John Seifert Memories
As I sit here drinking a good Gin and Tonic, my memory goes back to my early days in 1st. Radio and maybe goes as far as the early days in 12th.Radio Relay. I sailed out of New York City on August 18th. 1951. I have mentioned this before but when I saw the Statute of Liberty going one way, and I am going the other way my heart sank. We had 1940 troops on the ship with 40 wives going to be reunited with their husbands in Germany. Most troops were sea sick, but for some reason I had decided to scarf down some saltines and never got sick. It was a horrible crossing and we docked in South Hampton, England to off load some troops. Then on to Bremerhaven to offload the rest of us. Put on a train I and a thousands others ended up in Sontofen, Germany by the Austrian Alps. In my case I was lucky for I was trained in Electronics and that was a desirable skills and got reassigned. A train from Sonhofen took me to Wiesbaden and 1st. Radio Relay at Camp Pieri.
I still believe Bill Reep picked us up in Wiesbaden. After working in the motor pool all new recruits had to attend the LeRoy Kelsey AN/TRC school, where Carl Snelling was his assistant instructor. Carl was one one of the nicest blacl marketers. It’s a wonder his footlockers did not get arrested, or stand at attention when there was an inspections. Lucky me I was selected out of Kelsey’s school to work at the station in back of the ordley room. I encounter Steve Knanavich, Les Bingham and a wild as Oscar Robinson. Oscar was from Detroit, and a few years before his time. Oscar was an African-American that always complained to the Sq. Commander that Bill Reep, gave him a hard time on the basketball court. While we were at Camp Pierei, one day Oscar Robinson and I went to eat dinner. At our table was McVay, from the deep south. Oscar wanted some salt which was in front of McVay. Oscar asked for it but McVey would not pass it to him. Again the request was made and McVey said, “what did you say Nigger”. He replied if you want the salt ask “ Please”. Which Oscar did. When he went to use the salt the cap was undone and the whole short shaker was in the potato. I thought “ this is my last day, here on earth “ but McVey won out.
I would like to share some of my happenings at 1st. Radio with others that may have been there when I was there or Later. I will pick this story up in a few days as we roll back the memories.
While at the station in back of the orderly room, I got in trouble with our Flight Officer. About once a week Oscar Robinson, would come to the van, take his shoes off and clean his toe nails. The smell still haunts me to this day. I got tired of it and complained to the Flight Officer. In stead of correcting the problem I was told by the Flight Officer I need some military training. So I was sent to the 7th. Army NCO Academy in Munich, Germany. I was a young kid, what the hell did I know. Anyway I got to the Academy for the start of October Fest. Looking back on it, it was great punishment. Besides the bull shit of the school, every weekend I got to go the fest. I had never seen such big tents with 1000/2000 people drinking beer, eating Bratwurst, Cornish game hens, and you name it.
Getting back to Camp Pieri, I was banished to a relay station out side of Rhauen, shooting into Hann AFB. John Grannan was the site chief, I was the assistant. A few months after I arrived we got a new troop that had rotated from Alaska, to Germany. His name was Glenn Jones Out ranking me, he became the assistant site chief. What a motley crew we had. Our cook was Dan Gray, who never met a glass of beer he could pass up. Shipped to France, Gray was replaced by Rodney Doree, what a nice young kid, who could not boil water, with instructions. Our power man was Dustry Rhodes, a great guy, who never forgot an incident, even at later reunions to the minute details. Glenn, maid rank fast and ended up as the site chief at Birkenfeld. Birkenfeld was a stopping point for many of us. I flipped flopped back and forth from Rhaunen and Hann AFB. It seemed every few weeks I was at one location, then the other. Then I was transferred to Birkenfeld, under Glenn Jones. He wanted someone to run the station while he was chasing anything and everyone who had a skirt on. His chasing led to a 99.44% success rate, till he met a girl in Luxembourge. He struck out there. Her quote to Glenn, was this, “if you want into my pants, marry me.” She had Glenn by the goianads, for up till then he was batting 100%.
I forgot to mention that in between my Birkenfeld assignments I was lucky/unlucky enough to get assigned as site chief at Toul. After 3 months I asked Ken Feese to remove me. To this day I thank Ken Feese for that transfer. Enough said.
In August 54 I rotated to the land of the round door knobs, getting discharged at Camp Kilmer, in New Jersey. I never wanted for a job after I got out, but was not happy. So thinking about my first enlistment on March 13th. Of 1956, I decided to enlist again. My parents were pissed, but I had to break away from the blue collar area I lived in, and thought I would die in. I asked for an assignment in the USA so I could send an allotment to my parents and be close by if they needed me. However I got assigned to 8th Radio in France.
While processing at 8th. Radio A troop came into the room and asked for a volunteer to go to Germany. I think I jumped out of my skin before I put up my hand, and I got the assignment. That one effort, for it changed my life, for ever. Lt. Bill Sember, took me out to Donnersberg for 8th. Radio had a link that ran thru there into France and we had a three man cadre. On our way up to the site Bill Sember said. lets stop and have lunch in Dannenfels. He siad the troops like this place, so we stopped. After ordering I saw a young lady and I asked Lt. Sember, who is she. He asked why do you want to know. I replied “ I am going to marry her”. That was Faye who had been with the Spicschenken family for neary 15 years.
On May 17th. Of 1957 my whole life changed as I was involved in an auto accident going to see my future bride. As a result I had a general courts marshal which landed me in prison. With the grace of the Air Force troops I worked for at Wiesbaden AFB, I served that time in Wiesbaden, even working in the microwave repair shop at the base. I was the only person to receive a parole from the stockade system in Europe. I slept in the stockade each evening, caught a bus each morning going to work at the maintenance shop. One day I refused to go to work. The warden was pissed, he said what’s wrong. I said each day they treat me to coffee and donuts at the break times. I said, I can’t do that, hence I won’t go back He said I will give you a few bucks out of my pocket so you can treat, PLEASE go back. I did that. I was the pilot detainee, to see if prisoners could be saved in Europe and the Air Force.
With a recap. The fact I put out letters and try to keep this group together is because of the debt of gratitude I owe to those whom helped me during my darkest of times. If they did not go to bat for me, I may have never married, had 4 lovely children, wonderful memories, and met all you wonderful folks. There will be another trip down memory lane regarding 12th. Radio Relay, and how unlucky Major Sneed was, when he was told he had to take me.
Lets keep going down memory lane. We rotated to the states in May of 1960. Faye was pregnant so she stayed with my parents in Levittown, PA. I went on to our new assignment at Cape Canaveral, Florida. I found myself in another Major Sneed situation, for no one wanted me on their missile programs for my past vehicle accident and stockade time. So I was delegated to a holding area doing make do jobs. During this 7 month period I came across a Jewish T/Sgt who put in a month or so in the same holding area. To my surprise he became the lead tech in the telemetry area for the Atlas rocket/missile. He asked the commander for me, then I was asked to reup. I was really touched that this T/Sgt asked for me, and when asked to reup, I said I would reup, as long as I could attend the Telemetry school in Denver, Colorado. I did not know what was happening, so I planned to get out of the Air Force. The reup in my outfit was almost zero, for troops were getting out everyday, then going to work, for big bucks at the Cape. Again, I was pressured by a Lt.Col. in our area to reup, with a 100% sure thing the school. What a relief for me. After the school in Denver, I planned to work for that T/Sgt, but he was forbade to have me. I had to go to the Titan Missile program. Having many telemetry problems on the Titan program, we were a laughing stock, of our organization. Not being able to work, I asked the NCOIC if I could read all the tech manuals regarding our telemetry and real time printouts. I uncovered that that they were adjusting all type of units wrong. I had to prove what I uncovered to the NCOIC, and he was red faced. He went to the commander of the unit stating, “ I don’t care what you have to do, BUT A/IC Seifert promoted, ASAP. It was hard to do because of the blurb on my record, but lo and behold it happened. I was elated. I ended up being the lead telemetry tech for 35 Titan I and Titan 11 missile shots from the Cape. We became the missile team for others to follow.
