Friday Night at the Movies salutes Soldier of Fortune Magazine

685145.1020.A

Well, well, well… Here you are again. You know why you’re here too. The Real Revo Theater has had a very good hot streak going with awesome movie selections here lately. Apparently that tide is still running. I found another cinematic masterpiece. I do not recall when I last saw this movie. It’s been many years. I first saw this movie when I was a teenager. My Mother forbade me to watch it yet I watched it anyway. I had to use Ninja like stealth in order to accomplish my mission. Normally when I wanted to watch a movie after hours or one that was forbidden, I got over big time if my parents were going to watch it. All I had to do was sneak down the hallway, take a left through the kitchen, move slightly forward toward the dining room and then I could take up a partially concealed overwatch position of the den, seeing and hearing the big RCA from a distance. As soon as any move off the couch could be made I could be back through the kitchen before they could turn around good and try to adjust to the darkness. I would be down the hallway and back in bed before they ever got up the steps into the dining room.

This movie was forbidden to me on the night they were watching it in the den, cooking Pizza in the oven that also alerted me that the additional task for the evening would be none other than stealing food while watching the movie. I was absolutely up to the task. I had done it many times. The only thing different about the night The Wild Geese came on was that I would be utilizing newly arrived technology in order to watch it.

First we must examine why it was that my Mother didn’t want me watching it in the first place…

It was at the age of 8 years that I became aware that both my Father and my Step-Father served in the United States Marine Corps. It was shortly after becoming aware of that when I was able to get my hands on a 1955 Guidebook for Marines. I studied every Chapter as if my life depended on it because I knew that someday it would. One day I would be a United States Marine too, just like my Uncle Franz who was at that time taking the fight to the Communist Foe in Vietnam.

Well, why wouldn’t I believe that I needed to know the essential subjects in the Guidebook for Marines as if my life depended on it? The movies about Marines I saw on TV had them fighting the Japanese. My 1955 Guidebook for Marines showed combat photos from Korea and World War Two. I was unable to distinguish the difference between Japanese and Koreans visually at that age. The Vietnam War came home to our television nightly and the Marines were fighting other Asians who I was unable to distinguish physically from the enemy in World War Two movies or in my Guidebook for Marines. At 8 years old it seemed to me that Marines fought Oriental people and I could count on doing the same thing when I became a Marine. I fully envisioned myself one day swimming toward a heavily defended Island Beach in an Amtrac. Maybe they would let me carry the Flamethrower or the BAR. I wanted to capture a Samurai Sword.

As I got older I learned of the existence of the U.S. Army. When the older Brother of my lifelong friend who I’ve mentioned here previously graduated the Special Forces Qualification Course I was about 14 years old. The more I learned about the U.S. Army Special Forces, the more I wanted to be a part of it.

Besides any military manual I could get my hands on, one of the publications I avidly read was the monthly edition of Soldier of Fortune Magazine. You could get all kinds of Special Forces and Marine Corps stories from Vietnam and Korea in Soldier of Fortune Magazine. It was awesome. Laugh if you like but something I read in Soldier of Fortune may have helped save my buddies lives as well as my own when we captured a huge pile of weapons in Grenada. Because of a publication I read about Soviet Hand Grenades when I was 16 years old, I knew that they had variable time delay fuses to select from when fusing their Grenades. With each case of Soviet Grenades came variable time delay fuses ranging from Zero to Thirteen Seconds. The number of seconds in the time delay is stamped into the body of the fuse itself. We found some pre-fused Grenades among 3 trucks full of weapons we found stuck in the mud on the Estate of General Hudson Austin. Before we started playing with them THIS Private First Class that was assigned the task to join his fellow Troopers in unloading, and unsticking (digging out) the vehicles and then reloading them with the weapons to send them to the rear BOLDLY stepped forward before anyone could do anything stupid and pulled a fuse from one of the Grenades. The number Zero was stamped on the side. This was the same case with all the pre-fused Grenades we found. The enemy intended that we should blow ourselves up with them. I then took the opportunity to shove as many Grenade bodies and variable delay fuses I liberated that were still sealed in their packing cans into my personal gear to hopefully use or smuggle home. Soldier of Fortune Magazine helped me to know how to seize the moment.

