Jerry Hossom makes a Navy-themed set for Capt. Ryan Heilman of the USS Nevada

Jerry Hossom makes a Navy-themed set for Capt. Ryan Heilman of the USS Nevada

Submariner Steel

Jerry Hossom makes a Navy-themed set for Capt. Ryan Heilman of the USS Nevada

Jerry Hossom had that twinkle in his eye again and this time it was by his table at BLADE Show in Atlanta, where he was all fired up about the latest set he had made for Capt. Ryan Heilman, USN, of the USS Nevada (SSBN-733).

Sporting Navy blue Micarta handles, the set consists of Jerry’s USN Mark I Boarding Hawk-Submariner Model, a Retribution fighter and one of his small Dog Tag knives. However, as with many edged sets, it was a project that wound up a bit larger than when it first started.

In addition to the Submariner Boarding Hawk, the Retribution fighter and smaller Dog Tag knife complete the set and are contained in a red-velvet-lined briefcase. A sign with the set’s and owner’s names appears on the underside of the briefcase lid.

“Ryan’s wife Karen wanted something for him and I made the Boarding Hawk. I dyed the handle blue and I wanted it to look like the sleeve of a captain’s uniform. Captain Heilman has four gold stripes on his uniform sleeve and this would normally be a star, but I can’t do stars,” he laughed, pointing to the brass pin above the four brass stripes on the handle. “And so I made this and sent it to him.”

The USN Mark I Boarding Hawk-Submariner Model by Jerry Hossom is part of a three-piece set Jerry made for Capt. Ryan Heilman of the USS Nevada SSBN-733), a ballistic missile submarine in the United States Navy.

Soon after that Karen texted Jerry with an additional request. “She said what Ryan really wanted was one of my Retribution fighters, and so I did that,” Jerry smiled. “And then Karen said maybe you can complete the set with one of your little Dog Tag knives.” Pointing to the Dog Tag knife, Jerry said, “So this was the last one I did last week just before the show.”

One of Hossom’s most recognizable knife models is his Retribution fighter. According to Capt. Heilman’s wife Karen it was the Hossom knife the Captain really wanted. Blade steel: Carpenter PSF-27 stainless. Handle: Navy blue Micarta® with bronze captain stripes and pin. Overall length: 13 inches.

Of course, Jerry outfitted both the Retribution and Dog Tag models with the same Navy blue Micarta handles and the brass stripes and pins to match the Submariner Boarding Hawk. In-between the stripes are thin layers of Navy blue G-10 that match the balance of the handles’ Navy blue Micarta. The handles of both the Submariner Boarding Hawk and Dog Tag knife have Jerry’s trademark palm cutouts that extend across the bronze pin and just north of the bronze stripes. The Retribution fighter, meanwhile, features a cradle handle style with the bird’s beak pommel on one end and the single guard on the other combining to form the cradle. The captain’s sleeve effect on all three is equal parts unmistakable and tastefully understated.

Hossom’s Dog Tag knife rounds out the three-piece set. As with the other three pieces, note the handle configured to resemble a captain’s sleeve with the four bronze stripes and pin. All the materials are the same for it as the Submariner Boarding Hawk and Retribution, including the blue G-10 in-between the stripes. Hossom would have made a regulation Navy star instead of the pin but, as he laughed, “I can’t do stars.”
From left, Jerry Hossom and Karen and Ryan Heilman enjoy themselves at BLADE Show In between Jerry and Karen in the background knifemaker Grace Horne interacts with a customer at her table.

Blade steel for all three pieces is Carpenter PSF 27 stainless, one of Jerry’s favorites. Respective lengths for the Submariner Boarding Hawk, Retribution and Dog Tag are 14, 13 and 7 inches. All are contained in a red-velvet-lined briefcase with a sign inside the lid that reads “USN Mark I Boarding Hawk-Submariner Model” over “Captain Ryan Heilman SSBN Nevada.”


For more information contact Jerry Hossom, Dept. BL10, 3585 Schilling Ridge, Duluth, GA 30096 770-449-7809,

The USS Nevada

The USS Nevada (SSBN-733) is a United States Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine that has been in commission since 1986. Its homeport is Bangor, Washington, and its motto is Silent Sentry. This nuclear-powered craft is 560 feet long, has a speed greater than 25 knots (29 mph) and a test depth greater than 800 feet. It boasts a complement of 15 officers and 140 enlisted men, and its armament consists of 24 Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles, MK-48 torpedoes and four 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Capt. Ryan J. Heilman, USN

Capt. Ryan J. Heilman, 

Capt. Ryan J. Heilman is commanding officer of the Blue Crew and captain of the USS Nevada (SSBN-73). He enlisted in the Navy as a machinist mate, nuclear option, and was selected for the Nuclear Enlisted Commissioning Program in 1991 and was commissioned from Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, in 1994.

Heilman was assigned to the PCU Wyoming (SSBN 742) in 1996, where he served as Navigation Division Officer and in several other positions. In 2002 he reported as Navigator/Operations Officer to the USS Nevada. He reported to Trident Training Facility, Bangor, Washington, in 2005 as the Engineering Training Department Director. In March 2008 he became Executive Officer of the USS Nebraska (SSBN 739). In 2011, after graduating from the U.S. Naval War College with a Master of Arts degree in National Security Studies, he was assigned as a Military Professor in the Joint Military Operations Department at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. In 2013, he reported to Submarine Squadron Seventeen in Bangor, Washington, as Deputy Commander for Readiness.

Capt. Heilman is a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, the Navy’s Naval War College and is a qualified Joint Service Officer. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Commendation Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal (four awards) and the Navy Achievement Medal (two awards).

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