My name is Wayne Riggs. I was a member of the 372nd and 561st transportation companies from April 1968 to April 1969.
|This information isn’t on my battles but the unique experience of finding out what units I was serving in. I was trying to find some of my fellow brothers that I served with. I had spoken to Allan Furtado because I didn’t
understand how a unit I was in supposedly won its colors back and the colors returned back to US. Then at end of my tour I ended up in the same company. Allan explained to me that he had heard stories like mine about the
same companies. Allan asks me to write about my experience.
Let me start at the beginning April 7th 1968. We flew into Ben Hoa Airport later on traveled to Long Binh Hospital to look at the tragedies of our fellow brothers in arms. At this time we aren’t processed in and have no idea
where we are going. I was one of seven SP4’s; we were to do special training in Da Nang. Since I had 18 months TIG I was put in charge to make sure we all arrived at Da Nang. At this time we still had no unit assignment. We
flew from Ben Hoa to Da Nang the next day.
|Sgt. Billy Wayne Riggs
My Vietnam Experience
|Because of our heavy equipment MOS, they wanted us to train for special fork lift drivers. They trained us for 2 days on what they called a rough terrain fork lift which could do special maneuvers as well as lift in awkward
positions. After our completion of training we were told we would be sent to a beach front compound near Quang Tri.
Finally we were told that our company was the 372 Trans. Co. under the command of the 71st. Trans. Battalion at Long Binh. We would be under MACV 1ST Logistical Command Headquarters. So our new MOS’S was a
stevedore which put us working in 7 different depots. Their classifications were 1 to 7, could be food, beer, equipment, ammo dump, on and on. I ended up in the ammo dump loading tractors and trailers. How ironic for I
drove tractor trailers, hauling equipment and ammo for the 3rd. Infantry Division for their maneuvers while stationed in Germany.
Unbelievable the first night in the ammo dump we start getting hit with mortars. Hell I was scared to death and had no weapon either. Moving on I thought the best thing for me was to dismount my forklift and run for cover.
After the mortars stopped I looked up and there I was leaning against 175 MM howitzers. I looked 300 hundred yards north and there was JP4. Man oh man what a hell of a place to be in at nineteen. A few days later they sent
me to the beach to unload a LST. The ships couldn’t get very close so we had to drive on a metal platform for a very long distance (800 FT Long) to get to the LST. Just getting to the LST was a scary time for me, driving on a
platform plank and nothing below but ocean. Once you got to the LST you had to unload the top deck first which literally scared me to death, you had to drive up the top deck at a fairly steep angle. Then you had to come
down and drive on the platform with the fork lift in reverse the whole distance back to land. I almost drowned twice so I had a really bad feeling about this job task.
I decided this wasn’t for me, so I asked my captain if there might be a different option for me. He said I had two options; one was stay there or pull first line defense perimeter guard. Our company had a rotation set up for
perimeter guard. This wasn’t my first engagement while being in country without a weapon. I had to hold on keep my head down and hope for the best on several occasions. I figured this would be the best place for me. I
could keep my boots on the ground while having a weapon for protection. If I took option two, I would be there permanently. So I took option two got my weapon then qualified and went to perimeter guard. I spent my first
six months there. I shared duty with soldiers from my unit. I also rotated with the 1st Calvary and 101 Air Borne if they needed front line support. We had off and on enemy engagements my whole six months. The enemy
knew if they could take our compound that it might change the war.
|Here’s where a lot of confusion starts. The 1968 Tet Offensive was over in name only. All the Northern Provinces were continually under heavy attack. So General Westmoreland decided that the northern provinces needed a
major supply depot like the one in New Port Beach. So he wanted a beach landing compound to keep the supplies going out to all companies. Here are the three names for this beach head. Sunder’s Wunders which was named
after LTC Sunder’s. Then there was Wunder Beach and next Utah Beach.
|Wesley King at the Honai Orphanage March 1969.
|10,000 lb. Rough Terrain Forklift. - Honai Rail Head RVN 1969.
| WUNDER BEACH
The Most Significant LOTS Operation of Vietnam In January 1968, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army launched their TET Offensive to overthrow the government of the Republic of South Vietnam. They severed US lines
of communication around Hue, destroying bridges and ambushing trucks. POL storage tanks were destroyed at Tan My as was the 8-inch pipeline that ran up the coastline. The US counter-offensive ranked as the most
significant US military campaign of the conflict. General William C. Westmoreland deployed the 1st Cavalry Division and the 101st Airborne Division to the area, increasing the supply requirements to 2,600 tons per day. The
159th Trans Bn (Terminal) was tasked to set up LOTS (Logistics-Over-The-Shore) operations near Thon My Thuy on the beach.
LTC Charles Sunder, commander of the 159th, needed a workable beach with a road connecting to Highway 1. A desolate sandy beach at Thon My Thuy with an old French-built road was found with a sand dune 1-1/2 miles
wide and over 1 mile deep. Supply roads were repaired by the Seabees and the 14th Combat Engineer Battalion.
So I know I written a lot but now it’s time to get to my Companies I was in. I was in the 372 Trans. Company and we were told that our Company Colors would come home. They said we had won our Colors back. So our
Company disbanded and we were waiting for orders. While we were waiting soldiers from my company were being sent to different units. Since I already had a duty station at this time I moved to a different perimeter almost
every day. We had three lines of Perimeter Defense and the Navy covered our 6’s.
So a little time went on then a few of us from our original company headed south. We had no company name at this time. First we were sent to Ben Tre, then CanTho and finally to Vung Tau for 2 weeks. While there we were
told our new company would be the 561st Trans. We were sent to Long Binh where we originally started. We ran a rail road called Honai Rail Head which we loaded with supplies. We also built an orphanage called Hanoi
Orphanage which housed 65 orphans. My LT. Lewis got a civilian citation from the 372TC while we were still the 561TC. The company ended up being the 372nd Trans. Co. once again. So you can see how hard it was for me to
try and find my fellow comrades. I don’t know when our company changed back to the 372TC, when I left Viet Nam April 1969 we were still the 561TC. I started with the 71st Trans. Battalion 372TC and went to Utah Beach
early April 1968. We left Utah Beach, company unknown late Sept. 1968. We moved to Long Binh early Oct. 1968 as the 561TC but later were changed back to 372ndTC.
|Here’s a Picture of me Sgt. Riggs at Honai Rail Head. Here you can also see our Company the 561TC on the door. Still don’t know how and when we became the 372TC again. RVN Feb. 1969
|To all the Veterans of the Viet Nam war I proudly Salute all that gave so much. Some Brothers are leaving us and some still sacrificing yet today. I’m proud to be one of you no matter the cost. Sgt. Riggs 08/22/14
|Any Questions Or Comments Please E-Mail Me - Wyane Riggs
|Full Speed Ahead
|"Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow - The Shirelles 1960