic is a timeline of the next ten years’ planned space exploration activities, by the four advanced nations/multinationals (NASA. ESA, JAXA,  pursuing space exploration and some Earth-based space research (such as better telescopes). Space exploitation activities, like satellites and the International Space Station, are not included (which is why Russian activities don’t show up; they seem to be out of the planetary probe and interplanetary observation basis, but they do share science with the Big Four, more or less).

what's next in space


Souce: Imgur.

Yes, it’s completely off-topic, but isn’t it interesting?

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have ATVs

File photo of -- not the mishap in this report. Sure does suck to be him, though, eh?

File photo of an ATV prang — not the mishap in this report. Sure does suck to be him, though, eh?

Things that are scary are fun. Until the time comes when they’re not fun any more. Then it’s too late.

A 23-year-old Washington woman died Saturday afternoon in a West Virginia hospital after an all-terrain vehicle accident.

Mariah Zambelli was pronounced dead at Broaddus Hospital in Phillippi, Barbour County.

The accident happened about 2:14 p.m. at King Knob, a motorsport park outside Phillippi, said Phillippi fire Chief David Utt.

Zambelli and an unidentified man were on a four-wheeler going up a high wall when the vehicle rolled over the wall. The man who was operating the vehicle was not injured, Utt said. An emergency helicopter was called, but Zambelli was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

via Mariah Zambelli (23) was killed in an ATV accident –

The Army used to publish an unintentionally hilarious safety magazine, Countermeasures. For all we know it still does. (Ah. We just checked. It was closed down in 2006 when the Army Safety Center became the Combat Readiness Center and began to bog down in — we are not making this up — concern about sexual assault).

One of Countermeasures’s stock laugh lines was, usually immediately after dolefully recounting the demise of the driver or crew of a HMMWV or M1 tank that had turned turtle, “Vehicles that overturn cause significantly more casualties.” (That what, vehicles standing still? A scatalogical comment referencing a Victorian detective of fictional notoriety comes to mind. Hey, if you guys think that vehicles that overturn cause casualties, you ought to see the aftermath of vehicles that essss-plode).