After the Cape I transferred to Denver CO. teaching Instrumentation for 4 years. Denver was a beautiful assignment. In those early days I could drive to work and see the beautiful Rockies. We went up every road to one peak after another, it was breathless. Only one escapade there, that my class wrote a letter about me to the base commander. As a result of that the base commander invited me to his office for a chat. He asked me if I can copy the letter your students wrote about you to every other instructor on this base. What was I to say “ NO “ Well that got me promoted to T/SGT. All the other instructors where pissed at me for I only had 5½ years in grade while most of them had 10 or more years in grade.
From Denver, we went to Wright-Patterson AFB, in Dayton, Ohio. There I gained flight status, and got credit for a weapon system that was deployed in Vietnam. Of course there was that bump along the road. Faced with a General Courts Marshall along that way, for obeying a 3 star Generals son ( our pilot ) said it happens John. He was nice enough to pen a letter to our commander stating the project officer in charge lied and I was following orders. Once the truth was out I ended up making NCO of the year at Wright-Patterson AFB.
Leaving Ohio, we went to San Antonio, Tx. And the school of Aerospace Medicine for two years. Never got in trouble there, back to Wright-Patterson for one year, I decided get out. John, your luck is running out. So in 1975, wee took the blue suit off and went to work for Westinghouse, here in the Baltimore, MD. Area.
As I wrap up my ramblings with , where we are during our golden Years. Its nearly been 4 years since Faye,s legs stopped working, and she could not stand up or walk, even with a cane or a walker. Our children encouraged us to look for a facility where care was at hand plus better eating conditions. So on New Years Eve 2010, we moved to our current address. Its only 15 miles from where we lived before. It is a senior living facility, and we live in the Independent complex. We also have an assisted living center, as well as a memory center. Both much more costly, as you may know. Faye’s situation is a blood-sugar condition, wheel chair bound, and a short term memory problem. She use to read the Baltimore News paper and her German magazine page after page. No longer does she do that.We have managed to get some outside health care for 2 hours a day/seven days a week. It is a big help to me, and we could not survive without it. Of course we have to pay that out of our pockets. I am looking into a veterans program that possibly will help us with some of those costs. Moving on to me I am in great health. I have a heart problem, a blood-sugar problem, need two knee replacements, but I can walk with a cane. Thank heaven for happy hour, and my gin and tonic, which I have beside me. But as I have been rambling along I look back with pride that I was in the Air Force. I also married Faye, the high lite of my life. Had 4 wonderful children, 3 of whom graduated from Johns Hopkins here in Baltimore. Two of our children obtained Masters Degrees from Hopkins. What a proud moment that was, or has been.Many of you might not know this but I was a high school dropout.Faye and I are so grateful at meeting many of you at reunions, and for your friendship. In closing, its nice to know so many nice people.
Thanks for the memories. God Bless and Thanks, John W. Seifert, M/SGT. USAF, RET. Proud to have served this great nation.
Hello to all my 1st RRS Comrades, I haven't posted a note in a long time. I guess I feel at times like I have already said it all?? Out of 31 total years in the AF - just two organizations have always been near and dear to me. My first "Real" assignment - The 926th SOOC / 1st Radio Relay Squadron (1948 - 1951) and a few years later my first assignment as a Pilot - the 391st Fighter Bomber Sq. / 391st Tactical Fighter Sq. (1954 - 1961). Unfortunately - I didn't learn of the 1st RRS reunions until it was too late to meet with many of those from my era with the unit. One name I see on the roster today - Frank Hart - and I were out of phase with our attendance. Frank and I shared a room for awhile at Camp Pieri and a rather important event took place at that time. The AF became de-segragated and we welcomed one of the three Black Men to join our Squadron into our room (Henry Coates). Many years later (1967) - Frank & I met briefly at Korat AB, Thailand - where he was just passing through and I was stationed with the Wild Weasel Squadron. Fond memories that will live with me forever!! Happy Veteran's Day to everyone - those I served with and those new friends I met at the reunions. John Halton
BILL SIMPSON STORY
I have always considered myself; lf something of a success story in 1st and 12th radio.. I, a farm boy, high school dropout, joined the Air Force in Nov of 54, two weeks after my 17th birthday. I took basic training at Parks Air force base in California. In February of 55 I was shipped to Scott to train in personnel. fortunately I washed out and then the Air Force decided to send me to Germany to train in radio relay. The only field I was less qualified in than personnel.
Now comes the fortunate part. In May of 55 The 2nd comm gp pulled an alert, and since the Teufelskopf site didn't have enough personnel to walk guard duty along with their other duties I was assigned there to walk the perimeter carrying a carbine. This lasted about a month. After the alert I was allowed to stay and start ojt. Thanks in great part to having a fine sight chief named Bill Wellman, who took the time to train me. He also told me about the aril manual which made it possible to teach myself the fundamentals of radio. There were quite a few men who traveled through Teufelskopf during my 3 years there ,some of whom have become life long friends. somewhere along the line I became the first a2c site chief in 12th radio, which set to pattern for quite a few men after that .I finally went to fm60 school in June of 58 and then transferred to Dannenfels in July of 58 .I remember the date vividly because it was the day before Hannelore and I got married on July 12 1958.I spent 4 and 1/2 years over there and everything I did and learned there influenced the rest of my life. Ggreat memories and great friends for life.
In about 1955 at Det #38, Irsch on Neunhauser. Brown ( can't remember his first name ) and I used to spend our "off time" wandering around through the forests of Neunhauser looking for artifacts of the war. We found a bounty which turned into several adventures in themselves. However, once we came upon a huge stack of rocks. We returned to the site and told the site chief "Rocky" Oliphant of the discovery. Since our driveway and parking area in the site was a sea of mud, Rocky sent some of us with a 6 X 6 to get the rocks. We hauled them back to the site and since the rocks were large, Rocky sent someone off to collect sledge hammers and put us to work busting up the rocks and spreading them around the grounds. Several days later a Jaegermeister showed up at the site very upset. Since Ted Kodish, the Asst. Site chief, spoke some German and with assistance from Frau Mueller, They learned that we had "stolen" the rocks that he had quarried to build a house and wanted us to pay for them. Rocky called us all together and wanted us all to pitch in to pay for the rocks. We reminded him that it was ALL his idea so he sent Kodish back out to negotiate. The Jaegermeister drove a very small car so we ended up giving the guy two 55 Gal drums of goverment gas. ( which was about $2.00 to $3.00 a gal in Germany at that time and about $0.25 in the states ) Sure was a nice driveway.
Henry C Sachs
John's confession of being involved in appropriating a prefab from Hahn AFB
reminded me of our watertank theft.
Falcon 14 in 1954 was almost a luxury site. Prefab living quitters with hot water heat. Prefab operating building and a prefab power shed. We did have to haul in water, from Birkenfeld to fill our underground tank, using a 400 Gallon trailer. The size of the trailer made it an everyday necessity to haul water. In the winter that is going to be a problem. Our best problem solver Dick Langman came up with a solution. He scouted Hahn AFB and found a 600 Gallon tank that he could mount in a 6x6 truck.
Now that he had the nomenclature of the tank he generated a requisition and signed a bogus signature. The next trip to Hahn he presented the duly signed req. To the supply people that had the tank and was assisted in loading a tank. After returning to the site Dick mounted the tank on two wood beams the width of the truck bed. The tank could be now moved from truck to truck when a truck was turned min for maintenance.
