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November 22, 2007

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Thoughts on Thanksgiving

I reported to the Army for active duty on November 19, 1963. In those days it was customary for new trainees to spend three days at a reception center where we were given tests and shots, issued our uniforms, and threatened with barbed-wire city if we screwed up. Part of the issue was our dress greens, or Class A uniform, and the Army took a surprising amount of care with these, tailoring them to fit, and then delivering them to our basic training companies where they would catch up with us.

We arrived at November Company, 4th Tng Rgt, Ft. Dix, New Jersey, on November 22, 1963, at just about the time that news of John Kennedy's assassination was beginning to spread. The United States of America, and the U.S. Army, simply shut down for a while. We were left in our barracks to spit-shine boots and polish the lacquer off brass belt buckles. And for some inconceivable reason, during that time, my Class A uniform arrived. No one elses', just mine.

Thanksgiving came, and the Fourth Regiment mess hall served a turkey dinner, but to get in the mess hall, you had to show up in a Class A uniform. No fatigues on Thanksgiving, men. Well, what the hell. I put on my new green suit, went to the mess hall, and ate myself stupid. The rest of November Company ate candy bars at the PX.

And to all of you, I hope that your Class A uniforms, in whatever form, show up in time for this Thanksgiving.


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Chev Jim

I think it was Thanksgiving of 1991--I was in the Mojave Desert at the National Training Center (NTC). Thanksgiving dinner was flown out to us on CH-47 helicopters--and it was good, too! We didn't have our families, but I appreciated that brigade commander who didn't forget his soldiers at this logistics base. I hope the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan had similar commanders--and a similarly decent Thanksgiving. This country simply doesn't appreciate its soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines the way it should. Soldiers returning from Iraq with severe wounds have had to fight an adversarial Veterans Administration for benefits. That should have never been the case!

Dr. Ralph

Thanksgiving has come and gone but we certainly all have much to be thankful for. The men and women who have fought so that we may be free, the good lives that we all seem to be enjoying so much, and the beautiful wonder of the wilderness and woods that so many miss out on are but a few. I spent Thanksgiving morning by sitting my son in a treestand and walking the woods with my Nam buddy trying to scare something up. Steady 15 mph wind so the odds were not in our favor and the deer remained safe. Got home that afternoon and had a meal that couldn'dt be beat

Dr. Ralph

God Bless America and Happy Thanksgiving to all...


I remember I spent my first three Thanksgivings overseas.The carrier severved some fine chow for the days.That was 1971-1973. My sister also doesn't like the big rifles. I had a Remington 70 in 243 fitted just for her. She nailed a ten pointer this past weekend.

coach ike

what were you doing up at 6:11 am today, were you out since 4am finding the best deals on black friday? thank you for the advice.

Chev Jim

As far as calibers go for ladies and for youths, I think that some really good bets are the .243 Winchester, 6mm Remington, .260 Remington and 7mm-08 Remington. These will whack a deer and are sufficiently low in recoil to encourage practice and accurate shooting. I believe these calibers should be in rifles with barrels around 22 inches in length. Why? Because of muzzle blast. I see where Hornady is creating the "Ruger Compact Magnums," and while they are laudable concepts, I don't want to shoot rounds out of a 20-inch barrel--at least, I don't THINK I do! Having a handy, quick to shoulder and shoot rifle is important--but one's hearing is even more important. Which reminds me--when you shoot, use both ear plugs and muffs, as the NRA advocates. I'm hoping to use some kind of "electronic muff" or electronic earplugs in the hunting fields in the near future. These would allow me to hear normally and would shut off harmful sound levels from firing my rifle or pistol. Muffs would also help keep my ears warm!


Chev Jim

I go back a bit in the blogs. Try the Silencio Ear Valves. They are easy to use, allow low level sounds to enter the ear but muffle or block loud noises.
A watch cap pulled about half-way down the ear keeps my ears comfortable, (not necessarily "warm") and allows me to hear well!
It may not work for everyone, but it works pretty good for me.


