Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The 3360th Quartermaster Truck Company, originally Company D of the 2639th Quartermaster Truck Battalion, was created in 1942 by drawing troops and officers from anti-aircraft units stationed in North Africa, to meet an emergency need for highway transportation to support the Allied advance East across North Africa. The reassigned troops and officers received no training in their new duties, but were instead immediately dispatched to the front with vital supplies. The company continued operations through North Africa, and on into Sicily and Italy. While in Italy, Elmer H. Puchta, previously assigned to the company as a platoon commander, took command.
Puchta instituted a number of changes designed to make maintenance and operations in the company more efficient. He was blessed with a great deal of independence in his command, which allowed him to make such changes with little to no interference from superiors. These changes helped the company operate smoothly in support of the invasion of Southern France, known first as Operation Anvil and later as Operation Dragoon.
In contrast to those units broken up to serve as part of the Red Ball Express in Northern France, the 3360th Quartermaster Truck Company remained intact throughout the advance across France. This continuity fostered unit cohesion and enhanced morale. Post war analysis of Quartermaster Truck units indicates most did not perform well, but the 3360th was an exception, collecting accolades and racking up impressive records for maintenance and operations.
The success of the 3360th can be linked to the general quality of the troops assigned, its longevity and continuity as a unit, and Puchta' s leadership. The anti-aircraft troops were generally of a higher quality than most assigned to Quartermaster duties, by virtue of the Quartermaster Corps' low place in the Army's assignment process. The long service with minimal personnel disruption allowed the 3360th to develop a unit "soul" that fostered achievement, and allowed individual troops to become proficient at their individual duties. Puchta' s leadership took advantage of these positive factors, and overcame the lack of formal training in Quartermaster duties. His willingness to innovate, deep concern for his troops, and measured discipline were crucial to the unit's success.
The operations and leadership of support units is not as widely studies as those of combat units. Such studies are of great value to both the historian and the professional warrior in understanding military leadership.
Weller, Grant T., "Keep the Flyin' Eight Balls Rollin': Military Leadership in the 3360th Quartermaster Truck Company" (1998). Theses and Dissertations. 3350.