572 nd Transportation Company
Long Binh - Quang Tri
"Gypsy Bandits"

The Gypsy Bandits Arrive in Vietnam

From Jim Donelan


The photo was taken in Nov 66 at the convoy staging area in Cu Chi. Just some locals, their dog and a PF trooper passing to the rear.

The 572d Transportation Company (Med Trk) was activated at Ft. George G. Meade MD on July 8th 1966. Personnel to staff the company came from all over the world, mostly from Germany, France, Korea and CONUS. I came from Germany where I was the Asst. Adj. of the 107th Trans Bde in Ludwigsburg. The three 2d Lts came right out of T.O.B.C. at Ft. Eustis Va. Most of the NCO`s came from Europe and Korea. As for the enlisted men, right from LVDC ( Light Vehicle Drivers Course) at AIT centers around the states. We had mostly all E-1`s, a few E-4`s, not an SP5 in the bunch. The original 1st Sgt was J.C. Baker ,from Georgia, by way of a petroleum trucking battalion in France. The platoon leaders were Lt`s Walter Pickett, Carl Dinorello and Jack Whiteway all with 12 weeks of service

.Preparations for the move

Our equipment arrived five days before our port call at Baltimore so we worked two shifts of 10 hrs for the five days to check it out and box and band it to ship overseas. Once the equipment was gone we had a month to train all these 2 1/2 ton drivers to handle a 5 ton Semi. This we did on 4 borrowed M-52 A-1 tractors After the month we flew to San Francisco spread out on 4 different scheduled flights mixed right in with the paying civilian passengers. Our M-14`s were packed 2 to a box labeled "Sports Equipment, Handle Carefully". We really stood out in our fatigues. We arrived in San Francisco, and were bused to the port to board the USNS Gen. Alexander M. Patch for a 24 day cruise to RVN. We boarded the ship on 6 Oct 1966.

Loading the vehicles and equipment

The only notable mention here is that true to our future reputation, we managed to load and ship a whole load of equipment that wasn`t issued including two CONEX`s of office equipment, 12 air conditioners (great trade bait) and a beautiful mahogany desk. . Also we managed to ship two M-52 A-1 tractors which were the gas burners rather than the Multi-Fuel as were the M-52 A-2 models. These were vintage and actually performed better in Nam than the newer ones. We never heard if the post motor pool at Fort Meade missed them.( We did give two back)

Arrival in Vietnam

We arrived at Vung Tau and off loaded on LST`s and LSD`s were taken ashore, trucked to the airstrip and shuttled to Bien Hoa Air Base on C-130`s. It took all day. We arrived at TC Hill in Long Binh and were assigned to a portion of the 7th Trans Bn. area. We were now members of the "Orient Express" arrival date 31 Oct 1966. The advanced party, led by Lt Pickett and the Supply Sgt, SSG Baker, had done a masterful job in setting up most of the company area.

Initial company area

Within two days we were all moved in to our GP Large tents with wood floors, a living condition we never escaped from during my entire stay with the unit. All of the 7th Bn was in permanent structures by Dec 1966, while the 572d remained in tents. Col. Meerbott the Bn CO promised that each direct support mission would be our last, but come another mission and away went the 572d. I guess we were "gypsies" right from the start. We had 3 platoons and a service/maintenance platoon. Sixty-one tractors plus the 20 for Junction City and one wrecker. We also had three 5-Ton straight jobs, these were for special ammo runs. Our maintenance officer who joined us in-country was CWO-4 Kirk.

Types of operations, cargo and locations

10ton Rough Terrain forklift. It`s either an Anthony or a Pettibone. From the amount of CONEX`s in the background, it must be down at Saigon Port.

