Operation Crystal Forest
On Saturday, April 5th, 2003, several most worthy and dedicated militia members deployed forthwithly to Camp Stasa in Shiawassee County for some Level One training and range repair and clean-up in preparation for next week's Tax Blast. Yes, Virginia, there was an ice storm.
Some of the folks on hand had spread out the wood chips and raked the range. The freshly spread chips made the range look eager to be put to good use. We will.
At least three of these die hard folks had arrived Friday evening. These folks smartly missed out on the multiple ditch-diving action along the route there, as they got to sleep outdoors in the wondrous cavalcade of freezing rain. The small tent and makeshift tarp shelter provided limited protection from falling ice and branches. They reported that they had a delightful night.
As the rest of us trickled, slipped, slided, and plodded in Saturday. It was icy and muddy, which made it perfect militia weather.
(Note: ALL weather is perfect militia weather.) Throughout the day, intermittent snow and sleet fell. There may have been hail at times, but maybe that was just chunks of ice falling off the trees.
Three guys had already completed their walks before the rest of us arrived. There were a few that needed to get on the paper as far as qualifying, and others got to work on the range. The outhouse needed to have it's, umm, contents burned. With some gas and hay, a year's worth of accumulation began to be reduced to a more tolerable pile of ash.
One of the new qualifiers used an AR15, and one used a G3 type of rifle. It seems like .308, especially CETME rifles, are slowly overtaking the .223 in the unit. An M44 carbine had a bit of difficulty, and one AR had some extraction issues with bargain ammo (it was fine with ss109, though). This could be due to extractor spring wear. This rifle has fired several thousand rounds. Two more folks qualified Level One. Congrats to TJ and MH. (Even tough MH was distraught at the miserable Michigan weather...)
A fire was started, and much of the old scrap wood and completely slain bowling pins were soon sent up in smoke. There is still a decent supply of pins on hand, but more would not hurt.
Wood was brought by FJ and JJ, which was used to repair, and indeed almost completely replace the target stands. Some of the posts were replaced, new support beams were put up, and some new 40 inch square boards were put up to post targets upon. It looks pretty good.
While this was going on, the sun came out and lit up the iced-over trees. This was so overwhelmingly beautiful that we all just had to gape at it for a few minutes. It really looked like some neat kind of special effects, or maybe some kind of Currier and Ives Christmas card. In April. The ice really seemed to hold our attention. Though it did make for some dangerous driving at times, it was truly, truly spectacular to see.
Working on the backstop, I noticed that we had no engineer folks or carpenters present. In fact, I even commented that we have the four "wrongest" people working on this right now. But it was finished, it looks good, and it should hold up for the Tax Blast and well beyond.
I also got a chance to test fire my HK 26.5 mm flare launcher. The orange smoke grenade went over 80 yards easily, and could have gone 100, had I adjusted the angle of fire. The smoke was not an incredibly large volume, but for signalling purposes, it was highly visible, and loud. The green signal flare also had a nice high arc, and a burn time of between four and five seconds. This could come in really handy for directing fire, or signalling during small unit operations. We will work out what these signals can be used for soon.
Big thanks to everyone that showed up, congrats to TJ and MH. Thanks to the gentleman with the chainsaw, who provided much valuable help.
We hope to see you all at the Tax Blast, and now that we have a decent number of Level One folks, we can jump into more small unit tactics training starting in May.
Take care of yourselves, and remember that you are the Homeland Defense.