572 nd Transportation Company
Long Binh - Quang Tri

Gypsy Bandits
Move to Quang Tri

From Bill Hampton

"This page is dedicated to the memory of those "Gypsy Bandits" that gave their lives during the time I was in-country":

SP5 Rodney J. Black, Roswell NM KIA 2 May 69
SP5 Daniel Carrasco, Cucamonga, CA-KIA 2 May 69
SP5 Jerry D. Walker, Louisville, MS-KIA 3 Dec 70
PFC James R. Brobst, Newton Falls, OH-Died 15 Feb 71

And to two special "Bandits", 1SG George F. Willhite (Ret.) and SP5 Michael W. Werlinger who both passed away in 1990. God be with you all, "Hamp".

The first CO of the 572nd was CPT Jim Donelan, who took the unit to Vietnam from Ft. George Meade MD in 1966.

PHOTO #1 Personal belongings of the 9th Infantry Division following Nixon's pullout announcement. I led 8 truck loads from Dong Tam, 9th Div. HQ, to Tan Son Nhut Airbase for shipment home.

I arrived in-country 4/1/69, and was assigned to the 572nd. At that time the unit was at Long Binh in the 6th Trans. BN, ( currently an active BN at Ft. Eustis) 48th Group, Saigon Support Command, and 1st Logistical Command. The 1st Log (leaning shithouse) was the patch we wore. We remained at Long Binh until late January 71, running Line Haul Convoys throughout a lot of III Corps and some of IV Corps.

Typical convoys from Long Binh went to Cu Chi, Tay Ninh, Quan Loi, Dau Tieng, Xuan Loc, Phouc Vinh, Phu Loi, Bear Cat, and to Vung Tau, Dong Tam, Can Tho, My Tho, etc. to the South.

PHOTO #2 Convoy staging area, Long Binh 1969 Chec k out the "clean brand new tractor"

We primarily hauled ammo and rations on flatbed trailers in support of such units as 1st Infantry, 1st Cav, 9th Infantry, 25th Infantry, 11th ACR, & 199th Infantry Brigade (Light).

In late Dec 1970 (while I was home on leave before my 3rd tour) the unit was notified it was being sent to Phi Bai (reason not revealed). In mid January 71, the 1SG, Supply Sgt, and I flew to Hue/Phu Bai to pick out a company area in Camp Eagle, an old 101st Airborne area. After the move, we only stayed there 3 nights before being sent on to Quang Tri. The remainder of that story is primarily covered in the after action report reproduced below.

PHOTO #3 Bill Hampton

PHOTO #4 This is my jeep and the ammo dump at Cu Chi. The drivers are un-tarping the ammo.

Along about that time the 48th Group was deactivated, and after our move we were placed in the 39th BN for two weeks then the 57th BN, both of which were under the 4TC. Prior to that, I had never heard of the 4TC.

PHOTO#5 Bill hampton, Dau Thien convoy turnaround. This was a march unit commander's jeep, armed with m-60. I also carried the M-79 and M-16.

The nickname for the 572nd was the "Gypsy Bandits". Prior to my arrival in-country, the company was moved very often to wherever a tractor-trailer unit was needed (therefore the name Gypsy). They were also very good at "combat procurement" (stealing what was needed), resulting in the "Bandit" portion of the name. Prior to our move to Quang Tri, we ravaged Long Binh Post and Binh Hoa Airbase, and were very well supplied once we arrived in Quang Tri. At one point while we were in Quang Tri, CID came in and "found" 9 unauthorized jeeps. Needless to say, we had plenty more in reserve!! What got us caught, one of our "primary" thieves happened to steal the jeep that belonged to the Assistant Fire Chief of Quang Tri Post. It just happened to have brass knobs, fancy fire extinguishers ,etc.

PHOTO#6 A view of the LST loading slips at Newport

The move north was done in stages. Sometime during December 1970, (while I was home on leave) Lt. E.K. Stafford took one platoon ahead and was operational for 2-3 weeks before the rest of the company moved. The majority of the equipment (tractors, etc.) was moved from Newport via LST's along with a skelton crew. On "moving day", the company personnel along with the remaining personal belongings flew from Bien Hoa Air Base on a C-130. I can't remember if we flew to Da Nang (the most likely answer) or on to Hue/Phu Bai. As for a ship(s) name, I have no idea because I was never at the port during loading, etc. All the heavy equipment was moved several days or weeks ahead and was in place once the company flew north.

PHOTO#7 Feb-Mar 71- Quang Tri. This was one of 18 tractors damaged or destroyed during a pre-dawn rocket attack on our motor pool. Notice the bumper#, after our move to Quang Tri we were under the 8th group.

One footnote, Lt. Stafford was on a night convoy to Khe Sanh during the first two weeks of the operation (somewhere around Feb. 12-14). The convoy was ambushed and Lt. Stafford was on another company's Gun Truck. The Gun Truck took a direct RPG hit and he was blinded by scrapnel. After he recovered, he went to the University of Georgia Law School and is now a practicing attorney in Vidalia, GA. He and his wife came to visit me last October.

Tim Kutta, author of the book "Gun Trucks", is in the process of a writing a new book. He took 57 of my pictures, and hopefully several will be used in his new book. He also called Lt. Stafford for a telephone interview for info for the book. If you have not read the book "Into Laos" by William Keith Nolan, I would highly recommend it. It is a very detailed and apparently well documented account of Lam Son 719/Dewey Canyon II. He gave the Transportation Units quite a bit of coverage. He specifically mentioned LTC Alvin Ellis , the commander of the 39th BN, which the 572nd was assigned to during the first two weeks of the opn. Also, his gung ho night convoys is what cost Lt. Stafford his eyesight, along with the deaths and wounds of several other truckers.

