While the U.S. Army uniforms of the 1950s were dominated by the need for cold weather protection in Korea, the uniforms of the 1960s and 1970s evolved to meet the requirements of the war in Vietnam. Garrison uniforms were the least affected but field uniforms changed to be practical and comfortable in the hot jungles of South East Asia.
Most of the U.S. Army's uniforms of the 1960s and 1970s were superceded by the camouflage battle dress uniform (BDU) that was introduced for field and garrison duty on 1 October 1981, the second stage of a multiphased transition to an individual clothing and equipment system that is totally camouflaged.
Lt. Gen. Jean E. Engler, Deputy Commander, U.S. Army, Vietnam, cutting the ribbon opening a new WAC barracks area, January 1967. He appears to be wearing the 3rd pattern Cotton Sateen OG-107 utility shirt, with gold on black U.S. Army insignia and white name tape.
Pipeline Pump Station, Qui-Nhon An-Khe, Vietnam 1966. Soldier on the left is wearing Utility Uniform shirt while Soldier on the right is wearing the jacket of the Tropical Uniform. Both are wearing the Cap, Field (Hot Weather).
U.S. Army uniforms in the 1960s and the 1970s continued trends established with the uniforms of the 1950s, with new additions motivated by the hot weather conditions for combat in Vietnam and related geographical areas. This table summarizes the most common uniforms in the two recognized categories:
Garrison and Duty
Army Green Uniform
Universal uniform for all seasons, ranks, and non-field usage. Adopted 2 Sept 1954 and phased in during 1956-1961, becoming mandatory winter service uniform in 1960 and summer uniform in 1964. Color: Army Green Shade AG-44 or the later AG-344 for lightweight fabrics. Worn with khaki or tan shirts, black tie. Black shoes phased in starting in 1956.
Army Khaki Wool Uniform
Khaki lightweight wool tropical worsted or gabardine coat and trousers uniform for summer duty or semi-dress uniform for officers and warrant officers. Renamed Army Tan Uniform (shade 61) in 1959. Often worn by officers and NCOs with coat removed as a replacement for the issue Army Khaki Cotton Uniform. Worn with khaki or tan shirt. In 1948 the necktie changed from khaki to OD.
Army Tan Uniform
Same as Army Khaki Wool Uniform, renamed in 1959.
Army Khaki Cotton Uniform
Summer garrison duty uniform, shirt and trousers. Originally long sleeves and full trousers only; from 1956-1962 the abbreviated warm-region version was adopted with shorts, knee socks, and short sleeve shirt. Summer use of the short sleeve shirt combined with long trousers continued until 31 Aug 1985.
Field and Work
OG-107 carded cotton sateen shirt introduced in 1952 as replacement for earlier HBT fatigues, featuring rectangular pocket flaps and open sleeves (1st pattern). Shirt replaced by improved OG-107 cotton sateen design, spec date 12 Apr 1963, with diagonal cut pocket corners (2nd pattern). Shirts were produced with matching trousers. Shirt nomenclature: "Shirt, Man's, Cotton Sateen, Olive Green Shade 107" and similar. Trousers nomenclature: "Trousers, Men's, Cotton Sateen OG-107, Type 1, Class 1" and similar. OG-107 cotten sateen shirt, spec date 6 Nov 1964, improved with pointed flap patch pockets and matt finish concave buttons (3rd pattern). Shirts were produced with matching trousers.
OG-507 cotton/polyester durable press (wash and wear) fabric, spec dated 25 Aug 1975 for the shirt and 10 Oct 1975 for the trousers. Nomenclature: "Shirt, Utility, Durable Press OG-507" and "Trousers, Utility, Durable Press OG-507"
M1951 Wool Field Uniform
OG-108 field shirts and trousers made of wool/nylon blend, to be worn under the field jacket (or parka) and trouser shells of the M1951 cold weather clothing system. Continued in use into the 1970s. For colder weather, the M-65 Field Coat was used as a jacket or the extreme weather parka as an overgarment.
OG-107 cotton poplin combat coat and trousers, spec dated 20 Jun 1963 (1st pattern), adopted for general duty in Vietnam Oct 1967. Nomenclature: "Coat, Man's, Cotton, W/R Rip-Stop Poplin, OG-107, Class 1" and similar, and "Trousers, Man's, Cotton, Wind Resistant Rip-Stop Poplin, OG-107 Class 1" and similar. "Bush jacket" styled shirt had two sets of bellows pockets, slanted uppers and level below, fastened by exposed buttons, shoulder loops plus side tabs for size adjustment. Revised by spec dated 26 Aug 1964 (2nd pattern) with concealed buttons. Simplified spec dated 29 Dec 1966 (3rd pattern) eliminated shoulder loops, side tabs and gas flap and changed the fabric to poplin or rip-stop. Trousers have inner pockets, front and rear outer pockets plus side cargo pockets -- draw strings at bottom of leg. There were three patterns of trousers with buttons matching the jackets and other small differences.
Field uniforms had "US Army" gold on black insignia above the left jacket pocket, changed to black on OG-107 in 1966. White name tape was placed above the right pocket, changed to black on OG-107 same as US Army insignia. Prior to the introduction of the Tropical Uniform, in hot climates utility shirts were worn outside the trousers with sleeves rolled up.
This table is not all inclusive, excluding in particular the formal uniforms:
Army Evening Dress Uniform
Army Blue Uniform
Army Blue Mess Uniform
Army White Uniform
Army White Mess Uniform
OD Winter Semi-Dress Uniform
In addition, Women's Uniforms and specialized clothing are not included here.
Thanks to Kevin Vagen for help with this section.
U.S. Army Headgear in the 1960s and 1970s
For field use, the fatigue caps of WW II and the 1950s were replaced by an OG-106 baseball cap style called Cap, Field (Hot Weather), spec dated 9 June 1961, modified in 1969. The wool green beret (shade #297) was authorized for Special Forces personnel on 10 Dec 1961. Headgear used with the tropical uniform included the Cap, Field (Hot Weather) and the floppy boonie hat.
Garrison and Duty Uniforms were worn with Service Caps or Garrison Caps, usually in fabric and color matching the uniform, such as Army Green or Khaki, but other combinations were also used. Specialized occupations had their own headgear, such as Drill Instructors with their Campaign Hats.
U.S. Army Footwear in the 1960s and 1970s
The black leather combat boot was introduced in 1958 based on the previous, nearly identical, Boots, Service, Combat, Russet M1948. It was 10 1/2 inches high with rubber sole, polished grain leather and cap toes. The black boot was revised in 1962, to a height of 8 1/2 inches and the cap toes were eliminated. In January 1967, the black combat boot was again redesigned with a molded rubber sole in a chevron pattern.
For tropical duty, especially Vietnam, the Jungle Boots
The 1950s extreme cold weather rubber "Mickey Mouse" thermal boots, in both black and white for different temperature ranges, continued to be used where required by the local climate.
Other U.S. Army Clothing and Equipment in the 1960s and 1970s
The Soldier's clothing allotment included many other items, from socks and underwear to poncho, sweaters, scarves, and belts. Individual equipment, such as load bearing suspenders, pistol belt, ammunition cases, packs, and much more were all in addition to the uniform components.
Clothing and uniforms from the 1960s-1970s are further described in these Olive-Drab.com pages:
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