Bernie Kuntz

On 18 Nov. 1970 three of our Marine recon teams were supposed to link up in the Que Son Mountains in Vietnam after a four-day patrol, and be helicoptered back to 1st Bn. headquarters near Danang. Unfortunately, the corpsman from one team fell in a creekbed and broke his leg. So the choppers came out, picked up two teams and flew us back to the Battalion LZ. I stepped off the chopper, it returned for the third team, they hooked up to a spie rig--a jungle-penetrating nylon cable--then the chopper got turned around in the fog and clouds, crashed into a mountain and every Marine in the chopper and hanging on the rig was killed--16 in all, including the Battalian commander, Lt. Col. Leftwich.

A week later I was in Sidney, Australia on R & R, and had dinner at some people's house out in the suburbs. Ran into a guy there who was in the Army and had lived in the same dormitory as me at North Dakota State U. a couple years earlier. What were the chances of that?

All such a long time ago, and somehow I survived.

Bernie Kuntz

Oops! I think it is Sydney, Australia--not Sidney, as the town in eastern Montana.


Nothing to do today, so I'm entertaining myself with a 'puter!
Have shot many different calibers of rifles from .22 LR to .458 Win Mag.. The only rifle I ever had inflict damage on my person was a Ruger M77 in .338 Win Mag. Scope bit me! I'm not really bothered by muzzle blast and do rather well at the bench with no more that the little yellow roll-ups. Which, by the way, an OSHA man explained to me was the ultimate in ear/sound protection! IF, properly applied.
Stumbled onto a shooting range once where a gentleman about 5 benches down was absolutely and literally rattling the roof on the covered benches! I couldn't help myself. He was shooting a 7mm Wby Mag he had someone do a muzzle break on. It was a very good job as far as muzzle brakes went, being masterfully applied. I stood behind him as he touched off a round and the blast almost blew my cap off! I was allowed to shoot the (*&^(^ once and after my ears quit ringing and my eyeballs quit jittering around, I ambled slowly, (balance off because of muzzle blast!) back to my bench and began loading my gear. He was testing 50 reloads of various vigor and had only shot about 10. I had had all that party I wanted, Ms. Garrett or not! By the way, recoil was greatly reduced and comfortable!
Another point to ponder. Recoil is increased by cold air and cold, damp air!
Recoil with game in the sight is also reduced by occupation of thought!
I have probably throughly and completely bored everyone to death by now. Thank you very much for your enduring patience!




The 257 roberts is nothing short of amazing. Easy to shoot for the significant other and kills 'em absolutely dead. Enjoy your time afield with your spouse!

Gerald Keller

Coach Ike,No I was up to go to work by 6:30.Spent all day in a 35
degree cold room.I still have an icicle on my nose!Glad to help.
For everyone,Unless you plan to handload,I would reccomend the
7-08.The 257 Roberts,6.5X55,and 7X57 are all excellent rounds,but finding ammo for them can be a problem in some locals.I shoot all three,but I load for all my rifles so I can get the best bullit available for the game I expect to find.As to recoil,I hate muzzle brakes(Although I'll be happy to install one on a customers gun if they have the money and desire one).My favored method of reduction is to install a "Dead Mule" type device and a Limbsaver or Decelerator pad.This
has made several dangerous game rifles comfortable to shoot for me and my clients.These include a 375 RUM,416 Taylor,300 Win.Mag's
and my 375 Ruger.

Chev Jim

I've heard that muzzle brakes create so much blast in some calibers that your hearing will be damaged even if you're using ear plugs AND muffs! I would rather absorb the recoil than have my hearing damaged any further. I had problems with a detached retina a few years ago, and I know that shooting heavy recoiling rifles a lot is asking for it. I've got a laminated stock for a Mauser 98, and I plan to have a barreled action dropped in it chambered for either 6.5x55 Swede or 7mm Mauser. That will be my "beanfield" rifle, once it's topped with a suitable scope. By the way, anyone out there have cataract surgery? Mine are getting bad and I wonder if I'll still be able to see well enough to hunt after cataract surgery. I may have to invite Ms. Garrett back into my treestand to be my eyes!

