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Clyde Barrow’s M1911

2012 Auction description:

Clyde Barrow’s Colt Model 1911 Government Model Semi-auto pistol, removed from his waistband after the ambush by Texas and Louisiana lawmen on May 23, 1934. This is a standard US Army pistol of World War I vintage, #164070, cal. .45 ACP, and according to the included Colt factory letter was delivered to Springfield Armory on June 28, 1917. The frame marked with inspector Gilbert H. Stewart’s circular stamp and the forward left side of the frame has light scratches where the “U.S. Property” marking was removed. The barrel has a good bore and is inscribed with an intertwined “HP” proofmark. The metal is not pitted and has an attractive gray/brown patina with a good deal of original bright factory blue on the left side of the frame and on the small parts. All of the factory markings are in excellent condition and the ‘double diamond’ walnut grips show moderate wear.

With the Colt is a notarized letter from former Special Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, Jr., dated December 18, 1973 in which he states that this pistol, #164070, was removed from the “waistband of Clyde Barrow’s trousers the morning that he and Bonnie Parker were killed by my father in Louisiana.” He goes on to say “This pistol is also described and pictured in my father’s book I’m Frank Hamer.” He also states that “this pistol was believed to have been stolen from the federal arsenal in Beaumont, Texas,” and that the federal government gave this Colt to his father.

‘Seldom did anyone ever live when Clyde got the first shot,’ warned a newsreel of the day. But on this day, Clyde didn’t have the chance to reach for his gun, let alone shoot it. If he did, this would have been the gun that he grabbed: tucked into his waistband for easy access, this 1911 Colt .45 was inches away from the trigger-finger that killed at least a half dozen men during the two-year spree that led to his final day. Of all the guns found in their death car, this is the most closely related to Clyde Barrow and accordingly, the most fascinating and valuable.

It sold in 2012, to an unnamed bidder for 240K.

Special Forces Training Group Part 2

by Richard H Dick James

58 years ago, October 1962, I was a Private E-2. I had just arrived at SFTG, in Fort Bragg NC, to begin training to be a “Green Beret.” I was assigned to Company B, Special Forces Training Group (Provisional). The first week began busily.

Special Forces Training Group

“If we should have to fight, we should be prepared to do so from the neck up instead of from the neck down.” —General Jimmy Doolittle.

Once again, we were subjected to a battery of tests, this time to determine our psychological status. A man could be a perfect physical specimen, but that didn’t assure he would qualify for Special Forces. Much more than physical strength was required to be a good “Green Beret.”

Special Forces wasn’t looking for men who were good in a bar fight. They were looking for mature men of high moral character, who could walk away from participating in a bar fight, with his head held high. They were also looking for men who could work without supervision, on their own, and could function well, working in any conditions, with any type of people.

A Green Beret had to be able to persevere and want to help the human race in times of trouble. There could be times that a lone Special Forces man could be called on to be an official representative of the United States government, ready to make snap decisions without guidance, and immediately act upon that decision, knowing full well that the action could have deep consequences on himself and the United States. It was not a position to be taken lightly.

One of the physical tests that worried me was the Combat Water Survival Test for Special Forces. It required us to be able to tread water for a somewhat substantial time, as well as swim about 50 yards in water, dressed in our combat fatigues and combat boots. I was highly challenged trying to tread water in high school, and I was only wearing swimming trunks. I had no idea how I would fare while fully clothed, and the thought of going through that test scared the crap out of me. I certainly wasn’t a star performer in that test, but I passed it, just barely.

The commander of the Special Warfare Center was Brigadier General William P. Yarborough, a 1936 graduate of West Point. He had assumed command in January 1961. General Yarborough wasn’t looking just for men who would be good guerrilla warfare combatants, he was also looking for men of higher than average intelligence and character, who had good judgment, maturity, and self-discipline, as well as be able to work closely with foreign nationals, who were a far cry from Americans. He was also looking for men who had inherent ingenuity, capable of solving difficult, sometimes seemingly impossible, unexpected problems, quickly and practically. Those men had to be able to work in small groups, and sometimes alone, with no guarantee of aid from anyone else.

