“For years and years and years people just thought truck driving was driving a truck,” said Sammy Seay, a US Army veteran who helped build the Ace of Spades gun truck. “Well normally it is. Not in Vietnam.”
Gun Trucks played a crucial role in the Vietnam War keeping the supply lines open and operational, as they were able to deter enemy attacks and provide quick and effective response in the event of an attack. This allowed the supply convoys to move through hostile territory with relative safety, providing the troops in the field with the supplies they needed to continue the fight.
Modern audiences often forget that these soldiers were often mere teenagers, dropped in a jungle. They were desperate to survive the terrors of the Viet Cong. “These formations were tempting targets for the Liberation of South Vietnam Viet Cong guerrilla groups, who often sprung ambushes in remote areas.”
Survival is the Mother of Ingenuity
But these largely college-age-boys were determined to survive: The Gun Trucks were not just functional, they were also symbols of American ingenuity and determination. The soldiers who operated the Gun Trucks often displayed a great deal of pride in their vehicles, which they saw as a representation of their strength and resilience. The Gun Trucks became a symbol of American fighting spirit and determination, inspiring the troops in the field and reminding them that they were not alone in the fight.
One unit that often fell victim to such attacks was the 8th Transportation Group, based in Qui Nhon. Two dangerous stretches of Route 19 between Qui Nhon and Pleiku became the enemy’s favorite kill zones, the “Devil’s Hairpin” in An Khe Pass and “Ambush Alley” – incidents occurred there on an almost daily basis, according to Cherries Writer.
Gun Truck Names Like Ships of War
“Formerly green cargo trucks were painted black for intimidation and given names painted in big, bold letters on the side. The names were inspired by the pop culture of the time: Canned Heat. The Misfits. King Cobra. The Untouchables. Snoopy. Hallucination. The Piece Maker.”
Despite their success, the Gun Trucks were not without their challenges. Operating in a war zone was inherently dangerous, and the soldiers who operated the Gun Trucks faced many risks and dangers. The Gun Trucks were often the target of enemy attacks, and the soldiers had to be prepared to engage in combat at any time.
Rebels with a Cause
“There wasn’t a gun truck in Vietnam that was authorized by the Army,” said Stephen M. Peters, who provided convoy and nighttime security on the gun truck called Brutus during a tour in 1969. “But all of the brass knew we had them.”