JWT: The Guns I Used in Combat in Afghanistan

Jon Wayne Taylor Army guns

The author above, right (courtesy JWT)

The Colt M4 rifle and Beretta M9 handgun were the primary guns I used when I was in Afghanistan. The M9 was the standard-issue pistol. The M4 had an EOTech holographic red dot sight with the usual EOTech Advanced Target Illuminator/Pointer (AN/PEQ-15) wired onto the top rail, and a CAA foregrip.

The guns were not customized. They were not named (other than their serial numbers which I memorized). But as I go through photos of my time in Afghanistan, or look at my mission logs, I’ll be damned if I don’t have one of those two on me at all times.

The main thing I didn’t like about the guns was the rounds they fired. Not really the calibers they fired per se, but the bullet composition themselves: FMJ’s for both the 5.56 NATO and the 9×19 NATO.

Both of these rounds poked nice little holes with minimal damage. The rifle and pistol themselves, however, were completely adequate ammunition delivery systems.

The Colt M4 was extremely reliable. I heard so many people complaining about the reliability of the AR platform…how the weapon has to be cleaned constantly to maintain functionality. But I never experienced that.

My rifle got used. It got covered in dirt and it kept on chugging out rounds. I cleaned it as and when, but not obsessively and not often. At one point, I was firing from underneath an up-armored 1151, with the rifle flat against the ground, the dust cover inches from the dirt. Zero malfunctions. There was no reason for me to be anything other than super confident that every time I pulled the trigger the weapon would fire.

As far as accuracy, I’d say it was just OK. Eventually I got an ACOG. Even with the 4X magnification — an absolute must for southeastern Afghanistan where our average initial engagement distance was 400 meters — the rifle shot no better than 2 MOA on my best day. And you know what, that’s good enough for government work.

My only complaint about this weapon platform: the magazines. About 1/4 of all of the ones we were issued were just worn out and worthless. The most common problem was feed lips that would no longer hold in rounds reliably. This is why a lot of guys ended up using PMAGs. I never saw a problem with any PMAG, other than the brass telling us we couldn’t use them.

We did anyway. The brass wasn’t actually there to say no.

I was pretty good with my M4. I grew up shooting rifles. My first rifle was a Winchester Model 1894 made in the ’40s chambered in .30-30 Win.  I still have that rifle and I still hunt with it. But from the time I was nine to the time I was 27 in Basic Training, that was the smallest caliber rifle I had ever fired.

Oh, the joy of shooting my M16A2 and it’s tiny 5.56NATO round. It felt like a toy and was fun and just too easy to shoot. Man, I miss Uncle Sam paying for my ammo.

Jon Wayne Taylor Army Afghanistan

Courtesy Jon Wayne Taylor

My Beretta M9 was equally reliable. It was picky with magazines; it preferred Italian-made mags. But it ran great.

I never had to shoot my M9 in anger, but it was always on me. There was always a round chambered, and the only difference in condition was safety on or off. Actually on mission? Safety off and in a SERPA holster (unless posing for pics so that we could keep the garrison 1SG from raising hell). All other times safety on and holstered in my pants or shorts.

Unlike the M16/M4’s I used, I was not so great with the M9. At all. I was used to shooting pistols, but not this one. I found the controls cumbersome. I had a hard time getting used to taking the safety off and dealing with the long, not-so-tuned-at-all, double-action trigger, all while keeping the sight on target. The DA/SA thing really messed with my accuracy. Still does.

One day, early in my first tour in Afghanistan, I was telling one of the soldiers on our team, a member of the 5th Special Forces Group out of Fort Campbell, how much that pistol sucked. “So what?” he said, “that’s the pistol you’ve got. You’d better get real good with it.” He walked me through the manipulation drills he used to overcome his difficulties with the gun.

Starting that night, and every day since for over six years now, I’ve done those drills. By the end of my second tour I was winning friendly competitions left and right with my M9; winning patches, money, and a few bragging rights. More importantly, I was good with the pistol, and confident with it as well.

I don’t think those guns are very interesting because I don’t automatically equate them with combat – even though I used them in combat, even though I killed people with them. The M4 and M9 were purely tools, appliances even. They were completely interchangeable with other tools, just a zero adjustment was necessary.

