Paul Marshall's Tour at Ottobeuren-Memmingen Detachment
My Army life began at Ft.Ord California for basic training. I was sent to Ft.Devens in 1961. I was late in getting an assignment as I spent three months in Chelsea Naval hospital in Boston and thus was in two different classes. I did at least get to go to a lot of Red Sox games during that time.
I was then ordered to Germany and landed at Frankfurt for processing. I was then sent alone by train with a promise that I would be met in Nuremburg. Naturally no one was there when I arrived and after waiting I sat down at the only available table in the restaurant and sat across from an old German who had obviously had a little too much beer.He began to mutter under his breath “Hitler war gute”.He kept repeating this phrase and getting louder and louder until I finally moved. I didn’t know one word of German at that time but I didn’t need to be a linguist to understand that and wondered what this tour might be like. I eventually hooked up with liaison and got a ride to Herzo.
I was at Herzo for a few months as an 059 before being sent to the site Det B at Memmigerberg and was billeted at Haus Hubertus pension. As Erik stated there were two Seargents in charge. Daisy Gillespie who was a buck seargent and Staff Seargent Ron Burgess. I apparently arrived at about the same time Eric left and I may even have replaced him. Some of the people there when I arrived were Charley Garret, Dave Waldridge, Gene Kostroski, Tom Young, Bill Perry, Bill Hazelrigg, George? Jewitt, Gil Hetrick and Warren Abraham.
There were several German civilians who attended all of our parties. Some that I recall are Ingrid Ahne who now lives outside Munich and is married and Hans and Hanni Bruckner who lived across the street from the pension.
Hanni still lives in Ottobeuren and has remarried. Hans still lives in Ottobeuren but I am not sure if he has remarried. There were several pilots from the Luftwaffe base who came to our bar and to the house of the other Det. The only one I remember is Wolfgang as he was a memorable character.
Life at the pension was really great and I fault myself for messing that up although that was not my intent. There was only one strict rule. We could do just about anything we wanted to and could go anywhere we wanted as long as we showed up for our shift and in a sober condition.
I don’t recall why but we were looking for a new place to live and checked out several sites. One was a castle that was completely walled all around with a large compound in the center. I thought that would be nice to have our own castle however it did not have modern plumbing and so it was ruled out.
As it happened we never had a chance to move. I made a remark to Burgess that was completely out of order and to make it worse I did it in front of the other guys. Not surprisingly I was sent back to Nuremburg. What happened after that I have to rely on the story told to me later by the other guys.
One of the girls there felt that it was not fair that I was being sent back and she talked to the Colonel at Herzo and told him that some of the girls had visited their boyfriends at the work site. Apparantly she backed that up with a good description of the inside of the workplace and Det. B was closed and the personel were transferred elsewhere. Many of them went to Sinzig where I visited them after I was discharged in Germany. I don’t know what happened to Gillespie or Burgess but I have always felt bad that my irresponsible actions caused a really great outstation to be closed down and no doubt hurt their careers.
Our company had a black Captain and he would come to Ottobeuren to inspect us but he was never able to catch us by surprise. Ottobeuren had been occupied by black troops after WWII and although they were not there very long they did leave some mixed race children that were sent to the orphanage in Memmigen. No one in Ottobeuren would rent this Captain a room or let him eat in a restaurant. Sgt. Gillespie did eventually talk the owner of the gasthaus across the street into letting the Captain eat there as a favor to us as it was of course causing us problems through no fault of our own.
Due to this situation the Captain always had to stay in Memmigan and he would arrive the night before he was to inspect the next day. Gillespies girlfriend worked at the hotel where he stayed and she would always call us the night before to let us know he was in town. We would then have the evening to cart all our civilian gear into a room at the gasthaus across the street and put our mostly unused military gear in our lockers and be standing tall the next day. He knew he was being conned but he never did figure out how we knew he was coming. Because of all these factors he had an intense dislike for anyone stationed in Ottobeuren.
I had only been back at Herzo for a short time when I was selected to go with one other guy and a warrant officer TDY to Berlin and try to set up a new kind of multiband DF system on top of the highest point in Berlin. It was called Teufelsberg and was made from rubble piled there from the ruins of Berlin after the war. The experiment was not a success but I had a great time for three months in Berlin. The other guys went back to Herzo but I kept missing the troop train to the west until a Lt. Told me that he appreciated how much fun I was having but I had better not miss another troop train.
When I arrived back in Herzo I had two charges against me. One was for a parking ticket in Munich (it must have blown off my windshield at Ocktoberfest) and the other was for letting a girl drive my car in Nuremburg. She had nagged me for some time to let her drive and when I did she didn’t go fifty feet until she ran a stop sign in front of a policeman. I had begged him to just give me a ticket but he just laughed and said he would have to report it to Herzo. She got the ticket. As punishment??? I had to serve in the volunteer fire department when I was not working and had to bunk there. The fire department was run by an old German firefighter named Fritz Denzler. He was a real character who liked to have fun and had no use for inspections and all that stuff. There were only a few of us and no one ever bothered us. We kept a case of beer under out bunks at all times. Fritz died about four years ago at age 91. I stayed in the Fire Dept. until I was discharged.
When I was discharged I expected to get a letter of recommendation like everyone else did but that was not to be. I found that the C.O. was refusing to give a letter to anyone who had been at Ottobeuren. I paid a visit to Col. McFadden the day before I was discharged and explained my problem. The Colonel made no comments but told me to come back the next day and he would have a letter prepared for me that he would sign himself. After leaving his office I went to the mailroom where the clerk asked me what in the world I had said to the Colonel. Apparently the Colonel had caught up with the Captain by phone at the mailroom and read him the riot act. The clerk got enough of the conversation to know what it was all about. I went back to HQ the next day and the Colonel had a very nice letter waiting for me.
After discharge I spent six months touring Europe in my VW and had a great time with more stories than I could ever tell. I eventually shipped out from Bremerhaven to New York and that was a most memorable trip with a lot of stories as well. I am amazed that I survived the trip.
I don’t think I have the stamina to do it all again but it was a great time and I would not have missed it for the world
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