359th Trans Company Gun Trucks, Viet Nam

jeffhuey1n

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This is an appendix to Papa Bears fine detailed post on Gun Trucks. Some of the trucks in PBs post you'll see here.
War Wagon is the name of my 1970 M35A2. When I bought it, I named it War Wagon, just because. I can’t recall when I decided to go out and do a full sized replica/tribute. Whenever that was, since then I’ve slowly built the truck to look like a later version of what I thought War Wagon would look like. The fact that the 359th had a truck with that name, just made it that much more interesting. In the end, no, that’s not right, through the course of this journey the men who drove those gun trucks, as well as all Vietnam Vets, should be honored for their sacrifices.
 

jeffhuey1n

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Hmmm, I’ve done quite a bit of work on War Wagon. I’ve tried to incorporate a lot of detail that I’ve found in many sources. War Wagon, as I built her, has single layer armor, three .50 ‘s (replica), Vic 1, and much more. I’ve actually been working on her for about 10 years. Changing armor as I could afford it, getting accurate (read available) components; it’s been a labor of love. In addition, since I’m the only one doings the work, anything I do has to be within my physical capabilities. For example, doing a brake job takes me at least a week. Do some work, stop, take meds, do not cry in front of the other trucks, they may think I’m a softie. And piece by piece she gets ever closer to an authentic replica/tribute gun truck that would honor the service of the gun truckers. I’ve got some pictures (see below). I’ve got some sheets of PSP and my next big project will be installing them as a second layer of armor. Between that and putting on some armor on the doors and armor up the windshield, I hope I’m doing right by you.
 

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Tracer

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Jeff great photos, your hard work and attention to detail show. I understand working within one's physical capabilities, I've been trying to get my Deuce painted for a month now. I work on it when the weather and my arthritis permits. I've been working on my Deuce now for 13 years and it's come a long way. Along with the paint I'm going from 9.00X20 tires to 11.00X20 tires, I hope this will give me another 5 mph. And yes, it is a labor of Love. Jeff, you know Papa Bear is a world of knowledge on gun trucks. As you know, he built the M54 Gun Truck Proud American, if you have any questions you might drop him a PM and bounce some thoughts off him. He's one of the Good Guys.
 
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Robo McDuff

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Working alone when you actually are not young enough for this kind of #$%$ anymore. A lot of us now been there and are trying to do that.

Great project - live work.

Vtdeucedriver did a thread on Gun truck Brutus. It is good that both in real live and in this forum the history and value of these trucks and the men who served is being remembered again and again, lest we forget.
 

jeffhuey1n

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Working alone when you actually are not young enough for this kind of #$%$ anymore. A lot of us now been there and are trying to do that.

Great project - live work.

Vtdeucedriver did a thread on Gun truck Brutus. It is good that both in real live and in this forum the history and value of these trucks and the men who served is being remembered again and again, lest we forget.
My mind says I’m still in my 20’s. My back says “one more lift like that and yer goin to the hospital!”
 

JD4044M

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This is meant to be an appendix to Papa Bears fine detailed post on Gun Trucks. Some of the trucks in PBs post you'll see here, along with the men that served.
Thanks Papa Bear! I was hoping to see Eve Of Destruction with her Quad 50's She was with Co. D 815th Engineers I was with the 815th Co. A at Camp Dillard we had a few gun trucks worked on a lot in out motor pool. I was 18 going on 19 and fell in love with them! I ran the 2- 125KW Generators that kept the lights on for Dillard. I remember celebrating th 4th of July and "EVE" Firing off a bunch of rounds thru her 4-50 cals and the rounds making loope in the air. She was having the barrels changed out. The Gun Trucks with the Mini's on them were writing in the air they were so bas ass! I stayed at Dillard till the 815th Engineers stood down and we turned the base over to the Arvin's. I flew out with my 1st Sargent and met up with the convoy after I turned my 2-generators over to the ARVIN's. I wanted to leave Nam in style and asked the Gun Truck team if I could ride with them. They said yes what a trip of a lifetime I had. Certain stuff I won't go into but Mang Yang Pass with the switch backs was scary. I was manning a 50 cal on the drivers side. Can't remember the name of the gun truck!!! My memory has failed me some over the years. QL-19 was a long ride into Pleique to DeMobe out of Nam. It was like this was my last ride before the States and what a memory! I miss all the guys from Nam some were like a Father to me. Glad someone got a lot of pictures of them. I have a lot of pictures but not of the Gun trucks. I was also assigned with a Armored Cav Unit and 1/92 Artilery and 20th Engineers till they stood down and I was assigned with the 815th engineers. At Firebase/LZ Blackhawk we had 2-8" Howisters, 2 175mm, 2 155 mm Howisters and crap load ot Tanks, APC's, Twin 40mm Dusters and all our Engineer Equipment. I have a couple Pictures I can post once I resize them. There of LZ Blackhawk I slept between the 2 - 175mm Guns and close to the 8" Guns. The second picture is a USO Show they flew some Korean Band in for us and we had them play in a Gun Pit. It ended fast cause 4 Claymores went off at once and they flew them out in a hurry. We never figured how they went off but the last Guard th that night did not pull the primers out of them. Boy the stories we can tell it was a different war for us then what they do now! Mark 71-72 Vietnam US ArmyBlackhawk7 (474x363).jpgBlackhawk (444x294).jpg
 
