Herzo Base 1965 Christmas Memories - Alex Mitchell

One day in December of 1965 a friend of mine Larry Drouin (he's the one who supplied the picture of the fire team -1967), and I having the day off work decided to go into Nuremburg.  We had both arrived at Herzo Base in October and had not done much sightseeing, and we wanted to.  Both of us had heard about a place in Nuremburg that we wanted to check out.  I know right now you may be thinking this is story about "The Wall", but it is not.

Every year in December in the sqaure in front of the Church of Our Lady they hold the Christkindlemarket.  If is much like a flea market here in the States.  There were over a hundred stands set up selling just about everything. 

Larry and I took the bus that ran from Herzo Base to a hotel in the downtown area of Nuremburg (I believe it was called the Nuremburg Hotal, but I am not sure).   This is only about four blocks from the Christkindlemarket.  We arrived there about 4:30PM (16:30 hours) just as it was geting dark. It was also just beginning to snow.  As we walked around the sound of the Christmas Carols being played from some of stands and the chrimes from the church every fifteen mintues worked wonders on me.  I can never remember anything that put me in the Crhistmas spirit more quickly than the sights and sound of that market. 

We stopped at one stand that had beer,and those warm soft Bavarian Pretzels.  I can still remember the taste of both.  As we walked around I noticed a few items that would be nice as Christmas presents to sent back to the family.  Nothing I got that day cost more than twenty marks ($5).  I guess to the local people this stuff may have looked like cheap touristy junk, but to me they were treasures.  From the letters I got from the family after Christmas they felt the same. 

There was a bus back to the post at eight so Larry and I walked back over to the hotel and caught it.  All the way back I had this warm Christmas feeling,and it is still one of the best memories I have of my time at Herzo Base. 

SP/4 Alex Mitchell -98C - Herzo Base Oct 65 to Dec 67
email: amitch@charter.net

                                   Herzo Base 1967 The Fire Drill - Alex Mitchell

Many of those stationed on Herzo Base may not have even known that there was a Volunteer Fire Team on the post. It was made up of 15 guys, and we lived in the fire house which was attached to the post supply warehouse.

Every year there was a competition among the teams from several posts. The judges for the competition would come to the post and administer a written test to three members of the team and then observe an exercise done by five other members of the team.

The summer of 1967, I was picked to be part of the five-man unit that would do the exercise. Our task was to approach a one-story building, lay two lines about 100 feet from the water supply to the building, and secure a ladder to the building. Then two of us would climb on the roof, cut holes in it, and attack the flames from above.  Three other members of the team were to lay a larger single line and attack the fire from the side.

We had about two weeks to practice before the test. During one of the practice runs, the truck drove up to fire hydrant where I stepped off and pulled the two lines that were to be laid the 100 feet with me. I had my arms inside the coils of the lines. As the truck drove away, about 25 feet of hose came off, and then one of the couplings got caught on the edge of the truck. I still had my arms wrapped in the hose, so the truck started to drag me along.  Hoping I could free the lines, I dug my heels into the ground, but that did not work. I was running behind the truck still trying to hold onto the lines. Finally it dawned on me that the truck was definitely going to win this competition, so I let go.

As I turned around, I saw two of the other team members laughing away. I walked up to them and I asked what was so funny. They told me they were placing bets on who would win that little tug-of-war – me or the truck.  I could not help but laugh myself.

Fortunately, on the day of the test, things went just as planned. We found out about two weeks later that our team had won the competition. The picture you have displayed under Herzo Photos from the 1960s is of that team. The awards are being held by the two people in the front row

SP/4 Alex Mitchell -98C - Herzo Base Oct 65 to Dec 67

Herzo Base 1967 The Barracks Rat - Alex Mitchell

It is the firm belief of this observer that there is something strange that happens to a veteran as he reaches old age. During his time in the service he hates it. He is away from home and those he loves most. According to him, the food is bad, the work sucks, and anyone over the rank of E-4 is an ass****. He even hates it so much that he counts the days until he gets out. I can remember the second day of basic training I got up and said, “Only 1,459 days left” – my four-year enlistment minus one day! 

After he has done his time and has been discharged, he goes home, and during the next several decades, he pretty much forgets about the military. Other things take over his life:  school, wife and kids, job, and paying for it all. Those times in the Army get lost in the daily grind of life.

However, when he reaches maturity, he begins to look at his service years differently. As he looks back over his life, he sees that his time in the military has some of the best memories of all. Not to say that the rest of his life was bad, it’s just that there is something special about the memories of the night he and his buddies got drunk and had to climb over the back fence because they missed curfew, or the leave he took to Spain with a couple friends, or the trip to go skiing in Garmisch.

However, there is a group of veterans that do not have to worry about this. They are what we on Herzo Base called “Barracks Rats.” I’m sure every unit in the Army had some. They are the ones who never went off base. They went to work, to the movies, to the EM Club, and to the PX, but never off base. Really, when you think about it, they really never left the States. The base was a little piece of America, and that is where they spent their lives.

The worst barracks rat I knew was a kid from Virginia. Once a month – the day after pay day – was the only time he would go off post. He would take the bus to Nuremburg, visit “The Wall,” and then return to base. During the rest of the month, if anyone asked him to go to town for a beer or anywhere else, his answer was always the same – “No.” When asked about it, he would explain that the Germans all hated us and were only out to cheat the GI out of anything they could. He felt any woman who married a GI was only looking for a ticket to the States. He never built any memories to carry with him the rest of his life. All he ever did was count the days until he got out. 

Well, he got out and grew old. The sad thing is that now in his old age he has no memories to enjoy, and the worst part of all is that he does not even know it. 

SP/4 Alex Mitchell -98C - Herzo Base Oct 65 to Dec 67

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