Tour of Duty (1955-1958) – Part II

 

This is the second in John T. Malch’s series. The first of the series, Tour of Duty (1955-1958), is a fun read of the series of adventures at Camp Irwin, his first duty assignment. In 1955, the world scene was deceptively quiet. American’s who, by nature, like to get a job done and go home were settling in to the post-war life as they wanted to live it. It was a short decade after WWII’s hostilities cooled. Unfortunately, the Cold War (1947-1991) was a lot hotter than most U.S. citizens realized. This is what greeted John Malch as he took his new station in Germany. There are two additional Videos you may enjoy (just click on the links): 1) ‘2-week’ field-tours in the Saarland and March 1957 and September 1957, Our bivouac area was located north of Neunkirchen and west of Bexbach [see map in second photo], and 2) 3-day R & R in Southern Bavaria; Visiting in May 1957 Garmisch-Partenkirchen touring Oberammergau, Neushwanstein Castle and Linderhof Palace

Author: John T. Malch

US Army MP Badge

US Army MP Badge

Part II: Stateside

Prologue:  An old army barrack rumor:  When recruits were given a battery of tests in ’zero-week’, one included a test that asked for your personal preferences: i.e., do you like the forest, woods, lakes and streams, et cetera, (it was asked several times in different ways)

The rumor was that this is how the army selected your first duty assignment. I don’t remember my answers, but they must have been synonymous with sand, blazing sun, cactus, sidewinders, scorpions and Kangaroo rats.  My first duty post was Camp Irwin, where all those things and critters existed.

Camp Irwin:  What a disappointment!

1949 Chevrolet Styleline-Deluxen

1949 Chevrolet Styleline-Deluxen

I just purchased a used 1949 Chevrolet Styleline-Deluxe and thought I had it made with my own wheels and just eighteen more months left in the Army.  This was August 1956.  I was stationed at Camp Irwin, California; an army post locate in the middle of the Mojave desert and south of Death Valley.

With my own car, it gave me advantages when off-duty to travel to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and if I became adventurous, a trip to Tijuana.  Yeah, this wild-west army camp wasn’t so bad.  It had a nice pool, a gym, a theater which showed first-run movies, an enlisted men’s beer hall and a Special Services Club, featuring cute ‘Donut Dollies, and quite few other places to spend off-duty time while not becoming too bored with the wide emptiness of the Mojave Desert.  I was happy and very content with my MP duties and so many off-duty places to visit and enjoy.   What I had going for me was about to change, dramatically, when the army had different plans for my next eighteen months in my ‘Tour of Duty.’ 

On 7 August, my orders were cut for overseas duty at a command called USAREUR in SAC  (Southern Area Command, Bavaria, Germany).  I wasn’t too happy about leaving everything

My Parents home, Capitola, CA (1956)

My Parents home, Capitola, CA (1956)

behind.  Especially, my girlfriends: Sharon on post, Edie in Hollywood, Dodi in ‘Vegas and Leora at Porterville.  But, my orders where cut and I had until 16 October to say my goodbyes and sell my car.   In mid-September I started with a thirty day leave with my folks in Capitola, California.  On the drive there, I began my goodbyes in Hollywood, then in mid-state at Porterville and continued home. I bypassed ‘Vegas, as I didn’t intend losing any of my travel pay while shooting craps.  The night life in Santa Cruz area wasn’t exciting as Hollywood or glitzy as ‘Vegas, still, it was pleasant to be with loved ones.

Those were thirty wonderful days spent with friends and my parents who hosted a farewell dinner party which meant a lot to me.  Finally, the end came.  There was a lively booze-bash at the Aloha Bar in Santa Cruz, where the Juke Box blared old favorite good-bye songs, ‘Now is the Hour, My Buddy, Harbor Lights and Till We Meet Again, and at closing we were all teary and drunk.  The next day I boarded a Greyhound bus bound for ‘Frisco.

Part II:  Crossing the continental United States by Greyhound

1956 Greyhound  Scenic Cruiser

1956 Greyhound Scenic Cruiser

On 16 October, I left ‘Frisco on one of those Greyhound Scenic Cruiser which featured a restroom and guaranteed me a three day passage on the same bus all the way to Philadelphia.  Well, our first mishap happened while crossing the High Sierra. Driving on old highway US 40 near Donner Pass, I saw smoke coming from bus floor.  I discreetly told the driver without causing a panic among the dozing or sleeping passengers.  He had no place to pull over, so he continued driving to bottom of pass and stopped at Heidlemann Lodge.   I helped him open cargo hatches and unloaded suitcases.  He found the smoldering wiring and put out the potential fire.

A smaller bus arrived and was not large enough to carry all passengers from the cruiser.  I told the driver that I had to report to Fort Dix on a certain day and time.  He manifested me first; because I had discovered the smoke and helped him with his passengers and their personal belongings.

We arrived in Reno and had a short layover waiting for another Scenic Cruiser and the

Heidlemann Lodge

Heidlemann Lodge

remaining passengers coming from Heidlemann Lodge.  By dawn we were on our way, east.  No problems in and out of Salt Lake City and north to Cheyenne, when the cruiser began having transmission problems.  We debarked at Cheyenne and waited several more hours for the third Scenic Cruiser.  This one had a new driver, who assured us we would remain on the same cruiser all the way to Philly.  All of us got a big surprise when we arrived at Chicago.  It seems that our bus was overdue for routine maintenance, so we had to get our baggage and climb aboard a fourth Scenic Cruiser.  After an uneventful ride on the way to Philly and about ten hours behind schedule, I still had plenty of time to check in at Fort Dix.  Man, was I beat.  I headed for the nearest bar and had a few drinks.  I knew a girl in Philly, who I had met previously on Labor Day 1955 at Santa Barbara, California.  I called her, but, I didn’t realize that it was so late. So, Kathy and I just had a nice telephone conversation and I promised to send her postcards from Germany.

The next day I caught another bus to Trenton, NJ.  From there I still had to take another bus and finally arrived at Ft. Dix.

What a big difference after leaving Camp Irwin with a permanent party of under 2000

Fort Dix RC (Reception Center)

Fort Dix RC (Reception Center)

personnel.  At Fort Dix I saw thousands and thousands of soldiers, either arriving or leaving.  Of course there were many raw ‘boots’ with the same wild-eye stare that I had 18-months earlier when I was in ‘zero-week’ at Fort Ord, California. I didn’t pay too much attention to them.  As I remembered my days in basic training and I didn’t want to recall that part of my army hitch.  (Fort Ord was infamous for contacting pneumonia, especially during first weeks while training in the spring.)

So here I was at Fort Dix, getting briefed on what it would be like in West Germany.  The strange new customs, culture and a different kind of people who eleven years before were our bitter enemy.  We were told about the Iron Curtain and how the countries east of it were so far behind the West.  The propaganda movies we saw of how primitive the Soviet Military was a joke.  Some of the footage had to be from WW I.  At this time I wasn’t sure where I was going to be sent, so I took it all in.  Then, after spending three days at Fort Dix, my orders came through.  About 1800 of us were taken to a large building and began our processing.  As my named was called and my locator punch-card handed to me, I wasn’t very impressed with the name that was typed on my card.  It read:  793rd MP BN, Grafenwoehr.  It sure looked foreign to me and I didn’t have any idea where in the hell it was.  A few minutes later I found out and what a shock  I was told by this older sergeant I had met, that Grafenwoehr was a large armored

Brooklyn Army Terminal

Brooklyn Army Terminal

training center; located about 35 miles west of the Czech Border and many more miles from any decent ‘pass’ city.  I was dumbfounded.  I just couldn’t believe that this was actually happening to me. Not after spending nearly a year at a similar army installation in the Mojave Desert.  I thought there had been some mistake. So, got in line for a second opinion, but, was flatly told, “What I got, is where I go.”  After that, I knew that I just had been had.  The very next day we left by bus for New York City and boarded the U.S.General H.F. Hodges (T-AP 144) at Brooklyn Army Terminus.

