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This jungle jacket was worn by a 173rd Airborne Brigade troop attached to B Co., 2nd Bn., 503rd PIR (Parachute Infantry Regiment). The veteran served two tours in Vietnam with the 173rd and was wounded in 11/1966.
The jacket is a “1st pattern” with shiny exposed buttons, waist tabs, gas flap, and epaulets. It is a size short-medium and is 1963 dated. It has “sandwiched” 173rd shoulder sleeve insignia to denote current service in the 173rd, as well as a prior combat tour. The name tape is theater-made and the Army tape is printed. The Combat Infantry Badge and jump wings are also theater made.
The jump wings have a gold star embroidered on the canopy riders to denote participation in a combat jump with the 173rd on February 22, 1967 (Operation Junction City). SP4 Payne is listed on the Junction City jump manifest for this operation (GO 444, March 12, 1967).
The left breast pocket has a silk woven South Vietnamese Airborne Qualification patch, commonly seen worn by early 173rd troops. The breast pocket was partially removed so the patch could be sewn on while still having a functional pocket. Afterward, it was machine resewn back on (see pic). When examining the jacket carefully, you can see the Specialist sleeve rank is sewn over a faint outline of removed PFC chevrons, due to promotion in rank.
Some of SP4 Payne’s awards and decorations include:
- Purple Heart Medal
- Good Conduct Medal
- Vietnam Service Medal with 2/ Bronze Service Stars
- Meritorious Unit Commendation
- Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ Palm
- Parachutist Badge with Combat Star (for Junction City)
- Combat Infantry Badge