In Tim O"Brien's story, "The Things They Carried," he describes the important things men carried in war and why. What the soldiers carried was determined by necessity, field specialty, what ever helped with killing or staying alive, mission necessity, superstition, dignity, and emotional baggage. .
Some of the things they carried are items that may seem insignificant to us in ordinary circumstances but invaluable to soldiers in combat. O"Brien knows that these men needed little things like matches or mosquito repellant to survive. Items like these are taken for granted because they are so readily available in normal everyday life. But, in war, out in the middle of the jungle, matches would be invaluable to soldier's survival. Other items that O"Brien mentions that they carried were cigarettes. Combat is very stressful to a soldier. Smoking cigarettes would help the soldiers to calm their nerves and pass time in this dangerous environment. The things they carried out of necessity might seem minor to a civilian. But, to soldiers in war, they are the difference between making it out alive and not making it out at all.
Another reason for the things they carry came from the individual jobs the soldiers had. For example, the platoon leader, Jimmy Cross was the one in charge of the group of men. He carried special equipment to help navigate through the jungle. Others in the platoon would carry equipment so that they could perform their specific jobs. The soldiers carried items like: maps, binoculars, radios, medical supplies, and different types of weapons.
Sometimes what they carried was a matter of what was available. The soldiers collected anything they could use against the enemy. In O"Brien's story he mentions that, " At various times in various situations, they carried M-14s and CAR-15s and Swedish Ks and grease guns and captured AK-47s and Chi-Coms and RPGs and Simonov carbines and black market.