The Greatest Mercenary Magazine Of All Time Is Folding


When former Green Beret Robert K. Brown founded Soldier of Fortune in 1975, he had one very specific audience in mind: G.I.s who had returned from Vietnam only to realize that they felt more at home on the battlefield than they did in a society that widely shunned the war they represented.

“A lot of Vietnam veterans felt they weren’t given their due, so I wanted to promote the concept of giving them recognition,” Brown, 83, told Maxim in a recent interview. “We said our blood was just as red as anyone who fought in WWI or WWII or Korea, but that wasn’t the case in society at the time.”

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Brown, who retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel, was wounded in a mortar attack while serving with Special Forces in the central highlands of Vietnam in 1969. But it wouldn’t be the last time the scrappy Michigan-native saw combat.

As the editor of Soldier of Fortune, Brown traveled the globe pursuing what he appropriately dubbed “hardcore participatory journalism,” which often placed him and the freelance writers he employed (usually actual mercenaries) at the chaotic center of the stories they covered.

Related: Vets Who Want To Fight ISIS Can Learn From Old Fights In The African Bush »

“We would create the story, gin up a lot of action, and then write about it for the glistening pages of our bad-boy magazine,” Brown explained in his 2013 memoir, “I Am Soldier of Fortune: Dancing with Devils.”

Six correspondents have been killed while on assignment for Soldier of Fortune in places like Burma, Angola, Nicaragua, and Sierra Leone, according to Maxim.

Soldier of Fortune’s readership reached its peak in the 1980s, when it had a print circulation of about 150,000. At the time, the magazine was notorious for its classifieds section, which advertised everything from tactical manuals and weaponry, to real-life guns for hire.

The families of several people allegedly killed by Soldier of Fortune hitmen famously sued the magazine in the mid-80s.

The magazine’s readership has dwindled significantly since its Reagan-era heyday. In April 2016, the magazine will fold its print edition, but will continue producing content for its website,, according to The Wall Street Journal. The WSJ partly attributes the decline in readership to the aging Vietnam Veteran population.  

“We couldn’t cut a deal to sell just the print edition,” Brown told the WSJ. “We want to keep the brand going so we are transitioning entirely to the internet.” He added: “After we went to press with the last issue, it was like a humongous rock lifted off my back that I had been unaware of until it was removed.”

Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric A. Clement
(U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Oscar L Olive IV)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Several members of the Marine Corps' famous Silent Drill Platoon were kicked out of the service or punished by their command after someone reported witnessing them using a training rifle to strike someone.

Three Marines have been discharged in the last 60 days and two others lost a rank after the Naval Criminal Investigative Service began looking into hazing allegations inside the revered unit that performs at public events around the world.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Keion Jackson).

The U.S. military will build 'facilities' to house at least 7,500 adult migrants, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to construct the facilities, said Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Chris Mitchell.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur.)

Defense officials will brief President Donald Trump's national security team on a plan that involves sending 5,000 more troops to the Middle East to deter Iran, Task & Purpose has learned.

So far, no decisions have been made about whether to send the reinforcements to the region, unnamed U.S. officials told CNN's Barbara Starr.

"The military capabilities being discussed include sending additional ballistic missile defense systems, Tomahawk cruise missiles on submarines, and surface ships with land attack capabilities for striking at a long range," CNN reports. "Specific weapons systems and units have not been identified."

Read More Show Less

The thousands of sailors, Coasties and Marines who descend on New York City every year for Fleet Week are an awesome sight to behold on their own, but this year's confab of U.S. service members includes a uniquely powerful homecoming as well.

Read More Show Less

When an Air Force major called J.J. completed a solo flight in the U-2 in late August 2016 — 60 years after the high-flying aircraft was introduced — he became the 1,000th pilot to do so.

J.J., whose name was withheld by the U.S. Air Force for security reasons, earned his solo patch a few days after pilots No. 998 and No. 999. Those three pilots are in distinguished company, two fellow pilots said this month.

"We have a pretty small, elite team of folks. We're between about 60 and 70 active-duty pilots at any given time," Maj. Matt "Top" Nauman said during an Air Force event at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City.

"We're about 1,050 [pilots] right now. So to put that in context, there are more people with Super Bowl rings than there are people with U-2 patches," Nauman added. "It's a pretty small group of people that we've hired over the last 60 to 65 years."

Read More Show Less