Tag Archives: photography
When I first saw this castle I thought it must have been built by Alexander the Great’s troops when he fought his way through Afghanistan thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed to learn that it was built sometime in the 1960’s.
The dirt ramp up to the castle entrance wrapped all the way around the hill. Up on the parapets was a DShK heavy machine gun. Needless to say, it was a very defendable position and as you will see it had been fought over several times over the decades.
Love learning about war history? Check out history degree programs.
Got to tooling around with photoshop again. I think this is the mock up I will eventually turn over to a professional as a basic guideline for what I am looking for. Being an amateur, no matter what I do, it comes out looking…amateur. Best leave something this important to someone who does this sort of thing for a living. Knowing that this is a rough draft, what do you think?
Today I will review customized uniform tops I had made and give some tips and ideas on how you can do the same. These types of fatigue shirts first made their appearance with Crye Precision. The idea is that they wear better and more comfortably in hot weather, especially when wearing heavy body armor. Typically called “combat shirts”, Crye’s first attempt was good but expensive, and most regular army troops could not where Multicam patterned uniforms. To rectify this problem, the Army jumped all over the idea and made it’s own version. Most soldiers thought it was a good concept…aside from the huge logo on the chest that said: ARMY STRONG. There was one other reason why the Army combat shirt drew fire, it wasn’t flattering to some of our troops:
This top is the first generation combat shirt is sold by Tru-Spec, a well known uniform manufacturer. Following in Crye Precision’s footsteps, Tru-Spec made their own combat shirt and sold it at a reduced price. In some regards I think it shows. For one thing the sleeves are too short. Most soldiers tend to roll them up anyway, so this may or may not matter to you. Secondly, I didn’t like the material that the soft portion of the shirt is made of. It feels to much like a cotton t-shirt to me, not the kind of thing you want to wear in the desert.
Notice that the fabric spans across the shoulders on the back of the shirt. As I found out later when attempting to have my own shirt made, there is a very good reason for this. Another point is the turtle neck collar. It’s uncomfortable, but it also prevents the straps on your kit from chaffing your neck, another important point that was initially lost on me when I had my own shirt made.
My first attempt. Most of the guys on my team went over to the Turkish guy who worked in a nearby sew shop in Iraq and requested that he make these tops for us. Eventually, he got to the point that he knew exactly what we wanted as soon as we came walking through his door. He actually did a very good job. He moved the pockets up onto the sleeves, attached the velcro for call sign patches, and sewed an Under Armor shirt into the DCU shirt sleeves. It’s very comfortable, but with one big flaw.
Tru-Spec knew one thing I didn’t. Without that span of fabric across the back, the shirt stretches, as the Under Armor t-shirt is made to do, creating a sagging effect. The shirt can now bunch up or pull out from under the straps of whatever chest rig or body armor you are wearing. Generally though, if you pulled the shirt under the straps of your body armor, the weight alone would keep everything in place. These shirts were a life saver when working in Iraq during the summer.
I had this one done by a sew shop outside Ft. Campbell when I got back from deployment. She kept the t-shirt without cutting it, literally just sewing it into the shirt sleeves of the BDU top. Not the preferred method, but it does work pretty well.This time I was smart enough to have that strip across the back left in place, however, I should have had the collar left as well. I found that while doing kit runs that my gear would ride up and chaff my neck without a collar there. Other than that, it is very functional. At the time, taking a t-shirt and fatigue top and paying a sew shop 20 bucks to make one of these for you was ideal as opposed to paying hundreds of dollars to one of the many companies making combat shirts. However, I did a quick search and found that the Tru-Spec shirts are going for a very reasonable 60 dollars so that might be the way to go.
Here is a picture of myself taking part in some Call For Fire (CFF) training in Afghanistan. It was my first time and you can tell my virgin status because I’m holding the cheat sheet in my left hand and the hand mic in my right as I talk to the Cobra pilots. Over all I thought the Marine Cobra pilots were impressive as hell, they certainly didn’t have many of the restrictions that regular Army pilots had.
