“I’m a Donkey Hunter!”

The first legitimate encounter with the President of Horus Vision, Dennis Sammut, was at lunch the day he spontaneously slapped the title of Production Manager to my job description three weeks after I started at his company.  I was given the task of dabbing Dennis’ head with cover-up to take away the glare and scold him anytime he added his favorite filler phrase, “in here,” within his presentation.  To be honest, I was ecstatic, but wow, I had not yet come close to the realization of how much entertainment I would be blessed with.

I had just moved back home from New York where the closest thing to a hunter I encountered was a headhunter, and hunting season consisted of recruiting newly graduated college students into slave labor sales jobs.  I was tired of the New York scene, so I moved back where I came from, right in the heart of the Bay Area in a city called San Bruno, not far from San Francisco (I know, I’m always shooting myself in the foot when I admit such a thing).  That is where I began my epic journey with Horus Vision and where I met a different kind of hunter- one unlike any other and certainly the farthest thing from a headhunter.  Who would have thought I could be in store for such a treat in the land of fruits, nuts, and flakes…

After dulling the glare on Dennis’ forehead and assisting Dennis with such things as combing over his hair, and drawing some last minute changes on his instructional boards, we took a lunch break.

I joined the guys for lunch, which included Ted the Videographer, Todd the Professional Shooter, and Dennis the Head Honcho.

Dennis was holding court, and I just sat back and took everything in, chuckling at the madness unfolding into a masterpiece of unintentional comedy right before my eyes.

I had ordered frog satay for lunch that day, and at one point zoned out of the conversation to examine my mystery meal.  Dennis all of a sudden abruptly caught my attention with a rush of greater intensity than he was already exuding and exclaimed, “I’m not a police officer! I’m not a civil servant! I’m not a soldier! I’m a donkey hunter!”

I nearly spit that frog satay from my mouth, as I burst into laughter.  Again, he was completely serious, with not a tone of joking present anywhere in his diction.

Ted and Todd were trying to hold in their laughter, but had trouble after seeing that I had no shame with my cackles over in the corner.

Dennis turned to me and said with great earnest, “I’m serious, in here! I’m a donkey hunter.  How do you think I developed the reticle for Horus Vision?  I was shooting the overrun donkeys in Australia, in here, and it was so boring, I had to see how far I could get to shoot them to make it interesting since they are so goddamn slow!”

I just laughed in his face.  I believed him, but I couldn’t let him think he could get away with such a ridiculous concept without acknowledging how crazy he sounded.  Apparently he wasn’t too crazy, as Todd Hodnett said, “Basically it is his simple approach to long range thinking and trying to fix a problem that he incurred while in the field.  Thus the Horus reticle was born. Genius.”

Now I had to find out the background to this madness. 

I caught up with a long-time friend of Dennis, named Bob Penfold.  He gave me quite the history lesson on how the Donkey Hunter came to be, which I decided to add verbatim, because it was too good to pull apart.

Bob Penfold’s Personal Account about Dennis the Donkey Hunter

Dennis was an avid river rafter for 20 years.  He rafted most great rivers across western USA during his career.  He was looking for further adventures.

He began hunting first in Alaska and then in Africa; however, really knew little about guns or hunting.  He asked retired Colonel TD (Tom) Smith, a well known shooting teacher, to assist him in learning about hunting and shooting.  If nothing else, Dennis is a determined person who wants to know how to do everything in the best possible way.

Tom and Dennis arrived in my buffalo hunting camp 25 years ago.  Tom shot a big buffalo, and then asked if there was anything else to shoot.  So I took him donkey culling in the same area.

To cut a long story short, Tom was a great shot at standing animals, at any distance, but he could not shoot any game running.  I showed him how to do it and he asked me how I learned to do that.  I told him I had taken 100,000 practice shots to get that good.

While I taught Tom how to shoot, he asked me if I would teach Dennis how to shoot.  So began a long and great partnership between Dennis and me.

Never doubt how tough an individual Dennis is.  He is both physically and mentally very tough.  He accepts criticism readily and his determination to learn overrules his normal dominant attitude to life.

