42 nd Anti Aircraft Artillery Crest

42 nd Anti Aircraft Artillery / 9 th Infantry Division 1954 - 1956

Erinnerungen eines 17 jährigen US Soldaten 1954 Nellingen Barracks, Germany

Die Geschichte handelt sich um den Obergefreiten Gary Morley. Er kam nach seiner Musterung im April 1954 nach Nellingen mit der 28. Infanterie Division / 899. Luftabwehr Battalion. Seine Einheit wurde im gleichen Jahr von der 9. Infanterie / 42. Luftabwehr Battalion übernommen. Gary und seine Einheit durchlebten viele Gelände- Manöver, die meistens gleich ein paar Kilometer außerhalb der Kaserne stattfanden. Zum Beispiel in der Nähe von Kirchheim / Teck wo sie in den Hanglagen des Albtraufs und auf der Burg Teck ihre Manöver abhielten. In seiner Freizeit schlossen  sich Gary und ein paar andere Soldaten mit ein paar Nellinger Jungs zusammen und gründeten den Deutsch-Amerikanischen Amateur Radio Club Nellingen. Gleich außerhalb vom Zaun zelteten sie öfters und kontaktierten über den CB Funk andere Funker in der ganzen Welt. Oder sie flogen mit ortsansässigen Leuten vom Segelflug-Club Bissingen / Teck für ein paar wenige Mark über die Schwäbische Alb. Einmal mussten drei aus seiner Einheit ein einwöchiges Manöver- Lager abhalten am Rande eines Bauernhofes im Esslinger Neckartal. Bei Regen durften sie im Stall übernachten und die Bäuerin machte jeden Morgen ein zünftiges Frühstück für die eigene Familie und die Soldaten. Die Söhne vom Bauern waren im gleichen Alter wie die Jungs vom 42. Luftabwehr Battalion. Übrigens, wenn Flurschäden auf den Äckern oder Wiesen der örtlichen Bauern entstanden sind wurde eine spezielle Gruppe der US Army hingeschickt und es wurde an Ort und Stelle für die Schäden bezahlt. Ich könnte noch viele Dinge hier von Herrn Morley erzählen. Einen ausführlicheren Bericht seiner Lebenserinnerungen lesen Sie ganz unten, in englisch. Herr Morley ging im August 1956 nach USA zurück. Gary lebt heute in Paris / Texas, ist 71 Jahre alt, verheiratet, hat drei Kinder und fünf Enkelkinder. Gary, danke für die sehr spannende Geschichte und die Korrespondenz mit dir. Viel Glück für die Zukunft wünscht herzlichst Billy. September 2007

 

9th.gif (5261 bytes)

9 th Infantry Division

42nd AAA Battalion Headquarter.

Battalion square with

Baker Battery barrack in background.

Looking from Headquarters Battery barrack toward the motor pool

PFC Gary Morley 1954

(Right) Brig. Gen. Theimer, CO, 9th Division Artillery.  (Left) 42nd AAA

At left, Lt. Col. Arthur greets Maj. Gen. Booth, CO, 9th Inf. Div., who flew in on helicopter (right) for inspection of the battalion, summer 1955.

Two noncoms in front of Battalion Headquarters with Headquarters Battery barracks in background

 

Headquarters Battery troops in front of Battalion Headquarters making fun of Army life.

looking across the battalion square to the parade ground with an M-42 twin 40mm gun track on display 1955

Early Warning Net field equipment and radios laid out for inspection.  Jim Lantis is

in foreground, Jim Rhodes in background.

Brig. Gen. Theimer leaves the battalion square after an inspection visit in summer 1955.

 

lounging on the barracks steps in summer 1955. Jimmie Long, Weldon McWhirter, Herman Turner

Gary Morley in the battalion motor pool with Jeeps and trailers

Joe Olivero on an early warning outpost overlooking the

Neckar River in autumn 1954.

George Grubich moves through shafts of (rare) Bavarian sunshine on 42nd AAA Battalion maneuvers in autumn 1955.

A 42nd AAA Battalion M-42 “duster” twin 40 mm track moves up to the firing line at Hohenfels in winter 1955

 

M-16 quad .50 caliber half-track on the parade ground in summer 1955.

