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The Fire Pit

Lore, Adventure, Stories of Fortune, Books, Entertainment, Veterans’ Issues

Eerie Silences and Strange Time Warps: The Weirdness of Life Aboard a Submarine

by David Chetlain, The War HorseI spent 18 months in training before reporting to my first submarine. I learned a lot about damage control, sonar, electronics, and how to distinguish a sperm whale from a humpback whale. But nothing prepared me for the disconnection from Earth that distorted my perception …

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‘The Phantom’ Fouled the Latrine; We Had to Find Him Before Sarge Flushed Us All Down the Toilet

by Heath Hansen It was 0530 hours the morning our first sergeant kicked open the door to our tent, and told us to “get the fuck outside and form it up!” Late the previous night, we returned to base from a 10-day mission in Afghanistan. I could see through a …

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‘I Miss the Battlefield’: A Warrior Longs for the Clarity of Combat

by Jim Lechner Editor’s note: Army Ranger (Ret) Jim Lechner wrote the following hymn to comradeship and patriotism – an essay that reverberates among those who long for the lost clarity of war. A veteran of multiple Special Operations missions, Lechner was wounded in the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu in …

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A Jeep, a Soldier, Some Booze, and One Very Rough Night in Camp

by James Woods Editor’s note: Reader James Woods sent this story about his father in law, who had an interesting time one night after dark during WWII. My father in law was assigned to the HQ company of an engineer unit as a driver during WWII. The unit was going …

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This American Paratrooper Was Captured by SS Troops During ‘Operation Market Garden’

When Gene Metcalfe boarded the C-47 that would drop him just outside of Nijmegen, Holland, a British lieutenant gave him a box of condoms. Gene was to be among the first to jump into what should have been a picture-book meadow, free of German troops. Instead, it was defended by …

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MiG Pilot Viktor Belenko: ‘I Am the Luckiest Man Alive’

by Susan Katz Keating In retrospect, it seems fitting that I met Viktor Belenko in Reno. He was a gambler hanging out in a gambling town, surrounded by pilots in their fast moving aircraft, barreling wildly around pylons. I went there many years back, looking for stories to be found …

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‘Invictus Games Are a Redemption’: Soldier of Fortune Meets an American Athlete in Dusseldorf

by Heath Hansen “What the Invictus Games mean to me is almost a redemption.” Immediately following the opening ceremony of the 2023 Invictus Games, Soldier of Fortune correspondent Heath Hansen caught up with Donald Calero, one of the few active duty serviceman representing the United States in multiple events at the Invictus Games …

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The Flying Legend, ‘Black Sheep’ Col. Pappy Boyington

by Katie Lange  Editor’s note: SOF publisher Susan Katz Keating knew Col. Pappy Boyington in the 1980’s when he frequented the Nut Tree airport in Vacaville, California. Here is a story of his life in uniform. Colonel Gregory “Pappy” Boyington was one of the service’s greatest and most legendary pilots. …

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They Called Us Mercenaries, Gunslingers, and Worse: A Contractor’s Story

by Mikial The author tells Soldier of Fortune: “All of my work was with Department of Defense contractors. We never considered ourselves mercenaries although were called mercenaries, gunslingers, and worse at times. It was difficult and dangerous work and also sometimes boring. We often lived rough in camps and slept …

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