He never complained when we were lost exploring new terrain.  On the numerous occasions we were bogged in knee deep mud, he never flinched at wading around in the mud dragging winch cables to trees or doing the difficult physical work required of adventuring and exploring the remote outback cattle stations.

While I was teaching Dennis I swore at him, abused him, and cursed him very often whenever he made mistakes.  He simply smiled and always said, “Show me how”.

After  trying to shoot some donkeys at 600 yards using guesstimated formulae’s, and missing them, he asked if there was a way to better shoot them accurately every time.  I explained to him that it was the equipment that was lacking the ability, not the shooter.  That evening after returning to camp Dennis drew on a piece of paper, a sight picture that is very similar to the Horus scope system that Dennis has patented and is using as the basis for his sighting system to this day.

Dennis went home and commissioned a German scope manufacturer to make him a scope with the crosshair in the upper third of the sight picture and with some grid references spread across the vertical line.  This original design gave Dennis the sight picture that he needed to get a correct hold on the animals to shoot them perfectly with each shot, no matter what the range.

Dennis returned to Australia again the next year to test his new scope system.  It worked just great.  We found a bunch of about 20 donkeys at 600 yards and Dennis shot each of them with single killing shot “ in the base of their neck” using a 30-06.  When we drove the Toyota 4WD to where they were all laying dead, only one required a second finishing shot.

Dennis was now on a roll.  He then made further modifications to the scope.  He installed a distance measuring grid so that the distance to the animal could be measured by looking through the scope.  This distance was applied to the special crosshair grid, and then the animals were dispatched one after the other without a single miss even at very long ranges.  This was supplementary to the various laser range finders that he carried and tested.

Dennis was ecstatic.  He returned to USA and made further refinements.  He included a chronograph to test the bullet velocity in the hot dry outback air in his pack.  He needed this information to include in his palm pilot computer that he now carried out in the field.  He carried an instrument to measure wind velocity and another to measure air moisture levels.  He fitted a horizontal bubble check device to check his level of hold for each shot on his rifles.

Dennis saw no limitations to his invention.  He experimented with bigger and smaller calibres and refined his scope sighting system over and over after each trip to Australia until he has what he considers being his perfect sniper system to which any average shooter can apply in the field.  This development took Dennis 10 years and 10 trips to Australia to test his systems in the field.

We set up a target at 1600 yards in the pre-dawn darkness.  There are zero air currents at this time in the morning in the outback area we were hunting.  Dennis shot groups from the sandbags mounted on the hood of my Toyota.  There were no hardships, lack of sleep, being bone tired and exhausted that stopped Dennis perfecting his sighting system.  He is one tough puppy.

While he invested a lot of money in patents, he never stops thinking about what further refinements he can make to further perfect the system.  He now has them especially manufactured to his own specifications to ensure that his buyers received only the best possible quality products from the Horus Vision line.  

Dennis is definitely different.  He is loud, the leader of any expedition.  He is definitely eccentric.  We all are, but Dennis is “way out there” in his leadership and organisational capacity to lead and have others faithfully follow.

In the field Dennis allowed me to be the boss until he gleaned from me every bit of information that he could absorb.  I pushed him harder and harder, never letting up on the push for perfection until I was satisfied that I had taught him about all I could teach him about killing stuff under every circumstance.

I pushed him so hard- first to learn to kill every animal with a single shot, then how to do it with consistency on running game.  The finale’ was to teach him to shoot every animal that was running in the head, killing them with consistent head shots.  He learned how to do that consistently with a bolt action rifle.

I believe when I teach someone to shoot, when they can shoot running game in the head with consistency using a bolt action rifle, they have learned about all that I can teach them.

During one of our last trips together I found a herd of 11 donkeys grazing in a valley.  I instructed Dennis to “go headshot every one of them after you get them running”.  Dennis loaded up and walked towards the donkeys.  They saw him, and became agitated before breaking into a run in line, following each other.  Dennis killed every one of the 11 donkeys with headshots and used only 13 rounds of ammo to achieve that.

It was then that I figured I could not teach him anymore.  He was as good as I could make him.

Before each trip into the outback I would fly in one full carton of Coca Cola for every day that Dennis would be in camp.  He would often drink 6 to 8 cans before breakfast.  You wonder why he was wide awake, focussed and ready for anything.  He kept himself wired all of the time.

