It may, at times,
seem that I dislike officers. This is not true. The impression
is created by a desire to respect officers and the beating that this desire
takes when an officer does something that is not completely bright.
I think that what I say that could be interpreted as anti-officer may be
justified by the preceding statement. One example would be the Captain
who left a Registered Secret Codeword Cryptographic document on his desk
and went home. Locked it my Top secret safe then drove down to his
quarters and brought him back to return it to the comm center. On
another occasion the same Captain called the MPs and reported a riot at
the "Adler". They gathered more men and rushed down there.
When they entered there was no riot. When the Captain was asked about
the riot he is reported to have said "Just wait a minute, I'm going to
start it right now" They took him home. I was certainly
no angel. Among other things I was picked up twice by the MPs for
violating the midnight curfew that was installed in the late '50s.
In going through the various Herzo
pages, and in a battle with my spell checker I became a bit confused.
Nurnberg or Nuremberg? Spell checker and the German Embassy's
page said Nuremberg but I remember so many hundreds of road signs saying
Nurnberg. My dictionary finally cleared it up. Nuremberg is
English for Nurnberg. I shall use Nurnberg exclusively
I enlisted in the ASA after previous
service in Italy. I was sent to Vint Hill Farm, now gone, for training.
I took the test for Crypt. School and was accepted but they decided that
they had enough so the class was cancelled. Started training as a
Manual Morse Intercept Operator but was transferred to Herzo when I reached
about 13 WPM. 2nd RSM had a school for Manual Morse at Herzo
so when I reached the base it was back to school until my clearance was
While in training for Manual Morse
we had one of the men flip out. He stood up and threw his mill through
the window. "The fly walking on the rail in front of his position
was out of step with the code".
This was at the time when an overreaching
recruiter in New York City was making all sorts of promises to get people
to sign up for the Agency. Louie W. was told that he would be able
to watch the Regattas. He, later at Herzo, came into my room to tell
me with detail about the monster that they had found in Alaska. He knew
that it was true, he saw it in a movie. I would not say that he was
gullible. Many of the people to whom he made outrageous promises
managed to get discharges.
When I first reached Europe I was
sent to the Headquarters Detachment in Frankfurt, the men who worked at
the HQ in the IG Farben building. As a part of the agreements between
the Allies, and to disarm Germany, all fortifications, bunkers, and air
raid shelters were to be destroyed. We were eating dinner in the
Kaserne mess hall when they blew up the one at the Kaserne. I was
sitting across from a Sgt. We struck heads, forcefully, when we both
dove under the table. They had female waitresses who collected trays,
filled coffeepots, etc. I think that they all screamed and dropped
whatever they had in their hands. At least it sounded like it.
(I wonder if the Soviets destroyed
these facilities in their zone? I sort of doubt it.)
At that time you could go on organized
hunting trips with the appropriate German guide. Use military weapons.
Anything that you shot went to homes for the Elderly or similar institutions
after your appropriate trophy had been removed. I wanted to go hunting
for wild boar. It seemed more sporting than deer. Boars fight
back so to speak. They will charge and are dangerous. Was transferred
to Herzo before I could get on a trip.
The trip to Herzo was interesting.
I woke up on the train at some time early in the AM and saw that we were
in a bombed out railway station. Interesting but I thought nothing
of it. Went back to sleep. Much later we found that the person
in charge of us had missed the Nurnberg station (which was probably what
I saw) and we were somewhere way east of Nurnberg. We stood out on
the platform almost all day before a train came along going in the other
Herzo Base was complete and operational
when I arrived. Unmentioned in previous information is the fact that
the original "Agency" outfit at Herzo was the 2nd Radio Squadron Mobile,
an Army Airforce unit. I was assigned to the 2nd Radio Squadron Mobile.
It was later converted to the 6th Detachment. I regret having lost
the 1947 Christmas Dinner menu for the 2nd RSM and 52nd Signal Service
Detachment. It was a bad security leak, but today it would be a wonderful
souvenir as it contained the names and hometowns of all of the members
of the two outfits.
While I was in Italy after the war
I was a guard at an Italian factory. This is what led up to the suspension
of my clearance. The factory was not producing and I have no idea
why it was guarded. The main part of the guard force was German POWs.
They were armed with whistles and clubs, were stationed in what was the
owner's house in the compound, and patrolled the walls and interior of
the compound. We were at the gate with the German Commander of the
guard; a former Captain in the German Engineers who had bided his time
until he could be safely captured. (German atrocities? Armored
forces do not take prisoners. They have no way to deal with them,
so put yourself in a position to be captured by Infantry. I served
with many combat veterans both in Italy and Germany. One told me
of being given a group of German prisoners to take to the rear. On
the way he encountered a US tank. The tank commander told him to
go back, they would take care of the prisoners. He refused.
They trained the 50 cal. on him and told him to go. He heard machinegun
fire when he was out of sight. It happened in all armies; we just
won.) Anyhow, Martin (the German Captain) and I became buddies and
exchanged addresses. When I got home I wrote to him to find out how
things were in Berlin. He had his Daughter answer, as she was better
in English. A correspondence started. When I entered this info
on one of the clearance checks that we seemed to fill out every six months
my clearance was suspended and I was sent to the motor pool.
(That bit about Italy was necessary
for the Herzo bit. Could write a good bit about Italy too, but that
is not for here).
I became a Dispatcher. In those
days, when I was working the 1800 to 0600 shift, all that we could get
on the small radio in the dispatch office that was music or interesting
after AFN went off the air at midnight was Radio Moscow when they were
not doing the propaganda bit, Radio Andorra with Arriba Andorra at every
station break and BBC Overseas. (Once in a while one of the manual
Morse operators would manage to pick up a station in the U.S.; but this
was rare even with their advantage in equipment and antennas).
