QuarterHorse Stories

THUNDER RUNS

As remembered by - Stewart L. Beall - Dragoon Charlie 26


The heroic "Thunder Run" is my dream and my nightmare. You can write about the Thunder Runs in your memoirs; however, someday, I am going to write, a novel, The Thunder Run, an allegory on life's challenges and "glory left unfinished". The significance will be broader than the question you asked. In this email I will attempt to address your question, but allude to the esoteric issues of "Life as a Thunder Run".

I originally thought "Thunder Run" came from the convoy protection from Lai Kay to Quan Loi because the Thunders 1 though 5 along 101 (?). But as I spent time with my platoon, the Thunder Run took on broader significance. A successful thunder run was very disciplined. Tanks led. If you looked at the laterite after a run, there was only one left track. All vehicles ran in the first tank's left track. The APCs right track was inside the leading tanks right track. This led to three tracks on unpaved roads, all the roads. The right and left track of the leading tanks and the right track of the leading APC. The purpose was to minimize setting off mines. The speed and spacing were important. If a vehicle was going fast enough, the mine might go off after the track passed it. Spacing was important to ensure only one vehicle would be damaged by a mine. Running the center of the road was important. Oncoming traffic, if any, had to get out of the way of the larger tanks. And more than once, Vietnamese died by pulling over and hitting mines to avoid being "crushed" by on combining tanks.

However, it was not a "true" Thunder Run if the road had already been swept by the engineers or run by another unit. The "Thunder Run" was and is the "ultimate" heroic endeavor. At times, the "Troops" wanted the risk. The Thunder Run was the ultimate risk. Could we go fast enough to have a mine explode behind the track; was the spacing correct, so a mine would harmlessly explode between vehicles. Were our "sphincters" strong enough to withstand the anticipation of potential "doom".

And life's " allegory", for me to this day, is the "Thunder Run" not taken. The road long abandoned by us; controlled by "jungle and the little people.
It is light and dark at the same time. And there is no return. Maybe glory on the journey, but not victory. The end is darkness, but joy in the journey. There is suffering and pain at the end, but ultimate exhilaration in the speed, the risk and the love of leaving "no stone" unturned.

Crazy, yes. But you asked about a Thunder Run. I took some, but avoided the ones that led to darkness. I sometimes dream of the " dark road not taken"; and I still look for the chance to redeem my self for being a survivor. It never ends: the speed, the dust, the diesel fumes, the risk, the end; but life travels on after the ones have moved out of the way and the body parts lay in the road. No troopers hurt, but the civilians have passed on to other places. Dragoon, Charlie, 26---Out Stewart L. Beall


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This page was last updated on 1 October 2006