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

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • Sgt Sip

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

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