“A Bo Randall Special” Tanka 2255

(February 4, 2019)

Major – mustanger

’cause he was old and crusty –

pointed to my knife

“randall” he mouthed over the din

he caught my nod – and grinned*

*(Even hidden behind a leather sheath, a Randall hand-made knife out of Orlando draws attention and from those who know a smile and a thumbs-up. How Storm Richards found the Randall knifeworks down in South Orlando I never knew nor asked, but he did say the knife he handed me at my boot camp graduation from Parris Island, South Carolina November 22, 1967 was “because Old Man (Bo) Randall and I got along and when I told him you were in boot camp, he said: ‘I can make an exception’ and my 7-3/4-inch Bowie-style fightin’ knife came off the line just in time. Any time I wore that on my web belt or in the suspender-strap quick-release version it drew nods. In 1970, and being attached to a REMF outfit like Headquarters Company, Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Reinf), Fleet Marine Force Pacific in The Republic of Vietnam’s I (pronounced EYE) Corps it drew attention. Getting an M-16 bayonet issued so far from The Grunts was hopeless. But I had my Randall. Only twice did I offer a close-handed “look” when asked “Is that a Randall?” was when I saw my interlocutor with a similar edge on his belt. By then my boots had been worn white and my jungle “utes” (utilities – Army calls them fatigues for some reason) were faded with salt-rimes and a few rips and I was no longer an unlean 186 pounds and now a svelte 140 or less did I find another Randall worn upside down, this time across the chest in its own strap. That First Recon Battalion Marine getting ready to board his chopper headed out on a mission with his team just grinned. He didn’t need to know from me what was on my chest. I remain so grateful it’s only “action” came when there was a can to be opened or a thick wait-a-minute vine the machete-wielders missed. Mister Randall is gone but his family still finds time to make some of the finest cutlery known to man.)

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