Not the Top just the Big Wheel
You had to be there to understand but back in the day you could call the First Sergeant just about anything except “Top” or “Sir”. One might get you on extra duty while the other would get you a reprimand or gentle reminder “Lieutenant I call you Sir!” I was taught early on that the first name of an officer was “Sir”.
In an army transportation company the First Sergeant (1SG) was the ranking enlisted soldier who advised the company commander, and ran the company but it was the Truckmaster who ran motor pool operations and received all tasking from battalion and higher headquarters and issued commitments to the line platoon sergeants who then assigned drivers and vehicles.
I spent my entire career in army transportation in Southeast Asia and Panama and stateside during the Vietnam War. Sometimes my assignments were in the support platoon of a combat arms unit, occasionally I went into the Army Transportation Office as supervisor of the Household Goods section or at one time as a Military Customs Inspector. Once I became an army recruiter, then an instructor at an army service school where we trained drivers of various branches of the DOD.
I have flown on various types of Army, Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force aircraft and have rode the rails on a military train returning from a training exercise and I have gone on friends and family cruises on USN and JSDF vessels. Each reminds me the virtues of having my feet planted firmly behind the steering wheel of an army VIP sedan, bus or tractor trailer. The real highlight of my career was becoming the “big wheel” – Truckmaster, first in an army line haul petroleum transport company at Fort Carson, Colorado, and then my final assignment was as the Truckmaster of the Army Transportation Motor Pool at Yokohama’s North Dock in Japan.
There were times as Truckmaster my unit was alerted for deployment into a hostile combat zone. That entailed identifying serviceable equipment to be deployed and coordinating with the First Sergeant about company assets being deployed.
Other times it was on a Corp level training exercise in Japan where aircraft, bus and passenger traffic had to be coordinated at the training site for redeployment back to their home stations. Sometimes it meant getting behind the wheel of a transport van, while other times it meant gathering necessary assets to make the deadline. Regardless of the assignment I was always a military trucker and forever more – I am the real Truckmaster!