The 5th Maintenance Battalion (Direct Support) was a key unit in the progress of the Vietnam War. The battalion was first a subordinate unit of other military organizations, units at higher levels in the overall order of battle. In addition there were units of which 5th Maintenance watched over and took care of, almost like a mother hen taking care of its chicks. The compounds where the units of 5th Maintenance did the work were constantly filled with vehicles and equipment that belonged to these units. Every day work was usually assigned an "04 priority" and we did that work steadily like someone working in a factory. But when there was an "02 priority" we stayed in the shop until it was done. That was the nature of our duty. So this section is about three types of units, the ones who were over us, the ones we supported, and we who did the actual work at ground level.
On the pages that follow it is a goal, as much as possible, to follow the format of a reference already in print. That reference is Vietnam Order of Battle: A Complete Illustrated Reference to U.S. Army Combat and Support Forces in Vietnam 1961-1973 (Stackpole Military Classics) by Shelby L. Stanton (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003). Much of the information provided here was found in that reference. However, there are also, more importantly, the first person accounts of the members of the units on the ground themselves. So when something is noted in RED font, that information is from one of those first person accounts. We are very thankful, for instance, for men like John T. Brown III, the former commander of the battalion's Hq & Main Support Company, for keeping us straight. His work and the work of others in putting together, for instance, the Battalion Order of Battle for the unit's web site, is a valuable resource. Somehow this project will be as accurate as can be and that will be accomplished in no short order because of the help of those who were there.
As much as was possible there are organizational charts to show how each of the units fit into the whole organization of the war effort. Accuracy has been attempted here as well. But the conduct of war by its very nature dictates that the commanders on the ground be constantly flexible, changing their units to fit the current needs of those fighting the enemy. Therefore, when a source, either official document or first person account, is not readily available, standard references will be utilized to provide a generic structure for the unit in question. This will at least provide a general understanding on how everything fit together. One of the primary references available for that purpose, and as close to the Vietnam era context as possible, is United States Army Field Manual 29-22 Maintenance Battalion and Company Operations (Nondivisional) dated 26 July 1968. This reference is currently available on the internet at this location.
A table will be forthcoming that lists the various units and where they fit in. Until then the following are examples of how the Stanton format will be utilized.
Unit 01: 5th Maintenance Battalion (Direct Support)
Unit 02: 560th Light Equipment Maintenance (LEM) Company (Direct Support [DS])
Comments/suggestions/questions are always welcome. Please use the battalion email discussion list or email me directly - firstname.lastname@example.org
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