Dick Warwick's Story Continues
The other guys were in the process of moving from whatever hotel they were in, to Rhurmeir hotel which was dead center downtown. The Rhurmeir family had 2 boys, Hans and Rudy, and at least one daughter. Both boys spoke good English and Hans spent a lot of time with us and was a good friend. They also had a bunch of young Zimmer madchens who would steal any candy left out in the rooms. That was fixed when one of the guys mixed a couple of little Ex-lax bars in with the chocolate. Rooms weren't the only thing cleaned that day.
The German Army had a Tank Training Division close to our site and also had a DF site within walking distance. It was interesting that we could walk into their ops shack but they weren't allowed close to ours. It was also noteworthy that we were on their property but when someone decided that their site was interfering with ours – they moved, not us. The Commanding Officer of the tank group was a Col. whose name we pronounced "Hite" but I think it was spelled Haight. He was extremely nice to us, as we were to him, especially since he always told our chain of command (Col. McFadden and later McCafferty) that there just wasn't room on his post for us. Prior to my arrival some of the guys did end up there but I think the good Col. took care of that and we never went back. For that he was always welcomed at our Thanksgiving dinner (which was a huge affair held at the Bonhoff Hotel) as were many of the other Officers and NCOs.
During the course of 2 years, we went through a few C.O.s at Herzo and we knew them all since Pocking was one of their favorite places to visit. Capt. Barr (later Maj. Barr), Captain – let's call him Smith, and Capt. Allen Wentworth were the ones most of us remembered – for different reasons.
Barr was a good C.O. who did his job without constantly messing with people. If you messed up – you knew it, but if you did your job and stayed reasonably clean you could get along fine. Capt "Smith" was a bit different and I think it made him feel good to make up rules. Allen Wentworth was not fond of the Army to start with, and was in the Army because he was a ROTC Officer. He was doing his time, didn't want to mess with anyone and didn't want anyone to mess with him. He was at Pocking for Thanksgiving one year and we were sitting in the Bahnhof when Bob Tuttle asked him, "So Allen, how's everything going?" Wentworth just stared at Bob and I calmly thought "ARE YOU NUTS TUTTLE!" Finally, "Allen" said "If you ever call me that anywhere but here, I'll have your ass." Bob agreed with that and while he called him Allen I thought maybe I'd stick with Captain.
As I said, Smith made up rules to make himself feel important. One day he up and decided that everyone should drive to Herzo Base to sign out if they were going on leave. Sure, that made a lot of sense - It was a four hour drive to Herzo and if a person was going to take 1 day and spend it in Bavaria, you would spend 16 hours of your day making 2 roundtrips to Herzo and back. Oh yeah – we liked the idea.
Regardless of rank – it's not always a good idea to screw with the troops. There were other people who visited us quite frequently from the Commanding Generals' office in Frankfurt. One was a W.O. who was responsible for the integrity of data received from the sites and then there was the Major who usually accompanied him. The Major was responsible for the integrity of the religious beliefs and the well being of the troops. Major Farelli was our Chaplain. The Major liked to go to dinner with the men and talk about how we were doing and we appreciated that. We were at dinner in Passau when I casually mentioned the stupid rule about driving to Herzo to sign out for leave. He asked "who made up that rule?" Now I've sinned in my life but I just couldn't lie to a Major, let alone a Chaplain, so I confessed that it was Capt. Smith. When the next payday rolled around and I presented myself to Capt. Smith, he said "I understand you don't like it down here Warwick. If you don't like my leave policy, I'll arrange to have you moved back to Herzo Base." Darn, that wasn't very nice! I explained my position about the 16 hour drive to take a 1 day leave and he just didn't see my point.
That meant another dinner with Maj. Farelli which really wasn't fair because we used to take turns going out to dinner with "guests." It was for the good of the service and for the morale of the others that I did an extra duty and went to dinner with the Chaplain. Of course he wanted to know if the leave issue had been resolved and I told him that I really shouldn't talk about that anymore. The Maj. pressured me into telling him why I felt that I couldn't talk to him – honest – he really pressured me! I told him that the last time I shared something with him it damned near got me sent back to Herzo and then we had to go through the whole story of my conversation with Capt Smith.
