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Bad BB

This report covers:

  • BB makes a Claymore mine
  • There’s more
  • More demolitions classes
  • Flying car
  • Joshua fit the battle…
  • Tank gunnery
  • Moving targets
  • The moving tank target
  • Summary
“Thank you for reporting! 🙂 30-caliber Gauntlet – I will directly took it with me if possible!
This radio-controlled target cart brought me an idea. I bought radio-controlled Tiger I model tank for my older boy recently (he has now tank – jet – train – aircraft carrier – rocket etc. phase). This tank I discovered has a great potential to be radio controlled target carrier. It runs through off road with tremendous torque-force 🙂 I will create a target holder; it would be even more fun as you can shoot moving target! 🙂 It will be a great fun on the grandparents ranch in summer, I can feel it already 😀

Oh, Tomek! You don’t know what you have done. BB was a bad boy when he was in the Army. Don’tcha wanna know what he did?

BB makes a Claymore mine

BB used to teach demolitions classes in the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment. For one class my co-instructor and I decided to teach the students how to make an improvised Claymore mine. Nothing wrong with that. All it takes is two pie plates, some popsicle sticks, about half a brick of Composition C4, a blasting cap and a fuse. The rocks for the mine you pick up wherever you are. You see Claymore mines are loaded with steel projectiles and they go off at troop level like a wide shotgun blast.

Claymore mine.

We set up paper silhouette targets about 15-20 feet from the silhouettes and had our class standing behind a berm off to one side and about 100 yards away. Both of us hid inside a concrete culvert pipe that was laying on top of the ground about 20 yards from the mine. Then we lit the fuse and retired smartly into the pipe. It was about 50 feet long and we figured somewhere in the middle was the safest place.

What we did not count on was the pipe wasn’t exactly perpendicular to the mine. When the mine went off some of the rocks came back at the pipe and entered the open end that wasn’t quite perpendicular to the mine. Actually, neither end was perpendicular, so the rocks came in both ends. They whirled around the inside of the pipe, leaving spiral white tracks where the concrete was worn away. Amazingly all the rocks missed us, or if they hit us they were going so slow that it didn’t matter. Drunks and little babies…

There’s more

I wish I could tell you that was the end of it, but it wasn’t. BB moved with the Third Armored Cavalry down to Fort Bliss, Texas on the Mexican border. Little did the Mexicans suspect that we were the same Army unit that briefly held their nation during the war with Mexico (1846-1848). We weren’t called the Third Cav. then. We were the First Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, sometimes referred to in the history books as the US Mounted Rifles.

More demolitions classes

At Ft. Bliss BB taught Advanced Individual Training to personnel assigned to the Third Cav. We had explosives, so naturally BB taught them. One day BB was trying to demonstrate the high velocity of TNT when it explodes, so he put about 40 pounds under a trashed-out car body. BB told the troops the car would only raise up 10-12 feet because the shock of the blast was so fast. For this one we primed several blocks and walked up a rise until we were about 300 feet above and 150 feet from the car. We cut fuses of about 15 minutes length to give us time to walk up the road to the top of the hill.

Flying car

When the blast went off the car body rose slowly to a height of about 50-100 feet above where we were standing (so 350-400 feet in all), then the car slowly drifted across the dirt road 50 yards from where it had been. Unfortunately there were telephone poles and telephone wires across that road. The car came down about 20 yards past the wires.  High explosive — yeah!

Joshua fit the battle…

Same range with another class I had my sergeants string demolition cord like clothesline about 300 feet between two Joshua trees, then hang some clothes on them. Demo. cord burns at 26,000 f.p.s. and I asked the trainees to watch and tell me from which side the explosion had been detonated.  I had people downrange and on both sides of the demo cord about a half mile away from us, so the troops didn’t know who set it off.

But the sergeants had to hold fire while a helicopter landed up on the hill with me and my troops. It was the Regimental commander coming out to see the training. Once his bird was down and he was out I told the sergeants to go ahead with the shot.

What I DIDN’T know was my Sargeants were being funny boys that day. They had wrapped each Joshua tree with 10-12 wraps of demo. cord. That is enough to cut a Joshua tree in half, which is exactly what it did.

