Richard Eyer Smith's Excellent Adventures in Paradise

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


In the late 1960's, I had the thrill of a lifetime. 

A 23 year old kid with a passion for firepower, my couple-month-long Infantry Branch course at Ft. Benning, GA, was a real trip to the candy store.

As I mentioned in a previous post, "Tasting Victory", I loved guns and all things lethal. It's a hormone thing, I imagine. Males that age should probably be quarantined for a few years.

Anyway, the course had us learning about, then seeing - then using - just about every weapon that the Infantry had back then.

Ever lead a rifle platoon armed with quick-firing M16s - with a murderous M60 machine gun squad tossed into the mix - on a night fire exercise? The ear-splitting roar! The acrid smell of gun smoke!  But mostly the brilliant blood-red tracer rounds slicing the black night sky!

Absolutely beautiful!

How about leading a formation of angry tanks across an open field, their 90 mm guns belching a riot of smoke and flame? 


Or, have you stood next to a Howitzer as it launches its deadly thunder, shaking you to the very core of your being? 


And can you imagine my reaction to taking part in an air assault with a group of noisy, thrashing, troop-filled Hueys, their door gunners ready for some serious mayhem? 


Or, the piece de resistance, lying on a hilltop and calling in an airstrike order to two F4 Phantom jets. Then watching them dive from the pale blue sky. Then seeing these two Banshees unleash their ghastly barrage of rockets across the valley floor as they howl just a few feet overhead?

Even though the expression didn't show up for quite a few years, I believe I may have whispered,"OMG!" I was in love!


So, why am I writing about this now? 

Why do I, a pretty typical old American guy, take these moments of your time to reminisce about such a beautifully violent experience? 

And why today, just a few days after the insane mayhem of Newtown, CT?

It is because I believe we owe it to those lovely angels and their guardians - and we owe it to ourselves - to look inward and acknowledge some of our core American beliefs, our values and our heritage. 

Where we may have been wrong, we need to change. 

Where we could have been misled, we need to make amends. 

Where America seems to have headed down a path we no longer wish to follow, we need to pivot in a new direction.

And, no, I will not own a gun!

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