I'm researching the use of emergency signal mirrors in the Vietnam War.

Here are links to rescue accounts I've found online, with date of rescue and the name of the survivor.

Some accounts are long - you can search for "mirror" in each, to find the role of the mirror.

I expect the signal mirror was usually a laminated glass issue Mark 3 emergency signaling mirror with the retroreflective mesh aimer whose construction is described in US Patent 2,557,108, filed 12/4/1946. The Mark 3 has been issued to US forces from 1949 to the current day. They are issued in two sizes: 2"x3"("Type I") and 3"x5 ("Type II"). At the height of the Vietnam war, they would be manufactured to MilSpec MIL-M-18371, version D or E. Doug Ritter has posted the MilSpec here: MilSpec MIL-M-18371E, 17 Feb. 1969. Back in the day, they were usually manufactured by Revere Glass Company or Libby Owen Ford. Here's a nice article with three artistic photos of a May 1967 Libby Owen Ford MIL-M-18371D mirror in a reenacted setting: (Mirror Back) ; (Mirror Front) ; (Mirror Box)

S. I. Howard Glass has been the primary manufacturer of the MIL-M-18371E for the last decade or so, and they are made available through distributors for civilian purchase online. Quality commercial equivalents are also sold by Coghlan's, Rescue Reflectors and Vector I.

Be wary of imitations whose grids don't form a proper aiming "fireball" - read Doug Ritter's article: WARNING: Phony Glass Signal Mirrors, which includes descriptions of the visible signs of mirrors Doug has found not to work, and the names of wholesalers selling them.

Without further ado: accounts of Vietnam rescues mentioning the use of signal mirrors:

1965 July 27: Tullo
1966 April 22: Arendale ; (Arendale (another account))
1966 July: Bishko and Moran
1966 Dec 17: PFC Bates and other wounded (used Silva compass mirror)
1967 Feb 15: Buzze ; (Buzze (another account))
1967 May: Hiep and two others ; ( 1967 Jun 4 per this alternate account)
1967 Nov 9: Six survivors ; (Young (one of the six))
1968 June 2: Fields ; (Fields (another account)) ; (Fields (3rd account))
1968 Nov 20: Conyers
1968 Nov 26; Harrison 6-man team
1969: Stroud and others
1969 Jan 18: Townsley
1969 Feb 2: Recon team
1969 Feb 20:Winters six man team?
1969 Oct 13: Andrews
1969 July 29: Ekrote 6-man team
1970 Feb 19: Hernandez ; (Hernandez (2nd account))
1970 July: Stahl
1970: Rasmussen
1971 July: Two pilots
1972 April 2: Martin
1972 June 12: One survivor
??: Goshen 1st incident
??: Goshen 2nd incident ; (Goshen incident #2, 2nd account)
1969-71?? Team Illinois:

Here are contemporary high-resolution online photos of US servicemen using the MIL-M-18371E:

2005: USAF serviceman with 3"x5" MIL-M-18371E mirror (photo has "mouseover" annotations, descriptions and links)
2001: US Marine using 2"x3" MIL-M-18371E (photo has "mouseover" annotations, descriptions and links)

2013 April 13: Orogrande, New Mexico. Tech. Sgt. Daniel Roman, 49th Operations Support Squadron survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) specialist, from Holloman Air Force Base, teaches soldiers how to use the MIL-M-18371E signal mirror to attract rescue forces.

A good reference on the survival equipment carried in Viet Nam is the book: United States Combat Aircrew Survival Equipment: World War II to the Present {1995-RAF}: A Reference Guide for Collectors, by Michael S. Breuninger, 1995, Schiffer Publishing, Limited.

Update: Thanks to the hint below, I located and purchased the 642-page book: Leave No Man Behind: The Saga of Combat Search and Rescue George Galdorisi, Thomas Phillips 2008, whose accounts of combat rescues include 11 cases mentioning signal mirrors, of which three were in the Vietnam war, which I have added above. This led in turn to this 469 page book on the USAF Pararescue forces in Vietnam: PJs in Vietnam: The Story of Airrescue in Vietnam as Seen Through the Eyes of Pararescuemen Robert L. LaPointe, 2001, which added one new incident, and fresh information on three others.




Edited by rafowell (05/26/13 09:47 PM)
Edit Reason: Fix URL
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A signal mirror should be backup for a 24 hr, all-weather radio distress signal, such as a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB)