Original U.S. Vietnam War Slouch Boonie Hat with Rocker Patch - Nakhon Phanom Thailand

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a rare theater made Vietnam War bush hat. This style hat became popular with USGIs, specifically NCOs, who spent time in the wet hot conditions of Vietnam during the war. The left side of the hat is stitched with a Nakhon Phanom Thailand rocker patch which has a blue background and heavy white embroidered stitching. The band of the hat holds shotgun shell rounds. Underneth that band is a paper Ace of Spades playing card with personalized messages and Airborne.

The Ace of Spades in Vietnam; A folk legend about the ace of spades being used by American Soldiers during the Vietnam War was popularized. Supposedly, US troops believed that Vietnamese traditions held the symbolism of the spade to mean death and ill-fortune and in a bid to frighten and demoralize Viet Cong soldiers, it was common practice to mockingly leave an ace of spades on the bodies of killed Vietnamese and even to litter the forested grounds and fields with the card.[citation needed] This custom was said to be so effective that the United States Playing Card Company was asked by Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment to supply crates of that single card in bulk. The crates were often marked with "Bicycle Secret Weapon".[8][unreliable source?] The ace of spades, while not a symbol of superstitious fear to the Viet Cong forces, did help the morale of American soldiers. It was not unheard of for US Soldiers and Marines to stick this card in their helmet band as a sort of anti-peace sign.

The hat itself is heavy gauge canvas construction with green exterior and red interior and is a size 57 (US 7 1/8). Overall condition is excellent.

The Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Navy Base (NKP), formerly Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, is a Royal Thai Navy facility used for riverine patrols along the Mekong River. It is approximately 587 km (365 miles) northeast of Bangkok, 14.5 km (9 miles) west of Nakhon Phanom city in Nakhon Phanom Province in the northeastern region of Thailand, and 411 km (256 miles) from Hanoi in Vietnam. The Mekong River is NKP's border with Laos. The airfield at NKP is jointly used as a civilian airport.

During the Vietnam War NKP was a front-line facility of the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) used by the United States in its efforts to defend South Vietnam against insurgency by North Vietnam and the Pathet Lao guerrillas in Laos from 1961 to 1975.

Beginning in the late 1950s, North Vietnam began to move troops into areas of eastern Laos in support of the Pathet Lao, and also as a defensive measure to protect their logistical support of the insurgency in South Vietnam. In September 1959, North Vietnam formed Group 959 in Laos with the aim of building the Pathet Lao into a stronger force in its guerrilla war aimed at overthrowing the Royal Lao Government. Group 959 openly supplied, trained and supported the Pathet Lao militarily.

With Thailand sharing a long common border with Laos along the Mekong River, the Thai government was increasingly concerned about the spread of a communist insurgency into Thailand, which already faced a growing insurgency of its own in that part of the country. The Thai government were concerned about the activities of the Communist Party of Thailand It was therefore receptive to the idea of allowing U.S. military personnel to use Thai territory for operations in support of the Lao Government, and later in support of South Vietnam.

The first American military personnel to arrive at NKP in 1962 were the U.S. Navy's Mobile Construction Battalion Three who undertook the task of constructing runways and raising the first buildings at the new base as part of a United States commitment under SEATO with the 6,000-foot (1,800 m) PSP runway opening on 1 June 1963.

On 20 June 1964 2 HH-43B of the 33rd Air Rescue Squadron and their crews were deployed to NKP to provide search and rescue over western Laos for US aircraft engaged in Yankee Team missions, however their short range limited their usefulness.[2]:50-1 Conditions at NKP were initially spartan with no latrines or electric power. At the end of June an electrical generator was installed and living facilities began to be constructed.

The 5th Tactical Control Group exercised command jurisdiction over the 507th until May 1965 when the 6235th Air Base Squadron was formed. Overall control of the USAF units was then turned over to the 35th Tactical Group at Don Muang Royal Thai Air Force Base. On 8 April 1966 the 6235th Air Base Squadron was discontinued and the 634th Combat Support Group along with its subordinate squadrons was activated.

On 6 July 1965 2 CH-3Cs assigned to Detachment 1 of the 38th Air Rescue Squadron arrived at NKP improving the rescue capacity there.

With U.S. irregular warfare operations already being conducted from the base, on 2 February 1966, the Thai government approved the establishment of a USAF Air Commando unit in Thailand, using the existing USAF facilities at NKP to give the appearance that the United States was not introducing another unit into Thailand. USAF forces at NKP were under the overall command of the United States Pacific Air Forces (PACAF).

NKP initially housed USAF search and rescue forces and maintained a communications capability in support of U.S. Air Force objectives in Southeast Asia. NKP was the location of TACAN station "Channel 89" and was referenced by that identifier in voice communications during air missions. The 634th Combat Support Group was inactivated and the 56th Air Commando Wing was formed on 8 April 1967. The 606th Air Commando Squadron formed the operational backbone of the new wing, and the 56th Combat Support Group took over the major support functions. The 56th Air Commando Wing designation was changed to 56th Special Operations Wing on 1 August 1968.

Along with USAF Air Commando and Special Operations forces, MACV-SOG units operated out of NKP, along with Air America, Echo 31 and other clandestine organizations which used NKP as an operating base for their activities in Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam.

Only older propeller driven aircraft and specialized aircraft operated from the installation. Some of the aircraft operating out of NKP bore civilian markings or were unmarked. In addition, the 56h SOW also worked closely with the U.S. embassies in Laos and Thailand to provide training for special air warfare units.

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