It's necessary to understand that Maj. Farelli actually reported to 2 people – the first being the God we all talk to when we're in trouble – the other being the god of the ASA better known as the Commanding General ASAE. I don't know if I had anything to do with this or not, but about a month later we were down in the bar at Harrant's drinking with Capt. Smith - no, that's not true – we were drinking, and he was there. He looked at all of us and said "I want you men to know that I hold you personally responsible for me getting relieved of my command"! Steve Red leaped up, pumped his fist in the air and yelled "ALL F***ING RIGHT!" That wasn't nice Steve – but it sure was funny.
Ted Kaspryski was something else. One of the German Army guys had given Ted some 45 ammo and when we found out we were going to have an inspection, Ted decided that he'd better dump the ammo. A logical person would have done just that and dumped the ammo, but not Ted – that'd be too easy. Ted got our 45, walked to the outhouse and proceeded to blast the bottom of the outhouse – shooting into the hole from the outside. That would have been O.K. except for the fact that as he was performing this maneuver, a staff car drove up the driveway. Good ole Capt. Smith. Ted took an article 15 and as he told me later "I can't understand why he got so mad – I was just shooting the s**t!"
Ted had another favorite pastime – teaching Lasso how to do summersaults. He'd stand over the top of him, grab his front legs and pull them back and Lasso would flip over. I guess Ted figured Lasso wasn't much of a guard dog so he "traded" him. One of the guys who had left Pocking had taken a dog named Toxi with him to Herzo Base and had him locked in the perimeter fence of the Operations building. Ted took Lasso up to Herzo, put him in the run and brought Toxi back. That was O.K. except he forgot to mention this "trade" to the guy (Harry) who owned Toxi. More trouble for Ted – I think he ended up paying the guy off after he complained to the C.O.
Toxi was not to be messed with. He was trained as a guard dog – a one man dog. He'd jump through hoops of fire and the whole nine yards and although he didn't have Lasso's personality – he kept us in stitches. Ted made the first big mistake – he tried to teach Toxi how to do summersaults. It took about 20 stitches in his hand to learn that Toxi wasn't Lasso. I slowly made friends with him by sitting outside of the perimeter of his chain and played tug of war with him until the two of us felt comfortable with each other. Amalio Perez, me, Gary Officer and Box Overby could feed Toxi and we told the rest of the guys to leave him alone – we'd feed him.
Butch Krauth fed him one day and did fine until he tried to take his hand away from the dish. More stitches – another guy didn't learn from that so he fed him – more stitches. He still didn't learn! I was throwing the ball for Toxi when the same guy walked up – I grabbed Toxi and he said "no let him go and throw me the ball." I said I didn't think that was a good idea but he insisted. Okie Dokey fine – I threw the ball – Toxi followed. The guy threw the ball back - Toxi didn't follow. More stitches – same hand.
The one person the dog hated more than anyone was our maintenance man John Minix. We ran 2 or 3 generators on the site and had built a shed out on the driveway. Toxi's house was about 30 feet from the shed. Minix would slowly walk out to the shed and Toxi would watch and then Minix would take off running. Toxi would fly out of the dog house after him, hit the end of his chain and damn near break his neck. I told Minix that one day I was going to undo the chain but that didn't seem to faze him and much to my disappointment, the chain never broke.
I'd better mention names before I forget them. In no particular order: Butch Krauth, Billy Butz, Gerry Abbadusky, Norm Nivens, Greg Schnitzer, George Putman, Bob Hovey, "Box" Overby, John Minix, Dicky Duggan, Bob Tuttle, Ed Dargento, Steve Red, Gary Officer, Liggett, Bill Miles, Darnell Cox, Bill Morales, Doug Taylor, Ed Wold, Cliff Larios, Lawrence, Ron Reams, Big Ed Flemming, Larry Williams, Ed Wold. Colin Franchini, Dussenbury and Tom (Boom Boom) are some that come to mind. NCOs included Tom Wycoff, Ted Kaspryski, Gordy Fisher, Roy Newsom and Amalio Perez (promoted from within).
