These are pictures that Jerry took during his tour of duty in Vietnam
in 1969-1970, in the Qui Nhon port area.
He went from 1st Lt to Captain while he was there.
He came back to the University of Wyoming and got his masters
degree in Art and a teaching certificate.
He spent his career in Lexington, Nebraska as the art teacher.
He is now retired and active in Vietnam Veteran activities.

Jerry Barnes Veterans Day Speech


I want to thank  Mrs. Fricke for asking me to be the guest speaker today and thank the teams for helping  to organize such a great assembly, it has been a long time since we had one. I wasn't much older than you when I saw President Kennedy on a grainy black and white tv set in the high school auditorium speaking at his inaugural address to the nation. He mentioned 'to not ask what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.'
That was the guidance that most in my generation followed, joining the  armed forces, the peace corps ,  or working for the government.
 I went through the ROTC program in college and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the US Army in 1967. I served two years in Germany and a year in Vietnam.
Vietnam was a turning point in our history, it changed our country , some in good ways, some that were not.


 Wars have always caused dissension in our country. We have the freedom to protest. There have been protests to all the wars our country has been in-from the Revolutionary war to today's war in Iraq, something that we need to remember today. That is why it is so important for us to know our history so we don't repeat the mistakes of the past.

   My wife had returned to college while I was in Vietnam, but due to the campus unrest at the time over the war, did not mention to anyone that she was the wife of a soldier serving in Vietnam. I was not very happy to hear about that.

    It is fine to protest a war-that is one of our rights as Americans but you should not be against the individual soldier, he joined to fight for his country and for freedom, but does not choose the wars or engagements. Soldiers who came home from Vietnam were harassed and hassled by people who
protested the war, thus most, including me, did not talk about it for 30years.

   After Vietnam, patriotism fell out of favor in the United States and it became a country of people who did not believe in serving their country but were only interested in what they could get -a very selfish attitude centered on themselves and our country suffered because of this 'me first' attitude. It took Sept. 11 to change that. It is a tragedy that all those people had to die to wake up the citizens of America to
what they had and what could be lost.

   We enjoy freedom here in the United States and that is why so many people come here, but many that are already here do not appreciate their freedoms and rights that we have . I hope the new immigrants that we have will embrace our country, it's traditions and find it a country to fight for and join the service and become citizens.

   As many veterans can tell you, 'freedom is not free'. You have to give back to your country and serve it to feel good about yourself. You can't just sit there and take and take and give nothing back. It has been said that 'war is hell' and that is certainly true. Soldiers are killed and maimed physically and mentally-sometimes long after. Some Vietnam vets I know are just now being hit by stress syndrome 30 years after the war.

   Wars are not started by soldiers-politicians do that, but they need to have the resolve to stick it out through all the controversy that revolves around war and end it with a victory. The soldiers who gave up their lives and bodies for the cause are owed a proper finish to the war or their lives were wasted in vain.

   Some people, politicians and newscasters have been comparing the war in Iraq with Vietnam and it is not. In Vietnam you had two large countries, China and Russia, supplying the North Vietnamese with supplies-you do not have that in Iraq. The Vietnamese were fighting a civil war over a political system and to re-unite the country. In Iraq you have thugs fighting to get back in power so they can continue terrorizing the citizens who are now happy to be free.

   I am proud of my service in the Army,  I followed my grandfather and father who also served in the  military and proud that my sons chose to follow me  in that family tradition of serving their country also.

    Because  I had been in Vietnam my wife was not very happy about John, our oldest son going into the National Guard, but once she saw how much being in the service  developed his character through the experience she was all for Eric, our youngest son, joining up also. The old  recruiting
slogan the Army  used to have 'TO BE ALL YOU CAN BE' is certainly true.

    I never felt more alive than when I was in Vietnam  doing the best jobI could to make sure my convoys delivered their supplies to the troops. Being on the side of the road in 'Ambush Alley', all alone in the silence, trying to get a broken down truck moving again was quite an experience.  As was being awoken in the night to a mortar and rocket attack.

    If you do not serve your country you will not be aware of what your capabilities are, thus you never will be the person you could have been. So when you see a soldier, you  know that they are doing more than they ever thought possible and you should at least respect that.

   A funny thing has developed lately, people who were never in Vietnam are now claiming that they were there, even though they did not serve and indeed tried their best to avoid serving.

   We call them  'WANNA BE'S',  so don't be one of them follow your fellow patriotic Americans and serve your country as so many have before you.