SFC Gary Smith

Petzal,, I joined the Air Force one year prior to your enlistment, Was very proud of that uniform, was in Montana that Nov. when Kennedy got shot and we also went into lock-down, For two weeks I could not see my wife , She had to send me clean uniforms, (we lived in town). In 1987 I joined the Army, Combat engineer group. Retired in 2003 and my class 'A' unifrm is still hanging in my closet, ready at any time to be worn, and will until I die. I'm proud of this uniform also. All my ribbons in order, Three national defense ribbon and all. Hash marks half way up the sleeve, . . Every young American should at one time or another, wear one of these uniforms, right?.....


Ralph the Rifleman:

Congratulations on your decision! You'll find the area pretty good for deer but it seems to me that area is exceptional for bear and grouse. I've had a lot of friends that actually hunt grouse, woodcock and ducks at one time on the riverbottoms. You might have to change your handle to "Ralph the Gunguy"
Hopefully, our paths will cross. That would be especially nice!

Trae B.

Bubba you better watch out about the whole scope thing "(and you should as most women have trouble understanding the iron sight thing)"if a lady hunter reads that you might just get shot.(with iron sights just to prove a point)


SFC Gary Smith:
I enlisted in the Navy about 1 week after the 1st lottery and very bad number. Discharged in 1972 to pursue college but realistically there was no future in my naval field (Aerographers Mate). While a major objection to the war was the draft, that time serving uncle tranformed me from a boy to a man. I shudder to think what would have happened to me had I never went through that. I watch places like San Francisco kicking recruiters out of their city and wonder how many young lives will be squandered because those kids will never consider, at least trying the military. My son is on a sub right now and its the first responsible decision that he ever made.


Trae B.

"...most women", won't even see that blog. The "women" that do, probably understand the "iron sight thing"

I ain't a-skeered!



Unfortunately I had to take my platoon outside the wire for Thanksgiving, though we heard the food at Camp Falluja was outstanding. The Army post where we spent the night did have turkey and stuffing, so all was not lost. I can tell you that as of now, the Marines and soldiers operating around Falluja are being fed very well, no one needs to worry. Hell, we can even access the internet to read our favorite blog. Most of us are fighting boredom more than terrorism. Things are especially slow for those of us in the tank community, there isn't much demand for heavy armor right now. Anyhow, everyone have a good holiday season, and good luck with all your hunting.


I'm tickled pink that your Thanksgiving was boring. You guys are the reason its boring and you are doing ONE HELLEVA JOB!
You're in my prayers every day.
Is there anything else that you guys can use or need that your not getting? We did something a couple of years ago when a friend wrote back and said he needed halogen lights. He got them pretty quick.


Thanks for the good words, Dave, and I hope your Thanksgiving was peace-full.

Dr. Ralph

Well just got back from the Vanderbilt Wake Forest game... froze my butt off and then it started sleeting/raining. Should have been in a tree stand, I would have been more comfortable and witnessed less of a slaughter. Time for some more turkey and dressing and chocolate cake and ice cream and Woodford Reserve bourbon... God I love Thanksgiving.


No one fragged you because you were the only one eligible for Thanksgiving dinner?
My Class A uniform showed up in time for this Thanksgiving in the form of 14 gobblers that came in to my stand. Not wanting to eat myself stupid (or end up in jail)
I only shot two. A .22 Hornet is a wonderful turkey rifle especially with the Hornady 35gr. factory loads. Drops em' like a sack of spuds with little meat damage.

"Thanksgiving came, and the Fourth Regiment mess hall served a turkey dinner..."

Kennedy was shot the Friday after Thanksgiving. And contrary that the Army "simply shut down", the entire military was placed on level 2 alert (level 1 being war).


Mr. Petzal
I too spent Thanksgiving 1988 at Ft. Dix, (the sandbox) New Jersey.
At that time I was in Charlie Company, 3rd training Brig, 39th Inf. We had just graduated the day before. And shipped us off the day after Thanksgiving. All I can remember is it was the loneliest two days of my life. After graduation they cut us free to be with our family's. Since my family could not make it I wandered the base by my self.
I grew up in a large family and always was surrounded my people on Thanksgiving. Yeah I know the Army is your new family now. But when every one cuts and runs I had no where to go and nothing to do after 8 weeks of structured boot camp and 4 weeks of fat camp. (no I was not fat I just did not have all the muscles in the right places.)

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