Part III:  Fifteen Days Aboard the Hodges

USS General H.F.Hodges

U.S.General H.F.Hodges

The Hodges was Squier-class troop transport ship built by Kaiser Co., Inc., Richmond, California; for the U.S. Navy in World War II and commissioned 6 April 1945. She was crewed by U.S. Coast Guard personnel until final decommissioning in 1979.  On 1 March 1950 she was transferred to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) as USNS General H. F. Hodges (T-AP-144).  She carried troops, their dependents, and supplies to most of the ports in northern Europe and the Mediterranean until 1958.

The Hodges floated away from the Brooklyn docks assisted by two tug boats, while an army band played Bon Voyage tunes.  Oh, it was such a touching scene.  As those tugs continue to pulled her into open sea, we passed the Statue of Liberty and in the distance, we could see the famous skyline of New York City.  This would be my last look at America for the next fifteen months.

I was assigned to ‘E’ compartment (several decks below main deck) with seventy-five other men.  During the initial roll call by our compartment commander, (’CC’) my named had not been called.  So, during the first three days aboard ship, I made myself impossible to found, until finally he had my name broadcasted over the ‘squawk-box’.  I had to give up my bugging-out, for fear that he would probably list me as AWOL while aboard a moving water craft.  By this time all of the menial details had been filled and our ‘CC’ could not find a thing for me to do.  He said, “Stand-by.”  That I did, although not in ‘E’ compartment.  It seemed that there were more like me.  So, we got together and decided to make the best of our ocean voyage to Europe.  We invaded the crew’s day room where we spent our daylight hours.  During the evening, up until 2100 hours, we casually mingled with the dependents and as it turned out, we all had a ball.

I was lucky, because I didn’t get seasick during the entire voyage.  However, most personnel aboard did become sick and what a great big mess with vomit everywhere, i .e., on decks, bulkheads and ship’s railings.  Just about everyone I saw carried a paper bag and frequently made a deposit in it.  Also, at other times, they would take a bite from a salt cracker and within the minute or so, would puke into their paper bag.  Of course their seasickness only lasted for a couple of days and soon everyone was back to normal.

Believe it or not, some gung-ho nut came up with an idea that the troops should have training while aboard ship.  We had orientation movies about life in Germany.  Plus, fire drills, gas drills, man overboard drills and when the Hodges wasn’t listing all over herself due to rolling swells, we had ‘PT’.  Gawd!  I said to myself, what would the army think of next?  I tried to avoid these events.  After all, this was supposed to be an ocean cruise.

I must say, even though the Hodges was an older vessel from the WW II era, she had fairly good facilities.  Although, the compartments we slept in were small and confining, they were also well maintained and clean.  The latrines were an ultimate with plenty of fresh water for shaving and showering and it was made known that everybody would take a shower at least once a day.  Even if the compartments were clean, the ventilation wasn’t very modern; with seventy-five men per unit, their body odor could make it quite stinky.  The ship’s mess wasn’t too bad.  The chow was fit to eat.  However, my small group made deals with the mess crew and ate with them.  There was plenty to eat and those ‘swabby’ cooks were happy to see us enjoy their cooking.

We were about three or four days at sea, when an announcement over the squawk box told us that were changing course and redirecting our voyage to Casablanca, North Africa.  We were not given the reason why and that is when rumors began to fly.

(In 1955-56  a crisis with the Suez Canal was simmering and by mid-October 1956, it was about to boil-over.  A military confrontation was about to happen [Later acknowledged as The Suez Crisis 29 October – 7 November 1956] between Egypt on one side, and Britain, France and Israel on the other side.  The United States, Soviet Union and the UN played a major part in resolving this very hot situation.)

Our sixth day out we passed the Azores.  Three more days and we would make our first port

Azores

Azores

of call: Casablanca.  Those three days were wonderful.  The sun was out every day and at night the full moon covered the sea like a giant candle. During the day, we ‘bug-outs’ would go to an upper deck near the dependents quarters and sun bathe. We had to be very careful, because we substituted bathing trunks with our army issued O.D. boxer shorts; always putting a lookout to warn if anyone was approaching, especially female dependents.  However, our lookout wasn’t very observant, because a young girl climbed a side ladder and while rushing for our fatigues, one guy ripped his shorts on a cable and stood bare-ass naked in front of her.  We were all glad that she had a broad mind and a sense of humor because all she did was laugh and climb down the ladder.  Needless to say it stopped all future attempts to get a tan and we were more cautious where we went.

At dawn on our eleventh day from New York, we arrive at Casablanca.  It was my first sighting of the eastern hemisphere and North Africa.  From the ship rail I was amazed of the

Port of Casablanca 1956

Port of Casablanca 1956

type of dress the locals wore. Most of the men, women and children wore white cloaks covering themselves from head to toe.  Very few of them were dressed in western conservative apparel.  Everything looked so strange; the different architecture of buildings, the odd looking cars with many foreign makes and models that I had never seen before, although some vehicles were older vintage American models.  I even saw a camel led by a small boy on the wide street next to the pier were the Hodges was moored.

I soon discovered the reason why we changed course and a stop-over here.  Among the troops were a few sailors, airmen and even one marine and all of them disembarked.  I believe they were connected with various military intelligence agencies or America Embassy and someway involved the ‘The Suez Crisis’.

None of us were allowed to go ashore and due to that, some of us were very pissed-off.  Because a day before docking, we had been promised a two hour shore pass.  I learned later the reason we were not permitted to leave ship.  It was because the ongoing situation at the time happening in Egypt and the Suez Canal.

We left Casablanca the next day at 1300 hours en-route to Bremerhaven, Germany.  During the next four days we sailed by the Gibraltar, Lisbon and the entire coast of France, passing the White Cliffs of Dover, Belgium and Holland and finally entering the harbor of Bremerhaven on/or about 30 October 1956.

Bremerhaven.Dock.1956

Bremerhaven.Dock.1956

As one would expect, there was a German band on the dock playing some version of an American song to make us feel welcome.  Our voyage had ended and my new home for the next fifteen months.  We left dock area and boarded trains for our various destinations.  Mine for the time being, was Nuremberg.  It was dark before we pulled out from the dockside train station.  I didn’t have a chance to see much of the northern German countryside.  During this nights journey we passed through Bremen, Marbugh, Bad Nauheim and early the next morning changed trains at Frankfurt.  At 1000 hours we arrived at Nuremberg and were transported from train station to 793rd Battalion Headquarters by truck.  At last I had arrived.

Part IV:  A Newcomer to Germany

While at Nuremberg, I was in for another surprise and other surprises were to follow.  The first one was that I was not going to Grafenwoehr after all, but, to another similar training area called Hohenfels.  Being curious I inquired about this place and learned that it was even worse than Grafenwoehr.  However, it appeared to have several better advantages, i.e., it was closer to larger pass cities than Grafenwoehr.  Also the duty was better at Hohenfels.  The latter remained to be seen.

I departed Nuremberg via a 6×6 en-route to a historical city located on the Danube River named Regensburg.  ‘C’ Company of the 793rd MP BN, was located in Raffler Kaserne.  (I was to stay there thirty days for on-the-job training. From there sent to Hohenfels for my permanent assignment.)  Man, what a place.  The barracks was like a palace compared to my billet at Camp Irwin. With T&G hardwood floors, real beds with innerspring mattresses to sleep on.  There were a few problems with the heating system and taking frequent cold showers was not uncommon.  The duty was menial and not very interesting.  I was junior MP on town patrol and did not have the responsibilities as the senior MP.  We checked many Gasthauses (Bars) and performed routine traffic checks.  My off-duty time was the best by a long time shot.  The night life was good.  The cabarets had very risqué floor shows and so many Gastasuses to visit and drink good Bavarian beer and dance with lovely Fräuleins.  It was great.  I didn’t ever want to leave this place, it showed me a lot. However, and too soon, my thirty days of ‘OJT’ ended. I was about to leave for Hohenfels.

