Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Was Al Gore being stupid with the M-16 Rifle? Was he in Vietnam with it?

This famous photograph of Al Gore, was supposedly posted on his web site when he was running for president in 1999.  It has been floating about the Internet ever since.  Many use it to mock Al Gore for his weapon handling skills, or lack thereof; but the weapon handling does not look too bad to me.  There is no magazine in the rifle, so it is likely unloaded, even if the selector switch is on "semi" and not on safe.  The muzzle, on close examination, seems to be pointing to the left (his left) of his head. He seems to be adjusting the sling on the rifle, and it is likely a pose for the photographer.  Some claim that Gore stated that the picture of him was taken in Vietnam.  That is less certain.  Here is a critique by James Welborn at
While I laughed until tears were streaming down my face I did not at
that time look very close at the photo until a few days later. This photo
was on Al's own website, supposedly showing Al in Viet Nam. The photo is of Al. But it ain't Viet Nam. Why?...

1. The photo is supposedly Al, out in the, "field". If this is so, why
  is his weapon unloaded? And why does he have no ammo at all. If I, as a photog for 25th Infantry attempted to go outside the wire with a patrol, without ammo, two things would happen. First, the team I was going out with would refuse to bring me along. And secondly, I would probably be brought up on charges because such stupidity puts the rest of the patrol in danger.

2. Al has only one canteen. There was no time of year in that area of

Viet Nam where you would not carry as much water as you could with you.  Drinking fountains were thin on the ground in the bush.

3. Al has a rubberized jacket of some sort on, over his fatigues. Aside
  from the fact that you would keel over after about 5 minutes wearing such a thing in the heat and humidity of that country, no such thing was issued to troops incountry. Rain cover was provided by a poncho liner and, (a tent half with a hood in the center of it.) Enlisted troops were not authorized to make up their own version of the field uniform. Nor were officers for that matter.

4. Notice in the photo that Al has what looks to be a winter sleeping bag on 
his "ruck." Try sleeping in one of these in Viet Nam and you would have a very hot and wet night inside the bag.

5. Wasn't Al supposed to be a journalist or something? But he has no

camera, no cassette recorder. No film. And if he was acting a regular
"grunt," then he would be carrying lots of ammo, both for himself and
for the M-60, belt fed that goes out with any medium to large patrol.

6. No food.

7. No grenades.

8. Maybe in the special forces and seals, an enlisted man would be
  allowed to go to the field with a boonie hat on. Nowhere else. Troops were required to wear the steel pot and liner and you could be brought up on charges for not doing so.

Sooooo, this is a photo of Al acting stupid in some basic training
  center in the US, where you would go to the field without ammo, water and food, and with clothes that were not authorized for use in Viet Nam. Al is lying again. He might have been in Viet Nam, but this photo was not taken there.
Here is another take:

1. Look at the muzzle brake on the M16A1.
2. Not a bead of sweat on him
3. NO LBE gear on him
4. Look at his haircut
5. Read what James Welborn for the rest.
Others note that it is well known that Al Gore served in Vietnam, and that everyone should be honored for their service.  I agree with that statement, and with the observation that sons of senators are often treated a bit differently than the common soldier.

I do not think it matters much if the picture was taken in Vietnam or not.  Al was in the Army during Vietnam.  He served.  So, he was not a Navy Seal or an Army Green Beret.  Not everyone can be. During Vietnam, I served my tour in California, in an Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation (RDT&E) outfit.  Most of us who served have some photographs that we keep to fondly remember our service.    This is likely one of Al's.

I am glad that he did not become president; but I also appreciate that he served.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch


Anonymous said...

I did not get the eight pocket fatigues until I got to Vietnam, that is what he is wearing.

ginnaville said...

I think that is a black plastic muzzle cap over the flash suppressor. Although I never saw one in Vietnam, they were common when my unit was out in the sagebrush of the Yakima Firing Center (now Yakima Training Center) in the 1970's.

Dean Weingarten said...

Thanks for the insight. It makes sense. He is out in the wet.

Ace Karner said...

How many people have been killed because since a weapon doesn't have a magazine in it, "so it is likely unloaded" ?