02 December 2009
A Randall Knife
Not everyman owns a Randall.
The Randall has a mysterious aura. It figures large in the Special Forces community. Stories surrounding the knife are not stories but legends. Mine sits quietly in the top drawer of my nightstand nestled among many pair of tube socks.
My father gave me this knife when I joined the Army and contracted for his old unit, 7th Special Forces Group. The recognition of some words move me. Randall, 7th Special Forces Group, Ft. Bragg, Green Beret, USAIMA and Rolex...I respond to these words.
The knife was presented to my father after serving as an advisor to a National Guard unit. The assignment was a 'cooling off' period and a deserved rest after his tour in Vietnam with 5th SF Group in the Central Highlands. I remember him sharpening it on an oiled whetstone. The scraping was in time to the iambic pentameter of Green Acres; his favorite television show.
Less than eight years later he gifted me the Randall after I joined. The knife received a custom handle made from green suspension (parachute) cord with blue filament accents. I was shown how to do this by one of the craftier paratroopers in my unit. Just like taping a tennis racket handle although I doubt that guy played much tennis.
A grizzled Sergeant Major asked to see the Randall during an FTX. I handed the seven and half inch attack / survival knife over. He squinted at the inscription to my father on the blade and asked, "You're father a short guy with a crew cut and a chest like an oil barrel?" The Sergeant Major turned out to be my father's A Team Medic in Vietnam and when I returned to Bragg he dug up a few of my father's team members and made sure they met me.
I got out of the Army and took the Randall to a college dorm room for four years. One night I woke up to hacking at my window screen with what looked to be an exacto knife. I quietly took the Randall out of a drawer, slipped the knife out of the sheath and held it to the screen. The hacking stopped and I heard footsteps running. I never did figure that one out. I guessed it was a pissed off graphic design major but who knows.
Eventually the suspension cord handle unwound and the handle cap disappeared but it's followed me all these years and never do I look at it without some wonder and always that question, "Why is it mine." I've had it for 33 years and I still wonder when he's going to ask for it back.