General Yarborough was not looking for rough, tough Ranger types. Rangers were a breed apart, and experts in their field. When you cut them loose in a combat situation, they were a killing machine, ready to cut a swath in the enemy. Blood-letting was a part of their makeup. Yarborough wanted tough soldiers, who could change with the situation; killers if need be, compassionate and merciful if that suited the mission better.

Tuesday morning’s time schedule was the same as Monday’s. At the second formation those who were undergoing training were dismissed to go to their designated training areas. and those of us who were not training were given our assignments for the day, usually details of some kind. Unlike my previous training, Basic, AIT, and jump school, those of us attending classes were not marched to their classes. We were expected to arrive at classes on our own time but be on time.

Details included, but were not limited to, cleaning the local area, work in the mess hall (unlike KP), ash & trash (our description of picking up garbage from unit areas), fireman (keeping the barracks coal burning heating systems running and stoked), demonstrations (carrying out various jobs in the Special Forces demonstration area, known as Area 2 at the time), being sent to the rifle range to help work the firing line for another unit, and working in the supply shack moving heavy items around for the ranking civilian, while he sat on his ass giving instructions, etc. It was almost always very boring work.

The best, and most cherished, detail, which was also a great training aid for us, was being assigned to a field exercise, as indigenous combatants in a guerrilla unit, or as an aggressor searching for guerrilla units. What more fun could a soldier have, than running around in the outdoors, searching for people or enemy groups?

The all-time worthless detail I heard of (besides painting rocks and cement coal bins white) was a group of SF trainees detailed to pick up all the pine cones in the Area 2 Demonstration Area. Shortly thereafter it was decided that pine cones were natural, and a detail was formed to return those pine cones to their natural environment, in the Area 2 Demonstration Area. Wow; talk about stupid!

Rank meant nothing in Special Forces, when it came to details. Even if you were a sergeant, you had to participate in the details. The problem was that the post headquarters determined how post details were to be handed out, by the amount of personnel in the units, not by the amount of personnel below the rank of sergeant. Special Forces was the only unit at Ft. Bragg that had almost all NCOs in the unit, virtually no privates, and very few PFCs and SP4s.

I noticed the first few weeks at Ft. Bragg that Special Forces men didn’t particularly look special, other than the beret they wore. Some were a little overweight (not much though), some wore glasses, some were short, and some tall. The main difference between the looks of SF compared to others, was that the SF troops exuded an air of confidence. Then, as now, Special Forces doctrine specified that the man made the difference, not the equipment he carried, or the beret.

That same day we were interviewed to find out what MOS (Military Occupational Skill, aka job) we were most qualified to pursue in Special Forces. The interviewers went over our qualification tests, something I don’t think the rest of the Army ever did. The officer who interviewed me told me that all my test scores were very high. Because of my extremely high test scores in radio Morse code aptitude (he said they were some of the highest he had seen), he tried his best to talk me into signing up for communications training.

I pretty much had my choice of specialty training. I had been in Training Group long enough before the interview to have witnessed the radio operator trainees coming to the barracks constantly rattling off dit-dahs (Morse code) and had decided that training to be a radio operator would drive me nuts.

We had the choice of radio operator, medic (which would require a minimum of one more year of intense medical training and dealing with a lot of blood and gore), light weapons, heavy weapons or demolitions (explosives). Since I was already trained in heavy weapons and held that MOS, I opted to request training as a demolition specialist, (aka Combat Engineer, MOS 121).

I had always enjoyed loud noises, so explosives sounded like something I would really enjoy. Besides, the field required a good knowledge of mathematics and I had always been good in math while in high school and college. The decision was made, and all I had to do was wait a couple weeks (I thought) for the next class to form.

The specialty training was scheduled to last six weeks, the first week consisting of mathematics training, which I figured would be a breeze for me. The following five weeks of training would be demolition training, which would be a blast (pun intended).

