LRRPS by Ian Cook
A LITTLE ABOUT ME: I have had a keen interest in the Vietnam War coming up to 10 years now. Over that time I have portrayed many units before joining AFVN and have now found a home. My main “love” if you can call it that is Rangers or LRRPS (long range reconnaissance patrol) primarily, company H 75th Ranger (Air Cav). H Co. started life in 1966 as E Co 52nd Inf LRP (Air Cav) before being re designated in 1969. But I also portray a Cav infantry unit 1/9 “blues” apache troop and early 5th Special Forces circa 1965 amongst others.
A BRIEF OVER VIEW OF WHAT THEY DID AND THEIR TOOLS OF THE TRADE: Most LRRP teams were a lot smaller than your normal infantry platoon, only consisting of 5 or 6 highly trained men. They carried enough equipment while out on patrol to last anything up to a week, taking photos of new trails, enemy movement and also making any corrections to the topographical maps they carried of the area which was usually a 4km square with an additional 1km “no fire zone” in the hope that there would be no “friendly fire” accidents.
Most of the guys would carry tropical rucks which were big enough to carry all their additional equipment. In a normal ruck at any one time you would find enough LRRP rations to last the time you were out (LRRP rations were packets of dried food that you added to water and apparently according to some of the vets I’ve talked too were actually quite edible, way better than the infantry C rats), your poncho liner (no actual poncho as if it rained it would give away your location with the loud noise it made) at least 2 bandoliers of mags each holding 7 magazines, 5qrt canteen, claymore’s, 2 bandoliers of 40mm grenades, plus your webbing with 2 additional mag pouches holding 6 mags (so if you had to drop your pack you still had some ammo) a canteen of water and some would have the smaller pilots knife taped to their harness easily excess able with one hand if needed.
Each team carried different weapons, it would depend massively on the mission, but the staple was always the same, M16’s, the much preferred XM177 E1 or XM177 E2 which you could attach an M203 grenade launcher, M79 grenade launcher and as many grenades as you could carry. In addition some teams would carry an M60 however due to size, weight and the extra weight of the ammo some teams saw them more of a burden even though that amount of fire power could get you right out of a jam. One of the team would carry a radio (PRC77) to keep in touch with base and also to call in air support and emergency extraction if needed.
At night they would set up a perimeter and would take it in turns to keep watch while the rest of the team tried to get some sleep. They would sleep in their webbing and set up claymores on their perimeter approx 15m out which was way under what was recommended (50ft) but with such a small group they could couldn’t risk NVA/VC sneaking through their defences and the LRRPS would have a better chance of escaping if they were attacked.
The majority of LRRP’s wore sterile tiger stripe uniforms (or ERDL’s later on) which they were very proud of as it made them stand out from the normal infantry soldier, helmets were far too bulky and heavy, especially if you were having to run like hell to escape and evade the enemy, so most just wore a boonie.