A line of knives designed by combat-wounded veterans, under the guidance of a master bladesmith, has its second entry — a utility knife brought to life by a retired Navy SEAL.
W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery has teamed with Winkler Knives on a line of blades they’re calling the American Hero Series. Military members design the knives with the help of Daniel Winkler, who has crafted many knives for personal carry by special operations personnel since making his first knife in 1975.
The series was created to honor American heroes, from military operators to first responders, and those who support them.
The second knife in the series, the Recurve Utility No. 6, was designed by retired Master Chief Petty Officer Harold Bologna, past member of multiple Navy SEAL teams. Bologna served 22 years in uniform and returned to the war zone shortly after retirement, working with a team as a contractor. In October 2015, he stepped on an improvised explosive device in southern Afghanistan, resulting in the loss of both legs above the knee. He credits quick work by his teammates and dust-off crew for saving his life.
“I’d never made a knife,” Bologna said. “This was a new experience for me, but I’d had a lot of experience carrying knives from the time I was a kid in the Boy Scouts to going on operations.”
He said determining which knife to take was an important first consideration on any mission, noting that he sometimes carried Winkler knives.
Bologna values versatility. He decided to design a utility knife — a heavy knife, substantial enough to whack down small trees to make a clearing for a lean-to.
“I wanted it thick all the way along the blade and spine, enough to be able to hammer in a tent stake,” he said. “It needed to whittle and shave wood for fires.
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“I love that recurve shape, which gives us a lot more blade at the tip for quartering an animal. We also included a top lanyard hole so you could take pressure off your wrist when whittling.”
It also includes a form-fitted, reinforced leather sheath with reversible belt loop and a custom Kydex piece that’ll let the user attach a Slim Black Matte Zippo windproof lighter (included with purchase) to the sheath.
The first knife in the series debuted last summer. Dubbed the Case Winkler Skinner, it was designed by Kevin Holland, who served as a Navy SEAL during Operation Desert Storm. He would rejoin the military after the Sept. 11 attacks, this time as an Army Special Forces soldier.
His knife is a lightweight, high-performance field knife with a flat ground, distal-tapered trailing point blade. The full tang is skeletonized and tapered to reduce weight and improve balance. It comes in three handle styles with a molded black leather sheath, reinforced to help keep its shape when not in use.
Holland explained that he was given the nickname “Skinner” during the SEAL team selection process. He grew up in the North Carolina mountains, using a Case Slimline Trapper to field dress small game and clean fish.
He designed a combat breaching ax while on active duty and carried a variety of knives on operational missions. He was wounded twice — once by shrapnel when an IED exploded near him in 2004, and again in 2011 when he was shot in the chest with a round from a belt-fed PKM machine gun at close range. It left his left arm paralyzed.
“I’m proud to have been able to share my experiences to help create something that performs as well for outdoorspeople at home as it can for our Armed Forces around the world,” Holland said.
Bologna said traveling to the Case manufacturing facility in Bradford, Pennsylvania, gave him an appreciation for the craftsmanship that goes into each blade.
“Each is handmade,” he said, “but what makes this knife special is that it represents all great American heroes. It’s not a Harry Bologna knife. It’s an honor for me. “
The suggested retail price for Holland’s knife ranges from $295 to $310. Bologna’s knife has an MSRP of $395. Case doesn’t sell the knives direct; click here for a list of Case dealers.