As Dispatcher I got to drive on many
interesting trips. I remember one time when I was coming back from
Grafenwehr on the Autobahn. Coming down a mountain I heard a pop
and heard something hit the hood. I stopped to see what happened
and noticed that the engine was running rough. It sounded like it
was running on three cylinders. I checked and that is what it was
doing. A sparkplug had came out. I walked back and found the
sparkplug. The ceramic was cracked but it worked when I put it back
in place. I made it home OK.
I went on furlough to Paris.
I guess that it is a place to see once but I wasn't too thrilled.
My impression was that if you were dying of thirst someone would bring
you a glass of water but hold out their hand for a tip before they would
give it to you. Later it turned out that going to Paris first was
a mistake. I was debating going either to Paris or to Czechoslovakia.
By the time that I was able to go on furlough again Uncle Joe had taken
Somewhere along about here Starts
and Stripes was discontinued and replaced by the Army Times. All
outfits were required to purchase a specified number of copies of the Army
Times from their Company Fund. Stars and Stripes had always been
a pain to the Army brass but more so in Italy than in Germany. The
Mediterranean Stars and Stripes more so that the one in the European theater.
In Italy they would publish articles such as the one about the impatient
General who ordered his escort to use sirens to get an Italian funeral
procession out of his way.
I remember an article in one of the
papers in Germany about the trouble that the PX system had in finding a
European cheese that was suitable for making cheeseburgers.
In those days things in Germany were
much different than what people who arrived after the currency reform saw.
Bomb damage, streetcars and railway passenger cars with boarded up windows.
A general rundown air. A certain air of cynicism. For example
the German girl who chanted "d-land, d-land uber alles, ein kartoffel das
Later I was assigned to drive the
Commissary and Pass bus. I made an AM trip to Erlangen Commissary
with the wives and then afternoon and evening trips to Nurnberg for those
going on pass. There were three of us assigned. We were to
work 3 days, 3 nights, and three off. We agreed, among ourselves,
to work 3 days and nights and 6 days off. This must have lasted for
at least a year before someone complained about us having too much time
off. Back to 3, 3, and 3. No less time off, just not as much
at one time. One German who frequented my favorite bar was convinced
that I had to be CID. No one else could be there during the week
in the daytime as much as I was. Had a girl in Nurnberg so I had
somewhere to stay for my 6 days. Could not get serious although I
should have done so. In those days if you applied for permission
to marry a German it was an automatic removal of clearance and immediate
transfer to the Infantry as a volunteer infantryman. (Being a rifleman
would have been an improvement over the Infantry Heavy Weapons MOS that
I held in the Infantry.)
(Eleanor, Martin's Daughter, married
a GI who was stationed in Berlin and came to the States later bringing
her parents over but this was something I found out much later after I
had lost contact with her. I was happy to hear that.)
After about a year and a half all
of the review processes had been completed. Martin was found to absolutely
not be a Communist so my clearance was reinstated. Was shuffled around
operations for a while. Non- Morse intercept. Transcribing
Morse from the tapes created from monitoring high speed Morse nets.
In B Area (non-morse) we had printer
ribbons that must have been purchased at the start of WW2 and stored out
in the desert somewhere. Completely dried out. Put them on
the printer and load them up with oil from an oil can to get them to print.
It was about at this time that we
had a suicide on the Base. A Lt. In the 114th was sitting in a chair
near the door in their operations area, armed with a 45. It was early
morning when he suddenly drew the 45, threw a round into the chamber and
shot himself in the chest. (The chair with the bullet hole remained
there). He had a German girl friend that he loved and his wife was
due in from the States in the next day or two. A perfect example
of the results to be expected when Dollard and Miller's paradigm encounters
real life. (Essentially, when an irresistible force meets and immovable
We did have a bit of excitement one-day
when a filter capacitor in one of the units in non-Morse exploded.
Sounded just like a shotgun being fired. The case went upward with
sufficient force to bend the bottom plate in the rack above it. From
then on I was a bit nervous about opening the back of a cabinet to make
Thinking back I realize that I mainly
remember the people that I worked with or drank with. I never did
enter A Area, spent a little time in B Area, and of time in the areas I
spent the most in C Area, all parts. I clearly remember Major Robbins,
Major McClung, Captain Snyder, Captain Burgett, and Captain (later 1st
Sgt. When returned to permanent rank in one of the rank reduction go-arounds.)
Lewis, Lt. Pierce, Lt. Muse, Lt. Findley, Sgt. Hammer, Sgt. Spradlin, Sgt.
Dukelow, Gene Fallon, Bob McAuliffe, Joe Sock, Furbush, Belyeu (? sp),
Glassford, Rumberg, "Ski" Irwin, Loren Hegedus, Paul Idso, Bliss (had to
send a wrecker for the 3/4 ton he was driving. The gasoline tank
fell off. He had managed to drive far enough that he could not find
it. (?) One thing that I noticed about the Army, almost always
on a last name basis. I remember very few first names. Gene
Fallon because he was a close friend and we had the same first name.
Bob McAuliffe because he sometimes hung out with me at Joe Sock's amateur
radio station. Joe would introduce him on the air as "Bob, B O O
Enough of me, at least for the present.
We were probably the first in the
West to know of Stalin's death. Picked up the Wirephoto and story
from Tass. Translated by our people. This was the internal
announcement being distributed within the Soviet Union.
I read of the high-speed recording
for the purpose of fingerprinting a transmitter. We had this but
it was done on movie film. Totally enclosed so no excitement
Humor. I think that this came
out of either A Area or the 52nd. While maintaining security of our
own communications there were interesting things. The illegal Q Signal
QCD for example. (Shall we break for coffee and donuts?) An
Infantry net having planned their game well in advance starting off with
one station sending "A", the next "S" and on through "A" "S" "H" "I" "T".
Could not issue a DR as no one station had sent anything illegal.
On a similar subject, there was the
cheer: Three dits, four dits, two dits, dah. Herzo Base Rah, Rah,
Rah. (It seems to me that I heard the same one, with a name change,
at Vint Hill Farms).