   One of the more moving experiences in my life was visiting the W.W.II cemeteries in Europe-those rows and rows of thousands of crosses extending as far as the eye can see really brings home to you how many have given their lives for our freedom. If you have seen the movie 'Saving Private Ryan' you have experienced some of this, you can see an actual military cemetery at Ft McPherson right here in Nebraska.

   When they came back from war veterans seldom mentioned their experiences and I was one of them. We had fought for a life of freedom and then put war behind us to get on with living. The soldier's families never knew what they did in the war and that was a shame. That is why Mr. Sankey's interviews  that he and his classes are doing are so important to the veteran, his family and our nation. You can see those at the Heartland Miliary Museum.

   I have gotten involved with Vietnam veteran groups and individuals since the internet got going. I had not thought of Vietnam or talked to anyone about it for 30 years, now I have been meeting fellow veterans on the internet and this summer went to a reunion of Vietnam Gun Truckers at Ft Eustis, VA. 
It was a celebration of our survival and a new book a friend of mine had written about the gun trucks that protected our convoys.

   Meeting all the guys was great and sharing our experiences and stories was very good for all involved, many had not talked about it at all and it was a good release.

    I now do art work from the photos I took in Vietnam and just recently donated most of it to the Transportation Museum at Ft Eustis, Virginia-the home of the Transportation Corps. You can see it on display there.

    Locally, we have a group of veterans, who through their interest in restoring military vehicles have built that into the great museum that we have out on the interstate, the Heartland Military Museum. They have some of their vehicles here today for you to look at after school and will be in the parade today, I urge you to look at them and take your family out to the  parade and the museum.

   America has been lucky to not have a war on it's soil since the civil war, but since 9-11 that has all changed and the War on Terrorism began.
That is making veterans of us all

1Lt Jerry Barnes on convoy in his gun jeep in 1969
 The company patch for the 444 Transportation Company. 
A goat was a company mascot.
Jerry was TDY to Pleiku, helping move out part of the 4th Div in 
early 1970. He was promoted to Captain in the storage yard he ran. 
Bars were pinned to his T-shirt.
Capt Barnes outside his room in the BOQ at Qui Nhon HQ 
in downtown Qui Nhon.
1Lt Jerry Barnes arrived in Vietnam in August of 1969. He was assigned to the 8th Transportation Group, 27th Transportation Battalion, the 444 Transportation Company. He was assigned as a platoon leader.  The 444 hauled supplies from the port city of Qui Nhon west to An Khe and Pleiku, a city in the central highlands. It was the longest run for convoys in Vietnam. You went through two mountain passes on the way. An Khe pass was the first, as you wound your way up in low gear you were a prime candidate for ambush. The same was true of Mang Yang pass between the city of An Khe and Pleiku. That area was called 'ambush alley'.

Once he had learned good convoy techniques from an experienced Lt he started running his own convoys. They would have up to 75 trucks in them, with an armor plated gun truck inserted about every 10-15 trucks for convoy security. Jerry rode in an armor plated gun jeep with his radio and an M-60 machine gun. He would call in the checkpoints as he went by them, they were monitered by Battalion Ops so they knew where his convoy was at, in case he was ambushed.
Luckily he never was.

In December of 1969 he was transferred to Qui Nhon HQ to be in the R&D section that was in charge of sending back equipment for rebuild from the port. He got to go to the port quite a bit and see the operations there.

In January he volunteered to go to Pleiku to help ship out a unit of the 4th Infantry Division back to the states. He ran the storage yard and supervised the loading of the conexes and insuring they were packed properly. He also learned to drive the forklift, which he thought was great fun. He was promoted to Captain at this time.

In March, he went on R&R to meet his wife, Sylvia, in Hawaii. They spent most of their time on the quiet island of Molokai, which they enjoyed very much. Sylvia was going to school at the Universtity of Wyoming, where they met. It was quite a change for her to come from -40 temperatures to Hawaii's 75 degrees.

Jerry finished up his tour in Qui Nhon HQ, returning to the US in June of 1970. He retuned to the University of Wyoming at Laramie to get his teaching certificate and his Masters in Art. He was the art teacher in Lexington, Ne for 32 years.