The ‘C’ company ‘CO’ requested (Ordered) me to drive a MP Jeep to Hohenfels.  He said it was a replacement for one that had been wrecked.  I went to the TMP (Motor Pool) with orders

Hohenfels Main Gate ~ December 1957

Hohenfels Main Gate ~ December 1957

and TCMD for movement of a military vehicle and driver via highway to a new duty post.  The dispatcher knew that I was a rookie and I think he planned to mess me up a little.  He drew me a map showing road route and marked the east turn-off I was to take at Parsberg.  He told me not to drive over 40 MPH, because the front end would shake and rattle after that speed.  With his map in hand I departed.  The road surface was okay and not too many curves.  On straight a-ways when several cars would bunch up behind and begin blowing their horns, I attempted to speed up, but, every time I neared 50 MPH, the front wheels would wobble making it difficult to steer the Jeep.  So, I would pull over every now and then and let the honkers pass.  I missed the turn off at Parsberg, because I didn’t notice a city limit sign.  I finally realized my mistake when I reached Neumarkt.  I didn’t know where and the hell I was by then.

So, I asked a German policeman who spoke a little English for new directions.  I showed him the dispatcher’s map and he started laughing.  He said, in mixed German and English,  “Herr Militärpolizisten, genommen Sie dumm”,  and translated:  “Mister military policeman, you have been made a fool”.  He went on to say that the shortest and better route between Regensburg and Hohenfels was by way of Kallmunz and about 32 kilometers. The map via Parsberg was over 60 kilometers.  He redrew the map and I found my way to Hohenfels.  The date was Sunday, 3 December 1956.  I finally arrived at Hohenfels lateer that afternoon.  (I left Regensberg at 0600 hours that same morning)

Camp Nainhof ~ 1956

Camp Nainhof ~ 1956

The main area on Hohenfels was called Camp Nainhof and really impressed me.  It resembled a college campus.  With green lawns and scattered buildings located near the forest tree line.  It was nice to be here in a quaint sort of way.

My next surprise came three days later after getting settled at my new billet in headquarters building.  The Military Police station was attached to it and was very convenient for the patrolmen.  I was called in to the NCOIC office and was informed that I would be going TDY (temporary duty) to an USAF Air Base near Munich. He said I would be there for about a week until UN or humanitarian relief took over. I had absolutely no idea of what he was talking about.  After he briefed me, I was about to get involved with another historical incident:  ‘Operation Safe Haven’.

This time I had ‘TDY’ orders and vouchers to travel to and from Munich by train.  The orders were for an unspecified period.  So, my first assignment was at a US Air Base [Either Erding Air Base or Neubiberg Air Base near Munich in ‘Operation Safe Haven’.]  This mission was a relocation program of about 200,000 Hungarian refugees following the Hungarian Revolution in October-November 1956.  This was my first exposure in seeing a mass of helpless civilians fleeing the fear of communist control. [I went to South Vietnam in 1968.  The ‘Fall of Saigon’ in April 1975 was my second exposure in witnessing a mass of people fleeing Communism.]

My duty was crowd control and security details.  It ended within a few days when the UN civilian relief personnel arrived and I returned to Hohenfels.

I continued my fifteen month tour at Hohenfels, Germany and was less than 60 miles west of the Iron Curtain.  I lived under the shadow of “Drop-shot”,  the U.S. plan for a third world war, which governed strategic thinking for the 1950’s.  The threat of thousands of Red Army tanks rolling through the Fulda Gap was an easy path to conquer West Germany.  Our only real weapon stopping the Soviet invasion was the M65-280mm Atomic howitzer with a W19 war head and the primitive surface to surface MGR-1 Honest John   Also, a Corporal Missile unit was stationed in Babenhausen Kaserne. Its fire mission was to protect the Fulda Gap.  This missile system had a dismal record as “notoriously unreliable and inaccurate”.  The Redstone missile system did not arrive until June 1958.  I only mention this because living under the Soviet threat of World Communism to me at the time was a reality.

My First Duty Assignment at Hohenfels

In 1956 General Uncles was assigned as commander of the VII Corps, serving until his retirement in 1958.  General Uncles traveled SAC in his private luxurious railway car.   In December 1956 he visited Hohenfels and his private car was on a track-spur at the railroad terminal in Parsberg.  It was the Hohenfels MP’s responsibility to provide round-the-clock guard duty for the General.  One of my initial assignments as patrolman was pulling guard duty (night shift) walking my post around his private car.  It was an eight hour shift (I think?) and it was bitter cold.  A patrolman would drive from post every couple of hours with hot coffee.  It seems that ‘newbies’ always got stuck with this assignment.

I must have made some points with Provost Marshal while on TDY in Munich. Because, for the next several weeks in December he interviewed me on a daily basis.  I had no idea of his intentions until 31 December 1956 when he appointed me his new ‘PMI’ (Provost Marshal Investigator) This was my final and best surprise in 1956.

Starting on 1 January 1957, I was detached to 9th CID at Hohenfels and would be working with two CID agents for indefinite period.  This was a real boost for my career if I decided to re-enlist.  I was to wear civilian attire and assigned a personal US Government vehicle, a 1956 Ford Taunus  mini-pickup.

Mr. T.C.  Bartlebaugh was senior agent.  “TC” was a good investigator and those of us in his

T.C. Bartlebaugh on left 9TH CID Staff at Hohenfels

T.C. Bartlebaugh on left 9TH CID Staff at Hohenfels

inner circle nicknamed him ‘Detective Poirot’.  I worked with him for about eight months and what was uncanny, I never learned what his initials stood for or his military rank.  I presumed he had a commission, because he frequented the officers club.  Most likely a ‘mustang’ with rank of Warrant Officer (W-4).  “TC” had served since the beginning of World War II.

Mr. Boradwell on left.  His Wedding day, January 1957

Mr. Boradwell on left. His Wedding day, January 1957

Mr. Broadwell, an accredited agent, was married to a German national and fluently spoke the language.  He and his wife lived in small cottage on a hill on south side of Hohenfels.  Broadwell was a cautious and cunning agent and demanded perfection from his subordinates.

Mr. Borbe was our ‘dolmetscher’ (interpreter) and had been an intelligence officer (Major) who served with Rommel in North Africa.  He hated everything tainted or connected to

Mr. Borbe ~ 1957

Mr. Borbe ~ 1957

Hitler.  He once told me he had been minutely involved in the Valkyrie Conspiracy.  He said that he was lucky not to be executed and instead was reassigned to the Russian Front in 1944 and survived.  We often frequented the Bundeswehr Officers club at Camp Unteroedenhart where he and a few old comrades told great war stories.

 

As PMI and I immediately got the nickname Mr. ’X’ from my peers.

Primarily engaged in military automobile accidents involving fatalities or severe bodily injuries:

 

My First Accident Investigation, Hohenfels, 1957

My First Accident Investigation, Hohenfels, 1957

(21b) Fatal Crash, Involving a US Army APC Neumarkt, 1957 IMG_0001 (21c) Driver Stuck in Cess Pool, Hohenfels, 1957 (21d) Near Roll Over on Path to Schlossberg Tower, Hoehenfels, 195 (21e) Non Fatal Head on Near Hohenfels, 1957 (21f) One Fatality in Jeep Roll Over, Hoehnfels, 1957 (21g) One Fatality, 1949 Ford Roll Over, Hoehnfels, 1957 (21h) Stolen MP Jeep in Roll Over, Hohenfels, 1957 (21i) Two Fatalities in Truck Roll Over, Neumarkt, July 1957

Fatal Crash, Involving a US Army APC Neumarkt, 1957

Right: Driver Stuck in Cess Pool, Hohenfels, 1957

Right Center: Near Roll Over on Path to Schlossberg Tower, Hoehenfels, 1957

Non Fatal Head on Near Hohenfels, 1957

Below Left:One Fatality in Jeep Roll Over, Hoehnfels, 1957

Right: One Fatality, 1949 Ford Roll Over, Hoehnfels, 1957

Center: Stolen MP Jeep in Roll Over, Hohenfels, 1957

Below Center: Two Fatalities in Truck Roll Over, Neumarkt, July 1957

Also, I made many aerial surveillances with pilot CWO Binkleman (L-19 Cessna) over of Hohenfels Post looking for local nationals pilfering US Government property.  The German Nationals quite often came on the base to let their sheep graze or to collect brass, or any number of things.  The pilot received the unflattering nickname of ‘Sheepherder Patrol’. [Aerial surveillance was an idea I gave the PM; advising him how successful it had been at Camp Irwin in apprehending ‘The Brass Rustlers’.

