Letter spurs Army memories

I was delighted to read the Feb. 25 letter praising the U.S. Army Transportation Corps’ “Red Ball” operations in World War II (“Remember Red Ball Express”). These troops truly were unsung heroes.

I had the good fortune of being the commanding officer of the 76th Transportation Company, a heavy truck operation stationed in Orléans, France, during the Cold War. The 76th was a highly decorated, old Red Ball outfit that had run fuel, ammo and other supplies from the coast inland to supply our fast-moving combat troops at the front. It operated until the late 1950s.

Although they were not in danger of buzz bombs, as your writer stated (the Londoners got those!), they did haul ordnance through France and into Germany under constant attacks by Nazi ground and air forces. Their primary armaments were .30-caliber carbines, .45-caliber “grease guns” and one .50-caliber machine gun mounted on every third or fourth vehicle. Pretty puny protection!

You point out that the manpower were primarily black soldiers. In the ’50s my outfit was about 50 percent black, 25 percent Hispanic and the rest were various backgrounds. When I first met and introduced myself to them, assembled, and announced I was from Augusta, Ga., there was an audible groan!

We developed a very strong relationship in a very short time, however, and ended up leading the NATO parades in our area. Good, honest performance was rewarded and failure punished. I never had a racial incident or heard a slur in my time served with these guys!

Would that our city government could function in this manner the way our mixed bag did back in the ’50s.

George Sheftall

Augusta

Remember Red Ball Express

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