Great thread! I was mentored my first nine years in uniform by Vietnam grunts. I'd like to offer some nuggets.
DO NOT use the movies as a reference. The overwhelming majority have a hollywood stereotypical spin. Exceptions, We Were Soldiers and Hamburger Hill. Pictures are hard to argue with. Squadron and Osprey are better than nothing but I find TONS of mistakes in them (especially the drawings). Again, its hard to argue with a picture.
Most RTO's DID NOT carry a CAR. First they were hard to come by (LRRPS, SF had dibs). Second, IF you got your hands on one your chain of command had to let you be different or not "acquire" it for themselves (since most RTO's were junior enlisted, doubtful you were going to have the pull). Finally, most RTO's wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible since he or the platoon leader were usually the first to be shot.
If you want to bash someone in the rear of chilling go ahead and do the open shirt, rolled up sleeve, weapon on the shoulder thing. Most of the time you aren't going to dress that way in the bush. Mosquitos love exposed skin, your elbows are going to teach you a real lesson the first time you have to crawl from taking fire and leaders in a worthwhile unit with a thimble of discipline are going to rip you open for not being ready to fight. Look at the COMBAT photos (hint - ejected casings spinning in the air, screaming/scared faces). If the subject in the picture is smiling its probably because relaxing.
Zerodelta - appreciate what you are trying to do. The photos are excellent references. Gotta ask, why do you feel that medic drawing is a corpsman? Three times as many Army units served in Vietnam than USMC. The pack on his back is the M5.
Blufalcon - Is that a modern Flash Bang on the old school LBE?
I have a ton of other pictures on my computer I'll upload, but I also have one of those "The Vietnam Experience" books (Combat Photogropher version) which is a great referance. The book gives you a lot of examples from many differant units (Marine, Army, SF and Seals). Its also great because the book is separated into sections such as "In The Feild" and "In Combat". The in combat section shows alot of guys who are wearing nothing except web gear, their weapon and helmet, so Im guessing alot of guys ditched thier rucks when they came into heavy contact (I wouldnt want to carry such a big load on my back while being shot at). Theres pictures in the book where guys will have their sleeves rolled down, sleeves rolled up, some wearing nothing except a T Shirt or just a flak jacket. Anyways I use the book as a referance for alot of my vietnam guys
So, what was the deal with graffiti on helmets!? In all the shots of actual marines, I only saw one that had any. Was this something Hollywood picked up on because it looked cool and you could tell one grunt from another?
I was going to put some on my Nam grunt and was out looking for tiny CND badges. Thank god my next port of call was the library and that Larry Burrows book. My marine will be clean and green!
Well hollywood could have exploited it a little bit, but I think it was more of the CO's rules not the individuals (Marines are quite strict, where as Army may have had a little more leniency, but Im just going off picture's and little things Ive read). My rotc Col is a nam vet, he said he didnt allow his troops to wright anything on thier helmets, let alone keep anything in thier helmet bands (pack of smokes, bug juice, gun oil, etc etc)
I'm going to let mine have a pack of Luckies in his helmet, I've had a pack for ages that came with DML's Siegfried Groshke that I've been saving for the Nam bash I always promised myself I'd do. The rest will be as stock.
Joe Galloway was the guy that was played by Barry Pepper in We Were Soldiers wasn't he!? I watched the making of for that movie and those guys got it right. It was the same with Sam Fuller when he made The Big Red One, the director's cut of that is a must see.
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