Sunday, January 15, 2017


I'm very excited to have finally taken ownership of the WWII USMC inspired Service Boots by Ranch Road Boots. I've had the chance to wear them for about a solid and and although it's still early to provide a real review, I can already tell these are going fit in really well with my other favorite high-end laceup boots.

Check for my reveiw in the next day or so.

Monday, January 9, 2017


Today I reached another milestone in my Marine Corps Career. On January 9, 1995, I, along with over sixty other unsuspecting young men from various states west of the Mississippi River set out on a grueling twelve-week journey aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. This life-changing journey would test every bit of our mental and physical strengths and abilities in an effort to try and earn the title, “United States Marine.”

So much has happened over these past twenty-two years, yet it seems like just yesterday I was standing fire watch in the middle of the night for my Platoon 1089, Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion; My Senior Drill Instructor Staff Sergeant Smith leading us from the front.

Like that time in 1997 when my unit, MAG-12, and squadron, VMFA(AW)-242 were stuck an extra two weeks in RAAF Base Tindal in Kathryn Australia, because our airlift support was pulled for a higher mission. Then one day, I was given a single C-5 Globemaster to redeploy our personnel and equipment to Japan. As a young Corporal 0431 providing the life support and orchestrating the entire retrograde, I counted this as my first career high and still reflect on how challenging that was. There was nothing that could stop me from that point on.

Or that time back in 2000 when I was serving as the Embarkation Chief for the 5th Marine Regiment – the most highly decorated regiment in the Marine Corps – and I was selected to become a Marine Recruiter. The regiment went on to play a vital role in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. This around the time I would still have been with the unit, but instead I was fighting my own “thirty-six one month battles” on the Homefront as a recruiter in Los Angeles.

In 2006, I finally got to do what most people join the Marines for. I deployed to Iraq with the newly-redesignated 1st Marine Logistics Group (formerly the 1st FSSG). During the six-month deployment, I served as the Combat Operations Center Senior Watch Chief.

 In 2008, I found myself back in Camp Al Taqaddum In the Al Anbar Province serving again as the COC Senior Watch Chief and G-3 Chief. This deployment lasted thirteen months.

Right before our convoy to Fallujah

"Dark Tower," Camp Al Taqaddum

In 2010, I was deployed to another combat zone for a third time. Camp Leatherneck was my home for six months where I served as the Detachment Staff Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge of ninety Marines.

Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan

KC-130 with my travel guitar, Afghanistan

In 2014, I switched gears and served as the Senior Combat Cargo Assistant to CWO3 Gistarb onboard the now decommissioned USS Peleliu. I was promoted to the last and final rank within the enlisted rank structure – Master Gunnery Sergeant (E-9) – in February 2015. There’s no telling where my next orders will take me after my job as the G-4 Chief for Marine Forces Reserve, but I know I won’t have anything to worry about as long as I have Jillian by my side supporting me these next and final eight years.

USS Peleliu




I'm back!! It's a new year and so I made a resolution to get back to doing what I really enjoy -- handcrafting custom leather goods. I've made belts, wallets, bags, etc., but I recently discovered a fondness for NATO watch straps.

My first creation was a strap made with Natural Horween CXL that needed a little tweaking and the second was a black Horween CXL strap that, with one last tweak of the patters, was finalized using a Horween Horsehide CXL strap.

I'm currently working on a website, but If you're looking for a custom VEB Leather piece, feel free to contact me at email:

Check out other items I've created over the years.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


I began my Top 3 List of Classic-Style Engineer Boot Brands back in 2014 and for those familiar with my blog, this year's list may come as no surprise -- I did however make this year's list a Top 4.

Why the same boots year after year, you ask? The reason for my redundancy is that I find these to be the best available on today's market and as a creature of habit I continue to find myself purchasing the same brands (tried and tested) when new colors or even options are released. Brian of Role Club doesn't make matters any easier with his ability to take my favorite boot to a whole 'nother level.

2014 List        2015 List

For 2017, I plan on branching out. I have a couple of brands in mind, but if the below list of brands (in no particular order, by-the-way) come out with something new ... all bets are off ;)

Mister Freedom® Road Champ Boots in black cowhide

Model: Road Champ
Price: $949.95
Colors: Brown, Black
Sizes: 7-12
Released: 2009

Attractions Co., Ltd. in Horse Butt

Lot 268 (Horse Butt) ¥84,240
Lot 269 (Steerhide) ¥73,440
Lot 444 (Horse Butt in Black, Brown, Brown/Black, Brown/Cream) ¥86,184
Sizes: 6-11(D)
Lot 329 (Suede Black, Black) ¥73,440
Released: August 2014

John Lofgren in Natural Horween CXL

Price: ¥107,784 - ¥118,584

Colors: Horween CXL in Black, Brown and Natural, Cognac (Badalassi), Sand (Suede)
Sizes: 6-12
Released: 2012

Role Club in Horween CXL Horsehide with custom stud work by me

Price: Custom made, so prices vary
Colors: Custom
Sizes: Custom
Released: 2014


Tuesday, December 27, 2016


My harsh reality when it comes to owning a grizzly jacket is that, like most of the things in my wardrobe, I  won't be able to wear it as much as I would like.