I must add that I consider Dennis to be a really good friend.  He helps anyone who is honest and sincere.  He helped me on several occasions when I needed assistance he was able to give and sought no thanks.

Dennis is a joker.  He leads the evening dinner table discussions on politics, guns, ammunition, people and joke telling.  He sure is fun to have in camp.  He loves to eat good food and my wife, Kay, loved to cook for him.

Here is a guy who lives on his nerves, and is definitely an eccentric personality.  He needs to be the leader and to have everyone else follow, but at the same time has great respect for every lady, and especially loves his wife and children.

One of my favourite memories was when we were testing his latest refinement in his Horus Vision technology.  We were searching for extreme range donkeys by cruising the high hills above a plain, which we knew donkeys travelled to feed areas early each morning.

I pulled the Toyota 4WD up under a big shade tree and we set up to see what we could find.  After some time I located several donkeys feeding in the open, “way out there”.

We ranged the donkeys using the range estimator that was built into the sight picture of the scope.  The range showed at around 1600 yards.

Dennis took all of the air temperature, moisture content and air current readings before using a special long range laser range finder to check the range.  He determined that the donkeys were 1650 yards, confirming our visual readout taken via the scope range estimator grid.  He entered all of the data into his palm pilot which determined the rifle hold for the shot.

We discussed the shot, the range, the computer readout and the circumstances.  There is no rush when the donkeys are a mile away, feeding in the early morning warmth.

Dennis set up his special 308 Winchester rifle that was fitted with the Horus Vision scope on the sandbags on the hood of the Toyota.  He took careful aim while I set up my view through the 60 power spotting scope.

After the shot broke, I waited what seemed like some seconds before the shot arrived at the donkey and knocked him off his feet.

What a shot.  A single shot kill at one mile, first shot, without any sighters.  I was there, on the hill with Dennis when he made the kill.  This was singularly the greatest single shot kill at extreme range that I have ever seen.

There were many more memorable moments when hunting with Dennis, however this was the highlight, the culmination of 10 years of work and fun in the sun with Dennis.

We are still friends after 15 years travelling, hunting, and enduring the hard and the fun times together.  It was always like hunting with a friend rather than being a “me guide you client” relationship.  We operate as a team and we both have great memories of our good times together.  We may get together again in the field in Australia one day.  I look forward to that prospect.

Dennis makes a great friend, but like me, I suspect that I would not like him to be my enemy.



The Hog Hunter

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Ronnie Robison, a true American adventurer, who made me aware of an ongoing problem, which in no way, shape, or form is a new development- but I, being from the northern part of California (I know, I probably shouldn’t publicize this information so freely) was clearly unaware of.

The issue has to do with an overpopulating breed of wildlife, not native to the U.S.  There are anywhere between 2-3 million in Texas alone!  And on average, each female can reproduce 280 offspring in a lifetime…

No, I’m not referring to illegal immigrants (that I do know about, living in California).  I am talking about feral hogs! 

Luckily, there are people like Ronnie Robison in the world to help defeat the war on these ghastly and atrocious creatures.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m an animal lover, but these are not your domesticated pigs, like Babe and Wilbur.  And even though Disney tried to give wild hogs a good name, with Hakuna Matata singin’ Pumba, they won’t fool anyone who has had first hand encounters with the real deal.

Ronnie Robison with Prize

I contacted Mr. Robison after my co-worker, Michelle, came across some pictures he had sent over months ago.  She started reminiscing about her conversation with the “Hog Hunter” and how it topped her list of best customer conversations she ever had.  I stopped and asked her what she was talking about, and she snapped out of her trance, surprised, realizing she had not shared her convo with me earlier.

Michelle went on to tell me how he called about a mishap with the H-3 Horus Scope (an older version of the Raptor 4-16x, which we don’t make anymore).  We had sent him a replacement with a newer version, but later realized his zero on the H-3 had been altered in the process.  He was so thrilled his scope was still in tip-top shape; he called to tell Michelle he sent the replacement scope back, because it was a false alarm and his was working just fine.

