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Family War Service

Our little adventure out to find Revolutionary War graves over the Memorial Day weekend got me started on a fishing expedition for family information. I feel spurred to share a few of my discoveries regarding service in many of the wars this country has fought because of John Richardson’s Memorial Day post featuring the draft registration cards for his father and grandfathers.

I knew my great grandmother was a member of Daughters of the American Revolution, so I thought I would see what I could do to join since there are multiple active chapters around this part of Pennsylvania. After a few emails back and forth with my grandmother, we discovered that my great grandmother’s membership was no longer valid, not because she passed 11 years ago, but because the only family member she documented to DAR (her 3rd great grandfather) was found to have been turned down for a pension in further record reviews. However, she told my grandmother that she had documented multiple family members who had proven service in the Revolution. My grandmother, happily enough, pulled out a book from her father’s side that gives a direct and handy list of all the relatives back to my 6th great grandfather who is documented to have served in the war.

However, in my little trial of, I started clicking on random branches with their little leaf hints attached. I am no where near done since most branches of my family have been in this country for a long, long time. However, I did just hit a someone who appears to be a documented veteran of the War of 1812. There’s totally a lineage group for that–National Society United States Daughters of 1812. I don’t really know much about them, but they don’t have a presence in the Philly area.

I also found a documented veteran of the Confederacy on a side of the family I really didn’t expect to see it on. Yup, there’s a group for that, too. (United Daughters of the Confederacy) My grandmother thinks that we also have documentation to prove lineage from a Union soldier as well. That would cover me for Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861 – 1865. I’m seriously thinking that if I can document both connections, I may actually join both. Maybe I’m just silly, but I would find amusement in that.

I haven’t gone digging deep yet, but the family that is reportedly connected to Jefferson Davis, eh, not looking so good. As Sebastian noted, there are probably lots of Southern families with people named Davis who claim a relation. However, that side of the family is really into genealogy, so my mom is going to see what she can gather from those folks and we’ll see if there really is a connection. (Interestingly, if this connection is proven and documented, it could also be a different path for me to DAR, and the only likely path for my niece.)

I set up a tree on my account for Sebastian, and if he has followed the census records properly, he may have found a 3rd great grandfather who served for the Union in the Civil War whose service was previously unknown to his family. (Yes, there’s a Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.) Considering his family on both sides has been presumed to be fairly recently off the boat, this is actually an exciting possible find for him.

Another little tidbit I’ve discovered (though am waiting on family records to verify), is that by moving to be with Sebastian here in Southeast Pennsylvania, I’m apparently simply returning to the family lands of my 5th great grandfather. It turns out he owned 99 acres in Upper Bucks County as far back as at least 1789. I find that very, very odd.

To bring this rambling family war service post back to guns, we have learned that between the two of us, family names include John, Moses, and Browning.

Joe Biden Says We Can’t Have Tanks, WSJ Proves Him Wrong

In the same interview where he advised people to randomly shoot guns in the air and violate discharge ordinances, Joe Biden told everyone that citizens aren’t allowed have tanks under the law. We already know that’s not accurate, but the Wall Street Journal decided to have some fun with this topic and actually profile tank owners.

Tank brokers—yes, there is such a thing—estimate there are several hundred to 1,000 private tank owners in the U.S.

Not only is it legal to own tanks, there’s an entire market for them with brokers. Awesome. Why would anyone want a tank?

When their insurance agent inquired about their plans for the tank, the Neal brothers emailed back, “We are going to use it to take over the world.”

Says Ken Neal, 45: “A tank is cool.”

For anyone who think these two tank owners are an insurrectionist threat, their efforts toward world domination have only managed to extend to driving their 1966 British Chieftain over a rusty car in the desert. Another tank owner talks about the lifestyle challenges:

He says he has put about $280,000 into his Sherman so far and expects to spend as much as $75,000 more. “You get a tank, you end up with an ex-wife,” warns Mr. Miller, who has one of each.

If Sebastian bought a tank, I would never, ever leave him. I’d probably jump up and down and hug him at the news. The WSJ also highlights their value as investment pieces:

In 1993, a top-notch Sherman went for $75,000, according to the Illustrated Tank & AFV [Armored Fighting Vehicle] Buyer’s Guide. Now Dave Uhrig, a Chillicothe, Ohio, tank broker, is offering one for $387,000.

The good news is that they report that prices have recently dropped or flattened. So if you can’t find an AR at your local gun shop, you may be able to find a slightly discounted tank. They note that while tanks aren’t street legal, owners often get flexibility from authorities to take it to the gas station or drive it in parades.

I think the best part of the story is at the end. One of the tank owners reported that he took it out for a drive in his warehouse parking lot to play with a special propane setup he has to generate just the noise and muzzle flash for the machine gun on top. Needless to say, someone called the cops. The first officer asked if the owner knew why they were there. The second – well:

The second policeman, Jeremy Marshall, got out of his car and eyeballed Mr. Bauer’s tank. “Awesome,” he said.

And this is why we win. Because it is awesome. Go read the entire article because I didn’t cover nearly all of the good stuff. Plus, there’s a slideshow and video.

Honoring our Dead With Russian Rifles?

Apparently there’s an honor guard in South Dakota so strapped for cash that they are putting their honored dead to rest with the sound of SKS fire. The Governor of South Dakota can do something about this, and should.

