The Art of Self-Expression on a Steel Pot: Vintage Photos Showing Graffiti on Soldiers’ Helmets During the Vietnam War – Design You Trust

The Art of Self-Expression on a Steel Pot: Vintage Photos Showing Graffiti on Soldiers’ Helmets During the Vietnam War

A lot of the soldiers wrote graffiti on their helmets with inscriptions of their attitudes about where they were and why they were there.

The military called it the M- I helmet, the troops called it a “steel pot”. The damn thing felt like it weighed half a ton when you first put it on your newly shaved head in basic training or boot camp. It’s a sure bet that not long after the U.S. military introduced the steel pot (with its fiber glass shell liner) in 1941, some GI or Marine scribbled “Kilroy war here” or some other oddball or iron, saying on his helmet. Until the Vietnam War, though. what you most commonly saw on helmets were rank insignia and unit designations.

h/t: vintag.es

As is the case with so many other thing, the conflict in Vietnam put its own unique stamp on the things the soldiers wrote on their helmets. All manner of iconoclastic stuff found its way onto our steel pots. By far, the most popular were a girlfriend’s name, a city and state back home, peace signs and short-timer calendars. As the war progressed, slogans and other graffiti were proudly displayed by the wearer.

Ironically, the most reproduced helmet graffito to emerge from the Vietnam War is a fictitious one, although it is based on reality: the “Born to Kill” that Private Joker wrote on his steel pot in the movie Full Metal Jacket, which is based on former Marine Gustav Hasford’s 1979 novel The Short-Timers.

The iconoclastic Joker’s helmet message is central to the surreal “duality of man” dialogue in the movie, in which a hard-core colonel chews out Private Joker for his peace symbol button. “You write ‘Born to Kill’ on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What’s thus supposed to be, some kind of sick joker?” the colonel harrumphs. To which Joker replies: “I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir, the Jungian thing, sir.” To which, the colonel replies: “Whose side are you on. son?”

The troops in Vietnam were the children of the 1960s, and like their cohorts back home, even in a war zone they found a way to express themselves.

























If you want more awesome content, subscribe to 'Oh, Design You Trust,' our brand new Facebook page! Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

More Inspiring Stories

Montana Photographer Miles Glynn's Shots Of Buffalo, Wild Horses, And Sweeping Canyons Look Lifted From An Old Western Film
From Mothers and Brothers to Imagined Lives Both Past and Future, This Year’s Edition of The 2020 Photo Vogue Festival Explores the Theme 'All in This Together'
Before Digital Camera Popularity: Studio Portrait Photos Of Beautiful Women In The 1980s
2012 Miss Reef Calendar
20 Rare And Beautiful Examples Of Black Women In Fantasy Photoshoots
Woodcarvers Create Christmas Masterpieces
Pilot Takes Amazing Photos From His Cockpit, And They Will Take Your Breath Away
"Shadows": Winners & Merit Awards Of AAP Magazine’s Photo Contest
Surreal Photos Of Abandoned Houses In The Arctic By Norwegian Photographer Britt Marie Bye
20 Punk Bands Of The 1980s You've Never Heard Of
Unlikely Friendships
Haunting And Beautiful Portraits Of Native American Peoples From The Early 20th Century
Photographer Shares His Favourite Shots Of The Landscapes Of England
Russian Deputies Learns How to Use Apple Gadgets
Nursing Home Dresses Senior Citizens Up in Famous Classic Movie Roles for Calendar
The Comedy Wildlife 2017 Unveils The Hilarious Photos Of The Winners
1920s Fashion Through The Lens Of Police Mugshots
Photographer Celebrates 100 Years Of Polish Independence With This Stunning Photoshoot
Fascinating Photos of Chicago’s Tri-Taylor Neighborhood From 1971
In the Swim
Whale Shark with 50 Remoras in Her Mouth Wins Scuba Diving Magazine’s 2020 Underwater Contest
Publicity Photos Of Marilyn Monroe Playing The Ukulele For “Some Like It Hot” In 1959
Photographer Robert Ogilvie Perfectly Captures The Heart And Soul Of San Francisco
Backstage Reality Of Russia: Atmospheric Photography Through A Skater’s Eyes