Friday, October 14, 2016


In Thailand, one witnesses the deep respect given King Bhumibol and the Royal Family by the Thai people. That respect was earned; everywhere one looked was evidence of the King's great works and his love for his people. I wish to show my respect & to honor His Majesty on the occasion of his passing . . . S.L.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช - pronounced P'humip'hon Adunyadet) known as King Bhumibol the Great, was the ninth monarch of Thailand from the Chakri Dynasty as Rama IX. Having reigned since 9 June 1946, he was, at the time of his death, the world's longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, serving for 70 years, 127 days. He held Thailand together during VERY difficult times, and helped lead Thai people to prosperity. His story is very unique, and quite remarkable. He was one of the greatest kings of all history.

His Majesty led Thailand during extremely challenging times - throughout the Indochina Conflict - and personally helped bring prosperity and stability to Thailand and throughout the region. For the many difficult decades following World War II, Communist insurgencies existed in every country in Southeast Asia. Thailand was an anchor of stability, the keystone that held the region from total collapse. This was due in large part to King Bhumibol's direct influence, thanks to his remarkable character.

Westerners who have never visited Thailand cannot fully appreciate the King's influence. In Thailand, they had a Communist insurgency, but the majority of the Thai people never supported this despite the difficulties & extreme poverty experienced in the provinces. This was directly due to the King's personality. He was revered as semi-divine. As Communist guerrilla movements took hold and even prevailed in neighboring countries, in Thailand the Communists failed to gain traction.

In Thailand, democracy is not like in the West. There are many coup's-de-etat - most of them bloodless, thank God. When a coup - or a counter-coup - takes place, the leaders seek the official blessing of the King. Without this blessing, the leaders of the coup (or counter-coup) must pack their bags and go into exile. As such, King Bhumibol practiced much more direct influence over the political affairs of his country than his royal counterparts in the West.

Thailand emerged from the difficult war years and rode a wave of economic development as one of Southeast Asia's 'tiger economies'. When I returned to Thailand in the late eighties, I observed that a middle class had emerged. In large part because of the King's personality and tremendous influence, Thailand has no enemies. Everybody loves Thailand.

In recent years there has been trouble within the Kingdom. Following years of domestic political strife, the military took power. There have been human rights issues - it is not my intent to discuss this here. Ironically, it is the heavy-handed military government that may actually ensure a seamless coronation of the Crown Prince.

There will be difficult days ahead. The Thai people pray for King Bhumibol . . . I pray for the Thai people . . .


Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I've carried one for over twenty years - S.L.

The kukri, or khukuri (in the Nepalese pronunciation) is the distinctive curved Nepali knife that is synonymous with the Gurkhas of Nepal. The kukri is respected around the world for its fearful effectiveness as a close combat weapon but it is also an humble multi-purpose tool has been using in centuries in Nepal for everyday tasks. It is the symbolic weapon of the Gurkhas throughout the world, signifying courage and valor in battlefield. It is a part of the regimental weaponry and heraldry of the Nepal Army, the Royal Gurkha Regiment of British Army, and Gurkha Rifles in Indian Army. It is known to many people simply as the ‘Gurkha knife’. Many famous knives of the world - the Bowie knife, stiletto, scimitar, Roman short sword, samurai katana and Filipino bolo - all share a role of great historical significance because of their cutting edge over other weapons, but the most famous of them all is the kukri.

A Nepali boy is likely to have his own kukri at the age of five or so and necessarily becomes skillful in its use long before manhood. By the time a Gurkha joins the army, the kukri has become a chopping extension of his dominant arm. This is important because it is not the weight and edge of the weapon that make it so terrible at close quarters so much as the skilled technique of the stroke; it can claim to be almost impossible to parry. But it is important to remember that the kukri is a tool of all work; at home in the hills and on active service it will be used for cutting wood, hunting and skinning, opening tins, clearing undergrowth and any other chore, even digging holes. From this it is plain that there can be no truth in the belief that a Gurkha must draw blood every time he unsheathes his blade.

t is difficult to imagine a more honorable saga in all the annals of war than the story of the Gurkha regiments of the British and Indian armies . . . I had the honor of serving with these consummate professionals in Kowloon & the New Territories, 1989 -S.L.

