MARINE CORPS TANKERS VIETNAM HISTORICAL Foundation's
Vietnam Personal Accounts
Working on the tank retriever, Sweet Swede. John is on the right. Joe Kuhn from San Francisco is working with him on the blown transmission.
With the retriever crew. John is on the far left. Kneeling is Mike Tabor of Oklahoma, who was the crew chief at that time. The strangely clean person is a machinist, who obviously had not been in the field with them. Joe Kuhn is standing on the far right. You can see transmission fluid above the track all the way onto the boom and all over the ground behind the retriever.
What had happened was that the transmission had seized up in the field, as they were towing a tank through Dong Ha. They were fortunate in that they had picked up the disabled tank all the way up at “the Rockpile”, and were on the way back to Quang Tri, and it broke after they got to Dong Ha, a secured base, rather than out in the field. The track did not break when the transmission seized, but it sheared the drive sprocket loose from the transmission. They had to break the track, drop the sprocket to the ground, and the machinist then had to tap out the sheared-off bolts, insert new bolts, then they had to re-mount the drive sprocket, re-attach the track, and have two other tanks come out to tow the retriever and the disabled tank back to Quang Tri. The Sweet Swede was the only heavy tank retriever operating in Northern I-Corps at the time.
Getting a new transmission for the retriever was another story…