Dad’s Story

Later in life, Dad had some health problems, Alzheimer’s Disease being one of the major issues. The Alzheimers crept up on Dad, and with it he lost his memory and his talented abilities. It was very sad and frustrating to watch this happen to such an intelligent and caring man. He knew something was wrong but he didn’t understand what it was. The whole family was actively involved in helping Dad, and more so when he came home with hospice care. It was around this time that I started to read to Dad his diary from his 3 years in the Army, a journal he wrote for his mother. He remembered a lot of it and we had nice conversations about what we read. He helped me to pronounce the names of the German towns he visited. Dad never talked much about his time in the Korean war before this and I was fascinated with his story. Sadly, he didn’t remember that I was his daughter, I was just a nice person who came to visit. He could remember some of his war experiences though, and it gave me joy to now have a connection with him!

I would like to share with you some excerpts from his diary:

Dad’s Story

Later in life, Dad had some health problems, Alzheimer’s Disease being one of the major issues. The Alzheimers crept up on Dad, and with it he lost his memory and his talented abilities. It was very sad and frustrating to watch this happen to such an intelligent and caring man. He knew something was wrong but he didn’t understand what it was. The whole family was actively involved in helping Dad, and more so when he came home with hospice care. It was around this time that I started to read to Dad his diary from his 3 years in the Army, a journal he wrote for his mother. He remembered a lot of it and we had nice conversations about what we read. He helped me to pronounce the names of the German towns he visited. Dad never talked much about his time in the Korean war before this and I was fascinated with his story. Sadly, he didn’t remember that I was his daughter, I was just a nice person who came to visit. He could remember some of his war experiences though, and it gave me joy to now have a connection with him!

I would like to share with you some excerpts from his diary:

The Beginning
The Beginning
January 29
Drafted. All G.I.’s are welcome – free.
February 6
Found fully acceptable for induction into the armed services.
September 19
Arrived at Fort Devens, MA.
Day starts at 4:45 am and ends at 10 pm. Had to take aptitude tests and get my shots. Passed my O.C.S. exam. Out of 30 only 10 passed. KP duty at 3am.

Dad at Fort Devens - 1952

October 1
Arrived at Aberdeen, Md. It is 65,000 acres in size. KP Duty and started basic training. 8 weeks of 8 mile hikes, field training, sleep out in the mountains on the 3rd and 4th weeks. In “Dog Company” with 150 men. Marched 6 miles in hard rain. Cleaned my rifle, the new M1 Garand. I’ve had 6 classes of guard duty. Dance coming up at the U.S.O. Club.
October 20
Up at 2am in the morning for a long march to another area for a week. This week will tell if we are “Men or Boys”!
October 22
In the firing pit today, a lot of rain, a lot of mud. I can put my rifle together blindfolded in 1 ½ minutes flat.

Dad’s diary from his 3 years in the Korean War

October 30
Inspections every morning at 8am. Pay day. I went to the PX store. It’s the size of 3 Filene’s stores. Received my G.I. Ballot from the State House.
November 1
We are going 80 or 90 miles by Army trucks and about 15 miles by foot. We sleep in 6 man tents.
November 3
Last night was the worst night. Had to crawl under barbed wires, logs, ditches, fox holes firing live ammo 3ft above our heads.
November 15
Up at 2 am for 5 days and nights of maneuvers. Land on a beach in an LST. Eat c-rations on the way home.
December 3
I am assigned to 6 months of electronics school at Fort Monmouth, NJ Signal Corps. I will be working on radios, radar and electronics.
December 13
Outside for exercise 15 to 20 minutes every morning. I get up at 5:30 am, breakfast at 6:20, march to classes at 7:30. We pass the receiving stand where a big band is playing. The General inspects us as we march by.
December 25
Christmas at home with the folks and girlfriend.

Dad with his Aunt at Christmas - 1952

This Christmas was the last time Dad saw his grandmother before she passed away in 1954

Arriving In Germany
Arriving In Germany
January 12
Arrived at Fort Monmouth NJ For the Signal Corps training. Jack Benny and Bob Hope are on the radio.
March 12
Night School 2 nights per week. KP duty some days 4 am – 9 pm.

