Bad Ass and The Turd

Never thought of the M113 as the Batmobile. But it sure was good at hauling all our sh!t

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I keep thinking the same thing, like maybe a bad '70s cop show ala “Starsky and Hutch” or “B.A.D. Cats.”


But I liked Starsky & Hutch! It taught me the best way to polish the hood of a car was to slide across it on the backside of my jeans… :rofl:


When I was working on this diorama, it got me thinking about vehicle numbers and call signs, and my time in a Mech Infantry Battalion. I ran a platoon as a lowly 2nd Lieutenant, in the early 70s.

In those days, the Vietnam and Cold War periods, our standardized call signs were all important. We were constantly on our radios coordinating unit and vehicle movements. All our vehicles, mainly M113A1 APCs had them, and we also carried PRC-99, portables, when we were away from out ‘tracks’.

For those of you, not familiar with the organization of such units, here’s the story of our call signs (as I remember it.)

I was in B Company, within the battalion (1/11 Inf), simply called ”Bravo” – that represented the unit, all 150 (or so) men and associated vehicles.

It consisted of four platoons called: Bravo1, Bravo2, etc, and a small HQ element

Within my platoon, Bravo3, we had four APCs. They were numbered B3-1 thru B3-4, And their call signs were Bravo31, Bravo32, etc.

Those call signs represented the vehicles, themselves, as well as the people, the infantry squads, who rode inside them. (Although we never could cram an entire squad with all their equipment inside those things. Luckily, we were never up to full strength.)

But what if you wanted to talk to a specific leader, the company commander, first sergeant, a platoon leader or platoon sergeant? They became Bravo6, Bravo5, and Bravo36 and Bravo35, respectively.

Thus I, personally was “Bravo36”, and I usually rode in B3-1, along with “Bravo31”.

I have no idea why the NCOs got ‘5’ and the Officers got ‘6’.

Also used as part of the call sign was the term ‘actual’. The Company commander for B company was “Bravo, actual”. That distinguished the boss from their RTO (“radio-telephone operator”), who was humping our “Prick99” radio and generally doing most of the talking.


I managed to come away from with both my helmets,



Yep, I got own of those!

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Great idea for a dio and very well done as well.

Thank you - thank you - thank you! In the ‘Nam movie “Platoon” there are different scenes where the troops are on the radio and use the term “actual”, I’ve never understood what this was about until now.
Now . . . in the movie Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks’ character is on the radio and says “gadap gadap. . . blah blah blah”, do you know what that’s about?

Cajun :crocodile:

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I recall the use of term “Actual” in RVN to identify if speaker was RTO or the Officer/NCO at that call sign. But I also (think) I remember that procedure was changed in late 70’s or early 80’s, where the RTO had a suffix added to the call sign so you always knew who was talking. In other words, if the CO was “Delta 26”, his RTO was “Delta 26 Bravo”. It’s been 40 years since I last signed off a military net so am not 100% sure, does that procedure sound right to anyone that might have a better memory?

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In the 80s we did both; actual for the actual person (when require) and adding a suffix for the RTO, driver, etc.

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Thanks, I appreciate the reply. Saves me from digging around my basement for old commo notes or scribbles on maps w/call signs.

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Sorry Cajun, I don’t know about that thing in Saving…. Before my time.