Wile, Wit, Wisdom & Weaponry

Ruminations, Opinions & Debate about the world as I see it and the toys that make it bearable!

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Location: TEXAS, United States

-Defender of the Second Amendment, the "little guy", free market system, liberty and freedom from government!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More Movie Quotes...

Remember the Paul Newman film, Cool Hand Luke?

For years, there was a running joke within the Stirman family about the movie's most famous line: "What we have here, is a failure to communicate!"

(This line was usually resurrected when one of us boys failed to properly clue the parents in on our whereabouts during the teen years.)

There are times in my life when I simply love to imitate the prison warden. He derisively abuses Newman's character (due to his many escape attempts from prison). It's inflected with a distinct Southern drawl: "Whut we have he-yuh, is a fail-yuh to com-yoo-nicate".

Lately, I want to run screaming out into the street sounding like Newman's half crazed character. Arms flailing wildly and head tilted back for maximum effect. (Of course, this is probably due to the fact that I work for a massive organization which moves as quickly as thick molasses at the North Pole.)

Anyone else have those days?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by interesting trivia- mostly in the scientific realm. When I was young, my mother discovered that I loved to read. For many years I could count on receiving at least one lengthy, picture laced volume about facts (trivia) for Christmas and my birthday.

There were several phases I went through: Space Exploration, Dinosaurs, Marine Biology, Machinery, Inventions, etc. Then along came the annual Guinness Book of World Records- man, I was hooked.

To this day, I much prefer to read works of history or interesting biographies over a work of fiction. Anything to do with WW II currently has my attention. It all started with my introduction to Stephen Ambrose. (Thank you, Kevin Riley!) What a fascinating history professor/lecturer Ambrose must have been. If you’ve never read his classic work on Lewis & Clark, Undaunted Courage, you must obtain a copy at your local library. Though slow in the beginning, it quickly picks up pace and broadens the reader’s view of the entire tale of Western exploration during the early 18th century. His works on WW II are fully engaging and extremely detailed. I highly recommend these volumes: D-Day, Citizen Soldiers, The Victors, and Band of Brothers. Other interesting works: Undaunted Courage and Nothing Like It in the World (the history of the Transcontinental Railroad).

Recently, I ran across a most interesting article penned by Jacob Gottfredson of Guns Magazine, detailing the life of Colonel T. D. Smith.

Here’s just a teaser: Col. Thomas D. Smith is a college educated, decorated Vietnam War Fighter Pilot, Olympic and World Pistol Champion record holder, inventor, photographer, consultant, author and skydiver- without a parachute! That’s right- Col. Smith is the lone human to ever free fall from a plane at an elevation of 5,000 feet and lived to tell about it. Keep reading…

Mr. Smith used to spend boyhood summers with Ad Toepperwein- the great exhibition shooter. He has been an avid hunter for most of his life. Not satisfied with the average scope reticle, he set about inventing an ingenious device to satisfy his own needs. His experience as a fighter pilot coupled with a keen intellect birthed his version of the scope reticle called the “TDS Reticle”, after his own initials. Some have taken to calling it “The Christmas Tree.” Imagine the triangular outline of a Christmas tree etched onto a crystal lens within a scope. Within the triangle are horizontal bars increasing in horizontal length from top to bottom. The varying widths of the bars give windage values and the vertical spacing between them allows for bullet drop from 100 to 900 yards. Here’s a close up of what I’m describing:

To date, one can purchase this reticle only on certain Kahles and Swarovski scope models. If you have a deep pocket to purchase these wonderfully made scopes, you can own a piece of Col. Smith’s inventive creativity. (Retail starts at $950)

Col. Smith’s book, TD’s Tactical Stress Management, is the primary mental training program for a number of United States national shooting champions and at least one world champion. His “Brain Model,” derived from thermal imagery, is a brain alignment method for making a perfect shot- every time. Prior to his experience in Vietnam, someone recognized Col. Smith’s extraordinary shooting gift. It’s been said he could shoot a pistol like Van Clyburn, another Texan, could play the piano.