The Regimental commander looked at me and said, “Lieutenant Gaylord, you do know that Joshua trees are a protected species? I believe I have seen enough of this training.” and he got back in his chopper and flew off. I never heard a word from anyone.

Tank gunnery

I have a lot more, but now let’s shift the blame to someone else. At the Grafenwoehr training area we were in tank gunnery on a range where we zeroed our coaxial machine guns. There are 17 tanks on the firing line and they are all trying to zero their coax, which is a .30 caliber machine gun that moves in parallel with the main gun. The gunner uses it to hose off friendly tanks when enemy infantry climbs on board.

I was not in the tower that controlled the range that day, but Lieutenant Redfern is inside one of the tanks, working on a coax when a wild boar comes out of the trees and onto the range. Lt. Redfern is a hunter! So he slewed the turret, put the coax on the boar, pulled the trigger and traversed the turret around, following it as it runs. Since he was in the gunner’s seat deep inside the tank he can’t see that he was traversing the turret around toward the control tower that’s behind him, all the while holding his finger on the trigger! The range control officer was screaming at him to cease fire, but Lt. Redfern was having too much fun. Thankfully his belt of ammo ran out before things got dangerous! And a range non-commissioned officer climbed aboard his tank (from the back, never the front) and got his attention — with a steel pipe to the top of his helmet!

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Moving targets

Okay, a company of 17 tanks was lined up on a moving target range at Grafenwoehr. And our battalion was getting visited by a German 4-star general. Well, when a 4-star comes he brings the entire galaxy with him! The 2-star American post commander was there (of course) and my lieutenant colonel battalion commander is having a cow that this range gets started EXACTLY on time! So, every five minutes he’s up in the tower bugging the company commander who is running the range because — well, someone needs to be on the blame line!

When there are five minutes remaining before 0800, the battalion commander stays in the tower, shouting at the company commander, “This range better go hot at exactly 0800!”

The company commander is no dummy. He has a senior sergeant in a tank with a round loaded ready to shoot when he tells him the range is hot. Eight-o’clock comes, the tower radios his sergeant to go live and BOOM! The range is hot. Soon all 17 tanks are shooting at the moving tank target.

The moving tank target

The moving tank target is a small railroad car that runs on a closed course. It is powered by a Volkwagen engine and has lumber poles that hold up a half-sized plywood silhouette of a tank. Tomek — this is what you made me think of last week!

That target runs back and forth on the rails so all the tanks can shoot at it at different distances. Then it returns to the firing line where the target is repaired, because the inert tank rounds have torn the target to splinters. They are aluminum slugs 4-inches wide that travel over 4,000 f.p.s. and weigh over 20 pounds.

Well when the target came back the German general was still on the range, most impressed by what he had seen. And on the moving tank target that’s returning is another German lying flat for having been shot at by tanks for the past 10 minutes! You see, the first thing he is supposed to do in the morning is ride the target around the entire course to see if any repairs to the rails have to be made.

Now, you have to appreciate that this tank range is a quarter-mile in width and a screaming German can’t be heard above all the commotion. Lt. Redfern, who speaks fluent German, ties a white cotton cloth around his hat and runs over, pretending to be Range Control (the Grafenwoehr range masters). He takes the operator’s statement and allows the generals to leave the range. He assures the operator that heads will roll for what they have done, and I think he talked the guy into staying with us that day.


That’s just a sample of the bad things that BB has seen and done while he served his country.

44 thoughts on “Bad BB”

  1. BB,

    Tomfoolery for sure! Angels were surely watching over you! More so that lucky German who was in the middle of the tank firing exercise!


    PS: Section More demolitions classes last sentence: “We cut fuses of about 15 minutes length to give up (us) time to walk up the road to the top of the hill.”
    Section Joshua fit the battle… 2nd Paragraph last sentence: “Once his bird was down and he was out I told the sargents (Sergeants) to go ahead with the shot.” 3rd Paragraph first sentence: “What I DIDN’T know was my Sargeants (Sergeants) were being funny boys that day.”
    Sectrion Tank gunnery 2nd Paragraph first sentence: “I was not in the tower that controled (controlled) the range that day, but Lieutenant Redfern is inside one of the tanks, working on a coax when a wild boar comes out of the trees and onto the range.”
    Section Moving targets 1st Paragraph third sentence: “The 2-star American post commender (commander) is there (of course) and my lieutenant colonel battalion commander is having a cow that this range gets started EXACTLY on time!” 3rd Paragraph second sentence: “He has a senior sargeant (sergeant) in a tank with a round loaded ready to shoot when he tells him the range is hot.”