Being in the military and traveling to regions of the world that aren't so heavy jacket-friendly (e.g., Southern California, Iwakuni, Okinawa, New Orleans, Iraq, Afghanistan) for the past twenty-two years I've been forced to avoid spending money on some really cool vintage/reproduction workwear clothing. A grizzly is one of these items.

The following are some jackets I've been eyeballing.
Source: Mirror Ball

I came across this awesome sweater a couple of years back and they were all but sold out. Then a photo recently popped up on my Instagram popular feed, so I performed a search and they are BACK!

At only around $180, this grizzly sweater by Mattson's remains one of my favorites.

Source: RRL

I'm really digging this denim grizzly hybrid by RRL. A little pricey at just under $700, but still a really nice piece. 


At $425, this N1 Deck Jacket hybrid by Roll of Tokyo is tailored towards a variety of collectors.

There are certainly more options out there, but these are the three that currently have my attention. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Merry Christmas to everyone!! Here's to a safe and happy holiday.

Let us not forget the men and women of our Armed Forces forward deployed and away from their family and friends.

Having spent Christmas deployed both to Iraq and Afghanistan, I can say some of the best, moral-boosting moments are when I received cards, letters or gifts from family and friends during the holidays.

Semper Fidelis!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Here's what ten pounds looks like. It's been ages since I last flew out of LAX and let me tell you, that place SUX! After figuring out the line situation amongst all the chaos, it was announced I was ten pounds over my checked-bag weight limit. I told the gentleman I'd pay whatever the cost, but quickly opted to lighten my load after he explained that I'd have to stand in a whole new mile-long serpentined line to pay.

 It took no more than a few minutes to figure out what items weighed the most and could fit in my carry-on. I was back on track in no time

Monday, December 19, 2016


Zsa Zsa Gabor
February 6, 1917 – December 18, 2016 (99)

The former Miss Hungary of 1936 was always willing to sacrifice her time to go overseas with Bob Hope to entertain American troops. During these USO tours, Bob would ask Zsa Zsa if she had any domestic skills at tall to which she would answer, "Of course, Robert darling, I'm a great housekeeper. Every time I get divorced, I keep the house."
Zsa Zsa at the Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, 
Cuba entertaining the troops on behalf the USO

Sunday, December 18, 2016


"Karl's Kustom"

Georgia Manufacturing Company, Incorporated has been producing quality, affordably-priced work boots since their founding in Atlanta, Georgia in the late 1930's. Most notably, the company provided footwear to US troops since WWII.

Check out the entire Lexicon Series

Like many of the big name shoe and boot manufacturers of the early days, Georgia supplied their goods to smaller companies often rebranded with slight modifications like stitching or the like exclusive to the company ... if cost wasn't affected. In the case of these 1950's Karl's Kustom Engineer Boots sold by my buddy Warren, not much else was changed other than the name -- one can easily see these are made by Georgia.

Brand: Karl's Kustom by Georgia Mfg. Co., Inc.
Size: Marked 9 1/2E
Price: $1,500

As usual, thanks for the blog contribution, Warren!!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016


We're all pretty familiar with his amazing photography work under Bandit Photographer but what some may not know is that Cory has been shooting some of the biggest name brands for the better part of fourteen years. 

I love how he captures such emotional content through his incredible command of exceptional photography skills. 

Check out his work at

As a longtime fan of Cory's incredible and unparalleled work, it was a pleasure to finally meet and hang out with him recently while in Palm Springs.

You can dive deeper into Cory's work via his archived blog.

Friday, December 9, 2016


In case you didn't hear, Standard & Strange (the ONLY U.S. retailer of this model) have restocked the Red Wing Heritage 2966  When this batch is gone, they're gone for 6-8 months until RWH makes them a new bunch. Larger sizes also coming down the pipeline soon.

Monday, December 5, 2016


A letter written by General Mattis and distributed to every member of the 1st Marine Division a day before the beginning of the 2003 Iraq war.