I grew up reading Soldier of Fortune magazine, which probably doesn’t surprise anyone who knows me. The stories about Special Forces soldiers in Vietnam and mercs rolling around El Salvador made an impression on me, along with all the books I read about LRRP/Rangers, SEALs, MACV-SOG, and other American men who fought and died in the Vietnam War. When I graduated High School I knew I had to join the military and try to get into one of these units. I at least partially blame Bob Brown for this.
Brown has always been one of the more controversial figures in the Special Operations community. As the publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine, he has been something of a lighting rod for both the left and right wing of the political spectrum. The magazine, which has always been unapologetically pro-military and anti-communist, tells the stories of military veterans and mercenaries in combat. Sometimes SOF magazine gets labeled as war porn. Others have derided it as “Soldier of Fiction”.
However, I ask people to remember one simple fact. Bob Brown was out there talking about our brave soldiers who served in Vietnam way, way before anyone else was. Back when he first started the magazine, NO ONE wanted to talk about Vietnam. Bob gave veterans a place to tell their stories and give them the credit that they rightly deserved for beating back the communist menace in South East Asia.
I must say that as I got older I also drifted away from Soldier of Fortune magazine, probably because I was serving in Special Operations myself at the time. Although I did pick up issues now and then, especially when Bob published stuff about Rhodesia and South Africa, which remain somewhat obscure conflicts in the canon of Special Operations history.