Lined up with the target that has been pin pointed by ground troops the Cobra opens up with it’s minigun and hoses the target down. In this instance, we are just training by calling in gun runs on some empty connex containers.
The real fun came during the night portion of this training. We were pin pointing the targets down range with infrared lasers mounted on our rifles. Because of the dust kicked up from previous gun runs, our lasers were blocked out by the cloud of debris about fifty yards in front of us. The pilots thought that we were intentionally targeting something fifty yards to our front and went ahead and lit that area up, the minigun almost putting lead down in our laps.
In conducting research for the first short in a series I am writing (more about that later) I came across this website: ModernForces.com
I have to confess that I never really “got” reenactments before. I had heard stories about Civil War reenactors starving themselves and spooning with each other in their confederate war camps in the name of authenticity. I had a SERE instructor who was a great guy, but his descriptions of the Rev War reenactments he participated in, namely sleeping in a lean to’s in January, sounded pretty nutty.
Studies and Observations Group, or SOG, was highly classified during the Vietnam War. In fact, not much information about them was available at all until the 1990’s. Reading between the lines, I suspect that there is still a fair amount of activity that SOG was involved in that has not been made publicly available. There are a couple of books out and some grainy photos released, but the Modern Forces website really brings history to life.
The attention to detail is pretty amazing and I’m sure the people involved spent a lot of time putting together the uniforms and equipment to such a high degree of historical accuracy. The full color images and close in shots of the equipment used really gives an idea of how SOG operated, a perspective you don’t really get from the older 1960’s era photography. When you have the chance I highly recommend taking a look at the pictorials in the SOG section of the website. A few Vietnam veterans who served in SOG have also contacted the website and provided exclusive photographs and interviews, a must read for anyone researching Special Forces units and missions during the Vietnam War.
Take a look at Modern Forces: MACV-SOG
Well, I’ve been working on the cover for my new project. It’s a short story, the first in a series about a mercenary’s career through the 1970’s and 1980’s. The first issue is about the protagonists beginnings in MACV-SOG towards the end of the Vietnam war. I am still conflicted about some of the subtleties of the colors and backgrounds for the cover. What do you think?
In 2004 my Task Force rounded up a former (current?) member of the Taliban who was up to no good. I won’t mention his name here for OPSEC reasons, but I will say that we were forced to release the jackass a few weeks later due to lack of evidence. In the meantime we shot the guns we confiscated from him out at the range. It’s the least we could do, I did have to carry crates of his ammunition down the side of the mountain he lived on.
The PPSh-41 is a Soviet WWII era Sub-Machine Gun that was designed for close in fighting in urban and forested areas. Like other drum-fed machine guns, I found this one was very prone to Failure to Feed malfunctions. On the other hand it could be that this specific gun was as old as Uncle Joe Stalin and had been kept in a Taliban cache for god knows how long.
Firing a .303 Lee Enfield rifle. Strong recoil but a nice rifle to shoot. I’d love to know the back story of how some of these weapons found their way to Afghanistan. Among other confiscated items we had laying around was what looked like a Rhodesian web gear harness…I can only imagine. One thing I found notable about the .303 was that the sights can be adjusted out to 1000 meters. A friend told me that in the old days the British were prone to sending volleys of fire.
I figured I would take a little break from all this go-to-war stuff. Maybe some people want to see something else other than esoteric and obscure methods of strangulation, who knows?
This is a picture of me at the ruins of Lubantuun where the world famous Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull was found in Belize. Due to poor record keeping at the time, the care takers were unable to tell me exactly where the crystal skull was found. It’s a fascinating story in of itself. Anna Mitchell-Hedges found the skull buried in these ruins on her sixteenth birthday in 1924. Nobody knows who made the skull or how, and because you cannot carbon date crystal, no one knows how old it is either. Apparently, Mitchell-Hedges was of the opinion that it came from Atlantis.
Tikal, Guatemala. Absolutely amazing place. You feel like you are inside a Tomb Raider game or something, only much cooler. Make sure you take a look at Lake Flores on the way there, another beautiful place.