They weren’t even my most important tool. After spending some time in actual combat, I learned that my radio was a far more useful, and far more deadly tool than my individual weapons. In fact, many of the guys I worked with eventually dropped a magazine or two so that they could carry more batteries for their radio.

But unlike my radio, I had a gun on me all the time. I had a gun on me when I was playing poker, reading, smoking cigars, eliminating. Still do. I don’t association guns with combat any more than I do any of those other things. I feel that way about all of the guns we used, with one exception….

I served my first tour in Afghanistan with a very small group of American soldiers and Afghan interpreters embedded with the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.

When I say very small, I mean small. At one point there were four Americans deployed alongside about 100 Afghan Soldiers, 60km away from the nearest American force, down a bombed-out and constantly mined road.

Tactically, it was fantastically stupid. Because of those small numbers, everyone had to get proficient with the crew-served weapons. Officially, I was the team medic. I was also sometimes the driver, and sometimes the gunner.

Our crew-served weapons included one M249, a few M240Bs, a couple of M19 grenade launchers, and three M2s. I’m not a big fan of the SAW, but I like the M240s and the M19 is just giddy fun. The M2, the “Ma Deuce” is where my “guns as tools” mantra ends.

The M2 holds a beloved place in my heart. I may love my children less because I can’t let go of my love of that gun. I’m at total peace with that. That gun performs exceptionally well.

There is a reason why such and old weapons platform is still in wide use: like the Great White shark, it never had to evolve. I’ve seen M2s run wet and dry, covered in sand, and on one occasion, after an IED blew it off the mount and onto the hood of a now-demolished MRAP. Remounted, it ran perfectly.

Two M2s in the hands of a pair of competent gunners is a terrifying thing. Is that a PKM or an RPK in your hands, local Taliban thug? No matter. I see your belt-fed annoyance and raise you all the angry wrath of hell.

Oh, the sound they make! Not an offending snap, but a lullaby of “whump whump whump whump.” It is the most calming sound I know. If I ever get a little spooked by something, or have any “post-traumatic stress,” I can put the sound of those M2s in my head and I will involuntarily smile. Everything is going to be alright as long as those guns are talking. Everything is going to be just fine.

Next to Ma Deuce, my M4 just seemed silly. I think the term “assault rifle” is a real term, but when things go well, or maybe even according to plan (which does sometimes actually happen), it’s not the assault team that does most of the killing with their M4s. It’s the support team with their Automatic Rifles (M249, M240B and G) that do the real cleaning up.

When it comes to my weapons assigned in combat, my M4 and M9 were just fine guns. Good enough for the job at hand, although the bullets themselves were not.

I own quite a few versions of them today because I am very comfortable with their manual of arms and familiar with their capabilities, but I hold them in no high regard. There isn’t room at the top for anything other than Ma.

 

This article was originally published in 2015.

comments

  1. avatar Lance says:

    Communication and clarity is incredibly important when chaos reigns.

  2. avatar RidgeRunner says:

    Premium content, this.

    1. avatar Mister Furious says:

      Exactly. Now compare it to Pete Buttplug babbling about “weapons of war” that he has zero practical experience with…

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Do you know that? I know he was “in the military”, but no one ever mentioned what he did there, I kinda figured he swept the floor for the real fighters, but I don’t know.

        1. avatar edward kenway's ghost says:

          Where I come from that term is “fobbit”.

        2. avatar Julio says:

          He was a Reservist in the Intel field…so writing lots of reports and making PowerPoint slides. FOBBIT for sure.

        3. avatar Tom Collins says:

          In the rear with the gear… so to speak.

        4. avatar neiowa says:

          AND a freaking squid. Any surprise he doesn’t know his breech from his muzzle?

          A squid REMF in Afganistan (no water for many miles). IE Useless POS.

  3. avatar Hannibal says:

    I forget where I read it but something like “A pistol is the most sought-after and least used weapon for combat.”

    1. avatar jwm says:

      In my day the m16, we had no m4s, had a piss poor rep. Viet Nam. We all got our hands on whatever back up weapon we could get. I started with a bowie knife and managed to add a Russian tt33 with a pilots chest holster to that. The bayonet on the m16 inspired no faith in me as a bayonet or as a hand to hand weapon.

