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Cards stuck on helmets?
youngc
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Western Australia, Australia
Joined: June 05, 2007
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Posted: Monday, April 06, 2009 - 01:54 AM UTC
Something that has been on my mind today, why did many US infantrymen stick playing cards on their helmets?

I've seen it in Vietnam era photos... is it still done? Red spades, hearts etc... wouldn't the bright colours draw enemy fire?

Chas

calvin_ng
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United States
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Posted: Monday, April 06, 2009 - 07:42 AM UTC
i not much of an expert on this , but im sure they wouldnt use it today. but in vietnam i dont know. in world war 2 they would paint on card patterns as well. i think its to find your leader or recognize someones rank in the midst of fire. calvin
dioman13
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Indiana, United States
Joined: August 19, 2007
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Posted: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 - 04:33 AM UTC
Chas, the ace of spads is considered the death card. sometimes they are left as a reminder to the surviving enemy that they are dealing with death and it will return for them.
acav
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Auckland, New Zealand
Joined: May 09, 2002
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Posted: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 - 07:48 AM UTC
Hi Chas,

I do know that US grunts in VN would carry items stuffed in their helmet bands to keep it dry ( obviously not in the wet season... ) or close to hand - cigarettes, matches, hippy beads, P-38 can opener, bag of weed ( JOKE! ) - but the only times I've 'seen' playing crads up there was in the movies..!

Hollywood has a lot to answer for - not saying it didn't happen, soldiers do some wierd stuff, but I can't remember seeing any photos of the cards on the helmet in my photo reference collection.

And that's just what will drive me back to my books for a second look - will let you know what I find...

cheers
acav
LeoCmdr
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Alberta, Canada
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Posted: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 - 02:28 PM UTC
Death cards were for sure used in Vietnam......and back in WWII and in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Have a read of this..........

http://www.psywarrior.com/DeathCardsAce.html
HeavyArty
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Florida, United States
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Posted: Tuesday, April 07, 2009 - 07:27 PM UTC
The death card being kept on the helmet is really a Hollywood invention. Death cards were/are still used, but not kept on the helmet.


Quoted Text

in world war 2 they would paint on card patterns as well. i think its to find your leader or recognize someones rank in the midst of fire.



Actually, it is still used today. It is/was not to receognize a leader though. They are used to ID your unit.

The card suites were/are used by the 101st Airborne Div to ID their regiments. For example, the 501st PIR used a diamond, the 502nd PIR a heart, the 506th PIR a spade, and the 327th GIR a club.

Many other units did/do it a little different too. 3ID and 4ID have their unit patches on their helmets.

The 187 INF BDE "Rakkasans" has a Japanese arch on their helmets from being part of the occupation force in Japan following WWII.
youngc
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Western Australia, Australia
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Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 - 01:27 AM UTC
Interesting guys,

I found this, might be part of a photoshoot for a magazine, might be fair dinkum?

Where did Warrior do their historical research?

Chas
calvin_ng
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United States
Joined: June 23, 2008
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Posted: Wednesday, April 08, 2009 - 07:43 AM UTC

Quoted Text

The death card being kept on the helmet is really a Hollywood invention. Death cards were/are still used, but not kept on the helmet.


Quoted Text

in world war 2 they would paint on card patterns as well. i think its to find your leader or recognize someones rank in the midst of fire.



Actually, it is still used today. It is/was not to receognize a leader though. They are used to ID your unit.

The card suites were/are used by the 101st Airborne Div to ID their regiments. For example, the 501st PIR used a diamond, the 502nd PIR a heart, the 506th PIR a spade, and the 327th GIR a club.

Many other units did/do it a little different too. 3ID and 4ID have their unit patches on their helmets.

The 187 INF BDE "Rakkasans" has a Japanese arch on their helmets from being part of the occupation force in Japan following WWII.

thanks for the info gino , i learn something new everyday
spooky6
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Sri Lanka
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Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009 - 08:17 AM UTC
Chas, that B/W pic is of a US Marine at Khe Sanh, and was on the cover of Life Magazine. It was shot by David Douglas Duncan who did a feature on Khe Sanh for that issue. 1968, I think. I had a copy of that mag years ago.
bobman331
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Massachusetts, United States
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Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2009 - 06:12 PM UTC
in the squadron "Us Infantry - Veitnam" combat troops series #6 thre is a picture on page 40 of a grunt with a frying pan or something. he has an ace 0of spades in his helmet band. the caption says "The ace of spades in his helmet was the card of death to the vietnamiese and many troops cairried them as means of frightening the locals"

so yes, they werte used in vietnam. thre are period photos and squadron is usualy accurate.