Wounded Warrior Fail

Wounded Warrior apparently finally appeared on Tom Greshman’s Gun Talk radio show. Apparently it was full of FAIL. I’ve been a little reluctant to really pile on with blasting a charity, but for those gun folks who want to support our troops, I would recommend Soldier’s Angels.

It Takes a Special Breed of Crazy

I’ve always been amazed by what the Coast Guard is willing to put themselves in. A hurricane? Let’s get some boats and helicopters out, because there are fools out there who need some rescuing. Swimming in storm surge? No problem.

And then you have this. Mother nature is a pretty relentless enemy, and no amount of military technology can overcome her. If it is rough men who stand ready to do violence on our behalf that let us sleep at night, it’s crazy and fearless men who stand by to rescue on our behalf that allow us to behave recklessly without consequence. God bless them.

55 Years of the U-2

Awesome video of the Lockheed U-2:

First flew in 1955, and entered service in 1957. Probably the most famous incident involving the plane was when Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960 by an SA-2 Surface-to-Air missile. Lesser known is a shootdown by the same missile over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The CIA no longer operates the U-2, but the Air Force still does. They were intended to be largely replaced by the unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk, but there’s talk of canceling that program due to costs. It seems it may be cheaper to extend the life of the U-2 another 20 years to 2023, at which point the U-2 program is pushing 70. It’ll be up there with the B-52 Stratofortress, which entered service about the same time, and could quite possibly end up seeing 100 years of service.

Military History Speculation

Gun news today is a bit slow, so I’ll open up a speculative discussion. Last night I was looking at Netflix recommendations, and caught this long forgotten movie that has long been overshadowed by its much better predecessor. Up against the British Army, there was never really any question about who was going to win in the end, especially after the British sent two artillery battalions to Natal as reinforcements after the first invasion of the Zulu Kingdom had failed. But what about more evenly matched opponents? Ignoring the logistical impossibility of the Romans keeping an army supplied in South Africa, if you had put the Roman Legionaries up against the Zulu Impis, who would have come out on top? Let’s assume that the Zulu Army consists of about 20,000 Impis, about the same as the Anglo-Zulu War, and armed, organized and disciplined along traditional lines. Assume that the Romans deploy 3 legions, or about 15,000 men, and equipped, organized, and disciplined as a Roman army normally would be about the time of the Gallic Wars. Discuss.

The Ma Deuce Lives

Steve from the Firearm Blog notes that the military is killing its program to replace the 50 caliber M2 machine gun, designed by John M. Browning in 1918. Think about how much more sophisticated our engineering tools are today, and our knowledge of materials. Yet all the king’s men can’t beat a gun designed by Browning in 1918.

Guided Bullets?

Gene Simmons, eat your heart out. It would seem that guided bullet technology is close to coming to fruition. I doubt that this technology will be able to perform miracles. You’ll still likely need to get the bullet somewhere in the neighborhood of a man sized target, with the bullet doing the real precision work. Any change in bullet’s trajectory is going to dissipate energy and reduce range, and you’d need range to be able to affect a large change in the point of impact. I’d say that for shooting people at ranges under 500 yards, this isn’t likely to replace plain, ordinary bullets anytime soon. I’d also imagine the bullets themselves will be rather pricy. I’d almost imagine you’d be better off using a small, portable mortar launcher, with a guided mortar. If you’re going to incur the cost for guidance, send the enemy something that goes boom.

What do you all think?

USS Olympia, C-6

Philadelphia happens to host the oldest steel warship still afloat (for now). Bitter had never seen it, and since this weekend they were having special tours of the engine room (which in my several visits, I never had the opportunity to see), I decided now was time. She is a grand historic ship. Originally laid down in June of 1891, Commissioned in February of 1895, and finally decommissioned in December of 1922. She is a hero of the Spanish American War, having cruised into Manila Harbor and crushed the Spanish fleet. Her last active mission was to bring the remains of the Unknown Soldier from France to Arlington National Cemetery in October of 1921.

It was both a big disappointment and delightful for me to see the engine room. I had always looked down into it, but had never actually been in it, since it was not an area of the ship that often was open for tours. It was delightful to see it was actually in remarkable shape. But it was a disappointment to know, at the end of the day, it was still a dead museum ship.

While I like the fact that Olympia is a museum ship, and hope she finds the funds to continue being such, there is a large part of me that wishes I was wealthy enough to buy this ship outright from the Navy, and not only restore her to top notch museum quality ship, but enable her to once again steam under her own power. I think she could do that. I asked our naval tour guide about this, and he mentioned that many of the auxiliary steam engines can still turn easily by hand, and demonstrated such. I was surprised this would be the case on a 120 year old ship, where the boilers have been offline since 1922. But I saw it. I think I’d almost feel better if her engines were rusted hulks, which is where the disappointment comes in. It feels worse to consider some steam engines on a 120 year old ship, the oldest steel ship still in existence, can still be turned by hand, and yet she may still end up being fish habitat in a few years without proper funding.

Could you get a head of steam on the boilers? Could the system still hold steam? The screw’s main bearing still push a ship? If there was a problem, where would you get parts? I wish I was rich enough to find out.

I am not the kind of guy who is very much interested in taking a cruise, but I’d pay a lot of money to be a fly on the wall on Olympia under full steam. I’d love to try my hand at some of the guns. Could she be restored to full glory? Would it require too much replacement of vintage with modernity? I don’t know. But she deserves better than an uncertain fate, and possibly as a sunken marine habitat off Cape May, New Jersey, which is her fate if funds can’t be raised to save her. I’d hate to lose this unique bit of history.

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