Farris Nelson with an Early Warning Net Jeep in the motor pool in winter 1955.

 

An Early Warning Net team tests its equipment in the battery workshop in autumn 1955. 

Early Warning Net equipment is laid out in the battery workshop for inspection after the maneuvers of autumn 1955

The Battalion Executive Officer queries SPC Gary Morley in competition for “best soldier in the battalion” in spring 1956

Bob Baker and Gary Morley lounge on Tom Buchan’s empty bunk the day he rotated back to the U.S. for discharge in late 1955

Lovers of classical art all, troops gather around Nevis Day’s bunk in the battery barracks to view and appreciate the latest example taped to his wall locker’s door.

Headquarters Battery troops defending the Enlisted Men’s Club on Nellingen Kaserne.  From left are Farris Nelson, Joe Olivero, Nick Easterly, Everett Stoddard, Nunn, Campbell, and George Fike. 

SPC Gary Morley in the 1946 Ford he owned with Harris Papahronis, parked in front of one of the battery’s barracks

A platoon of Headquarters Battery forms up in the battery area for a dress parade, probably in 1955

M-42s on the firing line at Hohenfels in winter 1955

M-42s fire their twin 40mm cannons at drone targets at Hohenfels in winter 1955.

 

An M-16 quad .50 caliber track has just come off the firing line at Hohenfels in winter 1955.  The crew is changing the gun’s barrels, which got very hot in action, despite the subzero temperature

Battalion square in front of Battalion Headquarters.

 

Morley with Joe Olivero on an EWN outpost, probably in the spring of 1955.

 

Young Men Gary Morley 17 Years

And that’s Gary today 71 Years

Erinnerungen / Memories of Gary Morley 1954 - 1956

 

When I arrived at Nellingen Kaserne in April 1954, the signs of transition were all around.  The scars of WWII were disappearing into prosperity as Germany rebuilt its economy.  (In nearby Stuttgart, only a square block of bombed rubble remained, a short walk from the Hauptbahnhof.)  The last of America’s “brown boot” Army was in service, with its “Ike” jackets and olive drab uniform, soon to give way to the “bus driver’s” green uniform of today, black boots and shoes, and a rainbow array of berets.  Though there was no hint yet of the high-tech video arcade weaponry developed by the next generation, the “brown boot” Army’s tools were changing too.  Soon after my arrival, the ancient T-28 half-track gun carriages of my unit, the 899th AAA Battalion of the 28th Infantry Division, with their hand-cranked 37mm cannons flanked by twin .50 caliber machine guns, were donated to Holland’s army and replaced by modern full-track M-42s, their turrets with twin 40mm cannons electrically driven.  As a link to the past, the four gun batteries of my battalion retained their M-16 half-tracks mounted with quad .50 caliber machine guns, dating from the early 1940s but still an awesome weapon.  Individual weaponry was changing also.  Most artillerymen carried M1 carbines, widely derided as useless “pea shooters,” while drivers, both of the track gun carriages and wheeled vehicles, were equipped with the .45 caliber “grease gun,” a cheap, flimsy sheet-metal apparatus that sprayed a high rate of fire in every direction except toward the target.

 

The units on Nellingen Kaserne were themselves in transition.  On 25 May 1954 the 28th Infantry Division, called “the bloody bucket” for its shoulder patch of a red keystone, furled its flags and returned to the U.S. for regular duty as the Pennsylvania National Guard.  The flags went home, but the troops stayed.  On 15 June 1954 my unit was redesignated the 42nd AAA Battalion, 9th Infantry Division (The Old Reliables) and remained that through the rest of my 2 ½ years stationed at the kaserne.  Even ranks were in flux.  Shortly after I was promoted to corporal in 1955, the Army reinstituted specialist ranks for many jobs, including mine as a radio operator.  The insignia was a golden eagle displayed on a green sleeve chevron with an added gold stripe for each level of the rank.  (At that time there were seven specialist ranks.  Now there is only one.)

