We were talking around the coffee table at Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida the other day and Slinky toys came up — and we all started to think about things that we did in the service to get by.

One of the guys brought up that Slinky toys were used in Vietnam as radio antennas when they threw them in the tree branches! Just as a side note: Slinkys receives at a frequency between 7 and 8 megahertz when used over a high branch.

Then one brought up that in Iraq they used Silly String to detect tripwire-activated traps … as a matter of fact: a New Jersey mother organized a drive to send cans of the stuff to Iraq to help our troops detect these bombs. It was a grand effort and very successful — donations not only came from the product corporation (Just for Kicks), but from other companies that manufactured a similar product. Churches also got involved and many others in the community stepped up. Great project that saved the lives of many serving in the Middle East.

I remember here in the Ontario area we also participated in the drive to collect ladies’ stockings and condoms that we included in our boxes of Treats for Our Troops program. These were used on rifle muzzles to keep the sand out! Veteran Advocates of Ore-Ida staff knew that when we sent these items over to our troops, we not only were saving lives but thought that with the goodies we sent and the extra little gifts that protected from the sand also brought smiles when they opened the boxes of care from home.

Our troops were very innovative on the battlefield in war. We heard the stories of our military going into battle with Humvees that were sent to Iraq without proper armor so they bolted scrap metal onto the vehicles to help protect them, eventually we started to send proper equipment after time.

These stories are here to give you a sense of the innovation of our troops in war and the fact that not everything can be anticipated by our government before a troop goes to war. What our troops do in the field is truly on-the-job training, and our government learns from the battlefield of previous wars, making our troops safer as time goes by. At least that is what I would hope.

I don’t know if Silly String is issued or not — but what I do know is it works.

The D-Day invasion in Normandy saw 15,000 paratroopers carrying the little metal Crickets. These were used instead of flashlights to communicate at night. The success of these were short-lived after the Germans caught on to the plan. But they worked enough to contribute to the success of the mission.

I have to admit that our government’s bureaucratic processes used to develop the preparation for war, are reflected in our support system of medical care when troops come home. Also outdated, being entrenched in the same status-quo year after year. Of course, I have all the solutions for streamlining the system, including fewer hands stirring the pot. More efficient and much more reasonable in cost.

I remembered the story of a Marine in Iraq to share:

The Marine got a care package from home and it happened to have some Tampons in it for the women in the outfit. It was a package intended for a female but one of the males got it instead. He grabbed a bunch of stuff from the package and went on a mission in one of the Humvees and the unit was attacked and some were wounded badly … In the fog of war, the Marines needed to stop the bleeding and they thought of the Tampon that the package had and grabbed it to stop the bleeding … It worked and when they got back to get medical attention, they attributed his life saved by the quick thinking of these Marines in using what was on hand at the time.

Back to World War II and Vietnam: Duct tape was first developed by Johnson & Johnson for sealing ammunition cases and later it was used in Vietnam to fix helicopter rotor blades. Now you find it everywhere including on spaceflights in case of emergencies.

“To live a vibrant & purposeful life keep your mind on high alert, eye open & make sure of your target. No one can hit target with closed eye and clouded mind. With open eye one can see things that are invisible & that demands innovation & creativity.” — Dr. Anil Kumar Sinha, director of Central Bureau of Investigation-India

Ronald Verini is a local veterans advocate who writes a weekly column for The Argus Observer. He can be contacted at (541) 889-1978, help@veteranadvocates.org or 180 W. Idaho Ave., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of The Argus Observer.

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