Skip to main content

Tank Gunnery 1976, Part 6, Moving Truck, Coax Machine Gun


The second to last target on Table VIII is a moving truck panel.  As with the moving tank target, we had practiced tracking moving targets more than anyone else in the battalion.  We were ready to perforate the track mounted panel as soon as we saw it.  But the real preparation for this engagement was done by my loader, Gene Pierce.  The M73 coax machine gun was a reliable weapon in general, but in my experience was finicky about dirt and ammo feed.

The night before Table VIII Pierce cleaned our coax to whatever coax perfection can be.  By the time we reached the moving truck target, we had fired the coax twice in engagements one and four, firing 100 rounds at each firing point.  We had 100 rounds to hit the moving truck, which is plenty, unless the gunner gets interrupted and has to re-acquire his sight picture.

We were tense rolling from the .50 cal. engagement looking for the moving panel.  We also knew pretty much where the panel would be since the moving panels are in roughly the same area of the range.  Pierce was scanning with me, mostly to show the grader we were following procedure, but he was ready to drop down the moment we saw the target and ready to keep the coax firing if anything went wrong.

I saw the target move.  Announced "Gunner! Coax! Moving Truck!"  We stopped smoothly as I swung the turret to the moving panel.  Pierce yelled "Up!"  Merc said "On the way!"  Pierce lightly held the belt of 7.62mm ammo as it fed into the M73 machine gun.  Tracers sailed winked out of sight as the passed through the panel.  Merc knew he was on target and burned the 100 rounds in short bursts.  I announced "Cease fire! Driver move out."

Now we were heading to the last engagement.  The last round on Table VIII is still one of my favorite all-time moments in the Army.

In the meantime, an instructional video on the M73 coax machine gun.



Popular posts from this blog

Different Water for Sinks and Toilets--Camp Beuhring, Kuwait, and Amtrak

On the train to Philadelphia recently, the toilets had water, but the sinks did not in the last two cars. I walked three cars away from my seat to wash my hands. On the way back, I let the conductor know about the lack of water.  He said there are different water systems for the sinks and the toilets.  Then smiled and said the water is blue in the toilets.  
I told the conductor about a morning at Camp Beuhring, Kuwait, in April 2009. We were there for training before we went to Camp Adder, Iraq.  During our two-week stay, we slept in 77-man tents.  Outside the tent were several sinks and mirrors just standing in the open on the sand. I wish I had a picture.  
About twenty yards away were Porta-Johns or Shit Ovens, which everyone called the plastic enclosures when the temperature approached 120 degrees.  One morning just after down I went out to the sinks, brushed my teeth, then walked toward the Porta-Johns.  One of the soldiers just stepped out of one and was walking toward me.  
H…

Ten Years Ago Today: Cold War Soldier Starts Re-enlistment Process

The Night Before Basic, Killing Brain and Lung Cells
On January 31, 1972, I flew to Texas to begin basic training. On April 2, 2007, ten years ago today, I called Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Askew, recruiting sergeant for the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, and began the process of re-enlisting after 23+ years as a civilian.  I was 53 years old at the time, about to turn 54.

In the Spring of 2007, The Surge in Iraq was in full swing and recruitment for the Army was down a lot. The economy was good, Congress would not even consider re-starting the Draft, so in late 2006 Congress raised the maximum first-enlistment age for the Army from 35 to 42 years old.

The program was a failure and was rescinded three years later. But that failed program allowed me to re-enlist.  The maximum enlistment age for soldiers with prior service is the enlistment age plus the years of prior service plus a one-year waiver.  I needed all of that.

I called three recruiters before I called Kevin. He was the first one…

My Last Tanker Nickname: Oddball

Donald Sutherland as Oddball, a tank commander in the movie "Kelly's Heroes"
I got my last tanker nickname more than a decade after I earned the nickname Sgt. Bambi Killer.I got that nickname on a business trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2000.The company I worked for just bought a company in Brazil and I was part of a team that went to Brazil to introduce ourselves to the people who ran the business.
Sao Paulo has traffic that makes Los Angeles look like Omaha, so the local managers sent a limo for the four of us. This meant we could be more comfortable on the three-hour 20-mile trip from the airport to downtown. 
At the time I had a beard and still had a lot of brown hair.  Among the local staff people who were waiting to meet us was my now long-time friend Ivan Porccino. Ivan speaks five languages and was assigned as our interpreter.  When we got in the car, Ivan introduced us to the driver and said we would be in Sao Paulo for a few days. The driver said, “I love Americ…