Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lots of names….

   I had a friend tell me to try to list all the people you were associated with while stationed in Germany.  Spelling may not be accurate because it has been a lot years.  I’ll try to list them and what I can remember about them.  Some have been mentioned earlier. So here goes:

   Major Dexter W. Adams.  He was executive office of the 5th RTMO when I arrived. He later was transferred to Stuttgart Post transportation office.  I think he was originally from New England. Later served at the Military Academy and died in 1992 in Indianapolis.

   Lt. Col. Polumbo. Commanding Office of 5th RTMO when I arrived. Left shortly after and was replaced by Lt. Col. Lawrence H. Alexander. He was originally from New York and was pretty hard nosed but honest and treated all personnel he liked with respect. If he didn’t like you, you moved on.

   Corporal Blair. Originally from San Jose, CA area. He was about 45 years old. He had been in the Army a lot of years and was apparently busted.  He was there long before he was transferred somewhere. His girl friend was a reporter for Stars and Stripes.  Jack D. Compton.  I think he was from Portsmouth, Ohio.  Was at Stuttgart then transferred to Kaiserslautern. Eugene Della Rocca.  Was in Stuttgart then transferred to Grafenwohr.  I think he was from New York City or close by. I think his wife’s name was Sandra.

   SP4 Richard Dotson.  Worked in Personnel at the 594th.  He said he had been an Msgt E-8 and was busted in Berlin.  He literally disappeared.  CID came and got all his belongings.  SP5 Donald A. Douglass.  Was stationed in Stuttgart when I arrived and then later transferred to Grafenwohr to run the TMO there. I believe his wife was German and named Mary Lou.  MSGT Eugene P. Duch.  Long time soldier and in charge of our personnel area. Originally from Detroit, MI. Had had stomach cancer and ate small quantities of food all day long.  Retired in June 1961. Died in Michigan in 1997.

   CAPT. Patrick Gorman.  CO of the Nuremburg office.  Well liked by all those who worked with him. Gave me a tour of the Hall of Justice and the court room where they held the Nuremburg trials.  1ST LT. Terrence G. Dunn. An ROTC officer that was transferred in to take over as OIC of operations about February 1963. Most of the men thought he was worthless. Quick to blame anyone else for a mistake. He was so bad that I asked Lt Col. Alexander to have an inventory of all classified documents and change the combinations so I wouldn’t be blamed for any lost documents.  Even the colonel didn’t like him. 

   SP4 Anthony Filigno. Originally from Seattle.  He left in 1961 during my first year there. Tony died in Seattle in 2009.  SP4 Stephen Fuchick.  Originally from Phildelphia. He left in 1961and died in 1972.  1ST LT. Harlen E. Gray. Admin Officer at 5th RTMO. Originally an Armored officer. Disciplined and respected. Made Captain.  Was told he came back years later as a Major in another unit. Died in San Antonio in 2005.  SGT David Lee Hunt.  Commo SGT. Married Ana Melendez- Garcia. She was the daughter of Joe who was also in the 594th.  I think he and Ana have both passed on.

   SFC. Robert ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins. Was NCOIC in the Munich TMO. Drove race cars and ferried cars for Mercedes.  MAJ. Clyde Johnson.  CO of the Munich TMO. SGT. Tom Lacy. Commo Sgt. Originally from New Jersey. We have stayed in touch all these years. Retired in Colorado. SFC Lake.  Not sure what he did but he left within weeks of my arrival. SP5 “Lucky” Lukowski. He was NCOIC of the operations when I arrived. Originally from Illinois.

   1ST LT. James L. May. Was Admin Officer after Capt Gray left. Nice gentleman who treated everyone with respect. Good officer. SSGT Jose Melendez-Garcia. Originally from Puerto Rico. Had served in Korea and had been a SFC until he was in an auto accident driving under the influence. Busted one rank to SSGT.  He and his wife Ena had three daughters. Ana, the oldest, married SGT Lee Hunt. PFC Jesse D. McCreary. Worked in the Munich Transportation Movement Office (TMO),

  PFC McDermott. Originally from New York.  Was transferred back to Walter Reed.  As far as I know he was still there when I got out 2 years later. SP4 Nussbaum.  Worked in personnel. Nice fellow. He came about the time I was leaving.  SP5 Manfred Schweitzer. He was in charge of the freight operation of the 5th RTMO. German born and grew up in Connecticut. Married to American gal and had two children.

  SSGT George Pellet.  Had been in the Army almost 25 years. Worked in the Nuremburg TMO.  Cocktails started early for George while he was waiting to complete his enlistment was up. Mike Samson from San Francisco.  Was in Stuttgart and then was transferred to France after I left the unit.  SP4 Yutaka “Rich” Seino. Rich was from the Los Angeles area.  I think he had a black belt in Judo.  Was only there a few weeks then transferred. Ray Verdugo was from the Los Angeles area.  I heard that he ended up a Los Angeles County Sheriffs deputy.