To give Michelle an idea of the line of work he used our scope for, he told her about a mission he had with the local airport.  The air strips at this particular airport are made of dirt, and hogs were going in and rooting for food right on the runway.  These “hog holes” were so large, they actually caused a plane to flip over.

 So Ronnie “The Hog Hunter” Robison was called to the rescue!

Robison and his wife rolled in with a trailer, which is designed to hunt coyotes and hogs.  Robison designed a two-story trailer that will carry two four wheelers.  From the trailer, they shoot hogs with their 300 mag rifles.  He calls this “East Texas Homeland Defense.”

“East Texas Homeland Defense”

Michelle sent me pictures to confirm her explanation and exclaimed, “You have to call him, Liz! He has some great stories, but best of all is how animated and vivacious he is when he tells them.  You’re going to love him!  He uses our scope to hunt his hogs,”

Michelle’s enthusiasm was persuasive, so I decided to give this mysterious hog hunter a call.

I gave Ronnie Robison a call, introduced myself, and instantly, it was as if we were best friends and had spoken on the phone hundreds of times before.  He said in his heavy Texan twang, “This is such strange timing, because my Palm I use your ATrag program from, died today!  I’m not lying.  I’ve had it for something like 10 years and the day it dies, you happen to call me!  I am very sad to see that thing go, as I hunted many hogs with it.  I think it finally bit the dust for good.  But anyway… let me just tell you about some of the experiences I’ve had with your Horus System…”

Robison began by premising his origin of residency to give me an idea of the environment where he hunts hogs.  He is from Orange, Texas, a small town on the border of Louisiana and 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.  By his description, half of Orange is swampland, while the other half is marshland.  He clarified the difference (since I didn’t know) and that is while swamps have trees, marshes do not, and consist of only grass.

According to Robison, “Except for antelope, every law can be broken in Orange County.”  He could hunt anything he wanted, but chooses to hunt hogs.  This is for several reasons.

First, feral hogs have the ability to double their population every four months with proper nutrition and favorable conditions.  They can reproduce at rates of two litters of 10-13 piglets every 12-15 months.  Besides the volume of hogs, their size is also a factor.  On average, a hog is 130 pounds, a sow 110, but they are now getting up to 450-500 pounds.

Second, they are a farmer’s nightmare.  They are not native to our country, but highly adaptable and extremely destructive to our environment.  They are omnivores and will eat just about anything.  Robison reported one measly hog of only 65-pounds doing $35,000 worth of damage in a single night (just imagine what a 500-pound hog could do).

Besides being destructive to landscaping, they are tremendously dangerous.  There are reports of wild hogs killing humans.  They tend to go after weak and injured humans, vulnerable children, as well as dogs and pets.  They are highly attracted to birthing premises to feed off fetal tissue.  They rarely leave remains, since they eat the entire subject, so their damage is often underestimated.  Plus, they are notorious for transmitting parasites to domesticated animals and humans.

There have been recent discussions in media about the reason for the increase of growth and viciousness within the feral hog community, and one speculation is the cross-breeding between hogs, creating a genetically superior hog with a lot of hostility.

On top of it all, hogs are highly intelligent and hard to catch.  They are nocturnal, so when deer hunters are going in for the day, Robison is making his way out to catch some hogs.  He said to me, “They’re kind of like vampires- when it’s dark, then that’s when the blood flows.”

The feral pig problem is ongoing and as Ronnie stated, “It takes coots like me to get drenched and catch the hogs.  I’d rather hunt hogs than deer any day.”

To illustrate the misconception on these hogs and the perception people have in regard to them, he told me a story about a woman who was the former Miss Orange years ago, and needed his help handling a hog who went wild in her yard.

Miss Orange was an animal lover who fed the raccoons, opossums, and even the hog who showed up at her back door one day.  She named it “Miss Piggy” and soon learned of Miss Piggy’s wrath when she woke up to find her flower beds in shambles.

Miss Orange called Robison to help her control Miss Piggy, but she had one rule- he couldn’t hurt the hog.

Robison told her it would be tough to get the hog under control graciously, but he assured her he would not harm the hog.

Robison and a buddy set-up traps, but the highway was 30 yards away and created a problem.  Hog traps are $300-$400 a piece, and highly sought after in Hog country.  Luckily, Miss Orange had several Lincoln Navigators to spare, so they parked the vehicles strategically to block the traps from highway rubberneckers.