Some western historians believe that the kukri was based on European weapons brought to Central Asia by Alexander the Great. Other researchers trace its history further back to the domestic sickle and the prehistoric bent stick used for hunting and later in hand-to-hand combat. Sir Richard Francis Burton, the famous British explorer, soldier, orientalist and spy (1821–1890), ascribes this semi-convergent origin to weapons from several regions such as the Greek kopis, the Egyptian kopsh, the Iberian falcata, the Illyrian sica, as well as the kukri. Similar instruments have existed in several forms throughout Central Asia and were used both as weapons and tools, and for sacrificial rituals. Burton writes that the British Museum housed a large kukri-like ancient Indian falchion inscribed with Pali characters. Among the oldest existing kukri are those belonging to Drabya Shah (circa 1559), housed in the National Museum of Kathmandu.

The kukri came to be known to the Western world when the East India Company came into conflict with the Gurkha Empire, during the Gurkha War of 1814–1816. It gained literary attention in the 1897 novel Dracula by Irish author Bram Stoker. Despite the popular image of Dracula having a stake driven through his heart, Mina's narrative describes a climactic battle between Dracula's bodyguards and the heroes, at the conclusion of which Dracula's throat is sliced through by Jonathan Harker's kukri and his heart pierced by Quincey Morris's Bowie knife.

All Gurkha troops are issued with a kukri. In modern times members of the Brigade of Gurkhas receive training in its use. The kukri gained fame in the Gurkha War for its effectiveness. Its continued use through both World Wars enhanced its reputation among both Allied troops and enemy forces. Its acclaim was demonstrated in North Africa by one unit's situation report: "Enemy losses: ten killed, ours nil. Ammunition expended: nil." Elsewhere during the Second World War, the kukri was purchased and used by other British, Commonwealth and US troops training in India, including the Chindits and Merrill's Marauders. The notion of the Gurkha with his kukri carried on through to the Falklands War.

On September 2, 2010, Bishnu Shrestha, a retired Indian Army Gurkha soldier, alone and armed only with a kukri, defeated 40 bandits who attacked a passenger train he was on in India. He killed three of the bandits, wounded eight more and forced the rest of the band to flee.

The Origin of the Kukri knife

The oldest known kukri appears to be one in the arsenal museum in Kathmandu, which belonged to Raja Drabya Shah, King of Gorkha, in 1627. It is interesting to note that it is a broad, heavy blade. However it is certain that the origins of the kukri go far further back. There is one tenable story that Alexander’s horsemen carried the “Machaira”, the cavalry sword of the ancient Macedonians, in the fourth century BC on his invasion of north-west India. Its relationship with the kukri is plain. A third century sculpture, of which only a much later Greek copy exists, shows what is probably a Scythian prisoner of war lying down his arms. The weapon looks amazingly like a modern kukri.

In 1767 Prithwi Naraayan Shah, King of Gorkha, invaded the Nepal valley: In September 1768 Kathmandu surrendered and Prithwi Narayan became the first King of Nepal. That his troops defeated much larger forces must be credited at least in part to their unusual weapon, the kukri. It is reasonable to suppose that this was the beginning of the universal custom of Nepalese troops carrying the kukri, a custom that spread in time to Gurkhas serving in the British and Indian Armies.


Sunday, April 3, 2016


Called in an airstrike on himself . . .

Lieutenant Alexander Prokhorenko with wife Katya, in happier times.

The Russian JTAC officer that died in Syria on March 19 reportedly ordering an airstrike on himself to take as many enemy fighters with him and not be captured alive has been identified as Lieutenant Alexander Prokhorenko, 25 from the village of Gorodki in the Orenburg region of Russia. He was a husband to his wife Katya and a father to a child not yet born. Lieutenant Prokhorenko could have been our enemy yesterday or tomorrow, but as soldiers we respect the valor he displayed on the battlefield and will raise a drink tonight in his honor. Below in the comments is the transcript of his last radio call as it was posted on the pro Kremlin semiofficial website .


Prokhorenko: command I am compromised, I repeat I am compromised.