We could now haul 1000 gallons at a time. Much fun on icy winter roads. We also became experts at getting trucks out of ditches. Henry
John Seifert Story
I was in Germany twice, mostly with 1st. Radio, then 12th Radio. The second tour started with a ride to Donnersberg, where we stopped to eat in Dannenfels. As I was eating I noticed a young girl taking something outside to feed the geese. I asked “who is that "? I was told it was the cook. The Lt. who took me out there asked why did I ask that question? I said " I am going to marry her "To this day we are still married, but as the late Paul Harvey said, the rest of the story. After a few months at Donnersberg I got transferred to Weisbaden, why? Because they needed a 5th. For a bowling team. I also was a catcher on a softball team that won the base championship. After our win I was going to see Faye when I had an auto accident. A young boy was killed. It took the Air Force 75 days to decide to court-martial me. Faced with prison and discharge from the Air Force, everyone went to bat for me and I spent 6 months in the stockade in Wiesbaden, However the maintenance shop in Wiesbaden was hurting to keep the new microwave equipment repaired and got me paroled. Major Sneed did not want me but he had to accept me. Sgt. Ben Starr asked me many times if I was treated okay. But I got married, had 4 wonderful children, and spent 23 years in the Air Force retiring as an Master Sgt, As I look back I feel I am one of the luckiest fellows in the world that got the support from my fellow airman and officers, I said one day I have to pay them back. And now I am lucky for in a little way I feel that I have paid back some of that trust, and support they honored me with in 1957. I thank each one of you for the wonderful friendship we have shared over the years, and I hope many more years to come. God Willing.
As my restless nights continue I drift back to those early days at Falcon # 21 ( Stipshausen ) a relay station shooting into Hahn, AFB, in 52-53. We lived in terrible quarters but one of the troops ( Gary Campbell ) had a great idea. " Let’s steal a prefab from Hahn, in the wee hours of the morning”. So he set out to do that. Gary Campbell. took a weapons carrier to Hahn, and knew where they stored building supplies. He bribed someone at the base to turn an eye, and after a few trips we had the prefab. Then we bribed a German engineer who was putting up the prefabs on Hahn, to come up and help us put it up. After we got it constructed we purchased paint on the economy to hide the military looks, and we were home free. Along with the help of John Grannan, Dan Gray, Bill Durham, Glen Jones, Bernard Rhodes, Don Winfield, Rodney Doree, and Augie Silva, along with me we built ourselves a decent place to live. Others who contributed labor were James C. James, LT. Coleman, Ernest Schaffer, Cecil Hallet, Chuck Myers, and Dante Traversa.These troops never complained, and used that 1st. Radio gun-ho work effort to provide a livable place on top of a hill. It beat freezing. I am proud I knew each of these fine troops and I am happy to relate how we all pitched in. God Bless each of them. Thank you, john Seifert
Jack M Mulanax Story
On a causal weekend in the summer of 1953 (Sunday I believe) we were just taking it easy when our Commanding Officer came in our room. This had never happened before unless it was an inspection. We soon found out a group was needed to be flown to Chateauroux (Not sure of spelling).France.
A lead covered telephone cable that ran from the Depot had been relocated due to the highway being widened. A worker had stuck his pick axe through the lead covering sometime back. He failed to tell anyone. After a big rain all the cable pairs shorted out and the Depot was almost completely without telephones.
This was putting the Depot in quite a bind.
We loaded our equipment on a C-47 and we were off to France. Upon arrival we set up communications between the Depot and the Air Field. This way they had some communication in and out of the Depot. (We had taken the old CF-1, Telephone Carrier bays along with the EE-101 ringers. I am not sure if we took any CF-2 Teletype bays or not. Also we had the AN/TRC-1 Radio Equipment
In the 9 years I was in the Air Force I had never seen chow lines as long as they were there. We were issued early chow passes so we could eat early.
After about 5 or 7 days the cable was repaired about 10 AM in the morning. We had our breakfast using the early chow passes. We took our equipment down and about noon we fell in for our early chow. Guess What? Our early chow passes had been revoked.
A few hours later we were on a C-119 headed back to Wiesbaden.
I was a S/Sgt then. Finally made T/Sgt around April 1956
Jack M. Mulanax (1sr Radio Relay Sqdn Oct 1952 to Oct 1953)
I came to 1st Radio Relay from Munich after a short stint in the 86th Fighter Bomber Wing - having been ejected from that outfit for being just out of Keesler's Base Prison and not trusted by the commander. My top rated Airborne Radar Instructor Duty meant nothing and when I arrived in 1stRR I got the same kind of welcome from the Operations Officer (whom I will not name) and he assigned me to the duty of changing tires in the Motor Pool. That, I thought, was to be my future and final enlistment in the Air Force. However, a very special guy named Glen Turner showed up at the Motor Pool with my record tucked under his arm and after a short discussion about my having been a successful Electronics Instructor he asked me if I might be able to teach Microwave Radio. I told him that I could but that Privates didn't teach and with my record I was not going anywhere in the Air Force. He assured me that noone but he and I would have access to my record while in his outfit, so I started a Microwave School at Camp P, moved on to Camp Lindsey, then moved into the field to operate and maintain Radio Systems. Then became Site Chief at Bitburg AB, and finally moved to Ramstein AB to become Chief of Installations and Maintenance. I advanced from E-0 to E-6, earned a Commendation Medal covering a four year performance, married the gal I was would be with for the next forty years, and ultimately obtained the rank of Chief Master Sergeant 17 years after enlisting. All other assignments were good, but none so rewarding as the one that started in a Motor Pool with a REAL GUY NAMED GLEN TURNER.
Robert F Kane
I was assigned to the 1st radio relay sqdn April 55 through Dec. 57. I was an auto mechanic and assigned to the second comm. motor pool, worked there until July and was put on orders assigned to Det #61 1st radio relay site in France, helped set up site and got power generators up and on line. We had tents the first summer and winter then we built the barracks, radio shack and dinning hall. While assigned to Det 61 I had the duty of getting the fuel and water along with what Bart 1st cook and Gulley 2nd cook would give me on there grocery list. it was and all day trip to Etain AFB, Always managed to go around the back road and buy a storage area that had some good things that we could use at the site, like wall insulation‘s or Plywood always borrowed for Air force use never for personal gain. so I never felt guilty of borrowing some supplies, got caught with a load of stuff on the truck running a stop sign by pass and ID office going the wrong way on a one-way street. Never did convince the policeman that I was going the right way on the perimeter road. I remember the time when to of the guys took the garbage waste down town to one of the families so they could feed it to his pigs, they had a bottle or two of his good red wine and on the way back to the site they had problem of making the turn coming out of town and put the truck between to trees. names of Pete and last name of other was rose. SSgt Caldwell was site NCOIC while I was there. I know that while being there we weren‘t just Power production, cook or radio operator if there was something that needed to be done there was always a couple of guys pitching in to get it done and I believe that’s where I got the training of always pitching in to get the job done as soon as possible, then it was shooting a game of pool, shooting hoops, or always if there was 4 guys available it was pinochle. so we always seemed to have a good time being out in the boon docks and away from all the hustle and bustle of am Air Force Base.
I retired after 28yrs 5mos and 3 days. Worked 13 years with the OK National Guard Retired E-8.
MEMORIES OF THE SITES AND FRIENDS
DONALD (SWEDE) CARSCADDEN
I was stationed at Det 42 12thRRS Hohenstadt.. not far from the Autobahn A8 between Stuttgart and Ulm..(on the way to Munich)... we found a trail to the US Army Coffee stop.. just before the Autobahn went down a steep winding hill towards Stuttgart.
There were 2 US Army Radio Towers and a huge 210 ft. fixed base Air Force tower.The Army were using Lorenz Radio and we were using Seimens PPM24 until we got FM120 later.We had Microwave dishes..the Army had regular FM antennas.We had a nice German lady for a cook that one of our guys would pick up every morning except for Sat/Sun. Her name was Rosa Muller and she used to work for the Army next door 100 feet away! The Army also had a Frau from Oberdrackenstein... and worked same schedule...
We became buddies with our US Army guys...We traded movies..16mm Sound and when the Army somehow broke their Cinemascope lens, we lent them ours , which meant watching Cinamascope movies Squished!
We went to the Gasthous Krone in Oberdrackenstein.. I think there were 3 places we could go to.The Sonne was ok but always felt more welcome at the Krone and the owners daughter was very gracious!
