Webmaster's Introduction In this story, Dan Schlecht, a D Company medic in early 1969 twith the 1st Battalion (Mechanized), 50th Infantry, removes his steel pot to explain his love affair with the often unappreciated Helmet, Combat, M1 with the plastic Liner, Helmet , M1, commonly known as the "steel pot" or much worse. A photograph of Dan's helmet appears above the title of this story.
I always wore a helmet in Nam. Why????? Mainly because my head is BIG (We call it a Schlecht head.). The helmet covered it well as long as I adjusted the helmet liner to the almost largest size. ( I have seen a few bigger.) My neck is large and able to carry the extra weight. It felt good, comfortable, and made me feel safe. DOC WAS A DORK but I didn't sense any peer pressure being the only enlisted man (or one of few) that wore a helmet. I never had a Boonie Hat but was asked many times, "Why Not"?
Wearing a helmet in Nam during my tour was a matter of choice and I thought it was O.K. especially when humping the boonies. That loaded ruck sack and 81 mm mortar round weighed enough. Doc's Pot came in handy as the primary wash basin for many. It was a good billboard, and lawn chair.
The Tale of Lt. Nail is true. It occurred in Jan. or Feb. of 1969.
It was in the morning, cloudy, and cool. Sometimes we (Pancho and I) would go on mine sweep for the opening of the highway and sometimes we slept and waited for the call. We had a nice safe bunker on the dump side of LZ Schueller. (Named for a Lt. from the 1/69 tankers killed in those early days.) As I remember, this was a sleep in day and the mine sweepers got hit (or maybe we were with them but asleep). The AK's and B40's missed but we really ripped up the countryside with our 50's and M60's. No one hurt on either side. Than the order, Stop Firing. Somebody's radio doesn't work so he runs over to another track and jumps up hanging on to the guard on the 50.
Someone yells, Watch out for rounds cooking off..... A round goes off as he pulls on the guard. It goes from our right side, passes in front of us hitting someone on the track to our left. I see a person falling from the front of the track into the ditch which had grass that had not been burned. I jump off the track, aide bag in hand, thinking this isn't going to help some one that has been shot by a 50 caliber machine gun. ( I was told they made to shoot down aircraft.)
Myself and another get to this guy who is bent over on his
knees in the ditch. He has a head, he is concious. He isn't saying much. Probably just
amazed. I look at his head which just has a small cut on the top. We find his pot and
helmet liner. The pot has a big groove in it and the helmet liner has a spit in the top of
it. It was decided to medevac him. WHY???? As I heard after, it was LT. Nail's first day
in the field.
Copyright 2002 Dan Schlecht,
Permission is hereby granted to copy this story to print
on web pages at no charge provided the line below is included:
Reprinted from the 1st Bn (Mech) 50th Infantry website http://www.ichiban1.org/
( web sites should make the url a link or may also just link to this page )