Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

July 29, 2010

The M1 and My Thumb

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

George Patton, Jr. believed the M1 Rifle was the greatest battle implement ever devised.  This was a rugged rifle that came into production in 1936.  It was the designated service rifle of World War II and the Korean Conflict.

This companion to so many soldiers had to be cared for if it was to serve the soldier.  The importance of a clean and well oiled rifle could never be overstated.  Every soldier had to know his rifle intimately.  For that reason, many hours were spent in field stripping and reassembling the rifle.  Speed was important . . . and the ability to do it blindfolded was imperative.  One must be able to do it in total darkness.

My brief experience with this weapon was not  pleasant.  I certainly don’t remember from those mid 1950s all the terminology, but I can still recall the pressure to field strip and reassemble the rifle.  I can recall three groups:  trigger housing; barrel and receiver; and stock.  The trigger housing was the tricky part for me.  As I recall, to disassemble the housing, you had to allow the bolt to go forward by depressing what was called the follower.  You accomplished this with the right thumb and allowing the bolt to ride forward over the follower.

What causes me to remember that so well is the recall of the pain I suffered on several occasions.  The M1 was always hungry to eat that thumb!  Too many times I did not time it properly and my thumb got caught as the bolt closed.  Talk about pain–it exceeded the pain of hitting your thumb with a hammer!  Over and over I would talk to myself to ride the bolt forward with the hand in order to prevent the closing on my thumb!

About the time I began to accomplish this, the field strip and reassemble of the rifle moved to a new level.  We had to do it blindfolded . . . and then  timed.  At least now, I had my eyes closed when I got my thumb caught!  I wanted to put the blindfold over my total face so that no one could see the pain.  I even wanted another blindfold to stick in my mouth so that no one would hear me scream!

I did get where I could do it blindfolded . . . and I don’t think my time was too shallow either, although I don’t remember the time.  It was faster to disassemble–slower to reassemble.  And imagine laying the pieces out where you could locate them when blindfolded. The purpose of all this was to show that you were familiar with the weapon and to build your confidence.  I can say it did both.  Most of all, I had respect for this rifle.  After all, it knew how to bite!

I am sure that you are not all that interested in this saga, but I have been reminded of a lesson.  Perhaps I could talk of speed, haste, and injury that can come when we are not cautious or guarded in our actions.  But what truly comes to my mind is the great advantage in being familiar and confident about a weapon or some personal ability.

Consider the Word of God.  To speed through a reading of Scripture without any serious thought about what I am reading will likely not produce much.  If  I have not truly sought to understand a passage of Scripture, I will not be equipped or on guard as I face a certain situation.

Most of all, I must read, study, and seek to comprehend the Word.  The more familiar I am with the Bible, the more confident I will be in using it.  Just like the M1 rifle.  The Word of God does give me a confidence also in who I am and what I can do.

I seek to know the Word better.  I encourage you to join me in that pilgrimage.  And one thing I can promise you about  becoming familiar with the Word — there will be no thumb damage!

“For the word of God is  living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the hearer.”  (Hebrews 4:12)  Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  (2 Timothy 2:15)



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