I was then moved into the office
signing documents in and out for operations. One day one of the Traffic
Analysts freaked out. He sat in front of the Mess Hall eating grass.
Swore that they were poisoning him in the Mess Hall. He was shipped
off to Wiesbaden and they gave me his job. I managed to survive the
on-the-job training although there are those who would dispute that statement.
One was a friend who told me that if I used him for a character reference
he would say that I was.
I saw an article about one of the
men at Station Augsburg being found to be a spy. We did not, to the
best of my knowledge, have that problem at Herzo, however, one of our groups
noticed that when they solved some problem and forwarded it to the States
Uncle Joe's people would change it again shortly after they made the report.
They stopped sending info to NSA and the problem stopped. Not too
long after that two of NSA's people went to Mexico and from there to Moscow
for asylum. So, we had our little spy thing too.
I had several friends who were Manual
Morse types. That was a rough stressful life. Some of the best
(?) stories of drinking experiences came from them. One that I do
not remember clearly was where he had started back from town. I forget
the experience he had that woke him up but he had crawled into a haystack
to be warm and sleep. Much better was the one who, drunk, sought
shelter and a nice place to sleep. He woke up with a scream with
a large monster about ready to bite his head off. The cow backed
off startled. He had crawled into a manger and went to sleep.
Not as spectacular was the one who woke up with "bars" around him and certain
that he was in jail. It was light shining through between the boards
in the wall of the shed where he had taken shelter.
Many times during my Army career
I made what sometimes may have been life saving choices entirely by accident.
One example was re-enlisting in early 1950 to fill my own vacancy at Herzo.
I forget why, but I was out at the
Reich Parteitageplatz in Nurnberg when all of the effective military forces
in Germany, basically the Constabulary, were being assembled there for
an Army Day parade in Nurnberg. It was at this time that North Korea
attacked South Korea. There was a mad scramble to get the troops
dispersed. If Stalin had been behind the Korean attack and had planned
a general war he would have waited just a couple more days and then wiped
out most of our forces in Europe in one bombing attack.
I shipped to the States, on the General
Rose if I remember correctly, with a 30-day furlough in my pocket and orders
that prohibited anyone from delaying my shipment or making changes in my
destination. On the ship several other guys from Herzo were ribbing me.
Ha, ha. We go home and you have to go back. The ship anchored
overnight in the East River. The next morning it was announced that
Congress had passed a bill extending all enlistments. The guys who
were ribbing me got a 30-day delay enroute to Camp Stoneman California
for shipment to Korea. I took my 60 days and returned to Germany.
That is how I missed Korea. I believe that one of the men with me
was killed there, McCloskey. We got letters from some of our men
who did go to Korea. In most locations it was rough. Eight
hours on duty, eight hours on guard, and eight hours sleep except when
called out because of an alert. I talked to an ex ASA man who was
in Viet Nam. They had it worse, probably because of the part of the
ASA that maintained our own security. The Infantry outfits beside
one of our posts got the word to drop back but did not pass it to the ASA
When I came back from my re-enlistment
furlough in 1950 I brought back some of the bombs that you attach to the
ignition of a vehicle. If available today they can not be as good
as they were then due to powder content limit imposed on such items.
You fastened one end to ground on the vehicle and the other to the spark
plug lead. When someone tried to start the vehicle it would ignite
the device which would start whistling and emitting dense black smoke,
then explode. The line crew had a German driver, "one hop Fischer",
so named because he cracked up the plane when he went on his solo flight
at the then German operated Herzo Base. They installed the bomb on
the line truck, then yelled to Fischer to get the truck going. Emergency!
"One hop" ran to the truck, turned on the ignition, and started to use
the starter. The whistling and smoke started. Poor Fischer
sat there, frozen, cranking the engine, and shouting "Mein Gott, Mein Gott".
I am sure that he thought that he was done for again.
Herzo had a 105 howitzer that they
fired daily as an evening gun. It was located just west of the guardhouse
and, originally, pointed towards Base HQ. The MPs would go out in
the late afternoon and load the blank round. We did not always love
our Base CO, more on that later. It seems that somehow several large
handfuls of the stone from the area around the gun managed to get down
the barrel after the charge had been loaded. Took out at least one
window at HQ. The next day the gun was turned to face the antenna
farm. (Fragging? Heck, we used a 105!)
This was as bad as the time at Vint
Hill Farm when we were lined up in front of the guardhouse waiting to move
out for the retreat parade. A prisoner chaser going off duty stepped
out on the porch to clear his 12 gauge but forgot about the magazine.
He let loose a round right over our heads. Got my uniform dirty by
hitting the deck.
I remember one payday crap game where
I was really hot. I cleaned out almost everyone and was betting hundreds
of dollars. It reached the point where almost no one would fade me.
Mitchell, who did a lot of gambling regularly, came back from cleaning
out the Infantry in Erlangen and got into the game. About the same
time I loaned someone who had been cleaned out. Folklore holds that
you should never loan money to someone else in the game. I do not
know if that was it but Mitchell cleaned me out except for my base pay.
Easy come easy go. It was nice to not have to worry about money for
groceries and life's other necessities.
Mitchell was not one but one of our
Analysts was a Professional Gambler. He had a "PG" notation in his
201 file. If he was caught gambling with troops he was to be immediately
discharged. He had interesting stories about his gambling career
in the States. The gist of it all was, however, that it was a strange
life. One day staying in the best hotel, eating steak, and the girls
climbing all over you then the next day hitchhiking to the next track and
trying to figure out how to get a stake.
There was an incident at Herzo, related
to me by a friend in the MPs. This one caused the MPs to have doubts
about their ammo. Same thing but clearing a 45 without removing the
magazine. The bullet went about 1/3 of an inch into the ceiling.
