Category: MISC

STEVE CAMPBELL’S THOUGHT’S FROM THE BRUTUS DEDICATION 10/1/2016

I feel that a large part of my life has come full circle today.

My Vietnam experience as I attended the induction of my Gun Truck Brutus in the Military Veterans Museum and Education Center in Oshkosh Wi. I call it my Gun Truck because I was the last N.C.O.I.C (Non Commissioned Officer in Charge) of Brutus.

Brutus is still to this day one of the, if not the most recognized and famous Gun Truck Legends from the Vietnam War from the story’s of North Vietnam Army and Viet Cong reward’s to destroy it to the number of confirmed or unconfirmed kills are as on going today 44 years later as it was the day I first arrived in Cam Ranh Bay Vietnam in 1971 when a Green Beret leaving Country heard me say I was assigned to the 359th Transportation company. He looked me in the eyes and said that company has a gun truck named Brutus. What ever you do don’t be a crew member on that truck. I just came in from the bush in that area and the V.C. have a Bounty on it, they call it the ghost truck, they keep killing it and it keeps coming back. Then he said it was just hit again and one of the guys was killed. (He was talking about Larry Dahl (MOH) who jumped on a grenade that was tossed into the Gun Box and saved the rest of the crew from certain death. Earning him the Medal of Honor.) He was the second man to die on Brutus the first was Jimmy Callison 3 month’s before. His story seemed true when I arrived in the 359th and started hauling 5 thousand gallon tankers of jet fuel, gas and diesel and saw Brutus lined up in the convoy. It seemed pretty real with it’s 2 50 cal front gun’s, mini gun’s and twin 50 cal  in the gun box and ready to kick out with us protecting the convoy. Having no clue that before long I would indeed be asked to join the crew and become the N.C.O.I.C. Brutus and me saying yes as it’s better to be able to shoot back than just be a target. What a true Honor that was to serve on such a legend.

Sitting here today in this Museum at this with so many of my Brother’s next to the man that asked me to join him and the crew, with my Son’s and all the Brave Crews from other Gun trucks that came from all across the country to see Brutus inducted into this Great Museum to Honor all the Hero’s who died or wounded  who served on Brutus and the other Gun Truck’s, Truck driver’s and all Veterans. I realize now as we all reach our final end of this convoy called life we have delivered our part of this history.

Steve Campbell 10/1/16

BLINKY

TAKEN FROM A 1st LOG CMD REVIEW

FEBRUARY 1969

WE KNOW WHO THIS IS ABOUT BUT THE AUTHOR IS UNKNOWN

A NOVICE DRIVER WANTS TO BE A PROFESSIONAL

PLEIKU – MAKESHIFT BRIDGES LINKED BY TWISTED COW PATH AND FLANKED BY DUST FILLED GULLEYS – THIS IS THE ROAD FROM HERE TO DAK TO.

THE ROUTE IS TACKLED DAILY BY THE “STICKERS” OF THE 359th TRANSPORTATION COMPANY.

THESE DRIVERS GET THE NICKNAME, STICKERS, BY PROVING THEIR ABILITY TO KEEP THEIR INDIVIDUAL VEHICLES RUNNING SMOOTHLY WITHIN THE CONVOY.

DRIVERS MUST ALSO BE CAREFUL NOT TO GO OFF THE ROAD. THIS COULD SLOW DOWN THE CONVOY, MAKING IT EASY PREY.

THE MUCH TRAVELLED ROAD TO DAK TO IS ALL TO FAMILIAR TO THE STICKERS OF THE 359th. BUT, TO LESS EXPERIENCED DRIVERS, IT OFFERS A DISTINCT AND IMMEDIATE CHALLENGE.

ONE SUCH NOVICE IS BLINKY, A PRIVATE FIRST CLASS. HIS TYPE IS KNOWN AS “NONSTICKERS.” VETERAN DRIVERS STILL LAUGH IN A FRIENDLY WAY WHEN SOMEONE CALLS HIM A NONSTICKER, BUT IT DOES NOT BOTHER BLINKY. THE KIDDING LETS HIM KNOW THAT HE BELONGS, BUT HE WOULD RATHER BE A STICKER.