Dad at Fort Monmouth - 1953

Image taken from

Heading to Germany on the U.S.N.S. McRae - 1953

July 3
Sailed at noon on the U.S.N.S. McRae to Germany. 1100 men, 700 airforce men getting off at Newfoundland. We sleep 5 bunks deep, 20 to a section.

I enjoy sailing and watching porpoises race along the boat. Saw the sun shining on the green hills of Ireland and could see small villages. Passed the English Channel, England and France.

July 17
Arrived in Germany Wednesday morning at a small village near the border of France. We got off the boat and onto a train and traveled until 11:00am Thursday morning. Up at 4am on Friday morning and back on a train to head for the town of Grafenwöhr.
July 25
Assigned as a tank driver in the Anti-Aircraft Unit. The tanks weigh 2 tons and it has two 40mm anti-aircraft guns. Each tank has a driver, radioman and 2 gunners. 50 tanks and 550 men heading to the mountains. Grafenwöhr is 90 square miles of woods, dusty roads and hills. We will be 15-20 miles from the Czechoslovakian border. Erlangen, Germany is home base.
July 31
Had a day off and hitched a ride to Nuremberg. We had milk from Holland, eggs from Denmark and biscuits from Sweden. I had my first glass of German beer…potent stuff! Germany still shows many signs of the WWII bombings.
August 6
In two months I will become P.F.C. (Private First Class). Responsible for 90 radio transmitters. Got up a 2am, took a jeep out to the patrol points and I had to replace a radio in a tank.
I’ve got my eye on a camera that takes action shots at 1/300th of a second!
August 15
The other night we picked up by radio a N.Y. baseball game. It was 2am but who cares?
August 20
2:30 am alert this morning. I got stuck in my sleeping bag – the zipper got caught! We really have to move fast and it took less than 15 minutes from when the siren went off until we were rolling down the road.

I am officially “Commo Chief” of our battery.

August 28
Our whole unit goes back to home base. It will take 15 hours of driving 425 vehicles, trucks, tanks, jeeps and anything else that moves. Mess trucks with cooks, cooking all the way as they roll along. Welding shops on wheels, our “Commo” half trucks have become mechanic shops and can set up a garage in ½ hr. The whole battalion is mechanized.

The Rhine River in Germany - 1953

Four days after we arrive at home base we head to the Rhine River and then into France to join the NATO manuevers. We will hit Holland, Denmark, the Baltic Sea, France, cross the Rhine River into Germany and into the Bavarian Alps. The whole of NATO is in on this. We will cover about 1500 miles in 15 days and sleep when we can. Packing canned goods in the “Commo” unit just in case we get lost or stray from our company. We burn thousands of gallons a day now. We sleep outside in the half trucks. On our way we see hundreds and hundreds of convoys of tanks, trucks and other trains. We are all headed for one place, foreign units and all.
September 16
We covered 1300 miles and I slept out under the stars in 14 different parts of Germany. We move our position sometimes 3 times a day. This is hard work, erecting big antenna and laying wire and so sooner finished than “here we go again”, was sounded. I drove all the time. We sleep under our tanks where it is nice and dry, out in the woods with spiders, bugs, snakes and wolves. We have live ammo to keep them running. The mountains were beautiful until we had to drive over them. In fact our train had 3 engines hauling it over some of the mountains and through long tunnels going straight through the mountains.
September 18
One year in the service of the U.S.A. We wandered into a clock shop just in time to hear all the clocks hit 10pm. It sounded beautiful to hear and see. You can’t imagine how it was!
September 26
Our camp is right on the edge of town with tall pine trees and willow trees all around us. This town is down a valley with mountains on each side. They call it the “The Valley of the Singing Winds”. The breeze through the trees makes a singing sound.
October 1
I was made P.F.C. (Private First Class) today!
October 12
It’s pretty cold over here. The puddles and wet grass froze solid. We got more winter clothes, fur lined tanker jackets and hats, big mittens with only 2 fingers, fur lined thermo boots and 8 pairs of heavy woolen socks. Mud boots and a fur lined parka. We will look like Eskimos.
October 18
The Halloween party at the service club was a lot of fun. One of our tanks was lost on the Czech. border last week. He got back without being seen. You report every ½ hour by radio to our net control station. Our radio operators are on duty 24 hrs a day 3 shifts 8 hours each.
October 23
The Rhine River maneuvers – the objective is to take a few hills on the other side. We are the “Blockland Forces” and the enemy’s called “The Westlands” and we are outnumbered 2 to 1. We pulled in at 8pm by truck convoy. It’s been raining cats and dogs and I am mud from head to toe. We were cut off from the rest of our convoy. But we had c-rations. We had to hide in barns and hayfields at night. Our radios went bad and we had all kinds of trouble. Bought eggs from a German villager, bread and milk traded for cigarettes. We stole 25 gallons of gas from an enemy tank unit so we could keep going.
November 12
Back in Erlangen, Germany. I will be in the mountains next month, snow and all. Our section received a nice plaque for having the best communications in the last 2 maneuvers. We are expecting an alert any minute now. I’ve got all of our radios fixed up just in case it does come.
November 19
Old man winter is here. It is nice and breezy and 10 degrees early this morning. Most of the day I spend in the “Commo” repair room, fixing radios. A couple of hours spent in the garages checking ½ trucks and tanks. Also 1 hour of exercises in the afternoon and an early 15 mile hike at 5am. We are wearing our big heavy woolen socks over our boots to keep warm.