You could see it sticking there. Another time, at operations in '47
the guard though he heard noises outside so he requested the Thompson that
was inside the doors past his post. He pulled back the bolt but it
stuck open. Brilliantly he found that by pulling the trigger he could
get the bolt to go forward. Blew out about 6 windows before he could
get it stopped and caused a major panic. (The Thompson 45 is fired
from the bolt open position. Fixed firing pin. Bolt slides
forward, strips a round off of the magazine, chambers and fires it recoiling
and repeating at about 600 rounds per minute more or less depending on
the buffer installed. Had one in Italy).
We had alerts. You never knew
if they were real or a drill. One of my buddies had to go to the
operations building if he was not on duty when there was an alert.
One very foggy day they had an alert. After having a loaded weapon
shoved in his face twice by nervous troops he said that he just sat down
on the ground and waited for the fog to clear.
Every day at noon they tested the
Base Fire Siren - the old air raid siren. One day they had a fire
right at noon. The siren was sounded and no one came. End of
Another time there was a fire in
the barracks right across from the Officer's Club at about 2200.
A Major, whose name I will not give, came running out and took charge telling
the firemen that they had the hose hooked up wrong. He ordered them
to reconnect it his way. Result? He had them create a loop
from the intake of the pump to the output. Some officers finally
removed him from the scene and fire fighting resumed.
There was another fire, this one
a bit more serious, this time at the 114ths barracks and just above their
armory. Our Base Fire Department requested help from Herzo (this
was probably in '48). Herzo agreed to help but had no fuel for their
engine. A wrecker was sent down to tow their engine to the base and
fuel it. Just lost part of the roof.
In connection with the last fire.
It must have been in '51 or '52 that they redid the floors in our barracks.
The wood floors were wearing out. They ripped out some sections of
the old floor during the project, replaced it, and resurfaced all of the
floors with a compound that when finished reminded me of battleship linoleum.
Surprise. The space between the floor and the ceiling below was partly
filled with sand. This would certainly do much to limit fire damage
in the event of a fire bombing or any other cause.
At Herzo, going west from the HQ
building was the barbershop. Between the two was a parking lot and
at the west end of the parking lot, in the corner nearest the road, was
the entrance to a bomb shelter. I wish that I had gone in to look
around before they blew it up. In those days when "need to know"
was the bible you tended to not get into things that were not your business.
They blew up at least the entrance, collapsed it completely, shoved the
ruins down inside, and then paved over it. That will be a surprise
for someone who starts to dig there in the future. There must be
at least one large room under the pavement. Interesting that they
had this nice shelter for the wheels while, from all that I could find,
the rest of the personnel had to make do with the basements.
We did sort of cheat on the treaty.
There was a bunker type structure in the wooded area between Hanger 3 and
the road. It contained the telephone switchboard. Heavy reinforced
concrete construction, heavy steel covers that could be closed over the
window, blast doors, and grass planted in the dirt on top. We had
German girls as operators when I was at the Base.
I wonder what our life would have
been like had we had female military personnel? The only females
on the base were the telephone operators, the employees at the PX, the
employees at the Service Club, and the American Red Cross girls at the
We had a Base Doctor, a German contract
physician. He gave us our VD training and realized from his own experience
that this could be boring. He borrowed training aids that were used
for training Doctors at the University of Erlangen for our classes.
He had served in Africa and he went
over many more venereal diseases than just the ordinary syphilis and gonorrhea
even though some were very uncommon in Germany. It certainly made
the classes interesting and informative.
What I heard about the retreat from
Herzo base by the Germans somewhat matches what has been published.
I will not dispute the story. What I heard sort of ties in but with
more detail. I heard that the Base Engineer saved the Base, however,
he had to allow part of the Base to be destroyed for the benefit of the
SS and Gestapo who rapidly left when they heard explosions and saw smoke
and flames. They did not desire to be captured. I feel that
this is true because of the fact that two of the long sheds in the motor
pool had their roofs burned off. Also, Hanger 5 was totally destroyed.
Anyone reaching Herzo after about 1949 or 1950 would not know of the existence
of Hanger 5. All that remained prior to that date was the floor and
a large reinforced concrete column. We had German laborers dig a
trench from the base of the column out far enough to accommodate the column
when it fell. They then cut into the column and cut the rebar.
They then used two 6X6s in tandem to pull the column over so that it could
be buried. End of Hanger 5. The story in '47 was that to protect
this engineer from possible revenge by Nazi fanatics he was allowed to
live on the base with his family. If you ever took the road along
the south fence, or were out in that area, you would have seen an occupied
residence inside the fence. I felt that this confirmed the story,
however, the published one may have been a cover story designed to protect
It would have been very interesting
to be among the first to reach the Base. I often wonder what all
they found. I read, in a copy of the Amateur Radio Club's magazine
that there was a mobile radio tower captured. The writer described
it as being mounted on a trailer and of telescoping design somewhat like
the lifts in a filling station. It was raised to its full height
by the use of hydraulic fluid. Did we ever think of something like
that? I doubt it.
In wartime outfits acquired extra
equipment and supplies, something always valuable because you could not
always count on being able to get things when you needed them. In
the early days when there was going to be an IG inspection the motor pool
would load up the extra supplies and equipment on the extra 34/ ton truck
and drive it out into the woods until after the inspection. (As a
point of interest, in wartime, in areas where there was combat, there was
no accountability. If you lost something you did not have to account
for it or pay for it. That is how extra equipment was acquired.)
At the time of the Korean "Police
Action" and General McArthur's quarrel with Harry Truman I was back in
the rear of our area near the painted over windows that were between our
area and the Comm Center. I heard someone in there sing "Old soldiers
never die, they just crap out". Interesting insight.
I was in an amusing position.
When they could not spare an officer for the section I was in charge of
the section. When one was available I went back to being in charge
of just one trick. There were times when we played Army. When
my group was billeted up across from the Officer's Club I had to do the
morning report at reveille. I was far enough away that I could do
the "... all present and accounted for and what the hell are we standing
here for Sir?
