Belmont Club

How Other People Live

Who says you can’t sell American cars abroad?

Also, in case readers of my novel “No Way In” thought the descriptions of the Philippine Marines armed with improvised weaponry were nothing but fiction should watch the videos below.  As they say in the Philippines, The armed forces are the pride of the nation and fried of World War II.

Forget the Cheytac, forget the Barrett. To duke it out with Middle East equipped insurgents there is the Philippine Marine Scout Sniper Rifle. “The Marine Scout Sniper Rifle or MSSR is a semi-automatic sniper rifle developed from the Colt M16A1 rifle by the Philippine Marine Corps Scout Snipers due to the lack of a dedicated sniper rifle which is used in the Armed Forces of the Philippines”

The design brief for the rifle was to develop a sniper system that could effectively use 5.56 × 45 mm NATO ammunition (most other sniper rifles use the larger 7.62×51 NATO cartridge). This was done mainly for cost-saving and availability reasons since the Armed Forces of the Philippines are actively engaged in counter-insurgency and internal security operations, especially against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and Abu Sayyaf Group terrorists.

Well, it’s better than nothing.

When organizations face a paucity of means they very often develop approaches designed to compensate for their poverty. Readers of my novel may wonder whether the Battle for Sibalu Hill, described as part of the background, when the Philippine Air Force sends a air fleet of flying antiques to rescue Philippine Marines fighting a last standing against Muslim rebels was real.  How could it be? Yet it was. A nonfiction history of the battle at Global Security describes the last hurrah of the C-47s, T-33s and F-86 Sabres.

General Reconquista – then a lieutenant in charge of A3 (Air Force operations) – remembers having been on duty that Sunday at Villamor Air Base. Shortly after noon, he received the first of a series of frantic calls from Jolo, Sulu, requesting air support to extricate a battalion of marines trapped within the MNLF strong-hold.

Lt. Col. Reconquista immediately alerted Basa Air Base to make available all aircraft and sent transport planes to load armaments. By the time General Rancudo, then PAF chief was located to give the deployment orders, no less than 60 planes and choppers were ready to fly to Mactan – the staging area for the air assault.

Air Force Col. Pompeyo Vasquez was flown in from Jolo to brief the pilots on the situation at Sibalu Hill. The marines and the rebels were within shouting distance of one another: it was imperative to determine their exact positions. That same evening, Colonel Vasquez flew back to Jolo where he would orchestrate the attack as air controller the following morning.

By dawn, wave upon wave of F-5 and F-86 fighters, as well as T-33 jets and C-47 gunships, took off for Jolo every minute – bombarding the enemy camp accurately and relentlessly. After each sortie – some pilots flew three sorties during that attack – the aircraft would dart back to Mactan to reload. Before the morning was over, helicopters landed at Sibalu Hill to extricate the marines that narrowly escaped a massacre.

Adam Smith wrote that “there was a lot of ruin in a country”. He should have added that there are a lot of hidden reserves of ingenuity and strength that are discovered only in moments of crisis.  How much of the “can do” spirit of wartime American was born of experience at improvisation during the Depression? One historian remarked that in other contemporary armies — the Japanese or German or even the British for example — only specially trained personnel knew how to drive motor vehicles. Among American soldiers the ability to drive was almost universal. In the newly mechanized armies of the period, that was a real plus.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention. Yes, you really can convince your boyfriend to buy you a Buick — if you really try.

Those 40mm guns were probably salvaged from the Cannon class DEs and the LST whose hulls have literally rusted away. But they now form part of the field artillery, complete with the ring sights. And yes, the Grease Gun still lives.


How to Publish on Amazon’s Kindle for $2.99
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $3.99, print $9.99

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