The Krone was good! Lunch for a DM 1.70.. Brew for 40 pfennigs.. and exchange rate of 4.20 DM for 1 US Dollar.
I shipped out of Pforzheim with a Native American S/SGT ...on the back of a flat bed Opel truck with my Duffel bag and Flight bag and laundry bag...at least the rails were up on the truck! Got to the site June 57 and the friendlist guy at the time to me was A/2C Ron Zimmer! I hope Walt will remember to ask Airman Zimmer what that site chiefs name was. Anyway the site chief gave me 1 week to climb the 210 foot tower or he would ship me back to Pforzheim!
He asked if I could type.. I said yes.. and I suddenly had to type the menus for Breakfast, Lunch and Supper! Somehow he got shipped out and we got a new guy..and I didn't have to type! that was A1C Jim Allen.Later we had A1C Terrance O'Donnell. Lot's more but that's enough for now..
Don(Swede) 1stRRS 12thRRS 56 - 59
FALCON 5 DETACHMENT 31
To illustrate how dangerous our position was, I always slept with my windows opened at that time of the year. The windows were large double glazed, insulated plate glass, each window measuring about 24 X 96 inches. That made the entire window about 48 X 96 inches and both halves opened inward and hung over my bed. When they finally stopped firing, I went inside and looked at my bed. It was filled with glass from all four sheets of glass being broken. Had I been in the bed, I am convinced that the solid resistance of my legs and abdomen rather than the softness of the mattress and blankets would have caused the glass to slice me up like a salad.
The three walls of our dayroom, dining room and kitchen were virtually all windows of the same size. Over half of the windows on the north and east side of the building were destroyed.
We were many weeks getting the damage repaired from that incident. The proximity of the 155 MM guns and the sharpness of the report was much more damaging than the large shock wave created by the 280 MM Atomic Annie cannon which fired from the same location. And the 280’s were never that close to the fence, only about 30-40 yards. Teufelskopf was a designated firing location for the US Army and other NATO Forces firing into the giant artillery range on the Baumholder facility. The entire top of the mountain adjacent to the radio site was later surveyed and marked for live firing of all sorts of artillery.
That mountain also contained a very large underground water reservoir that fed the Baumholder Army Post and we received our water from there as well. Our living quarters building contained a large water reservoir in a basement set-up, which also contained an oil-fired boiler for heat and hot water. None of those physical things were ever affected by the concussive blast of the cannon firings, especially the larger bore artillery pieces. That exercise with the Belgians was the only time that we experienced any damage from firing the howitzers from Teufelskopf but there were many live firings from there, including many US Army 155 MM guns and the larger 280 MM Atomic Annie Cannons as they were called.
We had to contend with boarded up windows for a considerable period of time before our maintenance facility, Baumholder Army Civil Engineering, completed the repairs. The officer in charge of the Baumholder CE was Lieutenant Colonel Jose I. J. Colon Tiado. That name has stuck with me all these years for some reason. He was both helpful in many instances and a hindrance at other times. He was helpful in getting us a phone but it worked only sporadically and we could rarely get ‘long line’ service and most of the time, no local calls to local civilian numbers at all.
All in all, it was an experience that we would like to have missed but it was just another building block in our life there at Teufelskopf, Falcon #5 or Detachment #31
SEE GALLERY 1 FOR PICTURES
In reply to Henry Sachs request for a story as to John Seifert finding new/old members of the First Radio Relay, I for one was very happy. Two of the new ones he found were good friends of mine at Camp Pieri. Roy Purinton was at Camp Pieri when I arrived at First Radio from the States. We became good friends as Roy had an air about him I liked. You had to be “on your toes” as he loved to joke.
We made several courier runs to the various sites in Germany at that time. I was playing football for the Wiesbaden Commanders in the Fall of l950. I had some down time so I did a lot of odd jobs. Later on, probably in 1952, I spent some time in the barracks at Camp Pieri where I was in a room with Doyle Gibson, Carl Starling and Leon Snider. I had a lower bunk and Sgt. Gibson the top. There were good men in the room.
Needless the say, as I look back, these years in Germany were some of the best years of my life. I was just out of high school when I joined the Air Force, and the learning process began. The men I met in First Radio were the best. I learned a lot from them.
Another story will be as we got together for our first reunion in Helen, Georgia. I got to see many old friends and many new faces as they showed up at our reunions. I have some dear friends now that I did not know in Germany. Sadly many of my old friends have passed on. I write this in hopes that anyone who can attend the next reunion will join those of us who are left. We would love to see you and talk about old times. I assure you, you won’t be bored. .
Some memories of the 1st Radio Relay Squadron
I would like to preface this writing by saying that I feel great respect and affection for those I served with during my assignment. Most of us arriving during my tour were very young and we were thrust into positions of responsibility within a short time. I’m proud of what we accomplished. I have often quipped to my family that the Air Force finished raising me and there is much truth in this. To establish perspective – I arrived at Camp Pieri in June 1948 and rotated to the U.S. in December 1951.
Three Corporals – Leo Yuravich, Jim Hanvold and John Halton – traveled on the same ship - passed through the EUCOM Replacement Depot at Marburg, Germany – and were assigned to the 926th Signal Outpost Operations Company at Camp Pieri – June 1948. Jim and I attended Radio School at Scott Field together – went to the 606th AC&W at Shaw Field together and volunteered for Germany together. He came to my home in Shortsville, NY for a few days before we reported to Camp Kilmer, NJ for shipment. We met Leo on the ship to Bremerhaven, Germany. After arriving at Camp Pieri - Jim was assigned to a distant Site near Munich – and this separation was unfortunate for our friendship as we saw very little of each other for the rest of our tour. Leo was assigned to Mudlark 9 just down the hill from Camp Pieri and I was assigned to the Radio Maintenance Shop. We both lived in the barrack – hung out together much of the time and became close friends. We shared a two man room for a long period before I left Camp Pieri to become a Site Chief in the fall of 1950.
I remember my first view - looking at the men working on the docks from the rail of the ship. I thought – these are really Germans. Like most of us - I was a kid in high school during WW II and Germans were Nazis and all bad. I don’t know what I expected – but these people seemed quite ordinary! The aftermath of war struck home while still at Marburg. Little boys would yell at us - “Hey Joe - you want to ---- my sister – she virgin” – and they would name a price! I also remember the Chaplain giving us an orientation talk. The story - - - A Tom Cat ran across the RR tracks and a train cut off part of his tail. Startled – he looked back to see what happened and the train cut off his head. The moral – “Don’t lose your head over a piece of tail”! As my years in the military went on I was to learn much more about the sadness of war and how tragedy could bring out both the best and worst in people.
Camp Pieri was controlled by the Army. It was headquarters for the 1st Constabulary Brigade commanded by BG Arthur Trudeau who was also the Camp Commander. At some point each of us had a complete backpack on top of our wall lockers ready to move out on short notice. Standby inspections and parades on Saturday mornings were the norm. SSgt John Allred was the barracks chief and we stood roll call every duty morning. Passes to leave the camp were assigned according to rank. Senior people carried their passes all the time and could more or less come and go as they pleased. Junior people had to pick up their passes in the orderly room and be back in the barracks for bed check at a given hour. I disliked pulling CQ because there were always some people who wanted you to cover up for them so they could stay out all night. Some of these men were actually married under German law and had families. It was a bummer because I wanted to obey the rules and yet felt bad about doing so.
Camp Pieri was some distance from the major city of Wiesbaden. It sat up in the hills above the Rhine River near the little village of Dotzheim. Some of you may remember the old GI shuttle buses struggling up the hills between Wiesbaden and the camp. The local weather was generally mild - but I remember some snow and periods in winter where the fog was so thick that all vehicle traffic in and out of camp was restricted. Special services provided us with numerous leisure activities and the Eagle Club in Wiesbaden was a popular place. I believe the Opera House was near the Eagle club and I have fond memories of my first experience at one of Bob Hope’s shows. I’m sure it was around the Christmas Holidays of 1948. We were all waiting for Hope’s arrival on stage and the MC kept stalling. Suddenly – the noise of an aircraft swooping down low came over the PA system and I think most of us ducked. Here came Bob Hope down one of the aisles from the back, dragging an open Parachute behind him up onto the stage as if he had just bailed out. Were any of you there?