Made Corporal today, now to be Sargeant! I received a plaque for having the best “Commo” section in the Battalion.

December 6
I’m on border patrol at the Czechoslovakian border-just 4 of us in our “Commo” truck and our portable radio. We have contact 24 hours a day with the Air Force Jets. There are 6 of them. It snowed last night and it was cold and foggy. The top of this mountain is the dividing line between us and Russia – The Iron Curtain. On the other side of the mountain the Russians have their communication vehicles.
December 14
On Border Patrol. Cold, foggy, high winds. The jeep has chains on the tires. I am hoping that it stops snowing or we won’t get our trucks and trailer down. We eat well and our hut is warm. I sleep from 5am to 1pm. A few mountain wolves roam around and howl. I have carbine bullets if we need to “fix” our visitors. I have my own little Christmas tree, right on this mountain. It’s about 25 ft from our hut. We have adopted it. It was here long before we came and come next Christmas and the next it will still be here. But this year it will be ours.
December 23
Heading back. At 6pm we started down with all of our equipment in the van and trailer. It takes 1 hour by jeep but it took us 6 1/2 hours with that big truck-trailer. It was snowing and freezing at the same time, plus so much fog that if we got 20 yards away we would be lost. I’ll never forget that trip down the mountain. Our main unit left without us, figuring we’d be marooned up there on the mountain. But we were coming back for that Christmas dinner! We took turns driving and got lost a couple of times. Once we were on the road to Leipzig, Poland. That’s the Russian zone. You should have seen us, we turned around so fast! We arrived before Christmas!
December 14
Spent Christmas Day with our orphans. Many weeks ago we all donated $5 each in German money to the orphan’s party. We had 80 orphans in our billets and mess hall. We had 500 orphans all together for a Christmas dinner. They arrived at 11am and dinner was at noon. Every soldier had an orphan sitting with him at the table. We were all in uniforms. I had a cute little blonde girl with long hair and blue eyes sitting with me. We had a giant Christmas tree in the mess hall. Six big tanks came and gave the older kids a ride. The smaller ones went for a ride in the jeep. We filled paper bags with candy and gum.
December 28
You can see the responsibility of running a section with nine men plus thousands of dollars worth of equipment isn’t too easy. Two days before Christmas a French division sent their communication crews and vehicles up to our area. They found the setup so good that they didn’t need to prepare at all. So the French Officer told our officers that there was no reason why they couldn’t take right over since they had to be there Christmas Day anyway. So they gave us Christmas Day back at our base in Erlangen.

Nuremberg Colosseum - 1954

We are going to Nuremberg to have a New Year’s Eve party. Many of us will leave the service in 1954 so this will be a really good party with champagne, wine and music with violins, zithers and lit candles.

Fort Monmouth teaches us well on Communications. I got the best crew in the Battalion and a section is as good as the guys in it. They all have good brains and know their job. Leave them alone and you can be sure the work gets done. The U.S.A.F.I. course comes through. It’s a correspondence course with a college in the states and I am taking it in Radar Electronics.

