War Stories

The Black Scarves

William R Hayes

During the Vietnam conflict, some units who were suborned to mother divisions, battalions, brigades, and companies, whished to have an identity of there own. This identity would give the unit a sense of pride and togetherness and made a statement of whom they are. This recognition of a unit came in many forms, patches, headgear, and wristbands would be used when moving from AO to AO. Our field recognition method was the black scarf. The scarf was embroidered with our division, battalion, company, and unit symbol. Our company (B 3/187} was the only unit in the 101st ABN authorized to wear this badge of distinction, when our Company Commander Robert Frederick (DSC) presented a scarf to the Commanding General of the 101st ABN Division (Zias}, when we made our final move north.

The 3rd Brigade of the 101st was designated as a fire brigade of Vietnam. This designation placed us in all the hot spots and under some other unitís authority. We were in 3 Corps And under the umbrella of the 25th Division, and making a lot of contact with the enemy around the CU Chi area. A lot of places we were placed hadnít seen US troops in years, and it was our job to clean the AO of infiltrating enemy troops, and because of this we had a lot of casualties. Since we were under the 25th, our enemy kills were credited to the 25th and not our units. This caused consternation among our group. Something had to be done to show the NVA who they were fighting.

While during 24-hour stand down, a few others and myself were at the Cu Chi PX decided to make scarfs to show all who we were when in the field of fire. When we were leaving the PX some MP stopped us, and told to remove our neckwear, we as airborne were not going to obey this order, especially coming from a leg (non-airborne personal} so we were escorted to the Provo Marshals office. Again we were told to remove our scarfs and again we refused. The P.M. called our CO to explain that we as soldiers should all look the same while on base, so as to not give information to the enemy. This is the time I began to love our Company Commander, I donít know what he said to the P.M. but he quickly changed his tune, and we were let go wearing the symbol of ass kicking B Company 3/187 ABN INF 101st ABN DIV. We presented a scarf to the Company Commander and the rest is history.

My original scarf is placed in the 187th RCT 101st ABN DIV Fort Campbell KY museum.