As a Marine Grunt we couldn't just go to supply and get what we needed, often we went without (or with a mile of riggers tape and ziptie's). But when my buddies, who were 0321's (Recon) and 8541's (Scout Snipers) started working retail for John Willis, we realized the untapped resource that it was and its potential.
We could waste precious libo hours searching for overpriced foreign shit, if not making ourselves, or we could drop by that shop with all the netting and POW flag and find what we needed. Before long they were running SOE modded Mountain Rucks, drag bag's, patrol vests, and ghillie bases.
To this day, pictures of these same buddies are used in advertisements for both SOE and Strider Knives. If John didn't have it, and if I could draw it, he could make it. One day I jumped off of the M305 troop transport (bus) and walked in to ask about watch bands. 40 minutes later I had a tow strap holding my Gshock to my wrist. That man sold me then and there... Seven, almost eight years later and it has stood the test that is my existence.
On deployment, we were issued pistols. Something we were ill prepared for. I walked down to the Recon berthing and talked to their "in house" SOE rep and two weeks later he walks up and hands me a SOE manbag/discrete case, that was hardy enough to carry the M9, but also 200rds of ammo and a me-sized E Rat. John Willis is a wizard with a needle and thread. He will never sacrifice quality for quantity. Even though an item might be in stock, it was crafted for that custom, walk-in shopper who just stepped off of the M305 troop transport.
- Chad, a soggy wet boat company grunt, USMC