High Hoods in Vietnam: A Soldier's View


Many veterans who served with the U.S. military in Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970's have posted their personal in-country photos on websites devoted to particular military bases or units involved in the war. Quite different from official or press photographs, this huge collection of pictures forms a unique history of the day-to-day life of a soldier in a combat zone.

Here are a few which capture some of the atmosphere of the war and the country, and which happen to include high-hood Jeeps.

The first photo was taken by Robert F. Fischer at the US Naval Support Activity Detachment at Binh Thuy, command center for US Navy Task Force 116 which patrolled the inland waterways of South Vietnam with helicopter gunships, Bronco propeller-driven attack aircraft, and PBR's (Patrol Boat River).

Binh ThuyOn this day in 1969, visiting brass were in Binh Thuy for a command change, and the drivers of an M151A2 and a CJ-3B were waiting for their passengers. The 3B looks like a Kaiser M606 military version, and carries what appears to be the star of a Marine Brigadier General.

In the larger copy of the photo (55K JPEG) the rear of a gray Navy Jeep, apparently a CJ-5, is also visible on the right. The photo comes from Robert's website Back in the Delta.

MyThoRobert Fischer also took this photo, from the back of an Army truck on a Road Trip From Dong Tam to My Tho on 4 July 1969. He says, "You could smell a Vietnamese market way before you encountered it. The merchants jammed the streets with their wares. Foodstuffs were piled on the sidewalks and ripened in the blazing heat of the sun. My Tho was a river city and fish a staple part of the community diet. Merchants would pile their catch of the day on top of yesterday's unsold fish."

Paused to let the convoy pass is a CJ-3B. Not too many details visible, but it looks like it's a Willys civilian 3B.

CJ3B-J4 ambulanceMany of the military high hoods seen in Vietnam, including this ambulance conversion, were Japanese-built Mitsubishi CJ3B-J4 models used by the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) who were allies of the American forces.

Taken near Da Nang in 1967 by an unidentified veteran of Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, and posted on a Webshots Photo Page, the picture is captioned: "Two good friends at the ARVN Compound. We usually rotate platoons here, the Song Cau Do Bridge, and the 106 tower near a CAP Unit. I think this is Jim Laverty."

Iroquois and J4The CJ3B-J4 in action: An ARVN ambulance receives a wounded soldier of the 7th Division, ARVN, from an Iroquois helicopter near the Mekong River, III Corps Tactical Zone (III CTZ), after a medical evacuation by the U.S. chopper. A second ambulance waits in the background.

J4 amblanceThese two photos were taken by Ian (Max) Maxwell in Kien Giang Province, My Tho, and are from the collection of the Australian War Memorial.

The J4 ambulance conversion was apparently used by the U.S. Army as well as the ARVN. See CJ3B-J4 Military Jeeps for more details on this ambulance.

Can ThoAlthough the Americans brought mainly the M38A1 and M151 MUTT to Vietnam, they apparently supplied large numbers of the Mitsubishi J4's to the ARVN. This photo taken by Dave Callahan in 1967/68 shows a half-dozen Jeeps outside the Trai Le Loi ARVN compound near Can Tho Army Airfield. For more photos around Can Tho, see Joe Moore's website The Delta Dragon.

The Jeeps seen here have wooden hood blocks, civilian-style parking lights, and single-pane rather than split windshields like the Mitsubishi J4, so these may be U.S.-built M606 exports. Although the tailgate-mounted spares are more typical of the J4, Luis Mariano Paz points out that M606s also were shipped from the U.S. to Argentina with rear M38-style spares.

CJ3B-J3A more unusual sight was this spotless white civilian Jeep, seen on Rt. 1 between Hue and Da Nang in late 1966 or early 1967. Harry Dill took the photo while riding in convoy with the 3rd Bridge Company, a U.S. Marine Corps combat engineering unit specializing in building temporary replacements for destroyed bridges.

You could speculate that this was the vehicle of a Vietnamese government official. The rectangular mirror and lack of hood blocks suggests it's a Mitsubishi Jeep.

MP'sThe combination of American and ARVN military traffic and civilian traffic on the same busy roads, inevitably meant traffic accidents that had to be investigated and reported by all appropriate police forces. Photo courtesy of Sung-Yung Choi and Military Police of the Vietnam War.

This appears to be a Willys CJ-3B, since it has chrome headlight rings, and a passenger-side spare tire mount rather than the tailgate mount usually found on the Mitsubishi version.

Soc TrangAnother photo from The Delta Dragon shows Sgt. Reuben Ritter posing on a Jeep destroyed by a mine, about three vehicles in front of him in a convoy. This was early in the American involvement in the war, 1963/64 in Soc Trang.

The headlight guards clearly identify this as a Mitsubishi military Jeep, and the bracket for a lifting shackle on the front bumper indicates it's a J4C which was the heavier-duty version with 24-volt electrical system.

Thanks to all the photographers, and to Luis Mariano Paz and Mike Winchester who located photos. -- Derek Redmond

See more CJ-3B Jeeps in Vietnam.

Also on CJ3B.info, see more CJ-3B and M606 Military Jeeps.

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Last updated 23 October 2010 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond