I hadn't considered making this page until I received a phone call from
Camet Hawthorne in July 2000. Camet said that our hats were more important
to the soldiers than I thought they were, and he thought we should do
something on our website. Upon reflection, I suppose it was the one,
simple, and tangible thing that identified us as a unit ... as a group.
At the time ... that was very important!
We wore our distinctive bush
hats when in Base camp. We wore soft floppy hats when on patrol. If
we were being mortared or something we all found steel helmets somewhere!
We wore these hats for practical
reasons. It was not to show off.
When we began the LRRP, we were not an official unit in the paperwork
sense. LRRPs were technically TDY from home units. We had no patch,
no guidons, no banners ... and no real name other than what we made
up. At the same time we were based out of the Brigade's base camp and
co-mingled with many other formally designated units. So how should
we distinguish ourselves without being ridiculous ... or giving the
appearance of unearned arrogance.? And what would foster some esprits-de-corps
among our volunteers? The Bush Hat would.
The Aussie style bush hats
were lightweight, had the breezy look with the upturned brim on one
side ... and were made in olive drab. They were easily obtainable from
the local Vietnamese.
I recall that NOT wearing
a steel helmet in Base Camp was a treat. Most units were strict and
sometimes petty about making soldiers wear those helmets. I understood
... but felt the LRRPs were in little danger in Base Camp (we never
pulled security duty) and that they would appreciate the degree of freedom.
I think it was the right tradeoff ... and so did the LRRPs.
And ... who was going to
say we couldn't?
Floppy Cammy Hats
Bush hats were only for base camp stand-downs. They were never worn
"in the bush"! For patrols we wore soft, camouflaged, floppy
hats. Given our mission and need for speed and stealth ... a conventional
steel helmet provided more danger than protection. Our job was to AVOID
Mike Lapolla, LRRP Platoon