I had a soldier approach me while I was wrenching for the 359th and ask me to “SOUP” up his 5 ton truck as it was so slow it hardly could make it up the pass to Plieku. I remember he was from Ohio and either had a young son, or his wife was pregnant. I can’t remember. But I told him that it was against regs to tamper with the injection pumps and I could get in trouble. My truck at the time I cranked up however and instead of 2500 rpm’s it would spool up to around 3300. I could get “FLAMES” out the stack at that high of rpm’s and it would pass lots of trucks going up the pass even though we were not supposed to. He was concerned about the VC running beside him and opening his valves and throwing a satchel charge in to the mix and blow him up because it was so slow.
I finally relented and adjusted his injector pump against regulations, as I figured what the hell were they gonna do to me anyway…”SEND ME TO VIETNAM”!!! Evidently later according to your information it wasn’t running well. I am pretty sure this was George Anderson but I remember him as having lighter hair so it may have been someone else. I remember that day as we had a number of people hurt and as I recall that his truck was hit with a rocket right in the passenger door in the white star and a passer by said he was hanging out of the truck.
While I remember some things clearly, other events are cloudy at best. I remember that my truck blew a head gasket at the top of the pass going to Plieku and the bastards left me out there for 4 days. I stayed with some guy’s with a a.p.c. guarding a bridge and they called “PUFF” in for night-time entertainment. It in this case was a Chinook with mini-guns and quad 50″s out the back door along with rockets. It was quite a show blowing up a bunch of trees. I finally in frustration stuffed my t-shirt around the head gasket, filled 5 gallon containers with roadside water and drove back, stopping when it got hot and added water all along the way by myself. Man I was pissed off.
I also had an officer who found out I cranked up the pump and threatened to article 15 me if I did it again. I went ahead and cranked it up anyway and that’s when I blew a head gasket. A motor pool sergeant said if I ruined the engine my ass was grass. The engine was fine and my ass is still not grass.
This is an excerpt of a story Mike Little wrote for the Plieku MP web site a few years ago. It is about the ambush when George McDonald was killed.
Just before reaching our checkpoint, a VC sniper put an AK-47 round through the door of your 5000 gallon tanker truck, killing you. Losing control, you rolled the truck down a dirt embankment, ending upside-down. Lucky for everyone else, your load of diesel fuel didn’t explode. But you were dead anyway, either from the bullet wound or the broken neck. When I arrived, somebody motioned me to the cab. I gazed at your slumping body. your eyes were closed, as if in peaceful sleep, a bullet hole in your side, leaking very little blood. I looked away and wished we had a medic around to help. You didn’t have a pulse, but we called for a medivac anyway. I held your hand until the chopper arrived, then cradled you head as we carried you to it. “Been shot in the side,” I told the door gunner, I think he was pissed for risking his life to retrieve a dead guy. That was it, you were gone. I didn’t get drunk that night because I couldn’t stop thinking about your family, who would soon receive the saddest news of all. The Army installed armor plating in all the truck doors a few weeks later, but it was too late to save you, that day on highway 19, 1968.
Mike thank you, from all of us for allowing us to share this story. And for your support in Vietnam.
I LEFT MY RIG IN DAK TO. IT HAPPENED WHEN I STARTED DRIVING FOR THE 359th. IT WAS MY FIRST TRIP TO DAK TO AND I MISSED A TURN. I DROVE OUT OF THE COMPOUND AND TRIED TO TURN AROUND IN A FIELD, AND I GOT STUCK. NEEDLESS TO SAY THE GUY’S WITH THE WRECKER WERE NOT HAPPY. THE TRAILER WHEELS WOULD NOT TURN AND AFTER DRAGGING THE WHOLE RIG ALMOST BACK TO THE COMPOUND IT SLIPPED OFF A SMALL BRIDGE AND WENT OVER ON IT’S SIDE. I REMEMBER STAYING THERE FOR FIVE OR SIX DAY’S BEFORE I COULD GET BACK TO AN KHE. THEN SOME TIME LATTER I REMEMBER SOMETHING ABOUT A STATEMENT OF CHARGES. I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO BE IN THE ARMY A LITTLE LONGER THAN I WANTED TO BE!
This was taken from an E-mail to John (Crowbar) Porter. He was the SSG, that put him in the mud!
Yuck, Yuck, Yuck…Mr Secretary…It’s on of the most inedible memories when I first got there, Cold, Night, Raining, Mud everywhere… “Specialist, you are going to perform second echelon maintence on this truck.”, ” But Sargent”, I replied, “I’ve never done that before”, “Well your gonna learn, now get you ass under that truck and change the oil and grease it while your there!!!”
Scarwcrow…True story of my first meeting w/you!
