|Special Orders Number 152, MACV, 12 June 1965. (Document courtesy Richard P. Clark, Jr. Collection)|
|Brigadier General John D. Crowley, U.S. Army. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)|
Brigadier General John Denis Crowley, Jr., US Army, was the MACV assistant chief of staff for logistics (J-4), the principal staff officer responsible for all ammunition, construction, supply, maintenance, medical services, petroleum, and transportation in South Vietnam. J-4 had three divisions in June 1965: the Material and Services Division, the Office of the Deputy for ARVN Military Assistance, and the Transportation Division. The Transportation Division was itself made up of three staff branches: Advisory Branch, Transportation Staff Branch, and Movements Branch. Crowley’s staff had commenced one of the largest logistical buildups in history and found it difficult to accomplish its missions with existing personnel. The average workload per staff officer in J-4 had increased to eighty-four hours per week and Crowley needed experienced staff officers to meet MACV’s mushrooming logistical demands. J-4 began 1965 with forty-seven staff officers; by the end of the year, the staff section swelled to 342, the largest in the command.
|Major Lloyd Milburn, U.S. Army. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)|
When Crowley reviewed Clark’s personnel file, he noticed that Clark was a member of the unofficial airborne fraternity within the Army officer corps. The MACV commander, General William C. Westmoreland, was an airborne artilleryman and assembled a senior staff whose experience closely resembled his. Almost every key staff officer at MACV was an Army airborne officer, including the deputy commander, Lieutenant General John Throckmorton; the chief of staff, Brigadier General William B. Rosson; the J-1 (Personnel), Brigadier General Ben Sternberg; the J-3 (Operations), Brigadier General William DePuy; and Crowley. Westmoreland’s deputies in turn filled their division and branch staffs with airborne colonels and majors. Crowley requested Clark’s assignment to J-4. 
|Brigadier General William E. DePuy, left, the MACV J-3, and Lieutenant General John Throckmorton, right, the MACV deputy commander, confer. Note the airborne jump wings embroidered above each officer's US ARMY tape. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)|
|MACV II Headquarters, 606 Tran Hung Dao Street, Saigon, South Vietnam, 1965. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army)|
In World War II and Korea, the Army transported the vast majority of its supplies by railroad. In 1965, MACV in Vietnam moved only 30,201 tons of cargo on rail cars. The Vietnamese National Railway System (VNRS) was a rail network that connected the city of Hue to Saigon along a route that paralleled the South Vietnamese eastern coastline. It was, however, a railway system in name only. Its tracks were in disrepair, its roadbeds were unsafe in many places, the Viet Cong controlled and sabotaged its rights-of-way, and its rolling stock was an antiquated relic of early-twentieth century French colonialism. Moreover, the few operable sections of the VNRS were of limited value since they often led from nowhere to nowhere. Both the South Vietnamese government and MACV wanted to restore the VNRS for economic and military reasons. The most formidable obstacle to restoring the VNRS was the Viet Cong. The VC destroyed rails and bridges faster than MACV or the South Vietnamese government repaired them. Although Clark thought the VNRS was undependable and dangerous, the pressure to reduce MACV’s dependence on airlift and sealift compelled him to experiment with limited rail movement. In October 1965, US military cargo moved over the VNRS for the first time over short sections linking Saigon to Bien Hoa, Nha Trang to Phan Rang, and Da Nang to Hue. Maximum rail capacity at the end of 1965 was almost 1,000 tons of military cargo per week. By the time Clark left Vietnam in June 1966, the VNRS operated from Hue to Da Nang, Ninh Hoa to Nga Ba, Nga Ba to Thap Cham, Thap Cham to Dalat, and Xuan Loc to Saigon.