29 December 2008

The Old M-51, 5 Ton Dump Truck....the BEAST


From the Citizen Soldier side: OK, so I got some folks who are a little mad at me for dragging out my stories. Just think if it as a "soap opera" or something.
I can't really go on about the Russian River flood without talking about one of the best "weapons" we had in the Combat Engineers. It was the M-51 5 ton dump truck. It was the "Beast". Just to check the oil was a challenge sometimes. You had to be good and climbing on things and be able to balance and lift the hood at the same time.
When my current Guard unit was at Ft ---- training for Iraq, they knew I could drive anything, so they asked me if I could drive one of the newer 5 tons. Hell, it had an automatic transmission. I climbed in the cab, looked things over and in about 10 minutes I was driving it on my own. The new army trucks have automatic transmissions....kind of takes away all the skill and talent it used to take.
Anyway, the old "Beast" was a bitch to operate. You didn't just "drive" one, you had to "operate" it. They would go anywhere if you knew what you were doing...but there were a few times I got in over my head into shit I never did again after.
Russian River Flood of 199---whatever year it was. We drover our little convoy of "Beast" from our armory to our HQ where we met up with all the other companies of the battalion. At that time I had a few years of experience driving the "Beast" to summer camps, on convoys and weekend drills. Was I and expert? Hell no, but I was a little above average I guess.
We divided up drivers and co-drivers and drove a convoy going west, along the Russian River. We spent the night at some fire station in Forrestville. The next morning, they had some semi professional folks bring in a nice breakfast....then lunch, then dinner. The food was well prepared.
The next day, my co-driver and I along with some of the other trucks headed to the town of Gurneville. There we set up camp in the fire station. We were taken out and did a "recon" of the routes we might have to use to evacuate folks when the main roads flooded-- and flood they would. We learned where the side streets were that were higher in elevation.
We went back to the G.F.D. and had chow...it was not as good as the first fire station. We learned that the further west we went, the worse the food was going to be.
For our Combat Engineers to function all we needed was fuel for our vehicles, and good chow. We were pretty simple. We could sleep in the trucks if we had to- even though they had no heaters, we had sleeping bags. We just wanted to help the citizens, so we didn't care much about our comfort.....just feed us please.
to be cont.

1 comment:

J said...

Hmmm...I think my old green Bronco might be a civilian descendent of the "Beast".
And for some reason,D, I'm guessing you're a little bit of an above "average" driver.

Sooo...do I sense an "off road" experience in the continuation of this "soap"?

OK...chow's over...keep the story goin'....the citizens are waiting...