|A Tale of Two Truck Tours|
Interview with John M. Horvath by Richard Killblane, 28 May 2002.
of 29 October 2002
First Year in Vietnam Yearbook
John Horvath had been a transportation officer in charge of household goods in
Germany. Because of the draw down
of troops in Germany nearly everyone was going to Vietnam, beginning in the
middle of 1965. He reported to Ft
Bragg, NC on Memorial Day 1966. He
assumed command of the 64th Medium Truck Company, which was ordered
to deploy to Vietnam. Horvath was
excited to receive a company command and happy to go to Vietnam.
He believed that we planned to win the war.
John Horvath had been a transportation officer in charge of household goods in
Germany. Because of the draw down
of troops in Germany nearly everyone was going to Vietnam, beginning in the
middle of 1965. He reported to Ft
Bragg, NC on Memorial Day 1966. He
assumed command of the 64th Medium Truck Company, which was ordered
to deploy to Vietnam. Horvath was
excited to receive a company command and happy to go to Vietnam.
He believed that we planned to win the war.
deployed with the 64th Company to Vietnam in July 1966. After
eighteen days aboard the USNS General John Pope and passing the international
date line on 30 Jul 66, the unit arrived in RVN on 11 August.
Its parent battalion would not deploy with it since the 64th
TOE was designed for the company to act independently. The 64th had
it’s own personnel specialist, a finance specialist, a property book, a
maintenance section, and a mess section. They
followed the procedures according to the deployment AR and eventually moved with
a full complement of 60 task tractors, and 186 officers and men. The movement
included a number of steps. The
company advance party went by air to RVN. The vehicles were shipped via
Charleston with a company escort party. The main body flew by air charter from
Pope AFB to McChord AFB, near Ft Lewis, Washington, then went by bus to the
Tacoma Outport. The 64th
became a part of those deploying with the 4th Infantry Division from
Ft Lewis. Horvath made arrangements
for the company mascot, a German Shepherd named Huntz, complete with dogtags and
shot record and company orders, to accompany the unit.
When the year was almost over, a collection was taken up, and the dog
returned via commercial air to Ft Bragg to eventually live with one of the
company mechanics. Huntz
remained with his master, Sam Hovey and his family, until Huntz passed away in
1975. Horvath was able to set up a
high-school style yearbook for distribution
to the original 64th personnel.
deployment from Ft Bragg was truly a period of challenges.
Soon after the company was alerted for VietNam, the post took away the
motor pool buildings and hardstand, and we had to move the parts supplies,
maintenance equipment, 60 task tractors, 120 task trailers, and 20 headquarters
vehicles to an open sandy field surrounded by barbed wire.
We were beginning to get a paranoid feeling.
The 64th’s mission at Ft Bragg had been an important one,
the “cattle car” bus service for all of the thousands of reservists and ROTC
students. The post personnel notified us that they were going to keep
our task tractors, and that we would draw tractors in VietNam.
Our maintenance warrant officer, CWO George Sebeny Sr, had just finished
a tour in VietNam with an aviation unit, and he emphasized that the supply
system in Vietnam was nonoperational, that we must take the best care of
ourselves as possible. We then
muscled all of the best tires off of the tractors and put the tires on to the
At just about the time when we finished changing the tires, Department of the Army found out about the post policy concerning the tractors, and notified us that we would be taking the tractors with us. You guessed it, we then began to return all of the best tires to the tractors. Among the many preventive maintenance services which we did, we did a quarterly maintenance on every vehicle. This meant pulling every bearing race on every axel and cleaning it and coating it with heavyweight grease before reinstalling the bearing. The open, sandy field was gruesome to work in for such servicing, but we literally gritted and bore it. We obtained a great deal of 2x4 lumber, and we nailed a double flooring of solid lumber to the beds of every one of our 120 trailers for later removal and use in building a company area. Since we had heard that the large metal tarpaulin boxes on the 120 trailers were having the locks broken off and contents pilfered during the voyage to VietNam, we loaded our tarp boxes with maintenance supplies and tarps.
We then used our
company welding tools to weld the tarp boxes shut and to later open them in
VietNam. There would be no pilfering of our supplies on the way to VietNam. At about the same time that the 64th was alerted,
a nearby Military Intelligence Battalion was taken off of alert.
They had 23 large Container Express steel boxes (CONEX) for their
movement, and now their area was cluttered with the unneeded conexes.
We graciously offered to use our property book to sign for the conexes,
and to use our tractors, trailers, and wrecker hoist for the movement, and we
quickly moved the conexes to our sandy field.
The post was having a large number of units alerted for VietNam, and they
had a shortage of conexes, thus each company-sized unit would be getting only
three conexes. We promptly headed
to the transportation office and picked up our three conexes and also moved them
to our sandy field. In accordance with CWO Sebeny’s informed guidance, we
loaded the 26 containers with several purchased skil rotary saws, refrigerators
from the disposal yard, purchased bags of cement, sheets of plywood, parts, and
were told that we would be flying to the west coast by commercial air, that we
must prepare our weapons to move as cargo.
We picked up dozens of wooden crates, tubs of cosmoline 90 weight grease,
and rolls of heavy waxed paper, and grimly worked our way through the nasty job
of greasing and packing the 200 weapons. At
just about the time we finished with the grease job, we were notified that we
would be flying by charter air, and that we were to carry our weapons into the
passenger compartment. We were now
indeed convinced that being paranoid was going to be pretty well justified. We settled down to the problem of cleaning all of the
weapons. When the cleaning was
finished, we had a 2½ ton truckload of greasy paper and greasy wooden boxes for
the dump. At this time, we had
driven all of our own vehicles to Charleston, and we were using borrowed
vehicles for the few remaining weeks until our own departure. The supply truck
driver and his helper backed up to the clifflike dumping point, and shoved out
all of the greased trash which flowed down the hill.
So far, so good, but there was a trash fire burning at the bottom of the
hill. The fire quickly climbed up
our stream of trash, into the truck, and burned off all of the paint, the wooden
bows, the canvas cushions, the tarpaulin, the canvas cab cover, and singed the
instrument panel. We were able to fix everything but the instrument panel. The
paperwork demanding $1,200 reimbursement for the instrument panel followed us to
VietNam, where finally our tortured reply ended the matter.
the convoy from Ft Bragg to Charleston we lost one tractor in a rear-ender
accident and lost one as an engine locked up.
