OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) – It was a bittersweet moment for Roger Blink when he got to see a replica of the Brutus military vehicle at the Military Veterans Museum and Education Center in Oshkosh.
Vietnam War soldiers who were tasked with protecting convoys relied on the gun trucks because it was often their only protection. Blink and his crew manned Brutus to haul fuel and supplies to fellow soldiers.
“You have to do what you have to do to stay alive, and this truck did it,” Blink said. “A lot of guys owe their lives to gun trucks like Brutus and the many others.”
The convoys were constantly ambushed along the way, said David Kersztyn of the Military Veterans Museum and Education Center. The trucks were used to protect the convoys and save the lives of drivers.
The version on display at the Oshkosh museum is a replica. They weren’t manufactured by the military, but instead were built out of desperation by the crews that ran them.
“This truck was built from material that we begged, borrowed, or stole, or traded for,” Blink said.
Crews then mounted steel plates onto the doors and sides to protect crew members who took over at the wheel, or who hopped on top, standing on ammunition boxes while firing at the enemy.
“They learned on the fly what armor they needed and how to best protect the convoys,” Kersztyn said.
Brutus helped inspire the creation of modern armed vehicles, like the MRAP that it is stationed near at the museum.
Blink left the war not knowing if he would ever see a gun truck ever again.
“At that time, I was hoping I wouldn’t, but it’s always been a dream of mine to build it,” he said.