The hog was eventually corralled, but it wasn’t pretty, as Robison ended up with a sliced ear, and his buddy ended up with a gash in the stomach.

Miss Orange was horrified, as she had no idea how dangerous Miss Piggy really was.  She forced $100 on Robison for his endeavors, and many apologies, but Robison refused the money.  When he lost that battle, he took the $100 and donated it to the Salvation Army.

Now the part I’ve been holding back on, which makes Ronnie Robison even more intriguing, is besides the fact he decides to hunt such an unruly mammal, but that he does it all from his trailer or on a pair of crutches, because he has minimal use of his legs.

2-Story Trailer Robison Designed

He contracted a disease over 14 years ago, restricting use of his legs, as they have become weak and painful with any stress placed upon them.  Robison didn’t let this stop him, though.  He innovated new ways to get around and said, “If I want something, don’t get in my way.  I’m going to get through.  You have to cut my head off to get me to quit.”

The crutches he uses are not ordinary crutches, but All Terrain Crutches (ATC) Robison developed after his car died in the middle of a rice field and he had to crawl two and a half hours in the heat of August to civilization.  The bottoms of the crutches have welded teeth
so they can be used in rice fields, but also in marshland and swampland surrounding Robison’s home.

Robison uses his Horus Scope for every hog hunt.  He said, “The scope is an old 4-16x H-3.  I would not be afraid to pull it off the rifle and beat a hog to death with it, then put it back on the gun.”

The farthest hog-kill Robison has made is 524 yards, and that was in the dark!  His goal is to kill a hog at 1000 yards one day.  He likes the thick lines of the reticle for hogs.  He said, “You need one hell of a crosshair to find black hogs in the dark.  It’s the only scope I ever use for hog hunting because of the abilities.”

We discussed some people’s resistance to the Horus grid, and he said, It’s so virtually simple! Have a street map.  Can you go to 6th Street and turn right on Green Street?  People look at the grid, not through the scope.  You have to look at the target- then the grid disappears.  Take it to the simplest way.”

As Robison stated, “When it’s not my terms, I need Horus.  I don’t have time to set-up a different scope.  Don’t have the luxury of light to check charts.  That’s why I use Horus.  If the target was under my control, I could use any high quality Schmidt & Bender, whatever, but don’t have that luxury.

Robison’s hog-killing record was 29 in one month, 62 in a year, in one 400 acre pasture.  The hogs just kept coming through, and Robison just got a lease extension for another three years.  He is planning on having some new hog stories soon.

I asked if he ate the hogs he killed.  And his answer was, “Of course!”  He has a waiting list of people who want hogs to chow down on.  He also donates hogs to a “Feed the Hungry” program.  Nothing goes to waste.

The pig problem is not nearly under control, but Ronnie “The Hog Hunter” Robison is making a killing in every way he can to help stop feral hogs from taking over Texas.

To show our appreication for his hard work, dedication, testimonial, and excellent entertainment, he received an iPaq to make up for his Palm that died that day.  Someone needs to keep those hogs under control, so they don’t migrate over to California (we have enough problems).

Robison sent me an e-mail after our conversation and wrote, “You probably think I’m crazy, but I assure you I’m telling the truth!”  He sent me references to confirm his stories, but I didn’t check, because as I told him, I definitely can’t argue with him about being crazy to engage in such an activity, but I know he is not lying.

Many thanks to the Hog Hunter!

A Picture Ronnie Robison Captured

For in depth information on feral hogs, click here.


Winners Use Horus at the 2010 International Sniper Competition

Fort Benning, GA – October 13-15, 2010 – The buzz from the 2010 International Sniper Competition resonated with a bang this year- new structure, new approach, and a lot of talk about a sniper tool with the ‘edge.’ 

The new structure and approach was in regards to the organization of the event.  In previous years, the competition consisted of a five-day stretch with eight hours of rest each day.  This year was an intense 72-hour competition, where participating teams were allotted a total of four hours to rest total.  The vendor show and shoot, previously held in separate locations was joined as one, which resulted in a successful networking opportunity between vendors and military personnel. 