EACH DAY’S DRIVERS ASSEMBLE AT THE MARSHALLING POINT AND LISTEN TO INSTRUCTIONS THAT MANY OF THEM HAVE PRACTICALLY MEMORIZED. BUT, IN THE EARLY MORNING LIGHT, BLINKY STILL LISTENS TO THE SAME BRIEFING HE HAS HEARD FOR THE LAST TWO WEEKS.

THE INSTRUCTIONS END WITH THE FAMILIAR, “ALL MEN WILL WEAR FLAK VESTS AND HELMETS.”

AS HE WALKS BACK TO HIS TRUCK, BLINKY DOES NOT THINK ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF HIS JOB. HE DOES NOT THINK ABOUT THE FACT THAT HIS CARGO IS FUEL – FUEL THAT POWERS THE HELICOPTER REMOVING A WOUNDED INFANTRYMAN FROM A REMOTE BATTLEGROUND. THIS IS FUEL FOR COOKING, FOR TANKS AND JEEPS, AND FUEL THAT DRIVES THE GENERATORS THAT PROVIDE ELECTRICITY.

INSTEAD, BLINKY THINKS ABOUT THE TREACHEROUS ROAD TO DAK TO – A TRAIL WITH RUTS THAT BOUNCE HIM OUT OF HIS SEAT EVEN THOUGH HE STEADIES HIMSELF BY HOLDING HARD TO THE STEERING WHEEL.

BLINKY HAS GROUND LIFE OUT OF HIS FIVE-TON TRACTOR EACH DAY FOR THE PAST TWO WEEKS. THE MORE EXPERIENCED MEN HAVE BEEN DRIVING SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, 52 WEEKS A YEAR EXCEPT FOR R&R. SO BLINKY DOES NOT LOOK FORWARD TO GETTING ANY TIME OFF IN THE FUTURE.

HE DOES LOOK FORWARD TO BEING A STICKER. EVEN THOUGH HE HAS ALREADY DRIVEN THROUGH THE AN KHE PASS, THE MANG GIANG PASS AND AMBUSH ALLEY, AND AROUND DEAD MAN’S CURVE, HE IS STILL A NONSTICKER. (P-1)

BLINKY KNOWS THAT FOR THE “PROFESSIONALS” OF THE 359th THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR CONSISTENT SUCCESS. ONE SUCCESSFUL RUN DOES NOT MAKE A STICKER.

HE ALSO KNOWS THAT THE NAME “PROFESSIONALS” WAS GIVEN TO THE MEN OF THE COMPANY BY A FORMER COMMANDING OFFICER IN RECOGNITION OF THE PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDE THEY DISPLAYED DURING LAST YEARS TET OFFENSIVE.

BLINKY HAS HEARD STORIES ABOUT TET. THE CONVOY MAKING THE RUN FROM AN KHE TO PLEIKU WAS AMBUSHED FOUR TIMES IN ONE DAY _ ALL WITHIN A 10-MLIE STRETCH OF ROAD.

A ROCKET PENETRATED A TANKER ON THE FIRST AMBUSH. WITH THE BURNING ROCKET STILL LODGED IN HIS FUEL TANK, THE DRIVER RISKED AN EXPLOSION BY CONTINUING UP THE ROAD FOR 30 MINUTES TO GET OUT OF THE KILL ZONE.

ONCE OUT OF THE KILL ZONE, THE DRIVER PULLED TO ONE SIDE OF THE ROAD TO LET THE CONVOY PASS; THE, AS FUEL POURED OUT OF THE HOLE IN HIS TANKER WERE THE ROCKET HAD ENTERED, HE UNHOOKED IT FROM THE TRACTOR. HURRYING BACKE TO HIS TRACTOR, HE DROVE IT AWAY AND THEREBY SAVED THE TRACTOR FROM THE THE TANKERS ROARING FLAMES.

AS A NEW DRIVER, BLINKY HAS BEEN GETTING A DIFFERENT TRUCK EACH DAY. HE MUST LEARN THE IDIOSYNCRASIES OF EACH ONE, SO THAT HE CAN GET IT IN SHAPE FOR THE JOURNEY. ON THE ROADS THE 359th TRAVELS, AN INFERIOR TRUCK CAN BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.

