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Oakley's new war fighter-inspired eyewear has been interpreted on longboards

Those shady masters of eye protection at Oakley are gearing up to launch a new line of war fighter-inspired sunglasses leading into Memorial Day.

For the new specs, Oakley commissioned legendary military artist James Dietz to create sketches of three iconic weapons to pair up with three of Dietz' paintings depicting scenes from some of the bloodiest battles in three eras of military history.

The artwork is integrated in the eyewear line, with the sketches on the inside of the frames and the battle prints part of the holder bags.

Then Oakley went one better — three better, actually.

Each of those battle scenes and weapons have also been emblazoned on custom-built KOTA longboards. Military Times spotted a prototype of an Oakley/Dietz board recently at KOTA's Denver factory. The battles are on top, the weapons on bottom.

The battle painting/weapon combos include:

  • "Silencing the Guns," a World War II D-Day depiction, with an M1 Garand
  • "Task Force Ranger," the Somalia "Black Hawk Down" battle, with a .50 Cal. machine gun
  • "I Shall Defeat Them on the Field of Battle," from a fight during Operation Iraqi Freedom, with an M4 assault carbine

"James Dietz Collection" eyewear will be available at www.oakleysi.com on May 16.

"Task Force Ranger" with .50 Cal machine gun. With artwork by James Dietz, the one-of-a-kind boards are a partnership between Oakley and KOTA Longboards.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of KOTA Longboards

KOTA — shorthand for Knights of the Air — is the fast-mover skater company helmed by former Navy Top Gun pilot Michael Maloney. Such top-and-bottom configurations would be impossible on most longboards, because graphic-obscuring grip tape is needed on the top side. KOTA, however, has carved out a name for itself in the longboard industry with its patented, super-grippy-yet-see-through finish that allows for graphics on both sides.

"Oakley is such a great company we were honored and flattered when they contacted us to design these boards," Maloney says. But when Oakley sent the artwork, he was a bit skeptical. The full-body illustrations went against the grain of KOTA's usual wood-showcasing designs.

Though it's rare for KOTA to cover an entire deck with a vinyl print like on the Oakley boards, it's not unique. MultiCam boards for Crye Precision were made the same way. And the grippy finish still works its magic.

"The artwork on the top of the board was no issue," Maloney says. "However, the bottoms were all pencil sketches.

"I Shall Defeat Them on the Field of Battle" detail. With artwork by James Dietz, the one-of-a-kind boards are a partnership between Oakley and KOTA Longboards.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of KOTA Longboards

"It was a challenge to translate them to large format for printing while maintaining the integrity and quality of James' original artwork. It took a great deal of work, but I'm very pleased with the result — and hope James is, too," Maloney says.

Drew Wallace, a former Army Ranger at Oakley who helped manage the eyewear project, said he "couldn't be happier to partner with so many great folks who care about the boys." He had known of Dietz's artwork through the Rangers.

"James did a number of paintings for the Regiment that hang in our HQ. I was always very personally moved by his depictions."

Oakley will use the longboards as promotional items and plans to find deserving homes for them through a giveaway on Instagram. If you think replicas should be available for sale, that might be a good place fire off.

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