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Mack People And Trucks Tackle The Eye Of A ‘Storm’


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Mack Supplies Desert Storm - Scours Nation To Fill Order For 48 Trucks To Haul Tanks To Front

January 30, 1991 / The Morning Call

Before Allied commander Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf ran his hurry-up offense at the start of Operation Desert Storm, Mack Trucks Inc. completed a speedy delivery of 48 tank hauling trucks to the U.S. Army.

The RD800 trucks, one of Mack's most powerful, are being used to transport 70-ton M-1A1 Abrams tanks to the front lines, where they await the start of a crucial ground battle.

Without the vehicles, each worth about $80,000, the tanks would be forced to travel as far as 200 miles across the rugged desert terrain of Saudi Arabia.

The order, which the Allentown company announced yesterday, is somewhat short of a $40 million Army order for 500 tank hauling trucks that a union newsletter reported on Dec. 17.

That deal "fell through" because Mack wasn't able to produce the tank haulers by the Army's delivery deadline of Jan. 10 -- five days before the United Nation's deadline for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to pull out of Kuwait, sources close to the company said.

But on Dec. 21, the Army contacted Mack and asked for 48 RD800 vehicles that Mack and its dealers had in stock.

Again, the deadline was Jan. 10.

"We found ourselves in the middle of a very real emergency," said Sam Carr, Mack's manager of international accounts. "Rather than risk missing our deadline, we decided to complete the order by pulling the RD800s from dealer inventories.

"To accomplish this, of course, we needed the cooperation of our dealers."

Carr scoured North America and founded what the Army wanted.

Worldwide Equipment Inc. of Prestonsburg, Ky., sent 19 trucks; South Kentucky Mack of Somerset, Ky., sent 18; Knoxville Mack of Knoxville, Tenn., sent eight, and M.A. Caribbean Corp. of Caguas, Puerto Rico, sent one.

The remaining two were found in Mack's inventory -- one each from Mack Used Truck and Mack Canada.

The trucks, which had been outfitted for coal hauling, were then delivered to Lehigh Consolidated Industries Inc. in Stockertown for modification.

With help from Mack's purchasing and engineering departments, LCI installed fifth wheels and trailer brake packages.

"Purchasing facilitated the paper work to get things rolling, while engineering worked around the clock to make certain all the pieces were properly matched," Carr said.

Mack then had Trailer Design and Engineering of Kansas City design and oversee the production of 16.5-ton military-specified trailers.

Production was done by Landoll Corp. of Marysville, Kan., and Kalyn Inc. of Gatesville, Tex., whose employees volunteered to work overtime through Christmas and New Year's to meet the Army's need.

Carr said that it normally takes a week to manufacture one such trailer. Landoll and Kalyn each completed an order for 24 trailers in less than three weeks.

With the tank haulers in place, Carr's logistical headache turned into a nightmare when the Army notified Mack that delivery had been changed from Bayonne, N.J., on Jan. 10 to a day earlier in Jacksonville, Fla. Mack's caravan was rerouted.

The Mack tank haulers are now eight time zones away -- and combat ready.

Mr. Nikolas Steel-Jessop, an Allentown-based consultant for Mack and former service engineer with Mack International, has joined the troops to assist in driver and maintenance training, Carr said.

"Throughout this century, Mack people and Mack trucks have served our country in times of crisis," Carr said. "It's nice to know that despite today's economic hardships, the Mack spirit is alive and well."


Mack's contract with U.S. government to make trucks for gulf is put on hold
December 22, 1990 / The Morning Call
ALLENTOWN,PA. — Mack Trucks Inc. has come close to being drafted into Operation Desert Shield, sources close to the company said yesterday.

The U.S. government has been talking with the Allentown-based truck-maker about a $40 million contract for 500 tank-hauling trucks with high-powered E-9 V8 engines, the sources said.pixel.gif

Delivery was originally set for Jan. 10 -- five days before the U.N. deadline for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to pull his troops out of Kuwait.

But the deal is now on hold because Mack wasn't able to produce the tank haulers in such a short time, the sources said.

"They wanted them faster than we could make them," a union official said yesterday. "Right now, it's up in the air."

Mack officials said yesterday there was no deal.

Army officials in Washington said they were looking into the contract and had no further information.

Employees were informed of the possible deal Monday when United Auto Workers union officials and Mack's top management met at Mack's Allentown world headquarters, according to the Unity News, a UAW newsletter handed out to about 700 employees Thursday at Mack's assembly plant in South Carolina.

During the meeting, Elios Pascual, Mack's chairman and chief executive officer, told Bill Casstevens, UAW secretary-treasurer, that the company had received "confirmation" on an order for the 17,000-pound tractors, the union newsletter said.

Work on the high-powered V8 engines and transmissions would be done at Mack's 1,500-worker power-train plant in Hagerstown, Maryland.

The trucks would be assembled at the 750-employee Macungie, Pennysylvania plant, which was to prepare a special line for their production.

Mack subsequently told writers for the union newsletter Thursday that the deal was off, according to a Mack spokesman.

But truck industry experts said Mack, like no other truck-maker, would have the capacity to make large tank haulers quickly because it is the only U.S. truckmaker that still makes its own engines and transmissions rather than hiring subcontractors.

"The RD800 models used as tank haulers are super big," said Jim Winsor, executive editor of Heavy Duty Trucking magazine. "They are also used to haul logs in Canada and coal in our Appalachian states. They are the backbone of the off-highway business."

Throughout Mack's 80-year history, the company's vehicles have maintained a reputation for ruggedness.

It was the Mack AC model that the English nicknamed "the bulldog" during its use in France during World War I.

In World War II, Mack specialized in military vehicles, including the 6-ton NM 6x6, 7.5-ton NO 6x6, 10-ton NR 6x4 and 5-ton NJU1 4x4 tactical trucks.

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I recall this event as if it was yesterday. Every member of the Mack family was filled with pride. Given a chance to contribute, this event demonstrated how close-knit the Mack family was.

For us, this was personal. Mack Trucks personified the values upon which our country was built. If one can't depend on Mack Trucks to come through for America in time of need.........then what's left? After all, America itself was built on the backs of Mack trucks. No other truckmaker can say that.

I can't describe with words how proud we were of our organization.

Zenon C.R. Hansen, who had passed on a year earlier, would have been proud too.

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  • 3 years later...
  • 1 year later...
On 5/30/2017 at 8:49 AM, Mitslplik said:

It looks like it's been a few years since this post but I just wanted to say "thanks!" to everyone at Mack & anyone who had a hand in making this happen. I was a driver of one of those trucks with a Kalyn trailer. My unit put them all to good use! I've driven many a Mack since then as a civilian but those were beasts! I saw one or two broken trailer axles but don't recall the trucks ever giving us any trouble. 

Do any of the moderators or admin have a way to get in touch with Mitslplik? I could send him a PM but he hasn't been on the site since the above post. 

Owning one of these Desert Storm Macks, I'd love to have so more info of his time in theater. Mine is painted white now, but was originally blue. I'd also like to see any more pics anybody has to see if I can spot my truck. 

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