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Taking the Pig for a Walk: History of the M60

45Jeeper

Alpha
Founding Member
My first weigh in for the Army I weighed 132lbs right out of high-school. As a runner in school I quickly became one of the fastest runners in my Army unit in Central America. I think they gave me the M60 to try and slow me down some. Wouldn't trade those days for anything.
 

Core

Alpha
Founding Member
Great article! During my Naval service I used mounted M60's and when the GWOT started the CO started several roving M60 positions to cover against small aircraft and suicide boats. I carried a fullsize M60 200rd box, 400rds in my H, flack jacket, helmet, bullhorn, flashlight, etc etc roving for 12 hours. You could call in for a bathroom break and 30-60 minutes for food. The gear was pretty heavy: I had the biggest arms in my department. Later while in CENTCOM I was recruited to rove with a para M60 for 12 hour patrols with the Marines who were short staffed. I also carried a MK46 and stood anti material watch with the .50 cal. This was part of my peripheral duties as a force security SAT SSDF team member and later team leader. I went on to do VBSS breacher and team leader, with the assortment of naval armory options M14 thermal, MP5SDN, and anti diver grenade launchers. As a liaison I upgraded the ships security comms, and used MCRD surplus gear to outfit our team members. We won several consecutive waterfront security awards. I ended up doing brownwater work afterwards and transitioned well to CQD in several hostile environments in numerous nations experiencing hardship. Good times: but the pig took its toll on my body and other high impact ops with too much gear. DOD needs to lighten up.
 
The Air Force taught me to use the M60 and M2 before my first tour in SEA. My first ever instructor course in 1971 was at Phan Rang AB, RVN, which was about 26 clicks from Cam Ranh Bay. We spent a week learning instructor techniques and small unit tactics, and firing the M2, M60, 90mm recoilless, Claymores, and various other grenades and explosives. The M60 was my favorite. I was 6'5" and 225 lbs and the chief instructor immediately chose me to carry the M60 during fire and movement exercises. I later heard him comment we should pick "big dumb farm boys to carry the '60". I certainly fit that bill.

The M60 was issued with a canvas bag that contained a spare barrel and an asbestos mitt for changing barrels. With sustained firing the barrel would get so hot that you could see the bullets as a red streak going down the barrel. We were trained to fire 3-5 round bursts to minimize overheating. We also had 60's on T&E tripods, and with "butterfly" triggers for firing from fixed tower posts and aircraft. Our 60's were deployed in bunkers, towers, on APC's, and on jeeps and weapon carriers for quick reaction teams. Our tactics were designed to defend the base from attack, and to isolate and get enemy out of our bunkers if they got through the outer lines of defense. These were lessons learned previously during Tet.

Our gun positions on the perimeter positions were set up with interlocking fields of fire all along the perimeter. 2 or 3 M60's in bunkers firing on a target with grazing fire was an impressive sight, especially at night. Every 5th round in the belt was a tracer but it looked like a steady stream of tracers. I never had to defend myself with an M60 but always felt secure behind one. That was until I learned that the enemy placed a high priority on taking out the 60's during an attack. I am convinced the M60 saved many American lives during Vietnam out in the bush and on base perimeters.
 
I served as a gator for 2 tours in the Navy, first at BMU-2 and second as a GMG on the USS Carter Hall LSD50. I wasn't the biggest on my team but seemed the best at getting rounds down range at our first live fire training sessions so I was assigned a M60D. Happiness is a warm belt fed weapon for sure! On the ship I was bounced between the forecastle .50 and bridge wing M60E we had. I liked the Echo version over the Delta, lighter weight and the forearm grip made controlling it easier. On flight deck watch station quals was the only time I ever got to shoot the Echo unmounted and it was easier to control from what I remembered. The only thing I hated about the gun was the bolt would "eat" the connector the piston rod gouging the crap out of it. On the beach the ones I had would jam often, on the ship I had to send off 3 or 4 gas rods that were too chewed up to operate safely. It was one sweet shooting gun when it was right but maintaining one was a nightmare if you didn't have enough spare parts. I miss shooting one, especially at night fire exercises and at the end of the FY when we had to "burn" ammo supplies. The M60 was by far my favorite small arm to shoot!
 

willyd

Alpha
Constant Companion 11 1/2 months in Vietnam, worked great no problems only major problem was getting the spare barrels, finally got a hook-up with Artillery Unit, problem solved, they had no problem getting barrels!!!!!!
 
Constant Companion 11 1/2 months in Vietnam, worked great no problems only major problem was getting the spare barrels, finally got a hook-up with Artillery Unit, problem solved, they had no problem getting barrels!!!!!!
Supply of parts was SNAFU. We had K9 dogs and lots of dog food for them on the air bases. We had M2's but couldn't get spare barrels. Army SOF had lots of M2 barrels and K9's but no dog food. We at one point traded dog food and chain link fence to them for spare M2 barrels. You do what it takes
 

willyd

Alpha
Supply of parts was SNAFU. We had K9 dogs and lots of dog food for them on the air bases. We had M2's but couldn't get spare barrels. Army SOF had lots of M2 barrels and K9's but no dog food. We at one point traded dog food and chain link fence to them for spare M2 barrels. You do what it takes
So True, DO WHAT IT TAKES!!!!!!!!!!!
 

MSGDLDr

Alpha
What a great and well written article, made me smile and remember.
It was a blast shooting the M60 on the range. But at 5'7" and 135lbs on a good day, it was a beast to lug around, as I found while training in the hills of Pennsylvania. On the day it was my turn as M60 gunner I was wishing I was 6'6" and 18 years old. Needless to say, I didn't make it the whole day before having to pass it off to another. Made me glad I was in Armored Cav with tracked vehicles!
 

willyd

Alpha
What a great and well written article, made me smile and remember.
It was a blast shooting the M60 on the range. But at 5'7" and 135lbs on a good day, it was a beast to lug around, as I found while training in the hills of Pennsylvania. On the day it was my turn as M60 gunner I was wishing I was 6'6" and 18 years old. Needless to say, I didn't make it the whole day before having to pass it off to another. Made me glad I was in Armored Cav with tracked vehicles!
150 lbs and did my tour on foot in the field, Infantry 1st Cav A/M no easy chore but liked that PIG better than an M-16 worth every pound when the SHTF!!!!!!!!!!!
 
Enjoyed the article and everyone's comments. I came of age shortly after 'Nam ended (in 77'). At that time, when I tried to enlist, the recruiter told me to finish college first. I ended up working Federal Civil Service for 3 years before trying college again. So to my eternal shame, I didn't serve. Older cousins did and one served as a door gunner on a Helo. He'll talk a little about the experience, but not much and I won't pry. He has talked about the magnus effect.
After 9/11, I was so angry I tried to enlist again, only to be told I was too old (that hurt).

Thank you to all of you who did serve.
 
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