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Comm Equipment Used In The Corps

Comm Equipment Used In The Corps

Today, this 79 year old Marine was reminiscing about the old days and wondering what type of communication equipment the Marine Corps uses now days, its got to be high tech. In the mid-fifties we used field radio equipment like the AN/PRC-8, 9’s and 10’s and the AN/GRC-9 which used a hand cranked generator for power to transmit. Cranking that thing was fun, not. We even had the AN/PRC-6 (walkie-talkie) in our inventory but don’t remember using it. For mobile comm we had the MRC-6, the MRC-38 and other vehicles depending if you ere infantry, artillery or armor. For the old timers I stand to be corrected.

As a CW radio operator I remember using what was called a knee key (J-45), to tap out messages in Morse code while in the field. To me it was fun but sometimes on the other end of the radio net you would run into a operator who we called a “s–t fist” (A person who needed a lot more training in the use of a telegraph key).

It was a little difficult trying to decipher what the radio operator was trying to send but if you got part of the word you could figure it out. The attached picture shows me, a Pfc, using a knee key at Camp Lejeune in 1956. The other picture shows Marines using the AN/GRC-9 in the Philippines on a NFG (Naval Gun Fire) training and shoot in the early sixties. If you look closely you can see a Marine with the generator and I’m sure some of the old timers have tales to tell about cranking that thing.


In 1965 and ’66, when I was with 2/9 in Vietnam we were still communicating with the P—k 10 and don’t remember when the Marines started receiving the AN/PRC-25. And I wasn’t the wireman MOS 2511 who worked along side of us and were an important part of Marine Communications. That’s all. I’m just an old fart thinking about the good times in the U.S. Marine Corps.

GySgt G.R. Archuleta
Never Retired, Always A Marine

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John Holtke - March 4, 2024

2531 1988 and then a 2542. MRC-135 and MRC-138 USMCR, 24th Marines, KCMO. Deployed to Desert Storm, was the TACP NCOIC for the regiment. Amazing times after school at 29 Palms. Miss the days, but don’t miss sticking the tapes and pins from the KY65 or KY57 from the KYK13’s and whatnot. Semper Fi.

Sgt Sip - June 23, 2020

These stories are great! I was a 2533/0849 in 1964-67. Graduated from radio telegraph operator school in 64 went to ANGF platoon at 1st MarDiv Hq Co, grad naval gunfire school in 65 before Vietnam… Went to Philippines to qualify Navy ships headed for Vietnam to be sure they were shooting straight! Another Marine and I hand cranked radar for those ships to get bearings. Had the nude code and we used knee key while sailors used speed keys. Got to Vietnam in 65 and we had PRC-10 until summer of 65 when we got pRC-25’s. Also used PRC 47 with ships and PRC-41 to call air. Humping the 47 with 2 guys due to all its parts was a huge pain as the radio itself was 50 lbs or so plus antenna batteries, etc., it was rarely used once the 25’s with their better range and long battery life were on board. Good old days with good friends and many memories! Semper Fi Brothers

SGT M - June 23, 2020

Seems like you would get a kick out of this, Gunny, for a slightly more recent take, 1998-2004. I’m a former comm deity, 2531/2532 which became 0621/0622 at some point in time only admin dorks care about. While my primary MOS was Multichannel Microwave Equipment Operator (MUX for life!), I had a range of experience with Single Channel too. I worked with the PRC104 HF radio and it’s mobile component the MRC-138. Seems like someone somewhere just added a 1 to signify the change in vehicle from Jeep to Humvee. Anyway, you’ll be tickled to know that the knee key was still a part of the 104 around the turn of the Millennium. Tucked in a small pocket in the 104 box, and guaranteed to get a “WTF is that?” from any junior Marine who saw it, almost invariably followed by a “WTF is Morse code?” Similarly of that bygone age equipment still in current use were the AN/GRA-39s, which allowed a remote link via slash wire (go wire dogs!) to the CP and kept brass and staff NCOs away from us slackers on Antenna Hill. The AN/GRA-39s were the most frequent recipients, and the most receptive ones, to the percussive maintenance we applied. For some reason “drop-testing” them would fix the issue 9 times out of 10.

robert colbert - June 23, 2020

I was a fieldwireman back then (2511) were trained if up a pole or tree and the shooting started, just unhook your belt and come down the fast way! We had these climbing tools to strap onto our legs, had about curved blades that you would dig into the wood, If you didn’t remember to lean back as climbing you would gaff out and took the quick trip down ! did have a belt to go around pole/tree while up there. did miss going up one time, did come down so fast and landed on my back, didn’t break anything,
did end up with a hernia one time had one leg still hooked the other came out.

