I have tried as best I could to give the political and military scene, as we understood it as kids. Naturally, our understanding was a mix of anachronism, propaganda and misunderstood news stories. Just take it all as a remembering of the world view of seven-year-old kids growing up in the New York Area, around 1961 and 1962. Much of our information came from television, and we didn't know or care to know the difference between current news, popular TV series and old history shows. To a kid in `62, if it was on TV, it was true. Considering that we saw a lot of war movies, action TV series (Combat, Rat Patrol), plus bits of real news, our world view could be anachronistic, biased and definitely out of touch with the facts.
(This information current for 1962)
The Enemy is out there. To beat him, it helps to know what kind of tricks he might play. We're not talking just anyone. The Enemy is bad - all bad. He is sneaky, tricky and just plain bad. Here are the facts about the Enemy.
Some enemies have special markings. Commies use a red star or a hammer-and-sickle. Japanese use a red meatball. But all of the enemies put swastikas on things. If there's a swastika, that's where the enemy is. They paint them on tanks and trucks and jeeps and bunkers. For an enemy to make a tank his own, all he does is put a swastika on it.
You can spot the Regulars by the color of their uniforms. There are four kinds which you are likely to encounter:
Grays: these are the rank and file troops, the Enemy equivalent of our men. They wear the same style of uniforms and helmets.
Blues: Blues are usually like regular, but some have special missions. Blues are usually attached to the Enemy Navy or Air Force.
Tans and Yellows: some Regulars wear tan or yellow. They are otherwise like regular troops.
Red: if you see red enemy soldiers, they are either hardcore Commies or they are Science troops. Science troops are dangerous because they use weird scientific weapons like the Bean Fart Gas, Blitz Ray and Secret Weapons. Science troops like to use rockets and missiles instead of cannons.
Most Regular Enemy Troops are either Nazis or Commies. They like to use sneaky tricks, and they are very mean. You can tell by the color of their uniforms that they are bad people.
Germans: these troops are grey, but sometimes they might be green or tan. You can tell them by their helmets, their funny caps and high boots. Germans always leave their mark. They put swastikas on everything. Germans like submachine guns, and some of them have flamethrowers and bazookas, too. They always ride in half tracks.
If the Germans capture anything, from jeeps to bunkers, they put swastikas on it.
Japanese: The Japanese always fight in bushes. They wear tan or yellow, and they like to chop you up with machetes and swords. The Japanese prefer ambushes followed by a Banzai charge. They like to paint a big red Zero on everything, but they use swastikas, too.
Russians: they are big troublemakers and they want to shoot nukes at the whole world. Russians are grey or green, but some are metallic blue. They wear funny fur hats and they have boots like the Germans. Russian are Commies, so they use a red star as well as the usual Enemy insignia, the Swastika.
Red Chinese: they are Chinese people who like Russians. Red chinese are not regular Chinese people. The Reds are bad. They use red stars like the Russians. Red Chinese usually have tan or yellow uniforms.
Cubans: Good Cubans join our Army, but the bad ones are Commies who side with the Russians. They use red stars and, of course, the Enemy Swastika.
Swedes: if you see Germans in green uniforms, they are Swedes. There were pictures of Swedish troops on TV last week, and they have helmets like Germans, so they are obviously in cahoots with the Enemy.
The big enemy is a guy named Hitler. We know because we have seen him on TV. He has a funny moustache, and whenever he comes around people raise their arms and yell "Hi Hitler!" That is what the Enemy does. Hitler yells a lot and he has swastikas all over the place. Another enemy is a guy named Kroosecheff. He is a fat old guy who looks like the drunken bum guy who lives on Pierce Avenue over by the Crab Lady's house. They have a new bad guy named Castro who has whiskers and tries to fool people by wearing a green Army uniform. These are the leaders of the Enemy. Hitler is probably the boss of Castro and Kroosecheff because he has more swastikas. Besides, we never saw anybody on TV yell "Hi Kroosecheff" or 'Hi Castro," but whenever you see Hitler on TV here are always people yelling "Hi Hitler!"
Spinach, Lima Beans and Squash
The Boston Red Sox
Froggy the Gremlin
All the rest of them
Peeing in the swimming pool
Here are things that the Enemy hates:
Roy Rogers and Dale Evans
The Lone Ranger
The Cisco Kid
Bill Cosby records
Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
Jingle Bell Rock
Ramar of the Jungle and Jungle Jim
And worst of all, Abbot & Costello and The Three Stooges!
Our mission is to beat the Enemy. We have to win. We have to capture their leaders. After all, this is America and we're the good guys!
New Enemy: we now have a new enemy and he is the Viet Cong. He runs around with a funny hat that looks like a cone, and he fights like the Japanese. The Viet Cong are Commies, but they are not exactly the same as the Red Chinese. However, the Viet Cong like to hide in bushes and chop people up with machetes. The best way to go after them is with helicopters.
There was a big war on TV all week and it was really cool. There were lots of tanks shooting up the place, and they fought in the desert just like that movie called The Desert Fox. We know that one side is Israel, and they are on our side. The other was Arabs, but they are not like regular Arabs. Regular Arabs have curvy swords and wear robes and ride camels. The Arabs on TV were soldiers with guns and tanks. They did not even have beards, so they must not be the same thing. We saw on a color TV that the Israel guys have tanks and uniforms like us, but the Arabs use Russian stuff. It's pretty obvious who's with who.
The Arabs have some guy named Nasser who likes Russia. What does that tell you?
The Rat Patrol was on TV, and they used jeeps with machine guns to beat half tracks and self-propelled guns. This is important. If your jeeps have machine guns and you drive fast, you can now beat Enemy half tracks with a machine gun. This only works against enemy half tracks that have swastikas.
Remember - if they do it on TV then it has to be real. TV doesn't lie!
I am now in basic training in Fort Dix, NJ. I have found out who the real enemy is. He is the Drill Sergeant and he is more miserable than Commies, Nazis, or any of those guys we used to think were the enemy. And believe me, what you see on TV about the Army is very different than what you experience in Fort Dix IN the Army. Aaagh!
Having completed my regular Army service, I joined the National Guard and am at my summer camp with them in Fort Drum, NY. This is great - not as strict as the Army, but we still get to ride around in APCs and M48s, shoot blanks, camp out and drink beer. They are training us to fight what they call 'Threat Forces." Their description of Threat Forces implies Communists. However, it is not very different from what we thought back in 1962. No, not very different at all. Threat Forces don't use swastikas and they don't have Hitler, but come to think of it, everything else sounds pretty much the same!
The Soviet Union has collapsed, China is a trade partner, and Cuba is an economic mess. Germany is rife with strife caused by a new bunch of young Nazis. They have swastikas again. The Arabs and Israelis are actually working toward peace. The Viet Cong are gone and Vietnam is not even in the news. We left that place in `75. The world seems better, so now is a good time to run my electric trains.
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