The Black Cat - Alex Mitchell

There were several bars in Herzogenaurach that were popular with the GIS from Herzo Base. I can not remember them all, but I do remember the Hollywood club and the Exotic Bar, but the one I remember best was the Schwarz Katz. This was really not a bar but a Gasthaus. Of course it did served beer, but mostly it was a restaurant that served great food. 

Larry Drouin and I used to go there every once in a while, not often, we could not afford it. But the times that we did we would first enjoy a good German meal and then order a couple of beers and then out would come the cards and the cribbage board. For the price of a few more beers we could sit there the rest of the evening playing cards. In an American restaurant I am sure that after about the second hand someone would come up and ask us to leave, they would need the table. However in Germany it was common for people to play cards and have a few beers. 

The Germans played a game that was as near as I can figure was something like Euchre, but I am not sure. I remember watching them but I never really understood the game. For one thing the cards used did not look like a deck of American cards.

 Maybe I am different than most people when it comes to memories. You would think the memories that would mean the most would be ones of doing something special, like going to Berlin and seeing the Berlin Wall, or going to Rome and seeing the Vatican, but as I get older it the simple ones like sharing a good meal, a few beers, and a couple game of cribbage in a German Gasthaus with a good buddy that give me the most pleasure. 

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


                                   Get Ready We Are Going To War - Alex Mitchell

 It was June 5, 1967, and I’m sure that anyone that was stationed in Europe then remembers that date.

The trick I was on had worked the four to midnight shift, and I had gotten to bed about two. At a little before six the siren went off telling us that the post was on alert. This was nothing new because the post had alerts about once a month. I really did not think much about it except that it would be ten before it was completed and I could go back to bed. 

My roommate was working the midnight to eight shift so I was alone in the room. I started to get dressed when another member of the fire team came into the room and said.  “It looks like we may be going to war.” Sure I said, and he said for sure. 

The Israelis had just destroyed the Egyptian and Jordanian air forces as they sat on the ground. Also, Israeli tanks were moving into the Gaza and Golan Heights.

For the last couple to weeks the news from the Middle East had not been good. The Egyptians had closed the Straits of Tiran to all Israeli shipping. They had also been massing tank divisions in the Sinai. Other Arab countries had also been moving tank units alone their borders with Israel. Israeli intelligence told the cabinet it was only a matter of time before they attacked. The Israelis decided the best course of action was to attack first and that is what they did.

The Americans in Europe were put on alert because we had offered the Israelis help. They had refused it, however we were still going to get ready. The next three days were spent getting shot records up to date, filling out wills, taking physicals, and packing away our personal belongings to be shipped home if we did go. The plan was that we would first be taken to a staging area in Italy and then on to Israel. 

Those three days we sat and waited to see what would happen. By Wednesday it seemed we would stand down. The Israelis had by then pushed all the way to the Suez Canal, had taken the Golan Heights and most of all captured the city of Jerusalem. It looked like the war was just about over.

Then on Thursday we received a report that an American ship in the Med had been fired on. So it was back to the same tension we had on Monday.  Most of that day we received conflicting reports about what happened. Finally, about diner time it was announced that two Israeli pilots thought it was an Egyptian ship and fired on it. The Israelis apologized to the United States government and offered to pay the families of those that had been killed, and the tension was eased. By Saturday the alert was cancelled and life went back to normal. 

It was good that we did not have to go to war, but I think there were some of us that were disappointed we did not get a chance to go to the Middle East. It would have been nice to see that part of the world.  

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


My First Roomate - Alex Mitchell

When I first arrived at Herzo Base in October 1965, I was assigned to a two-man room.  My roommate was a guy by the name of Lawrence Morgan. He was from Lawrence, Kansas. The funny thing was that no one ever called him Larry – it was always Lawrence. 

Lawrence was a small, thin, studious looking guy who had a master’s degree in the German language. He was also one of the few people I’ve met in this life that I have considered to be a true gentleman. The definition of a gentleman is one who puts those around him at ease no matter what the situation. Lawrence would do this all the time. For some reason, no matter what the circumstance, he was able to say just the right thing. I truly wish that I had been more like him.

Even though it was an impossible task, in the evenings after work, Lawrence started to teach me the German language. Hell, I can hardly speak English, far less German. Unfortunately, we were not roommates for long. He was voted onto the base Volunteer Fire Team and moved to the Firehouse about three months after I got there, so the lessons came to an end.       

He did teach me some basic things that were helpful during my time in Germany like how to greet someone depending on where you were in the country, how to ask for directions or what something cost, and how to order a meal. Things like that. It was not much, but it did come in handy sometimes. 

If you are interested in seeing what Lawrence looks like, he is in the picture of the 1967 Fire Team. He is in the front row second from the right holding one of the awards. The picture is displayed on this website under Herzo Photos - Herzo Base 60s.

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


Never Take A Cable Car The Day After- Alex Mitchell

In February of 1966, my twenty-third birthday (March 3) was quickly approaching, and I was making plans to go down to Garmisch to celebrate. I asked a couple of my friends from the trick we worked on if they would like to go with me, and they said sure. 

We planned to go the day we got off mids (midnight to eight shift), because we would have three days off.  That day we took the bus from the post to Nuremburg and then boarded a train for Munich. We had about an hour layover and then took another train to Garmisch. It was about 5:00 PM (1700 hours) when we got there. 

We checked in to the George Patten Hotel where the rooms cost $1.50 per night per person for double occupancy. That night we went out to dinner at a gasthouse nearby and then returned to the hotel.  There was an ice show theater either in the hotel or right next door, and since there was a performance that night, we decided to go.  The show was great, and we had a very good time; a couple of beers made it even better. After the show, we went to the bar in the hotel, but the day of traveling had made us tired, so we called it an early night.

The next morning I woke up and looked out the window. I’m from Illinois, and we are called flatlanders. That morning was the first time I had ever seen mountains. I just stood there in awe.  They were beautiful! That day we walked around Garmisch sightseeing, stopping into a couple stores to do some shopping, and, of course, having lunch at an outside café. That night we went to a bar that had dancing.  I cannot for sure remember the name of the place, but I think it was called the American Club. It was very popular with GIs and American kids going to school or traveling in Europe. My two friends left early, but I stayed. In fact, I stayed a lot longer than I should have. By the time I got to the room, I was feeling no pain.

The next morning we decided that before we caught the train back to Munich, we would go out and take the cable car to the top of the Zugspitze. This is the highest mountain in Germany, and is located about ten miles south of Garmisch. The cable car that goes to the top has no seats and holds about twenty people, and the car we were on was full. About halfway up, I quietly let go one of the worst beer farts I have ever smelled.  As the odor spread around the car, people started to look around to see who was responsible.  Everyone was starting to look my way when I noticed that there was a little old German lady standing behind me. What I did was kinda glance over my shoulder and point at her. My two friends broke out laughing – no fooling them – but everyone else on the car thought it was her. Over the years whenever I remembered this, I felt a little bad about doing it. But,at the time it was funny, but I had to pay for it. All the way back on the train and for a few days after, my buddies kept kidding me not only for doing it, but that I blamed some little old lady for it. 


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