 

I was 17 years old and shaved every two or three months, whether I needed it or not.  My generation’s Army was in that way like armies everywhere – very young.  The “old man” of my platoon was 22.  (That was William McWhirter, a draftee from Magnolia, Arkansas.  He was our big brother.  He went on to become a prominent banker and  the

Deputy State Treasurer of Arkansas.  He died in 1987.)  No one asked the sergeants their ages, but they were known to be “very” old.  Officers, excepting 2nd lieutenants, were “ancient,” at least 30.  The fine officer that I worked for, Captain William D. Corley, was 31.  We didn’t think people could get any older than that, except possibly parents.  He was our parent in many ways.  He supported us, instructed us, disciplined us, and all of us wanted his approval.  Our battalion’s Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. John (King) Arthur, was too old to imagine, like a grandpa to us, eccentric, prickly, cranky.  (I once saw Anthony McAuliffe, a legend for his defense of Bastogne, in the field at Grafenwehr, when he was a Lt. Gen. and Corps Commander.  He was shorter than me and older than God.)

 

I remember Nellingen Kaserne as small, very small, possibly because the orbit of my life was such.  I am surprised when I see a map of it as it was in its prime with its airfield and numerous hangars, workshops, battalions here and battalions there, administrative buildings, a medical clinic, a club for enlisted men, another for noncoms, a third for officers, motor pools, parade grounds, athletic field, theater, library, PX, snack bar, and dependent housing.  It was like a small city.  But little of it touched my life.  There was an Engineer Battalion right across the street from our barracks.  I didn’t know anyone there, never went over there, and can’t remember the unit’s designation for certain --though I think it was the 94th Engineer Bn. (Construction).  In 2 ½ years I was on the airfield one time – that for a practice maneuver of moving troops by helicopter, a novel idea at the time.  I visited the medical unit once, in the winter of 1955 when my buddies wrapped me in an OD blanket and carried me there.  I was unable to stand or talk.  The doctor quickly diagnosed my case as spinal meningitis, and I was soon in an ambulance on my way to the Army Field Hospital at Bad Canstatt.  The doctor there said I only had a bad strep throat and started me on a regimen of antibiotics.  The Army was not alarmed.  Three days later my Early Warning Network team came with Jeep and trailer, loaded me in the back of the Jeep where they had packed and placed my field gear, and we were off to Hohenfels for two weeks in snow and freezing weather.

 

Our five batteries were clustered around battalion headquarters, adjacent to the parade ground and near the back gate and dependent housing.  Even their phonetic alphabet designations were in transition.  Along with my battery, Headquarters, they were then called Able, Baker, Charlie and Dog but would now be Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta.  Headquarters Battery barracks and command and supply building sat next to battalion headquarters.  Just beyond was the battalion mess hall.  Across a street from that lay our motor pool, one of a long string of unit motor pools lined up along that street, with numerous Jeeps, three-quarter ton and two-and-a-half ton trucks.  Behind the motor pool was the gun park with our M-16 halftracks and M-42 fulltracks grouped by battery.

 

On our little circuit lay the track of my daily life -- barracks, work, messhall, enlisted men’s club, post theater, PX/snack bar, and the long street from barracks to front gate, where we exited and entered on pass.  (It was possible to exit and enter at the rear gate near our battalion, but we rarely did, because there was no public transport nearby.  Occasionally, though, Capt. Corley would take ten or twelve of us from the Early Warning Network to a little gasthaus in Scharnhousen, where he conducted classes for us on how to down ten shot glasses of steinhager and still talk).  Beyond was the world.  First, the walk to Nellingen to catch the strassenbahn, thence to Esslingen.  Sometimes we got no farther, especially if it was longer than a week since payday.  As a PFC I was paid $120 a month, as an SPC3 $140.  In those days, however, one dollar in Army scrip was worth four DM.  The fare for the strassenbahn from Nellingen to Esslingen was 50 pf, the same as a glass of beer at most village gasthauses.  The train ticket from Esslingen to Stuttgart cost a mark, as did a glass of beer at the Drei Robin, a café on Koenigstrasse, a few blocks from the Hauptbahnhof.  For three DM you could get a big pizza and a glass of beer at the Santa Lucia, one of my favorite cafes in Stuttgart.

