Wednesday, June 19, 2013



An ITT Night Enforcer NEPVS-14 Pinnacle Night Vision MonocularToday, in a Safeway, a man asked me was I a longshoreman. I replied in in the negative, and asked him why he thought I might be. He said it was because of my cap. That caused me to raise an eyebrow: my cap—which is black—features a thermal gun-sight atop a rifle, and suggests that, if anything, I was a sniper. It also bears the name: MAGNAVOX.

I still have no idea why he thought I was a longshoreman.

The cap, nearly twenty years old, has a history. It was given to me by a friend of mine, John Looby, who was heavily involved with thermal gun sights at the time.

At the time in question, we were both attending an exhibition of military equipment near Fort Bragg—if memory serves—so we were mixing with some very wild people. In fact, that is the only occasion when I can recall the motley crew I was drinking with actually diving head first through our vehicle windows. Fortunately, they were open. They were 82nd Airborne or Special Forces—and the word ‘wild’ does not adequately describe them. All I recall is having a great deal of fun—and then darkness descended.

The following day I found that I had one of the worse hangovers I can ever recall—and that John, who was in no better condition than I was, had picked me to do a demonstration shoot. To make matters worse, the rifle I was shooting was connected to a TV screen, so that every hangover induced shake or twitch was magnified  on the big screens. Fortunately, most of my audience—about 40 strong—were in no better condition than I was.

Looby, I am delighted to say, opened the demonstration—and then missed his target. I hit mine largely because it would have been very hard to miss. The damn thing was close, I was sitting down with my rifle cushioned by a sandbag, and Magnavox’s thermal sight made my target crystal clear. Mind you, I could have shot perfectly well without it. The sun was shining. It was a perfect day.

I have had some wild times while researching—and many adventures—but, you know, nothing beats the actual writing.

I seem to have fallen out of touch with Looby. I regret that. He is a good friend—and a wonderful man.

NOTE: The illustration is not of a Magnavox. It is just to give you the genera idea. That said, this is extraordinarily technology. It allows you to shoot though fog, or smoke, or rain, or complete darkness—providing you can can detect the heat that emanates from your target.

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