Command: Please say again and confirm.

Prokhorenko: They have spotted me, there are shooting everywhere, I am pinned, requesting immediate extraction.

Command: Extraction request acknowledged.

Prokhorenko: Please hurry I am low on ammo, they seem to [be] everywhere, I can’t hold them for too long please hurry.

Command: Confirmed, hold them off, continue returning fire, retreat to a safe position, air support is monitoring, state your coordinates

Prokhorenko: [gives coordinates which are blurred in the transcript]

Command: [command repeats coordinates which are blurred.]Confirm

Prokhorenko: Confirmed, please hurry I am low on ammo, they are surrounding me, bastards!

Command: ETA on evacuation 12 minutes, return to the green line, I repeat return to the green line.

Prokhorenko: They are close, I am surrounded, this may be the end, tell my family I love them dearly.

Command: Return to the green line, continue returning fire, help is on the way, followed by air support.

Prokhorenko: Negative, I am surrounded, they are so many of these bastards!

Command: Extract ETA 10 minutes, return to the green line.

Prokhorenko: I can’t they have surrounded me and are closing in, please hurry.

Command: return to the green line, I repeat return to the green line.

Prokhorenko: They are outside, conduct the airstrike now please hurry, this is the end, tell my family I love them and i died fighting for my Motherland.

Command: Negative, return to the green line.

Prokhorenko: Unable command, I am surrounded, they are outside, I don’t want them to take me and parade me, conduct the airstrike, they will make a mockery of me and this uniform. I want to die with dignity and take all these bastards with me. please my last wish, conduct the airstrike, they will kill me either way.

Command: Please confirm your request.

Prokhorenko: They [are] outside, this is the end commander, thank you, tell my family and my country I love them. Tell them I was brave and I fought until I could no longer. Please take care of my family, avenge my death, good bye commander, tell my family I love them!

Command: [No response, orders the airstrike]



Saturday, March 26, 2016


This is an old one . . .

Two crows were sitting on a telephone wire in Mosul when an F-15 went screaming by on full afterburner . . . one crow said to the other:

"MAN ALIVE! That bird sure was flying fast!"

The other crow said:

"Yeah, well if you had two assholes and they were both on fire, YOU'D FLY FAST TOO ! ! !"

That's all for now . . . carry on . . .


Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Somebody asked me today: 'StormBringer: are there any grubs that we cannot eat?' Now, I'm not a bug doctor, but I have never heard of any grubs we are advised not to eat, although I do recommend to cook your grubs first. Below are some general guidelines for when it comes to eating bugs . . . S.L.

Insects (bugs & grubs) are the most abundant life-form on earth, readily available as a food source in a survival situation. Insects are easily caught and provide 65 to 80 percent protein compared to 20 percent for beef.
Avoid all adult insects that sting or bite, hairy or brightly colored insects, and caterpillars and insects that have a pungent odor. Although certain types of tarantula can be cooked and eaten, advice is to generally avoid spiders and of course common disease carriers such as ticks, flies, and mosquitoes.

Insect larvae are also edible. Insects such as beetles and grasshoppers that have a hard outer shell will have parasites. Cook them before eating. Remove any wings and barbed legs also. You can eat most insects raw. The taste varies from one species to another. Wood grubs are bland, while some species of ants store honey in their bodies, giving them a sweet taste. You can grind a collection of insects into a paste, mix them with edible vegetation, and cook them to improve their taste

Rotting logs lying on the ground are excellent places to look for a variety of insects including ants, termites, beetles, and grubs, which are beetle larvae. Do not overlook insect nests on or in the ground. Grassy areas, such as fields, are good areas to search because the insects are easily seen. Stones, boards, or other materials lying on the ground provide the insects with good nesting sites.
Most species of ants are edible. Because ants secrete an acid when threatened, this gives them a vinegar-like flavor. Ants can be roasted with salt. Queen ants have large, fatty abdomens, therefore provide more nutrition than regular ants.

