SP4 Broussard near 515th sign
|515th Transportation Company|
|"Road Runners 1965-1966"|
Text extracted from Unit History prepared by LOUIS E. SKENDER and Photos from T.J. Broussard
SP4 Broussard and other Specialist in front of 515th sign
As this year of crucial decision in the conflict in a small Southeast Asian country opened, the 515th was continuing its role of support for the USAIC. In March, 1965 the unit was alerted for the Alabama "Freedom March" to MONTGOMERY, and one platoon was sent on TDY to the National Guard Armory, SELMA, ALABAMA, where they provided transportation for the Alabama National Guard, carrying rations, ammo, barbed wire, and military impedimenta. Although the march was without serious mishap, the "Roadrunners" stood ready, trained in riot-control measures.
Trucks of 515th
The phrase "no rest for the weary" could be used to describe the 515th, for shortly after, on 21 June, the unit was leaving FORT BENNING for OAKLAND ARMY TERMINAL, California, for deployment to USARPAC. Although on the alert orders there was no indication as to their final destination, the men had little doubt. The Communist "War of Liberation" in the Republic of South Vietnam was rapidly becoming a full-scale conflict as the U.S. began to commit a multitude of arms, men and equipment. Yes, they had no doubt as they boarded the USS General Breckenridge on 23 June, that the 515th, a scant 10 years after it had returned from another war of Communist aggression, was once again called on a mission of deadly seriousness.
On 28 June, the advance party with 2nd Lt. John Moran in command arrived at QUI NHON, South Vietnam, the intended home of the unit. However, at CAM RANH BAY, the rapidly developing central port-of-entry for the military in the country, it was discovered that there was a critical shortage of truck capability. Thus, on July 14, the advance party was flown to CAM RANH, where that very day, the main body was debarking from the Breckenridge after 22 days at sea. The company immediately found its services in demand, since it was the first TOE Transportation Corps truck company to arrive in the new port; the company was assigned to the 10th Transportation Battalion (Terminal). Therefore, immediately the company's multi-fuel deuce-and-a-halves were committed to discharge operations of the USS Badger State, which had 200,000 bags of cement aboard. To complicate matters, while establishing a company area, the unit was obliged to defend itself against hostile infiltration.
Piers at C.R.B. '66
At Cam Ranh Bay, the 515th had the primary mission of transporting troops and cargo from port facilities to their final destination, often times the front lines themselves. During its first month here, the unit carried over 24,000 tons of cargo plus an entire brigade of Airborne, comprised of 3,700 troops, working around the clock to achieve this end. Each progressing month saw a steady improvement in this record. This performance was due almost solely to the efforts of the individuals, many times who had only themselves to depend on to see their mission through.
515th TC Maintenance Shop C.R.B. '66
As the action progressed outward from Cam Ranh Bay during the remainder of 1965, troops and supplies had to be moved from here to there in a matter of days. Again the 515th's job. The company ran convoys up to 50 trucks to NHA TRANG, 45 miles to the northeast, and then to PHAN RANG, 50 miles to the southwest, both day and night. It was during these convoys that shots came from out of rice paddies or sides of wooded mountains in attempts of VC harassment. Nights saw tracer bullets whining out of the darkness toward the convoy. It has been fortunate indeed, that as of this writing the only casualty resulting from these actions has been a bullet punctured tire. But then, it is only through skill and determination that the unit has been able to complete every mission, without casualty or major accident, satisfactorily. Also during this period, the Company acquired another truck platoon, the 564th Transportation Platoon (Light Truck) (Separate).
515th 5 ton at the C.R.B. piers
The coming of the year of 1966 saw the great expansion of CAM RANH BAY, although units were all still living in tents, the containment area doubled, as did the piers and the number of units in the area. Several more truck and terminal service companies arrived, so that the 10th Transportation Battalion soon had 15 assorted Transportation Companies assigned to it. The workload, nevertheless progressed as did the port expansion, and after ten months of working twenty-four hours everyday of the week, the old deuce-and-a-halves gave up the ghost and were turned in for rebuilt five ton cargo trucks.
This was indeed fortunate, for two months later, in July of 1966, the Company received its CMMI: it passed after much hard work by the members of the unit with an overall 91 points. The amazing fact was that no one really expected a CMMI in a combat area; but progress, being inevitable, also brought civilization and command structures to this outpost. One such structure, was the 36th Transportation Battalion (Truck), to which the "Roadrunners" were assigned.
By August, sub-ports were opening up all around CAM RANH BAY. One such was the beachhead at PHAN RANG. Beachheads require trucks, so Lt. Kent L. Wells and a platoon of the 515th were dispatched to that location, which was not yet secured. But "Roadrunners" are not afraid of the Viet Cong, and continued operating twenty-four hours a day, hauling record tonnages from the beach to the Air Force and the 101st Airborne Division until November when they returned to CAM RANH BAY with a job well done under their belt.
Another outpost was the beachhead at TUY HOA, 128 miles to the north. This assignment went to Lt. Ernest M. Pratt and the 564th Platoon. Their mission was even more hazardous and their area, until recently, more insecure. But, again, a job had to be done inspite of Viet Cong harassment and primitive road conditions.
New 5 tons for the 515th (about May '66)
Back in CAM RANH BAY, the post engineers began issuing pre-fabricated two story tropical barracks to units who were under tents the longest time. We were one of the first to receive them, and began installing them ourselves on a "self-help" program. They are indeed an improvement.