Assignment to the Radio Maintenance Shop proved to be a lucky break for me because it provided a greater opportunity to learn. The first building I worked in was a dingy old unheated warehouse on the edge of camp. The working conditions were primitive – poor lighting – no heat. In the winter of 48 we burned scrap wood in a 55 gal drum outside the shop to warm our hands. I sure wondered what I had gotten myself into. Eventually we moved into the basement of a larger building with steam heat where we set up a nice shop with good work benches. I was eager to learn and the senior people tutored me until I eventually became a fairly competent Radio Mechanic. Some of the names I remember are - Worley, Allred, Iacovone, Jacobs, Edmonds, and a civilian Tech Rep - Louis Schmittroth. Smitty was one of my prime mentors and I learned much from him. Along the way I took part in teaching some classes to our own personnel and later on I taught classes on our equipment to one group of Turkish Army personnel followed by a group of Norwegian Air Force personnel.
One frustrating aspect of those early days was that - far too often - equipment that we had just repaired would be inoperative when it arrived back out at the radio sites. It was delivered by our Squadron Couriers driving two and a half ton trucks and the trip over bumpy roads took a toll. Of course – some of those guys were real cowboys!! J Regardless – this did not reflect well on our maintenance. We used to bang the units around on the work bench - we called it the bounce check – in an effort to detect these intermittent problems. We also used another approach by sending maintenance personnel, with test equipment and spare parts, out to the sites to do repairs on the spot. Taking part in these trips gave me an opportunity to see much of Germany and I was able to meet many of the people assigned to the various remote sites.
Many of us played sports on the squadron teams. I’m sure all the commanders encouraged these activities to keep the troops busy. These were casual “off duty” teams and all of us worked full time at our regular assignments. We played softball on the Camp Pieri Parade Ground and I don’t think there was a blade of grass anywhere. Spectators sat on the wall near the big clock. J B Kelly was our coach and most of the Sq folks would be out for our games. We played Basketball in the Field House and Capt Ross Dobbs played a mean game himself. Lt. Lipchak was another officer who played sports with us.
One of my favorite activities was hunting and I went at every opportunity. John Allred was a key figure in organizing the early trips that I took part in. We would submit the paperwork on Monday for the following weekend and this would include permission to hunt in a specific area under the guidance of the local Jaegermeister. Come Friday afternoon we would check out rifles from the armory – a vehicle from the motor pool – rations from the dining hall – and we would be off to our designated area for the weekend. We would stay at a local Gasthaus and the families who ran them would cook our rations and German dishes as well. We were very welcome in most of these areas because when we returned from a hunt we would have a local butcher cut up the meat and we would donate most of it to the local orphanage.
The German economy was still in poor shape and there were many orphans from the war. I remember a daily scene each evening at Camp Pieri where a Catholic Nun accompanied by several children pulling a small wagon would come to the dining hall to collect the day’s leftovers.
We had some colorful characters in the unit and living in the barrack was an experience. There was one older guy we called “Schnappsie”. Early on I was assigned to a large room with him and several others. He would come in drunk in the middle of the night with bottles rattling in his musette bag. On and off during the night he would wake up – sit on the edge of his cot and have a smoke along with a few swigs from a bottle – then go back to sleep. In the morning he would get up and go to work in the motor pool. He wasn’t around long and I don’t recall what happened to him. A very sad situation and I don’t think he could have lived very long if he kept that up.
An amusing event happened while I was living in a four man room. I won’t mention a name – but one night one of the guys came in rather intoxicated and fell into bed. I woke up in the middle of the night hearing him fumbling around trying to find the door to go down the hall to the latrine. He finally opened and closed the room door without going out – then walked over to the radiator in the corner and started to take a leak. I had to yell at him and practically chase him down the hall.
Looking back from today’s levels of wages and prices – it’s difficult to relate back to those of the late forties – especially in the military. We are used to direct deposit to our bank accounts today – when back then we were paid in cash each month. The “Pay Officer” would be set up in a room with the pay roster and a bag of cash on a table along with a .45 cal. Pistol. We walked into the room - saluted the officer – signed the roster very carefully (and I do mean carefully – because if you got “red lined” you didn’t get your pay until the next month) and were handed our cash. There were always some senior NCOs standing at the exit collecting for some cause or another. Woe be to the guy that balked at donating to whatever the cause! J
In the summer of 49 – Leo Yuravich, Gene Sandor, Dick Johnson & I went on leave and spent a week at the Eibsee Hotel in the mountains near Garmisch / Partenkirchen. It was a beautiful place on the shore of the Eibsee Lake and you could see the Zugsptiz Mtn from our room. It was an R&R facility for enlisted only and almost everything was free. We paid eighty cents a day – fifty cents surcharge for the room and ten cents per meal surcharge. Imagine that?
Cigarettes were $1.00 a carton in the BX and if one didn’t smoke they were good barter for German goods and services. In 48 - there was a barber shop in the basement of our barrack at Camp Pieri and the cost of a haircut was two or three cigarettes - I don’t think anyone used money. Most of this petty stuff was ignored by the authorities – but a few got into the real “Black Market” for big money and were prosecuted. One of our HQ couriers was caught filling up his jeep with gas several times a day and then draining it out to sell on the black market. He ended up in Ft. Leavenworth.
Some of you probably remember that we used “Script” rather than standard U.S. money. Periodically – it would be changed to a new format to deter counterfeiters. The change over date and time would be kept secret – but when the word got out there would be many Germans at the fence trying to get rid of the Script that they had for cents on the dollar before it became worthless!
A rather historic event took place while I was still living in the barrack at Camp Pieri. The Air Force desegregated and black personnel were transferred from “all black” units into the mainstream. Three men came to the 1st RRS – Coats, West & Crenshaw. I’m sure there was much concern that this would go smoothly and I remember Capt. Dobbs interviewing individuals living in rooms where these men would be assigned. Henry Coats joined three of us in a four man room – he was a good guy and we became friends.
I have to relate a humorous event regarding Henry. My family had sent me a “care package” with all kinds of goodies and we were enjoying some of the contents. There was a can of mixed nuts and we got into a discussion about the different types of nuts. Many of you may already know where this is going - - - without meaning anything derogatory – Brazil nuts were commonly called “Nigger Toes” back in those days – perhaps still are? Anyway - - - Henry was at his wall locker when Johnson very innocently came up with that name. I was looking for something to crawl under - trying to shut Johnson up while he innocently repeated the name several times. There stood Henry just smiling about the whole thing – knowing that Johnson meant no insult – and all the while observing my discomfort.
Two young guys that worked in the orderly room – Bob Koczara & Leon Snyder – just couldn’t hold their drink. They were nice guys and did good work – and I remember hunting with them on several occasions. One night they came home to the barrack quite tipsy and decided they were going to tear their room up. The CQ came and got me (I guess one of the ranking NCOs in the barrack) and I did my best to get them to quiet down and go to bed. They weren’t really belligerent toward me – but at the same time were having none of that. They kicked in the front of their wall lockers and did a few other damaging things - forcing us to call the security folks and have them taken away. Later - I had to testify at their Courts Martial and really hated having to do that. I think both came back to the unit and eventually made some of their rank back. In recent years - I located one of Bob’s sons and learned that Bob had passed away. I have never heard anything about Leon Snyder.
