Beretta Blog

American Heroes

Posted by matteo recanatini on May 5, 2012 6:07:00 AM

By Matteo Recanatini

The Range Safety Officer calls out to the three shooters. "Barrels up, actions open, rotate!"

JB, a 21-year old Marines Corps veteran, adjusts his A400 Xcel and walks carefully to the next station. His uneasy steps betray the courage and steadfastness of his character. As he makes himself comfortable at Station #2, I catch a glance of his tattoos: a set of dog tags seems to have been pinned to his right shoulder. A Holy Cross, on his chest. The phrase "May the Lord have mercy on my enemies, for I shall not" on the side of his chest. But the tattoo that most stands out to me is on his belly. It reads "American Made" JB is indeed an American-made hero.

For a moment, I forget that JB is a triple amputee. Both of his legs and his right arm were blown away by an IED during conflict in Afghanistan. He is one of over fifty wounded veterans from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan who came, guests of NASCAR star Ward Burton and his "Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation," for a day dedicated to them: our American Heroes.

I had the fortune to spend a day with these incredible individuals, thanks to Ward and his staff, fishing, shooting Beretta guns and bows. Regardless of their injuries, every one of these great men partook in the celebration. Some were seasoned shooters, others had never powdered a clay in their lives.
JB was there with his mother, but don't get the wrong idea: the proud Marines does not let anyone feel sorry for him. He'll get right up and show you that he's capable of more than you in no-time-flat. Bantering with an Army veteran, a 6-foot-3, 300 pound gentle giant, JB was ready to defend the honor of the USMC, when his fellow soldier made a snide comment.

JB: a true American Hero
During my 4-hour drive home, last night, I had ample opportunity to think about what I had witnessed: true American spirit. I had been lucky enough to talk to men who decided that serving their country was the most important thing they could do. They paid a price, as did their families: some were missing limbs, while others' wounds were not as-readily visible, but deep and lasting, nonetheless. Some were able to walk on their own, others had to be helped out a golf cart or a wheelchair.

You look at these young men, and you focus on their wounds, on the hand that is supposed to be at the end of their arm, and has been replaced with a prosthetic device. You see the scars they bear, and you forget the reason why that scar is there in the first place. It's easy to empathize with how hard it must be to carry on life without legs. What we tend not to do, however, is to take the next step: to remember that the only reason they are in that condition is, truth be told, us.

The missing arm, the scar that runs from the hip to the shoulder, the impaired vision. They are all currencies used to pay for our freedom, and for the freedom of towns and villages in the Helmand Province, or in An-Najaf.

When was the last time I gave up something I considered "vital" to me, for the better good of someone I don't even know? Cowardly, never.

As I walked through these men, at the fishing pond or at the range, I heard their conversations: often, they discussed of the problems they face now that they are back in the arms of Lady Liberty: readjusting to life without combat, physical therapy, finding a job. Some offer their advice, discussing how you start calling the Human Resources office, letting a few days go by and then calling the General Manager. "Let them know you're a veteran." advises one.

Life continues, for JB, with the ups and downs, and all the challenges they have to face, all-too-often alone.

And I think "Why is America not doing more?"

I wonder how it is possible that someone is willing to die for us, but we're not able to find him a job. How it is possible that every man and woman in America doesn't drop what they're doing to ensure that every JB who comes back from a war theater is honored beyond a ticker-tape parade.
Why are not all organizations like the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation?

As I think of each of the dozens of men I met, of their stories, of their truly selfless acts, I feel so lucky that Beretta can help organizations like the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation and Ward himself, who invests his time and money to tirelessly ensure that our American Heroes receive the honor and recognition that they deserve, and pray that every family in America, every man and woman, will take  a moment, whenever possible, to take care of our veterans.
vietmemorial

You may be reading this and promise yourself you'll do something, to help even out a score that is so great, it sometimes scares us. But tomorrow we'll be dealing with the usual hum-drum, made of mortgages, bosses telling us that our report is late, kids who need braces, drivers cutting us off and who knows what else.

And JB may be forgotten.

