Carrying the Water

When I posted the photos of the little US Army compound that was located within the Thai Army Base that again was just a few klicks down the road from the Udorn Air Base, I remembered an incident that scared the heck out of me.

There was no potable water on the army compound and all the enlisted soldiers below E-5 were required to make water runs in a deuce and a half tanker truck that held at least 1000 gallons. I didn’t have my regular duty at the communications site this particular day so I was ‘volunteered’ to make the water run to town. I received about 15 minutes of training on the vehicle, how to shift, brake, fill the water tank, etc..

It is bad enough driving a vehicle with the steering wheel on the left side when you drive on the left side of the road as in Thailand, but this vehicle is huge and blind spots all over the place with the tank on back. After picking up my load I headed back to the compound alone driving this big green monster with 8000 pounds of water on board.

 I got to within a couple miles of the compound and a samlar driver swerved out in front of me and I slammed on the brakes and the pedal went to the floor with no resistance and absolutely no slowing down. I turned the truck to the right as much as I thought I could without losing control, forced the transmission into second gear, and operated the emergency brake. The water shifted a lot back and forth, the engine screamed (me too!), but I was able to avoid the samlar driver and passenger and bring the vehicle to a stop some distance down the road. I drove the truck in low first gear the rest of the way using the e-brake when necessary.

That was my first and last water run.

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