Patriot’s Day

Today is Patriot’s Day.  The day that the fledgling colonies took up arms against the British.

Patriots Day may be the least known American holiday, and the day most deserving of our recognition. Observed in Massachusetts and Maine only. Don’t know it? It marks the day, April 19, 1775, on which Americans took up arms against their king, and bled, at the crack of terrible dawn.

Go here for a well written account of the day.

Crossing America – The Exercise – My Approach

So I clued you into the Crossing America exercise.  Here is the actual scenario for this one.

You have the opportunity to go back in time, arriving on the east coast of North America circa 1650, and your goal is to cross the North American continent alone, taking as much time as you need. When/if you reach the opposite coastline, you’ll be transported back to the present day.

Your equipment for this journey will be as follows (taken back in the time capsule with you):

  • enough gold to buy a horse and a mule (or two horses / two mules, whatever), and provisions for the first five days’ travel;
  • a small backpack containing some clothing and toiletries;
  • a winter coat, raincoat and two pairs of boots;
  • waterproof sleeping bag;
  • an axe, a large sheath knife, a smaller blade, and a “toolkit” knife like a Swiss Army or Gerber Multitool;
  • a box of 1,000 “strike anywhere” waterproof matches;
  • a topological map, binoculars and a compass;
  • a very small toolbox, including a firearm cleaning kit and a few spares for your firearms;
  • and a U.S. Army First Aid kit.

Weapons:

  • ONE long gun (and 800 rounds, but no scope)
  • ONE handgun (and 1,000 rounds)

That’s it. The question: which long gun, and which hand gun would you choose to take with you?

So here is my thought process and answers.

1650 North America, there are only a handful of very early colony sites that are being establish.  The good news is that there are colonies representing 7 European nations.  Britain, France, Spain, Sweden, and Holland.  The Dutch have pushed inland along the Hudson River, The French have pushed upstream along the St. Lawrence to what is currently Montreal.

Given what I know today, I think the most likely route for survival is one that starts either from the Jamestown colony, or from New Sweden.  Striking out east through the Appalachians, striking out to intercept the Ohio River way.  Using the Ohio, I would have to work my way downstream to the Mississippi and then pickup the Lewis and Clark trail from there.  Now the big thing to remember here is that this will be all “virgin” territory.  The waterways are good guides and should provide ample hunting / fishing / trapping opportunities as well as it being the most likely method to meet and trade with any native settlements. 

Success for the trip will be predicated on my ability to live off the land.  That means trailblazing, friendly relations with any other travelers / natives, surviving disease, hunting / trapping to provide for needs (clothing, bedding, food, trade, etc.).  Hunting of large game is going to be a requirement, as will being able to preserve and utilize as much of the animal as possible.

As other folks have mentioned this is a long, multi-year trip.  Once you get to the plains you might be able to make 15 – 18 miles a day.  When in wooded regions of the country you will be on game trails, native trails, or trailblazing.  Progress will be slow.  Crossing mountain ranges may be a trail and error situation unless you are able to pull in a native guide, or directions.

There will be seasons that are not going to work from a travel standpoint.  You will need a winter camp, unless you try and take a southern route.  Unfortunately water becomes a major challenge on the southern route, and those horses / mules / donkeys require grazing and water. 

The Guns

Handgun – Springfield XD .45 ACP.  Mostly because I really like this weapon and it has a better magazine capacity than 1911A1.  If the rule tweak of being able to have a 22LR conversion kit for a 1911A1 came into play I would switch this over to the 1911.

Long Gun – Marlin 336SS  30-30 Win

While I would love to be able to have commonality of ammunition I think that there is a real need to be able to reach out farther, accurately than I can with a handgun and a 30-30 should allow a one or two shot stop at reasonable distances.

Go over to Kim’s and read the other opinions.

I still need to think about the dog choice, Akita, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Wolfhound, Mastiff, Sheepdog?

Crossing America – The exercise

Over at Kim’s place, he has initiated the annual Crossing America exercise. Essentially, you are transported back in time to 1650 North America. Your mission is to cross the United States, in addition to the specified equipment that you will have you are allowed to choose to guns. What are they.

Go over to Kim’s place and read the responses. Play along if you like.

Last year we were allowed to select a dog to go along. Everyone, including me is missing that part of the exercise this year.

Iwo Jima

I ran across an interesting post over at the “Sandgram” today.  I had been neglecting this blog for a while, and I missed this article when it came out.  Go read the story.  I wish, that I had the opportunity to make an impact like this.

Christmas Thoughts – Part 2

Since I am on a surprisingly poetic theme right now, here is another one. Again, I think the season serves as a focal point in this case for something that we often take for granted. While I know that feeling of walking a post on a cold, dark, rainy December night there is a reason that we volunteered, and do what we do (or have done). It is not easily summarized in words, it’s not something that can fit into a powerpoint or a 30 second spot on a media program. We are very fortunate that there are artistically minded folks in our midst that are able to capture feelings and translate them into concept’s that a broad audience is able to relate to.

This poem is one that I recently received in an e-mail, and I am can be attributed to Michael Marks. It can be found here, as well as below.

A Soldier’s Christmas

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,

I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.

My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,

My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,

Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,

Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,

Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.

In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,

So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,

But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.

Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know, Then the

Sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,

And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,

A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,

Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.

Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,

Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,

“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!

Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,

You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,

Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..

To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light

Then he sighed and he said “Its really all right ,

I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.”

“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,

That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,

I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at ‘ Pearl on a day in December,”

Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘ Nam ‘,

And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,

But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,

The red, white, and blue…An American flag.

I can live through the cold and the being alone,

Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,

I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.

I can carry the weight of killing another,

Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..

Who stand at the front against any and all,

To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”

“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,

Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”

“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,

“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?

It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,

For being away from your wife and your son.”

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,

“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.

To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,

To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,

To know you remember we fought and we bled.

Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,

That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

Christmas Thoughts – Part 1

Christmas and the Christmas season means many things to many people. I think that the season is also the trigger to things that are running through people’s thoughts. Certainly Christmas is the trigger for me to catch up with friends that I rarely make time to touch base with throughout the rest of the year.

Back when I was on active duty (way back when) one of my “co-workers” penned the poem below. As you might imagine it evokes an emotional reaction for many of us.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, MY FRIEND

‘Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one-bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live.

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I’d heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”

With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.

The back story of this piece can be found here

A little reminder

There are days like today when I really miss this….

H/T to Raven for this one.