Jump to content

Saigon/ HCM City 1995

Recommended Posts

But why buy something that is all beat up and grungy when you can have one that is brand new and unissued?


The opening photo was taken at the Long Binh Army Depot, or what remained of it.


This is one myth that was actually true. There were still boxes and boxes of material in there. Some of it was spotless, others were succumbing to the tropical environment. You can see helmets in the other box that look like they have been collecting rain water.


As I recall, it took Louis a couple of years before he made the connections to get into these warehouses. It was not something that just open to anyone who asked.

AA 400.jpg

AA 401.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course, there were many other things at Long Binh other than field gear.


These are aircraft loading ramps. As of 1995 the Vietnamese were still trying to figure out what they were made of, possibly so they could scrap them properly.


Note the storage locations in the background full of unknown items. I have other photos just showing packed and crated materials going on for yards at a time. I am sure there were millions of dollars worth of equipment still sitting there unused. Presumably by 2017 its either gone or found a use by now. But yet, it wouldn't be surprising if some of it was still there.

AA 410.jpg

AA 411.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One last piece of gear. This appears to be a US Army issue short wave radio. This is proof that the military was still in a WWII mindset where there had to be a military model of everything they used, rather than just buying an equivalent civilian model off the shelf.

AA 710.jpg

AA 711.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A wonderful Sunday morning read. Thanks for taking the time to post it all. Looking forward to the next chapter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


fantastic topic, i used to live in Saigon in 1995, unfortunately i had not the money for collecting at the time, it is so difficult these days to find original patched ARVN shirts, in 10 years of collecting i might have 10 in total, these are so rare, i don't care much for paras and elite troops and so on, a normal shirt named and patched with ranks any branch will make my day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So let's turn to insignia now.


Despite the hopes of many, there appears to have been very little in the way of local made US unit patches. None of the Airborne/Ranger/Air CAV/MP/Tank Killer patches that everyone likes to collect these days.


You will notice a lot of collar and branch insignia, as well as wings an CIB's. I was never sure if these were vintage or freshly made, as there seemed to be a lot of them.


Given that color insignia went out of style for fatigue uniforms in 1969, it seemed odd that there were so many of them. These were hand embroidered.


The 1st Signal Bde patches had velvet panels, and look like they could have been made during the wartime. In fact, I have seen period uniforms with similar patches.


(Sorry about the darkened photos, but I had to reduce the brightness. Otherwise the white embroidery would have just blobbed out with no details.)

AA 120.jpg

AA 121.jpg

AA 122.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's hard to see, but this 196th Inf Bde patch is on velvet material.


The Bao Chi (Newspaper or Correspondent) tabs are doubtful.


One thing to keep in mind when looking at these patches is that reference material was sparse back in 1995. This especially applied to ARVN patches which were often based on some distant memory of what they were supposed to look like. This often resulted in reproductions that were pure fantasies.

AA 125.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Vendor's board of DI's and Medals. There are a number of Purple Hearts showing here without ribbons.


There were few gems to be found in the mix, like these Air America badges.

AA 102.jpg

AA 51.jpg

AA 51b.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some pickings from one of Louis' trips.


The best item here is what looks to be a bib scarf or something similar for an ARVN and US Air Cav counterpart unit.


I ended up with the red and yellow Philippine Forces in Vietnam patch.

AA 106.jpg

AA 106b.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While the pickings were slim for better quality US patches, it was a different story for ARVN patches and insignia.


For the metal rank insignia, Louis literally found piles of these. Many were in bad shape, but he typically picked out the better examples.

AA 110.jpg

AA 105.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While some ARVN insignia were in good shape, others had suffered wear over time.


Some of the larger strips and sheets of insignia had been re-purposed after the war, and used for such things a lining curtains and other fabrics.


Others may have been systematically stripped from uniforms.

AA 100.jpg

AA 101.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While not exactly insignia, there was a fair amount of custom made jewelry to be found.


Note the US Special Forces insignia on this ring.

AA 115.jpg

AA 115b.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In addition to ARVN and US items, there were of course French Indochina badges to be found as well. However, these had to be approached with caution.


What we see in this photo is a supposed collection of French badges that had been "hidden away". The vendor wanted $30 each for them, which was top of the market at the time.


It was later found that some of the French badges that were being found in Saigon in 1995 were actually restrikes! The only way they could have gotten there was if they had been imported at some point from France. It became evident after a point that some of the vendors were actually importing militaria in order to sell it to the tourists as "still found in Vietnam"!

LL 4.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Plaques, plaque pieces and commemorative items...


The Vietnam War was particularly notable for the wide use of plaques as end of tour gifts or exchanges between counterparts. Given that many tours were only six months to a year, there was a constant market for such items.


Here are few that were still there to be found, either in pieces or in whole.


(Not too many of these were brought out due to the weight.)

AA 30.jpg

AA 50.jpg

AA 52.jpg

AA 53.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And more... It is hard to see in the last one, but on the brass shield is the leaping tiger of the ARVN Special Forces.

AA 55.jpg

AA 56.jpg

AA 57.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This one is named to a Vietnamese military member who completed training with the Joint Casualty Resolution Center.

AA 61.jpg

AA 61b.jpg

AA 61c.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...