We received "notice" from the Brits
that there was a possible Soviet Intelligence net operating in the US Zone.
Strange that its locations should match some of ours. We found that
it was our net, that some of the operators had been using Soviet procedures
such as GUHOR, which is what caused the flap.
Base Commanders. I forget his
name but his nickname was "White Fang" for the white German Shepherd that
used to lead him for walks. Then there was Col. Nestlerode.
Well remembered because of a parody of the song "Across the alley from
the Alamo" - lived a cross-eyed ----- and old Nestlerode. His
major mistake was to act on his feeling that we did not show enough interest
in our basketball team. One night they were playing an MP outfit
from Nurnberg. He ordered that everyone off duty was to be marched
to the gym and watch the game. Mistake. Everyone sat silent
until the MPs scored; then broke into applause. Really rattled the
MPs but what got the Col. was when they booed when our team scored.
He stopped the game and read everyone out. One more show like that
and real trouble. The rest of the game was mainly in silence although
near the end there were a few weak cheers for our team. We were never
marched to another game. I did not march to the game. I had
a 4X5 Speed Graphic that I carried to the game and took photographs.
We had another CO, from the south,
who restricted everyone to the base every time there was any decent amount
of snow. Roads were too dangerous. Didn't set too well with
those of us from snow country.
I do not remember who was Base CO
when they stopped allowing troops to be on the street after midnight and,
if I remember right, eliminated Class A passes. The result was that
guys tried to make out faster, many lost their steadys and played the field.
The VD rate, which had been almost nonexistent climbed sharply. The
whole base was restricted as punishment with more promised if the rate
did not drop. It did, but I suspect that it was due to getting treatment
from German Doctors instead of the Army Doctors. Even then it never
dropped back to what it had been. So much for the Mommies and the
Chaplains running the army. Reading on one of the Web Pages it appears
that the curfew remained. I guess that for new troops who knew nothing
else it was just a nuisance. This came about with the Korean "Police
Action" when we eventually started receiving draftees. Could you imagine
such a regulation in the ZI?
The other bad part of the draftees
was that before they came in you could leave anything on your bunk and
it would stay there. Not after they got there.
It was at this time that we received
our first black soldiers. They were accepted. I think that
most of the guys went out of their way to make them feel welcome.
It was too much for a couple of the blacks. One of them just bluntly
told one of the white troops "Man, tie my tie!" One or two made it
and stayed, one in the MPs.
It was interesting to talk to guys
who had been at exotic locations such as Eritrea. You received a
Government Permit to buy your own sidearm and when in Eritrea you wore
it when out on pass. The country had been an Italian dependency so
duty there was not rough. My friend had bought an Italian sports
car and raced it. He had found an Italian mechanic who set it up
and maintained it for him.
Then there was Embassy Duty.
Some had been in friendly countries, nothing exciting except for the "appearance
allowance" that they got from the State Department. Others who had
been in Prague, Warsaw, and Moscow had an entirely different set of experiences.
Almost confined to the Embassy grounds because of the Communist Government's
attempts to subvert them usually using well-trained girls. The opinion
that I got from talking with them was that Prague was the worst.
Late in my last tour in Germany I
was occasionally going out with a girl who was attending the University
of Erlangen. Nothing serious. Talk, ice cream, and dinner once
in a while. I was writing to her after I returned to the ZI.
She was telling me of the problems that the MPs were having in relation
to GIs in civilian clothes and GIs not wearing their dogtags at the swimming
pool. They had to travel in pairs with a German Schutzpo so that
a GI who could talk German fairly well could not buffalo the MP.
(Then, of course, a German swimming at a swimming pool would not have his
Kennekarte on his person). The same must have been true for the MPs
after civilian clothes were allowed and the midnight curfew was still in
effect - unless they changed the laws and allowed the German Police to
arrest GIs who were breaking the curfew.
I did some exploring in the basement
of the buildings that I was originally in, the ones nearest to the motor
pool. There were sections that could be closed off with gasproof
doors with felt gaskets both on the door and on the surface that it contacted
when closed, doors that could be dogged shut from the inside. I should
have asked some of the German employees what the basement rooms were for.
Strange that there should be so many and without windows. Maybe the
ordinary EM lived down there. There were two adjoining laundry rooms,
which were entered through one entrance. This was under the two-story
wing connecting the two three-story wings. These rooms were entered
off of a room, which also provided entrance to a large shower room.
(There were latrines and showers on the first floor. Why another
shower room?) Why they bricked up both entrances to this shower room
I have no idea but they did. Good puzzle for the new owners.
I was allowed to take over the two laundry rooms for a darkroom.
I installed a gas proof door at the entrance for absolute darkness.
Built a baffled air vent into one of the windows and put an exhaust fan
into a duct that led to the roof. The inner room was the dry room
used for handling film. The outer was the wet room and had the exhaust
fan and baffled vent to outdoors. This was used for processing film
and doing prints and enlargements. Bakelite table tops courtesy of
radio maintenance. I had a friend spray paint the walls and ceilings
with some captured German green paint. With the photographic equipment
removed these rooms must have created a puzzle for future occupants.
Exploring the Far Eastern end of
the basement I found what must have been the emergency switchboard although
it could have been something else. The extensive telephone type wiring
would seem to say switchboard. The room was quite small and had really
been gutted. This was as far as the basements went. From there
on there was either a one or two-story run of buildings.
In 1947 what eventually became the
Base Theater was the EM Club. From there the EM Club was moved to
Hanger 3 and much later a separate building was built for the EM Club.
Looking at the pictures on the Herzogenaurach page it looks like they added
a control tower to the EM Club building. I never thought of that
before. Where was the Control Tower in the German days? Maybe
at Hanger 5?
We played Bingo at the EM Club one
night a week. I forget how large the Jackpot got before they started
a Reserve Jackpot. One week the Club Manager won the Jackpot and
his assistant won the reserve. It raised many eyebrows. After
that they were not allowed to play.
