Using a Mule in theatre

hwcurtice

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So, while my son and I were at the Arlington Fly-in last month, we came across a Mule on display in Camp Adams. Talking a bit to the guy that owned it, I think, he mentioned that these made so much noise that the soldiers in the field were instructed to carry them when they were on patrol as to not alert the enemy that they were around. He never did fire it up, as far as I could tell.

I'm guessing they carried them when empty. Once loaded up, they may have been a tad too heavy for a patrol to carry and be on watch.

Does anyone have evidence of this to be true? True life experience? I just think it was an interesting note to how equipment is used vs how it was designed.
 

clinto

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They carried a 900 lb mule?


That story sounds iffy to me.
 

hwcurtice

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That's why I asked if anyone had actual experience with this in the field.

I mean, if this guy was just yanking our collective chains, and I really hope he wasn't, I would like to know.
 

M813rc

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I guess we need a 'chain being yanked" icon now... :)

First question, why would you take a Mule on a patrol?

Second, if you were carrying a Mule around, that is pretty much all you would be thinking of or looking at while stumbling and crashing about the place, which would pretty much negate the patrol's value, unless your goal was to have the enemy giggling at you.

Cheers

PS: Qualifications for commenting- formerly Marine Infantryman back when the Mule was in service.
 
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hwcurtice

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Okay, so I'm not really sure what they used the Mules for, besides, in places of well, mules.

Maybe saying out on patrol was incorrect.

I'll go do a Google on them and see what i can find.

Found this: U.S. Military M274 Truck, Platform, Utility 1/2 Ton, 4X4 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The M274 Mule was introduced in 1956 to supplement both the 1/4 ton trucks ("Jeeps") and 3/4 ton trucks (Weapons Carrier Series and M37 series) in airborne and infantry battalions. The M274 evolved from improvements to a vehicle designed at the end of World War Two by Willys-Overland as a medical evacuation litter carrier from areas and terrain that would even be a problem for its famous Jeep to access. Further tests by the US Army at Eglin Field, Florida proved it also useful as carrier for both supplies and men. In 1948 the US Army purchased a small number of these test vehicles with the designation the Jungle Burden Carrier for evaluation in jungle warfare and with airborne forces. [1] There were 11,240 Mules produced between their introduction and 1970, when production ceased. They were used throughout as platforms for various weapons systems and for carrying men, supplies, and weaponry/ammunition during the Vietnam War and in other U.S. military operations until the 1980s. As a completely open and exposed vehicle, they offered absolutely no protection to the driver, yet that was relatively unimportant as they were mainly used as cargo carriers and medium-range infantry support vehicles, rather than close-combat anti-infantry vehicles. They were phased out from military usage in the 1980s with the introduction of the HMMWV series vehicles. The HMMWV was, however, unable to fulfill the role of the Mule, so the M-Gator, a military variant of the popular John Deere Gator vehicle, was introduced.

Further on:
The M274 Mules were often outfitted with a wide array of weaponry, especially in the Vietnam War. They could be modified to carry virtually any type of conventional weapon that could be mounted on a truck. Most commonly, the M274 was outfitted with:

  • M60 7.62 mm NATO light machine guns
  • M2HB .50 Caliber machine guns
  • 106 mm Recoilless Rifles
  • TOW anti-tank missile systems
So if they weren't used really 'in the field' why would they need the closer action weapons? This is what confuses me.


And yes, carrying these around would be a hardship on any group of men. So, my chain is officially yanked, as I can find no info on this actually happening.
 

gunboy1656

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My dad took the wheels off our mule to go get changed. The guy he took them to said he just got out of the Army from Ft Drum and they have one they still run use that is not on any ones property books.

I think it was just DH running out for more parts.
 

319

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My dad took the wheels off our mule to go get changed. The guy he took them to said he just got out of the Army from Ft Drum and they have one they still run use that is not on any ones property books.

I think it was just DH running out for more parts.
DH running out for more parts (beer) in his Mule.
 

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majorhitt

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They were used in combat, the Marines used them at Khe Sahn with the 106. This was an on the base use. They were used in the streets of Hue, again with the 106 RR. Sorry I don't have any pictures.
 

AceHigh

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I trained on the 106 at Ft Polk, but did not really see them in weapons use in VN. I was infantry but the last 2 months of my tour I became a field cook and we had one assigned to the kitchen. I grabbed it every time I heard a helicopter approaching, nothing but pure fun to drive. Wish I had one now!

Anyway, the captain would have had to be really really mad at us to make us carry one into the field. They would not go where we went anyway.
 

cbvet

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The only place I personally saw Mules used in Vietnam, was at ammo dumps. Phu Bai & Danang in particular.
There were trailers about the same size as the Mule. They'd hook a bunch together to form a "wagon train", then drive around the dump "picking" your order, for smaller lots of ammo.
For pallets of ammo they used big forklifts and/or flatbed trucks.
 

flibob

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Saw lots of mules when flying into firebases in Vietnam. I doubt that any went outside the wire though. Great machine to carry ash and trash around a small area.
 

F18hornetM

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They were used in combat, the Marines used them at Khe Sahn with the 106. This was an on the base use. They were used in the streets of Hue, again with the 106 RR. Sorry I don't have any pictures.

I also saw them on tv at the battle of Hue, firing a recoiless rifle down a street.
I used one in Cuba in the early 80's with 2 wire reels mounted on it for pulling comm wire. Pretty fun to drive really.
 

AIE1

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I saw them on every fire base I was on in RVN and the 82nd Abn Infantry Bn's had motor pool's full of them. Back in the 70's the 4.2 mortar platoon's had them as their only way to haul those big xss mortar's. For getting C-rats and ammo back inside the fire base after the helio's sling loaded that stuff in, they were invaluable!
 

FrankUSMC

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My first CO was Col. Chistmas (later BG Christmas) he talked about useing them in the battle for Hue. His account and the one on the history channel are almost the same.
One of the few, Frank USMC RET
 

Titanium Soldier

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Well, heres my account from the young kid. They have one still in use At Edwards AFB that they use to move stuff around the RV yard for the outdoor recreation office, and another at the horse stables for hay and whatnot, so they still are somewhat using them in the military! I just wish i had one on the flightline!
 

jaxsof

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We have put weapons on every type of vehicle fielded. In response to the OPs question, I believe that the patrol was glad their crew served weapon wasn't mounted to a 5-ton. It would have been a bear to carry around! But seriously, truck mounted weapons werent a practical infantry patrol member. It is kinda difficult to sneak around in the brush with a running engine. Even a weed-eater in the woods cant be made to sound like it belongs there! Mules were effective off-road, but as supply and extract vehicles. Mule-mounted weapons were used for protecting the wire and routes (roads).
 
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