The basis of this section is to give you an idea of what an RTO looks like and what he might be wearing. ‘The Look’ is exactly like a rifleman accept you have this great big radio strapped to your back. So you want to be a RTO? Here we can discuss what you should have in your collection to display a basic RTO in the US Army in Vietnam. Mind you this is what I think, so you don’t have to go along with it. At the end of the day its up to you what you carry and how much weight you assign yourself. Along with all of your basic Rifleman load, you will be packing a radio, this could be a PRC77 or PRC25 or PRC10, with either the radio carrier or packframe with shelf. RTO’s were targets! They often tried to hide the radio a bit. You often see claymore mine bags tied to the radio, used to carry spare batteries, flares, etc.. A radio assecories bag would also be attached to the straps holding the radio in place, this would contain antenna components, maybe a spare handset. A buttpack is attached below it. This RTO keeps his radio well masked and in doing so keeps his profile down. Remember RTO’s are easy target to VC with their antenna acting like a flag. Take out the radio and you take out a valuable platoon resource.
This RTO is carrying a flare, two smoke grenades, an areal ID panel, map, radio accessories bag, machete and a pink flashlight. The radio is a PRC-10. I am not sure what the pouch is on the right. I wonder about the stuff being stored under the hold down straps. If they are pulled out to use, the radio would be loose on the carrier.
The RTO in this picture has an ID panel under his straps and on the left side there is an M-16 cleaning pouch (I think) and on the right is a case for an long wire antenna reel.
You see a towl under the shoulder straps on his pack straps. Being a Rifleman also, he is carrying an ammunition bandoleer.
Full Load and Combat Load
Combat load means you would be carrying all your usual rifleman’s equipment plus a radio. This isn’t too much of a problem, however, full load is another deal altogether. RTO’s basically carried everything a rifleman would have plus a radio and its extra accessories for a 36-hour period. This means spare handsets, antennas, and as many batteries as you think you will need (Two spare batteries does the trick fine). In Vietnam, batteries were one of those things that came on every supply chopper, but in re-enactment you won’t have this luxury. If you can find a Packboard, then use this to attach your radio and other equipment. The PRC-25 has its own dedicated harness that can allow a buttpack to be fitted to the bottom. You have seen pictures of RTO re-enactors use these with claymore mine bags attached and they seem to be able to carry everything they need. On the pistol belt of the RTO below he has three M1956 canteens and what looks like dearskin roping gloves.