From my Book #1, of my four-book set of SLURP SENDS! Book #1 (“SLURP SENDS! On Becoming a Green Beret Book 1”), #2 (“SLURP SENDS! Experiences of an A-Team Green Beret Book 2”), #3 (“SLURP SENDS! Experiences of a Green Beret In Vietnam Book 3”) and #4 (“SLURP SENDS! A Green Beret’s Experiences In Vietnam Book 4”) are all available on Amazon or from me.

PHOTO: GEN Yarborough and President John F Kennedy, the day that JFK decided that Special Forces troops should be authorized to wear the “Green Beret.”


Guns Used in the Balkans Civil War

A pretty cool icture thread was started on B-ARFCOM about the guns used in the wars. It’s not a conflict I don’t know all that much about. Maybe one of you worthies will be some kind of SME on the wars and post some long insightful fact filled boring comment on the subject I can shamelessly rip off for the part 2 for this.

Special Forces Training Group 1962

By Richard H Dick James

58 years ago, 29 September 1962, I was a Private E-2. I had graduated from the Basic Airborne Course, aka paratrooper jump school, the day prior. My next assignment was Special Forces Training Group, in Fort Bragg NC, to begin training to be a “Green Beret.”

Special Forces Training Group

Those of us who were assigned to Ft. Bragg (for 82nd Airborne Division and Special Forces Training Group) were loaded Saturday morning (29 September), at 0800 (8 am), onto a Trailways charter bus, for the 450-mile trip north, to Ft. Bragg NC and another new chapter in our lives.

We went through Macon and Augusta, Georgia, as well as Columbia, South Carolina. The scenery, especially in Georgia, was beautiful. During the trip, I was shocked by the amount of old, broken down shacks that had people living in them. I had never seen such squalor. About halfway to Fort Bragg, we stopped to stretch and have lunch. We all had a lot of time to think while on that bus.

A lot of the men heading to Special Forces training decided that they had undergone enough harassment and hard training, and made up their minds to quit, upon reaching Training Group. Of course, the rumor mill was going strong about how tough Special Forces training was going to be, some of it true, but a lot of it pure bunk. I was very tired of training and was harboring thoughts about quitting. I was certain my knees wouldn’t last through physical exercise more difficult than I had already endured.

We arrived at Ft. Bragg at 2000 hours (8 pm), having been on the road for 12 hours (remember, this was before the advent of the Interstate highway). The first stop on base for our bus that night was on Smoke Bomb Hill, in front of a sign that read, Headquarters Company, Special Forces Training Group (Provisional). Smoke Bomb Hill was where all the stateside Special Forces Groups, and Special Forces Training Group, were located. That was where SF (Special Forces) lived.

The front door opened, and out strode the CQ (charge of quarters for overnight hours), a Special Forces NCO with the obligatory clipboard, approaching the group of us who had offloaded, duffel bags in our hands. He greeted us and gave us a very short speech.

Apparently Training Group was used to quitters, because he announced that those of us who wished to quit would have that opportunity on Tuesday, so I had more than two days to ponder my future. I was later told that many men volunteered for SF and 82nd Airborne, just to keep from being immediately assigned overseas duty.

I was thinking about opting for assignment to the 82nd Airborne Division, also at Ft. Bragg. The NCO then lifted his clipboard and proceeded to call out our names from the set of orders he had, giving each of us a chance to respond when our names were called. Everyone was accounted for.

Unlike Basic & Advanced Training, and Jump School, the greeting was civil when we arrived. Nobody yelled at us, or harassed us, right off the bat. That was something new. We were being treated like human beings. We were immediately led to the unit supply room and given the usual U.S. Army initial bedding: mattress cover, two sheets, two blankets, and a pillowcase. We were then led to the barracks we would stay in for the weekend.

On Sunday morning our group was issued passes for the day. That was my first pass in over a month, and I was completely broke. I went nowhere. I stayed in the barracks all day. I figured the Army still owed me $110, but I had no idea when I would receive it.

On Monday we began the day the same way every other training day had been for me, before the crack of dawn. The first formation included roll call, followed by Police Call and PT, which included a run. That was followed by being dismissed and everybody walking to the mess hall for breakfast.