Did a lot of stake-outs for the ‘Spooks’:  The ‘Donut Dollies’ at the service club were constantly being hassled by personnel in the field and were concerned about their safety.  I would post myself inside a building facing the Special Services club entrance and perform surveillance on anyone who might hassle the these women when they got off duty.  I apprehended several personnel who had made direct threats to these women and their offenders were punished under UCMJ Article 134.

My choice of weapon when I was assigned PMI to Bartlebaugh’s office:  PMI personnel were non-accredited agents.  However, we were allowed to wear civilian clothes and carry a concealed weapon.  Well, Bartlebaugh wanted me to carry a .38 Police Special revolver. (Colt or S&W?).   I said I preferred it be a .45.  He kept insisting a .38.  Then, I gave him my reasons why:  I had never qualified on the range to shoot a .38.  It was too light-weight. It only held 6-rounds.  With a .45, I qualified as expert; its clip held 7-rounds plus one in the chamber, giving me 2 extra rounds.  And, with several extra clips, I could reload my automatic much quicker than putting round by round in a six shooter.  Also, Broadwell and Borbe both carried 9mm German Lugers, which were not even authorized. Bartlebaugh finally relented and approved my weapon of choice.  He even loaned me his shoulder holster from WW II.  Luckily, I never had to draw nor fire my weapon while on duty.

Another serious problem we encountered was brutal aggravated assaults on white soldiers by Negro soldiers. Between Camp Nainhof and Camp Albertshof; a little distance northeast of the Service Club and Bowling Alley, was as heavy wooded area and a short cut to barracks at Albertshof.  Groups of Negroes would prey upon a lone white soldier who was traversing the path through the wooded area, and would be attacked by them and severely beaten.  These assaults became so prevalent that Lt Devitt requested the Post Commander to place the entire wooded area “off limits”.  The area was posted and routinely surveilled by MP patrols. However, tipsy soldiers ignored the order and posted signs and assaults continued to occur.

After the next assault, Mr. Bartlebaugh received authority from Post Commander to hold a formation in Albertshof of all Negro soldiers only.  He, myself and a medical team examined the hands of every solider in formation; looking for bruised or cut knuckles.  We found one them and with intensive integration (threats of a General courts martial, etc.,); he gave us the names of all who were involved in this series of assaults.  [Our procedure could never be repeated in ‘Today’s Army’ without ramifications]

German enlistment’s club in Bundeswehr territory: Yes, off-limits to US Army personnel.  But, CID/PMI always had reasons to fraternized with our allies: [sic erat scriptum], “we did as others couldn’t.”  These young German soliders were so interested in American culture and not too proud of their past.  We drank with them and never had bad feelings about who won or who lost the war.  Great memories with good people.

Velburg was my favorite village in the Hohenfels area.  I briefly dated a Fraulein named

Mr ‘X’ and Irmgard

Mr ‘X’ and Irmgard

Irmgard who lived in Velburg.  She worked at Headquarters in the secretarial pool. Her father was the area Jagdaufseher [Game Warden]. During my visits to her village, she took me to King Otto Cavern.  Today, it is a big tourist attraction in Velburg.  Other excursions included Castle Velburg and Roman Ruins situated on a knoll southeast of her village. The Roman footpath led to a small valley at base of eastern slope of same knoll.  The entire path was made from flat stones; most of them nearly a foot in diameter.  I still have the wood carving of ‘Praying Hands’.  Irmgard’s uncle was a wood carver and it was a gift.

Velburg 1957

Velburg 1957

I remembered a story Irmgard told me of her earlier visits to King Otto’s Cave.  She said when she was younger (pre-teen I presumed, as she was twenty when I dated her). Her father took her and her siblings on a cave tour.  Their only source of lighting was by candle or torch.  When a sudden downdraft from an overhead opening occurred, the candle was extinguished.  Irmgard and her siblings would scream in horrible fright and as she bluntly put it to me, “Ich pinkeln in meinem Höschen” (I peed in my panties).  It is funny that I remember this, because the CWO pilot who flew me on ‘herd patrol’ was named Binklemann.  Irmgard said that his name literally meant pissing man.

The Cave was electrified in 1954. However, when I visited it with her in 1958, we both carried

King Otto's Cave

King Otto’s Cave

flashlights with fresh batteries.  In research I found that on 2 December 1972, another part of the cave was discovered. The cave searchers found a large, cave-like hall with stalactites and different shapes that these young discoveries exclaimed it was like a ‘Wagner’ experience.  The new cave-like hall was named “Advent Hall”.  These guys must have been ‘mad King Ludwig’ aficionados, reminiscent of his Venus Grotto Cavern at Linderhof.

August  2013: My cousin sent me her recent publication:  ‘Reflecting on our Heritage’; a 408 page book about my maternal ancestors:  “The Didion Family, 1650—2012.  When I began to read her publication I immediately recognized names and places. Coincidental, I spent ‘2-week’ field-tours in that area of Saarland.  [March 1957 and  September 1957]  Our bivouac area was located north of Neunkirchen and west of Bexbach.   Bexbach is where the Didion family originated in 1650.  It is amazing that fifty-six years ago I was wandering around the hallow ground of our ancestors.  I didn’t have a clue of their exact origins until now.  I had been told by my mother, the Didions originated in Dijon in the province of Burgundy.  My cousin’s research proved this to be incorrect.  It was great revelation and now a historical gem to know my real roots for my maternal ancestors.

In March 1957 we drove the northern route to Saarland via Nuremberg, Wurzburg and Kaiserslautern.  In September it was the southern route via Stuttgart, Karlsruhe and Parmasens.

This was the scope of our mission in Saarland during the Cold War:  Upon locating a vehicle bearing U.S. Mission license plates in West Germany, we would detain and photograph

USSR (SOVIET UNION) FLAG LICENSE PLATE

U.S. (SOVIET UNION) FLAG LICENSE PLATE

vehicle’s license plate and personnel.  Our photos and written reports would be turned over to G-2 or C.I.C for further investigation and follow-up.

Saarland’s fame was ‘Atomic Annie‘ [M65 Atomic Cannon] where it was hauled around by two tracked vehicles to multiple heavy forested areas in Saarland.  This tactic kept the Soviets from guessing the exact locations.  It was actually fired once at Baumholder on 4 November 1955.  Several of these monsters were deployed throughout Europe in the 1950’s.

I knew of only two nuclear storage facilities while I was in W. Germany:  Baumholder and Sembach Air Base.  However, there were seventy-five nuke storage facilities up until the mid-1980s.  Only two remain today:  Ramstein and Buchel Air Bases.

The Altmuehltal Valley was another special place to visit.  The southern end of the valley

Altmuehltal Valley ~ 1957

Altmuehltal Valley ~ 1957

began where Altmuehltal river entered the Danbue near Kelheim.  Kelheim is the location of the Liberation Hall.  Just a few miles south is Donau and the famous Walhalla temple overlooking the Danube river.  I visited both locations at different times.  The Roman legions march through the Altmuehltal Valley over 20-centuries ago and left behind watchtowers, country houses, Roman baths that have been restored and a treasure of artifacts which can be seen today at the Weibenburg Roman Museum.