 

My first summer at Nellingen Kaserne I fell in love 20 times.  The first was a pretty German girl who worked at the post laundry and seemed never to notice me in that sea of green fatigues and brown boots.  The others were just as serious – among them the fraulein who ran the cash register at the kaserne snack bar, another in a small village shop who sold me a sandwich while our convoy was stopped for some forgotten reason, and the dark-haired, dark-eyed girl I glimpsed briefly on a train departing in a misty swirl of rain and fog while I was standing on the station platform at Esslingen.  Another memorable love affair came my way that summer.  Forrest Tucker, the popular movie actor, came to the kaserne with a USO show that included four or five startlingly beautiful young “starlets.”  The post theater (which held about 500 troops) was filled for show after show after show.  I was at one of them, and part of the show included the starlets going into the audience and randomly choosing a partner to dance with on the stage while Tucker sang, after a fashion.  I couldn’t dance so, naturally, one of the girls, the most beautiful one, chose me.  It took her about thirty seconds to learn of my disability – two left feet.  But, undeterred, she kept smiling and dancing and smelling wonderfully like American girls.  I still think of her and the Esslingen girl occasionally and hope they had happy lives, even without me.

 

Our laundry was done by civilians, but the rest we did for ourselves.  We kept our barracks spotless, with inspections by sergeants every day and by officers every Saturday morning that we were in kaserne.  Headquarters Battery had two barracks, side by side, adjacent to Battalion Square.  The two-storey barracks had on each floor two small rooms for sergeants at the stairwell, the rest of the space being one large room filled with two rows of double-deck iron cots for the troops, each set of bunks separated from the next by six-foot-tall olive drab metal wall lockers that, with a small wooden footlocker (also olive drab), contained all of a soldier’s meager possessions.  Unlike today’s Army, with its dormitories of separate two-man rooms, the “brown boot” Army’s quarters were open and communal.  You interacted like a family, argued like a family, shared good news and bad, and developed family loyalty.

 

It was a diverse family – black, white and brown, northerner and southerner (even a refugee from Latvia named Andy Silinek), from farms, small towns, and big cities, conscripts and volunteers.  I was born in a small town in Oklahoma, grew up in small towns in Oklahoma and Arkansas.  I had never lived with black people, never had even met an Hispanic person or a Jew or anyone from Brooklyn or Boston or San Francisco.  All those became part of my family in Nellingen, and it changed me forever – as experience often does.

 

Long ago the Army gave up some of the trooper’s most distasteful chores.  Every couple of months those below corporal pulled KP (Kitchen Police) in the battalion messhall.  You were awakened at 0330 by the CQ (Charge of Quarters, a corporal who sat up all night in the battery headquarters building manning the telephone) and went straight to duty.  Sometimes I was assigned to clean the long mess tables after each meal then mop and scrub the entire floor.  Sometimes my job was to wash the metal mess trays, each divided into shaped, indented sections to keep notorious Army chow from mingling.  Sometimes I washed pots and pans, helped the cooks, cleaned the grease trap, and peeled potatoes.  These were the days before the mechanical potato peeler.  Mid-morning and mid-afternoon, all of the KPs gathered on the loading dock at the back of the mess hall and, using small paring knives, peeled mountains of potatoes and traded rumors and made-up stories always presented as honest experience and almost always with the narrator as hero.  KP usually lasted from 0330 until 2030, by which time even the young troopers were groggy and totally spent.  They were up again for reveille at 0630, formed up in ranks in the battery area between the two barracks for roll call, whether rain, snow, or shine.  Then it was off to the messhall for breakfast.

 

Army food in those days was beyond acquired taste.  At Nellingen I was introduced to powdered eggs and powdered milk, a breakfast concotion called SOS (chipped creamed beef), fried liver and onions, “Salisbury” steak, and C rations.  C rations were our usual fare on field duty, but two or three times a month in kaserne we got them in the mess hall.  I once was handed a can of “ham and lima beans” in our mess hall in 1955, I believe, and out of idle curiosity read the information printed on it.  That meal had been canned in 1942, proving that C rations were not fine wine, which improves with age.  If we had the money, which was rarely, when C rations appeared in the mess hall, we bought our lunch in the EM club, five or six blocks from our battalion.

