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U.s. Infantrymen Under Fire

March 2023
1min read

American servicemen certainly were not trigger-happy in World War II. We were, after all, products of the Depression era and raised to the dictum “waste not, want not.” Moreover, most Americans, even today, feel kin in spirit if not in fact to the pioneers who settled the continent and who felt they might not have food on the table tomorrow if they were prodigal with ammunition today. In addition, our Army trained us in marksmanship and gave medals for proficiency on the rifle range. If we saw the enemy, we shot at him. He did well to keep his head down. To simply spew bullets in the direction of a barn or a hillside because the enemy might be lurking there was against our instincts and our training.

I will venture that it was the Chinese hordes pouring across the Yalu in the Korean War who taught us fashionable warfare. An infantryman who cannot hit the broad side of a barn with a handful of peas from the inside is a formidable force nonetheless if his peas are lethal, his sack of them is bottomless, and the opposition is more substantial than a knothole. Awesome firepower from automatic weapons has dismissed marksmanship to an Olympic sport. But in the 1940s Americans husbanded their cartridges and took satisfaction from the economy of marksmanship. It was a prescript that seemed to have worked.

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