Marine Vet Michael Pitre Wrote a Novel & It’s Great

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Fives and Twenty-Fives tells the story a USMC Road Repair Platoon in Al Anbar Province in Iraq. Pitre explores his characters’ post-war lives and flashes back to their time in Iraq. The author was a creative writing major at LSU before he joined the Marines after 9/11 and it’s obvious he took a lot of notes during his service. The scenes set in Iraq are full of telling details and he does a great job of capturing the camaraderie of his characters and both the tedium and critical danger in the job they perform.

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What’s the title mean? Here’s the description from the book’s web site.

It’s the rule—always watch your fives and twenty-fives. When a convoy halts to investigate a possible roadside bomb, stay in the vehicle and scan five meters in every direction. A bomb inside five meters cuts through the armor, killing everyone in the truck. Once clear, get out and sweep twenty-five meters. A bomb inside twenty-five meters kills the dismounted scouts investigating the road ahead.

Pitre manages to write serious fiction in a style that should be accessible to everyone. This is a well-written book that should appeal to people who don’t read all the time. I expect we’ll see a movie based on the book in a couple of years and it won’t be a surprise if this turns up on the best-seller lists. Fives and Twenty-Fives is a must-read for anyone who reads war fiction and maybe even for anyone who’s served in Iraq or Afghanistan over the last thirteen years.

Get Loud with the Big Turtle Shell

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Outdoor Technology had a successful Kickstarter campaign for their Big Turtle Shell wireless speaker and now it’s shipping for $229.95. A much larger version of the excellent Turtle Shell 2.o speaker, the extra size brings some new capabilities and a lot more power. +Continue Reading

Show Your Colors With SkinIt Military Skins & Cases

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SkinIt makes vinyl, removable device skins and hard cases for almost any phone, tablet or game console. They’ve got a line of military-themed skins available for iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets, Mac and PC laptops, Kindles, iPods, Xbox, PlayStation, GoPro cameras and there are even skins for Beats headphones and LifeProof and Otterbox phone cases.

The hard cases come for most popular phones and tablets. While you can get designs featuring almost any college or pro sports team, DC Comics characters, Hello Kitty, Looney Tunes cartoon characters and a wide assortment of patterns and images, we’re looking at the military designs feature the Army, Navy and Air Force, along with some more generalized patriotic themes. (Cue our USMC readers noting that the Marines don’t need any licensed merchandise to know they’re special.)

We checked out  a Navy SEALs vinyl iPad skin and an Army iPhone case. +Continue Reading

Organize Your Travel With TripCase

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TripCase is an iPhone and Android app designed to manage your travel itineraries. It’s made by Sabre, the company that built some of the first booking software for the airline industry and still a major player in the field.

I’ve been testing the software since January and it’s taken a while to figure out what to say about TripCase. That’s mostly because I’ve been a longtime user of TripIt, a service that’s almost identical to TripCase. I’ve never had anything to complain about with TripIt, but I’ve finally decided that I’m switching to TripCase.

Most of the credit has to go to the software, but TripCase also has excellent PR support from Marine veteran Dave Hochman (’92–98 0352 with 8th Tank Bn) who’s been remarkably patient and persistent and answered some possibly dumb questions from me.

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420 Audio Speaker: Legal in All 50 States

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Why do posts about weed get so many clicks at Military​.com? Is it an old-school Vietnam-era obsession with the way hippies are ruining America or is it just a sign of the mainstreaming of marijuana in our country.

One casualty of the seemingly inevitable end to pot prohibition will be the kind of immature weed humor promoted by the 420 Audio High-Fi Wireless Speaker (“High” Fi? That’s hilarious). This $49.99 list Bluetooth speaker delivers a lot of volume from a small (3″ tall/2 1/4″ diameter) cylinder and features some 420-themed sounds when you turn on, connect and power down the speakers. +Continue Reading

‘Wounded: The Battle Back Home’ — Jessica

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The Wounded Warrior Project is marking its tenth anniversary with a new documentary series called Wounded: The Battle Back HomeThe series continues with Air Force veteran Jessica Coulter.  +Continue Reading

Lost in the Desert With ‘Swelter’

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Swelter sounded like a great idea: Vegas casino heist goes wrong, everyone goes to prison except for the guy who gets shot in the head, gang gets out of prison and reunites to track down the guy they believe still has the money. Except he doesn’t remember anything because of that headshot and now he’s the sheriff in a small desert town. +Continue Reading

Josh Kelly Talks ‘Jarhead 2: Field of Fire’

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Josh Kelly is a veteran who served three tours as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. He’s also the star of Jarhead 2: Field of Fire, a new movie (out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital) that’s a sequel-of-sorts to the 2005 movie that’s grown in popularity since its initial release.

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The Gravitas Dock Gets a Lot Better

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We really liked the Henge Gravitas iPhone/iPad Dock in our May review but lamented the fact that it wouldn’t work if you used a case for your iPhone. Henge has released an iPhone case compatible insert that sells for $9. They’ve also dropped the price on the dock itself and now the Lightning connector version sells for $69 and the 30-pin version goes for $49. +Continue Reading

A New Sherlock Holmes Adventure from World War I

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective character is mostly in the public domain now, meaning that anyone should be free to create new tales starring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. Novelist George Mann has just published The Spirit Box, a new adventure set in 1915 during the Great War. We’ve got an exclusive excerpt. +Continue Reading