I think I'll use fake names here and call these two guys Cassidy and Sundance. They were trick partners and partners in crime as well.
Sundance was young and Oh Lord – was he a character. To this day I can visualize him at the biggest Fasching party in town with maybe five hundred people in attendance. The Fasching Prince and Princess were up on the stage and here comes Sundance in his fatigues walking across the stage trying to get the Partridge feather out of the Prince's hat with his pincer fingers. All the way across the stage from left to right with his hand up and the thumb and forefinger closing and opening – pincers closed.. Missed – pincers closed.. Missed – pincers closed.. Missed. Thankfully, the Prince, his hat, and the Partridge feathers escaped unscathed. While we enjoyed the show, I'm not sure the locals felt the same way. I don't remember which one walked in with the gear shift from the Chevy Carry-All in his hand. I do remember the conversation that ensued with the Det. NCOIC.
"How in hell did it break?"
"Well, I was speed shifting into 2nd gear when it just fell off!"
I'll also never forget the evening that Sundance walked into the Bahnhof restaurant and yelled the three German words he knew while swaying from side to side. "Gruss Gott – Arbeiten!" He'd been there two days and learned three words and he was going to use them. Maybe not the best combination of words for an intelligent conversation but it definitely got the attention of the 20 or 30 locals in the restaurant.
As he sat down I said "Sundance, what's that white stuff all over your face?" He told me that it was the funny soap he found on the floor – better known as the little round urinal deodorizers. One of the local Germany Army guys wanted to know what the English equivalent to "Prost" was. Sundance told him it was "Suck a D--K" all pronounced as one word. We'd say Prost! He'd say Suckad--k!
The Herzo Base Colonel & his wife, the Sgt Major his wife & daughter in-law, our Commanding Officer & wife and the First Sgt and his wife, were all sitting at a long table in Harrants. When I saw him coming, I tried to sneak out – too late. Up goes the glass and out came " Suckad--k!" Deathly silence. The poor guy had no idea what he'd done and his big smile just sort of faded away when no one lifted their glasses and said "Prost."
Trust me when I tell you that the TV show M.A.S.H had nothing on Pocking but we did have a couple of saving graces. The most important one was the Assistant Chief of Police, Herr Suss, (Alphonse). Alphonse kept more Americans out of trouble than any one person should have to do in a lifetime – and he did it in a three year period. A classic example of that was a guy who picked up the nickname "Greenhouse."
On the day Greenhouse arrived in Pocking, it was decided that he would be my trick partner and we were scheduled for days. That night we all ended up at Harrants' bar until the wee hours of the morning. Greenhouse slept in the room across the hall from me and when I didn't hear any movement the next morning, I knocked on his door – no answer. I went in and shook him and finally got him up to go to work. He didn't look good. About 10 A.M. I heard a car and looked out the little peephole and saw Alphonse – in uniform. Alphonse never came out to the Site so I walked out to see what was up. It was unlike him to be all business but he was when said " Warwick, is "Jones" in there?" I said yes and he said "send him out." I told Greenhouse that the police wanted him outside – now. He disappeared for the rest of the day and that didn't make me happy. first I had to work alone and second we didn't have Chicken Delight or Pizza Man delivery service. Food was important to me and I missed lunch. I was PO'd and ready to kill my new trick partner.
It's hard to kill someone when you're laughing so hard that you have tears in your eyes.
When the eve trick arrived, I headed back to the Bahnhof looking for Greenhouse but I ran into Alphonse first and he explained what happened. The house we lived in was a block away from Harrants' bar. To get there consisted of going to the corner (and our house occupied the land on the corner) turning left and going down ¾ of a block. Any intelligent, sober person could probably figure out how to backtrack – even someone in the upper 10% of the Army could figure that one out.
