US Infantry in Vietnam; Radio Communications and Equipment. The recollections of a Veteran of the 1st Infantry Division, RVN


US Infantry Radio Communications


My grunt radio call sign was Mike 2, the most common nickname I had, there are a lot of other less polite things I was called during the six years I Was Gone For A Soldier........ Mike 2 means the caller is the squad leader of the second squad of the second platoon. This would be modified by a company designator, and a battalion designator. My full radio ID was thusly, ****** (battalion) DELTA (Company D) MIKE (second platoon) TWO (second squad). This was my permanent radio call sign for radio traffic or field-phone or whatever. Since this is the same as a photograph, please just use DELTA MIKE 2. There were gazillions of DELTA MIKE 2's during the war.

QUICK RADIO LESSON: each and every Battalion, Company, Platoon, and Squad had a radio ID. Same was true for Brigades and larger formations. There were radio authenticators for use when entering a radio net (passwords, and challenges), all standardized for NATO use between any NATO Army, Navy and Air Force. There still are. So anyone, with the current passwords and challenges, could enter a radio net. Now back to 'NAM and the real world.

Tactical radio was a different world in some ways in 'Nam. We had all of the above in use, but to further screw over the minds of the gook monitoring our signals we also used radio shorthand. We did not have any Indian code talkers like were used by the US in WWI and WWII. So we used SHACKLES (code word for a 10 letter word used for 0 thru 9 to read map coordinates) on our PUSHES (radio frequencies).

EXAMPLE:

"RED BIRD THIS IS FOXHOUND 6. WE HAVE MANY MANY CHARLIES IN THE OPEN, FIRE MISSION, OVER" after RED BIRD acknowledges "AHHH, ROGER THAT RED BIRD 6. STAND BY FOR A SHACKLE. I SHACKLE (and then the numbers 0 -1 are called off with a different letter for each number, and always from a 10 letter word).

To verify your location to aircraft for a strike, a grunt would say, " ROGER , JAYHAWK. I AM POPPING SMOKE" (colour unspecified for security reasons) and the aircraft would respond with 'I IDENTIFY PURPLE!" and if that was the color you used , you would comeback with "RAJAH, JAYHAWK! I POPPED PURPLE!!!" IF the gooks tried to confuse the issue by using same color, well you would pop one and wait for his, then pop another color too 'JAYHAWK, I POPPED PURPLE AND YELLOW!!!"

Commanding Officer or Senior Officer of a Unit is always a "6". Next in command is always a "5". Weapons squad leader is a "4". Third squad leader is a "3". Second squad leader is a "2". First squad leader is a "1".

Headquarters Platoon is "HOTEL". First Platoon is "LIMA". Second Platoon is "MIKE". Third Platoon is "NOVEMBER". Fourth Platoon is "OSCAR". Recon Platoon is "ECHO'".

Company A is "ALPHA". Company B is "BRAVO". Company C is "CHARLIE". Company D is "DELTA"

HEADQUARTERS COMPANY FOR THE BATTALION IS "HOTEL", BUT IT IS NOT THE SAME AS THE CO AND THE TOC!!!

Back to radios. AN/PRC-25 called 'pricks' were the backpack field radios carried by RTO's. The number in a Company must have been around 18 or more. There was a very brief failed experiment to use the Army's vaunted helmet radio system (every man with a sergeant in his ear was the promo) that never got beyond squad and fire team leader level.

These things were sad jokes. I forget what the range was officially, but I could look and see my PLT LDR or PLT SGT talking in their pricks to us, and we could not hear shit, or usually just the deafening SHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! of static or transmissions so badly broken up as to be unusable. So back to hand signals and leather lungs. We hated these damn things.

SEARS made a 2 way kids radio set that worked better over a longer range. They also got tangled in everything, so we hooked them onto the web gear straps on our chests and then they fell off every time you bent over or ducked (about a zillion times a day in the jungle) plus even when squelched, without warning they would blast out with earsplitting static crackle and rush!!! Pure junk. So, in soldier fashion, we deliberately destroyed every one handed out (steel pots, rifle butts, boots, rocks, oops it fell in the river and sunk! or shot, chopped them up with entrenching tools, knives, hatchets, or machetes) until the lifers decided they were a failure and reissued pricks as needed. HURRAY! A victory for the grunts!

WELL hope this helps some with the radio stuff. Later!

DELTA MIKE 2


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1st Infantry Division TAOR (1969)

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