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Book Review: 40 Thieves on Saipan: The Elite Marine Scout-Snipers in One of WWII’s Bloodiest Battles – Veterans Today

Book Review: 40 Thieves on Saipan: The Elite Marine Scout-Snipers in One of WWII’s Bloodiest Battles, Joseph Tachovsky with Cynthia Kraack. Regnery History: Available June 2, 2020.  ISBN:978-1684510481 from Regnery Publishing,

“Uncommon valor was a common virtue” in the Pacific Theatre, and 40 Thieves on Saipan is the untold story of an especially valor-filled and daredevil gang of Marines.

Joseph Tachovsky knew his father was a Marine, but it was not until his father’s funeral that he discovered Lieutenant Tachovsky (“Ski”) was commanding officer of the elite scout-snipers nicknames the “Forty Thieves.” These top men were hosed for their willingness to defy rules and beat all comers. When Marines got into fights, the loser went to the hospital, and the winner went to the brig and those were invited into Ski’s band of Thieves.

This book is written by the son of the daring leader of the 40 Thieves on Saipan and is a thrilling story of men whose unique skills in stealth and deadly hand-to-hand combat helped gain a critical victory in the battle of Saipan, Emperor Hirohito’s “Treasure.” Joseph has woven together this inspiring narrative from exhaustive interviews with the surviving Thieves, mementos from his father, and extensive documentary records.

Some of the methods these Marines used in their fight were not ordinary:

  • Lieutenant Ski saved his men from a tank banzai attack by charging out into the open and unleashing a bazooka on the tank. He had grabbed the bazooka from another Marine team which was based nearby.
  • The Black Death technique of silent killing, hand-to-hand combat, and back-alley tactics were taught and encouraged, and this allowed this team to move undetected when scouting behind enemy lines.
  • Buckets filled with rusty shrapnel became short-fused bombs to clear out Japanese foxholes.
  • Molotov cocktails were improvised from empty bottles and stolen gasoline and used to destroy Japanese tanks.
  • Cloth caps and tennis shoes became their stealth scouting uniforms.

About the authors: Joseph Tachovsky is the son of Lieutenant Frank Tavovsky, commanding officer of the 40 Thieves. Tachovsky knew nothing of his father heroic past until his father’s funeral in 2011. A eulogy was given in which a man recounted a story wherein Lieutenant Tachovsky saved every man in our unit from a Japanese tank. This sent Joseph on a journey to discover everything he could about his father and the 40 thieves. Tachovsky is a graduate of the University of Minnesota.

Cynthia Kraack’s literary skill breathed life into the stories and experiences of the 40 Thieves. She holds a B.A. in journalism and history from Marquette University, a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota, and an M.F.A. from the University of Southern Maine. She is the author of five novels, including the award-winning The High Cost of Flowers.

Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – two daughters-in-law; Suzy and Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescue pups.

Carol’s Archives 2009-2013

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Defence News

U.S. Marine Corps conducts mass air training mission – Defence Blog

Marine Aircraft Group 24 (MAG-24), a U.S. Marine Corps aviation unit based at Marine Corps Air Facility Kaneohe Bay, conducts a mass air training mission.

Utilizing three separate flying platforms, MAG-24 successfully launched seven CH-53E Super Stallions, seven MV-22B Ospreys, and two UH-1Y Venoms, conducting the mass air mission to increase proficiency through integrated training to produce readiness and project power, a Marine Corps news release states.

Training events and combat operations aren’t much different. Both require a massive “behind-the-scenes” effort that includes command and control, maintenance, logistics and training.

The mass launch is not just for show, the majority of these aircraft go out and conduct tactical training after their launch.

The MV-22B Osprey and CH-53E Super Stallion are the two platforms that comprise MAG-24. The MV-22B Osprey was first procured in 1999 and has been a cornerstone of the MAGTF ever since. What makes this aircraft unique is its ability to combine the vertical flight capabilities of helicopters with the speed, range and endurance of fixed-wing transports. Weighing 35,000 pounds, the Osprey is capable of carrying more than 20 Marines more than 400 nautical miles at a cruise speed of 266 knots. The superb capabilities of the MV-22 translate into a faster MAGTF response in times of crisis. Those capabilities are put into practice around the world every day by MAG-24.

The other aircraft in MAG-24’s arsenal is the CH-53E Super Stallion. The Super Stallion is the only heavy lift helicopter in the DoD rotorcraft inventory. Weighing 37,500 pounds, the Super Stallion can carry more than 30 Marines or over 32,000 pounds of cargo more than 110 nautical miles. The heavy lift capabilities of the Super Stallion are crucial to supporting the six different types of assault support operations ranging from combat assault support to air evacuation.

