Our Troops and Tape

Tuesday August 6, 2019

In honor of Flag Day and the U.S. Army’s Birthday, we discovered some interesting ways the U.S. Military has used duct tape.

During World War II in the 1940s, Vesta Stoudt, an Illinois mother of two servicemen, wanted to save soldiers’ lives. Stoudt worked at the Green River Ordnance Plant inspecting and packaging rifle cartridges for rifle grenades for the Army and Navy. To make the cartridges waterproof, the boxes were taped with a thin paper tape and coated in wax. To open the box, workers left a tape tab loose for soldiers to pull to release the wax coating. However, these flimsy tabs often broke, putting soldiers, including Stoudt’s sons, in harm’s way trying to open ammunition boxes under enemy fire.

With lives at risk, Stoudt took action. She suggested replacing the weak paper tape and wax coating with a strong cloth-based waterproof tape, known today as duct tape. Despite liking her idea, Stoudt’s supervisors failed to implement it.

Determined to protect her sons and their fellow soldiers, Stoudt reached out to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, compelling him to take action.

She wrote, “I have two sons out there somewhere, one in the Pacific Islands, the other one with the Atlantic Fleet. You have sons in the service also. We can’t let them down by giving them a box of cartridges that takes a minute or more to open, the enemy taking their lives that could have been saved had the box been taped with a strong cloth tape that can be opened in a split second. I didn’t know who to write to Mr. President, so I have written you hoping for your boys, my boys, and every man that uses the rifle grenade, that this package of rifle cartridges may be taped with the correct tape.” [Quote from Stoudt’s letter]

Moved by her proposal, FDR sent Stoudt’s letter to the War Production Board in Washington, D.C. Within a few weeks, the War Production Board approved and implemented her recommendation and Stoudt continued her work knowing her tape idea was saving lives.

Today, the military uses duct tape for a multitude of reasons. Often referred to as 100mph tape or sometimes 1,000mph tape because of its durability even under high speeds, duct tape has been used for anything from shoe and gun repair to fixing Jeeps, tanks, jets, and helicopters. Soldiers have also used duct tape as emergency bandages for blisters, wounds, and splints.

Ideal Tape 469, our versatile duct tape, is proudly made in the U.S.A. While it is designed for HVAC, with creativity and ingenuity, it could be used for even more.

How do we know? Our troops have used duct tape in a variety of creative ways to make their lives safer and easier. After all, there is a reason it has stuck around for so long.

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