The Ranks
The Ranks
January 3
Temps at night are down to 15-20 degrees below zero.
January 10
Went to bed late and just as I got into bed the alert sounded. It was 2am at the height of a new snowstorm. In one hour we were ready to go – Fur lined jackets and parkas, fur snow pack boots and an extra blanket for the cab of the truck. Everything we do here is done with one thing in mind – “Can we get out of here in a hurry!!!”
January 15
We are snowed in. I’ve never seen so much snow and none of it melts. We have a lot of avalanches near here. The mountains just a few miles from here had one the other night and it shook our camp. Border Patrol coming up in Feb. We spend a lot of time in the radio room, checking and relaying weather information to other army bases around these mountain areas.

The German people don’t even know what t.v. is yet and it’s been about a year since I saw one myself.

January 17
A quiet weekend until we had an alert at 1pm. I was in bed reading and must have fallen asleep. When I woke up everyone was going around like a fireman going to a fire. I grabbed my rifle and the documents needed from the safe. We sure did disturb this peaceful city of Erlangen. When the kids hear the sirens go off they just line the sidewalks waiting for all our trucks and tanks to roll through, paying no attention to traffic cops. One of our trucks skidded on an icy turn and took a set of traffic lights and a stop sign right along with it. Never did we stop.

If this was a real alert, 15 minutes after we cleared the main gate of our post, every building would be blown sky high by dynamite that is placed in special locked vaults under each building. By just a time fuse setting everything would be taken care of (but quick). Nothing must be left. All planned out to the smallest fraction.

Last night we went to a carnival ball in the city. Saturday nights are the most gorgeous of all. Everyone wears costumes and masks and it’s like New Year’s Eve, a birthday and Armistace Day all thrown in together.

January 26
I liked all of your clippings and newspapers Mom. It gets dull over here. Temperature is 22 degrees below zero. Just going across the field from us you can feel your nose inside freezing shut! We are the only “Commo” section in the Battalion that can fix our own generator. The generator has the same engine as a greyhound bus. Word of another alert coming up for a 3-5 day field problem. If the G.I.’s in the last war can stand it, I can too.
January 31
I have my own desk, a big work bench full of electrical testing tools in the “Commo” room. There must be over $300,000 dollars worth in here and I have all the say of it. The officers turn it all over to us and they are only interested in keeping it working and that’s where all of my headaches come in. In the army everything must be done by records etc. I always know what is needed and where it is. I keep track of every tube in the place. Last week 650 new items came in. Sleep in sleeping bags outside in -10 degree temps. The biggest problem is keeping our hands and feet warm.

Our radio station is in contact with the Air Force jets who patrol the skies and also with the intelligence unit who decodes and checks all Russian reports we pick up. I’ve picked up a few more gray hairs running this “Commo” station, but the experience is worth it. I’ve got 9 men under me and all the brains are in this “Commo”. My army hitch is well over the 3/4 mark now.

February 4
We will relieve the British Patrol on the Border on the 18th of February for one month.
February 17
We have to get up at 2am and our convoy leaves at 4 am for border patrol. I was away at a special school preparing for this coming mountain duty. It was for codes and information that we must know and I had to memorize it.

Image from PFC Joe Archibald - 169th Infantry 43rd Division

On Border Patrol in the mountain wilderness at the Iron Curtain - 1954

February 18
It’s snowing and all the tanks have been loaded onto flat cars as the roads are icy. Heading up the mountain for Border Patrol Duty.
February 24
Bitter cold on the mountain and plenty of wind. I am wearing long underwear for the first time, heavy wool pants with my work pants. Over them a sweatshirt, a sweater, a heavy shirt, pile jacket, field jacket with liner, my fuzzy hat, a hood and two pairs of woolen socks and snow pack boots plus big mittens. We have a bet on our mustaches for a quart of stateside whiskey when we return. At night the Northern Lights are quite a sight. Our antenna snapped in the cold and I and another guy were up all night fixing it. Boy it was cold! It gets pretty lonesome up here!
February 27
It has warmed up a little here. We return on March 10. Our food has been good. We eat c-rations the first few days then we are good cooks when we have to be. The jeep goes down 2-3 times a week to get supplies because of the snow and ice.

The jets roar over our way, wag their tails and wings and then go straight up again. All during this we are talking to them by radio. So far no animals are around. I’m looking out the window and it is starting to snow.

