A group of my fellow Delta brothers and I (circ 1998) were spending a week or so running and gunning with M-34 Miniguns and CH-47 Chinooks ($hithooks) in the desert training space of 29 Palms, CA. Firing Miniguns at night from an airborne platform is as exhilarating as it gets; like, it never gets old, the crew chief and I agreed. I was vexed to see some of the lads sitting down with their backs leaning up against the bulkhead of the helicopter, sort of just taking a break, not really interested in beyond just their one turn at the guns.

U.S. Navy special warfare combatant-craft crewmen (SWCC) from Special Boat Team 22 drive a special operations craft-riverine at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi Aug. 16, 2009, for a scene in an upcoming Bandito Brothers production. SWCC are U.S. Special Operations Command maritime mobility experts. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger/Released)

At a point, there was nobody on the guns, and the crew chief seemed somewhat miffed. I jumped up and ran the guns dry, trying to pick targets and raining 7.62 lead on them. To ask what it is like to shoot one, well, it is like squirting red water from a water hose; the tracer stream seems to follow the same undulating motion as the water streaming from a hose.

Of further interest was the ‘bullet saver’ feature. There were two button triggers at my access. One was slow fire (2,000 rpm), allowing for fewer rounds to be expended while searching for the bull’s eye on a target. Once you have locked onto the target you want, you jump over to the other button trigger that allows a full speed of some 6,000 rpm (rounds per minute), or ~100 bullets per second striking the log you are trying to hide behind.

After nights on the guns, we spent a couple of days shooting the AGM-114 Hellfire Anti-Tank Guided Missiles. We had a UH-60 Blackhawk helo configured to fire the missiles, and we configured our Rough Terrain gun trucks to mount and fire a missile as well. The missile required the target to be designated by the Army’s Mule LDS (Laser Designating System). The missile could reach out to 11 clicks (kilometers) or ~12,000 yards. All present agreed it was the ‘badest’ anti-tank weapon we had ever seen.

It was in one of those missile-shootin’ days when an unusual Lieutenant Colonel and his driver appeared.