And then of course, the tool with a lot of talk- this was none other than the Horus reticle, which was embedded in the scopes of the top three winners in the service class, and two of the three in the open class.  The keynote speaker at the Awards Banquet even mentioned Horus’ reticle in his speech, “It’s not all about the Horus reticle while winning these competitions, although it does give those who use it the ‘edge’.” 

The Horus reticle was prominent within the competition and it proved to add an edge, particularly to the winning team of the service class, consisting of SGT 1st Class Chance Gianelli and SGT 1st Class Edward Homeyer of the D Co 2nd BN 1st SWTG, Range 37 Special Forces Sniper Course.  Gianelli used a Horus Vision Falcon H37 scope, while his partner Homeyer used a Nightforce scope with a Horus H58 reticle embedded within.

The turret on Homeyer’s Nightforce scope broke right before the competition, inhibiting adjustment capabilities.  In addition, competition rules denied equipment replacement, meaning Homeyer had to make do with the broken scope.  Because Homeyer had the Horus reticle, which he fortunately zeroed out before the turret broke; he was able to continue in the competition using “holdovers” and the unique feature of 2nd Shot Correction.  If he and his partner were off on their first shot, the reticle grid gave them the advantage of instantly correcting their shot to hit the target on the next attempt.  This feature would not have been available on a normal mil-dot scope.

Despite the mishap of Homeyer’s scope, he and Gianelli were still able to take the win with a score of 1,258 points out of the possible 1,507.

As mentioned before, five of the six winning teams all used Horus reticles within their scopes in the competition, but all six had been exposed to the Horus System through training with Accuracy 1st.  Most of the top teams were also using Horus’ ATrag software to true, verify, and plan their shotting stages.

By fate, Horus Vision happened to be seated with the third place team in the Open Class, SSG Caleb Perkins and SGT Andrew McElroy, the only placing team not using the Horus System in the competition.  They jokingly blamed Horus Vision for their lower finish, since they were unable to obtain Horus equipment prior to the match, but had previous training with it and knew the advantage it served.

The third place team actually got their hands on a Horus scope after the competition and contacted Horus Vision to say, “You are increasing our lethality on the battlefield…So now I hope you sleep better at night knowing that.”

And to tell you the truth, we do sleep better at night knowing we are contributing to a greater cause.  Events such as the International Sniper Competition help us understand the needs of our soldiers, which help us evolve to better suit them in an ever changing world of combat.  Getting to speak first hand with the men and women who volunteer to sacrifice their lives everyday really adds a whole new perspective.

Horus Vision served as Platinum Sponsors for the 2010 International Sniper Competition, but that was the least we could do for priceless soldiers putting their lives on the line.  Horus was part of the buzz, but let it not be forgotten- the soldiers are still the ones creating the bang- and they deserve all our appreciation for their unselfish service.

Winners of Service Class, Chance Gianelli & Ed Homeyer


William C. Davis: A Tribute

On March 4, 2010, the renowned ballistician, engineer, and accomplished shooter, William C. Davis died at the age of 88.

Davis graduated from St. Bonaventure University in New York in 1941 with a degree in physics and mathematics.  He joined the Army 1n 1942 where he fought in WWII and left his military service after the war in 1946 as a Captain.

Davis went back to St. Bonaventure to teach until 1951, in which he worked as an ordnance engineer for the U.S. government for 23 years.  Some notable accomplishments during this time included heavily influencing the improvement of the M-16 rifle and standardization of small arms and ammunition between NATO countries.

In 1972, after many commendations and accomplishments, he retired from his work with the government and became self-employed, consulting and writing, among other tasks in the subjects of firearms, ammunition, and ballistics.  He eventually founded Tioga Engineering in 1980, operated by him and his business partner, Charlie Fagg.

Amidst his work within Tioga Engineering, he wrote for American Rifle Magazine, where he became the Contributing Editor in 1974, and went on to write over 50 articles from there.  In 1986, he earned the title of Ballistics Editor.

Other Noteworthy endeavors from Davis were the development of the Very Low Drag (VLD) bullet, which lead to a win for the U.S. International Shooting Team in the 300-meter competition and writing a majority of the NRA book, Handloading in 1981.  He also contributed the “Ammunition” section of the 15th Edition of Encyclopedia Britannica. 