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Defence News

U.S. Marine Corps releases details of largest infantry weapons modernization effort – Defence Blog

As the U.S. Marine Corps continues to increase the lethality of the infantry squad, Marine Corps Systems Command’s Program Manager for Infantry Weapons has begun the largest modernization effort in decades.

According to a recent service news release, Program Manager for Infantry Weapons (PM IW) strives to equip and sustain the Marine Corps with fully-integrated infantry weapons, optics and nonlethal systems for the Ground Combat Element.

The portfolio’s modernization efforts adhere to Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger’s vision to redesign the force to meet the challenges of a new age of great power competition. Through PM IW, the Corps plans to field numerous new weapon and optic systems over the next decade.

“This is the largest modernization of the infantry squad in the last 25 years,” said Lt. Col. Tim Hough, MCSC’s program manager for Infantry Weapons.

As noted by the Marine Corps Systems Command, PM IW has begun the procurement of the Modular Handgun System, which will replace all Marine Corps pistols. This striker-fired pistol includes a plastic clip-on piece, enabling Marines to change grip sizes to accommodate different hand sizes. The weapon is compatible with the pistol-aiming module used by some units.

MCSC will begin fielding the system this fiscal year.

“The MHS improves on the precision and reliability of the legacy platforms, while also bringing with it new, more effective ammunition,” said Maj. Mike Brisker, weapons product manager for PM IW.

MCSC is expanding the use of the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. Originally fielded to infantry units as a replacement for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in 2011, the rifle received overwhelmingly positive feedback from Marines. This feedback led to the Marine Corps’ decision to field the M27 to all rifle platoons as their primary individual weapon.

“We expect fielding of [the M27] to conclude by the end of this fiscal year,” said Brisker.

PM IW is also enhancing its optic systems. Fielded in spring 2020, the Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle is a helmet-mounted system that offers improved depth perception, and the ability to detect and recognize targets in extreme low light, in inclement weather and in the presence of obscurants. The SBNVG provides additional capabilities that the legacy system, the AN/PVS-14, lacked.

Since awarding a contract in February 2020, PM IW plans to begin fielding the Squad Common Optic in fiscal year 2021. The SCO includes a magnified day optic, which improves situational awareness, decreases engagement times and increases probability of hit.

“The Squad Common Optic enables Marines to see farther and identify the enemy more quickly,” said Hough.

MCSC is collaborating with other services to field certain systems. For example, the Marine Corps will partner with the Army to procure the Next-Generation Squad Weapon system, intended to replace the M27 and become the primary individual weapon for infantry units.

The NGSW will provide a significant boost to the lethality of the individual soldier and Marine. The weapon includes an optic/fire control system that will incorporate a disturbed reticle to improve the shooter’s accuracy.
The Marine Corps could receive first deliveries of the NGSW as early as fiscal year 2025, said Brisker.

Additionally, PM IW and Fleet Marines are participating in the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System and the Enhanced Night Vision-Binocular programs to help inform requirements and programmatic decisions in the future.

PM IW’s modernization efforts mirror MCSC’s mission to increase lethality among Marines. The command is continuously striving to equip Marines with the capabilities needed to successfully fulfill missions. To meet this goal, PM IW will continue to solicit feedback from Marines and industry.

“In line with the Commandant’s Planning Guidance, we’re looking to lighten the load and increase the overall lethality of Close Combat Forces—specifically infantry Marines,” said CW4 David Tomlinson, an infantry weapons officer with PM IW.

Tomlinson believes upgrading Infantry Weapon systems will ultimately enhance performance on the battlefield and increase survivability at a time when enemies are strengthening.

“These efforts show we are focused on staying abreast of advancements that are coming quickly,” said Tomlinson. “It also shows our desire to stay persistent, look toward the future, and make sure our Marines receive the best [systems] we can buy.”

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Defence News

U.S. Marine Corps conducts check up on its long-range radar system – Defence Blog

U.S. Marine Corps has released several photos of a routine check up on an AN/TPS-59 radar system on Cannon Air Defense Complex at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

The AN/TPS-59 Radar is a Marine Corps’ only long-range, 3D, air-surveillance, theater ballistic missile (TBM)-capable radar.

According to open sources, the AN/TPS- 59 is a transportable, solid-state L-band radar that serves as the Marine Air-Ground Task Force’s (MAGTF) principal air surveillance radar and is integrated into the AN/TSQ-263 Common Aviation Command and Control System (CAC2S) and the AN/MSQ-143(V)1 Composite Tracking Network (CTN). The radar uses active beam steering in elevation and mechanical steering in azimuth.

