By Dan Shea
Today is a muddy day at Knob Creek Range. Imagine that. In the mud, the noise, the gravel, and finally the dust, today I expect to see many old friends, to do a bunch of business, to trade parts and pieces for other arcane parts and pieces that matter to no one but collectors of bizarre old machine guns. It sounds ridiculous, but twice every year this glorious mudfest happens, and is anticipated by thousands.
While I was there today, setting up the tables amidst the cacophony of a machine gun shoot, the thought of our troops kept coming to mind.
All across the United States and Great Britain, factory workers, waitresses, stockbrokers, doctors, janitors, and people from every walk of life stopped at various points and thought of the friends, family or just people they knew of serving in the military. They are out in the desert, making an end run towards Baghdad, and finally toppling the regime of an evil despot who was determined to cause trouble for the rest of the world. Make no mistake about this, I am unapologetic in my views. Saddam Hussein had to go. So do a whole bunch of other bad guys, who were allowed to build their network of hatred and terror while the Clinton administration weakly turned their heads and ignored the problem. I support President Bush and his relentless war on those who attacked us. Whether it was jealousy, greed, envy, or simply misplaced religious fanaticism that inspired the murder of innocents that Saddam and Osama et cetera are driven to, matters not one whit to me. In the end, when they are dead, they can not do this anymore.
I look forward to seeing the veterans of this latest war on their return. If they have a bad day, I hope they find solace in their accomplishments. If they have nightmares, I hope they can find other, older veterans to help them make friends with their bad memories so they grow to understand them. I hope their families are there to understand and help. War is an ugly thing, yet a glorious thing in the human theatre. We are fascinated by it, whether “For” or “Against”, and it drives much of our common theatre and culture.
The tools of war, the martial instruments, will always have a fascination for many who have been there, or followed the war. There is renewed interest in the rifles used, the gear worn, the patches and vehicles. At Knob Creek, there is a lot of buzz about M249s, M240Bs, Kornets, M16A2s, SA80s, and the world of Kalashnikovs. When the soldiers come home, we expect new lore, and new shooters to attend, and we will welcome them to our community. I will return to the mud, and to discussions of whether the original 1913 Vickers tripod used in the US did indeed use a French bicycle seat, or why is it that I have to have a Finnish Chemical Mortar, and can you in fact shoot an M249 clone on an M11 receiver. We are missing more of our old friends this year, having passed on, taking their storehouses of knowledge with them. This is a sad thing, but a part of the cycle we live in, and we at SAR hope to keep bringing you as much of that knowledge as we can.
God Bless and come home safe to those in the sand.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V6N9 (June 2003)|