      There is an old saying. A combat ready outfit is not inspection ready. There’s a lot of truth to that. We looked like Mexican bandits in the field.

      1. avatar Scott C. says:

        Pretty sure there’s a law out there from Murphy the almighty “No combat ready unit ever passes inspection and no inspection ready unit ever passes combat.”

        1. avatar jwm says:

          I’ve stepped into Murphy more than I care to think about. That bastard will ruin your day.

  4. avatar SkyMan77 says:

    Great article… Thank you Taylor… God Bless and carry on Everybody…

  5. avatar Bitter says:

    JWT- excellent read sir,
    I served in Iraq in 2003 with The 1st Marine Division and spent the majority of my time in a turret behind a ma deuce.
    I named mine Rose, I felt sick the day I had to turn it back over the the issuing company but glad that I would soon be going home.

  6. avatar chedolf says:

    Best thing I’ve read this year. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Thank you and you are welcome. It’s a repost. Sure wish TTAG would let me know when my articles will be reposted.

  7. avatar Nick says:

    Hey JWT, this story got me thinking about a comment I wanted to make in your .480 Ruger piece, in which you said something along the lines of “I own a lot of guns, but few are keepers.” I can’t be the only one who would enjoy an article on some of your keepers and why they got a permanent spot in the safe.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      It would be a pretty short article. Really old guns, and guns I shoot particularly well.
      Any single action revolver.

      1. avatar Nick says:

        What handgun do you shoot best – and is it some alchemy about that gun in your hands, or is it one that lots of folks can shoot well?

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Man I wish I could tell. Sometimes I really like a gun, it feels great, one guy shoots lights out with it but I not me. And sometimes it’s the other way around. Tripply so for shotguns.

  8. avatar heywood says:

    John Wayne, the medic, larping as billy badass “combat vet”. I liked the ww2 vets they did their thing came home and never talked about it. the guys in Desert Shield forward break their arms patting themselves on the back.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Oh princess, they talked plenty. They just didn’t think you were worth talking to.

      1. avatar WW2vetsWereRealAsFuck says:

        Actually it’s documented how little WW2 vets talked about their service, similar to WW1 vets. Surprised you’re so ignorant of this fact because of your hubris.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Guess you’ve never seen a movie, read a book, a biography or an autobiography, or actually talked to a vet.

        2. avatar jwm says:

          Documented by who. snowflake? When I served we still had ww2 vets on active duty. They talked plenty. Helped me stay alive. My family reunions featured quite a few ww2 and Korean vets plus a few of the Viet Nam time. Lots of talking.

          You ever been in a VFW? Best therapy ever.

        3. avatar former water walker says:

          Geez years ago(29 or 30) I sold Medical Alarms in home(help I’ve fallen & I can’t get up!) Met more than one WW1 vet. Including a wonderful 92 year old gal. They happily talked about the Great War. WW2 less so. And I knew a slew of talkative Vietnam Vet’s…great article JWT.

        4. avatar Felix says:

          Those WW2 vets talk plenty if you ask them. The ones I knew who didn’t tell their family did so because they wanted to not lay that crap on their family. Like parents who come home from work and don’t talk much about their jobs, or kids who come home from school and don’t talk much about their school day.

          Strangers, friends, that’s different. They will talk your ear off, and by God you learn a lot from them!

          And the shrink studies? When the hell does anyone trust any shrink study?

        5. avatar Ferg in Tahoe says:

          WW2vetsWereRealAsFuck says:
          February 21, 2020 at 18:55
          Actually it’s documented how little WW2 vets talked about their service, similar to WW1 vets. Surprised you’re so ignorant of this fact because of your hubris.

          My father in law, who is 99 years old, was a 101st paratrooper under Gavin. He made 1st. Sgt. at 20 years of age with 1,000 men under him. I will disagree with your assessment. That old guy hardly ever shut up about his “adventures” (as he called them). And the drinks started….Look out!
          You sir, are the ignorant one.

        6. avatar Julio says:

          Ever try going into a VFW or American Legion post? They’ll talk your ear off IF you served. Otherwise—they’ll be polite and share some stories depending on who’s around. Of course, there are fewer WWII vets these days as the younger crew from that generation are now in their mid 90s.

