Arters presents at recent SAR meeting

CASSADAGA – Doug Arters, SAR member, presented a program about some marksmen, snipers and American riflemen leaders during the Chautauqua County Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution Chapter meeting, Cassadaga Country Club, during its regular Oct. 6 meeting.

A certain mystique exists about the skill of the American rifleman, Arters noted, tracing back to Rogers Rangers, who were especially active during the French & Indian War. Unfortunately, these Rangers sided with the British during the Revolutionary War. In our day, youngsters started out with a .22 rifle, then graduated to the .30-.30 Winchester lever-action rifle, then, if they enlisted in the U.S. Army, went on with the M-14 rifle. That probably applied to Carlos “White Feather” Hathcock, who grew up in Arkansas, who was raised by his grandfather. He became one of America’s greatest snipers during the Vietnam era.

At the outset of the Revolutionary War, back in Great Britain, English editors warned the British Army deploying to the colonies that “This province has raised 1,000 riflemen, the worse of whom will put a ball in a man’s head at the distance of 150-200 yards; therefore, advise your officers who shall hereafter come out to America to settle their affairs before their departure.” (p. 82, “The Frontier Rifleman,” Richard Lacrosse). In other words, it was thought there were Pennsylvania snipers lurking behind every maple, oak, ash and hickory tree!

Lt. Col. Daniel Boone was known as a skillful marksman. Col. Dan Morgan was a fine shot – and a great leader during the Battle of Saratoga and the Battle of Cowpens. Col. John Sevier was known as a loud, brash, hard-drinking Huguenot at the Battle of King’s Mountain, and was the first governor of Tennessee. Col. Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion was of Huguenot parents, and his life may have formed the basis for Mel Gibson’s movie “The Patriot.”

Timothy Murphy was an excellent marksman, and was given credit for taking out British General Simon Fraser at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, north of Albany. Murphy was a member of Morgan’s rifle unit.

During the Civil War, Col. Hiram C. Berdan, native of New York State, commanded the First United States Sharpshooters, Union Army, a regiment comprised of 10 companies of excellent marksmen.

During World War I, Sgt. Alvin Cullum York, native of Tennessee, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his skilled marksmanship, and for capturing some 132 German soldiers.

Col. Lewis Millett, a leader of riflemen I knew in the 1960’s, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Korean War. Later, he was a commander of the U.S. Army Security Agency at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts. He died in California in November 2009.

Clint Eastwood, U.S. Army veteran, actor, and film director, directed the film “American Sniper” depicting the life of U.S. Navy Seal and sniper Chris Kyle, undoubtedly one of the greatest American riflemen who ever lived. Born in Texas in April 1974, Kyle joined the U.S. Navy after the horrific 911 event, as did his brother. Kyle was 6’2” and served four tours of duty in Iraq. After returning to the states, Kyle helped other veterans. One of them, Eddie Ray Routh, suffering from PTSD and schizophrenia, killed Kyle and Kyle’s veteran partner. Kyle’s funeral was held at the Dallas Cowboy’s football stadium in February 2013.

The mystique of the American riflemen continues into our day, but has been in decline for a number of years. Nevertheless, excellent marksmen can still be found – throughout the world. During World War II, two Soviet women and a Finnish man were excellent marksmen. In more recent times, a British soldier saved the lives of some of his soldiers with his rifle skills in the Middle East. Unfortunately, a British publication released his name to the public, so he was forced to retire from the military.

In other business, the treasurer, Harry Lent, noted that membership dues should be paid in early December. He also noted, as chapter registrar, that Paul Fardink’s membership application is being processed. The annual election of officers was accomplished: Steve Boothe remains as president; Jeff Crossley as vice president, Harry Lent as treasurer and registrar and Doug Arters as secretary.

Arters gave a brief recap of the parade activity, noting that the color guard received $20 from the Ellington township parade and $75 from the Cherry Creek parade for its summer parade activity. The group participated in the Sherman, Cherry Creek, Mayville, Ellington and Sinclairville parades.

Member Frank Stow shared information about his late brother, John Stow, who joined the U.S. Marines at the age of 17. He lost his life in Vietnam, after which a bridge near Stow was named in his memory.

The SAR chapter met Nov. 3 for its fellowship meeting. The group will meet Dec. 1 to view a DVD about some women who served in the military from the time of the Revolutionary War to the present time, meeting at the Cassadaga Country Club, beginning at noon. Guests are invited to attend. Lunch will be ordered from the menu.