The Tropical Combat Neckerchief was a sweat cloth of highly absorbent dark green cotton in Army shade 409. It is a standard 36″ by 24″ and matches the color of the undershirt. This item became popular for wiping perspiration and dirt from the brow and hands and for cleaning weapons and ammunition. It was worn over or around the head as a bandanna or sweatband. Troops also wore them tied around their necks. These neckerchiefs were very well made and had many uses.
U.S. Towel above British Towel for comparison
A green towel with single wide band at the end. Often worn around the neck to wipe the face free of sweat and protecting the neck and shoulders from heavy equipment. The Vietnam era towels are single banded in a OG-107 color. The towels from the 1980’s and beyond are similar but in a brown color. Most other nationalities towels are double banded. The devil is in the details, care should be taken when deciding if you want to substitute for the original item. This is true of all the equipment and personal items that you choose to use in reenacting. Respect to the era and the veterans of this conflict is paid through getting it right and not cutting corners.
Socks, one of the more important items needed by the troops. Clean, dry socks were critical to prevent jungle rot and trench foot. A trooper down for bad feet was of no use to the mission. There are examples of these wool socks available. If you need to substitute, try to get close. The socks are hidden by your boots, but if you take the boots off, there you are. I wore white tube socks when I was in the Army, nobody ever tagged me for it.
Boxer style drawers made of cotton muslin, dyed olive green army shade 408. Standard issue during the Vietnam War. Again, out of sight. You have to make the call of how far to go.
M51 Field Jacket
Made from a 9 ounce cotton, wind-resistant sateen in olive green army shade 107. The coat has waist and hem draw cords, breast patch pockets and lower front hanging pockets.
M65 Field Jacket
A cold weather field coat with hood, made of nylon cotton sateen in olive green army shade 107, with rounded collars, snap pocket closures and Velcro sleeve closures. The waist cord to draw the jacket in was on the inside, a hem cord was included in the same fashion. The hood was stored in a pocket in the collar closed by a zipper. There were buttons inside the coat that allowed for the use of a button in jacket liner for cold weather. In addition a heavier fur edged winter hood could be buttoned onto the jacket.
Made of stainless steel, the canteen cup fits into the canteen cover and the canteen fits into the cup.
1st Pattern 2 QT Canteen and Cover
A 2 QT collapsible canteen consisting of a square, molded-vinyl bladder and an M1910-pattern cap with chain. The bladder flattened when empty. The canteen could only be carried on the belt or on other awkward positions and took up too much room. Utilizing a nylon duck carrier with overlapping flap secured with Velcro. There is a small pouch on the left corner for water purifying tablets. These are pretty hard to find.
5 QT Canteen Bladder
A 5 quart collapsible vinyl-film bladder with nylon cover. It has a canteen like neck and a cap with a rubber gasket. A removable strainer filter was inserted into the neck of the bladder. The cover has retainer loops and tie down cords at each corner. The funnel shaped pouch was to assist in filling it. It has a pocket in the to right corner for water purification tablets. There are also instruction diagrams on both sides indicating how to use it. It can also be used as a floatation bladder. Unissued bladders can be easily found, but whether they are genuine or not is another matter. There are a lot of reproductions out there, care needs to be taken to be sure you are sold an original item. They should be stamped with the US. The corner tabs sewn onto the carrier will not be the same color material as the carrier itself.
Standard folding entrenchment tool.
Mess Kit & Utensils
Mess kit – Also known as mess tins, mess gear, cook kits, and shit tins. What can be said about these things. You can cook and eat in them. Stand in line endlessly for a marginal meal to be slopped into them. They were washed by hanging the lid and utensils on the handle as seen above and dipping them into a succession of hot water cans (AKA – garbage cans) using immersion heaters to bring the water to proper temperature. You dipped and sloshed in a “dirty” dip can then moved to a cleaner can and then if you were really lucky a third clean water very hot temperature dip to finish. Failure to do this would result in all sorts of nasty stomach and lower problems. Check for a date on the handle of the mess kit, be sure to get a kit with a date within the proper range for Vietnam.
Individual C-Ration Meal
C- Ration, Meal Combat Individual, consisted of a box containing a main meal (such as Pork and beans, spaghetti and meatballs, or worst of all Ham and Eggs, etc.), a B2 unit (crackers, candy, cheese, jelly), a desert (Canned fruit, pound-cake, etc.) and an accessory pack (Pictured). The accessory pack contained a hot drink mix, gum, matches, toilet paper, salt, sugar, a plastic spoon and a small pack of cigarettes. If you get hold of a complete C-Ration meal DO NOT EAT THE THING! Keep the cigarettes, matches, toilet paper for goodies to stick in your helmet band. You can empty the large can to make a makeshift cook stove, or better yet, get one of those can openers that cut the outside edge rather than the inside of the can. You can lift the lid and dump the contents (which will most likely be really nasty) and then fill it with an inert substance for weight (or not) and then put the lid back on using glue or epoxy. This gives you an accurate C-Rat for exhibition purposes with out risk of the thing corroding through and screwing up your gear when it leaks.
A rubber coated fabric poncho with hood. Dyed olive green army shade 207. Known to become heavy when wet, and the shiny finish gleams in the rain. Two poncho’s can be snapped together to make a shelter. A must have for its usefulness as a shelter or ground sheet. It is really hot and sweaty to use as a rain garment. Users often ended up as wet inside the poncho as they would have been without it.
This replaced the heavy and scratchy wool blanket. A quick-drying lightweight quilted poncho liner, made of a rip-stop fabric. Could be laced into the poncho to make a makeshift sleeping bag. Notice the seam down the middle of the liner in the right hand picture. If the date is missing or has worn away look out for that vertical seam. Only the Vietnam poncho liners had this.
The Air Mattress or Pneumatic Mattress was an inflatable, coated fabric mattress, ridged with side panels. The color was in olive green army shade 207. Its size and shape conformed to the sleeping bag. It often doubled as a float for carrying items across streams and flooded land. Nicknamed “Rubber Bitch”
A water-repellent mildew-resistant cotton duck dyed olive green army shade 107. It was one half of a tent panel with triangular flaps that was carried one per individual. Two of these could be buttoned together to form a complete tent. Each soldier would carry a half tent, one tent pole (That can be split into three sections), and tent pegs. Good equipment to have lots of uses.
A olive drab plastic right angled flashlight. It has a 3 way switch, 0ff-Blink-On. Inside the battery compartment under the spring is a storage compartment for a spare bulb. The bottom section unscrews revealing a compartment containing colored filters that can be attached to the front of the flashlight, by unscrewing the front ring, placing the filter inside and screwing the ring back on. The original Vietnam War torches don’t have the raised guards on the long sides of the switch. Also look out for the reference number MX991/U which should be written on the left side surrounded by a circle.