Rolling Thunder Living History personal appearance and uniform Rules and regulations
Latest update: 13 January 2018

General Notes

Research who you are portraying and the unit, there is so much information 
available today that you have no excuse to get it wrong!

Don't build your look from Hollywood movies but from real photographs and combat footage.

Take pride in what you are doing. so Veterans can be proud of our work.

 Don't let your mates and the society down by being slack!


Jungle Uniform, Jacket/Trousers

Three main type of jungle jackets were used during the Vietnam War, the main difference being as follows.


1st pattern
poplin material, with exposed buttons, jacket with shoulder straps, side tabs and neck gas flap, trousers with button fly, leg ties and button waist tabs


2nd pattern,
 jacket and trousers identical to above but with concealed buttons


3rd pattern, type A
in poplin, concealed buttons, no shoulder straps, no side tabs, no gas flap, trousers button or zip fly, no leg ties and buckle waist tabs.
3rd pattern, type B 
identical but made of rip stop material, trousers zip fly, no leg ties and buckle waist tab  



1IMG_0078.jpg IMG_0113.jpg
1st pattern jungle fatigue with full colour insignia 3rd patter Ripstop jungle fatigue, unbadged, often found in line infantry units in the field due 
to laundries difficulties
DSA1.jpg datetags.jpg

Various DSA label to date jackets

 The most common one was the 3rd pattern rip stop, 
if you use the earlier types, make sure you are not depicting a time frame before the Vietnam issue time

The "Old Timer" says
The real stuff is still around but price do vary a lot, 
so good reproduction uniforms are now acceptable 
as long as approved  by the

Please fill up your pocket when representing field troops.


Military underwear is not essential, although most members do wear them. Standard issue T-shirts had crew necks should be Olive Drab. (See photo bellows)
Old white t-shirts are OK for early stuff (up to 1965) (don't forget you would have made a nice target with them!)


Vietnam issue undershirt, boxer short and socks

marking on an issue Vietnam Tshirt
BASEBALL CAP.jpg IMG_0066.jpg

  the correct US ARMY issue T-shirt. This one is late 70's but is identical to the 60's one.  

OD T shirt  brought back from Vietnam by Seabee friend of mine in 1969, this may have been a private purchase as this appear not to have the standard crew neck unless, this has been distorted???, Name inked at the bootom.  PLEASE BE AWARE that the one used in Vietnam was the crew neck (round) type.


The Nylon Sleeping shirt was introduced in 1966. This was designed to replace the sweater and was quick drying
(desirable but not a requirement).


Cap, field, hot weather, OG-106, generally not liked by the troops.   In country tailors made were often purchased as their slightly different shape was preferred.


US Vietnam issue


In country made

In country made
In country made

The "Old Timer" says
Watch out for post the war cap 
with only four vent holes instead of six. 
(These are not acceptable)

Jungle hat

bush hat.jpg  


Hat, jungle with insect net, 
(the much loved boonie hat), 
standard issue from summer 1967 onwards.  

Vietnamese made version in light weight poplin 
bonnie hat, brought back by the same Seabee 
as T shirt above


Three patterns of jungle boots were produced during the Vietnam War, with the 3rd pattern (see photos) being distributed from 1967 onwards. The first jungle boot arrived in 1962/63 and the 2nd pattern in late 1965. Prior to early 1966, the most common boot in Vietnam was the black leather combat boot. The black leather combat boot remained in use throughout the war for flying personnel for safety reasons.  

Black leather and green canvas US issue jungle boots for all members (preferably 60's but 80's OK),


The one on left is a 1985 US Issue, the one on the right with the seam on the heel is dated 1968 and is the 3rd pattern with the panama sole


The top boot is polished and as worn by Base assigned personnel.
The lower one is grey and dry as worn by field troops. Boots would nearly turn kind of a greyish/tan colour if not polished regularly.

The "Old Timer" says
All 60ís jungle boot have vertical seam running up the heel, the post war do not have but they are acceptable
as long as approved  by the committee.  Beware of some  poor quality copies.
Also the 60ís all leather boot should not have a relief cut in the lacing area at ankle height, but again the post war are acceptable
as long as approved  by the committee. .

Equipment, Helmet

M1 helmet with correct liner and green canvas straps
(not nylon, no Bundeswehr helmet/liner). This must be covered with wine tree/frog and leaf helmet cover, with virtually no graffiti.  You should have the narrow green helmet band with only few items sensibly attached to it.
(Acceptable, bug juice, C rat toilet paper or matches, cigarettes).  

helmetM1.jpg helmet.jpg

Here are some items you can carry in your helmet band,
TOP: cigarette pack, toilet paper and matches (all out of 60's ration packs)  


BOTTOM:, two different bottles of bug juice,
The matches on the bottom right are from a modern MRE and are not acceptable.

The "Old Timer" says
Helmet cover graffiti was used  in the later part of the war 
and often depicted in war films! 
This still was not generalised so if you do go for that look, 
donít over do it! 
Make sure that your unit don't end up looking like a Vietnam graffiti art gallery


A lot of combat troops in the field tended not to wear insignia on their uniforms. 
However if you do want to wear some, they must be the proper U.S. Army issue twill or Ďlocalí Vietnamese-made for the subdued types patches.

Colour insignia were only worn early in the war, except for 101st, 82nd Airborne, and the 1st Inf Div which retained their colour insignia throughout the war. This is not to say that they did not wear subdued shoulder patch! 

