Vietnam War Era
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, 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.
Documents sewn into the interior flap of the Vietnam era (Type 2) chaplain kit (author’s collection).
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).
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.
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 on display at the U.S. Army Chaplain Museum, Ft. Jackson, SC (photo: Daryl Densford).
“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).
Here is a description of the Jewish kit from the period.
“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).
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).