Vietnam 173rd Airborne Jungle Jacket – Operation Junction City Veteran

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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

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3 Responses to “Vietnam 173rd Airborne Jungle Jacket – Operation Junction City Veteran”

  1. Paul Bryant Says:
    June 24th, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I have all but given up of recovery of my item. I am a *in country* (1st AVN 57th AHC (Gladiators) Pleiku RVN 72-73) Vietnam Veteran and while in Vietnam I had a local mountain yard gift shop take one of my camouflaged Army issued long sleeve jacket (shirt) as they were called in the Army, and had it embroidered front and back with patches embroidered into the shirt and not patches that were embroidered and then sewn on. The front had my last name (BRYANT) embroidered in all capital letters over the right top breast pocket. On the back was a map of Vietnam with my years of service and various sayings above and below the map and a dragon around the map. I also had a miniature made that would fit a toddler that was an exact copy of my full size one but it’s loss is another story entirely.
    My half brother stole my full size one from our mutual father back in the mid to late 70′s (I only recently *2 years ago* found out it was missing as until then I had never opened up the trunk I sent back when we stood down in 73) and took it out to WCMH TV4 on Olentangey river road at there studios late at night during a live session of the “Jerry Beck All Night Theater”. He gave it to them and from what I have been told by several people it was held up in front of the camera and there after was seen up on the wall of the set during several skits. I have all but given up hope of ever recovering it as I am in very poor health and doubt I will ever see it again; but my youngest son has come up with an idea that may be some sort of compromise. He ask me if I would write to the station and ask if either myself, or one of my grandchildren come come to their station and go through the archived video of the “All Night Theater” to see if we could find the show in which Mr. Beck held up my shirt to the camera and or a show which my shirt can be seen up on the set wall. The time frame can be fairly well estimated as it was near the final shows. We have however been told by the station that the shows were *live* and that there were NO tapes made. My half brother also gave to the show a fraternity paddle which said something like “Hofstra 49″ which I could care less about recovering.
    I have contacted the Columbus Ohio TV station in the past a few times in regard to an item of mine that was stolen by my half brother and given to what was a local Columbus Ohio late night TV celebrity named Jerry Beck during what was either a live broadcast or taping of his “All Night Theater” late night TV program. I was told that about the only help they could give me was the contact information for Mr. Becks estate as he has passed away. I contacted Mr.. Becks son and have been told that all of his fathers stuff was either boxed up and in storage and that maybe some of the stuff and maybe even my item could be boxed up and archived at the stations archive place.
    the station agreed to do a through search of their facilities; but they had no luck in finding it. The station suggested that maybe the Columbus public library or the OSU film school may have copies of the show as they archived some other local (to Columbus Ohio) TV show; but that idea also didn’t do any good.
    I am in very poor health and as I have stated in several emails over the past few years to the station, my children and now my oldest grandchildren have listened to me tell this to them over the past two years about how my half brother stealing my prize memorabilia from my Vietnam service trunk I had shipped back during my companies stand down and giving it away caused me to almost disown my half brothers children and widow after his death almost two years ago. After my half brothers death his wife related to me how this was a constant source of embarrassment and shame as he was drunk at the time he did this, and that ever few years he would tell his wife right up until his death that he was going to call me and tell me what he had done; but as I have said he never did and it was only because his widow had enough honor to tell me after he died that I found out at all; because I most likely would never have even opened up my Nam trunk.
    Now as to the reason I am contacting you and various Vietnam memorabilia vendors and such. I and my children and grandchildren are asking you and the other vendors to be on the look out for this in case my jacket may make its way into the Vietnam memorabilia market place. I can easily identify it by what the patches are, one of which is sort of unique as it is a arm showing the bicep with the caption “Sex the breakfast of champions” and a pregnant Lucy saying “Damn you Charlie Brown” and of course my last name being on the right breast pocket. Most of these type of what are known as “Pleiku Jackets” have the patches created and then *sewn* on to the jackets; but mine however have the patches embroidered into the jacket its self. I am also putting up a reward of what ever you or which ever vendor finds it considers fair for the return of it.
    In any event thank you for taking the time to read my email. I know this is quite a long shot; but I promised my children and grandchildren that I would try this as a last resort. I appreciate any and all help you can give in this matter.

    Quite Sincerely

    Paul M. Bryant Sr.

    Cyber /}

    @###{ ]::::::4 Enlightenment::::::>

    Knight\}

  2. Paul,

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your jacket. Hopefully by publishing your message, it will get indexed by Google. Then the present owner of the jacket may stumble onto this message when they are researching.

    Best,

    Chris

  3. I sure hope so, I am not terminal; but I sure feel like it and I would love to get it back so that I can leave it to my children/grandchildren. I have also put up a reward of $500.00 or should someone find it for sell I will give them a 25% finders fee along with offering 25% more then the asking price to anyone that may have it for sale. I certainly don’t have anything near deep pocket; but my children and grandchildren have all donated to what we are calling my “tour jacket recovery fund”.

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