For quite a while I ate in the Base
Mess Hall, Hanger 2, then later in the Mess Hall that was on the North
side of the road East of the Theater. We eventually had a First Three
Grades dining room upstairs.
In the beginning, well into the 50s,
we had a Polish Guard Detachment. Poles who were veterans or who
had fled Poland ahead of the Soviets. They were very good.
If you had to go out to the DF site the other side of the antenna farm
at night you would come up on a flashlight in the center of the road.
You stopped, we were warned, and the Polish Guard, invisible in his black
uniform, would order you to place your ID on the ground in front of the
flashlight and step back. When he had looked down and checked the
ID he would pick it and the flashlight up, hand you your ID, and apologize.
Needless to say, if you didn't stop you would be shot. The Rangers
were doing a lot of work both for practice and to improve security.
Going into Headquarters of posts and stealing documents off of desks and
stealing other items to prove the lax security. Their CO, or someone,
thought that Herzo Base would be a fine target. Steal documents;
steal aircraft parts (they were well informed). One tried to ride
the pass bus through the gate. The MPs nailed him. Two more
crawled up on the perimeter fence intending to cut through to get airplane
parts - or whatever. They were armed and crawling up between two
of the guard towers totally unaware that one of the Polish Guards was tiptoeing
along behind them with a loaded and cocked M2 carbine covering them.
How he signaled the towers I do not know. When the two reached to
fence the lights were shined on them. They were told to freeze,
disarmed, and then marched up to the guardhouse where the bunch remained
until one of their officers came to ID and rescue them. We lost the
Polish Guard Detachment to NATO HQ in Brussels. I hope that they
did well and were suitably rewarded. We really missed them after
the 1st Division took over guard. A night and day difference.
(I have at least one picture of them lined up on both sides of the road
at the entrance to the base to honor a visiting General).
There was another incident involving
these men. Herzo Base was shown on charts as an air base. One
night, in spite of the revolving red beacon indicating a closed field,
an artillery spotter plane had trouble and decided to land. A Polish
guard got him and marched him to the guardhouse. After he produced
ID he was taken to the BOQ for the night. According to a friend in
the MPs, when they took him out to his plane the next day he got white
when he saw how he had missed towers and guy wires. The final blow
was a couple bullet holes in the plane, added when he did not halt on command.
They came and hauled the plane away after removing the wings.
Reading about Station Augsburg I
can see that we were lucky in many respects. Movies were free.
We chipped in and hired German civilians to clean the halls and rooms in
the barracks. The only cleaning that we did was the operations area.
On the other hand the Base mess hall
was cafeteria style and we returned our own trays. I have a neat
picture of the chow line. Anticipation on the faces approaching the
counter changing to almost disgust on the faces of those leaving the serving
area. When we got our own mess hall we had German employees who picked
up the trays.
One of the Officers that I most respected
was Major James McClung. He was being sent around to the various
ASA outfits to give the men some military bearing. He was at HQ Frankfurt
while I was there. There was an infantry drill team in the barracks
next to us. He would sometimes stop while they were practicing the
fancy manual of arms, Queen Anne and so forth, borrow one of the rifles
and really show them how it was to be done. He was a stickler for
discipline. One trick he played, not just on our men but also on
the infantry, was to lean far out of his office window. If someone
walked by without saluting he would yell "SOLDIER!!". Then read them
out for not saluting. His insignia was out of doors. He also
gigged one of our men for farting in the hallway. The shouted "SOLDIER"
was his trademark.
Later he came to Herzo for the same
job. One of our men when being gigged by him for not being clean
shaven at an inspection, knowing that Jimmy was strictly by the book, said
that he was growing a beard. Jimmy said that that was Ok but there
had better be more progress before next week.
I really respected him. He
was strictly by the book. If you were right you were right.
Another thing, he met me at Frankfurt. At least a year later he addressed
me by name at Herzo. Startling.
They repainted the mess hall while
he was there. I forget the technical term for what was done.
They painted the walls, then put a pattern on using a roller. In
one spot they drew in a line sketch of Jimmy. It is a shame that
some officer found it and had it smeared past recognition.
Inspections were another thing.
The officer in charge of radio maintenance, Lt. H, always inspected his
men's area on Saturday. They had nicknamed him "Dusty". (I
am avoiding the use of his name). In one of his men's rooms they
had a mirror on the side of a wall locker right inside the door.
They would never dust the area directly below the glass. Dusty would
come in the door, see the dust, run his finger over it, and say "Dust.
You're gigged". That little bit of dust would not lead to restriction.
Had their ploy failed them they would have had trouble. They were
so confident that they did not even really straighten their footlockers
or wall lockers.
One of our prayers was to have our
own officer corps so that we would not be getting so many officers that
someone wanted to get rid of. Lt. H was OK, but knew nothing about
radio maintenance. Once Joe Sock was working on a radio in the shop.
He had fixed it and was just getting ready to close it up when the Lt.
came up, looked the situation over, and said that the trouble was in the
RF stage. Joe said, Yes Sir, but do you think that this will help
as he plugging it in and turned it on. I don't remember who it was
that asked one of the people in maintenance what was wrong with the radio
that he was working on. The guy pointed to a component on the chassis
and said "There's not enough electrons over here". It was suggested
that he go to the stock room and get some. There was a trick that
you had to watch out for in radio maintenance. They would charge
up a capacitor, fold the leads back along side it, then throw it to so
unsuspecting soul. It would give you a nasty jolt if you caught it.
