Sinzig HFDF Detachment Germany
The Rest of Dick Warwick"s Rememberances
(~~This tale could be about any DF Det of the 50s, 60s, early 70s. ~~TomH)
Sinzig was "up north" somewhere and since I had absolutely no idea of where I was in relationship to North, South, East or West, it really didn't make a lot of difference. I was going somewhere and a lot of people were jealous, so it had to be good. As it turned out, we were about midpoint between Bonn and Koblenz – maybe 25 miles to each - with Bonn being the main attraction since there were English speaking people there and a big PX. That's also where we got our mail and if you're going to be a "spy" what better address to have than "C/O American Embassy, Bonn"?
The detachment at Sinzig was going to be there forever, or at least that's what the Army told the lady who went out, got a loan, and bought a big house to rent to us. It sat on top of a hill and I'm not sure I knew the name of the street when I lived there and I certainly don't know it now. You just went down main St. and turned at the little store; Left if you came from downtown Sinzig Right if you came from nearby Remagen. (Remagen was a good sized city and was about 3 to 3.5 miles away.) I was in the Army I knew left and right. (Maybe not at the right time, but I knew it).
The owners' Mother was the cook for the group and she excelled at her profession (Mutte) spelling may be wrong but we said "mootie" or Mom). We would buy the food at the PX in Bonn and Mutte would whip it up for us from early morning to late afternoon when we had our supper. There was always plenty and the guys working the evening shift and lunch shift would have it delivered by those who came "home" to eat. On weekends, you were on your own. Henry Cossett was the "straight day" guy and handled collecting the money we pooled for food, beverages and best of all â€" American toilet paper. (If you've ever used the TP purchased on the local economy, you'll understand why this was a luxury).
Our home had bedrooms upstairs and downstairs (basement), a living room, dining room and a washer and dryer. It was kept clean by the lady we rented from, Mutte, and if I'm not mistaken, the owners' daughter helped out as well. It was clean and that's the important part â€" well O.K. â€" that, good food, and American TP. As I said, the house was on top of a big hill and prior to my arrival; the Maintenance guy was one of those with a propensity to jump out of airplanes while they were still flying. House on a hill, blowing wind, folds the chute on the driveway - big hill, long fall!
The Site was about 15 minutes out of town and was a German Army base during the 2nd WW.Â We had one good-sized building with several rooms â€" including a bathroom and a billet area that I would guess could have had 15 to 20 single bunks when lined up on both sides of the main walls.
The Ops building was considerably smaller but large enough to be comfortable and on the eve/night shift, the emergency toilet was out the door, turn right, kill grass. Anything more than that, you'd walk the 20 yds. to the main bldg. Our guard dog Lasso would protect you from anything in the dark as long as it wore dress greens. Otherwise you were on your own since he didn't seem to care (although in later years he did develop a hankering for the nearby farmers' chicken eggs which cost Henry and I a few American dollars. But at least the dog had fresh eggs and a shiny coat.)
One of the great tension relievers on the day shift was to pick up a small stone, spit on it, and throw it in the nearby hay field (we had tension?). Lasso would take off, leap in the air, go down in the hay, come flying back up to get his head above the hay, look left/right, back down, up -left/ right, back down and wouldn't come back until he found that stone. The problem was he would chew on the stone before he'd bring it back. Over the years he managed to flatten out his teeth, but that didn't bother him. He could still bite anyone in dress greens, which was his real passion. He got a Colonel in the butt and missed an E6s' personal property by an inch. His favorite resting place was on top of the Â¾ ton lying in the canvas. Then he'd do his "Snoopy playing vulture" imitation and hang his head over the side to look at you when you'd walk by.
The NCOIC at the time was Roy Edens with Henry Cossett being the 2nd in charge as a SP5. Me â€" I was a PFC still passing seaweed.Â Other guys there at the time;Bob Tuttle, Steve Red, Ed Dargento (?),Terry Williams, Bill Neide (later died in a car wreck in Pocking), Harold Molitor, Foley (Mike?), Rich Urlaub (or Urbaugh), Liggett, and a cook who came in later â€" Windy Harp. There may have been others and I apologize for forgetting them.
Shortly after arriving in Sinzig, I found that we were scheduled for an IG inspection which was just so much fun. Captain Barr was there, the Ops NCOIC, Sgt Pickett, and a few others from Herzo. Everyone worked a lot of hours getting prepared for the inspection. My personal assignment was getting the trailer looking good. Having officers walking around presented a bit of a problem for a new guy since I wasn't sure if I was supposed to salute them every 30 seconds or not. I remembered what Sgt. Walker in basic training told me, "they have to salute you back â€" that's the fun part". So I saluted until my arm was tired and finally Capt. Bar told I didn't have to solute with a monkey wrench in my hand. I think maybe he was trying to tell me to knock if off, so I did. But Sgt. Walker was right, saluting could be fun. I saluted everything.
Harold Molitor and I worked a 24 so everyone else could get ready and then we were excused from the inspection. I don't know what was worse â€" working that many hours or being inspected.I do remember that I woke up about noon after the inspection and one of the guys asked if I wanted anything since they were going to town. I mumbled something about donuts and when I woke up at 8 PM I had pastry â€" a whole bag full. It was a great dinner but now I was wide awake in an empty house with no car and nothing to do at 8 in the evening. Walking anywhere was out of the question â€" there was nothing to walk to! Spies lead a lonely life - but I think maybe it beat Herzo Base.