Davis is also well-known for writing the first ballistic program for PCs, written in BASIC, which he offered for free to NRA members.  He went on to write a total of 14 ballistic software programs.  Horus Vision’s ATrag program actually derived from Davis’ algorithms and ballistic studies.  You can read A Brief Course in Ballistics for insight on his findings. 

On top of his technical expertise, he was also an avid shooter as a military expert in rifle, pistol, and carbine, a Lifetime Master in the NRA Smallbore Rifle and rated as a Class AA in NRA Hunter Pistol Silhouette.

This account of William C. Davis is an understatement of his impact, not only through his insight and accomplishments, but also through his character, as he was described to be respected because of his dedicated, patient, and considerate nature.

To read more about William C. Davis, click here.

To read about ballistics from the master himself, click here.

Support Our Troops…One Soldier at a Time

If you’re looking for a good way to help out the troops, you can do your part by adopting a soldier and simply writing to them!  Letters, care packages, and any reminders of home help lift the spirits and boost morale to soldiers.

A good site that makes it easy to get paired up with a soldier and provides resourceful information on how you can make the experience worthwhile is Adopt a US Soldier.

You can also adopt a sniper at AmericanSnipers.org 

There are many other sites out there that provide information, forums, and resources on how to reach out to our troops and help make a difference in their lives.  Just type in ‘Adopt a Soldier’ in your favorite search engine and you can choose whichever organization suits you best. 

Medal of Honor

After meeting Michael Thornton, I realized how little I really knew about the prestigious Medal of Honor.  Based on several discussions I had on the subject, it appeared that many others had misconceptions about it, as well. 
Here are some basic facts and stats I found in my research:
Eligibility: Military Personnel Only
Criteria: “[Conspicuous] gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of the United States’ while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.” 
Medal of Honor Stats:
* 3,465 – 3,468 Awards (None of the stats I found matched up, so I went with the range)
* 3,463 Different Acts of Heroism
* 3,449 Different Individuals Awarded 
*19 Double Awardees
* 9 Awarded to Unknown Soldiers
* 1 Awarded to a Woman: Mary edwards Walker, Civil War Surgeon
* 1 Awarded to a President: Theodore Roosevelt
Distribution of Medals Awarded by Branch:
* Army – 2,405
* Navy – 747
* Marines – 297
* Air Force – 17
* Coast Guard – 1
Medals:  The Army, Navy, and Air Force medals all have a different appearance, although they have the same criteria.
The Marines and Coast Guard are awarded the Navy Medal.
History:  The Medal of Honor was established July 12, 1862 and was first awarded during the American Civil War.
The criteria has changed over the years, but there are plenty of sites that provide an extensive history of the Medal of Honor. 
Some of the sites can be found here:

SEAL the Real Deal

In my freshman year of college, Dad decided he was going to attend classes with me on his campus visit. 

Dad was a diligent student for the duration of his day, anxiously raising his hand to participate in classroom discussion.  I was a pre-med student that first semester, and was not as motivated as he was to engage myself; In fact, I often fell asleep during class lectures.

As the day went on, he found that he loved biology and liked pre-calculus, but it was time for chemistry class, and this would be the deciding factor of whether my performance was inexcusable or not.  He just didn’t understand why I was not as enthusiastic about my courses as he was.

When we got into chemistry, I prepared to actually stay awake in this class for once.  I was literally holding my eyelids open at one point, but there was something about this class and this teacher that just droned me to sleep, no matter how hard I tried.

I fell asleep, which was of little surprise, but what happened simultaneously really was a surprise.

I was awoken by my teacher, who had a smile on his face and pointed over to the desk next to me.

“It looks like it runs in the genes,” he said. 

My head followed his finger in slow motion, to a sight that was too good to be true. 

There was Dad sprawled over in the same position I had been, fast asleep on the desk.

After chemistry class, Dad decided he wasn’t going to influence my decision against switching majors.  He actually never questioned my educational decisions from that day on.  I know he wanted the best for me, but sometimes you find that you’re just not cut out for certain roles.  He understood, because the path he chose after high school was highly based on his notion that he was just not cut out for normal education. 

