Vietnam War (detail from a photograph of U.S. troops)


Most Americans in Vietnam served as support troops and saw little combat, but “grunts”—the infantrymen on the ground—faced difficult conditions. Their standard-issue gear was not designed for extreme heat, humidity, and frequent rains. Cotton uniforms rotted, boots became waterlogged, and packs were cumbersome.

Many infantrymen modified or even abandoned their gear. Some adopted captured enemy equipment. They prized their flop hats, extra socks, ponchos, and multiple canteens. These things made the going a bit easier as they worried about the sorry state of their feet, enemy fire and booby traps, and going home.


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