Breaking out the Old Military Uniform


My military uniform

I’m doing something I never expected I would do…I broke out the old military uniform.  There’s a Memorial Day related event sometime this week where the veterans have been invited to wear their uniforms.

Yes, it fits.  It’s actually too big for me. 🙂

I’ll see if I can get pictures of me in it.  Though I’m not looking forward to wearing the shoes.  They were evil then.  They will probably we bnow.

Another Military Anniversary: The K-Bar Knife


Red, Yellow, and White Tulips reaching for the sky
Tulips are my favorite spring flowers. I love looking at them when it’s very sunny out and they are spread out to catch some rays.

Spring is still trying to kick winter out.  We were sunny and gloriously warm yesterday and sunny today, but windy and cold.  But I’ve been able to do some tulip sight-seeing.  I think they’re probably only a couple days away from passing the torch to the next batch of flowers.

This week has another anniversary: The KA-Bar, which is a military knife.   This is like an all-purpose knife.  When you look at the link, skip over the first picture, which is a bit disturbing.

When I was in Desert Storm, I was one of the few in my unit to be issued one, or one that was like a KA-Bar.  The knife came with a whetstone, which it needed.  It dulled cutting through air!

I worked on fuel point, filling up the convoys that came in, and issued POL–Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricant (it’s been so many years that I had to think about what stood for).

Knives are useful things.  I used to have a Swiss Army knife like MacGyver (the 1990s version, not this remake, which has none of the charm or fun).  I was surprised at how many uses I had for it.  Of course now it’s hard to carry a knife anywhere, even it’s small and for everyday use.  People are so afraid that someone will do something something bad with it.  In Washington, DC, we have to go through metal detectors to get into the museums, and bags are subject to searches.

Things have changed a lot from when a knife was just a tool we used every day.

Silence Drips into Color


A woman soldier facing away from the camera holds a rifle.
The scariest thing in Desert Storm was when the gas alarm sounded and we evacuated to a foxhole. Did not know anything. Could not see anything.

Private First Class Anita Johnson’s greatest fear is dying,   After a gas alarm is called, she hides in a bunker, listening to the unknown and waiting for IT to happen.  Normalcy may be her only sanity.

A flash fiction story available from your favorite booksellers.

The Pen That Can Write a Mile


Everything in the military is created with careful thought.  My battle dress uniform had buttons on the fly because, in the field, you could sew on a missing button.  If a zipper broke, you’d be in trouble.

And the pants themselves were designed to be turned inside out and worn that way…which I had to do when I was on a painting detail.

Similar careful thought went into the design of the Skillcraft pen which celebrates its 50th anniversary.  Every soldier I knew had a love-hate relationship with it.  If you had one, it was likely someone else would walk off with it.  One of my platoon sergeants reported that he had a class at one of his schools on “The Care and Accountability of the Skillcraft Pen.”

Some features you won’t find with your Bic:

  • Can write in a war zone (natch!)
  • Can write a linear mile before running out of ink.
  • Small enough to fit in a uniform pocket

Check out the history and specs of the Skillcraft pen.

 

First Lady of Desert Storm


First Lady Barbara Bush passed away tonight.

She was the First Lady of the United States during Desert Storm.

Rest in peace.

Your other left, private, and military habits


Black and white historic photo of little girl saluting the flag
Little girl salutes the flag. Photo from Clipart.com

Some things I learned in the military have really stuck with me.  Others dropped off easily, and some resurface occasionally just to mess things up.

The one that has stuck with me is using my left hand though I’m right-handed. Right and left turns up a lot in the military.  During training of marching, we would have to hold up our left hand so when the drill sergeant called for us to turn left, everyone actually turned left.

Sometimes someone would get it scrambled (me), and the drill sergeant would yell, “Your other left, private!”

Then there’s the salute.  It’s done with the right hand.  That means if you’re out walking about with a bag in your hand, it has to be in your left hand.  Your right hand needs to be available if there’s officer so you can salute.