That was a change from Basic and Advanced training, where we were marched in formation to the mess hall, and Jump School, where we were run, in formation, to the mess hall. We were finally deemed trustworthy to find the mess hall, without help.

After breakfast, we had a short period of time free, until time for the second formation. The NCO read off the list of names on the orders he had for us, assigning us to companies, as we responded to our names being called. I was assigned to B Company, Special Forces Training Group (Provisional).

An NCO from each of the Training Group companies was present, to march us to our new assigned company barracks. Our barracks, like jump school, were old two-story wooden barracks built at the beginning of the World War II era, with an anticipated lifetime of five years, and . . . no air conditioning. More than twenty years after they were built, we were living in them.

The barracks were heated by coal-fed furnaces. The toilet/shower facilities were on the bottom floor. Everything was wide open, no stalls. When you sat on the can, you were on display for all to see. There were two private rooms on the stairs end of the upstairs barracks, reserved for the highest ranking of the trainees.

The squad bays on the top and bottom floors were open, with single bunk beds (thankfully no more double bunks, I had graduated to better living conditions) and corresponding wall and foot lockers lining each side. Each of the barracks housed about fifty trainees.

We were issued our field gear, which included a pack that was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was called a rucksack and was huge when compared to the military issue pack. I learned later, why we were issued such “humungous packs.” We would be spending a lot of time in the field, and once we were assigned to a unit, were expected to carry all we needed in our rucksack, for unknown periods of time in the field, or foreign country. In jump school, our equipment jump was made with a pack attached to us. In SFTG, as well as SF, we would be jumping with that huge rucksack.

We were not separated by training phase, rank, or SF MOS we were pursuing. Because of that we learned bits and pieces of the other MOSs, during our stay at Training Group. That served well for our overall Special Forces training. In fact, I was able to learn bits and pieces of communications and weapons while attending Training Group.

Our company consisted of four of those old barracks, and two one-story buildings of the same construction. One was the combination orderly room, mail room, day room (the only place with a television), and arms room, while the other housed the supply room. At the time, all of Special Forces was housed in the old World War II era buildings. Most of us in Special Forces Training Group were there straight out of Basic, AIT, and Jump School, with just a few experienced NCOs from line units.

I was thankful I had decided to stick with Special Forces. In a letter home I gave five reasons for staying around for training: “(1) I signed up for it, and didn’t feel right about backing down; (2) it will be a challenge; (3) the type of men in Special Forces are different than regular airborne; (4) it sounds like interesting work; and (5) I want to begin learning new things again.” I have always been interested in learning new things, even now (as I write this). Apparently, some of our guys who volunteered for SF did so only because they wanted to remain in the United States longer.

When Major James (the Training Group Commanding Officer) gave his welcoming speech, he told us that Special Forces had a way of weeding out those types, as well as the ones who came to SF for the rank and money. By that time, we had already lost 15 of the 55 in our group, and training hadn’t even begun yet.

Unlike Jump School, where quitters were made examples of by the cadre, in Training Group quitters were not harassed or embarrassed, but they did receive some of the lousier details, until finally receiving their new assignment orders. When a barracks-mate or classmate disappeared, we just figured they had quit or had flunked out.

Major James stated that only those who wished, from the bottom of their hearts, to become “Green Berets,” would make the grade through the training course. That evening I wrote home, requesting mom send me some civilian clothing. I was finally going to be able to wear civvies on a somewhat regular basis, on my free time.

From my Book #1, of my four-book set of SLURP SENDS! Book #1 (“SLURP SENDS! On Becoming a Green Beret Book 1”), #2 (“SLURP SENDS! Experiences of an A-Team Green Beret Book 2”), #3 (“SLURP SENDS! Experiences of a Green Beret In Vietnam Book 3”) and #4 (“SLURP SENDS! A Green Beret’s Experiences In Vietnam Book 4”) are all available on Amazon or from me.

PHOTOS: Trailways bus from the ‘60s / Typical wooden WWII barracks (Internet photos)