82nd Airborne Division (Vietnam) Golden Brigade – Vietnam 1968 – 1969


82 Combat Truisms

Some may choose to call them¬† fates of war, while others will blame Murphy and his Laws.¬† In any case, war doesn’t always go along with even the best of preparations.

  1. Friendly fire – ain’t.
  2. Recoilless rifles – aren’t.
  3. Suppressive fires – don’t.
  4. A sucking chest wound is nature’s way of telling you to slow down.
  5. If it’s stupid but it works, then it isn’t stupid.
  6. Try to look unimportant; the enemy may be low on ammo and not want to waste a bullet on you.
  7. If at first you don’t succeed, call in an airstrike.
  8. If you are forward of your position, your artillery will fall short.
  9. Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself.
  10. Never go to bed with anyone crazier than yourself.
  11. Never forget that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
  12. If your attack is going really well, it’s an ambush.
  13. The enemy diversion you’re ignoring is their main attack.
  14. The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions: when they’re ready & when you’re not.
  15. No OPLAN ever survives initial contact.
  16. There is no such thing as a perfect plan.
  17. Five second fuses only burn for three seconds.
  18. A retreating enemy is probably just falling back and regrouping.
  19. The important things are always simple; the simple are always hard.
  20. The easy way is always mined.
  21. Teamwork is essential; it gives the enemy other people to shoot at.
  22. Don’t look conspicuous; it draws fire.
  23. Never draw fire; it irritates everyone around you.
  24. If you are short of everything but the enemy, then you are in the combat zone.
  25. When you have secured the area, make sure that the enemy knows it, too.
  26. Incoming fire has the right of way.
  27. No combat ready unit has ever passed inspection.
  28. No inspection ready unit has ever passed combat.
  29. If the enemy is within range, so are you.
  30. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
  31. Things which must be shipped together as a set, aren’t.
  32. Things that must work together, can’t be carried to the field that way.
  33. Radios will fail as soon as you need fire support.
  34. Radar tends to fail at night and in bad weather, and especially during both.
  35. Anything you do can get you killed, including doing nothing.
  36. Make it too tough for the enemy to get in, and you won’t be able to get out.
  37. Tracers work both ways.
  38. If you take more than your fair share of objectives, you will get more than your fair share of objectives to take.
  39. When both sides are convinced they’re about to lose, they’re both right.
  40. Fortify your front and you’ll get your rear shot up.
  41. Weather ain’t neutral.
  42. If you can’t remember, the claymore might be pointed towards you.
  43. The cavalry doesn’t always come to the rescue.
  44. Napalm is an area support weapon.
  45. Mines are equal opportunity weapons.
  46. B-52s are the ultimate close support weapon.
  47. Sniper’s motto: reach out and touch someone.
  48. The one item you need is always in short supply.
  49. Interchangeable parts aren’t.
  50. It’s not the one with your name on it; it’s the one addressed “to whom it may concern” you’ve got to think about.
  51. When in doubt, empty your magazine.
  52. Combat will occur on the ground between two adjoining maps.
  53. If you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, you may have misjudged the situation.
  54. If two things are required to make something work, they will never be shipped together.
  55. Anything you do can get you shot, including doing nothing.
  56. Whenever you lose contact with the enemy, look behind you.
  57. The most dangerous thing in the combat zone is an officer with a map.
  58. The quartermaster has only two sizes, too large and too small.
  59. If you really need an officer in a hurry, take a nap.
  60. There is nothing more satisfying than having someone take a shot at you, and miss.
  61. If your sergeant can see you, so can the enemy.
  62. You’ll only remember your hand grenades when the sound is too close to use them.
  63. So he said, “Cheer up: it could be worse!” So we cheered up … and it got worse.
  64. The spare batteries for the PRC-whatever your troops have been carrying are either nearly dead or for the wrong radio.
  65. The ping you heard was the antenna snapping off at 6 inches above the flexmount, while a fire mission was being called in on a battalion of hostiles who know your position.
  66. Why is it the CO sticks his head in your radio hooch to see if anything has come down from Division when you are listening to the Armed Forces Network broadcasting the baseball game?
  67. How come you are on one frequency when everyone else is on another?
  68. Know why short RTOs have long whips on their radios? So someone can find them when they step in deep water.
  69. The enemy ALWAYS attacks the second you drop your pants!
  70. The ammo you need “NOW”!! is on the “Next” airdrop!!
  71. If all else fails – hide!
  72. Four-wheel-drive just means getting stuck in more inaccessible places.
  73. If you receive two contradictory orders, obey them both.
  74. You get the most of what you need the least.
  75. If you don’t care where you are, you ain’t lost.
  76. There is no limit to how bad things can get.
  77. Experience is something you don’t get until after you need it.
  78. I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.
  79. No matter how carefully you pack, a rucksack is always too small.
  80. No matter how small, a rucksack is always too heavy.
  81. No matter how heavy, a rucksack will never contain what you want.
  82. No matter what you need, it’s always at the bottom of your rucksack.