The key word is "sober." It seems that Greenhouse stayed in the bar for a few hours after I left. When he left, he got lost and ended up walking through a farmer's field. That was O.K. but it seems there was a glass greenhouse just slightly off the ground. My trick partner got one foot on one side of the center – one foot on the other side and proceeded to break every glass in the greenhouse. This was in the winter and it was cold so he found himself a barn to sleep in – this was good thinking – he deserved to be in the ASA.
It got light about 5 in the morning and he saw railroad tracks – Ahh – smart man – we lived at the Bahnhof - that's where the train station is! 2 choices – walk left on the tracks or right on the tracks. More good thinking and he even picked the right direction and got home at least an hour before I woke him up. That's the good news. The bad news? He left his jacket in the barn – a jacket with an American label. The farmer was a little PO'd to say the least and called the Police. Once it was discovered that an American was involved, the case was turned over to Alphonse. He thought the jacket belonged to Minix and went to his room at Harrants'. Minnix had a similar jacket hanging in his closet and remembered that the new guy had one that looked like his. The reason Greenhouse didn't make it back to work was because Alphonse negotiated a settlement with the farmer and Greenhouse spent the better part of the day scrounging up the couple hundred bucks to pay off the farmer.
Alphonse would do anything for us and that included Christmas Eve at his house, trips across the border to his favorite places in Austria and trips to the local doctor. One of the guys must have fallen in love or lust with one of the local married women. He walked into the Bahnhof and all the guys stood up and started clapping – one clap at a time. I might mention that he didn't walk to good – he looked as if he was in a little pain. The bad part of that story is that if a person had a sexually transmitted disease, they had to inform the Police as to whom the partner was so they could track down any other partners – including the husband.
It seems that a lot of our time was spent in the Bahnhof – breakfast, lunch and dinner. The owners kept a tab for us and we paid some pretty hefty bills at the end of the month. Two waitresses kept us happy – Maria and Erica. Maria was great, and she had to be to put up with us. We did things to that poor lady that shouldn't have been done to anyone. Every other year or so, someone would remember that we were in the Army and we'd have to do the target practicing bit. When we came back from one of these shooting sprees we all stacked our rifles in the corner at the Bahnhof while we ate. Minix was from Georgia and we had a hard time understanding his English - let alone German. There is a fine line between the pronunciation of some words and instead of telling Maria that we were out "Schießen" (sheesen) Minix told Maria and everyone in the room, that we were out "Scheißen" (shisen). The entire place cracked up - "Schießen" is done on the firing range while "Scheißen" is done in the bathroom. What a difference an e makes.
Of course there was the usual "Maria, pull my finger" and she'd get so tired of Kaspryski that every now and then she'd do it – he'd do it – and then she'd beat him over the head with her towel. Larry Williams told Minix how to order ring bologna and Minix got hit over the head with the towel while having no clue as to why he was being killed. What he'd ordered was a sexual thing and when Maria figured out that Williams had set Minix up - she beat him over the head as well.
We asked Maria for a coke float – she thought we were joking until one of the guys convinced her that we were serious. She put in the ice cream, pulled the handle on the coke dispenser and when it hit the ice cream it sort of exploded all over the counter and floor. We laughed and that made her mad so she came over and beat him over the head. He finally showed her that you had to use a little finesse when you mixed the two and we helped her clean up. She was a wonderful lady.
Erica was a little different and I'll never forget the time she went walking towards the back room with a tray full of beer mugs. Her feet went out from under her and the beer flew everywhere. She was royally PO'd that we laughed - and laughed is a gross understatement – we cried. Erica was not Maria.
