The Night I Became a RadioMan

In 1970, I served with Golf Co., 2nd. Bn. 5th. Marine Regiment out of An Hoa. The company was attached to another outfit as a blocking force in a weep operation around Liberty Bridge. At night, we were moved in to position on an old railroad bed and placed on line. The 3rd. Plt Lt. sent three men out on an LP per S.O.P. and, in about an hour, one of the men radio back that there was movement to they front. Well, the weep had not started yet so the Lt. was wondering what might be going on. He ordered the LP to move forward in order to determine what or who was out there and how many. No respond! After while, the young Marine radioed back that they took a vote and decided not to move. The men were ordered to return to the company’s line—NOW!. The Lt. questioned each of the men and learned that the person on the radio was on first watch. The other two had no idea what was happening or why they had been called back. I happen to be next to the Lt. when he took the radio away from this young Marine and informed me that I would be the squad radio operator henceforth. I can not recall the name of the equipment that was used by the C.O. to send secured messages to our rear area but I do know it was heavy and the guilty Marine hump that thing the whole time I was there. On the up side, he was never sent on rovers, sting sites, o.p. or l.p.. He never went outside the C.P. once we were settle in a place. Maybe the Lt. understood what this Marine was experiencing out there in the dark and gave him a way to save face. I’m certain that no one else wanted to hump that thing or considered him lucky!
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7 comments


  • Top Pro USMC ’64-’84

    In reply to James Kanavy.
    I think you missed the point in the original story. The radio which the slacker had on IP was either an uncovered (no crypto) PRC-25/77, which only weighs about 14 lbs. But, when he changed his assignment to carry the Bn Tac Net radio which was covered by the KY-38 and weighed about 50 lbs, all the time, that’s a real bitch of a hump. Semper Fi!!!


  • Cpl J. W. Hornsey Mike 3/1 CUPP RVN 1970

    In reply to J Carll.
    I was a squad radio operator and eventually a company radio operator for Mike 3/1 CUPP all of 1970. When I went home we still had the PRC-25’s. Fortunately rarely did we take the 38 in the field with us. I was an 0311 Rifleman by trade. They wanted me to turn in my 16 for a 1911. I kept both off them.


  • James Kanavy

    It seems the guilty Marine was smarter than the LT since he no longer had to hump the radio or go outside the wire.


  • Top Pro USMC ’64-’84

    The equipment which you’re asking about was a PRC-77 & KY-38 on a backboard that would have been used on the battalion tactical net between the Company and Battalion CPs. The cryptographic system which it employed was designated “Nestor.” The unit, plus spare batteries weighed about 50-55 pounds, and was a real bitch to hump. Most Company CO’s that I was aware of would trade-off the system between several Marines if possible. But, quite often, that poor 2531 company radio operator handled the load by himself. That’s one of the reasons that a radio operator is armed with a .45 pistol instead of a rifle. The decision of the Lieutenant to punish the slacker by making him carry this system could have easily backfired on him. Whould you want a slacker to be responsible for calling fire support, med-evacs, and resupply missions? I wouldn’t, but I guess everyone had their own leadership philosphy. I do know that I would always assign my best radio operators to the Company Commanders. Semper Fi!!


  • aardq

    Don’t know what was in the field in country at that time, but stateside, a secure rig was a set up using two PRC-25s and a Canadian multiplex device. I hope that no one had to hump that set up!


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