Sometimes You Have to Charge the Machine Gun

By Major Van Harl, USAF Ret.


As an Air Force lieutenant I was sent to Ft. Benning, Georgia and trained to be an Army Infantry officer. During the patrolling phase of training we learned how to set up an ambush and stop the enemy cold as they walked past. However, we also learned that the enemy had also been taught how to set up an ambush and we could be caught in their crossfire. If the ambush is laid out and executed correctly and you walk into it, your changes of survival are very slim.

One of the tactics we learned was when all else failed as you were being ambushed you have got to charge the enemy’s machine guns. And maybe, just maybe, you will disrupt their attack enough to survive the day.

Attacking the machine gun (figuratively) was what the passengers attempted on that aircraft flying over Pennsylvania on 911. They died, but they disrupted the enemy enough that the original target of the Muslim terrorist’s mission was spared death and destruction.

Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, retired Army, has defined people in three categories. Most people are sheep who get on with their daily lives never intending to hurt anyone. Then there are wolves whose very way of life it to prey on the helpless flocks of sheep in our society. Wolves destroy for their basic needs but they also kill for sport. They inflict deliberate destruction of life only for the sake of destroying the weak and the helpless. Then there are the sheepdogs. Sheepdogs are the protectors of the greater society of sheep.

In human form they are the military members who elect to join the ranks of the defenders of our American way of life. Policemen are the civilian branch of the defender-sheepdog, brother and sisterhood.

The problem with sheepdogs is they can appear to us to look much like wolves. They have to be that way. One minute they are looking all shaggy and so cute you want to pet them and the next minute they are biting off the head of a wolf, which was sneaking up on you, because you failed to pay attention to your surroundings.

There is a fear in the flock that the sheepdogs will take advantage of their sheep charges and either try to totally control or bring destruction to parts of the flock. In some nations of the world the sheepdogs are the enemy; this, however, is not the case in the United States.

Unlike most countries our populace can arm themselves against threats, both foreign and domestic. We live in a call 911 society where we expect to pick up the phone and have the sheepdogs show up in minutes to protect us.

I once heard a mother call into the Dr. Laura radio show complaining about the fact she did not want her son to have any exposure to firearms. However, when she went over to her father-in-law’s house it was the home of a safe gun owner.  She felt his ideas were going to wrongly impact her son. Dr. Laura asked whom does the mother call when there is a potential violent situation in her life. Of course the mother stated she called a policeman (who has a gun on his hip), who will come and save the day and not take advantage of the citizen who has called for help. The mom wants a sheepdog to save her and her family from harm, but she can not envision her on son or daughter becoming a sheepdog.

A grade school teacher was instructing her class that in case of a violent invasion of the class room by a “wolf” the children were to all huddle together on the floor in the corner of the room. Maybe the “wolf” would just go away and not harm the “baby sheep.” A student who was a refugee of the Balkan Wars told the teacher she was wrong. This child had seen the “wolves” up close and personal. He said the class had to escape or fight back with whatever they could use to defend themselves.

Wolves hate sheep that have weapons and the courage to use them. I would suggest that if the students at Virginia Tech had attempted to “charge the machine gun” and disrupt the Korean wolf, fewer student sheep would be dead now. I am an old retired sheepdog but the claws and the fangs stay sharp and I am always watching for the wolves in sheep’s clothing. It is the sixth anniversary of the 911 attack and the wolves are still out there.




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Copyright 2007, 2012 by Major Van Harl USAF Ret. All rights reserved.


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