Col. Smith won his first match and kept winning, year after year, championship after championship. At the 1963 Pan American Games, he set the only World Record in pistol held by the U.S. In 1964, he was on the U.S. Olympic Team and placed 8th in the free pistol event. That same year, he won the National .45 Championship. In 1965 he won the National Indoor Championship at Fort Benning. He has held the National .22 and .45 Championships and the Air Force Service Pistol Championship at Camp Perry. Smith was also the first pistol shooter to hit 300 x 300 (perfect score) with the .22 and .45 handguns in registered competition.

At the U.S. Pan American games, he broke Russia’s Idatshin’s World Centerfire Pistol record, a record that is today the oldest human held world record in International Sports! Incidentally, the Colt pistol used to set the record was the first military weapon gratuitously awarded to a military member in U.S. history and is the centerpiece exhibit at the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia.

In all, Colonel Smith broke 79 world records throughout his career.

But if all of this isn’t enough, his adventure on Mount Helmos in Greece tops it all. Strapped to his seat at the center of a USAF C-47 transport, Col. Smith had begun to snap pictures with his Nikon camera of an Italian General seated across the aisle when the plane literally broke apart. Col. Smith found himself suddenly free falling through the air still strapped to his seat and without a parachute. He struggled free from his seat, and as he fell towards the snow capped rocky mountain some 5,000 feet below, he rolled himself into a ball and told himself he could make it. After several hours of unconsciousness, Col. Smith regained his senses and struggled free from his snowy tomb. Blind, bruised, and broken, he clawed snow from his eyes and found his way to the plane’s tail section. Bodies lay strewn about and he began dragging them into the plane’s tail.

Here are some excerpts from documentation recorded by Charles W. Maultsby, Lt. Col, USAF, Commander in his letter denoting Col. Smith’s nomination for the Martin-Baker Life Saving Award:

“Despite his injuries, complicated by partial eyesight and hands frozen into claws—he made repeated trips into the blizzard to gather debris with which to close the gaping hole (in the plan’s tail section) and then finished sealing the wind out with two parachutes. He retrieved 14 bundled parachutes which he dragged one at a time into the shelter, clawed them open, peeled ice and snow off the bodies, and covered his patients with parachutes and scraps of aircraft insulation.

“The major discovered his body was stiffening almost beyond control. He realized he could not afford the luxury of sleep as both he and the others would freeze to death if he did not remain awake to keep the parachute covers fluffed up to insure a minimum of airspace insulation to keep out the freezing cold. He then began exercising until he regained the use of his arms and legs. This regimen continued for 48 hours.

“Two of his patients died in the night. Of the three remaining, one was in total shock and the other two were maimed and could not move without assistance. All rescue radios were broken, there was no food or water, and the wreck was hidden from search aircraft by drifting layers of snow and ice. Major (at the time of the event) Smith examined the survivors and decided that another day of exposure and lack of medical attention would result in their death.

“After tying a signal flag to the top of the shelter and securing a signal parachute around his waist, he moved down the ridge in dense fog until he slipped and plummeted down the ridge. This process of falling down ridges continued for 1,500 feet until he broke out of the fog and was able to climb a peak, which was in the clear. The Major sat down, unwrapped the parachute, and held it in the wind and waited. Presently, a C-130 flew by and spotted the red parachute against the white snow. For the first time, rescue headquarters knew in which country the aircraft had crashed.”

(The US Sixth Fleet was directed to the Grecian Coast and helicopters from the USS Forrestal finalized the rescue the following day, 17 January 1966, at 1300 hours; three days and two nights after the accident. Three survivors were placed on stretchers, carried
to the helicopter, flown to Wheelus, AFB, and hospitalized in critical condition. Doctors there declared the three would not have survived without Major Smith’s care and the risk of his life in a timely bid for rescue.)

Col. Smith was awarded the Airman’s Medal for extraordinary heroism by General Bruce K. Holloway, Commander-in-Chief United States Air Forces in Europe. Jacob Gottfredson of Guns Magazine, who wrote a lengthy article (of which I’ve borrowed heavily from), finishes his article with this epilogue:

I wondered what had happened to TD’s Nikon. As it turned out, the camera was located by one of the cleanup crew several days later—some distance from TD’s point of impact. Thinking that it must have been damaged, he sent it to the factory. The film was recovered and printed. On it was the photo captured by Smith during the moments of the plan’s disintegration. I have that photo. It shows the Italian General amid the implosion of window glass next to him just as the plane broke up.