        7. avatar The Grey Man says:

          My dad was a WW2 Army vet in Europe… I got a GREAT picture of him in Paris the day after Hitler killed himself… But anyways, he didn’t say much but he did tell me what bullets sound like when they’re whizzing by and he told me the sound of the German 88’s ripping through the sky…. I’ll never forget that…..

      2. avatar Jonec1983 says:

        Well stated. I was going to say that not talking about what happened and how it affected you is a great way to be haunted by what happened “over there”. How many WWII vets had alcohol, drug abuse issues or just became violent to their wives and children? A damn good many I’d wager.

        Me personally, I find it therapeutic to talk about what happened to me in Iraq. I don’t brag or tell tall tales or break my arm patting myself on the back.

        I can also tell you that the people I was with in Iraq who would talk and support each other after firefights or loss had a much better time at adjusting then those that never talked and just bottled all the bad things up.

      3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        jwt, you are exactly right. At least where my dad’s brothers are concerned. Uncle Leland was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Uncle Willie followed Patton across North Africa and Europe. Uncle Jeff escorted the convoys across the North Atlantic. Deaf in one ear from a German shell that exploded next to him. Uncle Johnny was at Oak Ridge, TN so he was exempt from service. Dad was handicapped from polio so he couldn’t go. My uncle’s spared no details when I asked them what they had seen and done. When I enlisted in October of 1979 I knew exactly what I might face.

        1. avatar former water walker says:

          Hey Gadsen my uncle Bob was at Pearl Harbor on the SS Pruitt. He barely missed dying. He never talked about but I rarely heard him talk about anything. And he was against Vietnam and got my cousin out of the draft. I was quite close to the cutoff with a very low #-19.

      4. avatar TTAGFred says:

        JWT – I burst at laughing at that. So true. I had a great uncle that fought on Iwo Jima, and another that experienced unholy carnage in the rain-soaked jungles of New Guinea. Only 2 or 3 times did either of them speak to me about it. At best, I could not comprehend what they experienced in the Pacific. At worst, I was an unworthy snot. Kind of difficult to disagree on both counts.

      5. avatar Andrew Lias says:

        My grandfather fell into the “didn’t talk much” camp. I know he didn’t want much to do with it as we were the ones to claim his medals nearly 25 years after his death and 75+ years after they signed the treaty in Japan.

        1. avatar BCE 56 says:

          My Dad was wounded on Guam in 1944. He was very reluctant to speak about his combat experiences. He would relate an incident only occasionally .
          On the 50th anniversary of VJ Day we were watching a documentary on the Pacific Campaign. I glanced at him and saw tears on his cheeks.
          Afterward, we got outside of a bottle of Bourbon and he spent an hour or two talking about his war. I didn’t interrupt, I just listened.
          He recalled in some detail the transport ship, the pre-invasion bombardment, landing on the beach, the patrol during which he was wounded (a terrifying and gruesome incident- he was the only survivor) and his eventual transport to Bethesda for treatment.
          These memories he had locked away for half-century, and never spoke of them again.
          Upon recovery he reenlisted and was Honorably Discharged from the Marines in 1953.
          He passed away in 2003 and is resting now at Arlington, near his three brothers.

          RIP, Dad.

    2. avatar Ron says:

      You’ve never talked to a WW2 vet, or any vet for that matter. You’re in your early twenties and know nothing about reality.

    3. avatar Fury says:

      Did you forget to drink your prune juice this morning?

    4. avatar Mister Fleas says:

      “I liked the ww2 vets they did their thing came home and never talked about it.”

      You mean like the books:

      TO HELL AND BACK by Audie Murphy

      The five volume series THE THINGS OUR FATHERS SAW series by Matthew A. Rozell(the books are transcribed oral histories of many veterans)
      https://www.amazon.com/Things-Our-Fathers-Saw-Generation/dp/0996480056/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=the+things+our+fathers+saw&qid=1582456450&s=books&sr=1-5

      WITH THE OLD BREED by E.B. Sledge

      HELMET FOR MY PILLOW by Robert Leckie

      THE GREATEST GENERATION SPEAKS by Tom Brokaw

      Oh, and look here:
      https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=interview+with+world+war+2+veteran

    5. avatar Mister Fleas says:

      “John Wayne, the medic, larping as billy badass “combat vet”. I liked the ww2 vets they did their thing came home and never talked about it. the guys in Desert Shield forward break their arms patting themselves on the back.”