As an aside – a hometown friend of mine, Jim Newman, took leave from Wheelus, Tripoli and came up to Germany Jim and I were close buddies back home and we did a lot of camping and hunting growing up. He did go Boar hunting with us and if memory serves me right he did shoot one. The two of us also hitched a gooney bird flight from Wiesbaden Air Base to Erding Air Base where we spent some time with his younger brother and another friend from our home town - Shortsville, NY. How often would you find four guys from a little village of only 1200 people meeting up half way around the world – and two of them brothers? What a write up in the home town newspaper! J
I think one of my personal experiences speaks very highly for the kind of leaders we had in 1st Radio. In the spring of 1950 I took leave to travel to Naples, Italy to meet my younger brother, Tom, who was on the Aircraft Carrier USS Midway. The ship was on a Mediterranean cruise and was supposed to be in port. The ship’s schedule changed – there was no meeting - and I came back to Camp Pieri very disappointed. I was barely back to work when I received word that the Midway would be in port at Cannes, France. No questions asked - I was allowed to go right back on leave. I had five great days with my brother both ashore and on the ship. I have always treasured the memory of that trip and my appreciation of those I worked for and our Commander Ross Dobbs.
We received new Radio Vans during the summer of 1950. They were very nice self contained units built for the rapid set up and tear down of relay stations. In September 1950 TSgt Joe Centore and a team made up of Bernie Cole, Bill Troup and myself took a van to “Army Exercise Rainbow” to demonstrate the new equipment. We were pressed into service with no warning when the Army had cable problems and we provided them with a very necessary communication link. The Army was impressed and we all received accolades for our work.
Unexpectedly - my assignment to the Radio Maintenance Shop was about to end. I was a “seasoned” SSgt by this time and I was sent out as a member of a team to establish a new Radio Relay Site near the small village of Hohenstadt, using one of the new Radio Vans. I can’t recall who the team chief was. Anyway – once the site was established it became Falcon 2 and I was assigned as the first Site Chief. This was to be a much different operation from all the Mudlark Relay Stations I had visited. They may have had their early rigorous days as well, but at this point most were located in houses with all the comforts of home. The radio room – living quarters - dining facilities with their own cooks – all were located in one building. In our situation – we set up our operation in an open field on a plateau surrounded by farm fields without a building in sight. All of our electricity had to be generated using gasoline power units mounted on 1 ton trailers and our gasoline had to be hauled and stored in five gallon “jerry” cans. Our antennas were the portable type mounted on steel poles supported by nylon rope guy lines. A self sufficient operation to say the least.
The site was a few kilometers off the main autobahn between Stuttgart and Ulm. This particular stretch was not the typical divided four lane highway – there were just two lanes winding up the side of a mountain. A U.S. service station was at the bottom of the hill and a snack bar called “Java Junction” was at the top of the hill. A dirt road that led to our site actually went off a back corner of the snack bar parking lot through the small village of Ober Drackenstein. Our quarters were in a building adjacent to the service station at the bottom of the hill, along with a small group of Army personnel who maintained a wrecker for emergencies along the autobahn. We ate most of our meals at the snack bar, but gradually found some local German establishments to provide some variety. Schick’s’ Gasthaus in Gosbach became one of our favorite places for the evening meal and I remember Frau Schick mothering us and making us button up our jackets on winter nights.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a humorous story about myself. During the holidays (probably New Years) winter of 50/51 - I was off duty with some of the guys and we partied at Schick’s Gasthaus in Gosbach. I was not much of a drinker and I was introduced to a beverage called “Steinhager” – which was something clear like Gin. (Shouldn’t have done that!!!) Apparently it caught me off guard and I woke up the next morning in a dormitory like room upstairs where all the girls who worked at Schick’s lived. I took a lot of teasing from the girls who told everyone that all of them slept with me. The story was probably all over Gosbach and I’m sure all the guys at the site (quietly) got a charge out of the “boss” getting caught with his hair down!! J
Not the greatest arrangement – quarters - dining facilities - and radio site quite widely separated. At different times during my tour – I believe we had a jeep, a ¾ ton truck and a 2 ½ ton truck assigned. Scheduled vehicle maintenance generally caused us to operate with less than that. I have to smile when I think back – it could have been worse - like living in tents at the site - especially that first winter. Early on - our only communication with the site from our quarters was a radio link using our VHF/FM equipment. In addition to radio personnel – we had several other AFSC’s assigned – cooks – ground power – etc. Regardless of their specialty we trained most of them well enough to pull night duty at the site. Our daily routine was for the night man to be off while the rest of us worked at the site. He would eat the evening meal then come on duty and the rest would go off duty. I regret that I didn’t save copies of orders so I could name everyone who took part in that operation. Perhaps someone reading this can add to the list. The names I can recall are: Fernando Arreola, Bill Goss, Freddie Carscadden, Norman Lasley, Dick Sterner, Russ Martin, John Mealor, Russell, Ken Butler, Hall, Bob Kennedy, Jim Monroe …
Again – I have to relate a humorous story. I always refer to Freddie Carscadden as a “lovable renegade” because he was an easy going friendly man - but alcohol was his nemesis! Here I was a 21 year old SSgt Site Chief and Freddie was a 42 year old Sgt cook. When I had occasion to get on him about drinking he would just smile sheepishly and tell me to lighten up – while still respecting me as Site Chief. At times I suspected that he was drinking during his night shift – but couldn’t figure out how. One evening during the winter of 50/51 I was the one to stay on duty waiting for the night man. I happened to be out by the power units in the dark and here came Freddie tossing bottles of beer into the snow banks as he drove into the site. J
We made many friends in the local community and most of us learned to speak German fairly well. At first – the squadron was quite lenient (looked the other way) regarding the use of our assigned vehicles. We carried local civilians quite often. I can remember taking the entire Gosbach football (soccer) team and some of their fans to a nearby town for a game in the back of our 2 ½ ton truck. At some point in the spring of 51 – I bought a little German Ford Taunus automobile from “Red” O’Neil at Camp Pieri when he was ready to rotate to the U.S. It was practically new. This helped ease the strain on available transportation at Falcon 2 and I used it rather than a military vehicle when I traveled back & forth to the HQ and other sites. In turn – I sold it to someone at Camp Pieri when I rotated and trusted them to pay me most of the money over time. Don’t have any idea who it was – but the car got wrecked and I never did see any more money. Such is life!
The first winter - 50/51 - proved to be a test of endurance for all of us. We had a good amount of snow at times and the fog that I mentioned earlier at Camp Pieri threatened the operation in two ways. The fog would form frost on the tops of the antennas and they would become very top heavy. In spite of constant adjustment of guy lines - and efforts to shake the frost off - they were in danger of toppling over. It happened one cold and windy night – one antenna fell and like dominos others were taken down. The night man called us and the entire crew fell out to repair the damage. It was a miserable night – the nylon ropes were wet and frozen and we couldn’t work with gloves on. Eventually – we sorted the mess out – replaced broken parts – got the antennas raised again – and were back on the air. The same fog caused us problems with our gasoline driven generators. We couldn’t figure out why they would begin losing power after running for just a short period. We would switch units and the same thing would happen. Finally we noticed that the outside of the carburetors were covered with white frost and somehow we learned that this was just like the carburetor icing that occurred on recip aircraft engines. Our immediate solution was to aim the flexible exhaust hoses back onto the carburetors to allow the hot exhaust gases to keep them warm and prevent the icing. This was a good enough short term solution to keep them running, but it wasn’t very good for the equipment. Eventually someone in HQ came up with a modification to apply better Carburetor heat. American ingenuity won out once more.
Spring of 1951 brought better conditions to Falcon 2. Commercial electric power was run into the site allowing us to place our generators on standby – ready for a rapid move. Sixty foot telephone poles with cross arms were installed so we could mount our antennas more permanently. Apparently this change was incorporated at other sites as well because I went back to the HQ for a few days to attend a pole climbing school along with other site chiefs. I have photos of Sam Ruffo, Benny Flaxman, and myself at the training. Our portable antennas were eventually packed away ready for an emergency move. Next – we decided that our site could use a little landscaping and clean up. We used the old “midnight requisition” method to obtain gravel from an area where the local roads were being repaired and we built pathways all over the site to get rid of the mud. The place was quite spiffy by the end of summer complete with flagpole and “Old Glory” flying in the breeze.
