6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Forum created for the purpose of living history and reenactor groups to interact with former veterans of the 6th battalion of the 31st Infantry
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Niner Alpha
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Niner Alpha » Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:44 pm

Blue Legs, looks like nobody has noticed your question so...let me think.

A small pack was all that was used generally when I was there. It became obvious in the delta that troops shouldn't be expected to stay in the wet swampy places we always went for any number of days at one time. It was a health thing.....although considering our line of work, I don't know why they cared other than it cut down on the number of people unable to go to the field because of immersion foot and such things. And since being knee deep in mud a lot it meant you didn't carry anything that you didn't need to carry. So... most guys would carry as little as they could get by with. I would carry a couple of C ration meals with the box and the parts I wasn't going to eat discarded right off. I did take at least one of the cracker units generally... if I had some C4. The cans made good stoves. And if you had one of those, old fashion now, beer can openers that was what you used to make the stove. And... if I didn't have bug juice in my helmet band I had a bottle in my pack... no ambush should be without bug juice. Sometimes I'd pack my Kodak instamatic with one roll of film in it. I sometimes had one of those cotton strips of cloth you could tie around your forehead to keep the sweat from running in your eyes. And maybe....but generally not... a small container with salt tablets.

I wouldn't carry cigarettes in it. They stayed in the band of the helmet, or if wearing only the jungle hat, in a top pocket in a plastic two piece case that also had room for a lighter. The first river you had to cross they would otherwise get wet. That was true of the camera too...and many a Kodak had a dunking, although they were simple and fairly indestructible and would dry out and work again. It did play hell with the film though.

Things you would need of personal nature not in the bag...like a poncho liner or poncho, you would roll up and some way or other attach to your web gear. Then you would need a couple of full canteens attached some way or other. Then there was the stuff of combat. You would have your ammo, and a bandage in a pouch. If you had to know where you were you would have a compass and a map. The compass would...for me.. be tied with a loop from a boot string and the string around my neck and the compass in a top pocket. There was the usual assortment of things you were generally instructed to carry or were otherwise responsible to carry....like claymores, grenades, flares, radios, extra radio batteries, the wheel with the paper letter codes that changed every so often for the codes for sending grids secretly.... part of the officer and NCO have to carry and guard items.
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Blue Legs » Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:55 pm

I figured it would be a fairly light load...which is what I'll usually carry in my pack. As for my entire set of web gear...it's a load, as you can see below. While we do our best to emulate what the 6/31 did in 'Nam, we also give the general look of a solider in Vietnam, which was usually loaded down.
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:09 am

That's pretty much a load like the general eagle flight grunt would carry...not accounting 60 ammo and claymores and assorted other stuff. The flashlight would be an officer thing. You could only use it under a poncho at night....and only after you had some kind of problem that you didn't foresee. The pistol only a few carried. Officers generally didn't . Enlisted even less. Maybe M60 men might have one if they were paranoid.....but not often. The pouches for ammo were used some... I used them some... but bandoleers were more often used. Bayonets weren't often used. In mid 1970 the battalion issued orders to collect all bayonets....seemed some remfs were using them in fights and stabbing each other, I guess. Which was probably a good reason not to ban them. And... I kinda was of the opinion that the more remfs killed each other the better.... but that wasn't kind...I know. I had one for a while to use in the field to cut stalks for supporting poncho liners in day holds. It was a piece of crap at best and was so dull it made a really crappy knife. I protested...but handed it in. Bayonets were pretty useless in every way actually....their time had come and gone long before Vietnam.

I like that D ring. That looks like the real thing. You can't find them anymore. They were really useful for attaching stuff to your web gear. I wish I could find some now...for the boat.
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Blue Legs » Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:23 am

We all pretty much use the basic web gear load...buttpack, 2 canteens, 2 ammo pouches, suspenders, and the compass/bandage pouch. After that we customize it I guess you could say...it's up to us. I don't always carry all of that, but I have all of it just in case. What I carry depends on what we're doing...I usually carry most of what you see in the picture. I also have a bandoleer...just not pictured. Eventually I'll get a picture of myself wearing it all and post it.

As for the D-ring/carabiner...I got them from Moore Militaria based out of Texas. He's got them for 12.00 a piece...they're the real thing. You can find them here: http://mooremilitaria.com/prod01.htm
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Jul 15, 2014 9:21 am

Thanks for the link. Those look like the genuine D ring alright.
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Delta75 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:26 am

Niner.....platoon sgts also carried a flashlight. The platoon leader and the platoon sergeant would use them, using the red lens, at night to triangulate and verify our night time positions. We also used them to read the map coordinates at night if we were calling in artillery support, etc. Question: Since you were an FO, didn't you use a flashlight at night for fire missions?

I agree....almost no one carried a bayonet and if they did it was used only as a knife....at times a M-60 gunner might carry a pistol, but not many of my gunners did.

As you said....other stuff would have been machine gun ammo (200 rounds), claymore or a LAW (M-72). Some platoons would even let their men carry inflatable air mattresses to sleep on a night. We thought that they made too much noise (as a guy rolled on it while sleeping)...so preferred that our guys not use them.

Another thought...someone had to carry the starlight scope...assuming that we were carrying one.

The platoon leader might also carry a pair of binoculars.

The platoon leader and platoon sergeant would carry a strobe light.
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:59 pm

Thanks for the added information, Delta75. I was forgetting a lot of stuff you listed.