      Mr. Taylor is a veteran of the Afghan War. Why are you talking about Desert Shield? Nobody talks about Desert Shield anymore, and rarely even Desert Storm.

      Also is Mr. Taylor “larping”? Do you think he is not actually a combat veteran?

      Are you confused?

    6. avatar neiowa says:

      BS Heywood. They did their talking down at the Legion with the others that had paid their dues. Unfortunately, most places they didn’t drag the Vietnam guys into the hall (as a result ended up with all the PTSD BS).

      I’ll guess you didn’t take your cherry ass anywhere hazardous.

  9. avatar Dude says:

    How much of a difference would better ammo in the M4 make?

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      All the difference in the world. Green tip just poked nice little holes. The new Mk262 or a soft point would have done much better.

      1. avatar Seans says:

        Calling 262 new is a bit of a stretch.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          Not when you put it into the context of a deployment that ended in 2010.

        2. avatar Seans says:

          I mean Mod o came out in 2002 and Mod1 in 2003. By 2010 MK318 had been already been seeing combat.

        3. avatar jwtaylor says:

          And yet next to no one had them.
          Everyone had 855.

        4. avatar Seans says:

          I mean not trying to sound special or anything but had them along with MK255, 318 and even A1 was showing up at that time frame.

          262 had been around for a time and already been redeeming 5.56 for years by 2010.

        5. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

          2012-13 we had the newer magazines with the Magpul inspired follower as well as a combat load of 855A1 after that we had all the leftover 855 from previous units.

      2. avatar Dude says:

        Thanks for the reply. Interesting article.

  10. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    I agree that the M-2 is a great weapon. Unfortunately, the heaviest weapon weapon we had was the M-60. No M-4s. M-16A1. They sucked. Mags and gas system. P-Mags fix half of that. M-9/Beretta 92? Yeah. They function. That’s the best thing I can say about them.

    1. avatar Bitter says:

      We carried the 240 G which if I understand was the successor to the M60.
      Never got to fire the 60 but I ran across a Seabee who had one I got admire it, sounds like it was an amazing gun.

  11. avatar tfunk says:

    Yeah, at first I loved my M4. Then I got to play with a SAW and that was my new fave. Then I forgot about it after using the 240B, especially the one we had with the 3 position gas plug…set it on “dirty” and I think it was close to 1000rpm. The Mark 19 was a literal blast, but…after shooting the M2 nothing else could compare.

  12. avatar 66789abcd says:

    Wonder what pistol he prefers to carry now.

    1. avatar Bitter says:

      I was wondering the same thing.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Browining Hi Power Mk1, with a good bit of work to bring it into the Modern Age.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        jwt, I have a Novak built Hi-Power. I don’t carry it, but it is coveted by many friends.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          As well they should.

      2. avatar Boogaloo says:

        Such BS…

        There is a reason the SOCOM guys default to Glock.

        If you can’t figure it out…bummer for you. But then again all the keyboard has-beens are not in uniform anymore.

  13. avatar Jimmy james says:

    Love my M4orgery. It just feels right in my hand and I shoot it pretty well. Picked up a “M9” last year that was preowned and had a logged 1000rnds thru it. I dont think I put a 100rnds thru it before I sold it to a Beretta fanboy. Second worst trigger I ever pulled. First being a gen 1 Desert Eagle. Good article. Thank you for your service.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      You are welcome, but the pleasure was all mine. Some of the best times of my life. I appreciate y’all giving me the opportunity.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Bear in mind its been 50 years since I was in uniform. A couple of years back before my second retirement the company I was driving for had a yard in San Leandro near the Oakland airport. The Blue Angels were in town and practicing for a show. I was not in the navy but I’ve had fighters go over my head at tree top height. As I was walking across the company lot a Hornet buzzed right over the top of me.

        It was almost as if the words were ripped out of me, ” God, I miss this.” I said it out loud. I feel sorry for those that have never served. Not anger nor contempt. Just sorrow.