We originally started hauling general cargo in a port clearance operation at Saigon Port. To say they had a backlog does not begin to describe the problem. We got permission to open our own mini- TTP between Saigon and Long Binh just to turn the tractors around quicker and alleviate some traffic at the port entrances/exits. Also, I hoped to cut down on the number of civilian casualties in Saigon City. After all, our guys were still really learning and the rear wheels were squashing more than their share of pedestrians and scooters. The unit really worked it`s butt off especially when the reward for the best unit was the opportunity to work the Comet and the Trans- Globe the two roll-on//roll-off ships. These were a tractor jockey`s dream. Next we began convoys to Tan An, Di An, Ben Cat, Xuan Loc, and Bear Cat, all out of Long Binh. We then started to do line haul convoys to Tay Ninh. Convoys to this camp left Long Binh at 0530, stopped at Cu Chi to add additional vehicles and arrived at Tay Ninh at 12:00hrs if everything went smoothly. We than had 90 minutes to drop all loaded trailers and pick-up retrograde loads or empties and form for the return trip. Some convoys were 300 vehicles long.

Convoy Security

During this period we provided our own security from Long Binh to Cu Chi. We had only the weapons of the Asst drivers and three gun jeeps from the 716th MP Bn. From Cu Chi to Tay Ninh the security was provided by the 25th Div originally but was switched to the 11th ACR in Dec 66. Not until Jan 67, during Cedar Falls did we begin to see the need for our own security. We started with a 3/4 Ton mounted with a 30 Cal and graduated to the 2- 1/2 Ton with the twin 50`s and later the Quad 50`s.These were needed for Junction City. All security for our convoys operating out of Tay Ninh was provided by F Troop, 17th Cav. This absolutely fabulous unit was a part of our host unit at Tay Ninh the 196th LIB.

Move to Tay Ninh

Elements of the company began relocating to the 196th Light Infantry Brigade base camp at Tay Ninh to support Operation Cedar Falls on 28 Jan 1967. .Half of the company`s personnel and thirty five-ton tractors were displaced from the parent cantonment at Long Binh to the base camp. For the next 16 days the company ran two convoys every day, hauling over 7000 tons of cargo, predominantly ammunition, through enemy infested countryside to the forward supply area at Tri Bi. On 18 Feb 1967 the entire 572d Transportation Company, selected by special request was sent to support part of the 34 battalions engaged in Junction City, the largest combat operation of the war. As the one direct support transportation unit in the area, the unit ran two convoys daily to each of three forward supply areas at Tri Bi, Soui Da and French Fort. To facilitate turn-around of incoming convoys from the Long Binh logistics complex and outgoing convoys from Tay Ninh, the unit operated a trailer transfer point which received and turned around over 200 stake-and -platform trailers a day.

Emergency Night Convoy

During Junction City the unit travelled over 66,000 miles delivering cargo to unit distribution points, as well as forward supply areas. In addition, the 572d made the first night emergency resupply run of the war when 24 tractors hauled ammunition-laden trailers to the blacked out supply area at Soui Da and returned to Tay Ninh unscathed. At the conclusion of Junction City, the 572d remained in Tay Ninh to support Operation Gadsden which began in April 1967. The unit began it`s return to Long Binh in late May 1967. During Operation Junction City the 572d was augmented by two platoons of medium trucks from the 534th Trans Co. and one platoon of Light Trucks from the 6th Trans Bn. (Doers).

On 5 Jun 1967 I was reassigned to the 506th Field Depot as Depot Transportation Officer. The second CO of the 572d was 1Lt Jerry Claeys who had been a platoon leader since Jan 67 and the first KIA was Sp4 Sidney Denton from New Orleans and this happened 13 Jun 67.

My second home in 1967. I remember saying to the Depot CO,that if that sign is true he certainly needs more than a 27 year old captain as Depot Transportation Officer. What a job, thanks to all the great NCO`s we managed to do the impossible. That Depot was so big that after 4 months there was still parts of it I never visited. I can`t imagine the dollar value of the equipment stored there. I think the only thing we didn`t have were atomic weapons. We even had our own short-line Rail Road to move cargo. The place was absolutely amazing.