Both were replaced by the Ft Bragg supply office.
company flew on an American Flyer charter flight from Pope Airfield at Ft Bragg
to McChord AFT near Tacoma. One of
the drivers had a slight stomach ulcer. He
made himself cough until he coughed up blood, thus he was turned over to the
medical personnel at McChord AFB. About
six weeks later he showed up at the Qui Nhon personnel center for assignment to
the 64th, he had only delayed the beginning of his
original destination was supposed to be Cam Ranh Bay but when we arrived by ship
at Qui Nhon, Chief Warrant Officer George Sebeny, who had flown to VietNam about
three weeks earlier as the head of the advance party, came aboard and informed
us that we had to get off at Qui Nhon. This caught us by surprise since we had
not prepared the equipment for offloading.
Our destination had changed before we arrived. Our two containers full of
company equipment were bottom-stowed on the ship since we were supposed to get
off at the last stop, not the first stop. The
two containers went on to Cam Ranh Bay with our company escorts, and in a few
days the escorts and the containers came back to the 64th
through Qui Nhon port
aboard a Landing Ship (Tank).
change generated another interesting series of events.
As a separate company, we were authorized to receive a WABTOC package
(When Authorized By The Overseas Commander). This consisted of about 60
palletloads of construction materials, items which were “worth their weight in
gold”. After about a month,
Horvath found out that the 64th’s WABTOC package had been coded for
the destination of Cam Ranh Bay, gone to Cam Ranh Bay, and disappeared.
He was able to order another WABTOC package, and, you guessed it, after
about a month it also wound up coded for and delivered to Cam Ranh Bay.
He sent two NCOs on company orders to Cam Ranh Bay to take charge of this
second batch of materials before the materials could disappear again. After a
month-long struggle to get the building materials out of the hands of those who
had “disappeared” the first shipment, the second WABTOC package and the two
NCOs finally arrived at Qui Nhon via LST.
64th Company was assigned to the 27th Battalion at Qui
Nhon. The other companies included
the 2nd Medium Truck Cargo (12-ton), 541st Light Truck (2
½ ton), 359th Medium Truck Petroleum (12-ton) and 597th
Medium Truck Cargo (12-ton). The
563rd Medium Truck Cargo (12 ton) came in soon after the 64th
arrived. LTC Leo T. McMahon was the
commander of the 27th Battalion.
He had a daily command and staff meeting every evening at 1900 hours.
He changed the times of his commanders meeting so his officers could not
go to Mass at the airfield hanger when Archbishop Cardinal Cushing of the
Catholic Military Ordinariate visited Qui Nhon.
He did the same thing when Bob Hope visited and put on a show at the
hanger of the Qui Nhon airfield. He
was not popular. BG Albert E.
Hunter was the Commander of the Qui Nhon Support Command.
At that time the TC Battalion took all of the taskings directly from the
Support Command. About two months
after their arrival in country, the members of the 64th had a nasty
surprise, which had nothing to do with the enemy.
Qui Nhon Support Command conducted a peacetime Annual General Inspection on the
unit. They sent down twenty-two
inspectors and the company only had eighteen officers and NCOs to escort them.
The daily run of as many tractors as possible continued throughout the
preinspection and inspection period. Horvath
felt that it was entirely unrealistic to inspect a company by peacetime
standards when trucks were on the road every day in a 100% effort which never
went below a 100% effort, and when absolutely nothing else was operated
according to peacetime standards. The company passed the inspection and the
inspectors went back to their desks at the Qui Nhon Support Command
line of communication ran from Qui Nhon 110 miles west on Rte 19, past the 1st
Air Cav Division at An Khe, to Pleiku where the 4th Infantry Division
and 173rd Airborne Brigade were stationed.
There was one ice truck run north each day to the Bong Song area, and
occasionally they received a tasking to haul several trailers north up Route 1
to the Air Base at Phu Cat near Bong Son.
64th suffered its only fatality of the first year in the dark of an
August early morning when driver Kenneth Tierney was crushed between two trucks
in the trailer transfer point. The
unbelieveably rough roads, unruly civilian traffic, high mileage, and fatigue
made accidents a constant problem. Thanksgiving
Day became known as Black Thursday when three tractors were lost in accidents.
The tractors bounced high over the potholes, the fenders came loose, were
welded, came loose again, then were chained through holes and flapped along.
one occasion, the 8th Group Commander and the Qui Nhon Support
Command Commander, Brigadier General Albert E. Hunter, came upon a 64th
tractor which had run off of the end of an narrow metal engineer bridge, and was
upside down in the roadside gully. The
tractor had not only turned over, it had smashed the large fuel pipeline which
ran from Qui Nhon to An Khe, and petroleum was gushing freely around the scene.
The picture was not any prettier later when CPT Horvath was presented
with a glossy 8x12 photo and asked to explain why his truck driver drove that
way. Actually, there was a reason. The driver had taken both hands
off of the steering wheel. He
reached down through the steering wheel with one hand to the high/low range
lever, and reached at the same time with the other hand to the gearshift lever,
and did both functions at the same time with one clutch pedal throw. The arm
through the steering wheel was supposed to keep the steering under control, but
this time the sensitive power steering and the narrow bridge did not allow the
customary shortcut to be successful.
On another occasion, a driver and the company chain of command was
required to formally march in front of Brigadier General Hunter’s desk and
explain why the tractor driver had had a rear-end collision.
The driver calmly explained that he was hungry, that he had dropped his
can of peanuts down on the floor of the cab, and that when he reached down to
pick up the can of peanuts, the collision was unavoidable. Oh well, these
incidents are comical now, but there was nothing funny about them at the time.
There were no safety class materials available in the Qui Nhon Support
Command, so CPT Horvath managed to purchase a color movie of a truck safety
program from the Ohio Highway Patrol, and he also mounted a smashed vehicle on
top of a CONEX container at the company front gate.
rotated the convoy commander responsibility with the three, later two, platoon
leaders of the company. When on the
convoy duty, Horvath woke up at 0200, then went to the company operations office
to learn how many of the 60 tractors he had available and which NCO was on the
duty roster for the day for assistant convoy commander.
When he noted the mileage on the odometer of his M151 jeep after ten
months, he had logged 20,000 miles. The other companies were “too beat up”
to have enough officers to lead convoys.
They had either lost officers due to rotations back to the United States
or the officers had been pulled up to staff slots at the headquarters.
0230, he reported to battalion operations when he was on convoy duty.
The operations sergeant would brief the taskings on hand for the day.
Company representatives would report the trucks they had available and would
receive their assignments. The 64th’s
officer would be the medium tractor convoy commander every day, and the other
tractor companies sent a sergeant to control their vehicles.
0400, the men ate breakfast in his company mess. They usually woke up at 0330.