Post Script:
Before Col. Smith went into the military which enabled his illustrious, storied career he attended college on a football scholarship and lettered in Track at what was then called Abilene Christian College located in Abilene, TX. (Now ACU)

And the answer is...

Alan Ladd, who played the title role in Shane, a
western that debuted on the bigscreen in 1953!

That was probably one of the last movies Hollywood ever made that was somewhat pro-gun- before war movies centering around WWII started making a come back.

New question in the week ahead...stay tuned.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Who said it?

Here's a great quote I came across last week. Can you guess who said it (and when)?

"A gun is a tool, Marion. No better and no worse than any
other tool - an axe, a shovel, or anything. A gun is as good
or as bad as the man using it. Remember that."

(Stay tuned for more quotes and stories coming soon...)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Does America Need Change?

I’m flabbergasted by the furor the Democrats are making. Do the American people really want (or need) “a new direction”? To hear Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid talk, America is in shambles.

Let’s take stock in our present situation:

- The stock market is at an all time high
- America’s 401(k)s are rising and in some cases above pre 9/11 values
- Unemployment is at a 25-year low
- Taxes are at a 20-year low
- Gasoline prices are falling weekly and near a two year low
- Domestic crude supplies are increasing – reducing OPEC dependence
- America has a surplus of natural gas
- America has a surplus of home heating oil
- The Federal deficit is down 50% -just as predicted, over last year alone
- Nation wide, home valuations are up 200% over the past 3-1/2 years
- Inflation is in check, hovering at 20 year lows
- There has not been one single terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11
- Osama is hiding in a cave somewhere in Tora Bora
- 95% of Al Qaeda’s top chiefs are dead or in jail providing us details
- Iraq is “ground zero” for terrorism just as Pres. Bush promised in '03
- There are no terrorists in the US thanks to Homeland/Intel. agencies

Now, call me crazy, but it sounds like we are in a pretty good situation. Arguably, we as Americans are doing quite well under the current administration and reaping the benefits of the hard working Republican majority recently ousted in the last election. Yet, the much touted Democratic leadership and their daily press releases would have the public believe that they are charging to the rescue in the nick of time.

Here is what I’m sure we can expect from our newly elected majority:

- Taxes will increase
- Gasoline prices escalate as US oil companies are over regulated
- Home heating oil will be in short supply as a result
- Natural gas prices will rise as US exploration is curtailed
- New home sales will decrease as corporate taxes are increased
- Small businesses will falter due to proposed $7.25 min. wage
- All existing tax breaks will be repealed
- Unemployment will rise
- Corporate benefits to workers will decrease or be eliminated
- Terrorism will sweep the Gulf region once military is removed
- Rogue states in the Middle East will resume nuclear activities
- Dictatorships will rise and flourish in the Middle East
- Terrorism will begin in earnest on American soil
- Military numbers decline as recruiters are banned from campuses
- Space exploration halted- money diverted to Global Warming issue
- R & D in the science & medical fields will suffer for lack of funding
- Our borders and border states will be overrun with illegal aliens
- Nationalization of healthcare will bankrupt lower & middle classes
- Physician appointments will grow by months from weeks
- TP will be scarce as Spotted Owl population explodes in Northwest

Okay, maybe that last one was just my way of thumbing my nose at the liberal left, but let’s be honest. The Democrats have failed to show the American people where any true shortfalls exist. They don’t even present a plan to assist in Iraq. All we have seen is sniping, bitterness and finger pointing. Does America need to be taken in a ‘new direction’ with priorities such as these sitting on Nancy Pelosi’s desk? 2008 won’t arrive soon enough. Perhaps the damage will be lessened by the short time they are in control? If the Democrats get their wish for 2008 they will control both the legislative and executive branches theoretically enabling anyone of their choosing to assume a seat in the country’s highest court. God save our country and our lone political defender in Washington- President Bush. At least we know he does what he says and says what he means.