March 2
Good enough to rate a gold mahogany plaque that we won and I aim to keep it. I saw the first Russian Mig jet plane yesterday. It flew down the mountain, did a few fancy turns and left as quickly as it came. We had our A.A.A. guns on him.
March 3
The sun is warmer and lots of melting snow, mud and high winds. The maneuvers I didn’t mind, but these mountains! Our division is the best trained outfit for combat. Artillery shells sometimes get close enough to scare us.
March 15
Back at base again. Arrived at 11 am after a long and tiring drive. Our trailer slipped into a ditch because of the mud and we wrecked one of its sides. The big generator broke loose and that’s what did all the damage. All our time on the mountain was spent getting the trailer back on the mountain again. The truck has a winch on the front and we had to go to the bottom and turn around and come back up again to pull the trailer up on the road again. Then we had to back down the mountain for ¾ of a mile. We got it all squared up before dawn.

Just before we left we heard a ruckus between the Navy Jets and the Migs only a few miles away from us. So nice to be back at base with clean sheets and blankets. The room has four of us but it always looks like a cyclone has hit it. We have so many clothes and find it hard to find a place to put them all.

I had to submit a special report on the plane shooting that we heard. Two or three sections and the Air Force have to submit their story. The planes were from a navy aircraft carrier. There are a lot to these “incidents”. Stopped many times on the way down the mountain by MP’s and road blocks by G.I.’s on guard. As we approach from the border, they never know if it’s us or the “Ruskey’s” coming. They call our crew the “Wilderness kids” as we are up in the mountains so much. I think few have even gone up there, but leave it to the Army!

Our platoon contains 30 men working in communications, mechanics, cooks, supply personnel, truck driver and two clerks. The tanks are always loaded but there are things that have to be loaded that can’t be left on the truck – dry batteries, spare radios etc. We have enough tubes – spare parts to keep our unit operating for 6 months. The trailer carries 50 caliber machine guns, with 150 rounds of live ammo. A bazooka and the rockets for it and sub-machine guns plus a few 45 pistols. Everyone who has Border Patrol carries a small arsenal with them. God help the G.I. who lets a rifle or gun be stolen while he is sleeping somewhere. We are the closest Battalion in Europe to the Russian Border, just 65 miles away to the East. On Border Patrol it’s a matter of feet. We repair “Commo” equipment but also the electrical items in the billets-mess hall and electrical systems on tanks. The guys better not tell me there is nothing to do because I have a million jobs for them.

March 31
My 8 weeks at Border Patrol is coming up and should be boring. We will make sure all runs well and then just lay out in the sun. We are going to turn that mountain into a resort this trip!

Our “Commo” officer says he will come for a rest. He must think it’s a vacation. Wait till he finds out the way the wind blows up there. He’ll enjoy it then.

April 5
Planning a trip to spend a few hours in Munich Germany and then on to Zurich Switzerland, and then to Bern. We must carry our uniforms with us, just in case. If war broke out while on leave with no uniform, a foreign government could hold us as spies, so we take no chances. When I return, we leave on April 24 to the mountains and return on June 15th. This is my longest and last trip up to the mountains. I’ve learned, done and seen so much since those first days of being enlisted. I’ve seen so much of the US and Europe. I know all your prayers have been answered.
April 8
On my vacation and having the best time of my life! The scenery and everything is just wonderful! Took a tour of Bern in a big shiny cadillac. The view of the Alps was a beautiful sight. Then on to Interlaken which is in a small valley near a lake, completely walled in by the Alps. If I ever had to live anywhere else, this would be the place. We tasted their wines, the candies they are famous for the world over. I’ve seen violins, watches, carvings and ivories. All of this seems like a dream to me. I’m a lucky guy.