        1. avatar Paul D says:

          I left military service 39 years ago. During my ensuing civilian career I had many occasions to drive onto the local Air Force base where I served. Every time a C-130, A-7 Corsair or F-16 flew overhead I would think the same thing: “Gosh, I miss this!” I currently have friends who served, and friends who didn’t. Most of the friends who didn’t, wish they had.

        2. avatar Mike H says:

          A friend of mine converted one of his blank adapted .50s back to live one weekend so that everyone in our group could have a sense of what this was like. We took turns shooting up an old car with a ballistic gel dummy in it. I hadn’t live fired an M2 since 2002. We all laughed and laughed and laughed….

          Then we ran that car over with an M4A3 Sherman and laughed some more.

  14. avatar Larry says:

    My Dad was a WWII vet , his brother and two young uncles were Kia in the same week .
    I never knew till I was well into, my twenties,he never said word one about the war .

  15. avatar Ron says:

    Former .50 gunner in Iraq here, and I loved that job more then any I’ve ever had. Ma Duece is the finest weapon in the US inventory.

    As for opinions on equipment, I think most military weapons eventually get a bad rep because they all get rode hard and put up wet for decades, and Uncle Sam keeps them in circulation for as long as possible. The same m4 and .50 I used back in Iraq are still probably being used by a young soldier today. Hell that .50 I had could’ve had a career in killing Germans and VC long before I came along.

  16. avatar Everyday_Carrier says:

    Nice little read. Did you visit Iraq too? Luckily, I had an m4 acog combo on both fronts. Our unit was pretty well equipped both times. We asked, we got it. I even got yellow paint for my smiley face nades 😉 Didn’t get much down time but when we did…. Certainly memorable moments.

  17. avatar possum says:

    Artillery the unsung heroes of War

    1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      WHAT?

      *snicker* 😉

    2. avatar Everyday_Carrier says:

      Maybe on a Justin Bieber level

  18. avatar Ginder12 says:

    Quad/50 crew in Vietnam named their beast The Widow Maker. Appropriate.

  19. avatar Cg123m says:

    The great pmag debacle. I can’t tell you how many times I was told I couldn’t use pmags. Just that I never stopped using them. There was never an explanation as to why, just that they weren’t authorized.

    Aka the contractor who sold those gi Mags was triggered by seeing soldiers not using their Mags.

    I had similar issues with the m9, and I was fortunate to work with a very qualified instructor down range to work through the technical issues with that firearm. I’m out now but happy to see the sig p320 making its way into the ranks

    1. avatar Everyday_Carrier says:

      They tried that on us. Same with footwear. It did not go very far. When a CSM takes a trip from the kushy FOB where all the navy prison pussies are, having only been in country a month and checking on a unit that’s already been there a year with 5 more months to go, and sees us in shorts with 5 day stubbles returning fire in flip flops every hour they tend to get back on the bird and go about their business meetings over that nice surf n’ turf dinner. A day later TOP prints out an email from good ol surf n’ turf himself and reads it off like a weekend briefing, barely able to contain himself… we all laughed.

  20. avatar Ferg in Tahoe says:

    JWT,
    Muchas Gracias from Northern Mexico! Or as it is known here, the San Francisco Mountains. Cool read and thanks for the time spent over there and here. Your comment is appreciated.

  21. avatar retmsgt says:

    My son carried an M-14 over there. His job was to reach out and touch someone.

  22. avatar Greg says:

    Thought you were a Fobbit?😉
    Great article you have my respect. M16A2 never let me down in OIF.

  23. avatar RobinTN says:

    Thanks JWT, my favorite TTAG article ever. In my experience, veterans will talk plenty if they think you’re worth talking to. My ex’s grandfather flew bombers in WW2, my favorite thing was to drink beer with him and listen to him talk. Often, his stories were about friends of his and their accomplishments as pilots. Later I discovered from his friends in the PI that the stories were mostly about him, he was just too humble to make himself the subject. According to some of his family, he hadn’t shared many of his stories with them. He was the most interesting man I’ve ever met, a real treasure. Some of his story can be found here: http://digitalarchive.pacificwarmuseum.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16769coll1/id/2865

    Sadly, I lost touch with him after splitting up with his granddaughter. Reading this article reminded me of my time with him and caused me to do a quick search which yielded the above link. Its awesome to hear his voice again. So thank you JWT for that as well.

