"V100s Escort Convoys to Cambodia"
from Vol. 3 No 6 of The Roundup (18th Bde.) newspaper, June 1970.
Thick, billowing clouds of dust rose like a heavy fog from the road as the convoy wound its way through the Central Highlands. The V-100 commander, his face darkened by dirt, glanced at the vehicles ahead then the surrounding terrain.
Behind them was Qui Nhon, An Khe, Pleiku and the treacherous mountain passes between them. Ahead was the border supply point of Plei Djering and - beyond - Cambodia.
Everything was covered with the brown powder, and goggles were a necessity. Even with high beams on, visibility was limited to a few feet, and the going was slow.
This convoy - like many before it since the Cambodian operation began - was escorted by men of the 560th Military Police Company at An Khe. When the 4th Infantry Division moved out for Cambodia, the responsibility for protecting major supply lines fell on the 93rd Military Police Battalion.
Convoys are formed at Qui Nhon, where the supplies are unloaded from ships. The 66th Military Police Company has responsibility for convoys from the coast to An Khe where the 560th assumes the responsibility and continues the mission.
Enemy activity has been heavy, with the VC trying to break the supply lines and lessen the pressure on other Communist troops fighting it out across the border. Harassing fire, mines and rocket attacks have been experienced all long the road.
What do the MPs think of the awesome responsibility and the risks involved in protecting the weapons, ammunition and fuel for one of the major staging areas for operations in Cambodia? "Its rough", remarked V-100 commander Specialist 4 Michael A. Herzog, "It's the most dangerous convoy we've got."
"There is satisfaction, however, because we're doing our part to shorten this war. If we can get this ammo and fuel through to our gunships and troops, this operation will be successful. That's what makes this job so important."
It is a long way from Qui Nhon to Plei Djering, some 150 odd miles on the map. But the map maker never took the trail the vehicles must take from Pleiku to the border. Straight west is the most direct way, but the route - probably the most dangerous in the Brigade - is an open invitation to ambushes.
The road used goes south from Pleiku west, then north again. Of course, no route is safe. As the road turns from pock-marked pavement to dirt road to jungle trail, this fact becomes increasingly more evident.
"It's not even a road, it's a path," stated V-100 radio operator Private First Class Charles Smith, "There's more likelihood for an ambush than on any other convoy I've escorted. There are a million places where we could get hit. The jungle's right next to the road."
" Dirt; that's the thing about this convoy," said Private First Class Jim Kruise, machine gunner, "And we've got to go so slow because of the road. It's a change from the regular routine of company duty, but I'm not sure it's for the better."
As the V-100 "Charlie Brown" (It don't mean nothing) proceeds closer and closer to the border, the air seemed more tense. A convoy that morning had been hit along here, and the enemy was still in the area.
Across another temporary bridge, another defile and down another hill, then ahead loomed Plei Djering. The V-100 commander gave a sigh as the trucks pulled off to their reloading points for supplies to be airlifted to the front lines.
"Charlie Brown" pulled off the road, looking for shade when there was none. As C-rations were opened, Montaguard villagers approached, cautiously at first, hoping for a sample. It seems even war has some side benefits.
Dust had to be removed from the encrusted machine guns and a new coat of oil applied. It was then time for a few winks in the shade of the V-100 while the MPs waited for the unloaded trucks and the return trip to Pleiku.
As the mid-afternoon sun began to sink in the sky, the vehicles reassembled for the trip back. They must start soon, or dark will catch them in the open, away from the security of Pleiku.
Once back, there would be time for chow and a cold shower. Tomorrow the dust would be just as thick and just as gritty as the V-100 crew and "Charlie Brown" head out with supplies for the front.