At about 0420, Horvath would stand up and announce which trucks had to
pick up trailers at the different supply depots or at the port of Qui Nhon.
Depots were broken down by classes of supply.
64th Company did not have any drivers for assistant drivers
since it had to put fifteen men and an NCO on guard duty each day, plus
battalion detail, plus company detail to build the facilities.
After breakfast, the drivers drove their tractors to the depots to pick
up their trailers. This was the
point of origin. If their assigned
trailer was not ready, then they would drive to the trailer transfer point in
the Cha Rang Valley near the beginning of Highway 19, near the departure point
marshalling area, and pick up an incidental load trailer.
0630, the tractors with loaded trailers assembled in the marshalling area at Cha
Rang Valley (about the size of three football fields) in front of the trailer
transfer point. On the average,
each convoy had about 110 vehicles, half from the 64th and the other
half from the other medium and petroleum companies in the 27th
0645, the convoy commander would give the outbound briefing and make a list of
vehicles by bumper number in the convoy. Horvath
lined up the trucks by companies with the 64th in the lead.
He had his assistant convoy commander ride up front while he lined up as
the last vehicle. Since the trucks
had no radios, this was the only way he would discover any problems.
He kept the 5-ton “bob tail” recovery vehicle with a mechanic doing
the driving, and a spare bobtail, at the trail of the convoy, to fix any
mechanical problems. During
the day’s run, he would move up and down the convoy, and sometimes have the
assistant convoy commander at the rear of the convoy.
also issued his men C rations for the road.
The other companies did not. If a company drew an issue of C rations from
the Quartermaster depot at Qui Nhon, then the C rations counted against the A
rations for the mess hall.
discovered that the Quartermaster depot in Pleiku would issue him a pallet of C
rations without charging it against his A rations account which was kept in Qui
Nhon. This was at least some small
repayment for having to suffer through two dusty dry seasons and two rainy
monsoon seasons all in the same year, one climate daily in Qui Nhon and another
climate daily in Pleiku.
0700, the convoy departed.
0915 they arrived at An Khe, the home of the 1st Air Cavalry
Division. The slow low range first
gear grind drive up the An Khe pass and later the Mang Yang pass usually took
the convoys almost an hour each to drive. They
would marshal again to filter out stray traffic and to see if they had any
maintenance problems. There were
usually two to three other ARVN or US convoys ahead of them waiting at that
The MPs would release one convoy and then wait for a given amount of time
before releasing the next convoy. There
was no designated schedule for convoys. All
the bridges had been blown and the bailey bridge metal engineer bypasses reduced
traffic to a single lane, with the westbound convoys having the priority at each
choke point. At about 0945,
Horvath’s convoy would depart again.
about 1200 they arrived at the Pleiku marshalling area.
The tractors would disperse to their designated depots to drop off their
loaded trailers and pick up an empty trailer.
Pleiku only had depots and a TTP and the 4th Infantry Div base
camp. They would line up in the marshalling area at around 1400.
As Horvath waited, he would check to see what he was missing.
Sometimes a tractor would have to remain at Pleiku overnight because its
trailer had not been emptied. If
so, the drivers had to sleep in the cabs as there were no billets set up for
them. At an engineer depot, the
cadre became known for not unloading the 55-gallon drums of asphalt and causing
the driver to stay overnight. Near
the end of the waiting period, Horvath and the driver cut the securing metal
bands, the driver made a series of tight turns, and the drums were unloaded
across the entire storage area. The depot cadre then found that they were able
to unload quickly on future deliveries. The
4th Infantry Division sadly and unfortunately became known for
holding loaded trailers for over 30 days, and over 60 days and more, and at the
same time imperiously demanding more supplies. The 8th Group Commander eventually instituted a
policy which said that we would not take any loaded trailers up to the 4th
Infantry Division unless they had released an equal number of empty trailers the
previous day. The problem became
less severe, but the problem never did disappear.
1400 they would depart. If they
delayed too long then the MPs would not let them leave because the MPs had the
responsibility to close down the road. Although
there was not much of a danger during this era before the ambushes from Sep 67
to Sep 68, the MPs did not want any convoys out at night.
The Republic of Korea soldiers outside Qui Nhon would close down their
portion of the road at dusk each evening and not let any vehicles pass.
1800, the convoy rolled back into the Cha Rang Valley area.
The marshalling area was the release point.
The drivers knew exactly what they had to do and where they had to go.
The drivers scattered to their respective company areas.
After dropping off their empty trailers, they returned to the company
area for maintenance. Horvath had organized what he called “ 3 ring circuit
maintenance.” The 1st
platoon would check and replace the tires, the 2nd platoon would wash
the trucks with the water from a well they had dug, and the 3rd
platoon would pull after operations maintenance with each driver.
With any problems which they could not fix by 2130, they would drive the
tractor to the company maintenance shop where the “night owls” worked all
night. There was no scheduled maintenance down time or preventive maintenance
for the tractors. Every available
tractor drove every day. The maintenance section was divided into two shifts,
with mechanics performing repairs at night and during the day. Tractors which
would run the next day were returned to the platoons that night for use on the
morning convoy. What could be fixed
by company maintenance was set up for repair during the day.
What needed support maintenance was prepared for turn in to ordnance.
men would then eat dinner and go to bed. At
0230 the next morning the next convoy commander would report to the company
operations office to see what tractors were available and the process would
repeat all over again.
not escorting a convoy, Horvath performed his regular company commander duties.
The paperwork did not stop on account of the war.
Since his unit had just arrived in country, he spent a lot of time
scrounging for building materials for his company.
He also visited the depots to learn how they did business and see what he
could do to reduce the time his drivers had to wait to pick up their loads.
Most of this could be accomplished by just making friends with the depot
personnel. At one time Horvath’s
supply efforts moved to the Qui Nhon harbor.
He was called upon to meet the commander of the inbound 563rd
Medium Truck Company out on the ship, and brief him for the actions in leaving
the ship and getting set up ashore. He
took out two pairs of tropical boots for trading with the ship’s Navy
Quartermaster officer. The boots were exchanged for 100 sets of silverware for the
mess hall, a great trade.
was happiest when out with a convoy. He
never saw any of the other commanders leading convoys.
On account of personnel losses and shortage of officers, he believed that
they were busy just trying to keep their heads above water.
were dedicated. They knew what they
had to do. One only had to tell
them where to pick up their load. At
line up, he only had to wait for them to show up so he could get a list of the
“heavy lifter” drivers were the most independent. These 20-ton tractor and “low boy” trailers were pulled
from engineer units and consolidated into a squad of about eight or ten.
