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Fuller Phoenix AK and The Silent Warrior Foundation

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With the market losing their collective minds over all things Russian, ammunition or firearms-related, we had a serendipitous opportunity to take a look at a classically styled AK from Jim Fuller at Fuller Phoenix, which he built for a great cause: the Silent Warrior Foundation.

[Photos by Tom Marshall and Fuller Phoenix]

From Jim:

“What we have is a custom-built Type 3 AK47, The Russian spec milled receiver was donated by Ben at Tortort Manufacturing, most of the parts are Bulgarian from Jim Fuller’s personal stash of quality parts, the barrel is Polish Cold Hammer Forged. The pistol grip and handguard are Russian and were given to Jim by Dmitry Yearmak former Russian Navy Spetsnaz operator, when Dmitry gave them to Jim he told him to “do something cool with them”, we all think this is a pretty cool use for them, they are finished in 15 coats of Tung Oil. The metal is CeraKote E100 Black. Laser engraving was donated by our friends at Ronin Arms. This gun was built and test-fired personally by Jim Fuller and comes with a certificate of authenticity.”

Jim fuller Whiskey and War Stories AK

Equally as interesting as where this rifle came from is where it went – to a charity auction recently held by the Silent Warrior Foundation at their annual Whiskey & War Stories™ event. Silent Warrior started as a charity specific to Force Reconnaissance Marines but has since expanded into the larger Special Operations Forces realm. Several years ago, they started an annual fundraiser event called Whiskey & War Stories. The idea was to bring together veterans of well-known operations and, over whiskey and dinner, give them the opportunity to share their stories and connect directly with those who volunteer or donate on their behalf. We had the privilege of attending their most recent event, which was centered around Operation: Eagle Claw (OEC). For the unfamiliar, OEC was the attempt to rescue American hostages from the captured US Embassy in Iran in 1980. It was one of the first (if not the first) full-scale operation taken on by then-fledging Detachment Delta (Delta Force). Present at the Silent Warrior event were several Delta veterans of the operation, as well as two Marines who were working as Embassy Guards when the embassy fell, leaving them as hostages in Tehran for 444 days.

Silent Warrior Foundation Operation Eagle Claw Whiskey and War Stories

In addition to the servicemembers themselves, there was also some actual and replica equipment on display from the mission. Especially interesting pieces of equipment included a suppressed M3 Grease Gun as was carried by most of the Delta operators on the mission as well as one of the heavily-modified M65 Field Jackets worn in an attempt to blend in with the civilian populace while also carrying all necessary equipment. Black, baggy jackets were a growing fashion trend in 1980 Tehran. But the fashion-forward outerwear of the time did not have enough load carriage for the assault team to carry all their required gear. So the team acquired Vietnam-era M65 jackets, which came only in OD green, and dyed them black to blend in. Each assaulter also modified their jackets with additional pockets for specific items like maps, E&E kits, and night vision devices.

The volunteers at Silent Warrior Foundation, with some help from a couple of industry partners, were able to get their hands on three separate samples of these jackets worn by actual assault force participants. They then sourced reproduction M65 field jackets, dyed them black, and added the extra pockets to create 1-to-1 scale faithful reproductions of Delta rescue force operator field jackets. These homemade repros were then auctioned off at the Whiskey & War Stories™ event, along with a slew of other donated items including the aforementioned Type 3 AK from Fuller Phoenix and a commemorative 1911 with custom engraving that includes a magazine engraved with the names of those lost on the mission.

There are myriad veterans, and Special Operations specific, charities out there. Aside from the deeply personal connections to specific missions offered by Whiskey & War Stories™, we were also intrigued by the specific places that Silent Warrior Foundation has chosen to spend its money. One is on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, which involves regular sessions in an FDA-grade hyperbaric chamber, allowing veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI to receive greatly increased flow of oxygen to parts of their brains that may have been damaged by psychological or physical trauma. The results so far have included improved mood, increased function, and higher levels of emotional stability. It was something that we had to actually research further after hearing about at this event. It’s another great example of an unorthodox therapy that’s helping vastly improved the lives of veterans who suffer as a direct result of combat-related trauma or injuries.

whiskey and war stories silent warrior foundation

The other effort that the Silent Warrior Foundation has embraced whole-heartedly is providing service dogs for veterans. Anyone who’s ever owned or interacted with a dog probably has some notion of the emotional benefits of canine companionship. But Homefront K9 Project is an organization that aims to provide highly-trained working dogs directly to veteran families. Started by former SEAL Rich Graham, Homefront raises and trains high-pedigree dogs (mostly Shepherds and Malinois) that are then gifted to vets who need emotional support beyond what they get sitting on a professional’s big green couch.

silent warrior foundation display

Especially now, as many veterans are struggling intensely with the emotional toll of watching our hurried evacuation of Afghanistan, and that country’s fall to an enemy we invested 20 years and 2,500 lives fighting, we urge you to seek out opportunities to give back to the veteran community through time, money or emotional support. The Silent Warrior Foundation would be an excellent place to start, and we look forward to seeing more from their unique Whiskey & War Stories™ series of events.

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