In October, the "Roadrunners" were again confronted with an unexpected happening---another CMMI! And from a new revitalized team that was flunking many units throughout the area. However, the unit once again organized for attack and came through with an overall 80 points; the highest score given by the new team.
SP4 Tommy Broussard in Navy Truck '66
November and December of that year saw a rash of convoys to TUY HOA, PHAN RANG and BAN ME THUOT, of which, the 515th participated heavily. The convoys were usually made up of elements from several units of the newly arrived 500th Transportation Group (Motor Transport). Captain Skender, the Company Commander, led the convoy to TUY HOA, while SSgt. James Ryan took the company element on the POL convoy to BAN ME THUOT.
Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners turned out to be quite successful occasions. The unit mess hall, operated by SSgt. Henry was selected by 500th Transportation Group to be included on the itinerary of the local Commanding General, Brigadier General Gates. Excellent meals were had by all.
515th TRANSPORTATION COMPANY (LIGHT TRUCK) DUTY STATIONS
APR 44 - JUL 45------------------------------ITALIAN THEATER
JUL 45 - JUL 47-------------------------------FT. CAMPBELL, KENTUCKY
JUL 47 - NOV 50------------------------------FT. KNOX, KENTUCKY
NOV 50 - DEC 50-----------------------------HUNGNAM, NORTH KOREA
DEC 50 - FEB 51------------------------------YOKAHAMA, JAPAN
FEB 51 - JUN 53------------------------------ULSAN, SOUTH KOREA
JUN 53 - FEB 55------------------------------CHUNCHON, SOUTH KOREA
FEB 55 - OCT 63------------------------------FT. BENNING, GEORGIA
OCT 63 - NOV 63-----------------------------LORSCH, GERMANY
NOV 63 - JUN 65------------------------------FT. BENNING, GEORGIA
JUN 65 - -------------------------------CAM RANH BAY, VIETNAM
515th TRANSPORTATION COMPANY (LIGHT TRUCK) COMMANDING OFFICERS
CPT CHARLES G. PETIT 15APR44 - 11JUN44
1LT WILLIAM W. KIMBALL 12JUN44 - 25OCT44
CPT HENRY G. CHALLEN 20OCT44 - 31OCT44
CPT HARRISON N. SIEBBLED 01NOV44 - 05NOV45
CPT ELLIOT M. JOHNSON 06NOV45 - 01NOV46
1LT HERSCHEL P. THOMAS 02NOV46 - 01JAN47
CPT AMPHNSO S. ZAWADSKI 02JAN47 - 13AUG48
1LT ARTHUR F. ROTHMAN 14AUG48 - 11APR49
CPT ROBERT H. BESSEY 12APR49 - 05JUN49
CPT ROBERT B. RUFFAER 06JUN49 - 21DEC50
CPT JOHN W. LEWIS 22DEC50 - 24JAN41
CPT RUSSELL D. JONES 25JAN51 - 14OCT51
CPT UAURICE DAVIS Jr. 15OCT51 - 20DEC51
CPT BERNARD W. HOWELL Jr. 21DEC51 - 12JAN52
1LT NILE MOSS 13JAN52 - 07FEB52
1LT RUDOLPH W. REIDY 08FEB52 - 29MAR52
1LT BRUCE K. BEGASSE 30MAR52 - 01JAN53
2LT KENNETH E. RAMSEY Jr. 02JAN53 - 24JAN53
CPT LESTER F. FITZGERALD 25JAN53 - 30APR53
CPT THOMAS R. MOORE 01MAY53 - 06SEP53
CPT JULIAN RODRIGUEZ 07SEP53 - 09NOV53
CPT KARL E. STEIN 10NOV53 - 28FEB54
1LT RICHARD J. ELLIS Jr. 01MAR54 - 14JUN54
1LT RUSSELL E. HUGHES Jr. 15JUN54 - 26JUL54
1LT RICHARD F. MATTHEWS 27JUL54 - 09OCT54
CPT ROBERT F. SPURRIER 10OCT54 - 23JAN55
1LT JOHN C. CULLUM 24JAN55 - 19FEB55
CPT EDWARD D. CONNERS 20FEB55 - 11MAR56
CPT EDMUND RONDEAU 12MAR56 - 09JUL57
1LT CHARLES H. EDMISTON Jr. 10JUL57 - 25AUG57
1LT JOHN F. DAVIS 26AUG57 - 27OCT57
CPT EDMUND RONDEAU 28OCT57 - 01JAN58
CPT LEE PHILMON 02JAN58 - 02JUN59
1LT SAMUEL HOLCOMB 03JUN59 - 24SEP59
MAJ ERNEST A. HINOJOSA 25SEP59 - 01FEB60
CPT WALTER W. BROOKS 02FEB60 - 15NOV60
CPT RILLEY R. JOHNSON 16NOV60 - 01JUN61
CPT BILLY L. STORY 02JUN61 - 17JUL62
CPT NEWTON J. BEAVER Jr. 18JUL62 - 23OCT62
CPT LAWRENCE W. STAUFFER 24OCT62 - 01JAN63
CPT JAMES L. MAGNESS 02JAN63 - 16SEP63
CPT RENE J. EMOND 17SEP63 - 15JAN64
CPT DONALD W. CAMPBELL 16JAN64 - 31JUL64
1LT EUGENE B. HALE 01AUG64 - 05JAN65
CPT JOHN J. BITGOOD 05JAN65 - 01DEC65
1LT WILLIAM D. LAVERY Jr. 01DEC65 - 10JUN66
CPT JOHN E. St JOHN 10JUN66 - 10OCT66
CPT LOUIS E. SKENDER 10OCT66 -