Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


This is coolbert:

General George S. Patton is of course most well remembered for his role in World War Two [WW2].

The exploits of George Patton, however, are not confined to merely the WW2 era.

A controversial figure in every sense of the word, Patton seemed to be destined for greatness from the earliest years of his military career.

A man totally absorbed with the "art" of the military "way" and all aspects of it.

Consider the role of Patton the Olympic athlete.

Yes, the Olympic athlete. Ably represented his nation in the Stockholm Olympic games of 1912. Represented his nation in the first modern pentathlon.

An Olympic event devised by the originator of the modern Olympics, the Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

"Originally open only to military officers, it was considered a rigorous test of the skills a soldier should possess."

"The concept behind the competition is that a military courier sets out on horseback to carry a message. Along the way, he has to fight a duel with epees, use his pistol, swim across a river, and then run through the woods to reach his goal."

The good Baron saw this event as a means to develop camaraderie among military officers from the various nations of the world. Develop friendship that might lead to eventual peace among nations. If the warriors of the world's armies are friends, might they be less inclined to fight one another, must have gone the reasoning.

The modern pentathlon of course consists of five events. These being:

* Horse riding. [selecting a mount from a selection of horses, you being unable to tell which is a good steed, which is not!!]

* Pistol shooting.

* Fencing.

* Running. [cross-country]

* Swimming.

"The concept behind the competition is that a military courier sets out on horseback to carry a message. Along the way, he has to fight a duel with epees, use his pistol, swim across a river, and then run through the woods to reach his goal."

This event, or shall I say combination of events, is based upon the real epic journey of an American infantry officer in the days just prior to the Spanish-American War of 1898. An American Army officer, Andrew Summer Rowan, [the courier] attempting to deliver a message from the American President to Garcia, the commander of the Cuban guerrillas, fighting for their independence from Spain.

A journey immortalized by the inspirational essay, "A Message To Garcia".

Patton did very well as an Olympian. He was well on the way to WINNING the modern pentathlon but ended up finishing fifth overall. It seems that Patton did NOT do well at pistol shooting.

"He finished 21st in the pistol shooting event, which dropped him to fifth overall."

Seemingly like with all things Patton, there was controversy surrounding the pistol competition and the poor showing of Patton and his marksmanship. A poor showing that may in fact not be true.

Consider this:

"While most chose .22 revolvers, Patton felt the event's military roots garnered a more appropriate weapon, the .38. During the competition Patton was docked for missing the target, though he contended the lost bullet had simply passed through a large opening created by previous rounds from the .38, which left considerably larger holes."

This is just amazing. It seems that the competitors were allowed to compete using pistols of a caliber of their own choosing. The small-bore revolver was the most popular, Patton choosing the .38 caliber as it IS more appropriate from a military standpoint.

What Patton maintains is probably true. He just fired two shots that hit so close together that they could not be distinguished as the paper was deformed from the big-bore bullet hitting the same approximate spot on the paper target.


Since the days of Patton, the modern pentathlon has continued as an Olympic event.

In recent years however, the marksmanship portion of the even has become what can only be described as "sissified". Regular conventional pistols are NOT EVEN USED, the competitors now using airguns!!

"In fact, the Summer Olympics have gotten extremely PC about firearms in the past couple of decades. The shooting leg of the Pentathlon has been fired with airguns for many years. Of course, they've also condensed the five events into a single day's competition, which has got to be an absolute butt buster."

Airguns?? Pee-shooters??

What would General Patton think of such a thing? He did not even think is in his own time that a small-bore caliber pistol of .22 caliber was sporting or manly enough. Perhaps the Olympics may also reduce the fencing portion of the pentathlon to virtual competition using computers and such?? I hope not.



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