On leave and touring Switzerland - 1954

April 21
Back at base and feeling really good after such a nice vacation. Getting ready to go back into the mountains and this time everything must go as 8 weeks is a long stretch. We have a hard job this time, but we can handle it just fine.
April 26
Back in the wilds again and am very busy. The road is a mine of mud bogging down the truck. We are farther north this time but still right on the border.
April 30
It’s the night before May Day and the people are going daffy in the city. They smash American autos and slash tires. Border guard has doubled and we are on alert. We are so high up now that nobody knows we exist. All we are on this earth now are just a bunch of dots and dashes going out into space.
May 2
The night before last kept us very busy. May Day was the cause of it all. Our tanks didn’t patrol the border, they stayed in place and we ran radio wires to each other just in case of trouble at one place, the rest would know about it and didn’t use radios unless necessary. As fast as the boys laid the wire the “Commies” would cut it and take a whole section off with them. Every little town had their rallies and big bonfires were seen all over the countryside from here. I had to go down to the border and keep checking our wires and found them cut in many places. The roads are pitch black and we have to be careful. You will never understand how it is here at the border. They do everything to harass us, some things worse than others. Each of our jeeps have a steel bar running straight up from the front, bumper to about 10 feet high. That’s our protection against stretching wire across roads about windshield high. That gives you an idea how it is over here. You only trust your G.I. buddies. We can see the clouds of dust the “Czech’s” tanks billow up on their roads. So we are here for a purpose.
May 12
I ran into a little trouble last week. It’s been raining constantly and all kinds of bad weather. We were out checking our lines (our wires were cut at least once a day). We went out at 2am in the rain to repair them and that’s when all our trouble started. We finally found the cause and repaired it, however we had to leave our jeep up on the road as the wire had been cut under a small river bridge. As we were fixing this, someone had been “fixing” our jeep because when we got back to it we found all of the ignition wires cut up and ripped out. We used telephone lines to repair it and after about 2 hours in the rain we got it working. We were 10 miles from the station and couldn’t take the chance to walk. We telephoned our crew by hooking our phone to the line. I told them the story and they sent vehicles to come for us as our van was axle deep in mud. I got sick for a few days and had to go to the hospital for a few days. Our Battalion now has guards patrolling the roads that have wires. Some of these Germans can’t be trusted as they are friendly by day, but watch out for them by night. Our Air Force flies by us each morning and these boys can really fly!
May 18
A Russian plane landed nearby and the pilot asked for asylum. He was picked up at the Border with our A.A.A. guns trained on him all the way in and even our jets flew big circles around him until he landed in a swampy area. It was not a combat plane so there was no shooting.
May 23
I’ve got about 10 weeks to go. I am getting to be an old timer now and on to becoming a Sergeant.
June 6
I’m now back in civilization as we were pleasantly surprised to get orders to return sooner than planned. Sheets again. I probably won’t be able to sleep on a soft bed again after sleeping curled up behind radios or in a truck, hut or on the ground.
June 9
Today is D-day and it’s a very solemn day in Europe as many mourn for the G.I.’s who died on the beaches of Europe. So Mom, my mountain days are over!
June 20
I signed for my ship a week ago and am in the process of getting assigned to a boat heading for the good ole USA. I leave here the first week or so in August and I should be home for Labor Day for good.
June 26
Here is some good news I know you will enjoy. I have just done what was once thought impossible in the First Division. Yep, I’m now a full fledged Sergeant in the US. Army. I am the youngest Sergeant in our outfit. My special waiver came through today and I had to go before the Battalion Commander, a Colonel to receive my promotion and he handed me my stripes. He told me that I should be quite a proud guy considering that less than one year ago I was just a plain old Private. My B.C went all out to recommend me. Now I have some news I consider more important and I’m much more proud of. I’ve won the honor of being picked as “Soldier of the Month”! It was a contest between 5 of us, one from each battery and we had to compete before a board of 3 majors, a colonel and 2 Captains. I will get some nice write ups and a big trophy cup to show for it. I really had to soldier for it. I was up against all Regular Army Sergeants who had chosen this as their lifetime job… and me, plain old “Joe Civilian” beat them all out.

I was asked so many questions from the army in General on every subject possible from current events in the news to drilling men on a drill field. I just stood before the brass at attention and had to answer each and every question fired at me like a machine gun. It was kind of hard on the nerves and when I left, I was soaked with sweat. I will go again before the colonel to receive my trophy and have my picture taken – a big wheel now. Most of all Mom, it’s for you. I was only able to achieve anything because you showed me right from wrong. Thanks a million!

I am now in charge of the map room. I spend a lot of time on reconnaissance looking over the country and making changes to the maps. Picking out areas that a whole Battalion could hide in the woods if an attack came from Russia. It’s an interesting job. Now in a home with 5 rooms all furnished.

