Since we were rather nomadic and not attached to any of the field units we served with, we had to do our own resupply. Every one to two weeks, two of our 5-man team would drive back to our closest base camp (Cu Chi or Tay Ninh) in either our clapped out 3/4 ton truck or our deuce and a half truck. Typically, we refilled two 55-gallon gas barrels; picked up C-Rations and ammo; refueled the truck; dropped off mail; picked up mail; got a haircut; picked up pay if a pay day had occurred since last visit; got a money order and sent most of our pay home; visited the PX; perhaps picked up a block of ice, etc.
We often had to drive 20 kilometers or more, most of which was on dirt roads. Theoretically, the dirt roads we traveled were checked for land mines early in the morning. We usually traveled alone unless we lucked out and came across a convoy going in the same direction. The trip could be a bit nerve-racking at times. The indigenous personnel could tie up the roads with overloaded Honda motorbikes; slow moving carts; worn out buses; people on foot; water buffalo on a leash. Over time, we managed to run over at least one pig and one chicken. I can assure you that they didn’t go to waste. The Vietnamese were on the carcass within moments.
On one my trips near the end of my tour, I was driving our 3/4 ton truck back to the ARVN Infantry camp near Loc Giang when the engine flooded. So there we were, sitting on a lonely dirt road, late in the afternoon. My buddy and I grabbed our M-16’s hooked on the wingnuts on the windshield while scanning our surroundings. While my buddy stood guard, I lifted the hood and rapped on the carburetor with a crescent wrench in hopes of dislodging the stuck float. No joy.
Suddenly, we could hear a truck in the distance, coming from the opposite direction. He was hauling ass, to say the least. As he approached, we waved him down. He was an engineer in a 5-ton dump truck. He seemed hesitant at first, but agreed to give us a push. I guess he hesitated because not only was it getting late and he too was alone, he had to turn the big truck around on a narrow road. He did it and the push worked. The engine sputtered and popped back into life and off we went. I watched the big truck in the mirror as we sped away, jockeying back and forth. I wish I had that soldiers name. He may have saved our bacon. And I hope he made it safely back to his base.
This was not the first time we had carburetor trouble with that truck. Every time we took it to the motor pool maintenance back at the base camp, the damned thing ran fine. Well let me tell you, the next time we took it in, we made absolutely sure that it got a new carburetor. The mechanic looked a bit pale after we told him our story. No more arguments.
Another memorable resupply trip, I spotted something I really didn’t want see. As we approached the outskirts of Trang Bang on the way to the Cu Chi base camp, there were a pile of enemy bodies stacked up like cord-wood near a fence. In addition, one of the corpses was tied to a fence post in a sitting position. The ARVN’s had cut off his genitals and stuffed them in his mouth. I never did understand this type behavior. Obviously, the feelings of hatred ran deep.
Then there was the day we narrowly avoided running over a mama-san who fell off the rear rack of a Honda motorbike. The driver didn’t notice, so after swerving to avoid his lady, we sped up and flagged him down. I’ll bet he ended up in deep nuoc mam over that one.