You know what's amazing? That, not matter what, he won't stop loving his country and - through his prostheses - loving you every day, for the rest of his life.

Will you help?
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Topics: Law Enforcement & Military, Other

International SWAT Roundup

Posted by matteo recanatini on Nov 8, 2011 10:17:00 AM

What an experience!

No, I'm not talking about the balmy Florida weather, but the amazing two days spent at the International SWAT Roundup.

The concept is simple: dozens of SWAT teams from around the world, coming together for a competition that, eventually, will crown the best team, but that is really designed to celebrate and test the skills of the heroes that keep countless communities safe and orderly around the world.

Beretta participated by having their products on hand, to display and answer any question about our key tactical products, including the Tx4 tactical shotgun, the Cx4 carbine, the Benelli tactical shotguns, and Sako and Tikka products.

During the five-day competition (I could only attend two, as duty calls back in DC,) each team is tested in competitions that range from hostage rescue, to repelling, to sniping.
On Day One, the teams were confronted with a hostage situation: the objective was to raid a building and neutralize all threats without harming the hostages. In the afternoon, each SWAT team completed a raid that required teamwork between a sniper and short-arm shooters who, after making their way through a door by way of a battering ram, had to confront fast-moving targets. All of this donning gas masks!
On Day Two, the SWAT teams faced a climbing wall, a barricade and a host of other obstacles. Teams were required to rig a zip-line to traverse a small river, rush to the action site and take their place at the shooting site: four members of the team would fire at fast moving objects with their short rifle or handgun, while one sniper would take position atop a roof in an attempt to hit two, four-inch targets roughly 75 yards away, one of which was rigged with explosive, clearing identifying when it was hit.

The adrenaline-filled air was almost palpable, as the teams raced across the large property, focused solely on completing their task.

Team after team, from the Orange Co., Florida, to the Kwaiti SWAT Team, from the men of Lake Co. Sheriff's Office to the Russian, Jamaican, and Bosnian teams, each group tried to out-do the next, to eat a few seconds by running faster, shooting better, or crawling harder.

What impressed me the most, however, was not the indisputable skill of these men, who put their life on the line when "common weapons and tactics" are insufficient. I was actually astonished at the amount of teamwork they exhibited. Each team member had a specific task, whether it was sniping, using the battering ram, clearing a room as the first man in, or covering with fire while others took position; the key to success, however, was not simply to "do your job" but to do it in such way that allowed others, in turn, to complete their task.

On the sideline, other SWAT team members were screaming words of encouragement, rooting for their brothers in blue to complete the course. In those moments, it was not just the sniper crawling, rifle in tow: it was the entire team carrying him toward the finish line.

More images captured during the event can be found on our Official Facebook page albums here and here.
It became clear how the arduous task of special force members in every law enforcement agency is not simply about knowing how to operate a firearm, or snipe a small target at hundreds of miles: the most important skill is the ability to work together, to encourage one another, to stop and turn when you feel that a team member is in trouble. Every SWAT member, whether behind a gas mask, on the field, or behind the stantions, cheering and encouraging, was an active victory-maker. It was as if coordination disappeared, to give way to one solid body, working in unison.

Needless to say: I was impressed.

Eventually, I had to leave the sunny and warm weather of Central Florida and the inspiring tasks of the International SWAT Roundup, but I bring back with me, to DC, the spirit of the games. I may never be in a hostage rescue situation, but I can sure benefit from the lessons taught by these heroes.
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Topics: Law Enforcement & Military, Dynamic Shooting

A Beretta Law Enforcement Day

Posted by matteo recanatini on Oct 7, 2011 10:09:00 AM

On September 27, Beretta sponsored a demonstration day at Fresno Police Department, Fresno, CA. The event saw almost 100 officers from a dozen different agencies step up to the line to test fire the entire line of Beretta Law Enforcement products, including the line of Px4 pistols, the Benelli M4, the Cx4 carbine, Sako and Tikka products.

The FPD range is a state-of-the-art facility that proved to be an excellent venue for the event, with a large handgun, carbine, and shotgun area, and a long distance shooting range for the long rifles.
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Topics: Law Enforcement & Military