George Iliffe - June 23, 2020

In 1963 I went to NGF School at LittleCreek Va. and became a SFCP man 0849 glorified radio operator. After a couple months back at 10th Marines I transferred to 1st ANGLICO in Hawaii. Where I got to learn all about my MOS and all of the radios you mentioned and a few more. As I gained experience we would go on live fire shoots and sometimes conduct fire missions using morse code. I was not required to know the code for my MOS but thought that the 2533 RTO may be inserting his own corrections for my rounds rather then what I gave him. Never found out if they changed my call. LOL

Wayne Keen - June 23, 2020

I too was in crypto—2577,2571—late ’71 to late ’74. Spent my time in Okinawa with Co. ‘D’ MSB, Torrie Station. To this day, regret not going to ‘Nam. I know, must be crazy right. But no, just that a Marine is supposed to fight—I did not. Glad you made it home and a strong SEMPER FI to all that went. And a crisp salute to those that did not. Wayne Keen

John Hetrick - June 23, 2020

Gunny, I was a radio repair tech detached to D/2/11 (part of BLT 1/5) when we mounted out of Pendleton in late June 1965. We had all the old gear you mentioned and it was SO old we had a PRC-9 serial number 86. Our FO’s carried those through most of 1966 after we deployed to the RVN and were lucky to get a quarter mile of clear comm in the swamps of the Rung Sat. We received our replacement PRC-25 units in early 1966, just before my rotation back to the land of the big PX. Compared to the 9s they were like a breath of fresh air, with an astonishing range! Semper Fi!

Richard E Nygaard - June 23, 2020

Guns, I was a 2533 radio telegraph operator having graduated from rot schoo in July or August 1953. Because I was only 17 they sent me to 2nd MarDiv but the I volunteered for Korea upon turning 18. We used the radio jeeps (can’t rennet the radio names but the were AM types. While we had the knee keys they were awkward so we mounted keys on plywood boards for use when using the jeeps. We had all the others mentioned and I along with all other 2533’s and 31’s hated the ANGRC-9. But it got the job done when we used it for Naval gunfire and practice with Army field Artillory. I also served in1959-1961 aboard the USS Boxer-LPH-4 where we used Navy TBMs another large but long range (world-wide when atmospheric conditions were right. Now that is where our skills with the telegraph keys and even the electronic speed keys came in handy. We really became a crew of Marine Naval Radio Operators. I even received several QSA-5’s QRK-5’s while sitting on the key communicating in code with Naval Radio stations Ashore around the world. I later became. Radio Chief in the 2nd Bn.22nd Marines in Quantico when President Kennedy challenged the USSR to remove their ICBMs from CUBA or we would take them out. I left the Corps about then but our invasion preparations included using the ANGRC-9 and the Artillory FM backpacks ANPRC-8s I believe. Viet Nam broke out before I got out and we also trained Viet junior Officers in the use of our radio equipment which was still the same as we had in Korea. The only new radios I had the privilege of using was the new (at that time) single equipment. Very long rang but unsatisfactory for radio telegraph on the first models we tested both as radios mounted on jeeps and aboard ship. They were outstanding though for voice communications and with world wide ability. I also was briefly assigned to a 1st MarDiv Special Radio Company testing and learnt to set up and use high powered Vans mounted on 6X6 trucks but that is a story for another time.

Tom Schwarz - June 23, 2020

I was a 2531 in NGF 2/3/3 Fuji in 56-57 & did my share of humping that 50# Rock. Got lucky and assigned our MK-5 radio jeep for the Phillipine landing in 57. Didn’t return to Japan went on to Okinawa?

Paul Culliton - June 23, 2020

Gunny Archuleta, I was a radio/crypto tech,mos 2847, who went to comm school in San Diego. July67-april68. At that time we had the prc25 as a portable radio, and the vehicle radios were the prc524, and the prc246 in tanks. Those were the radios we worked with in the fleet, and in VietNam with HqCo 26th Marines,Oct68-Nov69. I stayed in the Reserves, and retired in 1988 as a Regt CommChief with 25th Marines in Worcester,Ma. Your letter brought back so many great memories of places and great friends I served with over the years! I would do it all again now if given the chance. Semper Fi! Paul Culliton Msgt (ret)

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