   I’m sure there were more just can’t remember any more at this point.  If you were there when I was there just leave a note.

Friday, July 12, 2013

NCO Club at Robinson Barracks

   For most of the time I was in Germany I tended bar part time at the NCO club at Robinson Barracks.  It was a pretty good job to have and it supported my habit of trying to see as much as I could while I was stationed there.  In fact most months I made more as a bar tender than I did as the NCOIC of the 5th RTMO.  I was an E-5 receiving pro-pay and my take home was around $130.00.  The worst month I had at the NCO club was about $110.00.

   If you really want to see the ‘underside’ or the real Army in the early 60’s just drop by any NCO or enlisted man’s club.  That was where you saw what people were like when drinks were cheap. Beer was only 25 cents and mixed drinks were 75 cents to a dollar. Some weekends I would ‘close’ on Saturday night and ‘open’ on Sunday morning. Same people both night and morning. Master Sgt. Peoples drank only Scotch and milk high balls at night (said he had an ulcer) and opened the bar with a beer and raw egg ‘floating’ in the beer. He was always waiting for me when I got to the bar at 0700.

   I don’t have any pictures of the building and there isn’t anything on line that I could find.  I do remember that is was just off the quad at Robinson Barracks.  After McKiernan hired me he said they usually had a fight each Saturday night. Part of our job was to call the MP’s and then stop the fight. Yeah, RIGHT.

   They also had some good professional entertainment, although just watching the soldiers and their dates was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wintershield II

   Below is a patch I found on line.  I have never seen it before and we sure didn’t get one for participating in the Wintershield II exercises.


Getting ready to head to Graf.  This was a normal occurrence each year when units went to Grafenwohr or a unit was being relocated to Passau for border duty.  Load the APC’s and/or tanks on rail cars for transport to the “field.”


I was told that the Wintershield II exercises cost the US government over a million dollars just in damages to farm land and buildings in small hamlets through out Bavaria.  The jeep below was just a minor problem.  Picture tanks in mud up to the top of their tracks and frozen in place!  We were following  tanks through a small town headed to Hohenfels when one made a wide turn and the barrel of his cannon tore off the corner of a house on the corner.  It was around 2:30 in the morning and you could see the couple standing in their bedroom wonder what the hell hit them.


  I found the picture below on line. It is a Ranger unit during Wintershield II that was collecting egg shells so they could fill them with powder and use them as fake grenades. Are war games fun? Duh. All the time that Wintershield was happening they were beginning to build the WALL.  An expensive few years for the US government.


  To think I was there when they built it and I was back in the 80’s when they tore it down. WOW…

Monday, April 29, 2013

Turkish soldiers

   I’m not sure where the Turks were stationed but I do remember there being in and around the Stuttgart (Robinson Barracks) PX and commissary.  I didn’t think too much about it until we were attending maneuvers in Baumholder.


   The Turks were involved in the war games and I remember a Staff Sergeant telling me that when they were pulling guard duty in the field a couple of his soldiers were surprised when Turk soldiers crawled up behind them, tapped them on the leg and said, '”you OK GI.”  The guards never heard them approach. A little unsettling to say the least.

    I decided it would probably be nice to be on the same side during a war. My lasting impression is that they all looked like Cpl. Klinger but bigger and meaner looking. I didn’t know who Cpl Klinger was in 1962 but when I saw him on M*A*S*H on TV later in life I had a immediate flash back to Baumholder.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

You never want a major driving an armored personnel carrier!

   In December 1962 the colonel said to head to Stuttgart airport (Eckterdingen).  It was New Years eve and I was planning on attending a party that had been planned for that evening. He said I would be coordinating the transfer of Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) from VII Corps to the US Air Force.  He said he would meet me at the airport. The APC’s were headed for the Congo.

   I got to the airport around 8 PM about the same time 3 APCs arrived.  I recognized the SFC in charge and we all went inside a small building in the US military section of the airport.  We waited for almost 4 hours for the 4 of the biggest planes I had ever seen.  Each plane could easily hold an APC.  Just as the planes were arriving a Major from VII Corps showed up and “took charge” of all the VII Corps people. The SFC mentioned that he was new to the outfit and no one cared for the guy.

 apc one

   I went out and met with the bird colonel who was in charge of the 4 planes.  He said the delay was caused by the fact that they were notified around 1PM of the mission and they had to find crews.

   It is amazing to think that you can fit an APC into these big flying machines.  It was even more amazing to see that the Load Master of the first plane was only an E-5.  As the Air Force colonel said the Load Master is GOD on our planes.  If it isn’t centered and in the right location, “we don’t fly good.”  I asked why they had 4 planes and he said the fourth is a back up.

   The first plane got loaded easily.  The APC drivers were buck sergeants and they could move those 40 ton vehicles like they were sports cars.

   The weather was snow and ice and made for some tricky loading. By the time they were ready to load the second plane I was on the catwalk with the load master.  I was soaking up everything about the plane and it’s people.  I was just amazed.

