AS A FORMER CONVOY COMMANDER WITH the 8th Transportation Group, I read with great interest “Hard Ride in a Hard War” in the December 2013 issue. I served from July 1967 to July 1968 as a platoon leader and convoy commander with the 64th Transportation Company (Medium Truck), 124th Transportation Battalion. We made twicedaily runs from Pleiku to An Khe on Highway 19 and/or Pleiku to Dak To on Highway 14. Occasionally we made other runs to Qui Nhon, Bong Son and Tuy Hoa. As the article states, we had frequent enemy activity to include mines in the roads, sniper attacks and ambushes. The route between Qui Nhon through An Khe and on to Pleiku required climbing both the An Khe Pass and the Mang Yang Pass through the mountains, which slowed the convoy to a crawl and, as the article states, made a prime target for ambushes. My hooch mate, 1st Lt. David R. Wilson, was killed on Jan. 31, 1968, when his jeep was struck by a mortar in an ambush at the base of Mang Yang Pass. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his heroism. In 2003 I served as the command executive officer and chief of staff for the 143rd Transportation Command in Orlando, Fla. During that time, the 143rd was the senior unit in the new Armed Forces Reserve Center. As such, I had the privilege to recommend and have approved the naming of the center in Dave’s memory as the 1st Lt. David R. Wilson Armed Forces Reserve Center.
Col. Dale H. Sindt, U.S. Army (ret.)
REGARDING “THE LIMITS OF FREE SPEECH” [December 2013]: Bradley Manning held a top-secret security clearance. I’m sure that he was briefed on the responsibilities that come with that clearance. I was, while I held one in the Army from 1971 to 1974 to handle cryptographic keys in a communications facility. To divulge anything from that secure area would have been unthinkable. Manning was not a journalist or a whistleblower. He was an emotionally distraught young man on active duty in the U.S. Army who made the very self-destructive decision to strike a blow at a system that had been unkind to him. He deserved the sentence he received. He is no kind of hero.
In the article “All the News That’s Fit to Air,” the author believes that AFRTS [Armed Forces Radio and Television Service] has a real news organization. It does not. It is the public information arm of the military, as it must be. The author states: “And no other unit had the power to shape public opinion quite like AFVN.” Journalism for the purpose of shaping public opinion is not journalism, but political activism. Our country would be a lot better off if journalists would simply report the news, not try to shape our opinions!
No McCain MOH
I NOTICED AN ERROR IN THE OBITUARY FOR George “Bud” Day [December]. You state that Colonel Day was the only person awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Air Force Cross, which is correct. But you also wrote “Fellow Medal of Honor recipient John McCain…,” which is incorrect. John McCain was not awarded the Medal of Honor; he was, however, awarded the Silver Star.
THE NAVY RIVER PATROL BOATS (PBR) WERE powered by twin 220hp 6V53n Detroit diesels, not one, as stated in December Arsenal. As a rated engine man at the time and an adviser to the Vietnamese navy, I know what type of engine I worked on, And I rode a Mark 1 out of Cat Lai for a year.
Rio Rancho, N.M.
Carl Schuster responds: Chief, as always, the devil is in the details. You are correct. I fixated on the performance tables that depicted the PBR’s equipment, which simply listed “the” engine as a GM diesel. Since Detroit Diesel is a division of General Motors, I went with it. But that’s no excuse for missing the fact that the PBR had two engines, particularly since I was trained on PBRs in 1973. Thanks for your readership and letter.
I ENJOY YOUR ARTICLES ON THINGS I DID not know, such as the Special Guerrilla Units that operated out of Laos from 1962-65 [News, August]. Thank you to all the allied troops and the Vietnamese people from the Vietnam War era. And special taps for Sgt. Eugene M. Stover, an excellent forward observer for the 1st Marine Division, 1969-70, who served as mayor of Grand Lake, Colo., for 20 years. Sergeant, you will not be forgotten.
Originally published in the February 2014 issue of Vietnam. To subscribe, click here.