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The 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division was ordered to Vietnam in the summer of 1965 as a permanent replacement for the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Due to the war's rapid escalation the 173rd remained in-country and the 101st was assigned as the 'fire brigade' reaction force for II Corps Tactical Zone. The various infantry battalions of the Brigade were among the finest combat units in the US Army. The men who wore the famous 'Screaming Eagle' shoulder patch were all qualified paratroopers and were proud of their Division's illustrious heritage. When subdued versions of the shoulder sleeve insignia were introduced as compulsory wear later in the war, the 101st largely ignored the order and continued proudly to wear their full-colour patch.
The steel helmet is fitted with an Ml-C Parachutist's Liner with its distinctive web A-straps and chincup. The issue elasticated Camouflage Helmet Band was intended as a camouflage aid, but was more typically used in Vietnam to hold small items that the owner wanted to keep either close to hand or dry - e.g. cigarettes, matches, toilet paper, etc. Here one of the most common items, a plastic bottle of insect repellent, is shown.
On the OG107 utility shirt this paratrooper wears his Division's shoulder sleeve insignia, basic jump wings and the single chevrons of his rank. The trousers have been modified by the addition of patch pockets on the outside of each leg - a common practice in Airborne units at the time.
The M1956 LCE is worn in typical fighting order with various items attached. The olive drab Plastic One Quart Canteen was introduced as a replacement for the aluminium type and by 1966 was the more common of the two. M26A1 Fragmentation Grenades are carried on the universal pouches, correctly secured by their levers with a retaining strap passed through the safety rings. The metal snap-link or 'O-ring' attached to the harness on the left shoulder was used for rappelling from helicopters, and as such was a distinction of Airborne and Air Cavalry troops. A plastic angle-head flashlight with red safety filter is also worn on the front of the suspenders.
The man's sleeping gear is rolled and secured in the Sleeping Bag Carrier illustrated here. Sleeping bags were rarely issued in Vietnam; most troops got by with at most a poncho and the quilted Wet Weather Poncho Liner. These camouflage poncho liners were hugely popular, being extremely lightweight yet retaining the insulating properties of a heavy blanket. The liner is shown rolled inside an early rubberized poncho and hung from the H-harness by the straps of the carrier. The awkward nature of this arrangement is clear, and points up the need for a suitable rucksack for line units. An inflatable air mattress was issued, but rarely carried by experienced troops, though it was useful for floating equipment across jungle streams.
Slung over the right shoulder is an M18A1 Anti Personnel Mine Carrier, commonly called a 'Claymore bag'. This two-compartment cotton bag was issued to transport the M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel mine along with its accessories, though it was also used throughout the war as a carry-all for ammunition and personal kit.
The weapon is the newly introduced 5.56mm M16 rifle in its original version with three-pronged flash supressor.
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