I was at Barnes and Noble and saw the “U.S. Army Survival Kit” they were selling. It was a box, about the size of two hardback books laid side by side. Had a blanket and and few other things in. I was kind of scratching my head it because none of seemed particularly hardy enough for what the military really has.
In additional the uniforms we would be taking, we also had a long list of individual equipment for each soldier:
- Two blankets: These were green wool blankets, like the ones you see on M*A*S*H. Since cots were twin sized, they were twin-sized blankets. Very scratchy.
- Sleeping bag: This was green also and looked like a caterpillar. Not like those nice rectangular ones you get at the camping stores that are more like folding a blanket in half.
- Rain poncho: A woodland camouflage piece of plastic with a hood. It wasn’t really much protection against the weather if it was raining harder than a sprinkler.
- Poncho Liner: Any soldier will tell you this was the most useful tool around. It was not standard issue; purchasing it came out of our own pockets, and we all bought one. It was a quilted rectangle of cloth that could be fastened to the rain poncho to create an impromptu sleeping bag. It could be also used in addition to the blankets, or to sit on, or hang up like a wall.
- Rain jacket and pants: This was a heavy duty rain covering, rather like the yellow ones you see in rescue movies, only ours was green and stank of plastic.
- Galoshes: These were your basic galoshes that you pulled over your own shoes and hoped you could get off when you feet sweated too much.
- Chemical boots: Or my nickname, fish boots. They were black plastic and had this weird part on the bottom that you had to pull up and tie around your ankle with
- Chemical clothing: A jacket and pants. We actually brought the training version (don’t ask; it’s army logic) and the real thing, which was sealed in a package. It was heavily quilted, so quite warm when we put it on over the uniform. After we got to Saudi Arabia, we received a notification that one entire lot of them was defective. The recommendation was to wear the rain jacket and pants over the top. Comforting.
- Entrenching Tool: Army speak for a collapsible shovel.
- Shelter half and tent stakes: The shelter half was a cotton half of a two person tent. The only place I ever used one was in Basic Training. It was just extra weight to lug around though it did make a great wall to accompany the poncho liner.
- Duffel bags: Each soldier was given two of these as part of normal issue.
- Ruck sack: Army speak for a backpack, but nothing as fancy as the ones you see hikers carry. It came with a frame to put the weight on your hips.
- Footlocker: For the war, we were issued one footlocker. Pretty much like the ones on M*A*S*H, though dark brown. The footlocker was the only packing tool where we could use it for whatever we wanted.
Hardly a box the size of two hard backed books! From what I read, for the later wars, the soldiers carried even more weight. We would get cots when we got there, but those were part of the company’s inventory, rather than the soldier’s equipment.
Off next to packing all this stuff!