Serving in the military instills a real sense of pride in many veterans. It’s not just the things you accomplished or the good you did while in uniform, but the understanding that you helped carry a torch passed to you by the previous generation. Your uniform, your title, even many of the challenges you face can be traced through a direct lineage to the soldiers, sailors, and Marines of generations past. What was their fight is now ours, and eventually, we’ll pass it to the next generation of men and women courageous, self-disciplined, or maybe just foolhardy enough to follow in our well-tread footsteps.
Miles Vining, a Marine infantry veteran, is well aware of these ties of service that bind us to one another from across oceans, land masses, and even generations. He and a group of veterans and reenactors took it upon themselves to recreate the conditions faced by Marines and soldiers during World War II, but rather than simply emulating history to learn more about their challenges, Miles set out to recreate it.
Equipped with that appreciation for history, and an M1 Garand loaned to him by the widow of his close friend and fellow Marine, Corporal Kevin Schranz, Miles and his team planned out a live-fire range designed to allow them to use real squad tactics, real World War Two-era firearms, and real ammunition to recreate the battle conditions their predecessors faced. Although reenactments can provide a great visual representation of how wars played out, only by using live ammunition and real squad tactics to engage fortified enemy positions could Miles hope to truly appreciate the experiences of service members from that era, as the equipment is put through its paces in exactly the manner it was 70 or so years ago.
“The overall point of the WWII live fire, apart from creating an episode for our Youtube channel, was to gain information and knowledge about these small arms that were used in World War II in ways that we couldn’t have gathered from shooting them on a square range or individually,” Miles wrote in an article for The Firearms Blog.
“These weapons were designed to be used by units of men, working very closely with each other, to accomplish an objective of overcoming an enemy force. Reenactments accomplish this well, but they don’t simulate the treatment these firearms would have gone through in combat due to the presence of live ammunition and actually trying to hit an enemy target at a distance.”
Miles and his team put together a video of their efforts, and the footage is dramatic, showing us the stresses of engaging and maneuvering a full squad of Marines while maintaining continuous fire on the fortified position with which they were closing. I reached out to Miles to ask him about the experience and what stood out to him the most as he went through it.