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I made some changes in appointment procedures that eliminated many problems in the out patient clinic. Won't go in to that but it made a big impression on Col. Hunter Vaughan. He used all his influence to have me transferred to the Medics but we couldn't swing it. Just as well, the Army knows best...they say.
They finally had to release me from the hospital and I was assigned to one of the best jobs I ever had in the Army as a radar technician for Army Field Forces, Board #4. Our mission was to test new products submitted by different manufacturers. We tested them and if accepted, helped write procedures for use in the field. Very interesting but all good things come to an end and I wound up with orders for Germany.
I arrived at my duty station at Wiesbaden, AFB, Wiesbaden Germany the middle of May 1955, HQ. Battery, 443 AAA, Radar Section. I took to Germany like a duck to water and started making arrangements for my wife and daughter to join me. Not to be. Seems my math scores had earned me a slot at the USAREUR Signal School, Ansbach, Germany. I protested loudly to no avail because it was a no dependent area which meant no wife or daughter for four more months.
The school was a condensed version of the class at Fort Monmouth, NJ. They crammed sixteen months into sixteen weeks by starting classes at seven in the morning and continuing until five in the afternoon, five days a week and half day Saturday. We started with two plus two the first day and finished calculus by lunch. Didn't leave much time to run and play. I almost made a serious mistake. I decided to fail the course and be returned to my unit. First week scores were posted and I had a 68 average. This meant a conference with Major Bell, the school commandant. He was pretty sharp. He wanted to know why I was failing when my tests indicated I was capable of doing the work. I leveled with him and told him I wanted to go home and arrange for my family to join me in Wiesbaden. By this time I was a corporal. He said he could send me home but he would also recommend a court martial and reduction in rank. That I had one week to improve my scores to 75 or better and he meant every word.
Luck was with me here. Two of my roommates were whizzes. Bill Laney had a degree in chemistry and Ozzie had graduated from Devry in Chicago. They were relentless tutors four hours a night but by the end of the week I had my seventy-five average and learning something that would serve me well for the rest of my life. Bill and Ozzie aced the course and I finished in the top ten.
Back in Wiesbaden, I was promoted to Chief IFCS Mechanic and given the radar section. Part of my job was teaching a tube duster class four hours a week to other radar sections. One of the students was pretty obnoxious and was always trying to sharpshoot me with questions that really didn't have anything to do with the subject matter. What goes around comes around and one day I had a chance to put him in his place. His radar had gone out and he called to ask me to fix it. I spotted the problem when I walked in but didn't let on. Instead, I told him he needed a "fallopian tube" and that I had used my last one. He reported to his battery commander, another self righteous individual, and both of them roared off across the river to seek a fallopian tube from the next echelon, Signal at Mainz. As soon as I could reach a phone, I called my buddy at Signal and told him to expect the visitors who agreed it would be great fun to keep the two chasing their tails for the day. When they were unable to find the tube they needed they had to report to Capt. Mitchell, the Battalion Radar Officer and tell him their radar was down. (It wasn't. I had corrected the problem when they left.) He listened to their sad tale and asked who had sent them out. That meant I received a call from Capt. Mitchell who between laughs, told me to consider myself chastised.
Dawn and Andrea arrived the first part of November. I had teamed up with Boyce and Barbara Carson from Kansas City, Kansas to rent the ground floor of a house owned by a Mrs. Shoen, pronounced "Shurn" It had a kitchen, two large bedrooms, a small bath with sink, commode but no tub. We had to pay the landlady about a quarter to take a bath in her tub upstairs. We also had a sink in each of the bedrooms. The landlady had a daughter and two sons who practically stole Andrea from us. The maid would come downstairs every morning about six, change Andrea and take her upstairs where she had breakfast. One day Dawn mentioned that the baby wasn't eating her Gerber's but was healthy as a horse. We found out why when Dawn went to retrieve her. She was in a high chair eating bratwurst, cheese, black bread, onion and drinking raw milk!
That winter was one of the worst on record. It started snowing in late September 1955 and continued well into May 1956. We learned to live with it, had a good time if the truth be known. Our band, the Triple A Ramblers was working almost every night, the army was paying me pretty good. We had commissary privileges and a good car to drive. It was about this time I started buying and selling used cars. GI's who were going home and had cars had to get rid of them and word got around that I paid cash. I could purchase a car for about two hundred, do a little work on it and sell it for a nice profit. I bought and sold one car, a 1948 Plymouth, three times. It was one of the better ones. My favorite was a 1938 Mercedes, with suicide doors. It resembled a 1932 Ford with those doors. Four cylinder flat head engine, four speed transmission and the gas mileage was outstanding. We could purchase a hundred gallons of gas each month through the commissary for $14.00 and we never used all of the fuel. I sold our excess tickets to soldiers with expensive American autos. Even the Plymouth got good mileage.
Alerts meant a trip to the field. Some trips were just for the day. We would move in to an area, set up and as soon as we were operational and had been inspected by higher ups in the Division, we would return to the barracks. During this winter, we had two field trips that lasted two weeks. War games with aggressors attacking us all the time, the Air Force flying sorties against our radars..it got pretty realistic at times. The Radar Section had it better than the Battery Commander when it came to quarters in the field. Our radar set was in a van mounted on a truck, nice and cozy, room for four men. Our repair van was also mounted on a truck and would sleep the other six men in our section with room for a small kitchen. The rest of the outfit slept in tents on that cold hard ground.
Dawn was pregnant with daughter Alicia and had to go home in August 1956. I followed in December and was discharged December 21, 1956. I would not want to repeat the Army, all of it anyway. It gave me a chance to see a lot of the world I might have missed and I was lucky that I never saw combat except in Juarez, Mexico. I was an observer even in that war zone.
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