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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

A Moment In History From The Army Marksmanship Unit

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

The AMU recently shared this image taken in the summer of 1967 when John Wayne was at the Home of Champions filming “The Green Berets” movie.

The US Army Fort Benning Soldier with the legendary actor is Sgt. Richard L. Foronato, who was part of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s Shotgun Team.

The scene filmed at Hook range was when Col. Lamar Asbury “Bill” Welch, the actual commander of the United States Army Airborne School at Fort Benning in 1967, makes a brief cameo shooting trap with John Wayne. Welch wears a 1960s U.S. Army Fatigue Baseball Cap (common issue during the Vietnam War) in the scene while the actors wear green berets. The Soldiers exercising on the drill field – who Wayne shouts to – were actual Army airborne recruits in training.

US Army Europe – 1966

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

This is what field training exercises in West Germany looked like in the 60s and the 70s.

Polartec’s Role In ECWCS GEN III Development

Monday, October 28th, 2019

Polartec® (then Malden Mills) provided wool fabric to the U.S. government from the early 1900s, which was turned into uniforms. In the 1980s, Polartec created the first technical fleece for climbers, and it quickly became ubiquitous. It has been recognized as one of the 100 most important inventions of the 20th century by Time magazine, among countless other accolades.

In 1998, then Malden Mills owner Aaron Feuerstein hired David Costello to diversify the business of the company, and he, along with his colleague Jane Hunter, started traveling down the road to the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center. Their focus, initially, was cold weather clothing, and they started working on ways to leverage Polartec’s fabric innovation expertise to create better cold weather combat uniforms.

They immediately saw an opportunity to develop specific textiles for base layer, mid layer, and heavier weight fleece. One of the great benefits of working with the government is they can afford to do far better and more thorough testing than any company can, including extensive laboratories with testing equipment and field testing in extreme environments. They put product on 200 Marines, collected tons of scientific data, and assembled it into an informative report. This gave Polartec a heightened sense of what works.

The first Polartec product to be adopted was a Polartec® Classic 100 fleece, which replaced an acrylic wool sweater for the United States Marine Corps. Only one item had ever received higher field test ratings than the new Polartec fleece: M&M’s that had been added to MREs.

With this success, Polartec began traveling to Washington, D.C., to expedite the process of providing better gear for warfighters. These efforts succeeded through the appropriations of funding in the defense budget for the Marine Corps and Army, and helped accelerate the adoption of additional Polartec products.

When U.S. troops were deployed to Afghanistan, Rick Elder, an Army Ranger and Product Officer at Natick, wanted to update what was then the GEN II E.C.W.C.S. system into something that worked better for modern war environments faced by the Special Forces. Moshe Rock, a former Israeli military soldier who headed Polartec R&D at the time, developed Polartec® Power Dry® as a baselayer and militarized Polartec® Power Grid™ for U.S. Special Forces. Gadi Vainer, who still drives product innovation at Polartec, worked to develop what is now Polartec® High Loft™ fleece.

These products, integrated with some shell technology and additional insulation, created a system that worked for modern environments and was able to be adapted to modern warfighter needs in a seamless way.

The efforts of Polartec to advance the products did not go unnoticed by the Army, and would soon be adopted for the new GEN III E.C.W.C.S.. Polartec developed the foundation of this system (Levels I, II, III) engineered to be super packable, transfer moisture and dry quickly. They were designed to work together as a clothing system, and the U.S. Army made the decision that every person in the Army would be issued that system. It was a significant improvement in the ability to outlast the enemy in any environment and the system is still in deployment today.

Polartec has recently introduced its Polartec® Military Issue Collection, bringing these iconic, American-made, military-issue fabric technologies and finished garments directly to all Americans. Polartec GEN III E.C.W.C.S. products and the Polartec® Military Issue Collection include:

E.C.W.C.S. Level I Silkweight Shirt and Pants, the foundation of the modern GEN III E.C.W.C.S. layering system, made of a soft and comfortable Polartec® Silkweight fabric for versatile next-to-skin performance that includes fast wicking action and dry times, high durability and compressibility

E.C.W.C.S. Level II Grid Knit Shirt and Pants, the legendary “waffle” shirt, made of iconic (and patented) Polartec® Power Grid™ bi-component knit fabric, which maximizes warmth, breathability, wicking action, compressibility and versatility, while minimizing dry-times and weight.

E.C.W.C.S. Level III High Loft Jacket, the “smoking jacket,” made primarily of Polartec® High Loft™, the ultra soft and compressible fleece for warmth without weight, with Polartec® Power Grid panels

Micro Fleece Cap, small enough to stash anywhere for critical warmth, made of warm, highly compressible and lightweight Polartec® Micro series fleece in a durable three-panel construction 

“We have long noticed veterans, active military, or even just the tactically-inclined reaching out to us directly, in search of these authentic military grade products,” says Polartec President Steve Layton. “No one should have to roll the dice on a blurry eBay photo or questionable shopping link to get a new pair of their favorite long underwear, “waffle” grid mid-weight top, or favorite “smoking jacket” design.”

Thanks to Polartec for the details!

The McRae Industries Story – Part 2, Boots On The Ground

Friday, October 25th, 2019

Crafting combat footwear for the Vietnam War

> American troops in the Vietnam War needed a better combat boot.

The year was 1967, and the Vietnam War raged on. With half a million American troops in South Vietnam, the U.S. was at the height of its combat operations.

One major challenge? The standard, all-leather boot issued to troops was falling apart. As America’s warfighters trudged through the dense bamboo, razor-sharp grass, and perilous swamps of southeast Asia, the stitching on their boots was rotting. The federal government sought a more reliable construction to withstand the hot, wet, and humid conditions troops encountered every day.