So in civilian life, I use both hands interchangeably.  I’ll take garbage in my left hand outside.  Sometimes I shift it to the right, but I find that my left is a little stronger.

Anyway, one day I was loading paper into the copier with my left hand and felt this little twinge.  Didn’t think anything of it until later that evening…suddenly it REALLY hurt.

Every. time. I. moved.

Off to the doctor who told me I had golfer’s elbow (should be copier’s elbow, since no golfing was involved).  I was making an effort not to move the arm too much because it was so painful.   But I couldn’t not to.

Doctor asked me if I was left-handed.

I didn’t realize how much the military had changed this until then.:)

Monkey River


Tall ship on the sea
SHORT STORY: When I went to Honduras on my first cruise, we sailed up a river and listened to these frightening snorts that sounded like a giant animal was coming for us. It was a monkey! Needless to say…

Pap thinks the worst of his problems is getting stuck with a green officer from the King’s Militia.  They’re out in the middle of nowhere, and officers hate nowhere.

Then Pap’s partner Ariana, a cartographer mage, discovers an entire fleet waiting on the river.  To attack?  Nowhere is suddenly becoming very dangerous.

A fantasy short story available from your favorite booksellers.

Uniforms for space travel


Woman soldier playing a guitar for a cat
Kitty likes being serenaded!

One of the things that’s always struck me about science fiction films is how unrealistic the uniforms sometimes are.  Star Trek’s was pretty cool for its time–color was a new thing on TV so everything had to be shiny and colorful.  They were iconic, if not always practical.

Then there was Buck Rogers in the 25th Century with Gil Gerard.  I watched it not too long ago, and it surprisingly still holds up.  Or at least the first season does.  The characters wore white, one piece bodysuits.  How do you even go to the bathroom?

Now there’s interest in the real thing–the military’s space force uniforms.

Soldiers have a love-hate relationship with their uniforms.  They have to wear them at least 5 days a week, more if deployed.  Then the senior leader of the service wants to make his mark, and uniforms are easy changes.

Of course, that was how the Air Force ended up with uniforms that made them look like airline pilots–hugely unpopular.  It was also how the Army ended up with the beret.  I got the tail end of that one.  The hats were expensive and had to be dry cleaned.  For a uniform where you might be working out in the rain all day?  Really?

I think the military ought to have one like the battle dress uniform we wore.  It’s practical across the board.  We had buttons for everything, so no expensive zipper repairs.  Big cargo pockets for holding gloves, or paperback novels (sneaky person that I was).

And …

Technology to make the camouflage changes colors and patterns.  It’s really the next step on a uniform to have some kind of tech like that.  Be pretty cool, too.  Wander around the post and stand next to things and watch the uniform change patterns.

Could that be done by embedding chips in the cloth itself?  Maybe threads that are very tiny chips?  But then what would happen to it if it was washed?  And, of course, the military wants everything pressed to a sharp crease.

Can you imagine a squad going to a planet and Private John Smith’s camo on one part of his uniform is stuttering and misfiring because he ironed it.  Oh dear.

What do you think the Space Force uniform should look like?

Between Black and White


A woman walking in the distance, forest surrounding her.
Coming home from war for the soldier is a strange experience.  The world no longer matches up.

Returning home from Desert Storm, Mary doesn’t recognize the place she grew up.  Or her father. But it’s her that’s changed, too much. Can she find herself in the past, or is who she was gone forever?

A military flash fiction story available from your favorite booksellers.

First Night


Dog tags resting against a military uniform
Arriving the first time in-country is a profound experience for every soldier. We’re leaping into it blind and we don’t know what we’re going to get.

Fear is something Private Carolyn Mendez can’t admit to. Yet, as she arrives in Saudi Arabia, for Desert Storm, deploying to war, it’s all she can think about. All she has is herself, and even that is scary.

A flash fiction military story available from your favorite booksellers