Leslie Duffy, who was a Signal Corp
photographer (movie) during the war and was the Base Photographer went
together with me on the darkroom. He was very bored with the Base
photographer job. It was just mug shots for badges. Before
he came to Herzo, right at the end of the war, he was assigned to the civilian
telephone system in Nurnberg. The Germans in maintenance there got
him good. They charged up a large filter capacitor then discharged
it by putting a screwdriver across the terminals. It made a nice
bang. After they did this several times he asked them to let him
do it. They charged it up again but gave him a screwdriver that had
metal all the way to the end of the handle and wooden pieces riveted to
the metal. He got a real jolt. In a way he got even, but by
accident. He got bored one day and decided to go out and work on
a phone line. Fine, except that he dropped it across the streetcar
trolley wires and blew out part of the phone system.
To clarify something. I was
not in radio maintenance but had many friends and drinking buddies who
were. I was even invited to go on their picnic. Have pics of
that. Lt. H thought that I knew radio repair and asked if I would
transfer into his department. This is how I come to have so many
stories from their department.
Then there was the motor pool officer
who was a nut on tire pressure. Never saw anything else.
While I was dispatcher in the motor
pool the dispatch office was a trailer divided into two rooms, an outer
one for the drivers and an inner one for the dispatcher. We were
having a couple of the GI drivers check the antifreeze in the vehicles.
The motor officer, Captain Burgett, was in my office when one of the GI
drivers came into the outer office. I stepped through the swinging
door, met him as he was coming in, and told him that Captain Burgett wanted
him to check another set of vehicles. He started to make a statement
on the subject. He got "Captain Burgett can kiss my" out just as
the Captain stepped through the door. He saw him, stopped, then in
a much softer tone said "foot". He got away with it.
The really neat one on the antifreeze
check was the man I sent to check the antifreeze in the new Volkswagen
that we had received. It was a long time before he came back in defeat.
We received a "Weasel" (a small
full tracked amphibious vehicle) for some reason or other. CWO McFeeley
was the motor officer at the time. He took it for a test spin and
moving fast decided to cross the excavation for a new road. It was
about a three-foot drop, across the road, then up about three feet.
I was watching and knew what was going to happen as I had driven tracked
vehicles but could not warn him. He was moving fast enough that the
weasel went off into space then dropped to the bottom of the excavation
with a crash. Before he could control it - up the other side and
again sort of off into space then down with another crash. He brought
it back slowly. Later, he took it off the Base to where there was
a pond. He wanted to see it swim. Well, his previous "test"
apparently sprung several seams. The Weasel sank and had to be towed
out and back to the Base. (Tracked vehicles when moving slowly go
forward until they reach the longitudinal center of balance, then the front
drops. It is much worse when they are moving fast.)
A Colonel from Frankfurt came to
Herzo to inspect. I forget if it was CWO McFeeley who was going around
with him or some other motor officer. They came to a civilian employee
using a cutting torch. The visitor tapped the oxygen tank, walked
over to the employee and told him he would have to change tanks. His tank
was empty. From then on the motor officer would reply to the Colonel
with "yeah" or other similar comments. The Base CO pulled him aside
and chewed him out telling him he must be respectful towards the Colonel.
The motor officer is reported to have responded "I can't be respectful
to any dumb SOB who taps an oxygen tank to see if it is full, especially
when the torch is obviously working". He survived.
On one trip to Frankfurt as a courier,
by rail in those days, my guard and I were in the Frankfurt RTO with the
bags of material being sent to Herzo from Frankfurt. I was with the
bags and he was on the other side of the room watching me. A pair
of MPs came in, saw me with the carbine with a clip in place. One
walked over and asked me if the carbine was loaded. I said "Hell
yes". He gave me a startled look and walked away. Didn't bother
to check my guard.
On another on of these trips I nearly
got into a real mess. I was guarding the remaining bags outside on
the platform while my guard was loading others. A German civilian,
drunk or not of sound mind, started harassing me. "Boom, boom no
good" pointing at my carbine. I was at high port hoping that I would
not have to give him a vertical butt stroke when a German cop came running
up and took him away.
Loren Hegedus had an experience on
the same run. He and his guard had a compartment by themselves.
There was an elderly German couple standing in the aisle so he let them
in to sit. A bunch more Germans started to crowd in and would not
listen to him when he said no. He chambered a round, and then a second
one so that they could see that there was live ammo involved. One
of the Germans caught this and told the others to get out. Someone
went for the MPs. When the MPs arrived they kicked out the two elderly
Germans and sat in the compartment with our guys for the rest of the trip.
When we had our annual firing for
qualification with the M2 Carbines we used a different German facility
every year. Two of them appeared to have been civilian gun club facilities.
One, in the Nurnberg area was real classy. A building with the firing
points indoors. Another, near Erlangen, was very unusual. I
expect that it was designed as a range for high-powered weapons (as opposed
to 22s). As it was near a populated area special precautions would
have to have been taken. The range had firing points in groups of
2 (or 3). Revetments, about 10 feet high, lined both sides of each
firing point clear to the butts to prevent any possibility of stray rounds
escaping the range. I have at least one picture of a set of firing
points on this range.
Another time we used a more military
range. It was hot weather so we had all been sweating and were dirty
from the dust. On the way back to Herzo the lead driver made a wrong
turn. He swung into a village square turning so that the front of
the truck was facing buildings and the rear facing a Communist rally.
The following trucks swung in beside him. There we sat, dirty troops
with carbines staring at the participants. If any of them were ever
involved in one of the Nazi "actions" they must have been certain that
they had bought it. The only thing that would have made it more impressive
would have been if we had also been firing the 30 cal. Water Cooled Machinegun
and had it mounted on a tripod and sitting at the rear of the truck.
The Germans had some things that
were ahead of us. For example, before the war you could arrange in
advance then at the appointed time go to the Post Office (the Post Office
operated the telephone system) and make a call to someone who would be
waiting at another major Post Office and actually see the person to whom
you were talking. Another interesting thing was what we call Direct
Distance Dialing. Younger people do not know that in the United States
up until the late 50s (or maybe the 60s) if you wanted to call someone
in another town you had to call the operator and have her connect you.
In Germany in the 40s you could dial calls all over Germany. They
also had an interesting dial coin telephone. You put in coins that
were visible in a track leading down across the top of the phone.
