Army Days, Part 1

Recently I’ve been thinking about stories from my army days that are pretty entertaining. I have a bunch of them that I’ll share over time. Here’s one that involves both Sweetpea and I (we met each other in the army).

Sweetpea and I served in a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) unit. Our unit was participating in a combined arms training exercise at Fort Drum, New York. It was as close to combat as it comes with the only element missing being a hostile enemy shooting at you. There were armor, infantry, mechanized infantry, mechanized cavalry, artillery, signal, and close air support assets participating. At any moment of the day you could hear tanks rumbling by, the thukada thukada of helicopters skimming the treetops, tremendously loud and low fighters streaking through the sky, the booms and crumps of mortar and artillery fire, and the crackling of small arms fire from every quarter. Special forces units provided troops acting as ground based infantry opposition forces (OPFOR) to simulate enemy forces who would attack us as well as any other unit, stationary or on the move. Needless to say, it was fun as hell, at least for me…

I was the armorer for the unit. I provided weapons, ammunition, and weapons repair services to the troops in my unit as well as supplying them with rocket flares, smoke grenades, grenade simulators, and trip flares.

Packed with flash powder, these things make M-80’s sound like a fart in a hurricane…


Sweetpea was a combat medic. She would deploy in a HMMWV (Humvee) ambulance to assess, treat, and transport casualties back to the unit for medical services as required. She not only participated in simulated missions but also treated field injuries sustained by the troops in the exercise of which there were many. These included 3rd degree burns, broken bones, head trauma, and severed fingers. Training, especially combined arms exercises, produce plenty of real injuries and many are unfortunately unavoidable.

Sweetpea also served as our medical supply officer. As such, she was stationed with my section, unit supply, and was co-located in our area. This was a coed unit that provided separate bunking areas for the male and female soldiers. This policy was not rigidly adhered to. Sweetpea and I had our cots right next to each other in the supply tent (the better to provide manual support services at arm’s length…).

As a squared away supply section member I brought along fluorescent lighting fixtures from my shop, a refrigerator (for the beer that I did not bring, heh), and a TV / VCR combo unit among other comforts. Our tent became the defacto comfort station for visiting officers, observers, and dignitaries who did not enjoy the beer that we did not bring…
I also outfitted my weapons carrier with similar furnishings so that when the weapons racks were moved outside it became a posh little apartment, especially with the locking bolt that I installed on the inside of the door.
Sweetpea and I would use the carrier as needed to provide comfort to each other as needed. It quickly earned the title of “The Honeymoon Suite”. Sometimes, as we were performing duties together in the carrier, troops would come by and hit the sides of the truck with the butts of their rifles, jealous motherfuckers. Nothing throws off your rhythm quite like that does…
An important and crucial part of my personal gear was obtained in magic shops, joke shops, and firework stands. I brought everything from blackface soap to fish oil candy (butterscotch candy with a fish oil center), whoopie cushions to pull string poppers (a little black powder and duct tape made great tent flap surprise devices), and firecrackers to whistling petes. I dug and camouflaged a gung-ho fighting position (foxhole) behind our tent facing the outer perimeter and strung said perimeter with multiple lines of tripwire flares, flashbangs, and improvised devices. The fighting position even had overhead protection and was so well camouflaged that several times the OPFOR soldiers walked right up and over without noticing it which allowed us to shoot them in the back. Yay for the element of surprise! I dug a recessed shelf in the position to hold fireworks, smoke grenades, spare blank ammunition, and wrist rockets for Sweetpea and I to use against the filthy vermin who made it through our perimeter defenses.
One afternoon I heard the tak Tak TAK, TAKA-TAKA-TAKA-TAK! of small arms fire approaching our area. I immediately recognized the signature as being that of AK-47’s, the weapons employed by the slimy OPFOR operators. I informed the others in the tent, grabbed Sgt. Sweetpea by the hand, and bailed out the back of the tent with our weapons in hand. We beat feet out to the fighting position and dove in. Within seconds, the evildoers made it to the tent, stuck their muzzles inside, and dumped their magazines into the tent.
 Our supply sergeant, his assistant, and our commander, not believing my warning and remaining inside, were immediately “killed” and were marched to the holding area where they were held for the next few hours. Me and the Sweet One were laughing our asses off which drew two of the pukes to our position whereupon we immediately cut them down. Amateurs…
The best moment of the exercise, other than when I nudged over several trees with my truck to make room for our tent, was a nighttime raid. The OPFOR breached our perimeter thus setting off multiple pyrotechnic catastrophes and in the process totally blew their cover. Amongst some of the standard issue devices and methods of perimeter protection were some of my own non-regulation surprises. Included were whistling petes whose fuses had been duct taped over the ends of trip flares, broad and deep cat’s cradles of rope at ankle level, and tripwired soup cans filled with gravel. Right after the seedy bastards thought they’d passed the only regulation sentry devices and thought they could blend back into the night to conceal their positions, they hit our improvised defenses and became bogged down in confusion and chaos. At that time we began showering them with an unconventional fireworks barrage and bewildered the hell out of them.
We fired M-80’s by the dozen at them with our wrist rockets, sent volleys of tennis balls at them with remotely fired homemade mortars, and cut off their vision with smoke bombs and smoke grenades. With their senses totally overloaded by the shitstorm they set off, we started picking them off one by one. By the time we were through we’d knocked out the entire opposing force numbering fifteen. Remember, these were special forces soldiers sent up from Fort Bragg to show our pussy asses a thing or two about combat. Fuck yer day!
The next day, there was an enemy prisoner of war handling class at which we learned, you guessed it, how to handle enemy prisoners of war. Somehow, as it always seemed to happen, I was “volunteered” to be the EPW upon whom the SF soldiers would demonstrate. They picked me up, threw me down on my face, sat on my back, and trussed me up like a wild prairie chicken. They also courteously provided my mouth with gag and duct tape. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” I mumbled through the tape.
They then began searching through my pockets. In my blouse pocket they found a love letter from Sweetpea which they read to the whole unit. Thanks special soldier. As they continued to search they happened upon a bar of blackface soap in my trouser pocket. Yep, another muffled “Fuck!”. My cover had been blown and the mess sergeant (who still had remaining traces of black by his ears and hairline) shouted in indignation that I would be getting nothing but oatmeal for the remaining duration of my time in the field.
The pièce de résistance came when the SF soldier withdrew a handful of M-80’s and firecrackers from my cargo pocket.
“Well no shit, this is what must have hit us out on the perimeter last night! Were you on the northeast perimeter?” he said.
“Fuck yeah I was, you damned dirty ape!” I mumbled.
The whole class busted up in hoots and hollers.
The SF guy tossed an M-80 to the colonel. He turned it over in his hands, shook his head smiling, then tossed it back to the soldier saying “I believe that belongs to specialist Fox. Be sure to put em all back where you found em.”
That was a singular moment in my army career and remains one of my proudest accomplishments.
I miss the army…

