Phu Bai, Vietnam, just 60 miles south of the DMZ
Seabees of H Company, MCB-7
Quartermaster's Description of C-Rations used in Vietnam

by: Raymond Cochran
Naval Mobil Construction Battalion Seven
attached to the 3rd Marine Division
Vietnam 1966
(© 2010)

Commercially prepared meals were used in the field and at times when hot meals were not available. These meals came in a case containing 12 meals. Each meal was in it's own cardboard box, which contained the individual items sealed in cans. A can opener (called both a "John Wayne" or a "P-38") was needed to open the cans. The accessory pack with each meal was sealed in a foil pouch.


This is the official Quartermaster's description of C-Rations used in Vietnam

"The Meal, Combat, Individual, is designed for issue as the tactical situation dictates, either in individual units as a meal or in multiples of three as a complete ration. Its characteristics emphasize utility, flexibility of use, and more variety of food components than were included in the Ration, Combat, Individual (C Ration) which it replaces. Twelve different menus are included in the specification.
Each menu contains: one canned meat item; one canned fruit, bread or dessert item; 
one B unit; an accessory packet containing cigarettes, matches, chewing gum, toilet paper, coffee, cream, sugar, and salt; and a spoon. Four can openers are provided in each case of 12 meals. Although the meat item can be eaten cold, it is more palatable when heated.
Each complete meal contains approximately 1200 calories. The daily ration of 3 meals provides approximately 3600 calories."

There were 4 choices of meat in each B group. Because there were several "vintages" of C’s issued to the Marines and Seabees in Vietnam, more than 4 items may be listed in the B groups as well as the brands of cigarettes included in the accessory pack.

B-1 Units

Meat Choices (in small cans):
   Beef Steak
   Ham and Eggs, Chopped
   Ham Slices
   Turkey Loaf
    Fruit Cocktail
Crackers (7)
Peanut Butter
Candy Disc, Chocolate
    Solid Chocolate
Accessory Pack*

B-2 Units

Meat Choices (in larger cans):
    Beans and Wieners
    Spaghetti and Meatballs
    Beefsteak, Potatoes and Gravy
    Ham and Lima Beans
    Meatballs and Beans
Crackers (4)
Cheese Spread, Processed
Fruit Cake
Pecan Roll
Pound Cake
Accessory Pack*

B-3 Units

Meat Choices (in small cans):
    Boned Chicken
   Chicken and Noodles
    Meat Loaf
    Spiced Beef
Bread, White
Cookies (4)
Cocoa Beverage Powder
    Mixed Fruit
Accessory Pack*

*Accessory Pack

Spoon, Plastic
Coffee, Instant
Creamer, Non-dairy
Gum, 2 Chicklets
Cigarettes, 4 smokes/pack
    Pall Mall
    Lucky Strike
Matches, Moisture Resistant
Toilet Paper


For the first four months of MCB -7's 1966 tour in Phu Bai, RVN,
we had nothing but C-rats made in 1942.
I arrived in Nam weighing 165 lbs at 5'-10''.
After for months of hellish heat and garbage C-rats, I was down to 128 lbs.
The battalion Doc told us to watch out for rust holes in the cans.
 He said don't open the can with a rust hole; that it would probably have
Salmonella bacteria in it. I missed the rust hole hiding in the black printing stating
made in 1942. I opened the can and the black "Ham and Motherf**kers"
were doing a slow boil all by themselves. I buried the full can in a cat hole.
Below is a photo of me starting to heat up a can with C-rats inside.

Quartermaster's Description of C-Rations used in Vietnam 
The last half of our tour we ate B-rats.