AS THE CONVOY ROLLS ALONG, BLINKY MUST SHIFT GEARS TO KEEP UP WITH THE OTHER TRUCKS. WITH A FULL LOAD, HE MUST GEAR DOWN TO SLOW HIS VEHICLE AS IT RACES DOWN INTO GULLEYS THROUGH MISTS OF DUST STIRRED UP BY THE LEAD TRUCKS.

THE FULLY LOADED TANKER PUSHES THE TRUCK FORWARD, BUT HE CAN’T STOP WITHOUT RISKING JACKKNIFING THE VEHICLE, TEN FEET AHEAD OF HIM, HE SEE’S THE OUTLINE OF A ROUGHLY HEWN LUMBER BRIDGE.

CLUTCH IN TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIS MOMENTUM FOR THE HILL HE KNOWS IS AHEAD, HE RACES TOWARD THE BRIDGE. HE FEELS THE LUMBER BEND BENEATH HIS WHEELS.

HE CROSSES THE BRIDGE. NOW HE MUST SHIFT GEARS BEFORE THE VEHICLE SLOWS DOWN. IF HE DOES NOT GET INTO HIGH GEAR QUICKLY, HE WILL LOSE SPEED AND HAVE DIFFICULTY CLIMBING THE HILL.

TO KEEP UP WITH THE CONVOY, HE MUST DOUBLE SHIFT. BOTH HANDS LET GO OF THE WHEEL. THE ENGINE REARS. THE GEARS CATCH, AND THE TRUCK STARTS ITS LONG CLIMB OUT OF THE GULLEY’S DUST.

ONCE THE CONVOY REACHES DAK TO, THE DRIVERS EMPTY THEIR TANKERS, GRAB A QUICK BITE TO EAT AND LINE UP FOR THE TRIP BACK TO PLEIKU.

THE RETURN TRIP REQUIRES LESS SHIFTING OF GEARS SINCE THE TANKERS ARE EMPTY, BUT THE LIGHTENED TRUCKS BOUNCE MORE OVER THE RUTS, THIS GIVES BLINKY PARTICULAR TROUBLE.

( P-2 )

HALFWAY BACK , THE DOOR ON THE PASSENGER SIDE OF THE TRUCK BREAKS A HINGE AS BLINKY GOES OVER A RUT. THE DOOR SLIPS OUT OF ITS LATCH AND SWINGS CRAZILY BACK AND FORTH, BANGING AGAINST THE SIDE OF THE CAB. HE CAN’T STOP TO REPAIR IT. HE HAS TO STAY WITH THE CONVOY.

FINALLY, AT KONTUM, THE CONVOY PAUSES, WITH THE HELP OF OTHER DRIVERS AND A SPARE BOLT, HE FITS THE DOOR BACK INTO POSITION.

AS THE SUN SETS, THE CONVOY PULLS INTO PLEIKU. BUT THE JOB IS NOT OVER. FIRST, HE MUST “TOP OFF” AS THE MEN REFER TO THE JOB OF REFILLING THEIR TANKERS WITH THE NEXT DAY’S FUEL LOAD. THEN HE MUST GO TO THE MOTOR POOL WHERE THE DRIVERS FIX FLAT TIRES AND EXCHANGE TIRE FRAMES BENT OUT OF SHAPE BY THE MASSIVE LOAD AND ROUGH ROAD. IN ADDITION, MAINTENANCE MUST BE DONE ON THE ENGINE AND BRAKES.

ONCE HIS CHORES ARE COMPLETED, BLINKY CAN TAKE CONSOLATION IN THE FAT THAT TODAY HE STUCK WITH THE CONVOY. HE REMEMBERS, HOWEVER, THAT IN THE 359th, ONE SUCCESSFUL RUN DOES NOT MAKE A STCKER. HE HAS HAD SUCCESSFUL RUNS BEFORE, BUT NOW THEY ARE BECOMING MORE FREQUENT.

SOON HE WILL HAVE HIS OWN TRUCK. BUT EVEN MORE IMPORTANT IS THE FACT THAT SOON HE WILL BECOME A FULL-FLEDGED “PROFESSIONAL”.