To harvest ants, one can put a stick on an anthill, wait for it to get covered with ants, then shake it off into a container. Roasting them right away will kill them quickly and prevent them from secreting much of the acid which gives that vinegar-like flavor. Ant larvae are found in clumps under rocks, or on top of anthills when they are being moved or kept warm. They have no sour flavor.
Slugs, like their cousin the snail, are edible and highly nutritious. Slugs are an abundant food source, especially in warm, wet environments. However, slugs (and snails) are host to a potentially dangerous parasite: rat lungworm. They contract this parasite by eating the feces of infected rodents. If a human eats raw snail or slug, these parasites will not live in the body, but can produce a toxic reaction called eosinophilic meningitis. Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, a sheath surrounding the brain, and can cause severe brain damage. To avoid this, cook all snails and slugs before you eat them.

Slugs sometimes eat things we can’t — toxic plants and fungi, poo, etc., so gut them by first killing the slug by chopping its head off, then simply squeeze out the entrails. The slug will shrink considerably, and you will get slime on your hands. Cook them chopped up in a stew, or roasted over the fire or chopped, marinated and sautéed, if you have the ability to do so!

Snails are abundant in spring and can often be found in good numbers, making them a good food source. The usual method of preparation is to steam them five to ten minutes, remove from the shell and sauté. They are quite tasty, though if you leave the guts in and they have been eating bark (one of their favorite foods), they will have some astringent flavor. All of the above cautions regarding eating slugs apply to snails. Snails, like slugs, may consume vegetation or fungi toxic to humans. To ensure snails are safe to eat, steam them, remove the shell, then slit the belly remove the cooked entrails.

Inhabitants of open meadows, grassland, fields and some forests, crickets are a delicacy in many traditional societies. They should be fried or roasted before eating. Crickets are excellent pan-fried or oven toasted, with a bit of oil and salt if you like. The legs should be removed before eating as they can catch in the throat and are irritating. Crickets can also be dried and stored for future use.

A simple trap can be made using a Mason jar and some bait. Dig a small hole in the ground of a cricket-inhabited area, put the jar into this hole and move the soil back into place around it or simply put the jar on its side on the ground. A piece of bait is then placed in the jar (a slice of apple, oats, bread, carrot, lettuce, or a banana). In the morning there should be some crickets enjoying themselves in there. Put the lid on the jar, with holes poked in if you want to keep them alive. As a variation, put water in the jar along with the bait and the crickets will drown. Often people use a solution of molasses and water or stale beer for this; other sweeteners or foods mixed with water may also work.

Grasshoppers inhabit similar terrain as crickets and are similarly prepared and esteemed. They can be harvested by hand in the early morning before they are fully awake, using the same type of traps as described above for crickets, or using more ambitious methods.
A method of harvesting grasshoppers - if you have enough people - is holding hands to form a human wall, and walk across a field of tall grass, herding grasshoppers into a tarp on the other end of the field.

Earthworms are highly nutritious. Worms often come out during heavy rains when the soil becomes so saturated with water they need to get out or drown. A method of trapping them is to dig holes (about six inches diameter, >12” deep), in clay soil. After a heavy rain, the bodies of countless drowned worms will be present in the holes.

Worms’ bodies are filled with dirt, which makes worms sandy and unpleasant to eat. This dirt can be removed by purging (soaking them in water for 3–24 hours) or taking a worm in one hand and squeezing the dirt out of it with your free hand’s fingers. After purging, their flavor can be a little bitter. Drying them mellows this flavor, and reduces their sliminess. Frying worms until crispy also makes them more palatable.
Maggots are a traditional superfood. They are also probably the most revolting insect one could imagine. Maggots are extremely fatty and a rich source of essential amino acids, making them nutritionally far more valuable than lean meat.

Aphids are another edible insect. Depending on what foliage they are feeding on, they can range from slightly bitter to sweet. Upon finding an infested plant or patch of plants, simply collect the aphids and eat them fresh or incorporate them into a meal as a nutritious supplement.

Termites are also cuisine in many traditional societies. They can be harvested individually or in small groups and then toasted in a hot pan. They have a high oil content relative to the size of their body and are quite tasty, with a slightly nutty flavor. Winged termites (alates) are larger and fattier. Alates are harvested using a lamp with netting around it. They are attracted to the light and will collect on the netting. The wings are shed easily by winnowing after they have been toasted. A candle next to a mirror at dusk at the right time of year can yield good results.


