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USN camo pith (Sun) helmet, Vietnam era?


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The story behind this (I know, I know, buy the item and not the story) is that it was worn in Vietnam by a 'brown water navy' skipper, either PBRs or Swift Boats, but wearing this while underway seems like a bad idea as it would fly off. It's a neat helmet with pin-on Lt bars and a laundry mark that begins with 'O', so maybe it was a Lt O'Neill, or Olsen, or something. The paint is worn down in areas and looks to have been sprayed on. Any thoughts are appreciated!

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I'd be skeptical about the story on this one due to the following observations

 

Those are not USN LT bars, they're Army or USAF Captains' tracks

O-3117 is a typical Army ID method of marking gear, we would stencil our initials or name and/or rank on our gear

That being said, I have an identical (but not painted) USN pith helmet still in my seabag with my gear from my first Salvage ship. What's different is that it is stamped with the Mfg. and stock number info under the brim. It also has a chin strap as I recall. If I come across it, I'll post a photo.

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I'd be skeptical about the story on this one due to the following observations

 

Those are not USN LT bars, they're Army or USAF Captains' tracks

O-3117 is a typical Army ID method of marking gear, we would stencil our initials or name and/or rank on our gear

 

It does look like an army laundry number, but I'd disagree with the bars. The USA/USAF captain bars have the center cross bars closer to the middle, these are USN/USMC pattern.

 

See:

https://www.vanguardmil.com/products/air-force-rank-insignia-captain-nickel-plated

 

https://www.vanguardmil.com/products/senior-lieutenant-coat-device

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Matt,

 

Do you have a side view of the helmet?

 

The grommets on the VN USN era helmet I have has six ventilation grommets in two inline rows, two up and four down and they're above and below the faux band, not through it. There is also one in the front center.

 

In the row of four on the side, the center two secure a metal clip to hold the suspension and the chin strap.

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For comparison, this is my USN pith helmet which I got from Subic Bay Naval Station. I'm not saying that the one you've posted isn't real, but I know for certain that this one is a USN Vietnam era pith helmet.

 

Front view- Center Grommet & chin strap

Right side view - Six grommets in two rows, two upper, four lower, above and below the faux hat band

Left side view - same, same

USN Pith Helmet 005.jpg

USN Pith Helmet 006.jpg

USN Pith Helmet 009.jpg

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Detail of hat band adjustment and stock number (Defense Supply Agency) and inspectors mark (17)

 

HELMET, SUN

DSA 100-4036

8415-161-4773

 

DSA = Defense Supply Agency, which predated the Defense Logistics Agency. So it had to be made sometime between 1961 and 1977 when DSA existed.

USN Pith Helmet 015.jpg

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Thanks for the comparison photos! How widespread were pith helmets in the USN at that time?

 

Even if this isn't original, I'm not very concerned for what little money I have in it. I thought the camo was well done, maybe it was done in the 1980s. Who knows? It could just be a civilian pith that was acquired by an officer, or it's a complete fabrication. The possibilities are numerous!

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Thanks for the comparison photos! How widespread were pith helmets in the USN at that time?

 

 

Nice one, that's a USN/USMC pith helmet

 

As for the usage, not very much and there were piles of them in the Servmarts' and supply centers which is where I got mine. When I took it back to the ship the Quartermaster Chief said if he ever saw me wearing it, he would pitch it over the side with me in it.....so it's been in my seabag ever since.

 

I only saw them being worn at Diego Garcia and Midway where the uniform of the day was shorts and shower shoes with a pith helmet.

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Nice one, that's a USN/USMC pith helmet

 

As for the usage, not very much and there were piles of them in the Servmarts' and supply centers which is where I got mine. When I took it back to the ship the Quartermaster Chief said if he ever saw me wearing it, he would pitch it over the side with me in it.....so it's been in my seabag ever since.

 

I only saw them being worn at Diego Garcia and Midway where the uniform of the day was shorts and shower shoes with a pith helmet.

 

Great story! Funny you should mention Diego Garcia...

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I also remember stacks of these being sold in the Navy Exchange in Subic, in the early 1979s. Something like $2. But they were like Salvage Sailors. I think the one in the OP, is a civilian version. I have/had one like it. I was a Bee Keeper, and had one with the net fitted over it. No vent holes (it did have the elastic chin strap). Ive moved since then, not sure where it is now.

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I also remember stacks of these being sold in the Navy Exchange in Subic, in the early 1979s. Something like $2. But they were like Salvage Sailors. I think the one in the OP, is a civilian version. I have/had one like it. I was a Bee Keeper, and had one with the net fitted over it. No vent holes (it did have the elastic chin strap). Ive moved since then, not sure where it is now.

. That should actually say, Early 1970s. Fat fingers.
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  • 11 months later...

I have a sun helmet, marked "U.S.N. Contract N140".  It has the 6 grommets on each side.  I will assume it will date after Vietnam era??

Check out my website of Military Relics and Collectibles: http://www.ourboysof98.com
I try to update it by adding several new items each month, so keep checking back.

Thanks,
keith

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