Their task was to go to Pleiku and pick up broken tanks or M113 Armored
Personnel Carriers and bring them back to Qui Nhon.
These rigs were so slow that they could not keep up with the convoys.
They drove Rte 19 alone with a ¾ ton truck for assistance and escort.
in and pulling maintenance until late at night did not give the drivers much
time off for relaxation or sleep. They
slept whenever they could; waiting for line up in Qui Nhon or waiting in the
marshalling area at Pleiku. They
took naps in the cabs of their trucks. If
their tractor would run, the drivers were on the road.
Guard duty or detail duty were the only times when they received a break
from driving. During the guard day they had two hours on guard and
four off throughout the day.
the An Khe pass and the Mang Yang pass were a long series of sharp turns and a
continuous steep grade. One turn in
the An Khe pass was so tight that it was called the “Devil’s Hairpin”.
Many drivers used disposable surgical masks from the clinics to fight the
choking convoy dust. During one slow and hot and dusty drive up the An Khe pass,
Horvath spotted one of his drivers who was driving while “frozen” sound
asleep at the wheel, with his hands, wrists, and arms locked into place.
Horvath loosened his canteen, got out of his jeep, ran alongside of the
tractor, jumped up on the running board, grabbed the steering wheel, and
splashed some water into the face of the driver.
The severity of the conditions, without any break, was impossible to
explain to anyone who had not experienced the trials of
of the drivers had an alcohol problem. When
he had several beers, he would load his rifle and threaten others in the company
area. Horvath made formal and
informal efforts to have him moved out of the company on any basis.
The military police, Judge Advocate General, Qui Nhon Personnel office,
and the battalion personnel office could not or would not do anything.
Horvath kept the man under guard in a CONEX container with a bunk in the
company area. After several days,
the man promised that he would do his job.
Horvath made him the number two truck in the convoy, behind a sergeant
who was the lead truck driver. The
man had smuggled some beer into the cab of his tractor. When the outbound convoy moved into the open country beyond
the Mang Yang pass, the man sped past the lead truck and took off driving too
fast for safety. He rounded a tight
curve and rolled the tractor and trailer into a gully. At long last he finally left the area permanently by a medical evacuation helicopter with a crushed
of the long hours, Horvath ran his mess hall 24-hours a day.
The men could drop in at any time and find something to eat and drink.
He also established a company club, which was named the “Crow’s
Nest” because the manager’s name was “Crow”.
He bought pallets of soda and beer, which they sold.
The profits went into an official incidental fund for purchase of
supplies from the local economy. He
also was able to have his wife send him items which were needed but which were
not available from the so-called supply system such as hairnets for the ladies
who worked in the mess hall (demanded by the Inspector General team),
salt-shakers, sugar-shakers, checkered tablecloths, and toilet seats for the
obvious use over the plywood holes. For
a shower they built wooden sides around a concrete pad, roofed it, used a
tank-like set of 2 navy cubes set on top of CONEXES, filled it daily from a
water tanker, and had a gasoline heater from the mess hall equipment rigged into
a 55-gallon barrel for warm water. The
light tar peneprime which was often spread on the company roads caused a bitter
lesson to be learned.
you tried to walk across it unseen during the night in your flip-flops towards
the shower, you lost the flip-flops and had to remove the tar from your feet
with gasoline. One such exercise was always enough to cause you to possibly wear
your boots on the way to the shower. The
rain or shine movie theater was a white plywood screen, benches, and a
company members had received an issue of rubber galoshes and arctic sleeping
bags from the logistic office of Ft Bragg before they deployed for Vietnam.
Horvath thought that was strange, until he became settled down in the
area of operations. The nights in
the Central Highlands were cold when drivers had to remain overnight away from
Qui Nhon. The monsoon rains turned
the company area and all other locations into a sea of mud, so the overshoes
proved valuable in the mud and the arctic sleeping bags were a comfort in the
clammy cold. The company lived in
general purpose medium tents which were later reinforced with lumber, concrete
floors, bamboo screening, and wire screening.
The mess hall was a tropical wooden building which had been built by the
previous company, a unit which had since been moved to another location.
perimeter of the company area was protected by a spread of barbed wire and
concertina wire. There was a
regular foliage control service provided by the 359th petroleum
company. One tractor and tanker
with a rear hose attachment drove slowly along the fenceline while one man
sprayed the fenceline with diesel fuel. One tragic day somehow a warning flare
in the fenceline was tripped, and the nozzle man was killed in the instant
64th Company had superdependable
Mack diesel-powered M52A1s. They had much more horsepower for hauling heavy loads uphill
than the gasoline-powered M52s of the 2nd and 597th
Companies. Those trucks were old
and beat up and underpowered as well.
the spring of 1967, the medium companies began to receive the undependable and
underpowered turbo-charged M52A2s and diesel International Loadstar tractors as
replacements. The so-called
multifuel M52A2s had much less horsepower than the diesel M52A1s. Bad choice.
The Loadstars were civilian-use tractors with single axels which were designed
for local use only. In fact, the brakes would overload when coming down a steep
grade. Another bad choice. The
Tank Automotive Command in Detroit had pulled them out of assignment to
Transportation Motor Pools in the United States and sent them to Vietnam because
TACOM had no military tractor procurement contract.
However, the Loadstars could not pull heavy loads and were eventually
given only light loads. A M52A1 diesel of the 64th often had to drive up
to the trailer in front and push the slower rig on the climbs up the passes.
truck company had 120 trailers, model M124C.
Upon arrival at Qui Nhon, Horvath was directed to turn his trailers over
to the trailer transfer detachment. Although
they remained on the company commander’s property book, he never saw the
trailers again. This created a
problem in that he had no control over the trailers and could not perform
maintenance on them. With the four
medium cargo companies, 480 trailers were turned over to the control of the
trailer transfer point at the Cha Rang Valley.
no loading docks for the rough terrain forklifts to drive onto the trailers.
Instead the forklifts would drop the sideboards on the ground and load
from the sides. Unfortunately the forklift drivers would then drive on top of
the sideboards, breaking them. The
Commander later instituted a policy whereby the sideboards and tailboards were
removed from the trailers, and only the headboard remained.
Loading and unloading locations were required to secure the loads with
banding materials, and to cut and remove the banding for unloading. Maintenance of the trailers became a problem which was
eventually solved when the 8th Group set up a consolidated trailer
maintenance unit, took two mechanics from each of the medium companies and a CWO
and NCO from the 8th Group Headquarters. The trailer maintenance
facility was across the road from the Cha Rang Valley trailer transfer point and
the 54th Truck Battalion. This
trailer maintenance unit was really appreciated as it performed all trailer
services concerning tires, lubrication. floorboards, headboards, brakes,
lights, and landing gear.
performance of drivers was measured in miles driven and safety record.
