US Infantry in Vietnam; ARVN Uniforms. The recollections of a Veteran of the 1st Infantry Division, RVN.


ARVN  fatigue and  combat uniforms were one and the same. In fact, I do not  think most ARVN's  ever owned a Class A khaki colored dress uniform. I only saw these in the  USA.

ARVN's: the  majority of them wore the  same olive drab faded out to many and various shades of green and gray green cotton fatigues worn by the US Army, Marines, and Air Force troops all over the  world. Square cut shirt with two (2) button down  breast pockets, closed by buttons (dark green almost bullet proof plastic), and  pants  with two (2 ) hip pockets with button down flaps, two (2) open top hip pockets, and  a button fly.

With first white name tapes over the right breast pocket and a black/yellow colored tape over the  left breast pocket that bore the legend  US ARMY or ARVN. These tapes later became green with solid black embroidered names. At some point the ARVN stopped using the tags all together.

The standard US Army fatigue cap (pin head model) perched atop a mass of dirty black hair. ARVN  Special Forces, Airborne  and  Marines wore berets of different colors instead of the baseball cap. SF = rifle green (more green than the UK color), Airborne = off red, and Marines = dark green. ARVN Seals wore black berets, and  I do believe that ARVN Rangers were born with pretty painted  steel pots with snarling  tigers and black  panthers on them. I never saw an ARVN Ranger without a fancy steel pot (unless he was hiding from the VC/NVA like some did during TET).

Colored scarves similar to Old West US Army bandanas were also worn  by the  ARVN "elite". Yes I know that the ARVN Naval and  Marines had another official designation as did their Air Force, but, they  WERE ALL ARVNS TO ME!!!!!!!!!!!

ARVNs also wore a cotton black - and - dark green camo pattern fatigues called "tigersuits" or "tigers". These were also worn in a brown tiger stripe pattern by some ARVNs.

This is the basic ARVN uniform for most of the war. Including those terrors of the  war, the  ARVN Regional Forces and Popular Forces troops (we used to say that these guys had "RUN, BABY, RUN!" for their theme song!) .

But in the 70's some ARVNs were  issued the light weight US Army plain green and camo pattern jungle fatigues. Usually the "elite" troops got these, and some officers with clout.

The standard footgear worn by the  ARVN was a glorified black and white canvas and rubber combat boot that looked like the KEDS sneakers I wore as a kid. And no socks. Socks cost  money that the ARVN  would not spend. Later the  ARVNs (in the  70's) would get issued the same jungle boots as were issued to  US Armed Forces personnel in country.

ARVN web gear was the same as the US Army in the 50's, and later the same as was issued to the US Army in the 60's and 70's. Same  with packs.

The ARVN Quan Canhs (military police) wore the same basic green cotton uniform from first to last. With a black painted steel pot and helmet  liner with a red over white stripe running around it and large white  letters "QC" in front. They also wore the black brassard with white letters "QC", and later, green with black letters "QC " on their left upper arm like that worn by the US Army MPs. QCs were equipped and trained almost exactly like the US Army Military Police Corps, performing the same myriad of  missions and doing  them generally very well too.

The ARVN Navy wore either the olive drab cotton uniform, or the same denim uniform as worn by the US Navy for shore duty and duty aboard their vessels.

ARVN aircraft and helicopter crews dressed the same as their American counterparts, and some pilots dressed in flight suits that were pretty flambyouant, with more patches and etc than was believable.

The Canh Sats (CS) were the Civilian National Police. They were a real joke, and a bad one too! They were called White  Mice for their original all white uniforms and extremely timid behavior- unless confronted with unarmed RVN civilians, especially the elderly, women and  kids. Then they were tough and aggressive !!!

Later they wore gray peaked service caps with ornate silver badges, insignia of rank on their epaulettes, white  short sleeve cotton shirts and gray civilian style cotton trousers (some times silk!), and civilian style black leather  shoes. They wore either web gear gun and ammo belts with cut down leather holsters, or leather gear like that  worn by French  police and American police. Almost invariably worn "gunfighter style ala European and  American western movies.

The NP (CS) Field Forces (the paramilitary thug police) wore either the brown two tone tiger stripe uniforms or the black and green tiger stripe uniforms with black berets or steel pots or gray caps.

Always armed with a short, thick, metal-cored, white rubber truncheon that was spring-loaded for the max bop with minimum effort (see French police again; they still carry these according to my TV set).

Firearms were a variety of old US made .38 Spec caliber revolvers with barrels from 2" to 6" long, some .45 ACPs semi auto  pistols, and an assortment of old French and later surplus USG military firearms, especially various versions of the  US "grease gun" type SMG in .45 ACP, and  US .30 Carbines. Also used the BAR and the Browning LMG for static defense at stations and check points.

When your friends do ARVNs, make sure that one ARVN in every platoon has a squawking duck or chicken tied to his web gear by its legs (dinner for the night!).  LOL!!!!! I remember seeing this scene in almost every ARVN unit I ever saw on the move.... they never did develop a chicken/duck silencer....

Well, I hope this helps out those folks trying to figure out about ARVN and National Police uniforms as I saw them from 1967, 1968, 1969, and 1970.



'Delta Mike 2' completed two tours in RVN, one with the 1st Infantry Division, the 'Big Red One' as a Grunt and the second as an MP in both Saigon and the Delta. These observations are based upon his own memories.


1st Infantry Division TAOR (1969)

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