One of the least heard about military personnel are the crews of the gun trucks of Vietnam. Assigned to transportation units, they did not belong to fancy divisions that got attention from the press. It wasn’t the “Air Cav” after all, so what was the big deal.
The big deal was the bravery and ingenuity that these men brought to the table.
The most feared weapon in Vietnam by the enemy was the Chopper. Helicopters were deadly and destructive to the enemy and there was little they could do to stop them. Except for one thing, keep them on the ground. To do this, they needed to stop the convoys that brought fuel to the helicopters and that brought transportation units under intense fire.
Unfortunately for the men in transportation, the army did little to provide protection. They quickly found themselves under constant attack with limited defensive capability. That is, until they got creative.
Enter The Gun Truck
The first gun trucks were 2.5 ton trucks fitted with machine guns and sand bags for crew protection. The weight of the sandbags would prove too much for the trucks and break downs were frequent.
Moving on, gun trucks would begin to utilize steel plate for protection and a great variety of weapons ranging from m60’s to heavy anti aircraft guns. To carry the weight, the soldiers moved up to 5 ton trucks.
During the Vietnam war, it is estimated that 300 to 400 trucks were transformed into gun trucks. Despite this number, only 1 truck is known to have survived the war, Eve of Destruction. Eve of Destruction is currently housed at the Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, Virginia and the rest of the trucks are assumed to have been destroyed or scrapped.
Although converting trucks into gun trucks took away men and cargo carrying capacity from units, the program is generally considered a success.
They protected cargo, protected lives and put fear int the enemy. So much in fact that the enemy actually put bounties on the individual trucks.
It just goes to show you how the American soldier can get the job done, even when faced with the toughest of situations. It is just a shame that the gun trucks haven’t received more publicity, because the men surely earned it.