“No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Sometimes having a reputation can work against you and then there are others when you just do your job and move on. And then there are those times you get treated like a rock star, say nothing and smile at karma .  How so? Read on.

Back in the day, I was on a Mountain Team in the 1st Bn. 7th Special Forces Group. Our company was going on a deployment to Honduras. And our team’s mission was to train the Anti-Tank troops of the Sexto (6th) Infantry Battalion that was deployed near the border of Nicaragua. The Hondurans had requested our support specifically for this unit.

These troops had a real-world mission as the threat of Nicaraguan invasion was very real in those days. In fact, they had a few border skirmishes with their neighbors as the borders were slightly ill-defined. The Nicaraguans had crossed the border inadvertently on several occasions while hammering it out with the Contras. (Remember them? See Ollie North, Iran/Contra) And yes it was inadvertent. We were there for the “invasion” during Operation Golden Pheasant.

Since the Nicaraguans had armor, the Anti-Tank troops were the first line of defense. They were constantly being tested had recently put on a firepower demonstration for the Estado Mayor (General Staff) of the military with their Vietnam-era M-40 106mm Recoilless Rifles that were combined jeep mounted and fixed on the ground and fired 50 rounds down range and hit nothing…not one single target.

Our guys who visited the base for a site survey didn’t get to meet or talk with any of the Anti-Tank unit. They’d been alerted en masse and were sent to the border. They only spoke with the Battalion’s commander and training officer. That was a big detriment to mission planning.

We were told to expect a nightmare. The anti-armor unit that can’t hit water out of a boat with a 106mm. For those unfamiliar with the M-40 106mm RR, it was a great short-range weapon that was actually a 105mm but the designation changed during the Korean War because the ammunition was not compatible with the failed M-27 design.

The M-40 had an M-8C .50 caliber spotting rifle attached to the top. The spotting rifle fires a round whose trajectory is nearly that of the 106mm round and gives off a puff of smoke on impact with the target. The system used a spotting rifle because the back blast of the main gun left such a signature, that a first-round hit was essential.