My buddy Miles Vining and his crew try and recreate an organizationally correct U.S. Army Paratrooper squad, with the same small arms and live ammunition that squad would have used in 1944. Recreating World War II small arms has so far been done through reenactments and in the film industry, but these only involve blanks. Shooting World War II small arms at a square range goes very far in understanding how these weapons functioned. But neither is truly using these small arms as intended. These M1 Garands, M1A1 Carbines, and 1919 LMGs were created to be used by American soldiers in accomplishing their task of assaulting Fortress Europe and conquering the Pacific. They were adopted and issued to be used by entire units of men, working together to neutralize an opposing enemy force.
For us today, that leaves a number of questions unanswered. Such as how did the actual rates of frame pan out among a group of advancing soldiers? What were the reload times under stress? What kind of malfunctions did those soldiers have to deal with? Just how accurate were these weapons while out of breath? You can’t research this through converted blank firing rifles, nor can you research this holistically through a calm setting on a square range.
To accomplish this task, we partnered up with a local reenacter group dedicated to bringing that Greatest Generation to life, and re-enlisted the skill sets of Infantry Marines who understood squad level fire and maneuver tactics, in addition to the ever present safety aspect of an entire group of men advancing while laying down suppressive fire. We ran several rehearsals before hand to drill the safety aspect home, in addition to hiring an EMT to be on standby in case of a situation gone very wrong.
We found out a number of interesting pieces of information, much of it we’ll cover later in ensuing videos on the topic. Note that if some of the scenes appear to be spliced from separate attacks, that is because they are. We ran two Live-Fires because we couldn’t get all the footage we needed in the first one.
Finally, we wholeheartedly dedicate this episode of TFB TV to Corporal Kevin Schranz. Schranz was a Machine Gunner in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines with Miles V. on two combat deployments to Afghanistan. He was an avid amateur historian of military history, and was especially fascinated by the Second World War. On September 28th of 2015, Kevin Schranz took his life. The M1 Garand in use by Miles V. throughout the episode belonged to him (on account of his widow loaning it to us), and we believe it was a fitting tribute to a man who couldn’t be there himself. Although only his rifle was physically present, he will always be with us in spirit.