Austrialpin- Sep 18

The “Fritz” Helmet

The Personal Armor System, Ground Troops saw its first operational debut with the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation ‘Urgent Fury.’ At the time the US military’s first standard issue ballistic helmet was known as the ‘Fritz’ due to its similar shape to the German Stahlhelm of WW II. How many of you remember referring to the Kevlar as the Fritz Helmet?

39 Responses to “The “Fritz” Helmet”

  1. Weaver says:

    I started wearing a PASGT in 1988. I remember reading in a Clancy book that it was “commonly” called a “Fritz” – but in 20 years active service in the Army I never, ever heard anyone use that term.

    K-pot at first, Kevlar later – but never Fritz.

    • Eric B says:

      Same here. Only K-Pot or Kevlar

      • majrod says:

        +1

        • Terry Baldwin says:

          I got my first in the spring of 83 when I signed into the 82nd. Never, ever heard any soldier call it the “Fritz”. I also remember going to the Division’s Jumpmaster School about a year later and having to JMPI jumpers with steel pots and dial a death T10 harnesses in addition to the Kevlar helmet with the then new “Big B” harness. Fun times.

          The story I heard about the “Fritz” business was that a WW II vet working at Natick made a comment that it looked like the German helmets of that war and the media ran with that. As mentioned below, I never though there was that much of a resemblance if you actually compare them side by side.

          TLB

    • DAN III says:

      Agreed, it was never a “Fritz”. We always referred to it as a “Kevlar”.

  2. FormerDirtDart says:

    Always referred to it as either a Kevlar or K-pot, and jokingly as the “Dome of Obedience”.
    I remember the media using “Fritz” but don’t recall any troops using the term.
    And yes, I wore one during ‘Urgent Fury’

    • straps says:

      +1 for Dome of Obedience.

      I was in a place called “West” Germany when I was issued mine so there was some sensitivity about calling it a “Fritz.”

      When we first started wearing them, some locals looked at us with MORE than the typical level of revulsion. Or sly smiles, in the case of the DEH crews (4 hours of sketchy-ass work, 4 hours of drinking) that kept our kaserne in a perpetual state of disrepair.

      • AGI says:

        Got issued one and immediately went to the field as a liaison to a W. German Panzer Grenadier Brigade who all wore US-style steel pots. Standing in the CG’s CP one day he looked me up and down in my BDUs and K-pot and remarked to his staff, “He looks like a German soldier of the Second World War! And we? We look like the Americans.”

      • Kirk says:

        Funniest shit I ever went through in Germany relating to the Kevlar…

        Shortly after we got them issued, we were up in Bad Tolz doing the Platoon Confidence Training course that the SF guys up there ran. In the course of that, we were moving through a little rural area where a German farmer saw us coming down a dirt path/road about dusk, one evening. He glances at us, does a severe double-take, and immediately runs off towards the farmhouse screaming for his wife… The guy we had who spoke German was rolling on the ground, laughing, at our next rest halt, and we had to ask him what the hell was up. Seems the old German had run off screaming something like “Martha!!! Martha!!! The fucking Nazis are back!! Hide everything!”

        Yeah, there were some issues with the profile of those helmets. Never heard the things called the “Fritz” by anyone except oblivious media idiots, though.

  3. Paul says:

    Who are those badass zero-fucks-given lookin’ mofos in the 2nd pic?

    • SGT Rock says:

      Looks like the Marines in Grenada.

      • Terry Baldwin says:

        Rock,

        No, the Marines did not have kevlars for Grenada. Neither did the 1st and 2nd Ranger Batts. That is a picture of some arty guys from the 82nd. 1/319th I believe (see guidon in background). The 82nd was first DoD unit to issue the new helmet. And yes, the paratroopers also wore the PASGT vest for Grenada (at least around the airfield).

        TLB

        • SN says:

          Yep.
          Those guys in the 2nd picture got reamed by REMF’s when we got back from Grenada.

          Kevlar, and K-pot in 83-85
          Dome of Obedience when I went back to Bragg in 92.
          Mine was issued in Jan 83 and I was the first guy in my unit to get one.

  4. TexasKrypteia says:

    First slapped one on my head in 87. Thought it was so cool. After that two of my biggest motivators for getting into Recon were no more red panty PT shorts, and no more helmets.

  5. Jon, OPT says:

    Fritz?

    Only in the media, not in the military.

    K-Pot, or Kevlar for the 10 or so years I wore one.

  6. Jim says:

    K-pot is all I ever used or heard…except by some supply clerks.

  7. Stan says:

    I only ever heard it called, “the Kevlar” in my 20 years in the Marines. I also never thought the shape was that similar to the Nazi helmets unless you sat them side by side without cloth covers on.

