Primary Arms

Combat Control Teams Used AR-15s As Early As 1965 In Vietnam

CMSgt Gene Alcock (USAF, Ret) has long served his country in both the Air Force and industry. These past years, he’s continued as a historian, documenting the history of the Combat Control Teams he served on. He recently shared this photo from 1965 which depicts one of the earliest uses of the AR-15 rifle in a combat setting.



14 OCTOBER 1965 – BONG SON SPECIAL FORCES CAMP, RVN – CCT TSgt Stan Williams, 32, of Erwin, NC “talks in” a C-123 Provider of the 315th Air Commando Group during an airlift of Army of the Republic of Vietnam troops at Bong Son Special Forces camp. The army unit was heading for Tuy Hoa North, after spending more than two months in the field. Watching the aircraft land is TSgt Gene Adcock, 28, of Christopher, IL, another member of the team.

The radio vehicle pictured is the MRC-94. The weapon, an Armalite AR-15 and a B- 2 air traffic control light are shown on the ground at the right wheel.
(Air Force Photo by SSgt B. W. Cook)


9 Responses to “Combat Control Teams Used AR-15s As Early As 1965 In Vietnam”

  1. Darkhorse says:

    No YouTube back then so they could roll with whatever they wanted and nobody was offended.

    • Mike says:

      People were offended by a lot of things in 1965, like women having jobs and black people actually integrating into society…

  2. Seans says:

    Does anybody know when AR15s first got into Vietnam. I know there are official documents from 1962 talking about AR15 combat performance in Vietnam. Not sure when the first actual use was.

    • DangerMouse says:

      I had a relative there from ’64-’65 on the then-new UH-1Bs and they had M16s for social purposes. So it goes back at least that far. I assume they were XM16, Colt 601 with no fence and no forward assist. But sadly I can’t ask for details until the resurrection LOL.

  3. Mac says:

    What’s the difference between the AR-15, as referenced to in the photograph’s caption, and the M-16A1??

    • Seans says:

      The M16 is just a us military designation for a AR15 built to a certain spec. The M16A1 is built to another spec. Biggest difference if these are 601 models vs a M16A1 is lack of Chrome Lining for the chamber and barrel, muzzle device, and lack of forward assist.

    • DSM says:

      There were many, what I would call subtle, variations in the early ARs. There are people out there who relish in such details and many history books to boot. I think they’re fascinating myself but mostly because I was a CATM troop and inspected, serviced and sadly turned in for destruction many of these rifles that were in mint, original issue condition. Green furniture, pencil barrel, Armalite marked, original contract rifles sealed in VPI bags with wicks still in the bore…and this was just only 11-12 years ago. They just sit in mobility storage, years after the A2 conversion kit abortion that if the Air Force did a no shit data call on I’d bet there are still rifles out there not converted but that’s another story.

  4. DSM says:

    Any links to the Chief’s history work thus far?