February 10, 2005

New Orleans Odyssey: A Man, A Plan, and a Deuce and a Half

Texas to New Orleans and Back: The Truck That Could

HE DECIDED TO NOT JUST SIT AROUND: Lone Star MVPA - ('05 Hurricane Katrina Experience). One Man's Account from "The Lone Star Military Vehicle Preservation Association"


[Getting There] I am sitting at home in air-conditioned comfort, watching a disaster of biblical proportions unfold on the idiot box in the corner. I am a man of action, not talk - always have been and always will be. What action could I take? How could I personally make a difference to what was going on?....

I personally own an ex-army vehicle called an M35A2, better known as a deuce and a half. It is 30 years old, has ten driven wheels and is still camouflaged in its original paint scheme. All 3 axles are driven and it is one of the best all-wheel drive off road vehicles in existence. It also has a large cargo bed, with a 5 ton load carrying capacity. Perfect for getting large quantities of food and water into remote areas with difficult terrain....

I dusted off my old camouflage uniform. A bit tight around the middle, but acceptable. This should get me through roadblocks. My next fear was that the news was reporting widespread looting and general mayhem. I did not want my truck, food or water hijacked, so what to do? I loaded my .45 caliber H&K semi-automatic pistol, some extra magazines of ammunition, and buckled on a shoulder holster in plain sight. I did not plan on shooting people. I planned on staying alive....

[Being There] Have you ever seen any of the zombie horror movies like Dawn of the Dead? That's what these people looked like. They were filthy, standing around in two's and three's and I have never seen so much blank confusion in people's eyes. Still, they thanked us and went about whatever it was they were doing. When we got to the remains of Joe's house, he was sitting on the ground where his front door had been. He was cradling his dead dog in his arms and weeping.....

Remember, I am in an obvious military vehicle albeit retired from current inventories, in uniform and armed. Over the next couple of days I was waved through more than 100 roadblocks, even those manned by regular Army Military Police. I did not feel guilty of deception because I was not rubbernecking; I was helping those in need. As I traveled further East along highway 90, I began to see more and more large white vehicles with huge satellite dishes on the roofs. Ah, the esteemed members of the press. The vehicles were clumped into groups and formations reminiscent of wagon trains in the wild west movies. What is the correct name for a large number of vultures on a corpse?.....

I knew New Orleans would be bad, but honestly, I had no idea. The roadblocks were no problem, just waved on through. Although the damage in New Orleans was enormous, it was very different than Mississippi, completely flooded, but most buildings were standing.....

My plan was to find a food distribution center, load up as much food and water as I could scrounge, head into the residential areas and get the food and water to people whom, for whatever reason, refused to evacuate the city. The police loaded my truck at the first center, stuffed in as much as would fit, even filled up the passenger side of the cab. T hey pointed me South and warned me that some residents were hostile, but no one volunteered to ride shotgun.

The plan fell apart as soon as I stopped. I opened the tailgate and was mobbed. People began snatching cases of MRE's and water with not a lot of restraint. No problem, go right ahead. This way, I didn't even have to lift a single box. Some of the stronger young men actually got up into the truck and helped unload. As I was closing the tailgate, I noticed that one of my mobility bags was unzipped. I climbed in and checked it. All of my prescription drugs were missing! That really, really sucks. Within 36 hours, my blood pressure would skyrocket and I'd have no way to reduce it....

Wheeeee, an angry bee went by followed by a loud deep boom. Wheeee, boom again. CRAP! I've heard that before. Some son-of-a-bitch was shooting at us. I dropped and looked right. There were two men standing waist high behind a pile of scrap metal about 75 yards away. One had his arms up and was pointing at me. Everything went slo-mo and someone behind began to scream. My .45 was out and I was squeezing the first shot....

Posted by Vanderleun at February 10, 2005 8:11 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

This is absolutely amazing.

I missed a chance at acquiring a multi-fuel deuce and a half many years back. I regret letting the chance slip by.

He's one hell of a sheepdog.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 10, 2005 9:34 AM

Gerard. Glad to see you found this too. I linked to Rivrdog's post at Smoothingplane. It deserves wide acclaim.

Posted by: Kerry at September 10, 2005 8:49 PM

Good on ya,gov. More people like you would make this a better world.

Posted by: Larry Knudson at September 12, 2005 9:39 AM