The 64th Company drove over two and a half million miles
during its first ten months in country.
The company operations sergeant kept track of the number of miles each
driver drove and his safety record. Beginning
in 1969, after safe driving of several thousand miles, the company awarded the
driver the “line haul” tab for wear on his shoulder above his First
Logistics Command patch. They
“were really proud of it.” It
was the equivalent of a combat infantryman badge to an infantryman.
the first week in May 1967, the 64th Company became the first truck
company to relocate to Pleiku. The 64th Transportation Company was
later among several truck companies which received a Presidential Unit Citation
for their direct combat support to the defenders in the December 1967 Battle of
Dak To. The early aim was to
establish a line haul system similar to the system used in Europe, to manage two
convoys a day in each direction. With
only a portion of the daylight hours available however, there eventually proved
never to be enough time in the day to complete all of the four convoy segments.
One convoy out of the Cha Rang Valley trailer transfer point was to run
loaded trailers to the trailer transfer point at An Khe.
A convoy out of Pleiku would run empty trailers to An Khe and pick up the
loaded ones. The convoy out of Qui
Nhon would return with the loaded trailers. The 64th was able to do
two runs to An Khe on an intermittent basis, but this came to an end with the
beginning of the ambushes in September of 1967.
accidents were a concern, most of the tractor wash-outs were because of the
rough road and broken frames. The real problem was the lack of a tractor
procurement system at Tank Automotive Command. Replacement tractors were not
available during this period and the number of tractors in the 64th
Truck Company went from 60 to 45 to 36 in late 1967, a real waste of a unit. Now
they were able to see just what had happened to the 2nd Medium Truck
Company and to the 597th Medium Truck Company before them. The 64th
“Kings of the Road” Medium Truck Company joined the other medium truck
companies as being totally used up without proper support from TACOM.
had the First Sergeant set up a duty roster, and all of the base camp personnel
rotated as gunners on the convoy jeeps. Company personnel enjoyed the
opportunity to see the country beyond the base camp. However, one of the cooks mentioned the practice in a letter
to his mother. His mother
complained to her Congressman, and the eventual administrative uproar changed
the program. The cook was left off
of the roster, and everyone else volunteered to stay on the roster.
put armor plating on the front of and on the sides of his M151 jeep.
This was the first armored vehicle at Qui Nhon.
He was trying to think ahead although the enemy presented no serious
threat at that time. No ambush
occurred during his first tour. He
named the gun jeep, the “Patmobile” in honor of his wife, Pat.
He also painted “Batman” on his side of the jeep, and “Robin” on
the driver’s side. The front
plate came up to nearly the top of the windshield leaving a narrow slit to look
over. He mounted first a .30
caliber and then a .50 caliber machinegun on the back.
The convoys were not allowed to test fire their weapons before the
ambushes began in September of 1967. At
one bridge checkpoint stop at an infantry position, they gave him permission to
fire his machinegun into a hill. All
of this convoy escort time meant that, to this day, when in hectic highway
traffic, Horvath will slide in behind a tractor-trailer rig and feel perfectly
May 1967, he received a new driver. The Personnel Command broke up the 64th
and sent their drivers to other companies so that all the men in the company
would not rotate back to the United States at the same time.
Horvath received 2 ½ ton truck drivers and 5 ton truck drivers who did
not know how to drive M52 tractors. He
assigned his faithful driver, Pharoah Manley, with whom he had covered 20,000
miles in the Patmobile, to a tractor and put one of the new drivers on his
command jeep. In the dark of the first morning for the new driver at the
new company location at Pleiku, at the marshalling area in May of 1967, his new
driver, unfamiliar with the reduced visibility caused by the windshield armor
and unfamiliar with the terrain, slowly drove the jeep into a shadowed gully and
the jeep rolled onto its side, breaking Horvath’s leg in several places.
Horvath had to return to the United States.
retyping of the Unit History for 1967 is included on the next pages.
1 April 71 the 64th moved from Pleiku to the 57th
Transportation Battalion in Da Nang. The
64th was deactivated on 16 June 71.
David R. Wilson of the 64th was later killed in an ambush and the 124th
Transportation Battalion compound in Pleiku was named Camp Wilson.
of Truck Tour Number One
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
64TH TRANSPORTATION COMPANY (MEDIUM TRUCK CARGO)
APO SF 09318
14 March 1968
of Military History
of the Army
D. C. 20315
accordance with AR 870-5 and USASUPCOM Regulation 870-1, the annual supplement
to the history of the 64th Transportation Company (Medium Truck
Cargo) is submitted:
The transition into 1967 was relatively smooth for the 64th
Transportation Company. For the
first three months of the year all operations continued as before.
An average of thirty to forty trucks a day were dispatched on the Qui
Nhon-An Khe-Pleiku Main Supply Route of Highway 19, hauling semi-trailers of
general cargo in convoy. Approximately two tractors were committed daily for the run
to Bong Song north on Highway 1, usually hauling refrigerator vans of ice.
Notable during the period were the accomplishments of SGT John L. Newby
and the mess section. The 64th’s
mess hall was selected for both January and February as the Best Mess in the 8th
Transportation Group. This was followed by designation as the best mess in the 27th
Transportation Battalion for the month of March. In recognition of these outstanding achievements, SGT Newby
was promoted to Sergeant E-6 on 22 February.
Major personnel changes during this first quarter involved mainly officer
and NCO’s. Losses included 1LTs
Thomas H. Romoda in February and Mason C. Johnson in March.
LTs Romoda and Johnson had been with the unit at Fort Bragg, North
Carolina, and had seen it through the move to Southeast Asia.
Incoming personnel included 2LT William Eichenberg, 05 713 313 and SSG
Orville D. Sifers, RA 52 385 238. Lt Eichenberg was assigned to the second
platoon with SSG Sifers as his platoon Sergeant.
SGT Matthew L. Hearon arrived late in March as was assigned to supply as
assistant supply sergeant. This
still left the unit short one officer-the third platoon leader.
April of 1967 began the personnel shuffle.
The normal rotation date for the majority of the unit’s personnel would
be in July. Thus on 14 April word
was officially received from Qui Nhon Support Command to begin transferring
approximately 70% of assigned personnel. Key
personnel changes in this shuffle included the loss of SFC Robert Watson, the 64th’s
Maintenance Sergeant, who was transferred to Qui Nhon Support Command upon being
appointed to Warrant Officer. Also
transferred was SSG Jose P.A. Mireles, the third platoon sergeant, who went to
the 54th Transportation Battalion in exchange for SSG Hector J.
