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Hump Back

Hump Back

When given the choice of two hours in an Amtrac riding back to Kaneohe or Humping Back for four to five hours the overwhelming choice of the grunts was to Hump it. We had been operating with various companies of grunts for about two weeks at Bellows Air Field (old WWII Air Corps Fighter base) on Oahu. We would take them out, circle, circle, circle then land on the beach, both day and night. For those of you that have never had the pleasure of being in an Amtrac while underway let me try and paint a picture.

Stifling heat, no air movement, cramped, noise level off the chart with rocking and rolling that make most people sick. I would always warn the troops we carried about these problems and tell them that if they had to puke to do it in their helmet and the crewman would dump it over the side. This would usually get a laugh but they didn’t realize that I wasn’t kidding, as one group would shortly find out. As I said, we would take them off the beach then circle and circle about a mile or two out. The troops were crammed onto two long benches, about 16 people. They were packed in like sardines sitting shoulder to shoulder with their weapons between their legs. I kept checking how things were going and noticed one of the grunts was having a tough time of it from the start.

I watched as my crewman Pfc. H. moved over to him and shouted in his ear. It was way too noisy to hear what he was saying but I knew as soon as this poor soul removed his helmet and held it up to his mouth what the conversation was about. The people sitting beside him looked away and the all the others looked straight ahead. I went back to the business at hand and while my face was glued to the periscopes I heard a noise that I had never heard before. When I looked into the tractor everyone was puking, including Pfc. H! He had done exactly as he had been instructed to do but failed to rinse the helmet out after it was dumped and when the sea sick man put it back on the puke left in the helmet began running down his face.

Needless to say that started the ball rolling, even I had to crack my hatch to get some fresh air. After we dropped the troops on the beach we backed out into the ocean with the ramp down and let the seawater clean out the tractor. I was really p-ssed at Pfc. H until he explained to me that rinsing the helmet out wasn’t included in the instructions I had given him.

Lesson: Don’t assume the person you are giving them to understands the instructions you give. After writing this story it becomes clear why they decided to Hump Back.

Cpl E4 Selders

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Joe Rainey 75-79 - April 30, 2020

I was on the Fort Snelling, Dirty 30, from nov. 76 to May of 77 as a tank crewman with CCo 2nd tank bn. Not sure which ship the grunts and amtracs were on. We usually didn’t see them till we were ashore

Edward Roessler - April 30, 2020

My first trip in an LVT was a launch off of a LSD. Crewman told us, “If the tractor sinks, we where to let it fill with water, open the hatches and leave in an orderly manner.” My brain fried and said ” are you f—–g kidding”!!!. I Had been to Jump School and will ride a T-10 Parachute to earth with little fear but these steel, engine driven coffins just scared the s— out of me.

Howard Hada - April 30, 2020

GREAT story John….I read this and realized it was YOU…..In my last 7 months of active duty, we “trained” midshipmen at Pendleton… and part of that training was at “Red Beach”…loading off APA’s and assaulting the beach…on our lucky days, we got to ride the vehicles all the way up to Casey Springs in the Cleveland National forest…that was torture!

Lawrence Toledo - April 30, 2020

Ha!!! We brought black plastic bags and puked inside those instead of our Kevlars.

John Mason Sgt - April 30, 2020

One of my biggest regrets, was never making an amphibious landing. After reading all the above thoughts, all I can say is, thankyou Lord!!! Served with Echo 2/27 and Delta 1/9 April 68-May 69. I’ll take a chopper ride any day.

James Crawley - April 30, 2020

The P7 and the P5 were very different. While I was trained on both I spent most of my time with the P5. It was gas not diesel and they did leak! The deep 6 off a LST was the highlight of the experience. To the grunts who rode with us if it means anything we all got wet! If the com got wet no radios so which means a lot of tracs had no radios. slow, and hot, smelly and loud. I loved being a 1833!

Al H. Johnston - April 30, 2020

I was stationed at Kaneohe Bay in Charlie company 1st battalion 4th Marines from August 1961 through August 1963. We rarely rode any where. We had 20 mile force marches every week, a 30 or 40 miler every three month and 60-75 miler twice a year. I was in the best shape of my life then. You learned to take care of your feet but we still got blisters the size of baseballs on the balls and heals of our feet on the longer hikes. Most of us made it thanks to our Corpsman.

John P Hudson - April 30, 2020

My memories are similar of bobbing like a cork off bellows AFB before getting our beach assault done…. We landed from the USS Dubuque (Da Puke)… Whoooo Boy, what a smelly ride…. I felt sorry for the Trackers and went over to help clean up… We used fire hoses from two big fire pumpers to clean them…. We humped back too! K-Bay 73, 76-79, 88-92.

Harold W. Weist - April 30, 2020

Rode in them a lot as 2nd tracks 2 Chief and later as 3/6 S-2 Chief. Rode on top of them in RVN. In 68-71 I did a lot of scuba in the area you described.

J R Kelly - April 30, 2020

Loaded with grunts and launching off either LST or LSD the older LVT P-5s would go completely under the surface of the water. The cargo hatches always leaked raining water down on the grunts. It also leaked around the ramp located in the front. As a Crewchief it was necessary to keep a crewman below with the grunts because an FNG might want to reach for handle for one of the escape hatches located on port and starboard sides. But in Nam all grunts usually rode on top of amtracs due to land mines. Grunts rode on top even during river patrol. J R Kelly – ChuLia -Danang 66-67.

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