The Great Teddybear Massacre

A group of burners (Burning Man junkies, not pot smokers) extended an invitation to me to come to their “Cute Shoot”. This is a wholesome family event that features exploding teddy bears. These bears are unstuffed and restuffed with Tannerite (a legal impact sensitive explosive compound), 1lb propane cannisters, cans of V8, and numerous combinations of the above items. The animals are bought for about a dollar a pound at the Goodwill bins distribution centers. After stuffing, the animals are placed a safe distance downrange and engaged with high velocity rifles. Rimfire rounds and pistol rounds will not usually detonate Tannerite. One exception is my friend Anne. She detonated a bear with a Glock 17 (9mm) pistol. That’s not an easy shot with a 5.5 inch barreled handgun fired from an unsupported position at 30 meters. Nice shooting Anne!

I rigged up a portable flamethrower with a tank that you strap on like a backpack. I made it specifically to help with the cleanup of the bits of fluff generated by exploding teddy bears. It worked nicely and the land owner was pleased with how it burned up the scraps. I was originally going to drop a 20lb propane tank into an REI expedition backpack but it wouldn’t fit through the top entry! Then I figured I’d buy a smaller diameter 10lb tank that would fit into the pack. I spotted a hank of rope I had in the back of my truck and decided to use it to rig up shoulder straps and save 90 bucks by not buying a new tank. I used an 8 foot long piece of that rope, fit each end with hot melt adhesive lined heat shrink tubing, doubled the rope, looped it through the collar handle on top of the tank, passed the ends through a gardening kneeling pad, and threaded the rope through holes in the tank’s base ring. I also made a 90 degree adapter for the propane tank to ease mechanical stresses on the tank valve. An 8 foot hose leading to the Manchester Power Jet hand burner completed the rig. It’s easy and cheap and really works well. You can also use this setup for walking your driveway, logging road, or cow pasture to burn weeds and it’s a dandy and fun way to get your burn piles lit up in the fall when they’re a bit wet. I have removed the gas orifice from the top tube which is the burner gas delivery tube. This allows a longer and fuller bodied flame. If you’re only burning weeds, you can leave the orifice in place to conserve propane.

Mixing 1 pound Tannerite charges to stuff the bears with.

Mixing 1 pound Tannerite charges to stuff the bears with.