Feliciano and SGT Charles M. Russell.
As was expected, these personnel moves put the unit in a considerable
state of confusion. This confusion
was heightened when the unit received notice that it would move to Pleiku and be
operational in that location by 14 May. As soon as this notification was received the unit started
making plans and began packing. An
advance party was dispatched on 1 May under the leadership of 1LT Thomas E.
Moore and SFC Charlie Brewster. The
fourteen men selected for the advance party included the company carpenters and
Pleiku Sub-Area Command selected a site slightly to the north of
Artillery Hill in Pleiku for the 64th’s base camp.
In contrast to the old Phu Thanh location, this terrain was hard-packed
dirt with low scrub brush sparsely covering the area.
The advance party worked hard and the area was ready for occupancy by 10
May. However, an unexpected tragedy
struck on 9 May. The company commander, CPT John M, Horvath had come up from Qui
Nhon the day before to inspect the new company area.
On the afternoon of the 9th he had driven out to CP 88 in
Pleiku to check on the convoy forming up for the return to Qhi Nhon.
As he was pulling the jeep in behind a line of trucks he hit a small
ditch and vehicle flipped over, pinning CPT Horvath’s right leg under the jeep
and breaking it in two places. CPT
Horvath was taken to the 18th Surgical Hospital, where it was
determined that he would be evacuated to a hospital in Japan.
This was a blow to the entire company.
CPT Horvath had been with the unit at Ft Bragg, N.C., and had seen it
through the preparations for the move to Vietnam, the long journey by ship and
the first 10 months in country, wherein the 64th’s drivers had
amassed over two and a half million miles—driven over the longest and roughest
Main Supply Route in Vietnam.
E. Moore, the first platoon leader, assumed command on 10 May and greeted the
main body of the company when they arrived in the new area. This move was made using the unit’s own organic
equipment—5 ton tractors and 12 ton stake and platform trailers. During the preparations for and the actual move there was
only a slight lessening of the operational commitment. Thus the 64th was close to being 100% operational
in spite of the unit move.
A week after
the move was completed the 64th was assigned the additional mission
of operating the Pleiku Truck Terminal. 1LT
Eichenberg was assigned as Officer-In-Charge, with SSGs Sifers and Feliciano to
assist him. In all, 12 people were
involved in this operation.
company’s primary mission had also changed in that the unit was now to provide
line-haul between Pleiku and An-Khe and also provide local shuttle of
semi-trailers for the Pleiku area. These
functions were to be carried out under the operational control of the 27th
Transportation Battalion in Qhi Nhon. As
can be imagined, operations were somewhat hampered by poor communications
between Pleiku and Qui-Nhon.
support for the mission was furnished by the 8th Transportation Group
in Qui Nhon. On 23 May the second
platoon of the 563rd Transportation Company was transferred to the
operational control of the 64th.
Under the platoon sergeant, SSG Wallace Keyes, this addition increased
the 64th’s fleet by 20 tractors.
The unit was
brought up to strength officer-wise on 4 June when CPT Charles A. Gray assumed
command. CPT Gray was formerly the
S-4 of the 27th Transportation Battalion. He brought with him 2Lt Stephen R. Bathon of the 444th
Transportation Company to be the third platoon leader.
Lt Bathon’s primary duty was as convoy commander on the An Khe run.
onset of the monsoon season at the end of May operations were severely
complicated. Heavy rains turned the
company area and especially the motor pool into a sea of mud.
In spite of continued efforts to firm up the area (such as dumping 12
truckloads of crushed rock into the motor pool) the mud was getting worse and
worse. Finally the company’s
tractors had to be parked on the main road in front of the company because of
the length of time it took to maneuver out of the motor pool for the morning
mud was a minor problem compared to the events of the night of 8 June, and the
weeks that followed. At
approximately 0130 on the morning of 9 June the company was awakened by
explosions of incoming mortar rounds, followed by a long eerie, shrill cry of
Artillery Hill’s alert siren. The
mortars were followed by a long exchange of small arms and automatic weapons
fire. Fortunately the perimeter was not penetrated and no damage was incurred.
However, SP4 Richard Gagnon was shot in the right leg as he was guarding
the vehicles parked on the road in front of the company.
Several of these trucks were hit by apparently stray rounds.
SP4 Gagnon was rushed to the 18th Surgical Hospital and from
there evacuated to Qui Nhon.
morning the company commander, CPT Gray, was called to meet with COL
Fitzpatrick, Commanding Officer of the 52nd Artillery Group on
Artillery Hill. At this meeting CPT
Gray was informed that the 64th would have to relocate to the East
side of Artillery Hill. As a result
of the previous night’s attack, COL Fitzpatrick had decided that the 64th
was blocking the artillery’s field of fire to the north, and furthermore, the
company was in the line of fire of the 62nd Maintenance Battalion,
located to the West.
Again the 64th
packed its equipment and made ready to move.
However, this time there was no date specified for completion of the
move, and the distance was slight, so more time could be spent in developing the
area before the actual move. The
company was completely moved into the new area by 20 June, having had the good
fortune to have a week free of the rain in which to pour cement floors for the
orderly room and mess hall.
area proved to be far superior to the old location, not only as concerned
security, but also because it was a hard-packed and rocked area on a slope,
which allowed the monsoon rains to run off.
With this escape from the mud, living conditions for the men were
The month of
July was spent making two trips a day to An Khe and in building up the company
area. Much effort was also spent in
fighting the monsoons and the slick and hazardous roads it produced.
On 26 July operations were substantially changed with the arrival of the
124th Transportation Battalion from Fort Devens, Mass.
Control of the 64th then passed from the 27th
Battalion to the 124th. This
control also extended to the Pleiku Truck Terminal.
season continued on through September. During
this period the company deadline rate rose to a high of 40%.
Many vehicles were washed out by ordnance for cracked frames and the
number of tractors on hand went down to 45.
September, for the first time in over a year, there was a major ambush of a
truck convoy on Highway 19. Fortunately
there were no 64th Transportation Company personnel involved, but the
attack was of such magnitude that the security forces guarding the road ordered
an earlier closing time for departing traffic, reducing the closing hour from
1700 to 1500. This move cut down
the number of round trips to An Khe from two a day to just one, and insured the
64th’s drivers of a much-needed shorter day and fewer miles.
continued on the An Khe run exclusively until November when the Battle of Dak To
erupted. Then the major emphasis
was shifted to the movement of cargo north on Highway 14 to Kontum and Dak To.