Walhalla: Germany’s ‘Hall of Fame’ that honors famous people in German history.  “The memorial displays some 65 plaques and 130 busts of persons, covering 2,000 years of history — the earliest person honored is Arminius, victor at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (9 AD).”

Walhalla ~ 1957

Walhalla ~ 1957

The Last Day in 3rd Platoon,”C” Company: In Spring of 1957 major changes were made in

The Old Gang from 3rd Platoon,"C" Company ~ 1957

The Old Gang from 3rd Platoon,”C” Company ~ 1957

command structure and company/platoon locations in 793rd MP battalion. Hohenfels:  Personnel (90%) in 3rd Platoon, ‘C’ Company were reassigned to other MP units at Ulm and Stuttgart.  The new unit at Hohenfels became: 3rd Platoon, ‘B’ Company,[ 793rd MP Bn] with Headquarters at Grafenwoehr. ‘C’ Company Headquarters at Regensberg changed commands from Nuremberg to Munich.

 

No Pay, No Play

Something went very wrong in transferring of my army service files, including my 201 file, pay records, etc.  These files did not arrived at Hohenfels until March 1957.  The last pay I had received was in mid-September 1956.  It was disbursed as travel pay and as an advance against my current monthly salary. In other words, I had not been paid in four months.  Fortunately, I hadn’t spent all of my travel pay and I had taken the balance and several hundred dollars in travelers check when I left CONUS.  At each monthly pay day, (October to February) my name was not on the pay master’s records.  So, every payday I had to drive to the Bavarian town of Straubing (Mansfield Kaserne) where the finance office was located and allowed to draw a minimum advance ($15 or $20 MPC).  When my records finally arrive in March, I received all back pay on pay day.

(28)Top row left to right: Garmish, Olympia Stadium, PPT Stage, Oberammergau,

(28)Top row left to right: Garmish, Olympia Stadium, PPT Stage, Oberammergau,

Below L to R:  Castle Linderhof, 650 Year Old Tower, Ettal, Neuschwanstein

I was about due to have some fun.  I requested a three day pass for May and it was authorized, signed and issued.  My destination was Garmish R & R center.  The first day, I roamed around Garmish. The weather was beautiful and a photographers delight to take pictures of this winter haven in the northern Alps.  Next day I booked a tour and visited Olympia Stadium, which sponsored the1936 Winter Olympics. Our next stop was Passion Play Theather at Oberammergau.  Then took a walking tour of  King Ludwig II, Castle Linderhof, and later, made a brief visit at Ettal Monastery and took a photo 650 year Old Tower.  Our final place of interest was Ludwig’s famous Neuschwanstein where we were transported by horse and carriage to this fantastic hilltop castle.

Top: Horse and carriage tranposttion to Castle inner courtyard Bottom: View of Neuschwanstein looking north

Top: Horse and carriage tranposttion to Castle inner courtyard
Bottom: View of Neuschwanstein looking north

The Amazing T.C. Bartlebaugh

May 1957, an inbound US Army unit inbound-convoy on road between Parsberg and Hohenfels main gate: Multiple rounds had been fired at a farm house on right side of road about halfway to main gate.  Estimated time: 1400 hrs.  “TC”and I were notified and began investigation.  While en-route to shooting scene, “TC” stopped at main gate and obtained date/time stamp of units entering post between 1400 and 1430 hours.  Only one unit had entered and was identified.

Arrived at shooting scene and immediately searched the roadside area for expended cartridges.  We found six M1 .30 Carbine cartridges.  Took photographs and wrote field report.  Later that afternoon we contacted the CO of the identified unit and requested him to order all personnel issued M1 .30 Carbines and turn over their weapon(s) to CID.  We confiscated six weapons. [This is where “TC’s” expertise and innovation really worked well]  He performed an on-the-spot lab-field test.  Remember those red painted 50 gallon barrels filled with water at the end of each barracks?  Well, “TC” fired each weapon into the barrel.  He wasn’t too interested in the bullet or round.  His main concern was the expended cartridge or casing.  He compared each expended cartridge to those we obtained at the sight of shooting and matched markings from firing pin strike on respective.30 expended cartridge.  “TC” actually located the exact carbine used in the shooting incident.  It was later positively confirmed by 9th CID lab in Nuremberg and submitted as evidence against the shooter at his court-martial.  This case was solved by 2000 hours that same evening; a remarkable primitive forensic investigation.

Summer of 1957

I’ll give a brief explanation on why the locals got so restless and belligerent in the summer of 1957 and continue through most of 1958.

An Airborne unit came to Hohenfels in July 1957 for training and maneuvers.  Unfortunately, they assigned their MP’s to our detachment for various on and off post duties.  The Airborne MP’s were restricted to post during off duty hours.  Nevertheless, the majority of them went off-post without passes to the towns surrounding Hohenfels. (Schmidmuhlen, Hohenburg, Velburg, Parsberg, etc., etc.)  They would get drunk causing misconduct and fight WW II all over again with patrons in Gasthauses. The violence became so out of control; that Lt Devitt ordered all of these towns “out of bounds” for all Military Police stationed at Hohenfels station. Their CO must have had connections, because not one of them was ever punished.

I  have “Total Recall” about many aspects of the 11th ABD MP rumble at Hohenfels.  Two of the major rabble-rousers were twin brothers assigned to the 11th AB MP unit.  They each had a Jaguar.  1956 XK140 Roadster and 1956 XK140 Fixed Head Coupe. Their daddy was a Congressman, very rich and connected; another reason why none of them received a court-martial.

I thought it necessary to provide more details on “why the locals got so restless and belligerent again 1958.”  The Airborne MP incidents culminated a long simmering local national community in showing their resentment against the US Military presence at Hohenfels post.

A brief history from 1945 to 1958 about Hohenfels

The more important reasons why their actions happened: [In May 1945, after the area was secure, the first displaced persons arrived in Hohenfels (most of them former internees from German concentration camps of Flossenburg, Hersbruck, and Buchenwald).  During the peak period in July 1945 up to 13,000 DP’s were billeted at the camp.

In 1947, it appeared as if the training area would not be returned to its initial military purpose. The U.S. Military Governor and later, the High Commissioner for Germany, allowed the return of civilians to the former military reservation.

At this time, a large stone cross was moved from Hohenfels-Nainhof road and erected on a hilltop in Camp Nainhof (Today; next to the post bank), the Bavarian State Secretary for Agriculture and Forestry visiting Hohenfels at this time gave a speech, he emphasized that “no more will this soil be used to train men in the art of war”, and “never again, so long as we live, will Hohenfels become a center for militaristic activities of any kind.”

In 1951, the U.S. Forces placed a demand for the training area and further demanded its expansion. This move came as a total surprise and great shock to German authorities and public alike. Protest gatherings were held, resolutions presented and delegations sent to have the U.S. demands and intentions revoked. It was all in vain. In a meeting between German Federal Government, Bavaria State Government, Land Commission of Bavaria, and US Army representatives on August 17, 1951 at Parsberg, reactivation of the training area and expansion by 12,000 acres to its present size of 40,000 acres was approved.

The communities of Geroldsee, Griffenwang, Lutzmannstein, Pielenhofen, Nainhof, and numerous hamlets were evacuated. All in all, more than 3,000 people had to be relocated. Within a month, in October 1951, the first American training unit moved in. At that time, operations and range control functions were accomplished by a Seventh Army Range Detachment.

In 1958, the Hohenfels Training Area was placed under the Seventh Army Training Center, predecessor of the 7A Training Command.]

There were a couple of other reasons I will mention.  Does anyone remember a Landespolizeimann named Andre?  He was the local law enforcement in Hohenfels.  When he learned that those Airborne MP’s would not be punished, he became very upset and for a while was not very cooperative with us.  He had been a regular visitor to the MP station and CID office.  Then, his visits became a rarity.

