Monday, May 26, 2014

That's not a truck. THIS is a truck

When people find out that I was in the army, their first question (Well, first after "YOU were in the army?!?", all incredulous-like. I understand, though) is usually, "what did you do?". I answer that I was a truck driver. That's kind of underselling it though. I did spend some time driving trucks but a majority of my time was spent with the 3rd Armored Division in Frankfurt, Germany where I drove this...
This one was mine, B554 of B Company, 4th Support Battalion, 3rd Armored Division. AKA The Mongomobile
That, my friends, is what was known as the M-746 Heavy Equipment Transporter, or HET for short. It was 27 feet long, 10 feet wide, weighed 22 1/2  tons and was paired with a 60 ton trailer. They were designed to retrieve and haul broken tanks. There were less than 200 of them ever made, all between 1973 and 1977. In 1985, I was chosen, along with five other guys, to be part of a squad driving these things for the purpose of determining whether or not they should keep them or suck it up and buy brand new ones. So on one hand, we had higher-ups that wanted us to succeed and keep the beat-up old things on the road so they could save money, as well as those who wanted us to fail miserably so they could buy new toys. We were loved and hated like rock stars and we acted like it, too. Uber-cocky and arrogant to the point of being insufferable at times. What fun! It wasn't always easy but we managed a 100% mission completion rate. Every time we were sent out, we came back with tanks. I have no idea why I was selected to be a part of that team. I was not, nor am I now, by any means a motorhead. Maybe it was my attitude. Regardless, it was an honor to be part of a group doing good good work.
L to R: Sumaster Newell, Ricky Holstein, Lt. Kathleen Costello, Ken Gates, Paul Tucker, me and Dave Mansfield

As you might imagine, there are some pretty good stories from that time. I will try to list some of them here in the days to come. Anyway, Happy Memorial Day to you and yours.

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