Saturday, May 3, 2014

marking 60 years since going into the Army!

A Big Anniversary.....

Today...May 4, 2014...marks the 60th anniversary of my entering the US Army.
That’s right...drafted in Effingham, Illinois for two years service to my country....on May 4, 1954.

I would be lucky and my “guardian angel” would be helpful (in the Army you need all the help you can get!) and despite their best intentions to keep me out of my broadcasting profession for that two years...I ended up not fighting the war in Korea...but broadcasting to millions each day at the American Forces Radio Network(AFN) headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany.
I’d befriend and be working with guys like Nick Clooney (Rosemary’s brother and later...father to George Clooney Actor)...Steve Binder later Elvis tv concert producer/director...Alan Landsburg later of the Biography series Producer and JFK bio....Ray Van Steen Chicago and National advertising guy...Walter Sheppard...later big honcho at PBS Boston and friend of Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Pops...Red Jones...later legendary country and western DJ....and on and on.
But I had the two basic camps to endure before all this happened.

Uncle Sam needs me!

It was 1954 and I had just finished high school and enrolled for college at my sister Sally’s alma mater...Indiana University in Bloomington.  I had just gotten married too and already was the proud father of a baby girl, Kathy.

But the draft was hanging over my head.  There were no deferments for college students or fathers then...and I was told by my local draft board that my name was coming up fast on their list.
So...I talked to my folks and decided it would be best to just volunteer for the draft...go in and get the required two years out of the way and enter college upon my return.
Off I went to Camp (now Fort) Chaffee, Arkansas...for the haircut and the basic training.  My experience in radio didn’t do me any good...after basic they sent me to Ft Lee , Virginia for eight weeks at supply school.
During this period I tried for OCS...Office’s Candidate School...
Because of my father’s long and accomplished military record for two world wars...(he ended up a bird Colonel) I wanted to be an officer...and go to OCS after my basic training.  
My company commander called me in and said he was under the gun to send some troops to Europe and if I would drop the OCS request he’d see that I got sent to Germany and not Korea or even Alaska.
I jumped at the chance.  Why not.  R&R on the French Riviera...trips to Paris, Rome, Madrid!  Great way for the two years to pass.  
I was putting in two years in the Army during the Korean “police action” but was lucky to be sent to Germany instead of Korea. 
And...It came as a choice....rare for the Army! 
The transport ship we took to Europe in  September went up and down more than forward or we would have made it in about three or four days...but took a full week. 
Everyone was sick.  The stench was unbearable and to get away from it I volunteered for all-night guard watch which allowed me to remain on deck...chilly as it was...and away from the stench.  I also got to eat in the officer’s mess...although I can’t recall eating at all.
I did most of my sleeping on the deck.
When we got to Bremerhaven, Germany they lined us up and announced that anyone who could type please step forward.  This sounded like a good way to get out of I stepped forward.
I was sent to a unit that would play a major part in my getting an eventual transfer (unheard of in the military) into Armed Forces Radio.
I became a clerk-typist at the 3rd Armored Division headquarters in Nurenberg, Germany where the famous Nazi war crimes trail took place ten years earlier.
This...for the Army...was good duty. Make that...great!

Click below to see the former SS Kaserne where I lived.

60 Years ago!

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