To the uninitiated, the sound is almost deafening. Round after round of .30-caliber blanks are fired from seven M1 rifles by select members of American Legion Post 725 in a remote area of Hesperia.


"These things are heavy," said Mayor Mike Leonard, who along with Mayor Pro Tem Thurston "Smitty" Smith was invited to test the weapons. "I prefer my .30-06 [rifle]."


On Saturday, June 28, the American Legion members will perform a 21-gun salute seven guns will be fired in three volleys in honor of our national flag and the U.S. military during the city's 20th anniversary celebration at Hesperia Civic Park.


The Wednesday morning exercise was held to ensure participants of Saturday's salute are familiar with the weapons, some of which may have seen battle decades ago. Owned by the U.S. Army, the rifles are stored at the Hesperia Police Department. Every year, the Army sends two cases of ammo blanks to the post so they can keep in practice.


Introduced in 1936, the U.S.-made M1 was the first semi-automatic rifle to be issued to the infantry. It was predominately used in World War II and the Korean War. It saw limited use during Vietnam.


And, yes, the gun is heavy.


"It weighs 9.6 pounds," said Dennis DeHay, a member of Post 725 who will be firing a rifle on Saturday. "And of course it would weigh even more when a bayonet is attached."


The more sophisticated M16 assault rifle, which has been the primary infantry weapon since the 1960s, weighs a pound less.


Also taking a few shots with a historic M1 rile on Wednesday was Marcelo Berumen, an 80-year-old retired restauranteur who will participate in the gun salute on Saturday. When asked if shooting the M1 seemed different than when he was in the Army toward the end of WWII, he said, "I don't know, it's been 62 years since I last held one."


For some, this was their first time holding one of U.S. history's most used weapons.


"Some members have never fired an M1," DeHay said.


Another person to try out an M1 was Sgt. Matthew Twiss, who recently served a tour in Afghanistan. Today, Sgt. Twiss is an Army recruiter in Hesperia.


"It's my first time holding an M1," Sgt. Twiss said after firing a loud barrage on the semi-automatic. "It's pretty cool."


The city will salute all the Hesperians who have served in the United States military at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Special recognition also will be given for those who have died serving their country.