Monday, August 24, 2015

The ultimate male security blanket?

I had to laugh in appreciation at this paean of praise to the so-called 'Woobie' or poncho liner, US military issue since the 1960's.

There have been some amazing military innovations over the years: freeze-dried food for MREs, jet aircraft, rail guns, and the soul-sucking website, Army Knowledge Online. But none of these compare to the simplest, most wonderful invention known to mankind: the poncho liner, affectionately known by all those who have felt its life-giving warmth as the “woobie.” Ask any soldier or Marine, especially those in the infantry, how he feels about his woobie, and his eyes will light up and then mist over as he waxes lyrically over the virtues of this item. Hard-bitten combat veterans grow poetic and wistful, declaring their love for this piece of equipment. If you don’t believe me, read the Amazon reviews. It is perhaps the single most-loved item in the armed forces.

. . .

No matter what you call it, is it really like a security blanket?

The answer is a resounding, “Hell yes!” A mere glance at veterans’ internet forums show a myriad of uses for this simple item. It can be used as a blanket, pillow, shelter, hammock, camo hide for concealment, jacket liner, seat cushion, mattress — when you are sleeping on the ground, anything helps — and something soft to hold onto when you’re far away from home and everything’s going to … well, you know, the stuff that hits the fan. It is remarkably resilient to extreme heat and cold, dries quickly when wet, and most importantly, can be squished up into a tiny ball that takes up barely any room in your rucksack and adds virtually no weight. I am still convinced it is magical.

Veterans often hang on to their woobies well after they leave the military, preferring to claim it as a “field loss” and pay the charges rather than turn it in. One vet claimed his woobie had outlasted several marriages, which probably says more about the stresses of military life than it does for the woobie, although many claim that woobies go missing in divorces. Young men in the military claim that “girls love it and think the term woobie is cute,” and so it is often used to begin a romantic relationship. Kids love the woobie because it is light, soft, reminds them of their mom or dad, and can be used as a cape when running around pretending to be a superhero. Many woobies get passed on through generations of veterans, with some troops deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan with their dads’ woobies from Vietnam.

. . .

Simply put, it is the greatest thing to ever be issued by the U.S. military.

There's more at the link.  There's also this video on YouTube illustrating the point.  (Slight language alert on the video.)

I didn't have a similar piece of equipment in the South African military, but I learned to appreciate the woobie when I met up with US veterans after coming to this country.  There's also great appreciation for Kifaru's aftermarket poncho liners, in Woobie (insulated) and Doobie (double insulated) versions, as well as their Arctic Woobie for cold weather extremes.  I keep telling myself I really need to get some of those . . . but living in a temperate climate like Tennessee, it would be overkill (of my wallet as well as my body).

(On the other hand, while courting Miss D. in Alaska I made very good use of a military-surplus parka to keep me warm.  That would have been just the place for an Arctic Doobie . . . but unfortunately, at the time I didn't know they existed.  If we ever go up there for a second honeymoon or something, I'll take one along!)



Anonymous said...

I still have two that another G.I. in my company stole from a warehouse. That was in 1970. After all these years they are still good.

Jim said...

I used to have a jacket that was made from. It was lost in a flood a few years ago. I miss that thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm a firefighter, 16 years out of the Army. I spend 4 months a year at work away from my family. My "woobie" is my blanket at work, on fire assignments, everywhere. It's my connection to home and family.

CarlS said...

I'm curious - when did the term "woobie" come to "fruition"?

I've been in the military my entire adult life, starting at 17 during 'Nam, and am now, as they say, "Still serving" and "Subject To Recall" in the Retired Reserve.

I started in Signal, crossed over to Infantry, moved on from there to other areas, then back to Infantry, then back to other areas.

Yet I can not for the life of me recall anyone ever calling ponchos "woobies" or doobies" or . . .

Shell said...

I was in the US Army from 1981 to 1983, have been an amateur of history and military history all my life, and not once did I ever even hear *of* a poncho liner being called a "woobie" until hearing it from troops in the service since about 9/11.

I know where the bastardized pronunciation "Sarn't" came from. Now I wonder which movie had a soldier call his poncho liner a "woobie".

takirks said...

1983. Michael Keaton. Mr. Mom. Wooby speech to his son.

I may have been present when this connection first got made. Maybe. We had a guy who'd come up from Fort Ord, where he'd been with 7th ID Light, and were you to say that the Lightfighters were attached to their poncho liners, you'd be making a huge understatement. That thing was the only bit of sleeping gear they usually got to carry, and they worshiped the damn things. Where we were at Fort Lewis, we had sleeping bags and no poncho liners on issue. Our new guy, upon finding out that there would be no issued poncho liner at the Central Issue Facility for him, went into a tearful and heartfelt soliloquy on the matter, describing his deep and abiding love for that bit of gear. Didn't help--He wasn't a person entitled to one, so he didn't get one. And, since they weren't on sale at Clothing Sales, back in those days, he was forced to acquire his own at one of the local pawn shops.

He was the first person I ever heard call a poncho liner a "woobie", and I gather it was a 7th ID "thing". By the time I retired in 2007, that was pretty much the alternate term for the things, and I think I even saw them labeled as such over at Clothing Sales.

Tim D said...

This is the first time I have heard that term, but I still keep mine around along with my almost 50 yr old P-38 can opener. You never know when you might need them!