A short Story / Kurzgeschichte

I was drafted in April 1953. Had an 8-week Basic training course at Ft.Ord, California. Then on to Wheel Vehicle Mechanics Course. Scored at the top of the class. Bounced around a while and then arrived at Bremerhaven, Germany, in November 1953 on a Troop Ship named Gen. Harry Taylor. From there we rode a train south to Karlsruhe. A few of us were sent on to Nellingen Air Base, as it was called then, an old German Camp. We built the first Helicopter landing pad at Nellingen. I remember the Choppers arriving there in 1954, flown from a ship in the English Channel, across France to Nellingen, Germany.

I was assigned to HQ & HQ & Service Company, 354th Engineer Construction Battalion at Nellingen, Germany, in November 1953. The designation was changed later to 354th EBC. The 354th had 3 line companies: A, B,& C that moved around on different jobs.

I worked a while servicing wheel vehicles. Then Chief Warrant Officer Bowman picked out a few of the better mechanics and sent us down to Murnau, Germany near the Bavarian Alps, where we attended a 10-week Heavy Equipment Machinery school. William Campbell and I came out of there with a Master Sgt. MOS number, but we did not get the stripes then, because of something about the pay raise that went along with the stripes. William and I were technical inspectors for all of the heavy equipment and we were in charge of the mechanics who kept the construction equipment running. We also traveled to the construction sites described in the article "History of 354th Engineer Battalion (Construction)" describing some of the construction jobs. Campbell and I toured these jobs inspecting the Heavy Equipment, as well as all wheel vehicles. Our job was to see that all equipment was serviced, and cared for, and deadlined if we found some thing wrong. We ordered parts from the supply warehouses near Giessen. (I am probably getting these town names mixed up). Had to find the Guest Houses to buy Beer, not many Cafes, and no Hamburger Joints. The Express Guest House, in Esslingen, Germany, near Stuttgart, was a favorite for the Boys stationed at Nellingen.

I did travel the whole distance from Bremerhaven to Berchesgarten. The Russians occasionally charged the front line, in what they called maneuvers, just to harass us, as we had to go on full alert, and move out with full field gear, and retreat towards France, with all the heavy equipment we could move on trucks. Every vehicle had a 50 caliber ring mount on top of it, and machine gunners had to grab their 50 caliber machine gun, and mount them as we moved out. Of course the rest of us all had the old M1 Grand, or a M1 Carbine.

I previously emailed pictures taken on the job at Münchweiler, where we were working on a railroad spur, and receiving dock, at the Munchweiler Hospital. This was the last job the 354th worked on. I was then shipped home about the same time the 354th colors was re-assigned to the USA, March 1955.

All of the battalion's equipment and jobs were assigned to the 94th EBC.

The yet to become famous country singer, Johnny Cash, Air Force, was also on his way home on the same Troop Ship with me. We formed a small Country Music Band, and entertained the troops all the way to New York. I will never forget the Hurricane we hit, and rode out for 3 days. It was a 10 day trip due to the Hurricane. If any of your readers have pictures of the band, taken on the Troop Ship, I would love to have copies emailed to me.

 

Herbie´s Army Good
Conduct Medal
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