How about the Bürgermeister of Hohenfels?  He owned the ‘Golden Adler’ gasthaus locate in the center of town.  He also had the contract for removal/disposal of garbage and other expendables from post.  One of his crews was apprehended for stealing US Government property (Unopened consumables from the mess halls and medical supplies from post hospitable). I investigated this incident and filed my reports through the chain of command to Nuremberg.   Of course the Bürgermeister was not prosecuted.  However, his removal/disposal was cancelled and restricted from bidding on any future contracts.

Relations between the US Military and Bürgermeister, including the Landespolizei were at a very strained level and most probably added to the incitement of the local nationals.

My comments have mostly related to positive and fun events.  However, there are also dark-sides to some incidents which I experienced during my tour of duty.  Here is a teaser to these events directly involving the Bürgermeister and NCO Club manager; Post Commander and Provost Marshal, that resulted indirectly from the Airborne MP misconduct and out of bounds order; all of which affected my military career.

“Unlawful command influence” August 1957

All military personnel understand: “Unlawful command influence”, often refereed as “mortal enemy of military justice.”

Confidential Memorandum: I have compiled a synopsis of the aforementioned “Unlawful command influence”; often refereed as “mortal enemy of military justice.”  The incidents that I experienced during my tour of duty at Hohenfels.  Moreover, it does reflect how the chain of command reacts to what had happened.

These incidents directly involved the Burgomaster of Hohenfels and NCO Club manager; Post Commander, and Provost Marshal; that resulted indirectly from the Airborne MP misconduct and out of bounds order; all of which affected my military career.

Overview

In July 1957, the 11th Airborne, 187th Infantry Regiment was on maneuvers at Hohenfels and billeted at Camp Albertshof.  A detachment of Airborne MPs were assigned to Hohenfels Military Police Station for policing their respective units with on and off post duties.  The Airborne MP’s were restricted to post during off duty hours.  Nevertheless, the majority of them went off-post without passes to the towns surrounding Hohenfels. (Schmidmuhlen, Hohenburg, Velburg, Parsberg, etc., etc.)  They would get drunk causing misconduct and fight WW II all over again with patrons in Gasthauses.  In early August, the violence became so out of control; that on 15 August 1957, Provost Marshal ordered the town of Hohenfels “out of bounds” for all Military Police assigned at Hohenfels MP station.

Investigations and Interrogations

In early August, Mr. ‘B’ (CID) received a report from an army cook assigned to post mess hall of pilferage of canned and frozen food from his inventory.  (Cook had discovered unopened cases of food in garbage cans and suspected its removal by disposal hauler.)  On same day,  Mr ‘B’ requested a MP to make a routine traffic stop of disposal truck-driver and search vehicle for contraband.  MP performed the task and found US Government property including food stuffs.  The driver was escorted to CID office for interrogation.  Mr ‘B’ requested Landespolizeimann be present for this.  (Note: End of US Occupation of West Germany was on 5 May 1955.  Responsibility for jurisdiction of German National offenders was by local authorities, but, US Military had some leeway with investigations and interrogations of suspects.)  Mr ‘B’ was fluent in the German language.  However, he still depended on our interpreter and GN policeman to correctly ascertain the facts from his interrogation.

The driver implicated other German Nationals who worked on post; who provided various goods and materials to be removed by him. He admitted that his employer was the Bürgermeister of Hohenfels.  He also divulged knowledge that the NCO club manager was selling cases of liquor to the Bürgermeister; owner of ‘Golden Adler’ gasthaus located in center of Hohenfels.

Surveillance and Stakeout

Mr ‘B’ assigned me the task to make nightly surveillance of NCO club.  (Mr ‘B’ was a cautious and cunning agent and wanted a second witness if this investigation went to court-martial.)  The stakeout was made by aforementioned MP and me.  MP was already cognizant of what was going on and a close friend of mine.  We placed ourselves at two locations with cross-section views of club parking lot.  During the week, club closed at 2200 hours.  We were in-place between 2130 hrs and 2300 hrs.  Our third night into the stake out brought results.  We observed club manager loading several cases of liquor into trunk of his car.  I called Mr ‘B’ (He lived in small cottage on a hill on south side of Hohenfels) and reported that suspect drove away toward main gate.

He said, wait a few minutes and proceed to Adler.  Meanwhile, he would walk to town and continue-observance, and watch for suspect’s arrival.  By the time MP and I arrived, Mr ‘B’ had observed the NCO manager unloading and placing one case of liquor inside the Adler.  I took a photograph of case of liquor inside Adler and one of another case in trunk of vehicle. This next action that Mr ‘B’ initiated, and I believe was the beginning and ending of his case against the suspect. He notifies Provost Marshal, who notifies the Post Commander of our apprehension of NCO club manager for illicit and possible black market activities.  We escorted NCO club manager back to CID office and upon arrival find the office filled with brass.  Post Commander, NCO club OIC, and Provost Marshal.  (NCO club manager served with Post Commander in combat during WW II)

‘Band of Brothers’ Scenario Thickens

Post Commander wasn’t going to let his war buddy hang.  What none of us in the military police business knew, was, that the NCO club manager was already under suspicion for misappropriations of club funds.

This investigation was undertaken by NCO club OIC and [I think] by order of I.G. or finance.  You might remember in the hierarchy of the military, if one wanted to advance in rank, one did not rock the boat.  The Post Commander ordered or suggested Provost Marshal to purge CID inquiry of NCO club manager.  The investigation was stopped, film in camera was destroyed and Mr ‘B’ was mad as hell.  He requested and received an immediate transfer to 9th CID Hqs in Nuremberg.

Because of the ongoing internal investigation for misappropriations of club funds, Post Commander could do very little to stop it.  So, he relieved NCO club manager of this position and had him reassigned to Provost Marshal. The reason I was told that this move would keep him out of trouble.  The wily Provost Marshal created a new position for him as his Provost Sergeant.  The NCO club manager was M/sgt ‘T’.  You can bet your six pack, that M/sgt ‘T’ was out to get pay back from the MP and me.

Like Shylock, M/sgt ‘T’ gets his ‘pound of flesh’

On 16 August 1957 I invited the MP to have dinner. We had very little to celebrate, but, I owed him for his assistance.  He was reluctant to go because of Provost Marshal’s “off limits” order issued the previous day.  I said, no sweat, I’m attached to CID and just doing some follow up on the garbage case.  We went to Adler and had dinner in a private dining room.  After dinner, we had a couple of drinks and suddenly the door opens and there’s M/sgt ‘T’.  “Gotcha!”  He orders us back to post and proceeds to write us up. [I learned at a later date from waitress at the Adler, that Bürgermeister had called M/sgt ‘T’, reporting our presence there.]  Anyway, I advised the MP that I would clear everything up in the morning with Provost Marshal.  This was the occasion that taught me never, never to use the word ‘assume’.

‘Coup de grace’

The next morning I pleaded with Provost Marshal that I was attached to CID and not subject to his order.   I was advised, that as his PMI, I was still part of Company ‘C’, 793rd MP BN, etc, etc., and was subject to his direct order.  He lamely stated that since M/sgt ‘T’ was still under internal investigation for misappropriations of club funds; it would not look good if we were not punished for disobeying his direct order.  In other words, Provost Marshal was covering his “six” in case M/sgt called foul to our alleged misconduct.

Punishment

We received an article 15, reducing us in rank to E-3.  This original document with a cartoon attached, remained on bulletin board in MP station until the day I departed in late February 1958.  Our other non-judicial punishment was even worse than getting busted.  MP and I were assigned to permanent acting desk-sergeant duty until our DEROS.  MP left in early February 1958 and I near the end of same month.  Plus, the entire platoon was put on notice for daily curfew and routine bed checks and sign-out and sign-in for off post passes was required.  I lost my PMI assignment, as it warranted an enlisted rank of E-4 or above.  This action caused me to become very disenchanted in army protocol. I had thoughts of re-enlisting for six years and become an accredited CID agent; making the military my career.

There was solidarity among MP’s in ’C’ Company.  They were more pissed off about our

Article 15

Article 15

article 15 then my accomplice (Don) and me.  After that, they nicknamed the PM, the Green Hornet.  Moral was low and the PM lost much respect and confidence.

