Vietnam Era

Vietnam War Era

Vietnam-era Chaplain Kit

Vietnam-era style Chaplain Kit, Type 2 (author’s collection)

This next kit was used during the Vietnam era. It is designed as a light-weight kit that has everything needed to perform a worship service with the celebration of communion, including having candles! I’ve been told that it also floats, to avoid loosing it in situations where you may find yourself in water!

As much as this kit is smaller and lighter than the previous kits which were metal and even more transportable than the WW2 kits, it still wasn’t perfect. I just learned today that during the U.S. invasion of Grenada, the chaplains were not permitted to jump with these chaplain kits because of their size.

Vietnam era (Type 2) Chaplain Kit

Vietnam era (Type 2) chaplain kit, complete with altar cloths and stole (author’s collection).

Further, they could not be added to the airdrops since ammunition was deemed as more important to the mission(!). “Space and weight limitations were very critical to the Ranger Battalion. Ranger chaplains therefore had to take as little equipment as possible. Chaplain Mack modified his chaplain’s kit to a small demolition bag carrying a communion cup and a host container plus some New Testaments, a Jewish Prayer Book, and rosary beads. Sacramental wine was carried in an extra canteen.”1 Not long after this operation, the new, even smaller, chaplain kit was developed which could be either worn on the pistol belt or attached to a rucksack enabling chaplains to carry them along during parachute jumps.

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Vietnam era (Type 2) Chaplain Kit

Documents sewn into the interior flap of the Vietnam era (Type 2) chaplain kit (author’s collection).

Vietnam era (Type 2) Chaplain Kit

Nylon case for the Vietnam era (Type 2) chaplain kit. Note the long strap across the top of the case, crossing the two shorter straps. This is one indicator identifying this as a Type 2 kit, issued post-Vietnam War (author’s collection).

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Type I Kit

Vietnam-era (Type I) kit. The distinguishing characteristics of the Type I kit are: 1) The material seems to be shinier. It seems to me to be a “cheaper” material but I’m not sure that’s true. 2) There is NO strap that runs lengthwise perpendicular to the other two shorter straps. And, 3) the shoulder strap is thinner but has a pad that slides onto the strap. I also understand that the pieces inside have a little different appearance, but you nearly have to compare them side-by-side to tell.

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Jewish chaplain Kit

The previous kit was for Christian or Catholic chaplains. This next kit is from about the era between Vietnam and the modern era, but is designed for a Jewish chaplain. Missing from this kit are the Torah scroll and the yad. (Author’s Collection)

Jewish chaplain kit

Jewish chaplain kit on display at the U.S. Army Chaplain Museum, Ft. Jackson, SC (photo: Daryl Densford).

JewishServiceKit

“In the “Jewish Chaplain Kit,” the case acts as the Ark, with two covers and a detachable bottom; a Torah with cover; two prayer shawls, Yarmulkes; a Yad; a Bimah (velvet cover); several sets of candles with holders and stands; and a Kiddush cup with cap” (photo from the Hampton Roads Naval Museum).

Jewish Chaplain Kit

Here is a description of the Jewish kit from the period.

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Chaplain McMinn

“This field altar was used by Chaplain (Col.) Thomas L. McMinn Jr. during the Vietnam War is on display in the lobby of the Berman Museum of World History [Anniston, Alabama]. McMinn’s fingerprints can still be seen on the cross.” (from The Daily Home website).

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Chaplain-Waters-Kit-2

Chaplain kit used by Chaplain Charles Waters who was killed in Vietnam in 1967, on display at the U.S. Army Chaplain Museum, Fort Jackson, SC (photo: Daryl Densford).

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  1. dan hatfield

    I have this same kit with a name in the top in black marker its J. C. SCRUGGS. I would like to find him or sell it but I would like to find the owner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan, I’ll see what I can find out about Chaplain Scruggs when I get into the office. Does the kit you have have the strap running lengthwise along the the top, crossing the other two shorter straps (like the one picture above)?

      Daryl

      Like

  2. dan hatfield

    Yes it does.

    Like

  3. How would you know whether one of these nylon cased kits is Vietnam era? They do not seem to be dated. Just curious.
    Thanks,
    Scott

    Like

    • Hi, Scott!

      There are 3 distinct indicators of a Type I (Vietnam-era) kit: 1) The material seems to be shinier. It seems to me to be a “cheaper” material but I’m not sure that’s true. 2) There is NO strap that runs lengthwise perpendicular to the other two shorter straps. And, 3) the shoulder strap is thinner but has a pad that slides on to the strap. I also understand that the pieces inside have a little different appearance, but you nearly have to compare them side-by-side to tell. The picture above is a “Type II” (post-Vietnam kit) that was issued into the late ’80s or early ’90s. I’ll post a picture of the bag of a Type I as soon as I can.

      Daryl

      Like

  4. Dan Hatfield

    I have more military items if U would like to see them.

    Like

  5. Is it possible to find one of these? Where would one look? My father has one from the late 70s and 80s when he was in the service, I’d love to have one for use on bicycle tours.
    Really enjoy the great information!
    Thanks
    Nick

    Like

    • UmCircuitrider, Thanks for stopping by!

      Wouldn’t the smaller current kit (found on this page: https://thechaplainkit.com/chaplain-kits/current-issue/ ) be better on bicycle tours? At any rate, the ones on this page can sometimes be found on Ebay or other auction sites. They will usually go for at least $500. The current issue kits can sometimes be had for about $300 (less than that new if you can get them from the DoD supply system.)

      Like

      • Thanks, at first I thought the new kit was just the bag and two plastic bottles. I’ll keep my eyes open for either set. I do like the whole, church in a bag aspect. Keep up the good blogging!

        Like

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