444hq  The 444 was on a compound with other transportation companies(TC) They were up on the side of a hill, overlooking the rest of the compound. Quite a row of steps to get up to them.
 Here is a overview of the compound Jerry was located at. Gives an idea of how many troops were over there. There were several compounds just like this nearby. 
This chapel was right behind the 444 buildings.
Here is a view of the 444 motor pool and the buildings.
The officers that Jerry served with. L-R are Lt Lynn Wheeler, 
Cpt Perry the C.O., Lt Tony Scarpino and Lt Jerry Barnes.
The 444 had a goat as the company mascot, which everyone hated! It is also on the company patch. 
The trucks would pick up their loads at the ammo dump, supply dump or the port and meet at the TTP(Trailer Transfer Point) The convoy commander would walk through and make sure there 
were no flat tires-usually one was found. He would give a briefing, then kick out the convoy 
with a gun truck inserted every 10-15 trucks.
Picture by Gary Petruska of the 444
Here are the gun trucks of the 444 all lined up and ready to go. They had check fired their weapons on the
hillside by the TTP. Weapons were M-60 machine guns(7.62 caliber), .50 Caliber Machine Guns and MiniGuns
from helicopters that fired up to 6000 rounds per minute.
Jerry would see this old temple on the hill every day he went out on convoy, it was just past the
intersection of the North South Highway QL-1 and the East West Highway QL-19 that went to 
Pleiku. At the end of his tour he finally got up there to take a lot of pictures.
This was a sight he almost always saw every morning also, was this old man with his water
buffalo in the rice patty. He later did a painting of the scene, see his painting web page for
this and other paintings from these and other pictures he took.
One of the small villages on the flatlands between Qui Nhon and the An Khe pass
All the bridges were fortified, to keep them from being blown up. They were also numbered,
as they were a checkpoint that Jerry would call in so they knew where his convoy was at. 
Convoys would have up to 75 trucks, so they would be spread out a long ways. 
There was a gun jeep in the lead that called in the checkpoints also.
Picture by Gary Petruska of the 444
This picture gives you an idea of how long a convoy could stretch out, you
tried to maintain 100 meters between trucks.
Picture by Gary Petruska of the 444
Here is the infamous Mang Yang pass, nicknamed 'Ambush Alley' 
by the drivers. It was between the city of An Khe and Pleiku. 
It had a very tight hairpin curve which was the site of many wrecks and ambushes.
Picture by Gary Petruska of the 444
Here is another view of Mang Yang pass and it's defoliated trees. They streched back about 1/2 mile from the road. The engineers would bulldoze the areas near the road to keep the vegetation down.
This shows the winding way up An Khe pass, note the defoliated trees that were sprayed with Agent Orange to kill them so the soldiers could see the enemy. The light spot is Pump Station #6,
another check point that was called in by the convoy commander.
Picture by Gary Petruska of the 444
 Snoopy was a gun truck in the 444, with the cartoon character on the side. Charles Schultz, the mild mannered cartoonist would have been shocked to see Snoopy on an instrument of war.
A matching gun truck in the 444 for Snoopy was the Red Baron, painted by Wayne Dobos, who took this picture.
It was named after the popular song of the time 'Snoopy and the Red Baron'. 
Many gun trucks were named after popular songs/groups/movies/tv shows of the times.
The convoys would reassemble at Checkpoint 88 on the East edge of Pleiku. 
This is a photo of it with Jerry's gun jeep parked there.
There were lots of 'Coke Girls' to sell things to the drivers. Jerry did a color pencil drawing 
of this scene, and a silk screen for a T-shirt he wears.
A market in An Khe, that the convoys went through daily on Hwy QL-19 to Pleiku. Jerry did 
a painting from this B&W photo that he took with his small 'spy' camera.
Pleiku was a city in the Central Highlands and a staging area out to smaller bases and compounds.
We sometimes ran convoys on thru it down to Bam Me Thout on an overnite stay. 
Note the small Lambretta buses and motorcycles, you saw these everywhere in Vietnam.
Picture by Gary Petruska of the 444
This shows how you would have a convoy going in each direction, there were several 
a day to Pleiku or An Khe. Here you see a gun jeep leading one.
Picture by Gary Petruska of the 444
This gun truck with an APC(Armored Personnel Carrier) shell was Jerry's favorite gun truck, due to
the cobra painted on the side and the name King Cobra. These gun trucks were quite top heavy 
and had to be driven with care. He made a model of it a few years ago.
Picture by Gary Petruska of the 444
Here is a mini gun in the gun truck Frustration of the 444.
Some gun trucks ended up with 4 or more miniguns.
When monsoon hits, it rains a LOT. We had to cancel convoys for about two days. 
An overview of Qui Nhon and the harbor taken from the mountain above. 
The 'x' marks where Jerry's compound was located.
As you can see Pleiku was a dusty place, look at his boots.
In Pleiku Jerry was in charge of the storage yard and making sure the COnexes were packed properly for shipment.
He learned how to run a forklift very well and enjoyed it very much! 
Jerry in his usual uniform in the storage yard. This is what he was wearing when
he was promoted to Captain, the bars were pinned to his t-shirt.
When Jerry was stationed at Qui Nhon HQ he lived in this BOQ(bachelor officer quarters). 
He was on the second floor. One of the jeeps parked there was his to drive-he had to get special
permission from the General-officers aren't supposed to drive, but they were short in his office.
Sunday was usually a day off in the HQ unit. Here Jerry is in his usual sunglasses.
Jerry drank a lot of beer in Vietnam, here he is working on his beer belly in his BOQ room. 
Note the stereo in the footlocker on the wall behind him. 
Jerry took a slide of this scene with his new camera, note the improved detail and contrast.
He later did a painting from this picture.
Jerry bought Syliva some of the Vietnamese clothing for a
Christmas present. She is wearing an Ao-Dai.
Here Sylvia is reading a letter from Jerry. They saved their letters they wrote, a big mistake! 