The subdued shoulder patch version was authorised for wear from June 1966, with most units achieving the changeover by the end of 1967.  


Full colour, merrow type subdued, Vietnam made subdued

Pin on rank insignia was authorised in the summer of 1967 and a mixture of pin on and subdued sleeve rank insignia will be seen until the end of the war.  
The merrow edge type patches started to appeared in small quantity from around 1969 onwards and are not a good representation of the patches used during the Vietnam war. 
The full colour version merrow edge would be acceptable for a late war Dress uniform, but again they do not reflect the type of insignia worn during the war.

 The Cut edge, twill or Vietnamese made are much accurate options.

To help you out, a detailed photo of different types of manufacture is shown.

Top is the merrow edge recognised by its thread tail.  
Right is the US twill type with a cut edge. 
Left is a Nam-made one, which is of similar construction to the twill but with various backings and  of various quality.  

P1100207.jpg P1100211.jpg
1st Infantry Nam made subdued and cut edge green backing US made 1st Aviation Brigade subdued Nam made and early twill
P1100212.jpg P1100219.jpg
Early twill 1st Signal brigade and Nam made MACV 25th Inf Div cut edge full colour, rest are merrow edge, 
with 173rd Airborne Brigade, Jungle Expert badge 
and Americal

What often people refer as in "Country made" or Vietnam made insignia were not only made in Vietnam, but all over South East Asia  where ever US troops where, there construction can some time be identified as where they were made. 
They also came in many different qualities as you could go to you local "Mama San with a sewing machine" 
or to taylor shop like" Cheap Charlie in Saigon and get any patch made.  
To further complicated things, from the early 70's (during the war), Vietnamese tailors started producing patches for the US Military Patches Collectors, which were purchased by Merchant Navy personnel for resale in the US or for their own collection.  
From the late 80's and early 90's once genuine war time made patches started to dry up, the same Vietnamese Tailors that used to produce patches during the war started again producing patches for the growing collector marquet with the same machines that they had used during the war.  
To even had further to the difficulty in  identifying a genuine patch from a copy, the genuine patches have many different constructions as to when, where and by who they were made. Patches collectors can acquire a feel for spotting fakes or genuine one ones but there is not an infallible rule and many post Vietnam war patches made in South East Asia have inadvertently entered individual Genuine collections as well as genuine War time patches being now questioned as been authentic!

The "Old Timer" says
Prior to April 1965, the white name tag and the black on gold US ARMY tapes were worn. 
During the next two years, they were gradually replaced by the subdued version. Post 1967, subdued insignia only!

Vietnamese-made name tapes and US name tapes 



Subdued Vietnamese made tapes are most representative of Vietnam war



Subdued US-made embroidered or printed name and US tapes appeared  from around 67 onwards 
and would have been obtained in the US before deployment



US made nylon tapes, appeared in Vietnam from around 69, again in small quantity 
and are best avoided unless you are doing very late war.



Missing from the photo on the left is the the subdued twill issue US ARMY tape 
(photo to be posted later on)

Asian made tapes above



The "Old Timer" says
Tapes position
Prior to Feb 1968, tapes were worn either at an angle or parallel to the floor, 
Feb 68 to Sep 69 parallel to the ground 
and from Sept 69 at an angle for better visibility.




SF first pattern jacket showing US made  
full colour insignias
Printed white name tape


Post 69 tape position

Nam made 


The "Old Timer" says
Wear the right gear for whatever mission you are supposed to be on.  Don't stand on base guard duty with a machete, rucksack or butt pack! When you wear a ruck or ammo pouches, make sure they are full.  
Again do your research and check what your unit was wearing during the specific period you are depicting.

 Think like a soldier and act like one!



This is a very brief overview on female uniform.
Hot weather field uniform was made of olive green cotton poplin army shade 107 and later of ripstop material. It consisted of a long sleeve single breasted shirt with protective gaz flap, two breast patch pockets, buttoned shoulder loops, and a pencil pocket on the left shoulder.  

The trousers or slacks were tapered with two front bellow pockets, waistbands closed by two-buttons on each side.

The shirt and trousers could be worn bloused or un-bloused.  The shirt sleeves were generally worn rolled up.

The uniform was completed with jungle boots or black leather combat boots and boonie hat or field hat.

 All nurses were officers, the majority being first or second lieutenants. They belonged to the 44th Medical Brigade, USARV or the 1st Logistical Command. Nurses would wear either pin on or cloth insignia on their collars and sometimes a unit pocket patch was hung from their right pocket.  Small items such as round nose scissors and pens can be added to the pockets as well as watches.

It must also be noted that many WAC (Woman Army Corps) worked for USARV and were employed in administrative positions where all ranks were found.  Note female shoulder ranks insignia differ in size from men ones. For more details on insignia see the insignia section.


44th Medical Brigade
Subdued twill


1st Logistical Command, Colour, Vietnamese made

US Army Vietnam
Subdued twill
Female appearance tended to follow civilian fashion despite military directives.  Hair regulation was to be well groomed and the lenght not to extend below the bottom edge of the collar.  Make up and nail varnish had to be discreet, hair ties had to be the same colour as your hair and jewellery was not allowed.  

The information published is to our best knowledge and may be altered if new information is uncovered. 
All photos are from our collection and nothing should be re-use without our prior consent! please contact us first.
Uniform and Equipment Standards Team (Alex,  Jean-Luc, Jack, Paul and Kieran)


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