I wish that was my quote. It in fact is Dante Brizill describing the heroics of The Red Ball Express; Truck drivers in WWII who essentially won the war.
The first use of trucks by the U.S. Army was in the uh…” Punitive Expedition”. Military.com tells the tale of the military’s desire to track down none other than “Pancho” Villa.
After killing several people and severely damaging the town of Columbus, N.M. The U.S. Army pursued Villa through the mountains of northern Mexico.
They never did catch Villa, but they learned a lot traveling 400 miles through sand and mud and very difficult terrain.
By 1917 during WWI GMC was producing the Model 16 for the military. Most of GMC’s production capacity was dedicated to that mission. In fact, by the end of “The Great War” in 1918, almost 90% of GMC production capacity was used to build 8,512 vehicles.
Tell me about the drivers, Mr. The Dude.
If you really want to know just how important the contributions of truck drivers have been to the freedoms we enjoy every day of our lives, then read this article by Dante Brizill in Cecildaily.com.
The Red Ball Express was created in haste because the invasion of France during D-Day left the infrastructure destroyed and virtually useless. Rail was crushed and the bridge networks were blown to bits. All by design of course.
Obviously, you can’t advance very far without supplies and even if you have them there must be a mechanism to get them to the front lines. After advancing for weeks the Red Ball Express was created.
Brizill tells us that these drivers braved fierce attacks as Hitler was determined to cut off the supply lines. But, they persevered through difficult terrain, bridgeless rivers, and attacking warplanes.
Brazil leaves us with these words, “These World War II soldiers do not have the notoriety or fame of the Tuskegee Airmen, but in the pantheon of heroes that we all honor and celebrate from World War II, the Red Ball Express must be a part of that conversation. Their courage, stamina, and bravery was a key component to the victory that followed. We are a freer country and world today because of their service and sacrifices behind the wheel. All heroes don’t wear capes; some drive trucks.”
Lest someone is reading this article thinking it is all glory winning wars driving a truck or perhaps just the “behind the scenes” safe contribution to the effort; I will leave you with five direct quotes from trucking veterans as reported in NPR‘s Five Drivers: Trucking in a War Zone by John Burnett:
Scott Hodges – Iraq, “We ate, brushed our teeth, lay down in a cot, we didn’t die that day.”
Austin Dunn – Vietnam and Iraq, “You become very religious over there. The Lord and I got on a one-to-one basis.”
Roy McNair – Iraq, “When a truck was disabled, they took a flamethrower, put gas on the brand-new truck, and set it afire. They’d give you 15 minutes to get your stuff out. If you couldn’t get the truck moving, the military burned it up [so it wouldn’t end up in the hands of insurgents].”
Jim Bob Murray – Iraq, “My best friend over there, Christopher Lem, we called him Mad Max, got shot in the throat by a sniper. On my 41st birthday, my mission was to go out and pick up their blowed-up trucks. They didn’t want to leave the blowed-up trucks out there to be trophies for the insurgents.”
Rodger Dixon – Iraq, “I was five trucks behind and I could feel the concussion and see a big flame. A piece of shrapnel got Roger in the right side. He bled to death in the chopper on the way to Baghdad. I became a convoy commander the night Roger was killed.”
Peace and love.