MARINE CORPS TANKERS VIETNAM HISTORICAL Foundation's
Vietnam Personal Accounts
The Vinh Dai Jeep Crusher - December, 1969
by Chuck Truitt
After a couple months at FSB Fuller, it was my turn to make a run for supplies back to Dong Ha Combat Base for more BB’s (all Marines know that as beans, bullets, and bandages, but for us it could have been batteries, beer, and a bath - we had all the bullets we needed (courtesy of 2/4 Marines!). I caught an ARVN, H-34 from FSB Fuller to Dong Ha, and when I walked into the 1st Radio Battalion Compound, I believe it was Capt Carnako, said something like “well Sergeant Truitt, how are you doing?" Which made me happy, because I was a Corporal. I well remember the date as 13 December 1969, and the Captain said “go on in the Operations Bunker and I'll get your warrant. Just as I walked in the Gunny said, “Truitt I need you to run up to the Vinh Dai Crusher and get me a fuse, at The 3rd Tanks Battalion. You can take that jeep over there, but you gotta get up there and get back as fast as you can.” About that time the Captain showed up, promoted me to sergeant, back dated to the 1st of December, handed me a metal sergeant's chevron for my cover, and I took off to the crusher as it was getting late.
Wasting no time, I was quickly heading west on Hwy 9 by myself, and just about to turn left into the crusher, at dusk, when I noticed a bunch of commotion right there by the entrance. Wow, that's gross; an M-48 tank had run completely over a M-151 Jeep. The whole jeep was compressed into a block like you see in the movies; it would now fit between the tracks, and the space from the ground to the under carriage of the tank. Instead of a "Rock Crusher," to me, that place became a "Jeep Crusher." I drove on in and up to the command bunker, and there was still a lot of commotion. There were rounds, lots of them, being fired and tracers, although I just saw red tracers at that time, and several loud explosions. As soon as my jeep stopped a Marine ran out and said, “We're having a sapper attack, can you operate a .30 Cal. machine gun?” (I guess they had them rather than M-60s because they were indigenous to the M-48 tanks) That Marine grabbed me by the shoulder and said, “Good! Get up on top of the bunker and I'll get you an A/gunner soon as I can.” Just a couple minutes later that Gunnery Sergeant climbed up with another Marine, and they had a couple boxes of belted rounds, and a can of 30 weight motor oil. He told me, “you've got it, if it gets hot, just pour some of this here oil in the receiver and keep it working.” He also told me to stay there until relieved, to shoot anything out past the wire or that comes through, and that when I needed more ammo, there was plenty more in the bunker. I didn't see him again until the next morning, but my A/gunner did immediately go down, and bring up a couple more cans of ammo. Also, of interest was that those 30 cals sure do put out one heck of a lot of white smoke when you pour a little oil on them. Well it was an interesting night, and the next morning everything and everyone seemed to be intact, although one of the tanks had a hole in the turret from an RPG. I don't know if anybody was killed, but I headed back to Dong Ha with the fuse, as soon as I could.
Upon arriving back at 1st RadBn, my target was the Ops Bunker with the fuse, and someone said, “Hey, it's Truitt, we thought you were dead; we just sent a message out saying that you were run over by a tank.” Well, they immediately got another message out, which kept Linda from having a Marine vehicle drive up to our trailer back in South Florida to give her the news. After cleaning up, it was time to catch a bird back up to FSB Fuller with another load of BBs. Furthermore, it was probably on that “resupply run” that the shower heater caught fire while I was taking a shower.