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vtdeucedriver

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Hmmm, I’ve done quite a bit of work on War Wagon. I’ve tried to incorporate a lot of detail that I’ve found in many sources. War Wagon, as I built her, has single layer armor, three .50 ‘s (replica), Vic 1, and much more. I’ve actually been working on her for about 10 years. Changing armor as I could afford it, getting accurate (read available) components; it’s been a labor of love. In addition, since I’m the only one doings the work, anything I do has to be within my physical capabilities. For example, doing a brake job takes me at least a week. Do some work, stop, take meds, do not cry in front of the other trucks, they may think I’m a softie. And piece by piece she gets ever closer to an authentic replica/tribute gun truck that would honor the service of the gun truckers. I’ve got some pictures (see below). I’ve got some sheets of PSP and my next big project will be installing them as a second layer of armor. Between that and putting on some armor on the doors and armor up the windshield, I hope I’m doing right by you.
Jeff,
I don't get on here much but I really like the new format now and how things are set up so you may see me more often now. So I just wanted to say great job on the GT!!!
 

ramtoughM880

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Forgive me for reviving this, but I just found this fascinating thread this morning.

First, thank you for posting it. I never knew these existed! I was born in 1975, and would have modelled the you know what out of these in my model building phase in the 80s. ;)

Also, I have a question. Were most of those trucks painted black? Or is it just how the film aged?

All day I've been building one in my head. I think I'll look for a Tamiya kit and do some kitbashing. Even thought of a name (fictional)- Heavy Metal Thunder.

Again, thanks for the education on these awesome machines!

v/r,

RTM880
 

JD4044M

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Because we could get away with it! Back then in Nam we wanted to look bad ass and put pin stripes and great pictures on them. It was meant to make the VC scared of you and to at least make you feel bad ass too! The guys loved fixing them up. We got guns off stuff that were not intended to be put on trucks from the rear. Vietnam was the last War you could get away with being different that is why Vietnam Combat Vets are different than now days vets.
 

jeffhuey1n

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My tribute truck, War Wagon is painted black. Big white letters on both sides and 3 .50’s on top. Mine is built on a 1970 M35A2 W/W. The preferred trucks, I’ve been told we’re the 5 tons. The absolute best source of information is the Vietnam Vets themselves. Also, if you are interested, James Lyles wrote 3 books starting with “Hard Ride”. David Doyle has written about gun trucks as well. National Geographic also created a couple videos about those times.
I have much, much more to learn about gun trucks and the Vietnam War as well.
 

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JD4044M

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On Camp Dillard we had some commercial trucks for the Rock Crusher Pit and they had great tires on them. I remember our Motor Pool putting some on the Steer Tires and the CO getting upset about it. We told him hey they steer better with them on and we did not take them off. See in Nam if you held your ground on some stuff you got away with it. I road out on a gun truck for my last trip I wanted to go in style!! 18 year old Combat Engineer manning a 50 cal what a trip to remember! Just glad the guy let me do it I loved the Gun Trucks!! Loved Armor and the 175mm and 8" Howisters on Fire Base Black hawk with 1st Cav! Being assigned with them and the 1/92 Artillery was a dream come true for a kid!
 

jeffhuey1n

SMSgt, USAF (Ret.)
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Laramie County, Wyoming
On Camp Dillard we had some commercial trucks for the Rock Crusher Pit and they had great tires on them. I remember our Motor Pool putting some on the Steer Tires and the CO getting upset about it. We told him hey they steer better with them on and we did not take them off. See in Nam if you held your ground on some stuff you got away with it. I road out on a gun truck for my last trip I wanted to go in style!! 18 year old Combat Engineer manning a 50 cal what a trip to remember! Just glad the guy let me do it I loved the Gun Trucks!! Loved Armor and the 175mm and 8" Howisters on Fire Base Black hawk with 1st Cav! Being assigned with them and the 1/92 Artillery was a dream come true for a kid!
Welcome home! Those pictures are amazing! Catching the instant the cannon was fired, holy smokes! The tanks are M48A3’s?
An unofficial motto of the gun truckers could be: If at first you don’t succeed, adapt, improvise and overcome.
Had to do a bit of that during my years. Never got to a war zone though. When I was stationed near Washington DC it would have been considered a war zone if it was anywhere else on the planet.
 
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JD4044M

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When you heard "Hold Your Ears" you look up to see if a barrel is sticking over the gun pit above your head! I am real hard of hearing now because of so many rounds going off with in 30 ft and no ear plugs!! It was hard to sleep at first used to stick Cig Butts in them then after a while if it got quiet, it got your attention. Fire Support Missions were going off 24 hours a day. Sleeping next to my 60KW Generator about 6 ft away was hard on me too. If it changed tones, it would wake me up. Shit hit the fan if it quit the whole place went dark at night and I was in trouble. Long as the lights stayed on, and it ran 24 hours a day no body bugged me that was my whole job keep the lights & power on! All day long I hung out with the Artillery Guys and First Cav. Got to know all of them well and fired the 155mm once in a while. Gun trucks from 359th were with the 815th Engineers for Convoys. We had our gun trucks too in the 815th. Bounty Hunter was one of our trucks! We had the best Gun Trucks and best known at Camp Dillard. Glad this site is not letting them, and the guys be forgotten about this will be on the internet forever! I am 70 now and many of the Vietnam vets are dying off fast. Let's not forget this war! A little bit more I slept just to the left of the lower 175 in the picture just outside of the pit there was a little bunker, and my generator was on the other side of that wall about 9:30 in this picture. I had the whole bunker to myself it was about 10 x15 on the outside with real thick walls. I built a bed frame inside to sleep inside it. It used to have explosives inside the room. No one else would sleep tha close to the Gun Pits either!
 
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