Friday, June 18, 1965: 'War is Hell'

Place: South Vietnam
Photographer: Horst Faas
Original caption (from The Associated Press): An unidentified U.S. Army personnel wears a hand-lettered "War Is Hell" slogan on his helmet June 18, 1965, during the Vietnam War. He was with the 173rd Airborne Brigade battalion on defense duty at Phuoc Vinh airstrip in South Vietnam.

The earliest publication date I can find is from July 23, 1967 in various newspapers as part of a story and a block of photos on soldiers' helmets. Caption: That old American individualism comes out even in the jungles of South Vietnam, as the above pictures show. Hats definitely are in fashion when the bullets fly -- and the fashions are as varied as the ingenuity of the GIs. Some are functional -- such as the extra machine gun ammunition around a machine gunner's hat, top left; some are expressive -- such as the "war is hell" band at top center; some are poignant -- like the helmet liner marked off for every day of the wearer's tour in bottom left; and some are nostalgic, such as the helmet featuring the snapshot in bottom center.

Note: In June 2012, the soldier was identified as Larry Wayne Chaffin, who served in 1965-66 (from The Southern Illinoisian: @). 

Horst Faas' Vietnam photos
* From The Denver Post: @
* From The Associated Press: @

Origins of phrase 'War is hell' (General William T. Sherman)
     -- Image from Ohio State Journal, August 12, 1880, on Sherman's speech the day before.
* From "Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order" (John F. Marsalek, 2007): @
* From "The Oxford Dictionary of American Quotations" (2006): @
* From "Nashville: The Western Confederacy's Final Gamble" (James L. McDonough, 2004): @ 

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