The GI outline

Thompson Submachine Gun

Thompson Submachine Gun

While it is iconic of the Prohibition era, the U.S. Army adopted the Thompson submachine gun in 1938. The "Tommy Gun" became a popular weapon of American infantrymen because of its high rate of fire and portability.

Courtesy of the Karen and Greg Wolanin Collection.

The GI

American soldiers began to refer to themselves as G.I.'s. The term originated as an acronym for "Government Issue" having to do specifically with military equipment, but it has since become synonymous with the American soldier.
  1. "Jeep" Cap – M1941 Wool Knit Cap
    Developed early in World War II to provide added warmth. The cap's design allowed it to fit beneath a soldier's M1 steel helmet.
  2. Haversack – Model 1928
    The M28 Haversack differed little from the World War I Model 1910. American infantrymen carried this pack in all theaters of the war.
  3. Wool Scarf and Blanket
    Soldiers frequently wrapped wool knit scarves around their head for added warmth. These scarves were manufactured, as this one was, or hand-knitted by civilians on the home front.

    When winter clothing was in short supply, troops often used their blanket as an added layer for warmth.
  4. Field Jacket – Model 1943
    The M43 field uniform was the U.S. Army's first attempt to develop a combat uniform suitable for a variety of climates. By layering, the M43 gave soldiers greater flexibility in dressing for the weather.
  5. Winter Service Wool Trousers
    Straight trousers were issued instead of breeches beginning in 1939. By 1942, the U.S. Army began issuing olive drab wool serge trousers with roomier cuts to accommodate soldiers' complaints that the pants were uncomfortable in the field, especially when wearing long underwear.
  6. M1 Garand Rifle, 30–06 Caliber and Clip
    The M1 Garand Rifle was the first semi-automatic rifle to be used by any army in the world. A soldier could fire eight shots simply by pulling the trigger eight times. This gave American soldiers a significant advantage over their enemies, who relied on bolt-action rifles.

    The M1 rifle used an 8-round "en bloc" clip that inserted into the top of the
    rifle. These clips were inexpensive to produce and could be left behind by soldiers in combat when they were ejected from the rifle.
  7. Shoepack Boots – Model 1944
    This boot was designed to be worn with two pairs of wool socks and included one thick felt insole. The boots did not fare well during long marches and caused serious foot problems for soldiers. The shoepack boot did not breathe well, causing a soldier's feet to perspire excessively. This heightened the risk of frostbite or other ailments when the soldier stopped marching.

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