  8. RayForest says:

    My first memory of one was seeing a passenger on the back of a motorcycle wearing one on Ardennes when I was probably about 10 years old. The guy was wearing it in civies. I was with my dad on base on business. He would take me to the surplus stores afterward. I distinctly remember him asking me if at the next traffic light I’d like him to offer the guy $50 for it. Can you imagine trying to ride a MC on post today with one? Oh and neither had on a reflective belt.

  9. Matt says:

    I was doing a training mission in Poland in the 1990s and a Polish Lieutenant asked me about “the fritz”…I had no clue what he was talking about.

    When he explained, I corrected him and told him the more widely used terminology was “K-Pot” or simply “Kevlar”

  10. Strike-Hold says:

    As many others have already said – we always called it the “Kevlar”. Only times I ever heard or saw it called a “Fritz” helmet was by the media – probably by media people who are the parents of the current crop of media peeps who call an AR-15 and ‘assault weapon’.

    • majrod says:

      Concur.

      I wonder if it isn’t on purpose though. Trying to create the most tenuous link between our troops and the Nazis? Low level, subliminal messaging but I don’t doubt it. The media doesn’t have problems using or creating inaccurate terms when it serves a purpose e.g. “assault weapons”.

      • SSD says:

        No, it was not even 40 years after the war when it was fielded and there was still cultural memory. It wasn’t called a Nazi helmet, just a Fritz by some.

        • majrod says:

          I didn’t say it was called a “Nazi helmet”.

          I was also serving before the kevlar started to be issued. Never heard it called a “Fritz” except by the media. Did read quite a bit of how it resembled the stahlhelm.

          Yep, there was a greater cultural memory of WWII and the media had the same anti-military tendencies. Remember, Vietnam had even a greater “cultural memory”. The media gave servicemembers awesome treatment troops back then.

      • AbnMedOps says:

        The only time I ever, ever heard it called “Fritz” was in a tiny little column about the Army’ planning to issue a new helmet, in “TIME” magazine pre-1980…in fact, the column may have been as early as 1977.

  11. schowgun says:

    Wore it for 20 years, never heard it called that.

  12. Ivan says:

    “Kevlar” and how to properly “Turtle-Fuck” someone with it…

    • Big_Juju says:

      +1 on the Turtle F$#K!

      I taught that to my kids when we’re all wearing bicycle helmets but it’s, “Hey – how do turtle’s KISS?!” instead.

  13. patrulje says:

    1st saw them at Jump School in 84. 3 guys had them because their heads were too large for steel pots.

  14. JPW says:

    I bought my Fritz-Hat end of the 1980ies at the Frankfurt fleemarket and I still have it in my collection!

  15. SGT Rock says:

    We only called it the K-pot, brain bucket, or Kevlar. I only read about it in the civilian world being called the “Fritz” helmet. Damn civilians.

  16. DSM says:

    K pot or just Kevlar, but I came in much later. Good, 20th century helmet if not for the 19th century harness to keep it on your squash. And if you went prone with a ruck you were screwed unless you just wanted to look at the dirt in front of you. I remember stripping down the sweatband’s metal spring clips and using riggers tape instead. And looping 550 through the foliage holes to keep from losing my dang elastic band…again.
    Then we got the MICH and all was right with the world. Except when it got cold, then those pads would turn into blocks.

  17. D.B. says:

    Kevlar.

    Never called it “Fritz”. This must be a thing of Hollywood movies or maybe media as some pointed above.

  18. Harry says:

    Always a Kevlar aside from jump master school when it was a ballistic helmet. The initial issue ones in the 1980’s had the defective two ply pull the dot fastener with tab that resulted in many troopers losing their helmet during their first point of performance. The Kevlar was really the first advancement in individual soldier equipment for the first time in many,many years. That’s hard to remember in today’s land of high speed, low drag modular everything. But think about how long the steel pot was around before the Kevlar appeared?

  19. Tom says:

    I wore the K-Pot in 89 when I joined the Army. I first had a Steel Pot that the Drill Sergeants called a ” Turtle Shell ” and then we got the K-Pot to wear during our field problem. We never called it “Fritz” though.

  20. Ex Coelis says:

    As a Canadian Reservist during the mid-80’s, I participated in quite few of exercises at Fort Drum NY and recall a lot of U.S. Army guys very pridefully referred to their newly issued kevlar helmets as their ‘heavy-kevies’ or more often than not, called them ‘k-pots’. Definitely never heard anyone ever refer to their PASGT as a ‘Fritz’ helmet and have to say with a wan grin, at no time did any of the U.S. Army guys ever make fun of our Vietnam-era M31 style helmets. Now and in this day and age…almost every civilian and military service in the world issues a kevlar helmet to it’s troops.

    Kirk – killer story, Bro! ROTGLMAO picturing that!!

  21. pbr549 says:

    It was always called the K-pot until I went to Jumpmaster School and then it was the ballistic helmet.