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I was assigned to the 1st Marine Division, 11th Motor Transport Battalion “Bravo” Company from Feb 1969 to March 1970. My company had many vehicles in its Motor Pool. The standard truck in the Battalion was the reliable five-ton. We also had a couple of the twelve-ton Tractor Trailers for hauling the “big stuff.” We also had a tracked vehicle which was called a “Huskey”. Sorry, I can’t remember the military name for the vehicle. These vehicles were sent into the field and were attached to units operating out in the bush. They were capable of hauling a platoon of Marines through rice paddies and rivers. I trained on them, but was assigned to drive the fuel tankers (lucky me) when they were needed.
If you had the morning job of collecting and burning “you know what,” then I was the guy who filled the diesel tanks. I also drove the Mo-Gas tanker which was not fun; thankfully, I didn’t have to drive it very much. The main vehicle that I drove was the five-ton, which gave me the opportunity to see most of the area around Da Nang. We hauled everything to the various bases, food, ammo, beer, sodas, etc. I always went out of my way to stop at intersections and pickup up Marines hitchhiking along the road, but nobody would ride with me when I drove the fuel tankers.
I remember one time we needed metal plates for the construction of a new bunker on my company’s section of the perimeter. Since we are Marines we were always short of everything, so we went out on a scrounge run. We weren’t having much luck until my Sgt. spotted a U.S. Army Heavy Lifter Helicopter taking off from its landing pad. As we watched the helicopter fly away, the Sgt. shouted out “Lets Go,” and we raced down to the landing pads and started to dismantle the nearest landing pad. We were able to get seven sheets of the metal pad into the truck when we spotted the helicopter coming back. He must have radioed back because at that moment some Army guys came running out of a hooch at the other end of the field. We drove off laughing and waving to the helicopter pilot and the Army guys. Of course the serial number of the truck was covered so the only thing they saw was the yellow “USMC”.
Of course it wasn’t always fun and games. Several trucks were shot up and drivers were wounded. Being Marines first we also had to pull guard duty and go out on patrols and ambush patrols just like other outfits. When the 1st Division Headquarters was attacked during TET, our battalion sent a reactionary force to help defend it. Unfortunately they were ambushed before they got there and several of my buddies were wounded.
I also wanted to add that when I went through Boot Camp at Parris Island in 1968, we were issued M-14s. I never saw an M-16 until I went to Camp Pendleton. I was wondering when M-16s became standard issue in Boot Camp.
L/CPL Michael Smith, 3531
USMC 1968 -70