The 3D radar system is optimized to detect and track air-breathing targets and TBMs that constitute serious threats to MAGTF operations. The radar is employed by the Marine Air Control Squadron (MACS) during sustained operations ashore and is part of the joint theater air and missile defense architecture.

The radar supports the MAGTF commander in anti-air warfare operations and control of aircraft and missiles to a distance of 300 nautical miles for ABTs and TBM surveillance to 400 nautical miles.

The radar system is currently deployed in direct support of MAGTF operations.

The AN/TPS-59 is used by the United States Marine Corps, Egypt, and Bahrain.

Photo by Lance Cpl. John Hall
Photo by Lance Cpl. John Hall

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Defence News

U.S. Marine Corps to equip its new combat vehicles with medium caliber turret – Defence Blog

According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, the Kongsberg’s PROTECTOR MCT-30 medium caliber turret, selected for the U.S. Army’s Stryker Dragoon infantry carrier vehicle, will now be used for the Corps’ new Amphibious Combat Vehicles.

Jane’s has reported that the PROTECTOR MCT-30, the latest extension to the Kongsberg’s PROTECTOR RWS family, selected for the U.S. Marine Corps’ new Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV).

The ACV highly mobile, survivable and adaptable platform plans to be outfitted with MCT-30 remotely operated turret.

The MCT-30 weapon system provides highly accurate firepower for combat and armored vehicles. It is remotely controlled and operated from a protected position inside the vehicle compartment. The turret is accessed and reloaded from under armor.

The main armament is a 30mm automatic cannon equipped with a linkless ammunition handling system for increased reliability compared to traditional link fed cannon systems.

The advanced version of ACV will be called the ACV-30.

The ACV will come in four different variants derived from the armored personnel carrier base. There’s a recovery variant, a command and control variant, and an up-armed variant to engage enemy armored vehicles.

The ACV powers through high surf, traverses over trenches and trucks over sloped terrain. The ACV’s significant protective assets make it resilient to direct attacks and allow it to operate with degraded mobility in an ever-changing battle environment. The vehicle possesses sufficient lethality to deliver accurate fire support to infantry, whether stationary or on the move.

The ACV also has a unique V-shape underbelly to deflect the blast of improvised explosive devices. Since IED’s were the most lethal weapons used against AAV’s, the new ACV was designed to take a blast from an IED, continue the mission and bring Marines home safely.

Earlier this year, U.S. defense contractor BAE Systems said that it had got a $113.5 million order for delivering additional ACVs to the .S. Marine Corps. This award brings the total vehicle orders for the ACV to 116, and moves the program closer to full-rate production.

In a tweet, Editor of Jane’s Armoured Fighting Vehicles yearbook and defense journalist Sam Cranny-Evans added that the total number of ACVs to be procured is expected to be lowered with the force posture revision by 2030.

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Defence News

U.S. Marine Corps simulates anti-ship long range fires in Japan – Defence Blog

Video and photos released Monday by 1st Marine Aircraft Wing show U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 and Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 participated in the Harpoon training exercise aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.

According to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, during the exercise, Marine Aircraft Group 12 squadrons focused on naval missions and simulated anti-ship long range fires in order to enhance the Marine Corps’ ability to effect sea control and denial in the Indo-Pacific, in-line with Force Design 2030.

Also noted that U.S. Marines loaded AGM-84D Harpoon missiles onto an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets aboard Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS).

Photo by Sgt. Akeel Austin

The Harpoon missile is the world’s most successful anti-ship missile and is in service with the armed forces of more than 30 countries.

The Harpoon is capable of executing both land-strike and anti-ship missions. To strike targets on land and ships in port, the missile uses GPS-aided inertial navigation to hit a designated target aimpoint. The 500-pound blast warhead delivers lethal firepower against a wide variety of land-based targets, including coastal defense sites, surface-to-air missile sites, exposed aircraft, port/industrial facilities and ships in port. For conventional anti-ship missions, such as open ocean or near-land, the GPS/INS improves midcourse guidance to the target area. The accurate navigation solution allows users to discriminate target ships from islands or other nearby land masses or ships.

According to The Drive, the F/A-18C/Ds that participated in the exercise, which took place on Apr. 28 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, came from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 (VMFA-115) and Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 (VMFA[AW]-242), also known as the “Silver Eagles” and “Bats,” respectively. VMFA(AW)-242 is forward-deployed to Iwakuni, while VMFA-115 is presently on a rotational deployment there. Both are assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 12 (MAG-12), which is part of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

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