  2. BB

    Thank you for telling this story! We want more!
    Now is clear for me how strong this tank-target idea was activating your memory. Amazing story. At the end it is really funny (nothing bad happend) but I believe when it just happens for some guys it is not so funny at all 🙂 Anyway thank you, it is so interesting to hear a real story like this, in big caliber 😀

    So from now on it is BBB 🙂

  3. B.B.

    This begs the question, “What else have you seen or done in defense of your country?
    I assume there will be many more stories in the future?”

    I guy at my range has fallen in love with RC Cars. He has done exactly what you want to do. He uses a target holder that holds a 6″ square target.


  4. BB-

    To quote my grandmother, ‘Oh,My!’

    On a far less destructive scale, I was actually envisioning a target/ missile catcher atop a Roomba for indoor Nerf gun battles. ‘Honest, I’m sweeping the floor!’

  5. B.B.,
    That report put a grin on my face the whole way through. I really enjoyed it. Very bad boys you were! I especially liked the image of a car body sailing through the air after a little too much TNT was used to illustrate the speed of combustion. The way it turned out was much, much more memorable and far more interesting than if you did the experiment “right.” All those guys with you remembered this, too! There must have been some hooting and hollering after that car finished its flight! The poor fellow on the railroad car! Oh my!

  6. B.B. and Crew,
    This is my target on wheels. No motor though, or steering. But I suppose you could send it down a hill! This is used in the yard, so I can set the target to various distances from my shooting position. The trap is large enough that all shots will be caught at the max distance in the yard, which was 30 yards.

  7. This report was a hoot – yes, sorta “off topic,” but we can all use some comic relief in our lives these days, FM thinks. I’ve been privileged to hear similar stories from my Army, Navy/USMC and Air Force friends and family members. The best one was from a beloved neighbor, sadly no longer here, who was a navigator aboard a B-24 flying out of Italian airfields in 1944-1945.

    On a mission over the Alps, as he related to me, some of the crew had to “drop their payloads” into empty .50 cal ammo cans – that was the “privy” on board. After completing the mission, bomb bay doors were opened again and the odoriferous cans were sent on their way to the ground. Shortly after, the belly gunner went on the intercom, shouting “Hey! Hey! Have we been hit?! I can’t see for s–t!! There’s grease all over my turret!” The situation was explained and the poor gunner calmed down though he was not happy the “grease” had messed up his visibility and rendered the turret useless had there been real trouble on the way home. That would have been crappy!

    FM honors the service of all of you who’ve been there, done that.

  8. BB, Thanks for your service. Its the ones who traded their country for a red hat that I worry about.
    Donald Putin and his friends. Thats what all that expensive hardware over there is for buddy.
    Do you really get a purple heart for a STD? My uncle told me that when I was younger, he was in the Pacific theater. The ‘Butless carbine’ doesn’t work so well freehand, it’s like pushing on a tiller with your cheek without the butt there, it’s ok on the bench.

  9. Reminds me of…………….”Here, hold my beer and watch this”

    Growing up we used Det Cord (for Detination Cord, not sure if this is the same as Dem Cord but sounds like it) for clearing large swaths of trees all at once on the edge of our pastures. Never had a mishap but it ruined me for regular fireworks as a kid

  10. FM misses M80s…but given the many mindless, ZCS (Zero Common Sense) types running around these days, perhaps it is better they’re not readily available anymore. Disclaimer: at times FM has been an unwitting, unwilling member of the ZCS Club, but is quick to resign as soon as he understands that situation.

