So long, Major Mac....
I met Old Soldier about 25 years ago, at the rifle range, naturally. I had just bought my first new rifle and scope and was having a miserable time trying to get sighted in. He wanted to look it over, of course, and I told him to go ahead a take a few pops. He took one shot, looked at the target with his spotting scope, and made a couple of adjustments. After repeating this process two more times, he had it hitting one inch high at 100 yards. In less than five minutes and he had me sighted in.
We had talked about reloading and he encouraged me to buy the components: Brass, powder, bullets and primers; and come over to his house to use his dies and other reloading equipment. He wasn’t going to do it for me. He would demonstrate and help when necessary, but I finally had 100 rounds loaded at a cost considerably less than what five boxes of factory loads would have set me back.
Over the years, we headed out to the range on many occasions. I got to shoot many different calibers and types of guns that I would never have otherwise had the opportunity. Revolvers, 9mm carbines, 7.57x39, lever actions and on and on. One of the best times I had was when he took out two 30-30 levers and we each shot about 50 rounds or more offhand. At different times my son and I bought from his collection, and he was always fair in setting his price.
We went to a gun show or two in the city. Old Soldier was very active in the SAS Sun River Rangers Cowboy Action Shooting Society. He not only invited us to participate in the monthly shoots at Simms, but also loaned us the appropriate weaponry. He was definitely one of the originals of the originals in his replica Union Army costume.
My son became interested in buying a surplus M-1 Garand from government surplus. In order to do so, he had to compete in a High Power Shoot sponsored by the Missouri River Shooters in Great Falls. Turned out that Old Soldier was in charge of the crew in a trench hoisting and scoring the targets while the bullets whined overhead. We rode to the site with him. For some reason, I had decided to also shoot and was using a Garand, loaned by, who else?
So I shot that antique Garand, and my son shot his .303 British. I suspect that most of the other shooters had never seen either up close. The Kid shot a very respectable score under the circumstances. My score was probably the worst that had ever been shot at any sanctioned High Power Shoot anywhere. But by God, I’m a Marksman and I’ve got the certificate to prove it!
Old Soldier was a Patriot, a Veteran, a firm defender of our Second Amendment rights and a proud member of the National Rifle Association. As a member of the local C. James Smith American Legion Post, he was the caretaker of the old Garands used for 21 Gun Salutes at funerals and a faithful member of the Legion Honor Guard.
Friend, I can’t believe you’re gone, but unlike MacArthur, you will not fade away. The sound of a Twenty-One Salute and the notes of an earthly bugle may fade but my memories of you never will.