Category: 1966-7

STORY BY TOM NEAL 359th 1966-7

We had several 5 tons that weren’t the usual nightly fixes. We had them parked at the edge of the motor pool in a weedy area. Someone went over and got this truck that had an air leak. We brought it in to the Quonset hut to work on it. We let the truck run until the air pressure had built up, turned it off, and started looking for the leak. The guy underneath was crawling around feeling some air lines to see if he could feel the air coming out of the line. Someone else was looking around and one of the guys saw this bright green color and yelled “SNAKE”. The snake was on the frame of the truck. They were reaching along the frame with a pole of some sort and flipped the snake out. I grabbed the fire extinguisher and sprayed the snake until he was frozen, or close to it. We got it away from the Quonset, poured diesel on the snake, and lit it on fire. End of snake! Luckily no one was bitten.


On the boat trip to Vietnam SP/5 David Greene bunked opposite me on the same level. The bunks pivoted out of a center set of pole’s, followed by several other set’s. Green seemed to always go to bed a lot later than me, and his snoring would wake up the dead. I couldn’t flip to the foot of my bunk because James Donaldson slept there with his feet toward my bunk. his feet smelled so bad they would keep you awake also. It almost made me appreciate getting to vietnam

I was on tower guard at the machine gun nest in back of the 359th compound with James Donaldson, when a scrawny guy named Lynch ( I think ) thought it would be a good idea to throw a fire cracker behind the tower to see what hapens. He was caught and got put on extra duty ( forever I think ). His duty was to stand guard at the entrance to the 359th at night. He told me of stopping Sgt Brummett in a duece & a half leaving late one night with the beer tent operator driving. He being the prickly nature tried to hassle them with halt and all that stuff. Sgt Brummett got out screaming, so the kid let them go. We believe that was a trip to the black market, but of course can’t prove it.

A little more about the scrawny mechanic. I had lost about 40lb’s, and was down to around 120lb’s at 6ft tall at the time. And I considered him scrawny ( so you can inagine ). He had balls, was kind of a bigot, and not shy about it. He never got along with SP/5 Greene, who was at least two of him, and maybe more. Greene could have crushed him with one hand. But the scrawny kid was always in his face. You had to admire that or shake your head at his stupidity. I wasn’t on the same page as him bigotry wise. So we didn’t hang together or anything. That may have been the reason for the firecracker.

We made a lot of trips to plieku. We would have to be at the stageing areea just past the fork to Bong Son before dawn when the mine sweepers would clear the road for us. This meant we had to get up early enouph to get dressed, get our gear together, eat, get our truck, and drive at least half an hour to the staging area. I don’t know what time we ate breakfast because time didn’t mean anything to me then. It was either day time or night time! I do know it was a very early breakfast. After we ate we would pick up a couple of c ration’s for the day and be gone. Well I guess Sgt Brummett felt he had a better idea. Since some of the ration’s weren’t anyone’s favorite. He would stand guard as we left the mess tent, and tell us to take one only. And you had to finish one case before he would open another. If you left at the wrong time you got real crap. With only one meal under his watchful eye. I felt like I was starving. The way he saw it, you got breakfast, one C for lunch, and the mess tent was open and serving some kind of orangish stuff when you got back sometime after dark. This wasn’t enouph for me as a growing boy of 20, so I resorted to stealing off the flatbed trucks full of pallets of C Rations that I would seek out at the An Khe regrouping area. Throwing the stuff I didn’t like to the kids and eating like a king, until a night mechanic found the stash that I left in my truck, stole it, and fed it to their dog.

Our company beer tent/club rarely had american beer, and even then most of the can’s were rusted. Most of us didn’t care as long as we had a cold beer. I was in hog heaven then or as close as you could come over there.

I loved the 359th, am proud to have been a member, and loved the guy’s I served with.


I remember Jack Traven used to get furious when those little three wheeled vehicles would pass him up on the way up the An Khe pass. One day we were out on convoy and I was riding with Traven, when one of those guy’s passed him loaded to the gills with locals. Traven started yelling at them, and got pissed. He actually threw his helmet out the window at them. Don’t know if he ever got his helmut back.

Another time I remember I was out on convoy,we dumped our loads, and were returningto base camp. i was coming off the back side of one of the pass’s clipping along pretty good with an empty tanker. At the bottom I hit a dip in the road, and both hood latch’s let go at the same time. The hood stood straight up against the windshield. Couldn’t see a damn thing for a few scary seconds. Stuck my head out of the window so I could see where i was going, and managed to brake and let the hood fall back down in place.

I remember being on the convoy when manning rolled his truck over and down an embankment. I was about 10 truck’s behind the accident and remember running up to see if we could do any thing. But we were cleared out because of leaking fuel.

On another convoy someone’s truck caught fire. the rear duals locked up, overheated, and caught fire. Flames were coming up around the back end of the tanker, and there were a few of us trying to put out the fire with water from a near by ditch.