Don and I had talked about going to ‘IG’ and issue a complaint of our ordeal.  But, after talking it over with Bartlebaugh, we decided against it.  He said with us having about six months left in service, we would be better off not to “rock-the-boat”, because, ‘they, could make the rest of our tour very miserable’.

Actually, the desk duty assignment provided some positive results:  Hans Birkmeier taught me how to play chess, I wrote a short story of my Army experience beginning when I was at Camp Irwin, California to my arrival at Hohenfels.  Plus a parody about the PM and NCOIC, titled:  “The Green Hornet and Crib Check”.  The PM was nicknamed “The Green Hornet” because he often wore a tailored OG-107 “Type-1” wool utility uniform.  The ‘GI’ issue was Cotton Sateen. NCOIC got the handle of Sgt (Smiley) Sack.  I don’t remember origin of his nickname.

The desk-duty hours were better than patrol duty.  There were four desk sergeants, so  we worked eight hours on with 24 hours off.  When any of us wanted 2-days off, one of us would work a double shift.

Permanent acting desk-sergeant ~ 15 Aug 1957 to Feb 1958

“Knife-edge 1, Knife-edge, Over” February 1958

“Knife-edge 1, Knife-edge, Over” February 1958

On the lighter side I have attached photos of the three colorful interpreters who were assigned to the MP station:

MP Interperter~Ernst

MP Interperter~Ernst

Ernst had been in the new Volkssturm near the end of World War II.  Volkssturm was Hitler’s last resort to fight the invading allies.  Ernst would spellbind us with great war stories of his experiences in “Folk-Storm”.

 

 

 

Hans Birkmier was in Hitler’s Youth and hated everything about der Führer and Nazis.  He

MP Interperter~Hans Birkmier

MP Interperter~Hans Birkmier

taught me how to play chess and sometimes even let me win a match.  I corresponded with him until the mid-1980s.

 

 

 

Kohbert had a complex personality and (I think) was probably a good Nazi in WW II.

MP Interperter~Kohbert

MP Interperter~Kohbert

On the brighter side, I was able to spend another 2-weeks in the field at Saarland in September.

On Patrol in Saraland ~ September 1957

On Patrol in Saraland ~ September 1957

MPC birthday party, 26 September 1957: Celebration was held in the NCO club party room at Camp Nainhof.  Just about all personnel were replacements and most remained assigned to Hohenfels when I transferred to Grafenwöhr at end of February 1958 awaiting DEROS orders.

Below is a little history of MPC.  You are probably knowledgeable on this subject.  What got my attention was the fact that in 1949, DOD had considered disbanding the MPC.  I am happy that Congress did something right for a change in passing the ARA in 1950 preserving the MPC as a separate entity in the Army.

Ciapolos & John & Irmgard

Ciapolos & John & Irmgard

History

The Military Police Corps is one of the youngest branches of the United States Army. It was officially established on 26 September 1941.

Military Police in the Revolutionary War: The Military Police Corps traces its lineage and history back to the American Revolution. General George Washington requested that the staff position of Provost Marshal be created to deal with disciplinary issues. In January 1776, William Maroney was appointed.

October 1957, attended the Oktoberfest at Munich. Enjoy the slide show and music., “Munchen, Sputnik und Oktoberfest”. Bob Jermain and I went on a three-day pass to Munich in October 1957.  Our main purpose was to celebrate Oktoberfest which began on Sunday the sixth. I had been to Munich a few times before and some of the photos are from those other visits.  We arrived late Saturday night and didn’t do much trolling on ‘Gerti Strasse’. We got up early Sunday morning watched the very first beer wagon depart from Hofbrauhaus en-route Oktoberfest beer halls.

One of the highlights of the Oktoberfest was supposed to be a static display of an American 3-stage missile.  {R & D courtesy of Wernher von Braun and other German rocket scientists]  However, this display was sadly overshadowed by Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I, on 4 October 1957.  Notice in Photo#26 the lack a crowd around missile display.

I have a modest collection of LP 33 1/3 records that I brought back from Germany.  I found one with a better audio track selection for my slide show.  It is called ‘Munchner Bilderbogen’ and literately translates to ‘Munich in Pictures’ and features my old time favorite: “In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus: Eins, zwei, g’suffa”.  In a state of ‘a little tipsiness’, I sang this song so many times.

Oktoberfest at Night, Munchen, 1957

Oktoberfest at Night, Munchen, 1957

Here is a ‘ tale’ I wrote a couple of months after getting busted in 1957

Night of the ‘Green Hornet’

At a very unreasonable hour on 2 November 1957, the ‘Green Hornet‘ commenced ‘crib check’ of Military Police personnel at Camp Nainhof, Hohenfels.  Due to an unruly detachment of MP’s, Hornet requested assistance of an NCO.  Staff-Sergeant ‘Smiley Sack‘  immediately volunteered his services.

As the Hornet entered the first room, clenched in his right hand was a silver color flash light; very similar to the type the ‘Fang’  used during his nightly excursions to Golden Adler Gasthaus in Hohenfels city.  From bunk to bunk the beam of Hornet’s light flashed, until, finally it spotted an empty one.

At that time the Hornet let off a string of awful unprintable words and demanded to know, “Where’s that man?”  Sergeant Sack stepped forward, after a brief recovery from hearing such bad words which had just penetrated his ears and meekly stated, “That’s the ’Chief’s’ bunk; he’s on a three-day pass and signed out.”

The Hornet grunted and they both left the room.  As they approached the next sleeping room, the breaking of glass could be heard outside of the barracks.  Hornet screamed, “What’s that noise?”  Sack replied, “Sir, it’s nothing, just some of the MPs having a little target practice; honing their aiming skills”.  Completely puzzled, the Hornet mumbled, “What”?  Sack went on saying, “Yeah, some of the men are having a little fun, they’re heaving empty beer bottles out the window and trying to hit the flag pole”.  Hornet, after hearing Sack’s reply, said simply, “Oh”.  After entering the next room; going through the same procedure as they did before, Hornet’s light again spotted another empty bunk.  Again, he yelled and demanded to know, “Who that sleep there?”  Sack rushed over and grabbed the bunk tag and after identifying its occupant sadly said that Scar Face slept there.  After checking through the pass sign-out log which he now held in his hand, it was disclosed that poor Scar Face should have been in his bunk twenty minutes ago, and that he had only carried a P/P with him.  The Hornet then went into a state of hysteria.  He pounded his head against the wall saying, “How many times have I told these ’slow-leaks’ to be in their bunks by 2400 hours and make ’crib-check’.  He even went further by falling to the floor and began to pound his chest and yelled, “They all are trying to hang me”.  With that said, the brave Hornet started to weep, he wept so hard that his tears were flooding Scar Faces’ bunk area.  It took quite a while for him to get a hold of his emotions, but finally and after much ponder and difficult thinking he briefly stated to Sack, “Hell, that man is AWOL”.   They left the room with the Hornet just about going out of his rabbit ass mind, continually saying to himself over and over:  “All of them, they’re trying to hang me!”

Well now, the Hornet still had a few more rooms to ‘crib check’, so entering the next room, where two lonely bunks stood.   He soon discovered that his old asshole buddy slept in the bunk near the doorway and he very quietly tippy-toed past, making sure not to stumble over the empty beer case that was sitting on the floor next to it.  As he came nearer to the other bunk, his light danced off the sleek white sheets and nice pretty brown blankets, with no one occupying this bunk.  Hornet started to sputter like an old Model ‘T’ and more tears began running down the sides of his face, dripping onto his ‘tailor-made wool OG shirt. After about fifteen minutes of his pathetic demeanor, he finally got a hold of himself and asked Sack:  “Whose body in not properly tucked in that there bunk?”  Sack faintly replied, “The ‘Lizard’ sleeps there, and he’s down town with the ‘X Mr X’and Scar Face, lusting-it up  with ‘Acht und acht’ [88 was Hohenfels famous street walker] and the ‘Bone Queen’.