Dad promoted to Sergeant and received a trophy for winning the honor of "Soldier of the Month" in Germany - 1954

July 14
No sun for days and terrible rains. The army is almost everywhere diking up the Rhine and the Danube rivers. The German people can’t thank the Army and Air Force enough for their help. Couldn’t get to Munich for leave, as it is completely cut off by road and rail. There is fear that the water is so high that it will wash out the bridge that we protect during an alert with our A.A.A. guns. If that bridge gets knocked out, we are stuck here and the only way to the Border would now be open. The engineers, here at our base, are busy day and night building a floatation bridge as a way across if needed. Our helicopters are up near Regensburg doing reserve work. I’m wondering how much of that city is under water. It’s a very bad flood. Army medics are out giving shots to people to prevent flood related diseases.
July 28

So you know me by now and I’m hooked up with our new $50,000 radar unit that just arrived. I fell in love with it. It’s brand new and an enormous unit. I am the only guy here who understands it. When I saw that unit on the dock at Bremerhaven, it scared me. It took 5 drivers and a few men to help drive it back. A warrant officer handed me all the papers, books(hundreds) of instructions and 3 of the trucks carried spare radio and radar tubes and parts. In the radar unit alone there are 4,500 electronic tubes. Between now and August 18 I have to get it set up, running and the crew organized. Ten radar operators from Ft. Monmouth just came in today, right on schedule and the Colonel sure is happy. This radar will give our A.A.A. guns plenty of time and warning when planes, even jets, are coming. I guess if I told you how much they want me to stay you’d think I was bragging. But honestly I would have a deal if I would. There’s only two of us in all Europe that’s got this training. Only 4 graduate with training every 36 weeks and they go to places in the US. I am the only repairman to keep it going. Sending you my battalion picture, “Local Boy Makes Good”. That rifle has dust on it now.

August 7
I’ve been busy as you know and all is coming along fine. Yesterday I was up flying around the countryside and myself and the pilot were being tracked by the radar on the ground. We were many miles high and away from the unit, yet they could radio to us, and tell us just where we were, what direction we were flying, even our speed. A nice way to spend a sunny day. Our unit is so complicated that I can’t explain it to you. The vans are built like rocket ships inside, dials, lights and switches. Now we can have telephone service with various units that would need our service. Maneuvers coming up in September.
August 9
The BC told me today that he would love to have me stay another 6 months until he got someone to learn my job.

I am liking Europe very much. I would like to have an extension for a few more months.

The gang is back from the mountains now. They came in at 3am and woke me to join them for coffee. It was the first time in 1 ½ years that the whole outfit was here in base so a German photographer took our picture. All of us standing in front of our A.A.A. tank guns.

Group photo of the First Division Anti-Aircraft Artillery 48th Battalion - 1954

August 25
Bought a convertible 4 seater sport car with leather upholstery for $100. I have decided to extend my stay for another year.
September 3
I’m on duty all night guarding a prisoner from 7pm until 6 am. He got court martialed today and has 8 years of hard labor. We will deliver him to a Marshall in Nuremberg in the morning and then he goes to a Pennsylvania prison. We carry our bulley clubs, a .45 pistol and handcuffs.
September 28
Our maneuver is all over. Our division lost, just couldn’t take an armored division on all at once. The last 5 days were spent hiding from the other division. It rained every day and needless to say all the mud came with it. We did all our moving at night. A lot of damage was done to our vehicles. My jeep had to be towed back behind the Radar van as the front end is all smashed up. Just a big tree stump no one saw in the dark. Living outdoors again. I sure need a shave and a shower when I arrived here today.
October 12
We were on a mission putting our Radar through many tests and it’s working fine. These tests come whenever I think the boys are ready for them. I have some time off and get a chance to wash my car. It’s a shiny black now and the convertible top is snowy white. When it shines it is quite sharp. The sun is shining for a change.
October 15
Next July I will be on my way home to the U.S. The whole infantry division will load up on about 10 ships. The 10th Infantry Division will replace us here in Germany. It will be quite a day in NYC when the fighting 1st comes home. This outfit has been in Europe since 1943. Then I will be sent to Ft. Riley, Kansas for my last month in the army.
November 1
Most of last week we were setting up a Ham radio station that we hope to contact the States on. So far I have contacted other “hams” from Switzerland, France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Italy. We are building a new antenna for our roof of the station. It will increase our range. I hope to be able to contact you before Xmas.
January 7
I have orders to report to 7th army headquarters for 3 days later this month. It’s about an appointment to Warrant Officer. Headquarters is in Germany and it’s near the French and Swiss borders. It is where the new guided missiles are at.
January 17
Needed parts for our radar sets and had to travel to Wurzburg. It takes 10 hours of driving in a jeep, which is really cold. I have 50 men under me now. I was awarded “Soldier of the Year ” and now I am promoted to Sergeant First Class. I have attained in 2.5 years that many have tried to reach in 15-20 years. If I do choose Warrant Officer, then I have to go back to Fort Monmouth for another year for more advanced schooling on guided missiles. Bear with me Mom, and say a little prayer that I do the right thing.