At the conclusion of Lam Son 719/Dewey Canyon II, the 572nd was moved to Da Nang at the end of March 71.

We only had a handful of tractors left running out of 60 and were virtually "tore all to shit". From early April until I left the last time 6/5/71, we were primarily regrouping and rebuilding.

The following is a quote from a letter that I obtained from the Army Center of Military History, written by CPT Robert P. Barclay, 572nd CO, dated 12 February 1973: "As this letter is written the 572nd is the last truck company remaining in all of Vietnam. The company supported US forces in the Da Nang area up to the date the peace treaty was signed ending the Vietnam War, 28 January 1973".

The 572nd received a Presidential Unit Citation for Operation Lam Son 719/Dewey Canyon II. We had a Company Commander at the time that was apparently trying to make Major. He volunteered us for everything going, night convoys and all. The end result was, we pulled over half of what the entire Battalion (consisted of 5 truck companies) pulled during that Operation. Also, the fact "The Deuce" was the last truck company left in Vietnam is very significant to me personally. I knew we had a "damn good company", but I think that fact relates just how good a company it really was.



APO 96495

AVCD A 57 572

4 April 1971

SUBJECT: Interim After-Action Report

Commanding Officer

57th Trans Bn


APO 96495


The 572d Transportation Company during the period 29 January1971 to 31 March 1971 was operating at peak performance with an average of 37 vehicles per day engaged in hauling supplies and equipment to FSA I and FSA II from Quang Tri and even DaNang. In spite of field living conditions, many road hazards, enemy harassment, and personnel shortages the 572d Transportation Company, in support of operations Dewey Canyon II and Lam Son 719 supplied the operations with an admirable record of accomplishments. The unit amassed over 98,000 loaded miles and directly supported all combat operations North and West of Quang Tn.

Most significant was the fact that during this period the company operated under {two different battalions. From 29 January 1971 to 15 February 1971 the company was assigned to the 39th Transportation Battalion and from 15 February 1971 to present was assigned to the 57th Transportation Battalion in support of the operations.


a. The mission of the 572d Transportation Company was to provide motor transportation for the movement of general cargo, petroleum products and ammunition in both line haul and local haul operations within I Corps Tactical Zone of operations. This unit is capable of hauling 1,080 short tons of equipment with it's authorized 60 5 ton tractor task vehicles.

b. The unit is organized into 3 truck platoons, a maintenance section, and a headquarters platoon.

c. The authorized strength of the company is 178 enlisted men and 5 officers.

d. The average daily strength during operations Dewey Canyon II and Lam Son 719 was 170.


During the 62 day period from 29 January 1971 to 31 March 1971 the following notable statistics are listed:

I. a. 98,649 miles driven total (Loaded) or 1,591 miles per day

b. 30,118 tons moved total or 486 tons per day

c. 1,267,233 ton miles total or 20,333 ton miles per day

d. 3,588 total loads moved or 58 loads moved per day

e. 1.6 loads per tractor per day on dispatch

f. 8.4 tons per average load

An average of 5 tractors per day were used for various shuttles where no tonnage was accrued.

II. a. A total of 251 recommendations for awards have been submitted to include:

(1) Distinguished Service Cross 1

(2) Bronze Star w/"V" Device 7

(3) Bronze Star for Achievement 8

(4) Bronze Star for Service 1

(5) Army Commendation Medal w/"V" Device 34

(6) Army Commendation Medal for Achievement 70

(7) Purple Heart Medal 4

(8) Vietnamese Staff Service Medal, First Class 5

(9) Vietnamese Technical Service Medal, 2nd Class 131


a. The free flow concept maximized production per tractor by balancing and regulating the work load at loading and off loading sites and thereby reduced waiting or idle time of tractors waiting for convoy.

b. Reduction in the number of night convoys reduced casualties and reduced tractor deadline rate while only slightly decreasing tonnages moved. This concept also improved morale.

c. Movement of company intact increased productivity over units that were formed from fragments of other units.

d. Weekly briefings on the tactical situation and importance of the operation significantly increased production by helping maintain an excellent state of morale throughout the operation.

e. The use of guntrucks crewed by competent NCO's and the personal presence of company officers on the dangerous routes to command, control, instruct, and encourage drivers aided greatly in mission achievement and training in combat driving technique.


The major problem areas consisted of lack of a responsive Support Maintenance. Excessively rough roads damaged a high number of fuel lines, air lines and air hoses. Excessive parts wear was due to extreme mud and dust conditions. Excessive wear of brake parts was due to lack of trailer brakes. Clutch wear was the fault of inexperienced drivers. Body damage was due to the chaotic traffic and congested road conditions. Road security was a problem due to lack of brush clearance along the highways and lack of air support. Running 24 hours a day with no driver maintenance facilities hurt the performance of the maintenance section. Excessive age on the tractors and a shortage of operational trailers hurt the performance of the unit most significantly. Limited mess hours also caused inefficiency.


The average length of time per tractor in support maintenance was 31 days. The average number of vehicles in support maintenance was 20. Twenty five tractors were retrograded during these two operations at a cost to the US Government of approximately $325,000. It is the opinion of this commander that these figures are not excessive when considered in light of the tactical situation.