We started receiving good support at the Army Post at Goeppingen for our vehicles and ourselves (medical & dental). I believe we even had class VI privileges so we could purchase liquor. (Remember 18 was the drinking age then!) Other creature comforts came along as well. We were issued some furniture for our day room - a Hi-Fi record player along with records - and a 16mm movie projector. We started getting movies shipped in several times a week. Movie night would bring in some of our German friends that worked at the service station and snack bar along with their families. Of course all of the local pretty frauleins would be invited as well. All in all life certainly improved. At one point we attempted to set up our own kitchen and dining room with the army group at the barracks. Unfortunately our schedule was too variable for it to work out.
As the old saying goes – time passes fast when you’re having fun. I had extended my overseas tour by six months at Major Dobbs’ request so my tour wasn’t up until December 1951. I was promoted to TSgt in September and reenlisted for three more years. At that point of my career I had my eye on MSgt (the highest NCO rank at the time) - and eventually the Warrant Officer Program. Little did I know that ten months after leaving Germany I would be entering the Aviation Cadet Pilot Training Program which would lead me to a new chapter in my Air Force career as a fighter pilot.
From: Lee Kelsey
Date: 04 Apr 2005
My arrival in Germany winter of 49,Icame into Rhein/Main by air, was trucked with other troops in an open 6x6 truck to the Medieval town of Marburg, located about 60 miles north of Frankfurt, the trip was cold and bumpy, the road was full of bomb holes, I arrived at the ex-Nazi concern, it was a Medieval Castel, I thought to myself that "Count Dfacaula lives here", we were issued mattress covers with mattresses and told to bed down in the stone covered hallway, I could just hear the storm troopers marching up and down the stone hallway with their boot heals echoing off the stone walls. The roof was missing, from the war and you could look up and see the stares at night, they were big and bright like in Texas, one of my assignments was to march a group of American repatriates that had been found, to and from the mess-hall, a couple of them could speak English, so I selected one of them to call out orders and count cadence and told him that I didn't wont any of that goose stepping crap. so off went to the cadence of "ein Zswi, Ein Zswi" I didn't like that, but you cant have everything you way, besides they were supposed to be Americans. Next I was assigned guard duty, I had to walk up and down my post, two lengths of barbed wire fence, right angels to each other.The unspoken rule was to shake the fence vigorously before started down the fence line. Each time you would do this, the frauleins on one side of the fence would scatter and the GI's on our side of the fence would scatter, and you would walk your post in a military manor, the Sargeant in charge would come by and shout out, "Post number one report" the reply was, "all goes well at post number one" the one and only time we were allowed in town,we stashed four packs of cigarreties in our socks and stuffed our pockets with chewing gum for the little kids. The cigarettes were sold on the black market, you could get locked up for dealing on the black market. and the MP's at the gate looked us over good, from top to bottom, if they had asked us to take off our hats, four more packs would have fell to the ground. I was a 19 years old the month earlier an Army buck sargeant (three stripes). The next story will probably be about my arrival at the Bohnhoff (train station) in Wiesbaden Germany and my introduction to the enterprising group called 1st Radio Relay, with troops left over from "Company D 926 Signal Battalion, the 926th hit the beaches of Normandy and flowed with the battle thru France all the way to Germany.I was a high speed radio operator converted radio repairman U.S. Army Signal Corp, my only clam to fame as a radio repairman was in a radio shop back in the States I repaired head sets. wa a radio repairman was in a shop in the States, repairing headsets.
Rminiscence; I was transferred to our site "Gunpost"/Kassel West Germany for what I like to call a career alternative enhancement program. I checked in and whent to my assigned room. I did not get to see the other guy that I was to share space with, he was on duty at Gunpost at the time,train tracks ran all over the room and under my bed. One day my neighbor the train master, arrived at the front gate with his fraulein in an old beatup German Army troop troop carrier thing, with a big Harkenkreuz (swastika) on its side, the Army MP's would not let him bring his contraption on base, because of the swastika, so he parked it outside the gate, and walked to9 the evening movie with his sweety in tow . I had a very small fiat convertible about the size of a golfcartI bought itg for 400 D-Marks (about $1oo and sold it to the train master for $125, he would spend all his money on Bahnhoff Queens (sell one's talents) and next month he would need money for a new gal with more talents. I would buy the fiat back for $25 and resell it to the train maqster for $125 each time he found a new gal, with more talents than the last one had, He and I finally ended up back at HQ Camp Pieri Wiesbaden, thanks to someone??? the train master no longer train, but he had my Fiatg, this time he invited me for a fiat tour around Wiesbaden in the Fiat,he now had another talented gal, and she like six foot tall, she sit on the back top of the Fiat, it was a convertible, I told the train master to either get he down from the top of the Fiat, or I would get out. We sold the Fiat back and forth a few more times. Next thing he ended up on my sitge at Stainvell France, some of the troops were making fun of him and he blocaded himself in the van with a carbine and was going to shoot somebody. I talked him out of that and hid away all the catridges, even the cartridges to my automatic machine gun. About the time that I left for the States, the train master was now a site chief. A few years later I met up with the train master in Greece he was now a techrep for an Amercan company this time he had married a French Gal. I now live in the mountains on a little hillk, away from it all.
From: Lee Kelsey
Date: 06 Apr 2005
During the Berlin Airlift, the Track Gear served many purposes. During the airlift there were three of us at the Rhein/Main Topscoke site, being site Chief I had the privilege of pulling my turn on shift work. our site was located on the top floor of Rhein/Main control tower, it was a cold place on night shift, so we made a make shift sack on top of the Track Gear to keep warm they put out a hell of a lot of heat (right). The aircraft to and from Berlin taxied up to the terminal just below our site windows. they would rev up the engines. That would cause an Oklahoma dust storm inside of the old tower and made it difficult to get much needed sleep after carousing Frankfurt, The equipment was always dusty, the fans had to be cleaned a few times each day. The coke (German for coal) hence the name topscoke and tops for the house tops that were skimmed by our aircraft sharply dipping down directly into Tempelhof the 4 or 5 store buildings were directly at the end of Tempelhof runway. as the aircraft fell into Tempehof the crews dropped candy to the little kids that always gather at the end of the runway waiting for their daily candy drop. the chewing gum, the kids called "Kaugumi" for cow rubber they reasoned that cows chewed big mouths full of stuff and the gum was like chewing rubber. Back to Rhein/Main, the C47's were stuffed chuck full of coal out on the flight line by truck after truck loads of coal, the aircraft took off every 6 minutes or something like that, in and out, in and out all day and night long. the aircrews coming into the chow the hall looked like coal miners, black and dirty. troops that working directly on the airlift were allowed chow passes for midnight chow. when on site watch, you would leave the tower and go to midnight chow, the big shots back at 1st radio relay did not know all of this because the only contact that we had with our unit was on CF-1 carrier bay channel one. then some jerk decided, hourly radio check on channel one was a great thing, and that was the end of our midnight chow trips, that was ok though because I talked the Rhein/Main mess sergeant into box lunches. being short of bodies we had to pull shift from 5pm until 8am the next morning. yes old soldiers are ornery and stubborn.