During these trying days the drivers of the 64th performed
admirably—delivering much needed ammunition and supplies to embattled elements
of the 4th Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Appreciation for their efforts was expressed by Generals Westmoreland and
Abrams, who stated that never before in a major battle have the combat troops
been so well supplied.
operation at Dak To continued on into December, during which time 1SG Edward A.
Simpson had returned to CONUS and 1SG Edward J. Dockery Jr had come down from
Battalion to be the new First Sergeant. Also
during this period, in part due to heavy operational commitments, the task
vehicles in the company fell to a low of 36 tractors out of an authorized 60.
Necessarily, the mileage and tonnage fell with this figure.
JUAN R. LOPEZ
ATT: GPOP-OT, APO 96558
General, United States Army, Vietnam, ATTN: AVHGC-DST, APO 96375
General, 1st Logistical Command, ATTN: AVCA-GC-O,APO 96348
General, US Army Support Command,ATTN:AVCA-QN-GO, APO 96238
Officer, 8th Trans Group, ATTN: Command
Historian, APO 96238
back in the United States, Horvath read Bernard Fall’s book, Street Without
Joy, which described the French experience in Indochina.
He was especially interested in the chapter on the destruction of French
Mobile Group 100 along Rte 19 to Pleiku. He
sent a copy of the book to COL Joe Bellino who commanded 8th
Transportation Group in Qui Nhon at that time.
Col Bellino wrote back to Horvath thanking him for that book and noting
that it was in great demand among the Group staff officers.
A retyping of the Col Bellino letter is included at the end of this
second tour recap.
Horvath first went to Vietnam, he went over there to win the war for democracy.
He did not encounter any antiwar sentiment after his return.
However, he was surprised at the lack of understanding by civilians about
the war. At a dinner with his
relatives, someone asked him about his feelings about going back to Vietnam for
his upcoming second tour. He said
he did not care to be separated from his wife and two small children.
Someone asked why he could not take them with him, that the impression
that these civilians had was that, even in 1967, military personnel took their
families with them to Viet Nam. As a Regular Army officer, he did not have a
choice about going to Vietnam for a second tour after about 24 months from the
end of the first tour. As a matter of fact, The Transportation Chief of
Personnel was unfortunately very enthusiastic about the high percentage of
Transportation Corps officers who were going to Vietnam. This was regardless of
whether it was their second tour, and regardless of the fact that other service
corps branches had many officers who had not yet gone to the RVN on their first
tour. Furthermore, many transportation corps officers on their second tours were
filling slots which were not even transportation corps slots.
On his second tour he had no indication of the withdrawal policy.
He had not heard of Nixon’s promise in 1969 to start pulling troops
out. MACV units invaded Cambodia
while he was there. To him the Army
still planned to win.
Horvath was assigned as the Executive Officer (XO) for the 54th
Transportation Battalion during his second tour in Vietnam, which began in July
1969. The 54th Battalion
was still located in the Cha Rang Valley, next to the trailer transfer point,
and across was a Post Exchange, the marshalling area, a petroleum tank farm, and
the consolidated trailer maintenance unit.
His first battalion commander was LTC, later BG, William Sarber.
LTC Everett Wayne Rackley was his next battalion commander.
54th Battalion was part of 8th Transportation Group, which
now also included the 27th Battalion in the Phu Thai Valley outside
of Qui Nhon, commanded by Wayne Rackley’s brother and the 124th
Battalion, located in Pleiku.
54th Battalion had the 512th Truck (5-ton), 523rd
Truck (5-ton), 669th Truck (5-ton) companies at Cha Rang Valley, and
the 545th Light
Truck company at Tuy Hoa.
27th Battalion had the 2d Medium Truck, the 597 Medium Truck, the 444
Light Truck in the Phu Thai Valley, with both the 88th Medium Truck
and the 505th Trailer Transfer Detachment at An Khe.
had Horvath’s old 64th Medium Truck, 359th Medium
Petroleum Truck, 541st Light Truck (2 ½-ton) Companies, and the 520th
Trailer Transfer Detachment at Pleiku.
the 124th Transportation battalion at Pleiku provided facilities for
the Qui Nhon convoy drivers that did not exist during Horvath’s first tour.
They now had maintenance shops to fix any problems that occurred on the
road. They had a base of operations from which to serve the Pleiku air force
base, the artillery firebases, Kontum, and Dak To.
In the event that the drivers had to remain over night, they had a
temporary barracks in which to sleep and the 124th Battalion’s
company mess halls in which to eat.
were a number of notable changes in the two years between 1967 and 1969.
Han Jin, a Korean contract company had moved to Qui Nhon. Han Jin
provided trucks and drivers for the direct haul route to Pleiku and for the
other routes. Even though they were
civilians, they were great. They
lined up in the convoys like anyone else, wore their steel pots and flak
jackets, and drove with professional dependability.
The Han Jin company also took over a large amount of the stevedore
operations in the Qui Nhon port. SeaLand
vans and wheeled chassis were now regular loads for the medium tractors.
trailer maintenance procedure was routine during Horvath’s second tour, there
were now 600 trailers. The living
conditions, which had been tents during the first tour, were now the wooden,
screened, tropical buildings.
lines of communication out of Qui Nhon stretched north along Rte 1 thirty-five
miles to Bong Son and Duc Pho, south along Rte 1 to Tuy Hoa Bay and west to
Pleiku. Occasionally a convoy went
north to support the AMERICAL Division at Chu Lai or Tam Ky.
The 2 ½-ton trucks ran the convoys to Tuy Hoa.
The road between Qui Nhon and Tuy Hoa was so bad that only 2 ½-ton
trucks could drive it. The 5-ton
M54 straight trucks ran west past Pleiku and Kontum.
They would travel on to firebases at Dak To and Ban Blech and beyond. The 5-ton straight trucks now had drop sides for easier
loading and unloading. The
5-tons also made excellent guntruck platforms, and guntrucks were now a normal
part of everyday operations.
NVA had conducted intense ambushes along Route 19 between An Khe and Pleiku from
September 1967 through September 1968. As
a result, at the suggestion of a maintenance warrant officer, the 8th
Group Commander, COL Joseph Bellino, (known respectfully as “Jumping Joe”
because of his enthusiasm), encouraged mechanics and volunteer drivers to harden
their trucks and to create guntrucks.
In general, there was one guntruck for each 15 task vehicles.
