27 July 2018


I remember reading about pilots in Vietnam thinking their survival vest was getting a tad heavy and cumbersome and trying to decide what to remove from it.

They ended up keeping every single item on their vest, including a whistle, because they'd heard a story that someone, somewhere, had used one of the items and THAT was what saved their lives.

I asked my Uncle Ben about it, him having flown F-8's in that conflict, and he remembered similar conversations.

"Did you ever use any of it?" I asked, knowing he'd jettisoned the aircraft twice.

"The inflatable vest (that isn't part of the survival vest) sure comes in handy when all that shit is conspiring with your chute to drown you."

I'm reminded of Ben's war stories when I see the piles and piles of stuff people are carrying for their everyday carry.

I'm reminded of other experiences when I watch demonstrations of some of this kit and how easy it is to use.  By a fit, sober, alert, unimpaired person with two functioning arms and all ten fingers.

Is there a gentle way to say, "it's not gonna be like that," when the shit starts flying?

They seem to be pushed by the same kind of people who don't even address the idea of FIND COVER! in a shooting course.

You've got to figure out if you can access and work this stuff under duress if you expect it to do you much good.

But you also have to consider the odds.  What good is all that stuff if all it does is try to drown you?


  1. My dad taught me the 'must haves,' 'should haves' and 'wanna haves.'

    He learned some of it in AF survival school, most of it knocking around as a kid in the bayous. He said most of the AF stuff was how to get rid of the required stuff as quickly as possible.

    Even today, got a knife, a lighter and some basic stuff on me most all the time.

    And his lessons as to cover vs concealment were... interesting.

  2. Had a great customer service experience recently, and I am bursting to tell SOMEONE, so, since it is slightly related, I am going to tell the story here.

    My wife bought me a Leatherman PSTII WAAAAY back, and I carried it every day until some low-life stole it when I put it down on a desk for five minutes. I still have the belt pouch.

    I replaced it with a Leatherman Wave - a better tool in that the pliers' grips didn't cut my hand, but heavier. Still, I carried it every day until the day that the the lock on the knife blade didn't lock reliably.

    Seeing as the internet is apparently a thing now, I searched for "leatherman wave parts" thinking that the lock was a replaceable piece (turns out it isn't - it's part of the chassis), and finished up at the website for Zen Imports, who are the Leatherman agents here in Oz.

    While I was browsing, a chat window opened with "Can I help?", so I relayed what I was after.
    The response was, "Send it to us. There is a 25-year no questions asked warranty, no proof of purchase required."

    I duly sent it off.

    Just today, I got a parcel - a brand new Leatherman Wave, courtesy of the importers, as a warranty replacement.

    I am not allowed to carry a gun here in Oz, but that Leatherman goes everywhere my pants go.

    So far, by the grace of God, that multi-tool, some cash, a credit card, and a pair of cheap sunglasses have allowed me to survive in this cruel, cruel world.


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