As you talked the phone "consumed" the coins. No surprises, you always
knew when you had to put in more money. The unused portion would
be returned when you hang up.
In the US at that time all pay phones
were in buildings. Not in Germany. Also, along the Frankfurt
to Kassel (and maybe some others) Autobahn there were emergency phones
every half kilometer. Actually, every kilometer on each side but
the were staggered so that you were never more than a half kilometer from
Up until about 1950 we had two amateur
radio stations on the base. Major Porter, I think, had one in his
quarters. A BC-610 with a pair of fans blowing on the finals so that he
could overload and run them red hot without failures being too frequent.
The other was originally located in the building between Hanger 3 and the
barracks then moved to the basement of the barracks. Joe Sock, DL4BC
until we were required to conform to the Berne Convention, then D4ABC,
(ex W1LCH), operated this one. I spent a lot of time with him.
While most amateur stations of the US Military in Europe used the BC610.
Joe had a transmitter of US manufacture that was labeled as belonging to
the British Air Force. About a 125 watt FM transmitter designed to
operate in the 100 MC (MHz to modern people) range. He had converted
it to operate on the 10 and 20 meter bands with AM transmission.
The only real problem was that if you tried to load it to over 100 watts
the final would arc over. He used a home made antenna, a 3 element
beam made of wire stretched between two boards and hung in a tree, and
then a V beam fastened to the peak of the barracks roofs when he was moved
to the basement. He did very well in both locations. Australia,
New Zealand, Russia, US, and all points in between. When in the basement
it became a very distinctive station. He had bought a Telefunken
condenser microphone, a broadcast quality mike which, with the concrete
walls, gave us quite an echo effect even after we hung a lot of burlap
around the room. Many times he would leave me talking to someone
who claimed to be in Norway or Russia while he ran out to a DF unit set
up behind the barracks and shot a line to see where the station really
was located. This was when I got my first RF burn and where I learned
that antenna is sometimes more important than the equipment that you are
using. Fair equipment with an excellent antenna will outperform excellent
equipment that is being used with only a fair antenna. There was no station
operational from the time Joe left until I left.
I think that it was C Area that had
the Purple Shaft award for whichever group got the worst shafting.
An award passed on when someone else won it. One of the wooden cores
that was used in packing the printer tape which someone had artfully carved,
colored purple with the ink used in one of the machines and mounted in
the upright position on a piece of wood.
We had our cover stories as to what
we were doing at Herzo. The best one came from a German veteran.
He had been in radio in the German Army and said that he knew that we had
far to large an installation to be just a radio facility. According
to him the purpose of Base was to guide atomic bombs in the event of a
war. I did not argue with him. Years later after I got out
of the Army I was working at a client's site in Richmond. Talking
to their own consultant, a Professor at the University of Richmond, I mentioned
that I had been stationed a Warrenton. He lit up and said that a
Doctor who was a friend of his was stationed there and that they were conducting
radar research. Always a cover story. I just smiled.
Some of our men went to England on
TDY. They commented on the food situation there as by this time rationing
had been discontinued in Germany but was still in force in England.
Bean and cucumber sandwiches were mentioned. This was causing some
discontent in England. After all they, not the Germans, had won the
The differences between then and
what I see on Augsburg's Web Site are amazing. We would never have
dared to take pictures of the antenna farm. It was specifically forbidden.
Also, working with women would take some adjustment at least for those
of us who had not been at Arlington or the Pentagon. A helicopter
for transportation! What a difference when I remember the long to
trip to the Nurnberg Bahnhof in a truck or a jeep. But in Station
Augsburg days, I imagine that transport was to an airport. That troops
now are never able to enjoy the exquisite pleasures of travel by troopship
or troop train is a real shame. I had one round trip from New York
to Italy, in at Naples and out at Leghorn. Two round trips to Germany
always in and out of Bremerhaven. I think that I had more time at
sea than some sailors, 14 to 17 days each way on all of the trips.
A different world.
My girlfriend in Nurnberg told me
about a former boyfriend who was in the Engineers at Herzo and apparently
not real swift. Her father gave him some schnapps and told him that
it was prewar German beer. The kid fell for it.
That antenna at Augsburg got me thinking.
Segments. Using Loran and GPS technology what a DF instrument.
The time differential between the time that a signal reaches the various
segments would give a good bearing on the transmitting antenna. I
wonder if the Agency thought of that?
Things started to go to pieces during
the Korean Police Action. With draftees being added to the Army there
were changes. Prior to this time you could leave money on your bunk
and leave your locker open. After we got some draftees in things
started to disappear. Then the Mommies and the Chaplains started
running the Army. Not being allowed in public after midnight and
other problems that I mentioned before. It was even before this that
the "Hook" Plan came into effect. At the end of WW2 large numbers
of men who had came from having nothing and having no future were drafted.
Many of them became NCOs and remained in the army at the end of the war
with the result that the reduced size army had too many NCOs. The
government to solve the problem hired Mr. Hook, Chairman of GE. Two
of the results were that promotions were only allowed when someone holding
the rank left the army. (Of course, many vacancies were created in
Korea so most of the promotions went there). The other part that
I remember had to do with reduction in rank. No pay change, just
lose a stripe. I am not clear on this now but I remember that I had
to cut a stripe off of all my uniforms. The proposal was that those
of us now wearing two stripes would still be called Sgt. and still receive
the pay but some General said that people with two stripes would not be
I finally got to Staff and was told
that six months after I made the first two grades (I guess that would be
the last two grades now) I would be made a Warrant Officer. Well,
there had been one promotion to Tech in two years and I was number 13 on
So, with that and the Mommies and
Chaplains running the army I decided to get out. Once back in the
States I thought of re-enlisting but did not. There have been times
when I wish that I had. I could have retired in 1975 with 30 years
and then went to work at Arlington or the Pentagon.
Copyright by Eugene Parson February
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