   The second APC to be loaded was ready but there was a delay.  The SFC and the major were having words outside by the APC.  The SFC turned and walked away and the major got into the APC and started driving onto the plane.  It was obvious that he wasn’t as good as the sergeants who usually drove.  He got it on but really wasn’t watching the Load Master and the directions he was giving.  The major stopped the APC turned it off and got out.  The Load Master informed him that he had to move the APC back so many inches and to the left so the APC would be properly placed for tie down.

   The major unloaded on the E-6 Load Master and told him that he was in charge of the loading.  The Air Force bird colonel, on the catwalk with us told the major to get off his plane and get a good driver in here to move the APC.  “This Load Master is GOD on my plane and you will follow his orders or get off my ship.” The rest is not printable here….

   Unfortunately the major got back in and started the APC.  He was obviously  mad about being royally chewed out in front of enlisted men. He began to back up and was turning to correct his position and tore a whole in both side of the airplane.  Not big holes but this puppy wasn’t flying any time soon.  I thought the Load Master was going to cry. I also thought the Colonel was going to shoot the major.

   The 6 AM departure was delayed because they still had to have a third backup plane.  As I recall the replacement plane came from England rather than Frankfurt.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

You’re missing WHICH railcar?

  The only close call we had was when we thought we had a railcar with warheads go across the East German border. It was a very real and scary situation.

  We had two phone systems in my office.  We had the regular military phones which you could also receive civilian phone calls on.  The other phone in my office was a BASA phone.  It was the Germany railway phone system.  I used the BASA phone when talking with the rail yard masters.  I also used the BASA phones from railroad sidings when I was meeting troop and equipment trains.  It was so much easier to call my office from the BASA phone than to go into some small town and find a civilian phone. The phone below looks exactly like the phone I had in my office and the ones at most sidings and rail stations in Germany.

basa phone

  I remember getting a call one day from a railway military policeman who was sitting on a siding just south of Stuttgart.  He said, “is this the 594th?”  I said it was and he was almost crying.  He said, “We lost our railcar!” Once he calmed down I got his routing number (like a convoy clearance number but for rail transportation) and found that he and his men had been guarding a railcar that I thought contained warheads.  The warheads were being transported to an artillery unit near Augsburg.  Needless to say I contacted the colonel and told him what was going on. Alexander was usually pretty cool but he lost it on this occasion. Shown below is a typical box car from the 1960’s.


  Turns out once we got things somewhat sorted out this unit of MP’s took a few cases of beer and other booze along for the ride.  The unit was to have three railcars. Two passenger coaches and one box car.  The box car that held the “warheads” was placed between the two passenger cars.  I have forgotten how many MP’s there were but I’m thinking maybe a dozen spread between the two passenger cars.  They were to act as a buffer for the shipment. They had left Bremerhaven the day before and drank most of the way.  During the night they were shuffled onto a siding and the two passenger cars were unhooked and left on the siding.  The boxcar continued on with the rest of the train.

  I called Ulm and Augsburg – no car.  I called the Munich rail yard and they said it had gone through on the train to Leipzig. By this time the colonel had shown up as well as Harry Wickart.  By two in the afternoon we finally found the railcar on a siding in Munich.  The railcar serial number had been misread.  The number we were looking for was something like 3300210 and the car that had gone across the border was like 3300201.  What are the chances of these two cars ending up on the same train when they had been built prior to WWII????

  Turns out there weren’t any warheads in the boxcar, only spare parts. It was still a sensitive shipment because they were parts for the warheads being used at that time.  Not sure what happened to the MP’s.  I do know that all future shipments were flown into Eckterdingen airport (Stuttgart) and transported by truck to Augsburg. I don’t think the colonel every got over that one.  A lot of heat from Group Headquarters in Orleans.  Whenever we got heat they never seemed to remember that all we did was schedule and monitor shipments.  Hell we lost enough cigarettes and booze each year to supply the entire population of Germany and France.  Amazing how a whole railcar of cigarettes could just disappear. It probably still happens.

Friday, February 22, 2013


   I always loved going to Nurnberg.  Harry Wickart, who I worked with in Stuttgart, said you have to go to the Christmas Market in Nurnberg.  He said that it is the best of all the Christmas shows in Europe.  I didn’t know they had Christmas shows anywhere…


   Buyers from all over the world attend as well as families from near and far.  After my first Christmas holiday trip to Nurnberg I promised myself that I would go back in 1962 and I did.


   Just to watch the faces on the little kids was worth the trip.  I also enjoyed a few of the beer halls in the Alt Stadt.  The “burned” beer took a little getting used to.  But once you had one under your belt the rest went down quite easily.


   I don’t care what you are looking for you will find it at the Nurnberg Christmas show.  If it isn’t here they don’t make it!



   I know they still have this market every year.  If you are headed that way in December be sure to put Nurnberg on you itinerary. The kid in you will be delighted!

   Leave a comment if you’ve been here.