What We Carried

A Marine grunt in the field was nothing more than a pack mule, everything that was needed on a daily base or owned meaning personal gear was carried on the Marines back. A grunt carries more weight on his back, then of his own body weight, the amount of gear required by orders was astounding.

To start with you have your basic clothing a Marine had to have, at least one camo shirt and trousers. Underwear or as we called them (SKIVVES) was not issued because of the heat and the inability to wash them in a timely fashion. A green T-shirt and a softcover were issued items and many Marines in the field had and would wear Bush hats. Foul weather gear, with at least seven pairs of socks, a bottle of foot powder and a pair of jungle boots completed the ensemble.

Each man had a heavy M1- 956 flak jacket with fiberglass plates sewn in for protection, and an M1- helmet and liner with a camo cover, most men used the flak jacket as a pillow, and the helmet had unlimited use. At times it was used as a cooking pot, a chair and went flying in a helicopter, it was used to protect the family jewels. Most Marine helmets had graffiti written on them, with a rubber ban made from a truck inner tube acted as a helmet cover band and were placed around it to secure battle dressings, bug juice, cigarettes and at times a rifle magazine filled with rounds.

The most hated piece of equipment that was issued to a Marine grunt was the WW 2 haversack pack, it was too small and had no frame to support everything that was inside or hung on the outside of it. Many Marines would buy or find in the bush the US-made Arvn pack's that the South Vietnamese would discard when re-treating from the enemy, or tried to get a US Army rucksack.

An entrenching tool known as a (E-Tool) hung from the pack as well as a rubberized poncho, the poncho was used as raingear and also to build a hooch or shelter, camo poncho liner's acted as a blanket or a sun shield. Trip flares and pop-up illumination flares with star cluster canisters were also carried in the pack along with three or more Claymore directional mines, a gas mass and weapon cleaning gear. Writing gear, C - rations and hygiene items were also carried inside the pack, along with personal gear, cards, cigarettes and anything else that could be brought along for the hump or flight. Two empty green cotton ammo bandoliers would hold 14 magazines with 20 rounds of ammo that would be crisscrossed the chest of Marine grunt, also another 20 or more M-16 magazines fully loaded would be placed inside of the two cargo pockets on each side of the Marines trousers. Additionally, he would also carry a minimum of six bandoliers of ammo.
Ammunition and frag hand grenades were never stored inside of a backpack, because when a grunt was engaged in a firefight with the enemy, the first thing that he would do was drop that pack. Most times during a firefight, your moving and if you need extra rounds or frags and there in your pack, your shit out of luck and that's why those items are never carried inside of your backpack.  On the squad level, ropes, demo bags, mortar rounds both 81's and 60's were attached onto the pack and humped by the Marine grunt, most bayonets were thrown into the nearest river, the K- bar knive was preferred by the grunt.

Each man had a pistol belt around his waist, canteens and other gear were attached onto the belt, A three pocket frag pouch were usually hooked to the flak jacket, some were also on the belt. Each pocket would carry two or more grenades inside of it, usually one smoke or CS gas canister was attached on the belt.

In the 7th Marines from 1968 - 1969 four cantees  were required to be carried by the grunt, in 1970 it was increased to six or as many as the grunt wanted to carry. When leaving a firebase or an LZ, the platoon Commanders and squad leaders would shake them to make sure they were filled. A  M-16 was the standard weapon for the Marine grunt, a few would carry an M-14. The 0331 machine gunners plus all corpsmen carried the M1-1911- A1 45 caliber pistol. The raido man aslo carried the 45 pistol plus a PRc25 radio that weighted around 25 lb's plus several extra radio batteries. The M-79 grenadier
also known as the (blooper man) carried the 45 pistol, plus over 150  40 mm rounds.

Platoon commanders usually carried only the pistol, but some carried both the M-16 and a pistol. Some point men had a option to carry a shotgun and no one in the platoon carried an AK- 47, because of it's distinctive sound of cracking whene fired would draw friendly fire. 

A fully loaded Marine platoon on the move with full gear was anything but quiet, the enemy always knew where and in what direction the unit was moving. Because of the slowness of the March and the noise being generated.

The VC wearing black pajamas and Ho Chi Minh sandals carrying only a AK-47 and
maybe a grenade or two, they could harass a platoon and be gone in seconds. Their method of moving fast and light cause many problems in finding the enemy in place and destroying him. In heavy cover; often only the direction of the incoming rounds was all that could be determined of where the emeny was. In many cases, this gave him the advantage. Because of our air support, we owe the day; but the nights belong to the man we called Charlie.

H Co 2/7  what we carried
Hotel Company 2/7
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