From Bill Wellman
One of the many advantages of being assigned to a remote radio relay site on top of a small mountain in Germany was the amount of alone time that you could amass. And with six or seven more guys assigned there with you, you could have as much accompanied time as you wished, as long as there was a mutual understanding of what constituted enjoyable time-passing. If all of the site chief’s projects and details were completed there was time for other things. Some of us read books, magazines and other literature that fell our way. Others listened to their favorite records on our record player, placed in the den that was purchased with our squadron welfare funds. And still others were satisfied listening to the Armed Forces Radio Network stations. I believe the station that we listened to was broadcast from Kaiserslautern and during the day the network had a mix of types of music and other programs. There was one time slot that billed itself as the Stick Buddy Jamboree and featured all of the latest country and western numbers. Then there was the popular, or Pop Hour, where Elvis Presley held many listener’s attention. (I believe one of those songs that was popular at the time was “I Forgot To Remember To Forget Her”)
And another time slot was filled by the Jazz and Bee Bopp style music. I recall that hour being introduced by some stern, deep, authoritarian sounding voice, which stated, “Greetings Subjects!” to open the hour. Jake Shuffort, the “No Sweat” cartoon writer featured in the Stars And Stripes, drew a cartoon one time showing a four star general sitting at a busy looking desk while that opening comment blared from a nearby radio. The cartoon needed no other dialog, just the expression on the general’s face as the greeting was received was adequate to convey the shock of the general being addressed as ‘someone’s subject’ was enough.
And there was a time when the guys were allowed to make “recreation” runs to the nearest military facility for movies or visits to NCO clubs. At the same time, I believe there was a pretty liberal interpretation of the authority to also allow visits to local community facilities, dinning and What-Not. The What-Nots could also include visits to a beer garden (or gastwirtschaft in German?) for liquid refreshments so long as one of the participants remained sober enough get everyone back up the hill for what ever the site chief imposed as a curfew time. I can only remember two or three occasions that negotiating the road back up the hill became something other than an un-marred event, maybe even problematical. So it became odd that getting down the hill without a miss-hap would be a problem. (Except during extreme snowdrift time or ice storm and sleet-conditions, and that would usually bring on a self-imposed embargo on all trips)
One warm day in July, 1955 or 56, I appointed myself as the designated driver and official gatherer of commodities at the commissary at Bauhmolder, a major US Army facility within 15 road miles of our location. Driving down the hill during that time of the year was usually a no-sweat deal, even if we had to drive a two-and-a-half ton six-by-six to get it done. The roads were admittedly narrow and in many places a bit scary as to the firmness of the berm, which delineated the roadway from the adjoining farm fields. Some of the farm fields lay well below the surface of the road so the land dropped off precipitously to about twenty feet below the road surface.
I should also say that the area surrounding Teufelskopf, our radio site hill, was directly adjacent to Saarland, with a Zoll or National Customs barrier on each road within two kilometers of the site that led into Saarland. In fact, the Saarland-German border split the town of Reichweiler into two parts. So, there were several layers of overlapping police jurisdiction, both civil and military within that small area encompassing four little towns, Reichweiler, Eckersweiler, Pfeffelbach and Birschweiler. Exiting the site hill in one direction would take us through Reichweiler and Pfeffelbach, which is in the direction of Ramstein, our headquarters base. Exiting the site hill in the other direction would take you through Eckersweiler and Birschweiler, which is the route we would take on our way to Baumholder to acquire our rations in the commissary, take in a movie at the Post Theater, or shop in the Post Exchange. We liberally used the shops connected with the Post Exchange, like photo processing, laundry pick-up point and the barbershop, and other things like the American Express facility. And to many of us the most important facility of all, the U. S. Postal facility, or APO, where we received all of our personal mail and posted all of our letters and packages to our friends and family back home.
Because of the proximity of the German/Saarland border there was a German Border Police garrison in the town of Berschweiler. There were approximately ten border policemen assigned to the garrison, which was a simple but large dwelling that looked like a large, comfortable farmhouse. They had a kennel of police dogs that accompanied the walking patrols and there was a commandant assigned there who had jurisdiction over a larger area than just the local border community. They had Volkswagen patrol cars painted in the usual deep olive-green shade with the Grenze Polizei emblem on the sides. At this point, I must say that the Grenze Polizei did not spare the horses when they were on the road. It looked as if they were always on their way to an emergency as they sped down the road. They seemed to get more out of those little Volkswagen patrol cars than any one else could accomplish, especially on those narrow roads.
I should also say that during that time, the Baumholder Kaserne occasionally quartered a French Army artillery unit. The French unit sometimes sent their military police on patrol in the local area as part of their duties administering the overlapping French Military Zone of occupation. (Or at least that is what I was led to believe through conversations with locals and some of our military members.)
Many commissary runs were combined with the other functions and usually there were more than two people on each run. For a long time, personal automobiles were scarce, so individual personal shopping tours of the exchange had to be combined with the official commissary run.
If the truth be told, there were several biergartens on or near our route to and from the radio site that we would often visit on our trips. We certainly became good friends with the proprietors of the biergartens, their family members and many of the town locals who frequented the biergartens. We even attended many of the dances there and the citizens of the towns in friendly camaraderie readily accepted us. I must also say that there were several locations, small towns and facilities within those towns where American Military members were not so readily welcomed. For the most part, those places were avoided, especially if we were sober, and it took only one visit to feel the atmosphere as to our status of being welcome or unwelcome.
On the day in question I elected myself to drive our small Opal Blitz stake body truck to Baumholder to acquire the weekly rations and to make some other stops at the other facilities on Post. I am sure that Ed Lyons was one person who accompanied me and there was another, whose identity now escapes me, but it may have been Gene Wyatt. And if memory serves me correct, we were not allowed to have more than one passenger in the front of any military vehicle while on the road. Fair enough, but we always rode as comfortably as we could regardless of those stipulations. On this particular morning, Ed was riding shotgun, Gene was in the middle and I was driving. We had negotiated most of the hill road down to the area between Eckersweiler and Berschweiler and were proceeding along a very narrow curvy stretch of road, with the farm field to our right and about twenty feet below the road level and a hill to our left with no ditch space between the road and the face of the hill.
As we approached the next curve to the left, I could see nothing but the bend in the road and the farm field far below. Suddenly a green VW sedan popped in view from around the curve raising a dust cloud with a full head of steam. Since I was going rather slow for me, I jammed on the brakes and hit the berm as close as I could without going over the hill. I was able to almost come to a complete stop just as the Beetle slammed into the narrow space between our left fender and the hillside. The Grenze Polizei Commander was able to stay out of the windshield by hanging on to the steering wheel but his passenger, who was having his zweite freustuck of smear brot smashed into the glass with quite a good force. His sandwich was smashed as well as a couple of his teeth, and he was a bit bloody, but they were both in reasonable shape. As for us, Ed and Gene were able to brace themselves adequately and they avoided injury. I was fortunate enough to hold myself out of the wheel and windshield with the steering wheel so I was in good shape also. Ed immediately jumped out of the cab and got into the back of the truck.
As I recall, the Opel Blitz suffered only minor cosmetic damage, a bent bumper and fender, maybe a little front end miss-alignment and overall paint damage to the front left area. It still drove OK and our trip was finished as intended. But in the meantime, there was the accident to deal with.
It was so obvious to all who were on the scene as to who was at fault that I didn’t fear any repercussions at the time. However, the Grenze Polizei must have had field radios on hand because almost immediately there were police of all stripe on hand, studying the situation and drawing diagrams of the roadway and embankments. There were US Army Military Police from Baumholder, US Air Force Air Police from Birkenfield, French Army MP’s, also from Baumholder, local police from the local constabulary and maybe a constable from Birchweiler. At the time the county seat was Birkenfield so I am sure they were also represented. By the time we resumed our trip to the commissary and made our way back to the radio site, there was a message from our Commander telling me to call him immediately. A large stink had apparently arisen from the event and our side of the story may not have been properly represented. When I called back, I was informed that my vehicle operator’s permit and driving privileges were immediately suspended until further notice.
I believe we all made statements as to our interpretation of the event and forwarded them to the Commander. We did not lie about the number of people in the front seat at the time of the accident, we just didn’t address that detail. And the “until further notice” lasted just until the official reports were received and read by the Commander. Although we never learned what consequences, if any, were suffered by the Grenze Polizei Commander, I assume that he did not have a happy time explaining his involvement in the damage to the police Volkswagon patrol car.
Thus ended one more episode that occurred during my time in Germany while assigned to the 1st. Radio Relay Squadron, U. S. Air Force stationed in Germany