Jerry made this scratch board for a Vietnam Vet friend, he was on it for several tours in Vietnam.
Jerry did a gold scratch board of the gun truck Brutus. One of it's crew members, gunner Larry G. Dahl,
 received the Medal of Honor for throwing himself on a grenade that was thrown into the truck.
The medal is shown draped around the truck. Jerry's model of Brutus is in the Transportation Museum at 
Ft. Eustis, VA, where his paintings now hang.
Nancy was a quad fifty gun truck on a deuce and a half chassis, in his company. Jerry drew this imaginary night scene.
Gun trucks were used as perimeter defense at night on the compounds. He has also made a model of it.
The silver scratch board is of Satans Chariot. He did it for a crew member that he met on the
internet and has since formed a strong friendship with. Jerry made the figures transparent to 
show how Vietnam Veterans are fading away, many of his friends have died from
Agent Orange and other causes related to the war.
Jerry bought a brick to be placed on the walkway out to the Memorial to Transportation Corps soldiers that 
lost their lives in Vietnam. The memorial is at the Transportation Corps Museum at Ft. Eustis, VA.
Buying the bricks was a fund raising project.
Jerry drew his gun jeep to be put on his brick. Some had their gun trucks on their brick.
Jerry's drawing of his gun jeep.

Archer Transfers Is putting out some decals from Jerry's
art work of the Red Baron and Little Respect on their site

This is a video of the Gathering in Pigeon Forge, TN August 4th. A Vietnam Transportation Corps reunion of the truckers of Vietnam and some of the replica Gun Trucks that have been made by guys of the gun trucks they were on in Vietnam. Some cost over $30,000 to create, with replica machine guns/etc.  Rich May shot the video, he was on the gun truck Iron Butterfly in Vientam. The gun trucks provided security for the convoys Jerry led.

Note the grill on Red Baron, here you see the outline of the bumper lettering, this would come and go over time. Little Respect was one of the gun trucks of the 444 Trans Co that Jerry was a member of during his tour in Vietnam.  Note the drivers name on the yellow nose of the truck, also take note of the grill.
Note the mud flaps that Wayne made. Red Baron also had all 3 differentials painted red-unusual detail! The large side graphics were based on current songs/artists/movies/tv shows of the time. Crews kept their trucks clean and painted many details, such as the grill, turn signals, bed hinges, mirrors,  etc. The trucks would change over time, as different crews took over.
 Red Baron was painted by Wayne Dobos, it was previously 'the Saint'. It was based on the song by the Royal Guardsman, 'Snoopy and the Red Baron'. Snoopy was also a 444 gun truck (see Jerry's model of it:)
 A picture of Red Baron after an ambush. The driver of the truck did survive, but had quite a shock.  Gary Nihart photograph.
 Here you can clearly see the Red Baron's mini-gun from a helicopter. Some gun trucks had 4 of them. The shot several thousand rounds a minute. The other mount you see is for a .50 caliber machine gun, which many gun trucks had, some in double mounts.

Return to Jerry's Garden Railway, The SCRR

Jerry's Jukebox

View Jerry's Paintings the he did of things
he saw while serving his tour of duty in Vietnam

Building a model Gun Truck

Building a Model Gun Trucks

Vietnam Transportation Association
Vietnam Transportation Association
Good web site if you are interested in
transportation in the Vietnam war

Vietnam Gun Trucks

Jerry's Model Ships

Jim Rose's Vietnam Poetry

'The Gathering' group on Facebook

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