FO's would generally get their defensive targets figured out and called in to the support battery before it got dark. What would happen is the platoon leaders would tell the CO about their proposed night locations and the CO would tell the FO. Targets were picked out and numbered according to potential avenues of approach from about three directions for each night location. Particular attention was paid to approximate gun target lines to avoid possible short rounds on first rounds on deck. Each target grid was out approximately 500 meters from each night location. The platoon leaders would be informed of where their on call targets were. I'm talking about when I was in the field now. If I were working from base camp and setting targets from in a lighted TOC it would sometimes work out differently and maybe the platoon leaders would only be advised if asked...or they may, after contact, have asked for fire giving their own directions and one of the pre-planned targets would just be shifted to match the first round WP requirement. This would be quicker, generally , for the battery to get fire out.

I remember a couple of FO's being under ponchos at night trying to to read a map and plot an on call target because the night locations came in late or because a location was changed at the last minute. And.... come to think of it... I did have a flashlight but it wasn't military issue. I got it from a PX and it was a long three battery one with a shinny aluminum body. Not exactly inconspicuous. I did my best to not have to get under any poncho in the dark.
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Delta75 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:53 pm

Yes...we also had pre-defined artillery defensive fire; however, at times. when we were in the field, we would call artillery in on a moving or stationary target that was not pre-defined....and, as previously stated, we also had to triangulate every night in order for HQ to make sure that we were in the right location. They would often split our platoon in two and assign a different ambush location for each . Triangulation was lots of fun when we did not actually split up, but stayed together in only one of the assigned locations. The fun, of course, was in triangulating for the location that we were not even at. :)

Other miscellaneous things that we carried were star-cluster flares that we carried to mark our positions at night or to provide light above a rice paddy around our position. The single tube things that you shot off by hitting the tube with the bottom of your hand, the ground, etc. These were used only after our position had already been compromised.
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Jul 15, 2014 5:06 pm

There were two kinds of illumination from the arty end. There was the starlight illumination that was fired two or three thousand meters away, can't remember how far now from an actual ambush location, and then there was the contact illumination fired to light up the scene of a contact. The starlight illumination was too far away to adjust to contact illumination. Two different fire missions were required. Some new LT's didn't understand this.

I remember when I was the RTO , Holderness took a notion that I should carry a couple of those hand flares. Don't think I ever used them....at least not that I remember.

Found a photo to attach. See the two hand flares above the extra battery and under the radio.

Alpha would split platoons into two ambushes too. I don't remember any flashlight triangulation though. But... we are talking ancient history here. I do remember one morning waking up in the field at first light to the sound of machine gun fire going just above me while I was still laying down. I could see the otherwise waist high grass being clipped off two feet above the ground. The other half of a platoon had thought we were the enemy. The captain said ...when it was over...as a complement I guess... "good grazing fire". Thankfully, although fine shooting for how close to the ground it was , every body was laying flatter real quick and nobody was hurt.
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Delta75 » Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:56 pm

Just to clarify what I mean by triangulation.....while we were in our position they would shoot two aerial artillery bursts....each at different location....of course. We have to provide azimuth and distance for each. HQ knew the coordinates of each round; therefore, when HQ entered the information on their map, they expected the two lines to intersect at our defined ambush location. No problem...and....no night map reading necessary if we were at the correct location; however, if we were not where we were supposed to be it was a challenge, because you had to plot, on the map, the aerial bursts locations from the position that you were at, and then give HQ the azimuth and distance that you would have supplied from the other location (the one where we were supposed to be..but...were not).

The reason that one of my Lts would not split the platoon was because we had only one medic and he didn't like the idea of 1/2 his platoon without a medic. Splitting the platoon bit me later when my 1/2 had no medic and I lost my RTO to a command det. If we had had a medic, he might still be alive today.
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Blue Legs » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:44 pm

Thanks guys! Love reading the stories you guys have...great feedback too. Like I said, I don't always carry everything in the picture...just put it all in there as a display of what I have. Most of the time I don't use the bayonet, flashlight, or pistol holster. I do have a bandoleer that I use and I'm working on getting a belt of M60 ammo. Anything else you guys can tell me would be greatly appreciated! :D
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Blue Legs » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:58 pm

Another question just came to mind...as I look through pictures from the war I notice something about most of the grunts pants pockets. Most of the cargo pockets on the sides of the pants seem to be full...as if they were stuffed with something. What was it most guys carried in those pockets?
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Niner Alpha » Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:54 pm

Whatever guys carried in their cargo pockets was subject to getting wet so whatever they carried there they must have kept that in mind. I remember I, at one time or the other, would carry a map folded up in my pants leg pocket. The maps were covered in clear acetate. The edges were sealed and water had a hard time entering. And .....thinking of stuff we carried... there would always be a black mechanical grease pencil for marking on the map for those who needed to carry a map. The grease pencil would be carried through the pencil slot in a top jacket pocket.

The grease pencil would look a lot like this image .
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Giovanni R.
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Giovanni R. » Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:19 pm

Following the advice I took a look around on ebay and yesterday I received this:

Image
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Niner Alpha » Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:46 pm

Nothing has changed in nearly half a century looks like. Just the color of the plastic is different. I don't remember any that weren't black. Maybe there were other colors even back then.
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Giovanni R. » Wed Aug 13, 2014 1:21 pm

I think it should be from the 60ies, not sure if ther was any difference/reason for color and such.
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Re: 6/31 Reenactment/Living History Group Questions

Postby Niner Alpha » Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:20 pm

Orange might have been better. If you dropped it while out in the bush someplace. It would have been easier to find it.

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