By the time Horvath returned in July of 1969, the ambushes had declined
and were no longer the threat that they had been between September 1967 and
September 1968. Guntrucks had ended
the ambushes after the one year.
J. Kutta, in his excellent 1996
book, “Guntrucks” noted that the 8th Group statistics were:
a consequence of the development and the success of the guntrucks, 8th
Group became the “show case” transportation unit in Vietnam.
It would receive visits by generals or equivalent civilians every three
or four weeks. VIP briefings in the 54th battalion area at the
Cha Rang Valley had become routine. They
would eat breakfast at 0600, complete with china and linen.
An 8th Group command briefing with flip charts would follow,
which would show all of the routes from the Cha Rang Valley marshalling area.
The briefer would talk the visitors through the Group’s entire daily
convoy activity. The visitors would
then go to listen to the convoy commander’s briefing to the drivers, watch the
guntrucks test fire their weapons on the hill beside the battalion compound,
visit the trailer transfer point operations office, and visit the consolidated
trailer maintenance facility. Because
of this high visibility, the now widely-known reputation of the success of the
guntrucks, the 8th Transportation Group received “water walkers”
for commanders after COL Bellino’s excellent leadership. In fact, several of these commanders went on to general
officer rank. These commanders did
not permit anything unnecessary like IG inspections to interfere with the convoy
8th Group sent taskings down to the battalions by radio at night.
The depots loaded trailers according to the priorities.
The battalion operations offices would assign the taskings to the
companies in no particular pattern, just according to what trucks were
available. There were always more
loads than trucks to haul them. Every
available truck drove. At night the
company operations sergeant would report in to battalion and collect the
taskings. The operations sergeant
assigned the trucks to the locations. In
the morning the drivers dropped by the company operations office to see where
they had to pick up their trailer. The 5 tons and 2 ½ tons had night loading
crews, so these convoy drivers just picked up their trucks from the nearby night
parking areas. The various types of vehicles formed up for their separate
convoys to their assigned destinations.
critical loads were prioritized. If
the depots did not have the trailer ready then the driver took his tractor to
the trailer transfer point in the Cha Rang Valley and picked up an available
trailer. The Trailer Transfer Point
always had dozens of loads ready.
Wayne Rackley assumed command of the 124th Battalion in Pleiku upon
giving up command of the 54th. He
took MAJ Horvath with him as his XO. Horvath was able to arrange for the
publishing of a yearbook for the members of the 54th and of the 124th
battalions. The 124th
had fuel tankers designated for AVGAS, MOGAS or diesel.
They would send their empty fuel trailers back to Qui Nhon but
occasionally they would receive a request for more trailers of a specific type
fuel than were empty. They would
have to pump the product into another trailer of a higher grade product but
could not pump into a lower grade product tanker.
While the depots at Qui Nhon had pumping facilities, the 124th
Battalion’s 359 Medium Truck Tanker Company only had the
“Little Joe” pony engine mounted on the side of each fuel trailer.
The cleansing process to change product took all night and on one
occasion a fuel leak caught fire and burned two trailers and a tractor.
Horvath finished up his second tour with a week-long assignment as the 8th
Group transportation control officer in the 4th Infantry Division
forward support base for a large operation across the Vietnam border.
With a jeep, a driver, a small tent, some pierced steel planking, and a
large TC flag, he became the turnaround point for the daily dozens of trucks,
which brought in the supplies for the operation.
He built a field shower by mounting a mess hall water tank trailer onto
the bed of a flatbed trailer. His last official act as the XO of the 124th
Transportation Battalion was to gain control of a Viet Cong cargo bicycle, which
he brought back in his baggage for presentation to the Ft Eustis Transportation
Tale of Two Truck Tours was over.
John M Horvath retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1988.
He went to work as an administrator for an insurance company, and he and
his wife settled in Tucker, GA, on the east side of Atlanta.
One daughter became an Army Officer and one daughter became a San
letter to LTC Horvath from COL Bellino dated 7 February 1968 is retyped on the
next two pages.
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
HEADQUARTERS, 8TH TRANSPORTATION GROUP (MOTOR TRANSPORT)
APO SF 96238
7 February 1968
John M. Horvath
B Pratt Rd.
Eustis, VA 23604
Of course I remember you from Mannheim and I am glad to know that
later commanded the 64th Trans Co.
This fine company is now com-
by Captain Juan Lopez and he is doing an outstanding job.
Bn, now consisting of the 64th, 563rd, 88th,
and 28th (Plt) is
by LTC John A. Johnson, who was in COMZ when you and I were
I’m pleased that BG Fuson has gotten the info I sent him into the
of people who will spread the word to our young TC officers.
emphasize enough how unique in our history is the every day ex-
of the 8th Group since September 67. As one indication of this
let me cite a couple of statistics; September 1967 to date:
15 convoy personnel KIA
63 convoy personnel WIA
82 known enemy KIA
7 known enemy WIA
45 vehicles destroyed or seriously damaged
In addition to the above, incident of road mines is so great
I won’t attempt to tabulate the number. As
an indication of the
a couple of days ago each of the three battalions had a
in which one truck was damaged by road mines.
All of this
with road closures due to blown bridges and heavy sniper fire
reduced considerably the ton/mile capability as you remember it.
have in front of me, on my desk, the names of fourteen men who have
approved to receive the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (two more are
approval for the award of the Silver Star) and all these result
just two of the ambushes – 24 Nov & 4 December.
7 February 1968
So you see John why I take such pride in being associated with
8th Group during this period, and why Generals Westmoreland,
Rosson (IFFV), Peers (4th Inf Div), and Koster (Americal Div),
singled out the 8th Group for commendation.
I feel this especially
because sixteen years ago, as of a member of the first TOAC to use
new Tschool, I sat in the auditorium to listen to a combat arms
from CONARC tell us how/why the technical services types were an
around the neck of the combat commander. Further,
why he be-
transportation and other such services should be performed by
combat arm in the Theater of Operations (I wonder if he was around
enough to learn how wrong he was?).
In a matter of a week my S3 and Asst S3 (Major Jasinski & Captain
have read almost all your book “Street Without Joy”. I in-
to start it as quickly as they will let me.
You are most thought-
in sending it along to us – I had been told of the book.
it to the 8th Group with your letter glued to the inside cover.
this way all who read it will appreciate your pride in the TC and
8th Group in particular.
Please remember me to my contemporaries there at Ft Eustis and
best of luck to you.
JOE O. BELLINO
1010 hrs this morn, 7 Feb, our convoy to Pleiku was hit 14 km east of Pleiku –
convoy pers. WIA
vehicle & load of ammo destroyed.