 

We ate a lot of C rations anyway, and every trooper wore a P-28 metal can opener on the dog tag chain around his neck.  My platoon, called AAAIS (for Anti-Aircraft Artillery Intelligence Service), was part of Headquarters Battery but worked directly for the battalion S2, Capt. Corley.  Much of our time was spent in the field, on winter tests, spring and fall maneuvers, and division alerts.  (Division alerts almost always were declared at 0200 hours on weekends during bad weather, especially snow.  Troops, with all their field gear, moved out of kaserne with all their guns and vehicles into a designated “defense” area, usually eight or ten kilometers away.  Division officers observed all alerts and marked the time it took each unit to reach its defense area.)  Even while we were “in kaserne,” we were out in the field on tactical practice.  AAAIS provided the Early Warning Net for our battalion’s guns.  Equipped with ANGRC9 radios – we called them Angry Niners -- three man teams in Jeep and trailer formed a circle around the battalion at a distance of ten to twenty kilometers, set up observations posts on any likely hill that provided good communication with our gun batteries, watched the horizon for “bandit” aircraft, and alerted the guns when we spotted one. 

 

I remember dozens of such outposts – villages, farmers’ fields, stone forestry towers, even a bombed-out bunker – but the favorite by far was an old castle at Kirchheim unter Teck.  We sheltered from the weather under its parapet and from atop its walls had a wonderful view in every direction.  (As I recall, I could count at least ten villages from its ramparts.)  Sometimes we would stay there only a day or two, sometimes six or seven.  We ate C rations every meal unless, again rarely, we had money to go down the mountain to eat at a village gasthaus.

 

Castle / Burg Teck

 

 

Getting out of the kaserne let me meet and associate with a lot of Germans that I otherwise probably would not have known.  I got acquainted with Karl Kieffer, a young gasthaus keeper in Rotenberg village on a steep ridge on Stuttgart’s eastern edge.  I was “best man” at his wedding in the village church in October 1955 and spent many evenings with his family and his wife DoDo’s family too.  DoDo’s family took me to visit their home near Heidelberg and to Munich to see my first opera – Die Fledermaus.  I had to admit that I preferred country music.  Like everything else, American music was undergoing a tidal change.  In 1954, AFRS (American Forces Radio Service) played a constant menu of  Kitty Kallen, Teresa Brewer, Patti Page, Rosemary Clooney, Webb Pierce, Eddie Arnold, and Kitty Wells.  In 1955, it was Porter Wagoner, Ferlin Husky, and Tennessee Ernie Ford in country music, while the pop hits that year were Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White, Unchained Melody, Autumn Leaves, and Sixteen Tons.  By the time I was a “short-timer” in 1956, Elvis had four of the top ten hits, and the airwaves were filled by the raucous sounds of Little Richard and Bill Haley.

 

Cpl. Bobby Bonds (of Dothan, Alabama) formed a MARS (Military Amateur Radio Station) in the battalion and we, as members, later became part of the Nellingen Amateur Radio Club – about a dozen Germans from Nellingen and Esslingen and half a dozen American soldiers from the kaserne.  We got together usually at a gasthaus in Esslingen, but a couple of times each year we would set up a camp in a field near the kaserne and participate in a “distance” competition.  Each club would record all of the radio contacts it made in the three-day competition, and the contact at the longest distance was declared the winner.  On kaserne, my name was Gary, but with the Radio Club my name was Gerd.  There was another member called Gerd, and I recall as well Rolf and Kurt, who came to Stuttgart Hauptbahnholf to see me off when I began the long journey back to America in August 1956.  I vividly remember them on the station platform, waving to me, and Kurt shouting, “Gerd, kommen ze snell zuruck!”  But life led in other directions.

 

As my memory fades into old age (I was 71 a few days ago), I wonder if the ghosts of my youth still march the kaserne grounds, guarding the gun parks now covered by civilian housing.  Can the shouted military commands still be heard on the old parade grounds?  Do the plaintive tones of “Taps” still linger in the night air?  Whatever happened to Izzie Fischer and Jesus Gonzales, to Herman Turner and Feris Nelson?  Whatever happened to the boy I was?  And, yes, whatever happened to that dark-haired, dark-eyed girl I glimpsed so briefly on a train at Esslingen departing in a misty swirl of fog and rain? 

 

Deutsch Amerikanischer Radio Club Nellingen 1954 bis 1956

 

Segelfliegen Bissingen/Teck Gary Morley

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