A Tannerite stuffed teddybear ready for the firing squad...

A Tannerite stuffed teddybear ready for the firing squad...

He shoots, he scores!

No more teddybear...

Teaching a panda bear to defend herself from propane crazed teddybears.

Teaching a panda bear to defend herself from habitat destroying teddybears.

Another rabid teddybear taken out of action!

Another rabid teddybear taken out of action!

I was a little heartbroken by this one...

I was a little heartbroken by this one...

Cleanup is always more fun with a flamethrower!

Cleanup is always more fun with a flamethrower!


Concealed Carry Handguns – Foxfur’s Picks

Here’s a subject that I’ve been wanting to blog about for a while now. Self defense. Specifically, the most effective self defense option: Handguns. I am a gun lover plain and simple. I was a gunsmith and federally licensed firearms dealer and manufacturer. I was a unit armorer in the United States Army, a military gunsmith, serving with the field artillery, “King of Battle”. I have been collecting firearms for more than 20 years. I live in the forest where I, and my friends, can shoot on the property at any time we like. I met my wife in the Army on a firing range. She can outshoot me with many of the weapons we own. We are up to five gunsafes now and really need a sixth. We likes our guns!

Handguns are an effective means of self defense that can be employed by anyone. I have trained a wheelchair bound woman, who is darned close to quadraplegic, to use, and use well, a revolver. The only person I can’t train is one who refuses, for whatever reason, to touch a firearm. Good luck with that pepper spray… The first rule of a gunfight is to bring a gun. Nuff said?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, straight, gay, or bi, we all are potential victims of violent crimes. Steps can, and should, be taken to reduce our exposure to these crimes but there is always the chance of a random encounter that might just put your life on the line.

Carrying a firearm for self defense carries great responsibility. I won’t go into this as there are many who are more qualified to give you that information better than I could ever could. A quick google search will return many options. I may post some links on this in a future post.

This post is simply to share what works for me and Sweetpea. Handguns that suit our tastes and needs. Here are a couple of handguns that we own and carry for defensive purposes.

My preferred piece is the Taurus Millenium Pro PT-145 in .45ACP (.45 Auto). It is lightweight, ultra compact, has a high capacity (10 rounds), can fit in the waistband of virtually everything I wear, and has a cavernous bore that can throw a very big bullet at very bad people. 

Taurus Millenium Pro PT-145 Sub-Compact .45 Automatic

Taurus Millenium Pro PT-145 on the Taurus website                                   It’s about the largest caliber in the smallest package that you can carry. 10 rounds is a lot. I hope I never even have to fire one round, but it’s good to know that round has 9 brothers to back him up if he needs it. This is not designed to be a target grade handgun but it can hold its own. It will shoot a 3 inch group at 25 yards if I do my part. 

Another handgun we carry is the Ruger LCP in .380ACP (.380 Auto). LCP stands for Lightweight Compact Pistol though I like to call it the “Little Cute Pistol”. Cute but effective… Some debate the effectiveness of the .380 Auto as a defensive round. I don’t know about your tolerance but I don’t function well with any size holes in me and would quickly lose my motivation after the first hole was installed in me. Chances are that bad people have similar preferences to mine with regard to close range lead poisoning. This handgun is incredibly small, small enough to be entirely concealed behind my open hand, super lightweight, I can carry it in a shirt pocket quite easily, and has a capacity of seven rounds.

The Ruger LCP in .380 Automatic

 The Ruger LCP on Ruger’s website

This is the one I drop in my pocket when I’m making a large cash withdrawl at the ATM, running into the quik-mart, or even just strolling around the property. It’s only a touch over 5 inches in length and a hair over 3/4 inch thick. Teensy.

Feel free to leave questions with the comment feature. I’d be happy to offer what advice I can to those interested. If there’s any interest, I may, in a future post, share some home defense options in the way of shotguns and rifles.

You’ll note that I do not refer to any “less than lethal” options for self defense. It’s because I don’t believe in them. Period. If you want to face down a desperate thug, someone desperate enough to pull a knife or a gun on you, with a can of Mace, a puny knife, or a flimsy baton, that’s your choice. I will do everything in my power to return home each day when I leave the house. It’s not a matter of killing, it’s a matter of surviving.

Foxfur plinking with a Professional Ordnance Carbon-15 pistol in .223 Remington. A Ruger Vaquero in .45 Long Colt is slung around his waist.

The Carbon-15 is a carbon fiber, instead of aluminum, AR-15 pistol that fires the .223 Remington / 5.56mm NATO rifle round, the same round as our soldiers fire in their M16 / M4's.

 This is another favorite pistol I carry when hiking around on our property. Fun!