FM 3-05.70 US Army Survival Manual (formerly FM 21-76)
AFR 64-4 Vol I USAF Search & Rescue Survival Training
SAS Survival Handbook by John Wiseman

Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


DONE . . . and done!

AND . . . a quiet drink to celebrate: Long Bar Story (Rough Draft) final chapter written complete . . . . . . now all I gotta do is edit, edit, and edit again - three or four times - throw in some illustrations, because everybody likes to look at pictures while they're reading a book full of words . . . S.L.

A LONG TERM GOAL has been to become a published author, but I never seem to have been able to bring a project to completion. There's always some damn distraction - work, mostly. My work is complex and takes me to some pretty exotic destinations. Finally last summer I had some time on my hands, pulling late night shifts while doing maritime security on the oil platforms in the Gulf of Guinea. And so I started writing the stories that became The Long Bar.

My influences are Somerset Maugham for the tropical locales where his stories take place and his subtle sense of irony, Conrad for the dark, introspective ambiance of his works, and of course Hemingway for his brevity and style. Searching for a plot had me hung up but I was determined not to let that stop me, and so the plot became a writer - in a lush tropical locale - struggling with writer's block, and the stories that unfold around him. I set the end of December for a target end date, then got hung up on the final chapter. It was late November and I simply could not get the thing to go down. I'm deployed right now in fact, in the Congo - the setting for Conrad's Heart of Darkness of course - and its been a rough time. This weekend I decided I'd knock out that last chapter come Hell or High Water, and lo and behold I did it.

Nine chapters, between two to three thousand words each, and each one stands alone as a short story on its own merit, but there is an intertwining common theme and they actually play out in a sort of chronological order. The main character owns & operates an unconventional hotel, located on a jungled cliff overlooking the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand. The hotel is actually a series of traditional Thai houses - baan - interconnected by a series of multi-level decks. In the middle of the hotel is a traditional pub: The Long Bar. People come and go, there are some long term residents, events happen and misadventures play out.

The Long Bar is a working title. I'm considering something else, perhaps "Drops of Rain" - inspired by the Highwayman, by Jimmy Webb and performed by The Highwaymen: Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash. A country song about reincarnation that takes one all the way from a highway robber in old England to the captain of a starship, across the Universe Divide. I have always loved that song.

Themes include adventures that start in the here and now and vector off in other-worldly directions, science fiction, Thai animism, Thai Buddhism, Chinese spiritualism and the Hindu view of the Universe. Humans interface with spiritual beings, often without even being aware of it, and karma drives the action to ironic conclusions. Think Somerset Maugham meets The Twilight Zone. Or rather, YOURSELF - meeting ME - in a traditional pub, at an exotic hotel on a jungled cliff overlooking the Andaman Sea, in southern Thailand.

A question now is how to publish? Traditional book route doesn't pay much, versus ebook format. I'm leaning toward the latter. Since I announced my achievement - a complete manuscript - publishing people are coming out of the woodwork. I'm open to any and all suggestions.

For the record. I have written three books, this is the first one that made it all the way to the end. That means there are two other manuscripts - action/adventure in the kind of places my work takes me, with the kind of people I work for and with - so if a publishing house picks me up, they've got at least two more coming down the pipeline. And when you read my book, you'll be reading a book that was written on an oil platform off the coast of Nigeria, in a luxury hotel in Addis Ababa, snowed in a basement in Pennsylvania, and completed on the veranda of an ancient colonial-era hotel in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This is why I've been so quiet, and I thank each and every one of you for your support . . .


Monday, November 16, 2015


Sitting here in a diner in Northern Virginia, just pulled into town yesterday from one of the most exotic lands I've ever had the privilege of visiting . . . Ethiopia . . . only just heard of the Paris attacks after I got off the plane - they happened on my birthday. I'm surrounded by good American people on this autumn Sunday morning, coming from church, having a special morning out, talking about school, sporting events or buying cars; meanwhile I'm trying to figure it all out . . . will it ever be over?. . . There ain't no figuring it out . . . this is War, and War is Hell, and it ain't ever over . . .