    1. avatar Garrison Hall says:

      I grew up around WWII and Korea vets. If you were really interested and willing to listen, my experience was that they were generally happy to share their experiences They never bragged, never told war-stories in casual conversations. Their apparent reticence was actually a deep reverence for life-changing experiences that simply could not and would not be shared with just everyone.

  24. avatar RedFlagRising says:

    Mayor Pete carried an M16A2 while defending the CIA poppy fields and the freedoms of the bacha bazi Afghan warlords.

    Mayor Pete is a Navy combat veteran and hero who fought for freedoms.

    1. avatar Ferg in Tahoe says:

      Mayor Pete. That there is good humor. Had an anti-gravity effect on the coffee that I just swallowed!

    2. avatar Julio says:

      Don’t make us laugh. He was a LT Navy Reservist with an Intel background who did one seven month deployment in 2014. More than likely a Staff Weenie for some General in one of the Regional Commands. I doubt he ever left the comfort of the base—protected by actual combat veterans and heroes.

    3. avatar neiowa says:

      Those Afghan warlords do like their young boys.

  25. avatar Cowboy B-Bob says:

    Being pedantic here, but it’s a Mk19 grenade launcher not a M19. It was developed by Naval Ordnance Station Louisville.

  26. avatar Yellow Devil says:

    I was in the Army up till 2014. I often say the biggest weakness if the M4/M16 platform was the magazines. The rare jams I experienced were usually magazine related, especially when I went into the Reserves.

    1. avatar SAFEupstateFML says:

      They are/were in the process of replacing the older green follower magazines to the orange ones that mimic Magpul in function. No idea where they are on that now but my guard unit was about 3/4 switched over by 2016

  27. avatar Holdfast says:

    Radio is where it’s at.

  28. avatar Gregolas says:

    JWT, thank you for your faithful service.
    Thanks for a great article as well.

  29. avatar JoeVK says:

    “I see your belt-fed annoyance and raise you all the angry wrath of hell.”
    Possibly the best line I’ve ever read.

  30. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    … a lullaby of “whump whump whump whump.” It is the most calming sound I know. If I ever get a little spooked by something, or have any “post-traumatic stress,” I can put the sound of those M2s in my head and I will involuntarily smile.

    I involuntarily smiled when I read that, and quickly found myself chuckling out loud.

    Those three sentences are some of the most enjoyable reading that I have ever come across. Thank you for sharing Mr. Taylor.

    1. avatar neiowa says:

      Ma – the sound of freedom.

  31. avatar ESKeith says:

    From the articles about growing up with your rifle and dog, to your firearm reviews, to your military service discussion, I appreciate your writing and find your articles to be the best reading on TTAG. Thanks for your service! You’ve led the kind of life most of us desk-jockeys only dream about.

  32. avatar Mike H says:

    JW Taylor, thanks for writing this! As a former M1A1 tanker (and, interestingly, a current WWII era tanker) I have had the pleasure of firing a wide range of small arms and crew served weapons. Though in 3 deployments I’ve never fired any weapon in combat I can say that anyone who has fired the M2 definitely holds a special place for it in their hearts. I was my platoons SAW gunner in Bosnia, and I loved that too. I always qualified expert with my M9, but couldn’t shoot the M-16/M-4 worth a damn. Had to turn in a full 7 personally owned PMAGs in Kuwait on my way home from Afghanistan. (Never trusted issued mags) Your article brings back a lot of memories for me.

    Per the above conversation, I’m a member of a NFP that operates and demonstrates WWII era armored fighting vehicles and tanks, and I talk to vets of all living eras frequently. Many family members will say that their loved one never really opened up about their service until they get to our tank line. WWII vets in particular. It can get emotional, and it’s always a treasure to talk to a WWII vet, but rarely do I get the sense that these conversations with any vet are in any way self-aggrandizing. Some want validation, some just want a person that can relate to them, and others find value in articulating their experience to those who haven’t had it. That’s very valuable and becomes more so over time.

    If you do Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ww2armor/
    And if you don’t: https://www.ww2armor.org

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