Promoted to Sergeant First Class and winning the award “Soldier of the Year” in Erlangen, Germany - 1955

January 23
I’ve had a good tour of duty. My promotion goes into effect on Tues. Well on my way to moving up the ranks with lots of responsibilities, technical and administrative. I have my own jeep driver. My unit is going to leave here on July 9th for New York City.
February 11
We earned a superior score of 97.1 on our radar inspection and had a big party to celebrate.
February 13
It’s been snowing all weekend and all the ski resorts are snowed in.

Our airfield is being used as a standby base with a small plane and helicopter if needed. In a German alpine town, there are a lot of beauty queens stranded. Half the US army has already volunteered to go bring them down. On my second U.S.A.F.I. course in electronics. I smoke a cigar and a pipe and I have a few more gray hairs now.

February 16
Taking time off in March to take stock of myself. I won a bet from a Yankee fan saying that Ted Williams will play again. Waiting for new promotion orders from headquarters – any day now. We will move out for 6 days at the end of Feb to combine forces with the Air Force for maneuvers.
March 20
My warrant officers’ appointment is on it’s way to Washington to be approved.
May 2
The 43rd A.A.A. will be taking over for us and I must have a complete set of records, plus written volumes of our areas, all the maps we made and all our intelligence reports to turn over to them. I hope the new radar chief from Ft. Riley will be sharp. I won’t have much time to get him set up.

Dad visiting the Colosseum in Nuremberg Germany - 1955

May 30
All last week I spent flying with my Warrant Officer checking the accuracy of our new radar sets. They were perfect! The countryside looks beautiful from the air. The division comes home in 3 groups with 5 ships in each group. Our group here leaves July 24th to NYC. We are on the last of the 5 ships. The first two ships will be in a parade down 5th avenue that will be on tv.

The name of my ship is the U.S.N.S Darby. It is the fastest of them all, that is why we are last. When my 40 men get on the train for Kansas, I’m finished and then I will be on my way home.

Dad finished his tour of duty and heading home on the U.S.N.S. Darby - 1955

June 22
29 days left in Germany, I know you never thought the days would pass. I guess I will be lost when I get home. Nobody will know me. All the radar sets are the new unit’s responsibility now, but we will help them along until we leave.
July 2
There is still much to be done. The new unit taking over from us is plenty green, all new boys and young officers and it’s not easy. We had our last review parade in Europe last week and the 1st Division sure looked sharp. Thousands of Germans attended it and it was quite a 5 hour show!
August 24
On my way home from Germany. 24 years old and sailing on the U.S.N.S. Darby.

The U.S.N.S. Darby - 1955

Image taken from

The U.S.N.S Darby takes Dad home from Germany - 1955

A New
Dad had quite an experience in the Korean War. It certainly set his direction for life. He found work and went to night school for 12 years to earn Engineering and Business degrees. He worked his way up to Director of Quality. His company designed and manufactured a broad range of analytic instruments and were innovators in the spectroscopy field. Their spectrometers were used by the railroads and the military to sample engine oil and detect deterioration of engine parts before they failed. Steel and mining companies used their instruments to analyze samples for composition and purity.

They made machines for the medical field that measured blood chemistry and diagnosed tumors. They made optical/night vision systems for the military. Thanks to these innovative companies like them, technicians today can accurately determine elements in almost any solid, liquid or gas within seconds.

Without this technology, there would likely be no aluminum foil, dependable blood testing, decent stainless steel razor blades, or the ability to analyze and adhere to standards of purity in everything we eat, touch, drink and breathe.

We don’t know for sure if Dad got the Warrant Officers position but suspect that he did not accept the position as he was needed back at home.

Thank you for reading and being interested in Dad’s story! His service to his country was an immense source of pride for him and his family.

Dad promoted to to Director of Quality - 1975

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