THIS IS A LETTER WRITTEN HOME ON: 16 MAR 1968
Dear Dad an Mom
Well guess you thought I was dead and like to run. We had three ambushes yesterday. My truck was the first one that got hit. I was driving along and my windshield started cracking and I fell to the floor and then I raised up to look and there about 15 feet stood 4 VC and one had a rocket and throwed it at my truck and I fell to the floor again and when I raised up again I looked in my mirror and the ass of my trailer was in blaze. Then I grabbed my weapon and opened the door to jump out, and when I got on the running board of the truck, 3 more VC raised up and started shooting at me and I jumped back in the truck and layed down again, so I couldn’t get out of my truck. So I just started hitting gears and I thought my tanker would blow up. But I pulled it a little over a quarter of mile and flames going 50 feet in the air and the road was on fire where the fuel was running out. So I got to the curve in the road and I’m going 40 miles an hr. So I thought I’d rather get shot than burn to death. So I cut the truck off the road and as it went over the bank I jumped out and ran for for a big bank. So the truck in behind me, my best buddy came threw the fire and I run to the road to get on side of his truck and he didn’t see me and keeps on going. So just happen a Tank came over the hill and I ran to it. and my leutenent came back and I got on the jeep with him and went down to the truck and fire was going every where. But my tracter wasn’t on fire just the trailer. So I run down to unhook the tracter and the fire is so hot. So I ran back to the road. By then there was M.P., Gunships there and I told my buddy if he would unhook the trailer I would go and drive the tracter out and then the top & seat of my truck was on fire so He did and I drove it out. and that was so hot I couldn’t hardly stand it. And the smoke liked to choked me to death. But I made it. My C.O. said I would get a Bronze Star for saving the tracter and be brave enouph to drive all the way threw the ambush with out stopping in the fireing zone. But I never even got one scratch. When I jumped out of the truck as as it was going I never even fell, about two steps and I was allways across the road. that was the scardist I ever benn in my life.
THE REST OF THE LETTER IS PERSONAL, HE FOUND IT IN THING’S HIS MOTHER HAD KEPT.
15 Jan 1968 as I remember it.
I had 85 days to deros. We were in convoy from An Khe ( Our base camp ) to Pleiku. We had about 40 trucks in the convoy. I was the first in line for the first time out of abour 250 convoy’s. Just as we were leaving George Anderson was put in front, fresh from the motor pool. He had 75 day’s to to go. Before we left he told me his truck was still not running right. We left for Pleiku, but before we got to the Mang Yang pass I passed him. He was slowing down the convoy. After another several miles thru the mountains, we were ambushed by approximately 150 NVA regulars. Leading our convoy was a 2 1/2 ton gun truck ( The War Wagon ) with two M-60 machine gun’s driven by Ron Kendall. The gunners were Tim Wheat and a guy I don’t remember. The convoy was on a steep mountain traveling 15 to 20 MPH. As we were creeping up the mountain I noticed two people carrying rolled up bamboo dressed as peasants. When the gun truck got beside them, they threw the bamboo. Which had satchel charge’s inside under it. It exploded disabling the gun truck. They then jumped toward a ditch and ended uo beside me. I had to stop then firing at the two VC. I was shot through both leg’s, and continued about two miles to a check point where my wounds were treated, and was medavacted to the 71st Evac Hospital. I recovered, but Anderson who ended up behind me was killed when an RPG hit his truck. Tim Wheat received a Silver Star, and Ron Kendall got the Bronze Star. I got the Army Commendation Medal with V device and a Purple Heart.
A few side note’s: We were heading west at about 0900 hour’s when the ambush took plave. About a mile west of a village called Phu Yen. 2 miles east of check point 95 ( where I drove to after I was wounded ). The enemy firing came from the passenger side of the road ( north ). Lt Welton was the convoy Commander and was back in the middle of the convoy. I understand he raced up with his jeep, an M-60 machine gun and a M79 grenade launcher on board to hold them back, plus Wheat & Kendall in the gun truck put out about 6000 rounds from their M-60’s.
My most memorable experience while with the 359th was in nov 1967. We left An Khe in the morning convoy to pleiku hauling JP4. At pleiku I was directed to Dak To with several guys hauling the same fuel. We actually went to a fire base out side Dak To. The only place I”ve been when tripping to Dak To. I know from talking to other guy’s there was also a drop off in a more populated area. As we arrived we came over a ridge, and could see down into a small valley where the 1st Air Cav was set up. We off loaded into bladders and returned to the road out, where we parked, and waited for everyone else to off load. My buddy Lorin Broughton was in the truck in front of me. When we got the word to pull out for Pleiku I got about 50 yards, when the poppet valve hose on my transmission split, resulting in immediate loss of air pressure. The trailer brakes locked up. I hopped out of the truck, crawled under to find part of the hose haning off the transmission. I went to the trailer and released the air for the air tanks. It was decided I would go back to the base we had just left, and wait for a new hose. Lorin said he would be back the next day with the part. Everyone else headed out, while I turned around and headed back. I parked the rig in front of the HQ’s building which didn’t make a few folks very happy, got some chow and settled in sleeping in the truck for a few hours. We got hit that night, mortars and small arms fire. I heard guy’s yelling about muster gas, but that didn’t happen. Next day I anxiously waited for the convoy and Lorin to show up with the part, none showed. spent another night in the truck, same same we got hit again. the next day a convoy arrived, and Lorin was with them, but no part. For some reason no one would help him get the part we needed. I quickly decided I was not spending another night or more at this fire base. I dropped the trailer and bobtailed back with only manual brakes following Lorin. If anyone stopped to fast I’d use his trailer bumper to help me get stopped. That was not necassary, down shifting and manuel brakes got me back to Pleiku that day, and An Khe the next. Of course I got a good ass chewing for leaving the trailer. And threatened with a court martial as well. The next day I was back on the road to Pleiku as usual. The next trip I made to Dak To the trailer was gone, and we had to drive into the field during a mortar attack.