Topic: Soldiers' Load
The Soldier's Load in Vietnam
Men at War; True Stories of Heroism and Honor, Robert Barr Smith, 1997
The jungle-covered limestone ridges [of the Dak To] took a physical toll even with-out the lung-busting effort of combat. A load for an American soldier on the move might weigh as much as fifty pounds all told. Typically, he lugged at least five hundred rounds for his M-16, loaded eighteen or nineteen to a magazine. He was issued belt pouches to carry his magazines, but he often packed some of them in canteen covers or in a cloth claymore mine bag for easier access.
He carried three or four quart canteens of water, four or more fragmentation grenades and a couple of smoke grenades, a knife or bayonet or machete, and usually a belt for one of the M-60 machine guns or a LAW antitank rocket for busting NVA bunkers. He often carried one or two claymores as well. He sometimes packed as much as three days' C rations—in tin cans—although on short patrols he might carry only a single meal in a bootsock tied to his harness. Add in the weight of his steel helmet, tack on more pounds for his M-16 or M-79 grenade launcher or M-60 machine gun, and the soldier had plenty to sweat about before anybody fired a round.