RVN Research Project – Ripley

For those of you who served in RVN here is a questionnaire provided to assist a Mr. William Ripley in a research project.  If you choose to participate, please print it out, answer the questions to the best of your ability, and email it back to his address provided at the end of the questionnaire.   He explains it best in his email to me:

Dear Mr. Cavasin,
Hello. My name is Wm.T. Ripley. I found you while searching through your unit’s website guestbook. I am a military historian who has been working on contacting veterans of WWII and Vietnam.  began this project in 1986, but am still working hard on it.  In early 2013 I began contacting veterans of the Vietnam War.  I have a 6 page questionnaire I’d like to send you.
I majored in history at Ball State University, and presently work as one of the Natural Science curators at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. I became interested in WWII and Vietnam at an extremely early age and started collecting uniforms, weapons, equipment, personal items, etc.  At 16 I started contacting veterans, as I mentioned above.  I should point out this project has nothing to do with the museum where I work…just me being a big history nerd.
If interested, let me know.  It is a long questionnaire, I’ll tell you that up front. The questions are designed to find out a bit about the “day to day” life as it were. I ask everyone the same questions as I can then compare and contrast answers. It’s kind of interesting seeing the differences between units, AO’s, and year.  There are some questions about combat in particular, but many of them deal more with the material culture of the time.  Right now I’m doing this as a personal hobby, but would “some day” like to make this available to other living historians, museum curators, model builders, teachers, that sort of thing.
I’d also like to ask if you have a photo of yourself while overseas, if you’d be willing to share it? I’m not entirely sure yet, but I’m thinking about doing a compilation book with the replies I get, and would like to include your photo as well.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this, especially since it is sort of an out of the blue email. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Wm.T. Ripley



Unit______________________________  MOS_______________________


Were you Enlisted (  )  or Drafted (  )


Date and place entered service________________________________________


Weapon/s carried______________________________________________________________________


Date and place of service overseas_________________________________________________________


If you saw combat, please take a moment and describe a particular instance that stands out for you (please use extra sheets if needed):

If you were wounded, could you please describe the events surrounding your wounding?  Again, please use additional sheets if needed.

What was the funniest incident that happened to you while in the service?

What citations or medals did you receive for your service?


Besides combat, what were your responsibilities in the service?




Where were you when you first heard you were going home? __________________________________

The following questions were designed to get an idea of the life of the soldier in the field.  Any help you could give would help make that image much more accurate.  No detail is too small or trivial to pass on.  Many of the answers may be circled or underlined, but if you’d like to go into more detail, please feel free to do so, using additional sheets as necessary.  Thank you.

What rations were available to you:  C-Rations?  LURP Rations?   Other?

If other, what were they?________________________________________________________

Were they eaten cold or warmed up?_______________________________________________

If warmed up, how?_______________________________________________________

What, if anything, did the kitchens supply for you?______________________________

Did you scrounge or buy from the locals?  If so, what sorts of things did you get?


 In the field (or combat), what kind of :

Boots did you wear?  Were they all leather or the “jungle” boot with leather and canvas?

Undershirt did you wear?  Tank top or sleeved?

Your shirt.  Did shirt have the 2 hip level pockets and 2 chest pockets?

Very detailed, but did your shirt look like any of the following (minus the patches of course)?


1 Exposed buttons/shoulder straps                 2 Covered buttons/shoulder strap             3 Covered buttons/NO shoulder strap

And I realize you were a tad more concerned with them being clean and dry, rather than if the buttons were exposed, but anything you might recall would be great for me.

Your pants.  Did they have pockets at the hip, back, and sides of the legs?

What type of socks did you have?

Did you wear a cap of any sort?  Boonie cap or ball cap?

Weapon did you carry?  M16, M60, M79, or other?  If other, please list.

Bandoleers?  How many?

Did you carry a bayonet?

Did you carry grenades?  What type?

Did you wear a flak jacket?

What was your opinion of these items?

Types of equipment carried in the bush:

Steel Helmet

Did it have a camouflage cover?

Did it have an elastic band?

Load bearing suspenders?

Pistol Belt?

Ammunition pouches?  Usually 2 were carried.  Is that what you carried?

Did you carry anything other than ammunition, and if so, what?

Canteen and cover?  How many did you carry?

Was it plastic or metal?

Was the canteen cover canvas or nylon?

Did you carry a canteen cup?

First Aid Pouch?

Entrenching tool and cover?

Rucksack?  Did it have a frame?

“Butt” pack?

Did you have a gas mask?  Did you keep it, or just use the bag as storage?

Did you carry a poncho and liner?

Did you have a flashlight?

Air mattress?

Did you have any other items you can recall?

What was your opinion of these items?

What personal items did you carry?

Toothbrush and paste?

Soap and towel?

Razor and shave cream?

Did you trim your nails?  How/with what?

Did you cut your hair?  How/with what?

How, when, and /or if washed (I realize washing was the exception and not the “rule”)?

Watch of some sort?

Insect repellant?

Foot powder?

Where did you carry letters from home?

Where did you carry photos from home?

Besides your dog tags, were there ANY other personal ID items you carried?

On any random day, what might one find in your pockets?

Where did you carry toilet paper?

Did you have a division patch on your shirt?  Color or subdued?

Did you have rank on your shirt?  Color or subdued?

No day in the field is “typical” or “average”, but could you describe a “typical” or “average” day for you in the field?  Basically, how did you occupy your time when not engaged in actual combat?

Attitudes on souvenir hunting.  What were “hot” items?  Bearing in mind you had to                                                                      carry it, did you souvenir hunt?

What magazines or papers do you recall from that era?

What brands of candy, gum, or pop were popular from that era?

Who or what, if any, was your favorite:

Movie star:


Pin up:

What sorts or brands of alcohol were popular while overseas?

What brands of cigarettes were popular while overseas?

Were drugs an issue while overseas?  What kinds, if any, did you notice?

What was your contact with the “locals” while in country?

What was the countryside like where you served?

What contact did you have with the enemy, and what was your impression?


Did you ever work with ARVN troops?  If so, what was your impression of them?

Did you ever have any contact with any of the US allies-Australia, New Zealand or South Korean?

What nicknames did you have for the enemy?

What was your most prized/valued item in the field?

How were race relations at the time you were in country?

What were some common sayings/slang while in the service?

Any unconventional uses for items while overseas?  Like what?

What sort of punishments were handed out for minor infractions overseas?

Bearing in mind you were in the middle of a war, how was the morale in your unit?

How were replacements handled in your unit?

How well were they integrated into the unit?

How well did they mix with the older soldiers?

How often could one get R&R?

How were relations between Grunts and rear area troops?

What sort of currency was used for payment?

Was religion expressed in your outfit?  How so?

What from civilian life did you miss the most while overseas?

William Ripley

Thank you very much for all of your time and effort. 

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