Even when soldiers are not deployed, many of them spend weeks and months of training in the field every year. Unexpected things come up all of the time. A pocket knife may turn out to be a life-saver. An old-fashioned deck of cards might be the best form of entertainment within 100 miles. And in these modern times, a solar-powered cell phone recharger might allow them to stay in contact with home.
Soldiers are busy people, whether they are on deployment, out in the field training or back in garrison. And there’s downtime too; time when a soldier can sit back, relax and wait until the next work day or mission comes along.
With the holidays in full swing, here is a list 10 gift ideas for the soldier in your life:
Solar-powered battery recharger: $30
This handy tool could really be of use to a soldier in the field who hasn’t seen a power outlet in days. The “Revive Solar Restore USB Solar Battery Pack” uses the power of the sun to recharge cell phones, MP3 players, tablets, Bluetooth devices and more. It works on pretty much every major brand, including Apple, Sony, HTC and others. It also comes with a handy LED flashlight, AC adapter, MicroUSB and MiniUSB charging cables.
GoPro Black edition camera: $400
For the soldier who wants to capture his or her rugged experiences at home or abroad, the top-of-the-line camera/video recorder is the GoPro Hero 3: Black Edition. Advertised as the “world’s most versatile camera” by its maker, the GoPro is water proof and comes with accessories to mount it on a helmet or other device. It’s commonly used by surfers, motorcycle riders and adrenaline junkies. It can take images above or under the water. It comes with a remote control to start and stop recording. Older editions of the camera can be found starting at $200.
“Living with Honor”: $26
Former Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta was the first living person to be awarded the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. He got out of the Army last year, and has written a book about the experience that earned him the nation’s highest award for valor. “Living with Honor” was released Tuesday and is 304 pages. It is available at bookstores, online and in e-book version. And guess what? Giunta will at Fort Hood this month signing copies of the book. He is scheduled to be at Clear Creek Main Exchange from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 21.
Zippo hand warmer: $20
Hey, it gets cold … even in Texas. Soldiers can be pretty creative when it comes to warming up on those cold nights in the field. Just ask any tanker. Make it a little easier for them with this handy Zippo hand warmer. Better known for lighters, Zippo also makes chrome hand warmers that can easily fit into a pocket. According to Zippo, the fuel-burning warmers are virtually odorless and stay warm for up to 12 hours. The device also comes with a filler cup and warming bag, and operates on lighter fluid.
Camper wristwatch: $38
Wake-up time: 0500. Chow time: 0600. Formation time: 0900. Whether your soldier is in the field or in garrison, he or she can stay on schedule with this camper watch from Timex, which displays numbers for both military and civilian time. It is also water resistant.
Victorinox Swiss Soldier’s Knife: $68
A good pocket knife might be a soldier’s best friend in the field. According to famous knife-tool maker Victorinox, this handy pocketknife has been standard issue to the Swiss Army since 1891. The “Soldier Knife” is designed with 10 implements and an “ergonomic dual density handle for maximum usability and comfort,” according to the maker. Each Soldier’s Swiss Army Knife has the year of production etched on the shank of the blade. The knife has also been awarded the Seal of Approval from the North American Hunting Club, according to Victorinox.
1st Cavalry Division wall clock: $25
Give the gift of time — 1st Cavalry style. The website zazzle.com carries a variety of wall clocks with different styles and Army patches. It’s also possible to customize the clocks with a personal image.
Autoseal West Loop stainless steel travel mug — 20 ounces: $25.
It’s a bit pricey for a travel mug, but for the soldier in the field, it could mean hot coffee — and that’s a luxury. This 100 percent spill proof mug has a double wall, is vacuum-insulated and keeps beverages hot for six hours or cold for 20 hours, according to the manufacturer, Contigo. Not bad on your way to work, either.
Camo playing cards: $5
What soldier hasn’t played a few games of cards during a deployment or during some downtime in the field?
The game of spades may be the unofficial pastime of soldiers in the field. Decks come in all kinds of designs these days, including the digital camouflage of the Army Combat Uniform.
“The Beast” on DVD: $10
It may not be easy to find, but the 1988 movie “The Beast” is commonly described by Army tankers as the greatest tank movie ever made. Here’s the description: “A young Russian soldier is torn between conscience and country when Russian tanks invade Afghanistan. After being left for dead by his commander, he joins the rebels as they attack the Russian invaders.” Among the actors are Jason Patric and Stephen Baldwin. It is 110 minutes and rated R.