Herr Rauch, the owner of the Bahnhof, was an excellent cook. We would buy T-bone steaks from the P.X. and he would cook them with vegetables and potatoes and serve it with a nice salad. The T-bone would hang over the edge of the plates and the locals would walk in and try to order "what they're having". (The steaks the restaurants normally served were filet steaks which probably measured 3" in circumference and they were expensive.) Every year we would have a Thanksgiving dinner at the Bahnhof with probably around 30 people in attendance. Herr Rauch would provide us with a dining room, cook the turkeys with dressing and would make us an elegant meal for a reasonable price.
He had a little room in the building behind the hotel which he let us have to use as a "movie room." BAR would be a better word. We agreed to buy the beer from him and in return he gave us the room, glasses, and a refrigerator. We purchased our hard liquor from the P.X. in either Landsut or Munich.
The upstairs of this building was a dance hall that was used about once a year and the room he gave us really was a bar at one time. We added a stove for the cold winter nights and got on movie distribution which gave us first run movies. This was the original Animal House and periodically you'd find the door locked from the inside. That prompted one of the Det NCOs to make up a rule about no women in the bar. While he was at it he also decided to go the whole way and extend that to our rooms.
The morning after he made the rule, he came down to breakfast at the Bahnhof – with a young lady. No one said a word. He and his friend sat at a separate table and the rest of just watched. Each of us had a knowing smile on our face and he would not look our way. Later, he had a great story about "she was in my room when I went upstairs! She said she was hiding from her Father." Sure she was. I talked to this guy a couple of weeks ago for the first time in 35 years and I gently reminded him of his rule making days and the girl in the room. He said he always suspected that I had put her there. I told him we didn't believe his story 35 years ago and nothing had changed. I should mention that he was also the first one to break the rule about women in the bar but that took him 3 or 4 days.
One of the other NCOs also liked to make rules. He was a lifer who spent time in a Tank Unit and somehow ended up in the ASA, didn't like it, and wanted out. He eventually accomplished that by marrying a German lady from the Herzo area. In the meantime he told us one night that we should all have bed check and a curfew for no reason other than he didn't have any tank drivers to order around so he thought he'd try us. Didn't work – we might have paid for the drinks, but he's the one who broke the rule.
Another one he came up with was when he decided we'd all work on New Years day. Why? Who knows, but since he didn't have a key to get into the house where we lived, he had to pound on the windows. It was amazing but not one guy heard him knocking. I saw him later and asked what happened and he said he went back to bed because nobody else would get up. He may have been a great Tank Commander but he didn't do too well with the ASA guys. When he left we just said "tanks for the memories" or as Ed Wold would have said SOG! (Sh-t On G--)
We actually did work at times – enough of that.
Nights could be boring but not if Gerry "the gunner" Abbadusky was at the control back at Whiskey. A hundred a night wasn't uncommon. On those nights he'd send an "F" and I'd send a "U2" but I liked Gerry – I liked his dog Effie better since she sent better code than he did. I've got a Cockatiel that taps out "ditty dum dum ditty" on the top of his cage better than Gerry sent code (the bird is 25 years old and still tapping). I hope you're reading this Abbadusky! E-mail me – I've been trying to find you.
There weren't really any bad times in Pocking. We had German friends and girlfriends and a few of the guys married girls from Pocking; Cliff Larios, Bill Miles, John Minix and Bill Morales all married Pocking girls. Some of us came close but didn't (no names to be mentioned here).
For those of you who knew Alphonse, he died quite a few years ago but not before visiting many of his friends here in America. Norm Nivens and his wife Joyce and my wife Jean and I had the privilege of having him in our homes four or five times over the years.
And some people never change – Greenhouse flew out to Ca. to see Alphonse and we had dinner at the Nivens residence in Santa Monica. Joyce borrowed a lawn chair from the neighbors - Greenhouse fell through it.
There are many more stories out there and I hope the other guys read this and contribute as well. I'm still looking for some of the early ones (Tuttle, Red, Williams, etc. ) so if you read this – please write while you still remember. And Willie – are you a turtle?
Van Nuys, Ca