The path he chose turned out to be more than suitable for him, but to most would be anything but. 

Seven years after our father-daughter day in chemistry class, I finally got a first-hand introduction to a class he enrolled in 35-years ago.  I of course couldn’t jump in a time machine back to the 1970’s, but I got to experience the next best thing- a class reunion!  The best part, was that it was a class that contained training I would never be able to experience even if I wanted to, and most others wouldn’t either- I was going to Dad’s Navy SEAL Class Reunion.   

My family accompanied my dad to Norfolk, Virginia where we met up with the rest of his class at a home, followed by the picnic on the base the next day.

The impressive part of this:

  • 35 years later, all but one member of the class were able to attend
  • They had pulled together in honor of two of their classmates who have had cancer
  • Two of the class trainers and a trainer’s wife were also in attendance and have been in touch with the class for the past 35 years
  • One of the trainers in attendance was a Medal of Honor recipient

The question was: What made this class so compelling that attracted such a following?

Out of 72 people who started out in BUDS Class 81, a total of 11 graduated, and 10 of the 11 were present at the 35th Class Reunion. 

Maybe they were able to create a tight bond, because they consisted of an intimate number, and maybe they were able to stand out to the trainers, since there weren’t many to hide behind.

One in the class said, “I wouldn’t say we’re special, but we’re definitely interesting.”

As I spent more time amongst BUDS Class 81 and their constituents, I got to observe a dynamic bond between men, who for the most part, had not been together for 35 years.  Their experiences were enough to tie them into a unique brotherhood to last a lifetime.  It was as if they never parted.

Dad’s military service adventures were enough to keep me occupied for days alone, but having this close-knit class, all weaving their stories together was enough to mesmerize you into a stupor.

The Medal of Honor recipient in attendance was Michael E. Thornton.  His story took place in South Vietnam, where he learned that Lieutenant Thomas R. Norris (another Medal of Honor recipient) was believed to be dead after hit from enemy fire.  Thornton fought off two enemy soldiers and returned back to Norris’ location, finding him unconscious and wounded, but alive.  Thornton carried him over his soldier for 400 yards to an open beach, all the time returning enemy fire.  He continued to carry Norris, along with another injured companion out to sea and out of enemy fire.

Michael Thornton received the Medal of Honor on October 15, 1973 and is accredited as the first in over a century awarded for saving the life of another Medal of Honor recipient.

Along with the acclaimed Medal of Honor recipient, other novelty characters with an abundance of achievements filled the room.  Most of their activities were top secret and would never be known, but some impressive feats included:

  • 3 of the 11 started SEAL training as an officer after their attendance to military academies, including Annapolis.
  • 8 of the 11 ended their military careers as officers.  Some of the officer ranks included:
    • A Captain in the Navy
    • A Captain in the Navy Reserves
    • A Colonel in the Army
    • An MD who started medical school at the age of 30 and demoted himself to participate in an accelerated program only offered at that particular level of command.  He retired as a colonel in the Army and now runs his own clinic.
    • A VP of two successful tactical companies, one being ADS Operational Equipment & Logistics Solutions
    • Four of the men in the class are successful business owners
    • This class had a true-life Stephen Segal character in Under Siege:  A Navy SEAL Caterer.
    • A magician with some tricks up his sleeve (he actually put on a show at the reunion)

The success stories were far and few from what I could even begin to describe second-hand, involving broken records that went unrecorded, battle wounds, casualties, and predicaments you couldn’t make up if you tried.

I felt like I was getting an adrenaline rush by simply hearing all they had endured in their lives, and I could only wonder what my chemistry class could have been if instructed by any of the guys in the room.  One thing is for sure- I would have never fallen asleep.

Although everyone went a separate path after they graduated from BUDS Class 81, all of them maintained their passion, their ethics, and their motivation 35 years later, whether in their line of work, or fighting for their life on and off the battlefield.

As I mentioned earlier, two of the men have been battling cancer, and it was heartening to see them overwhelmed with joy as they reunited with their classmates and brothers of 35 years.  I am happy to report that both are currently in remission and are fighting to overcome the enemy once and for all.

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