Do soldiers switch to their sidearm instead of reloading their main weapon while in combat
I was a corpsman with a Marine rifle company in Vietnam. When I arrived in-country I was issued a .45 automatic and a box of ammo (I don't remember for sure but think it held fifty rounds).
I’m left-handed. Unfortunately the armory didn't have any left-handed holsters.
No problem as the armory also didn't have any magazines.
What it did have was thick plastic in which I could wrap up my weapon to keep it dry as it sat in the bottom of my pack.
I finally got some magazines when I medevaced a lieutenant and took his.
The only time I used my .45 was on an LZ. To relieve the boredom my platoon had a shooting contest, seeing who could put the most rounds into an engineering stake 10–15 yards downhill, my Marines using their M16s. Unfair contest but I held my own.
No way a Marine in a firefight would give up his rifle for a sidearm. About the only circumstance that comes to mind is being out of ammo while being overrun.
My friend was on an LZ near the DMZ when it was overrun shortly after midnight on Feb. 22, 1969. Seriously wounded in his leg, he crawled to an incoming bunker.
After applying a tourniquet to control the bleeding he realized he had left his rifle outside. Looking around for a weapon he found an entrenching tool and grabbed it.
He then stepped outside and found himself face to face with an NVA sapper. He swung that tool just as hard as he could and killed the sapper with one blow to the neck.
By dawn the Marines had retaken the LZ, suffering over 100 casualties in the process.