Another Soldier of Fortune Magazine historical note. I learned a lot about the weapons I encountered on the battlefield from Soldier of Fortune Magazine. I knew the difference between an RPG2 and an RPG7. I knew how to use one and I even knew the countermeasures that were effective against them. I had not yet been to the range at Ft. Bragg with any Soviet weapons yet because I hadn’t even been there a full year when we deployed. If not for all the stuff I read about Soviet weapons in Soldier of Fortune Magazine I would have been lost when it came to using or cataloging information on the weapons we captured.

Of course as mentioned earlier, I was better informed on what to smuggle home and how to do it because Soldier of Fortune Magazine gave me an edge. They also gave me a can of Copenhagen when I ran into one of their correspondents at Ft. Rupert who was looking for War Stories to write home about. I should have told him this one.

I think that this was precisely what my Mother was worried about when as a young teenager, Month after Month I stalked the grocery store magazine racks in search of Soldier of Fortune and Gung Ho Magazines. Then came the Special Forces posters that occasionally made their way down from Ft. Bragg and onto the walls of my bedroom. Then came the purchase of ripstop jungle fatigues and jungle boots along with load bearing equipment for me to conduct my own tactical training with. By the Grace of God I would defeat the Communist Foe and bring an end to the Cold War. I began training as a VERY young man. I experienced fully automatic gunfire over my head at 15 years old. I was in it to win it. Mom knew this and she was afraid. How could I possibly be turning my back on my lifelong dream of one day becoming a United States Marine to all of a sudden becoming enamored with the thought of becoming a U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier? I mean, they don’t even wear helmets. How could a kid who spent many, MANY years running around with his Daddy’s helmet on his head trade that in for some soft, fuzzy headgear? All of this had suddenly become too crazy for my Mother to understand.

One time when my parents asked me what it was that I plan to do as a trained killer AFTER I got out of the military (which of course would be many, MANY years down the road) and I casually responded that maybe I would become a Mercenary. Mom didn’t really like that response nor did my Step-Father. When I finally got to Ft. Benning I recanted that remark. I knew then that I could never be a Soldier of Fortune. It had to be about a whole lot more than money for me to be a Soldier. That would be years later. In the meantime Mom forbade me to watch the Wild Geese with them. I was to go to my room and go to bed. Wasn’t happening.

I carefully moved a tiny black and white television to the foot of my bed. I turned the brightness down as low as it could go and still be viewable. Then I draped my old poncho liner over the top of it and me, forming an effective light trap. Then I kept my ears open for the sound of the opening of the oven door and the slicing of Pizza. Patience was required to pull it off. I had to wait for the Pizza to cool and the first slices to be served before I could make my move. Coca Cola could only be procured from a bottle that had already been opened as well. These items were all secured with the greatest of ease and it was back under the poncho liner to watch The Wild Geese for the very first time.

The Wild Geese is also a movie that I first learned about in Soldier of Fortune Magazine. The magazine regularly featured stories about an Irish mercenary named Mike Hoare. He’s an interesting fellow. He served in the London Irish Rifles in North Africa and Italy in World War Two. After that he became a Soldier of Fortune who spent a lot of time in Africa. He also spent 10 Years in Prison for his role in leading a group of mercenaries in a failed attempt at taking over the government of Seychelles. That was a sad story but prior to that he had been hired as a technical advisor to the production team of the movie we are watching tonight. The character of Colonel Faulkner as played by Richard Burton is built around the real life Mike Hoare, though the story is purely fictional. It is known that at least one of the actors in this film actually served as a mercenary under the command of Mike Hoare. I knew the stories of Mike Hoare and I could hardly wait to see the movie he helped create.

My Mother wouldn’t let me see Apocalypse Now or The Deer Hunter. The Wild Geese was the third movie in the Trifecta of forbidden War Cinema of their era but on the night that it was broadcast on network television I employed all means at my disposal to watch it and I succeeded. I even got some forbidden Pizza that made things even sweeter. I was on my way to becoming a skilled killer for Uncle Sam and there was nothing that my parents or anyone else could do about it.

