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In The Pipeline: 'Combat' is ready to fire

January 04, 2012|By Chris Epting
  • Bob Chatt.
Bob Chatt.

Bob Chatt is ready for his close-up — a close-up that comes with a bang.

The Huntington Beach-based military antiques collector I spoke with early last year for this column has just finished wrapping up the first four episodes of "Combat Cash," a new reality TV series premiering next Wednesday night, Jan. 11, on the Discovery Channel (time to be determined, but it will be either 9 or 10 p.m. Check listings). In the same spirit as "Pawn Stars" and "American Pickers," "Combat Cash" will take the audience inside the world of military antique collecting, protecting and, in some cases, detonating.

When I last visited Vintage Productions, the warehouse-like structure near Gothard Street and Edinger Avenue where Chatt houses tons of rare military artifacts (from the Spanish-American War, both world wars, Vietnam and the Civil War, among others), the show was a twinkle in his eye. And now, after traveling the country with the production crew and shooting even more in his warehouse, the show is ready.

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"Combat Cash" will feature Chatt and his good friend Owen Thornton.

"He came here 14 years ago from Ireland," Chatt told me in his warehouse the other day. "And this show documents our friendship, our traveling — and our fighting. Often, we are at each other's throats."

Chatt also described some other aspects of the show. "It looks at how we find the stuff, how we search for it, the museums that need stuff, celebrities that need stuff — that's the basic setup."

Wandering among the thousands of patches, jackets, shirts and boots he owns, he also told me how, initially, the cameras made him self-conscious. But after a few weeks, he got used to them and eventually forgot they were even there.

In one episode, they went to a World War II reenactment in Ohio. Once a year, on a lake, a group actually reenacts the landing at Normandy, replete with a landing beach, bombers, etc. Chatt was recruited to locate a working landing craft, which he was able to do (without giving away too much, Thornton gets to experience a beach landing firsthand).

Chatt told me his most emotional experience taping the show was in Northern California. A young soldier, just 21, who had married his high school sweetheart six months earlier, was killed in Afghanistan after being hit by an IED.

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