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190211 February 11, 2019


My Most Memorable Knives

Michael Griffith

LHS ‘66 

     I enjoyed Craig Bannecke’s article entitled “Men Who Carry a Pocket Knife.” I also carry a pocket knife and hardly remember when I did not. My father, grandfather and most of my uncles were hunters and fishermen. My father kept shotguns in our hall closet, and per his instruction, no one could touch them without his permission and supervision. I have always used gun safes and lock boxes to secure anything that I thought might entice my children or grandchildren, but my father’s admonishment was enough back then. 

    Like Craig, I grew up when / where guns and knives were used for sport and food. I always had a small pen knife for utilitarian reasons. Today, I carry a small Swiss Army Knife that I find useful many times each day. My most memorable connection of a knife comes from when I was in the Army. I served two tours in Vietnam, and in addition to an M16 and .45cal pistol, I had a K-BAR knife. The only problem was that I had no way to sharpen it. I wrote to my father and asked him to send me something. A few weeks later I received a package containing a whetstone and a small container of oil. He knew just what I needed, and I had no problem keeping the knife sharp after that.

    As to the question asked at the end of last week’s article, both my wife and I have “carry permits.” I very rarely carry, and my wife never does, but we do have ready gun safes near our bed and near my easy chair in the den. The only time we ever take the pistols out is when we go to the indoor range near us.

I Carried a Switchblade for 20 Years
As Required by the Air Force
Tommy Towery
LHS ‘64

    In all this talk between us guys about our knives, I would like to add one more itemto the discussion. Back when we were in school, only hoods carried switchblade knives. I knew one hood in our time that carried a hook bill (linoleum cutter) knife instead of a switchblade.
    So, when I joined the Air Force I was a little surprised that one of the flight crew items I was issued and required to wear in a small leg pocket in my flight suit was a bright orange switchblade knife. It was a required piece of equipment I was required to have on me for the full 20 years I was on flight status.

    The knife had a regular blade that was activated when you pressed the button on the side of the knife, and also a peculiar rounded hook blade as well. The knife was secured to my flight suit by a long piece of nylon string, one end tied to a loop in the small pocket of the flight suit and the other to the knife.

    The reason it was carried was to give me the ability to cut some of the lines of my parachute should I ever have to eject or bail out of the aircraft in which I was flying. Sometime after World War II some engineer was looking for a way to stop the escaping air from the nylon parachute from creating the oscillating parachute during descent. He came up with the idea that if you cut the four back cords after the chute had sucessfully deployed, it let the air escape in a way that stopped the oscillation and made the chute steerable. It would be unsafe to make the parachute without the four cords to begin with because of the risk of overstressing the other paracords during opening. So, the curved hook end was designed to easily wrap around the cords and cut them one by one with a quick tug. The other blade, the switchblade was both a backup way to cut cords and also could be used as a survival tool once you were on the ground. The string was to keep the knife from accidentally being dropped during the pacnic expected after leaving a disabled plane.

    Only flight crews were issued the knives, and they were only to be carried during flight duty; however, it was common practice to have them in the leg pocket of the flight suit any time it was worn, either for office duty or flight duty.

    Upon the end of one’s flight duty either by seperation or retirement, the were required to be handed in, but some did not.

        Memphis, TN - Thanks to Michael for adding to our stories about knives. Again, I encourage any of you who are tired of reading about knives to send me an email and start a new topic. I am sure the younger generation would not understand the idea of a non-criminal carrying a knife around with him at all times. How about it female classmates, do any of you carry a knife? I am sure that some carry pepper spray, and I do not ask you to give away your secret, but there is a differnce in a self-protection item such as a gun or pepper spray and the utilitarian tool of a good ole pocket knife.