    • Motorman and a couple junior high school buddies attached M80’s to rocks with rubber bands. Stole a flare from one of the dads who worked on the railroads. One night we drop the flare into another guy’s dad’s stocked fishing lake. Fish are attracted to the flare and are easy prey to our M80 “depth charges”. In the morning there are a couple dozen fish floating belly up on the lake. The kid whose father owned the lake should just about be getting to see the light of day again about now…50 years later!

      • Hahah! Reminds FM of his growing-up years in Miami – the FL one – hearing stories about Cuban fishermen going out and doing “dynamite fishing.” Not sporting, but suspect they were not the only ones engaging in aforesaid “sport.”

  11. BB, et al: Your mischievous actions while in the service of the good ‘ole USA reminds me of a good time as our unit was coming home from Vietnam, or “the crotch”, as we learned to call it. I was a Corpsman (medic) in Uncle Sam’s Yacht Club, stationed with the Third Marines at Hue in 1968/9. As our Company was preparing to withdraw for transport home, a lavish coming home party was being prepared in the ruins of the old French hospital on the hillside above Hue. One of the, as always, wise decisions made by the OIC (Officer in Charge) of party planning was that the liquor would flow freely that evening for the Officers, while we mere enlisted pukes would have to make due with beer. Now I’ve nothing against beer, but it did seem unfair that the division between those persons having served together at Arms for the previous nine months was a mite prejudicial. Now, the setting has been set, and on to the fun part: a row of latrines (that’s outhouses for you college boys) had been properly set over the proscribed trench in order that all might be properly relieved as would be necessary. Several hours into the evening’s celebration, a couple of ne’er-do-well Corporals moved the properly set latrines approximately a foot beyond the well-used trench. In keeping with the spirit of the evening, the enlisted were notified of said changes, the officers, well, not so much. I was not a participant in this prank, but I certainly enjoyed it and approved. The consequences began as dire the next morning. The gunny (that’s Gunnery Sergeant) was called to task. He took full blame for the incident, refusing to implicate others who may have been involved. Fortunately, the Executive Officer had a sense of humor. As corpsman, I had the duty to “shoot” with gammagoblin (GG for short) all those stepping forward who stepped forward into the trench the previous evening. I stated duty above where I should have said privilege for you see, GG is extremely viscous and painful when administered to the gluteus maximus muscles (rosey red butt cheeks). Vietnam wasn’t ALL rice patties and jungles. “Those were the days my friend, I thought they’d never end, those were the days, oh yes those were the days”. Orvil Hazelton HM1, USN. Proud to have served.

    • Hoppalong Doc,

      Did you arrive in Hue early in 1968 or late in that year after the “Tet Festivities” brought from the North?

      Well now that clears up the Doc in your blog Handle.
      Never stepped or reached anywhere without looking first.

      FMC Corpsman in Combat (“Police Action”) Zone.


      • Yes, I finished Corpsman A School in September 1967, and Fleet Marine School in December. Following a quick leave home, I was baptised by fire, arriving in Vietnam just in time for the 1968 Tet Offensive. I was a virgin upon arrival, Tet changed all that quickly. I was attached to the 3rd MarDiv for 6 months followed by 9 months as a Brown Water Sailor, attached to the USS Kearsarge doing PBR insurations up the Siagon River and calling in fire power and bombing coordinates for the fly boys. I arrived back home in July 1969. I wanted to marry my high school sweetheart, but in all its great wisdom Uncle Sam wouldn’t give me more than 2 weeks leave, so I took my discharge and married my sweetheart (still married to her now, 51 plus years later). Following the birth of our handicapped daughter, I re-enlisted for another 6 years, finally getting out in 1977. Our 2 sons have made the Army their careers. We’re currently in Carlisle, PA to pin our oldest boys’ Colonel’s Eagle wings on him at the War College. Our other son is a Major, attached to the NSA. I guess that you could call us a military family. More than anyone wants to know . . . but there it is. Orv.

  12. I bought this ‘moving silhouette target’ ready made (an electric motor rotates a belt clockwise to which 3 paddle-shaped hinges have been attached, they stand up as they are are carried to the upper, visible, left-to-right run)…

    • I have one that is similar made by Caldwell. It’s called a Shootin’ Gallery. It also rotates clockwise and resets the targets. I wired mine with a remote start/stop so I don’t have to go downrange to turn it on and off.

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