If only I had been as successful getting into Special Forces as I was stealing Pizza, I would have different stories to tell today. I wouldn’t trade the stories I’ve got for anything. I did get my soft fuzzy headgear and I did get to fling myself from aircraft in flight. I got the best friends I would ever have in this life, if only I had realized it at the time. I got all I ever wanted and then some in just Four short years, not the Twenty long Years as planned. I had reproductive needs to attend to and President Reagan wasn’t very sensitive to those needs. I was overpowered by those things we sang about in running cadence that has long ago been outlawed by the Department of Defense. It could happen to any young man. The Cold War was practically won anyway. After that there would be no more enemies. There would be no reason to torture myself preparing for War that was never going to happen. Time to go home and make babies in a more secure and healthy environment.

I’ve dedicated this publication to Soldier of Fortune Magazine. I mean, you might be a Redneck if you can say in all seriousness that the things you learned in Soldier of Fortune Magazine helped to make you into the man you are today. I think that if you’ve read this far you are able to see why I can say with no reservation that the shoe as described does fit and therefore I shall wear it. They were the only publication that regularly carried extensive information about what was going on in Africa during the Cold War. Of course it carried many stories about U.S. Forces in the Cold War. Over the years they had many accomplished writers who told some fascinating stories.

I must also raise my glass to Colonel Mike Hoare, “Mad Mike” Anti-Communist Warlord of the Congo and would-be liberator of Seychelles (if one of his men hadn’t gotten in the wrong line at customs) who is still among us at the age of 96. He fought the greatest enemies of his time and ours. I’m sure that if he was a younger man he would be making plenty of money providing mercenary armies to anyone who can afford them and there are plenty these days who can, who also need connections to the Mike Hoares of today.

Tonight our Flight Attendants will be serving stolen grocery store cardboard box Pizza heated to 350 Degrees for Thirty Five Minutes along with Guinness Stout in a frozen Canteen Cup. Fasten your safety belts. Our Friday Night Flight once again takes us to Uganda and we have been cleared for takeoff.

Tonight we take flight with the Wild Geese…

This time I’m watching it on a 52 inch screen, in color and WITHOUT a poncho liner. Much better picture but I wonder of I’m having as much fun. Sure I am. I get to tells stories this time.

I know you will enjoy it…

Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Friday Night at the Movies salutes Soldier of Fortune Magazine

  1. Ray Davies says:

    I almost took that plunge back in 1966. The starting offer was $1000 a month and what ever you steal. Tempting for a young buck who had survived Viet Nam and finishing his ToD in Germany. I got the honor of examining one of the “Recruiters” after a night of drinking. His liver was as hard as a rock, he had all kinds of parasites and his malaria was under control for the time. I informed him that he would probably be dead in six months. After seeing this guy and a couple more of his friends I decided that was not the way I wanted to go out.
    When I met my now wife, I was waiting on a passport so I could head to Central America to fight another war for money. Needless to say the “Sweet young Thing” put a stop to that idea. One must wonder what would have happened had I taken the other path.

  2. MadBrad says:

    Wow. This morning Soldier of Fortune contacted me to ask permission to publish this in their FLAK editorial section. Naturally I let them know that I would be honored. Of all my accomplishments in life and things I have been recognized for, never in my life did I imagine that one day I would be published in the magazine I loved so much during those early years of my life.

    For the Soldier of Fortune readers who may be dropping by there may be some who are just like I was at the age of 14. I hope that if they plan on making the military a part of their life they would begin taking the time they need to absorb and retain all knowledge from instruction that they can get from a reliable source. One day your life and the lives of those around you may depend on you and what you know…

    1908125_10207202618168059_4514506573590162739_n

  3. Ray Davies says:

    Congratulations Brad. Let us know when it’s coming out so we can buy a copy. Of course we can get an autograph.

  4. thebronze says:

    Brad, your childhood mirrors my own!! I came in the year after Grenada and also read SOF and Gung Ho as a teenager, while enduring the time I had left until I could become a US Marine.

    They were GREAT magazines back then!!!

    Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane!!

  5. LG says:

    Brad, that is some of the best reading, I have seen in quite a while. Of course you know my story of that same young age. Trading SOF, or sneaking to the 7-11and buying the latest issue.

  6. MadBrad says:

    The Real Revo has now made it’s way into printed paper circulation. The December issue of Soldier of Fortune Magazine just hit the news stand today. I believe that this may be one of the last or perhaps the very last they actually print on paper. It just blows my mind that something I wrote is actually in that magazine.