A shoemaker’s mission: Combat boots that prevailed in the hot, harsh jungle.

“When lives are on the line – as they were every day in the Vietnam War – no gear is more critical than durable combat boots.”

– Jim McRae, Vice President, Director, and Secretary, McRae Industries

Changing course

Responding to the call: McRae Footwear got its start as a government contractor by making boots for American troops in Vietnam.

More than 9,000 miles away from Vietnam, in tiny Mount Gilead, NC, a children’s shoe company had a solution to the military’s boot problem. Gro-Rite Shoes built its footwear following “Process 82.” Instead of the standard practice of stitching on soles by using the welt construction, rubber outsoles were molded directly onto the leather, yielding a highly functional and long-lasting boot.

Responding to the call: McRae Footwear got its start as a government contractor by making boots for American troops in Vietnam.


Functional and long-lasting: McRae’s olive drab jungle boot.

The U.S. Department of Defense asked Gro-Rite to consider producing combat boots for the Vietnam War. The company bid on and was awarded its first federal contract. The product: olive drab jungle boots, with a hunter-green canvas upper section and thick black rubber outsole.

The war order secured, the company changed its name to McRae Footwear and swiftly exited the children’s shoe business. Although McRae shared the jungle boot contract with 13 other government suppliers, work was plentiful. Jungle boot construction continued steadily in Mount Gilead until 1973, when U.S. troops left Vietnam.

Building a relationship with the federal government

“The military boot business was a huge change for us,” says Jim McRae, vice president, director, and secretary of McRae Industries. “We had the equipment and we had the knowledge, but we needed to learn about government specifications and the ins and outs of being a government contractor.”

Sparked by the abiding tenacity of company founder Branson McRae, the company continued making military boots of various designs for the government using the vulcanizing/direct molded sole construction. Over the years, McRae has emerged as a trusted supplier of military boots.

The jungle boots were so successful that they remained a military-spec item until the mid-1990s. McRae still manufactures commercial versions of these boots using the same vulcanizing presses and molds from the Vietnam War era. Today’s boot is constructed of green canvas-colored nylon Cordura for light weight and maximum airflow.

“The Vietnam War had a huge impact on our nation,” Jim says. “It also had a huge impact on our family business. We started bidding for government contracts, and we have been fortunate ever since to continuously win government work.”

Operation Urgent Fury

Friday, October 25th, 2019

On the morning of October 25th, 1983, America awoke to reports that US forced had invaded the small Caribbean nation of Grenada, in order to liberate American medical students from danger posed by political instability. Joined by Regional Security System troops from a variety of Caribbean partner nations, they swiftly overwhelmed the Grenadian and Cuban troops. While Operation Urgent Fury was in name, a joint force operation, and included the use of Special Operations Forces, it highlighted many interoperability challenges, such as use of joint operational overlays and communications issues.

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Several stove pipe problems suffered by the pre-Goldwater-Nichols military were identified during this operation. Additionally, Urgent Fury was conducted with many systems dating from the Vietnam war.

Just six years later, during the invasion of Panama, saw the first employment of several new weapons developed during the Reagan buildup such as the F-117 stealth fighter and the Marine Corps LAV-25. Grenada was a great learning experience for the US military as it highlighted issues with joint service operations, particularly in the communications arena as well as interoperability between Special Operations and General Purpose forces. For example, SOF also took a much more prominent role in operation Blue Spoon during the Panama invasion. We’ve come even further in the past three decades.

Finally, as with any conflict, lives were lost. Let us not forget the 19 Americans killed in action and the 116 who were wounded. Unfortunately, there were also 24 Grenadian civilians killed in the conflict.

The Colt M4 Carbine Marketing Video

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

Although SOCOM started fielding the M4A1 Carbine In 1994, 3rd SFG(A) went to Haiti with the M16A2 and didn’t receive ours until we returned to Ft Bragg in the spring of 95.

SCUBAPRO Sunday – Midway

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

The movie Midway is one of my favorite WW2 movies. They used a lot of real footage from the battle that was shot by director John Ford during the actual battle, (He also directed, They were Expendable, and Mister Roberts) you can tell it was old footage, but it does helps tell the story. So far Hollywood has not done a great job “remaking” movie or retelling the same story. They killed Red Dawn. Hopefully they use the same mindset that was used for Saving private Ryan, Band of Brothers and even Fury.

“DANGER CLOSE: The Battle of Long Tan” Coming To US Theaters

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

DANGER CLOSE will be in Select US Theaters, On Demand & Digital on NOVEMBER 8.

Witness the true story of the most ferocious ANZAC battle of the Vietnam War.

Starring; Travis Fimmel, Luke Bracey, Daniel Webber, Alexander England, Aaron Glennane, Nicholas Hamilton, Anthony Hayes and Richard Roxburgh.

Opening Week Theaters (USA):

NYC – Cinema Village

LA – Laemmle Music Hall

Dallas – Fun Movie Grill Macarthur Marketplace

Tampa – Spring Hill 8

San Francisco – Four Star Theatre

Philadelphia – Penn Riverfront

Detroit – Cinema Detroit

KC – Screenland Crossroads

Phoenix – Harkins Arizona Mills

Minneapolis – Emagine Rogers 18

18 August 1966, in a Vietnamese rubber plantation called Long Tan, 108 young and mostly inexperienced Australian and New Zealand soldiers are fighting for their lives against more than 2000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers.

From the Director of RED DOG Kriv Stenders and the Writer of COLLATERAL. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and AUSTRALIA Stuart Beattie.