THIS IS HERZO MEMORIES - by Eugene Parson
February 20, 1999 
To All -

Yes, I can add more about the early days at Herzo. 
 

 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 suspended

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 direction.  Cold. 

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 over Czechoslovakia. 

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 ist alles". 

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 object).

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 changes

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 B, Bob". 

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 outfit. 
 
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 tests. 

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 club. 

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 the engineer. 

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 a phone. 

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 war. 

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 called Sgt. 

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 the list. 

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 1999
All rights reserved.

Special notice:  This document may be copied for the sole purpose of personal reading by the person copying.  Permission for any other use is neither implied nor given. 



Printed in Memory of Eugene Parson

A Special Thanks to Carl Denecia and "The Herzo Survivor's" 
for permission to add this to my web site so we all can read.

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