Museum Movie Matinee Presents New Videos That Tell the Story of the US Army Transportation Corps

M923 Ace of Spades Gun Truck on display at the US Army Transportation Museum. The design of this vehicle was due in part to measurements taken from the Vietnam War-era Eve of Destruction gun truck. (Courtesy of the United States Army Transportation Museum)

FORT EUSTIS – Newly remade artefacts and archived videos took center stage at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum aboard Fort Eustis on Saturday, August 21 during a special morning cinema at the museum.

The morning drew a small crowd of visitors, who took their seats in the museum’s regimental room for the afternoon matinee and free refreshments. The afternoon programming previewed the new videos that augment the artifacts in their historical exhibits. For an hour, visitors watched “The History of the Transport Corps”, “Red Ball Express”, “Experimental Vehicles of Yesterday and Today”, “Vietnam Gun Trucks” and a special screening of the “22nd Support Command (SUPCOM)) during the Desert Storm.

Visitors watch new videos at the Army Transportation Museum in their regimental room. (Courtesy of Max Lonzanida)

According to Alisha Hamel, director of the US Army Transportation Museum, “every video in the museum has been updated, renewed and replaced.” Hamel also added that the morning “was a chance for us to be able to present them all at the same time. Videos are used throughout the museum to tell the story of the history of US Army transportation.

Among the most poignant titles was a screening of “The Red Ball Express”. The short video tells the story of the massive and seemingly non-stop truck convoys that supplied the Allies in France after the D-Day invasions of 1944. US commanders designed a route of Red Ball trucks, commonly named for the red dots. used to indicate priority express trains back home. Most of the truck drivers who risked their lives and limbs driving fuel, food, and ammunition to frontline troops were African Americans due to segregation in the military at the time.

Entrance to the US Army Transportation Museum (courtesy of Max Lonzanida)

In summary, “it’s this really amazing story of how they were able to use the ingenuity of an American soldier to solve a problem so that they could support the troops fighting on the front line,” noted director Alisha. Hamel on the Red Ball Express.

This American soldier ingenuity took center stage during a screening of Vietnam Gun Trucks. For 15 minutes, the venerable 2.5-ton, six-axle M35 truck series took to the screen. Many would simply call these trucks “two and a half”. During the Vietnam War, convoy operations through enemy-held territory posed a serious threat to soldiers carrying supplies. The army’s response was to literally hit the junk piles and search for steel plates and sandbags to armor the trucks. A variety of weapons were added to give both defensive capability, resulting in an assortment of heavily modified trucks that looked like something from the 1974 movie “Mad Max”.

The only surviving Vietnam War-era cannon truck on display at the US Army Transportation Museum (WYDaily / Ben Swenson)

It should be noted that the only survivor of the Vietnam War era of these trucks, the aptly named “Eve of Destruction”, is on display in the gallery of the museum. This truck, filled with its assortment of weapons, armor, black paint, and mannequins outfitted with soldiers, was sent back to the United States before the fall of Saigon in 1975. Interestingly, the soundtrack of the video has was set to Eve of Destruction, which was originally performed by American folk singer Barry McGuire. The album peaked at No. 37 on the Billboard 200 when it was released in 1965.

The range of videos that has been created is the result of a collaboration between the museum, which provided the raw videos and photos, and an entrepreneur. Funding for the videos comes from the Army Transportation Museum Foundation. Visiting the museum is free on board Fort Eustis. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for those who wish to visit, watch videos in the museum galleries, and learn about the history of the U.S. Army Transport Corps. Find them online at www.transportation.army.mil/museum.

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