Monday, March 15, 2010


Tom's Journal.

Ah... Yes! The real problem I had was that the dates on the C-Rats were from the Korean War [ early 1950's]--but I was in Vietnam from 1968-70. The fruit cocktail was OK, the cheese fine. But the spaghetti was only good for attaching to the outer 'clips' of my M-60 machine guns as a 'feeder tray' to help convey the belt ammo into the weapon... LOL. The cigarettes was always stale and the bread was moldy. Still, if you were hungry enough, you ate the food. Our pilots who were too lazy [but I heard that they had to pay for their C-Rations..] to take their own 'C-Rats' boxes in the early morning-- later begged some food from me, the lowly Sp/4 door gunner -Helicopter Aviation in the 'Nam. What a rush!
And you think YOU civilians have it rough now ?? Ha! Just wait for one more year to roll by when obama has finished destroying America as we know it.

I was raised on a farm with my 4 siblings by a Navy dad who was very strict about NEVER wasting food--that it was a serious sin, and I was never picky nor spoiled. In Basic Training, at Fort Campbell, KY, we had ONE MINUTE to eat all of our respective meals at a mess hall that could only take a few squads at a time. We all learned to eat fast, or dump it in the outside garbage cans with a Drill Sargent watching us like a hawk.

Tom Schuckman

Commercially prepared meals were used in the field and at times when hot meals were not available. These meals came in a case containing 12 meals. Each meal was in it's own cardboard box, which contained the individual items sealed in cans. A can opener (called both a "John Wayne" or a "P-38") was needed to open the cans. The accessory pack with each meal was sealed in a foil pouch.

This is the official Quartermaster's description of C-Rations used in Vietnam

"The Meal, Combat, Individual, is designed for issue as the tactical situation dictates, either in individual units as a meal or in multiples of three as a complete ration. Its characteristics emphasize utility, flexibility of use, and more variety of food components than were included in the Ration, Combat, Individual (C Ration) which it replaces. Twelve different menus are included in the specification.

Each menu contains: one canned meat item; one canned fruit, bread or dessert item;
one B unit; an accessory packet containing cigarettes, matches, chewing gum, toilet paper, coffee, cream, sugar, and salt; and a spoon. Four can openers are provided in each case of 12 meals. Although the meat item can be eaten cold, it is more palatable when heated.

Each complete meal contains approximately 1200 calories. The daily ration of 3 meals provides approximately 3600 calories."

There were 4 choices of meat in each B group. Because there were several "vintages" of C’s issued to the Marines in Vietnam, more than 4 items may be listed in the B groups as well as the brands of cigarettes included in the accessory pack.

B-1 Units

Meat Choices (in small cans):
Beef Steak
Ham and Eggs, Chopped
Ham Slices
Turkey Loaf
Fruit Cocktail
Crackers (7)
Peanut Butter
Candy Disc, Chocolate
Solid Chocolate
Accessory Pack*

B-2 Units

Meat Choices (in larger cans):
Beans and Wieners
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Beefsteak, Potatoes and Gravy
Ham and Lima Beans
Meatballs and Beans
Crackers (4)
Cheese Spread, Processed
Fruit Cake
Pecan Roll
Pound Cake
Accessory Pack*

B-3 Units

Meat Choices (in small cans):
Boned Chicken
Chicken and Noodles
Meat Loaf
Spiced Beef
Bread, White
Cookies (4)
Cocoa Beverage Powder
Mixed Fruit
Accessory Pack*

*Accessory Pack

Spoon, Plastic
Coffee, Instant
Creamer, Non-dairy
Gum, 2 Chicklets
Cigarettes, 4 smokes/pack
Pall Mall
Lucky Strike
Matches, Moisture Resistant
Toilet Paper
If you can remember any of the others or what was with each individual meal please e-mail me and I will update the list.

    How to make a C-Ration Stove

    The small cans included in the meal were ideal for making a stove. Using a "John Wayne" pierce a series of closely spaced holes around the top and bottom rims of the can. This stove was satisfactory, but did not allow enough oxygen to enter which caused incomplete burning of the blue Trioxin heat tablet, causing fumes which irritated the eyes and respiratory tract. A whole heat tab had to be used.

    A better stove was created by simply using the can opener end of a "church key" (a flat metal device designed to open soft drink and beer containers with a bottle opener on one end and can opener on the other commonly used before the invention of the pull tab and screw-off bottle top) to puncture triangular holes around the top and bottom rims of the can which resulted in a hotter fire and much less fumes. With this type of stove only half a Trioxin heat tab was needed to heat the meal and then the other half could be used to heat water for coffee or cocoa. A small chunk of C-4 explosive could also be substituted for the Trioxin tablet for faster heating. It would burn hotter and was much better for heating water.
    A stove was usually carried in the back pack or cargo pocket and used repeatedly until the metal began to fail.

    How to Heat a C-Ration Meal

  1. Choose the meal to be consumed
  2. Open the can lid leaving at least 1/4 inch metal attached
  3. Bend the stillattached lid so that the inside of the can lid is facing 180 degreese from it's original position (inside up).
  4. Bend the edges of the can to form a handle
  5. Set meal on stove and heat to desired temperature, stirring fequently to prevent burning.
  6. "Outstanding" Ham & Mothers

    • Open and heat a can of Ham and Lima Beans
    • When hot, add one can of cheese spread and stir until all cheese is melted.
    • Crumble 4 crackers into the mixture and blend thouroughly.
    • Eat when the crackers have absorbed all excess moisture.

    How to make a C-Ration Coffee Cup

  1. Obtain the B (large, dry) can from the C-ration meal
  2. Follow steps 2 thru 4 in How to Heat a C-Ration Meal above.

Deluxe (reusable) Version*

  1. Remove the top of the can completely.
  2. Obtain 2 lengths of the bailing wire off of the C-Ration case.
  3. Obtain a solid, sturdy stick about 4 inches long.
  4. Notch out a groove around the stick near both ends.
  5. Wrap each length of wire around both top & bottom ends of the can and twist the wire around itself leaving enough twisted wire to twist around the grooves in both ends of the stick 1 inch from the can creating a very nice handle.
  6. Trim off excess wire.


Jimmy's Journal said...

I ate the same C-rations in the Army (1966-71) and oddly enough, I liked them. They were by no means equivalent to lobster, steak or fried chicken, but they were edible.

Some packages were beter than others, but overall they were good. Then again, I probably was very hungry and quality is pushed to the rear of the bus when hunger pangs begin.

We were sometimes lucky enough to have a duece and a half nearby and we warmed the grub on the motor.

I still have my can opener on my car key chain.....


Heli gunner Tom said...

The other problem was that we didn't get to heat them up unless we landed in our choppers, and then we could use the helicopter, JP-4 fuel to cook them.
Most G.I's will admit that they taste much better cooked. I heard that the Russian army fared a lot worse, having to scrounge the country side stealing and begging for food.

Tom S

Staci said...

I enjoyed reading that!