Erwin Massengale’s tank might have been the only one in Vietnam wearing a set of longhorns on its bow, but what else would you expect from a Texas Marine?
The Beeville Texas native served in the 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, Third Tank Battalion as a tank commander supporting the Marines at Khe Sahn. His vehicle, “The Lonely Bull,” sported a set of water buffalo horns, which though not exactly Texas longhorns, were the next best thing for a country boy stationed in a war zone halfway around the world.
The jungle terrain and guerrilla warfare of Vietnam did not lend itself to the widespread use of tanks as in World War I and World War II, but in the numbered hills around Khe Sahn where the United States Marines fought a protracted and deadly battle, Massengale and his comrades provided support that – as his video interview proves – could mean the difference between life and death for American troops. This battleground would proved to be one of the most deadly in United States Marines history: 205 Marines were killed and hundreds wounded, and unofficial records place the death toll closer to 500. Whatever the number, it was at least one less than it would have been, thanks to the actions of a tank driver called Tex.