A parody by John T. Malch.  Written sometime in November 1957.  Hohenfels, Germany

Winter of 1957: Red Alert

Photo montage taken on day of ‘Alert’; code name “Operation Lion Nero”.  Primary function of Military Police was setting up check points in our area of responsibility and secondary was escorting American civilians and dependents by convoy which would eventually end at either Antwerp or Le Havre.  Our check point was in center of Neumarkt near the Regensberg/Ingolstadt junction.

We couldn’t leave our post; we had canned ‘C’ rations and heated them on Jeep manifold.  It was my first experience in below zero degree weather.

Photo Montage of ’Red Alert’ at  Neumarkt

Photo Montage of ’Red Alert’ at Neumarkt

Red Alerts

Most of us consider these alerts as a necessary nuisance.  However, they were very stressful, especially to the military husbands and fathers of dependents.

The mission: Should the ‘Balloon-go-up’ and the Soviets and the Eastern Bloc invaded West Germany, all major highways in the west would be classified as ‘high priority’ for land surface movements of US and Allied convoys.  The routing for dependents and non-essential personnel would be via secondary roadways.  (In our sector, Hohenfels to Antwerp or Le Havre)  The direct routing using major highway was 680 kilometers. (6 to 8 hours)  Secondary routing was over 800 kilometers with an estimated driving time of 8 to 10 hours.

The alert described above was a ‘dry-run’ evacuation all the way to Antwerp.  The convoy included a lead vehicle (Jeep) with Convoy Commander, a driver and a radioman who also navigated using road maps followed by three POV’s driven by dependents who had volunteered for this practice run. Other vehicles in convoy:  Ambulance with medical team, a communications truck, a mess truck and potable water tank trailer and last vehicle was a tow-truck pulling a 1000 gallon fuel tank trailer.  It took this convoy over fourteen hours to reach Antwerp.

A briefing was held the third day after the alert when the convoy returned to Hohenfels. The Convoy Commander reported that the ‘dry-run’ was a disaster.  While driving the back roads, the dependents got lost in making wrong turns and their children got car sick because of many curves and rough road surfaces. (They did not have maps or radios)  There were several breakdowns: flat tires, running out of gas and one fender bender with German national.  The commander had many other discrepancies with this method of evacuation and recommended that it should be by airlift.  (Hohenfels had a 3000 foot landing strip and a fleet of smaller passenger aircraft (DC-3, etc.) could safely land and take-off with evacuees. Even the C-119 Flying Boxcar had the ability to operate from short, minimally-prepared landing strips.)  His final remark was a question: “What if the local nationals became hostile when they see Americans leaving?”  [Seventeen years later, I witness the hostility of people, especially the ARVN deserters who had fled to Saigon, when the Americans abandoned them on 30 April 1975.]

I don’t know if the ’alert’ planners ever change their evacuation procedure, because I left Hohenfels at the end of February 1958.  Fortunately, the press never knew about this incident.

New Year’s Eve Party ~ 1957

New Year's Eve~1957

New Year’s Eve~1957

The MP detachment hosted this New Years’ party at either the Adler or Taverne Gasthaus and permanent party from Headquarters was also invited.  I was “ein wenig bitumen.” and woke-up New Year’s Day with ‘blitzkrieg hangover‘.

One of the village of Hohenfels better known tavern owners. ‘Berta’ Mueller’s Gasthaus in Hohenfels.  Rumors persisted that she was a double agent for the OSS during WW II and was rewarded with that establishment.

Bertha Meuller, February 1958

Bertha Meuller, February 1958

Winter Exercises:

My Last Patrol ~ Feb 1958

My Last Patrol ~ Feb 1958

 

 

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Shooting pool at the ‘SSC’ while waiting for PCS orders.

I had done a few favors the post T.O. (Transporting Officer) Captain Willis and he made sure that I would receive ‘VIP’ service in packing and shipping my

Awaiting Orders to CONUS ~ February 1958

Awaiting Orders to CONUS ~ February 1958

personnel effects.  He also had my travel orders cut for transportation to CONUS by air and first class air passage via TWA to San Francisco.

 

 

 

My last official army photograph ~ February 1958

My last official army photograph ~ February 1958

Grafenwoehr, where I spent my last week in Germany.

Grafenwoehr's Historic Forst Haus &  Water Tower

Grafenwoehr’s Historic Forst Haus & Water Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom

(46) MATS From Frankfurt (47)Lockheed Connie to Frisco

Freedom ‘bird’ to McGuire AF Base ~ March 1957-Top Lockheed Connie to Frisco -Right                  TWA First Class-Left

Freedom ‘bird’ to McGuire AF Base ~ March 1957-Top
Lockheed Connie to Frisco -Right
TWA First Class-Left

Transfer and Separation Data:

On 8 March 1958 I process my separation at Oakland Army Base, California. I had 60 days leave that I did not take, plus the month of February and eight days in March pay due me; about $350 real US American dollars.  Wow!  I hadn’t seen that much cash in one bundle since I arrived in Germany, November 1956.  I still had ‘Terminal Date of Service Obligation’ for inactive reserves to 8 March 1963. [I received my ‘Honorable Discharge’; dated 30 June 1963.]

Army Base 1958

Army Base 1958

My ‘Tour of Duty was over and I went home.

Spring 1958 ~ Santa Cruz

Spring 1958 ~ Santa Cruz

Epilog ~ An Khe, South Vietnam

When I saw the Hohenfels Provost Marshal (he was assigned to MACV- Saigon and on inspection visit at An Khe) in December 1968 and during our brief conversation, I mentioned how his disciplinary action had enhanced my career choice.  I showed him my DOD Noncombatant Identification Card and told him to see the reverse side where it showed my assimilated or equivalent rank to a US Military officer.  My Equivalent Government Service rating was E-GS-15 and assimilated rank of O-6 or full Colonel.  I may not have gotten my pound of flesh from the Provost Marshal, an 0-5, but I certainly got my ounce of joy in the bewildered look he gave me.  I actually out ranked him!

I had corresponded with my CID associates for awhile after leaving Hohenfels.  I held on to these letters for many years.  But, with reassignments and travels they got lost.  I remember vaguely that one of those people wrote that M/sgt ‘T’ was never court-martial and retired honorably.  So much for justice in the military.

Finally, I corresponded with Hans, our interpreter for many years and he kept me in the loop on daily routines and G.I. scuttlebutt.  I have forgotten most of his input.

2 thoughts on “Tour of Duty (1955-1958) – Part II

  1. Attn: Anja Schoene in reference to your YouTube query or Robert Rhode

    Sorry, I do not recognize nor recall ever meeting Robert Rhode. I was only at
    Grafenwoehr for about a week at the end of February into early March in 1958.

    However, I know someone who was stationed there in 1958-59
    with the 793rd MP Company. I will send him a copy of your message and
    perhaps he may provide information on Robert Rhode.

    The email address you provided was not recognize as valid by my server.

    John Malch

    My friend replied: I don’t remember this person. I’m sending an email to Anja to advise I was there during this time but unfortunately do not remember the
    grandfather.

    I just tried to email Anja but, though I tried several times, the email
    address would not come up. My system did not recognize it as a valid
    address.

  2. Mr. Malch, I enjoyed reading your “Tour of Duty” series on this website, along with viewing your youtube video. As you can probably see from my user name here, my paternal ancestors and your maternal ancestors probably have a lot in common at some point in the past. I have also traced my paternal line back to Bexbach, Saarland, Germany.
    You mentioned in the above that your cousin published a book regarding the Didion Family heritage in Bexbach, 1650-2012. If at all possible, could you contact me via e-mail (ard98wolv@aol.com). I would very much like to purchase a copy of this book, and if you could put me in contact with the appropriate persons, I would be very grateful.
    Thanks again for your service, your sharing of your experiences, and any help you can provide me with the above.

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