I distinctly remember 5 or 6 of us piling into a VW station wagon about midnight and driving to a truck stop along the Rhine to have breakfast. This probably wasn't a real good idea since we'd worked all day and well into the night but if one guys said "ah c'mon" we were gone. Whether it was hunger of really good food, I've never forgotten what we all had that night/morning. It was called a Bayern FrÃ¼hstÃ¼ck with eggs, potatoes and Bratwurst all scrambled together. Maybe it was just a lack of sleep during the IG preparations, but I've never tasted a breakfast like it since. It was also the only time I ever had Senf (mustard) on breakfast food.
One of the major findings of the inspection was that Mutte didn't prepare food according to Army specifications (thank God), didn't clean the way she was supposed to, and didn't were a white cooks' hat. Here's a lady that cooked for the German Army at the same location where our site was, and we're telling her she didn't know what she was doing after 50 years of cooking? But as always, the Army had an answer and sent us an Army cook. That's how we got Windy Harp. Who could forget a name like Windy Harp? I believe his real name was Winthrop, which explains the Windy. That's Windy with a capital S - for smile, which he did constantly. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Windy learned more from Mutte than Mutte learned from Windy. Here's a tiny little kitchen with 2 people â€" one old and one very young. Mutte pretty much banned Windy from cooking duties but was well inclined to let him do clean-up. She also was more than willing to teach him how to cook. Somewhere out there in Kentucky (?) there is one hell of a cook. Fortunately, Windy cooked better than he drove. He didn't like to drive Jeeps and part of his duty included driving meals out to the Trick guys when necessary.
Jeeps were like some of the ASA guys I've known over the years â€" not very well balanced. For whatever reason, 4 or 5 of us were sent to Herzo Base to do something. When we arrived in record time, the C.O. (Captain Barr) walked out of his office as we were standing by the Company Clerks' desk doing the usual guy BS. For whatever reason, Barr walked up to me with a smile on his face and said "You guys made great time getting down here â€" what did you do - 80?" (Actually, I do know why he picked me. I was the Norman New Guy and he took me by surprise - as he knew he would.) Here's the C.O. being real friendly to me, the rookie, so I responded with something like "Oh no sir, Jeeps will only go about 65". I found my butt against the wall being chewed up one side and down the other. Barr had piercing black eyes and they burned a hole in me as he went off "The speed limit for driving a Jeep is (whatever â€" 45 I think) and if I ever hear â€" yadda, yadda, yadda". I got chewed out big time and I wasn't even driving! Steve Red, the driver, said later "why the hell did you tell him that?" Because I was stupid I guess. Never be buddies with the C.O. when you're the new guy (or the old guy).
On the way back, when we hit the off ramp for Sinzig, Steve was going a little too fast and the Jeep went up on 2 wheels and that's how this ties in to Windy. A farmer found a jeep turned over with Windy lying unconscious in a ditch. Windy ended up in the Remagen hospital and since he had a security clearance, someone had to be with him 24 hrs a day. Guess who got the first duty? I have no idea how long I was there, but it was at least 12 hours and if I'm not mistaken, Molitor was there as well. Sometime the next morning, Capt. Barr walked in, took one look at my bloodshot eyes and had me relieved. Thanks Captain â€" you don't know how much I (we) appreciated that. I think Roy Edens was really shook up and didn't know that there had only been one watch. Windy never regained consciousness while we were there and Molitor and I probably had something to do with that.Â The nurses were extremely attentive to Windy but they didn't speak English and Harold and I didn't speak much German. When they'd walk in the room and look at us to see how Windy was doing â€" one of us would moan like Windy did, and they'd give him another shot of morphine. We finally figured out what was going on and started nodding up and down â€" hopefully indicating that he was doing just fine. Windy, wherever you are â€" I hope you didn't become a drug addict because of us! (Actually, Windy was doing fine. The last time I saw him at Herzo Base, he still had the "big S" on his face.) He either never remembered what happened with the Jeep accident, or never told anyone if he did. Guys like Windy made Army duty fun.
Weekends were great if you weren't working eves or nights with Remagen being the main attraction. Every town had a bar with "Keller" in it and Remagen was no different. We spent a lot of time down in the Cellar and more at the Eier Bar. The "Egg Bar" was so named because the dÃ©cor consisted of cardboard egg cartons nailed to the ceiling and walls. This was a relatively small bar behind a large nightclub with the main attraction being the lady bartender â€" Stella. Stella was unique because she was English and it was nice to have someone of the opposite gender to talk to. Talk was about it since she had an extremely jealous boyfriend. I believe he was "controlling" (that's nice) as well. I thought I was actually getting somewhere once when a bunch of us were all planning a trip the following day. Stella said "knock me up in the morning" but the excitement died when I found out that meant she wanted me to knock on her door. Remagen was on the Rhine and had the last remaining bridge when the Allied forces arrived. Anyone interested can read "The Bridge at Remagen" which was made into a movie. Like all cities on the Rhine, Sinzig had its own wine festival which produced hangovers beyond belief. Each person would buy a glass for 50 Pfennings and wander down the street filling the glass from each Vintners barrel. You could then stagger back up and start over if you were capable â€" or stupid enough.
Work was good and nothing different than the other Detachments but the people made it worthwhile â€" both the guys and the locals. I hated to see the site shut down but another site had opened in Bavaria (Pocking) which eliminated the need for Sinzig. There may have been more to it than that â€" someone told me that the DF NCOIC didn't like Sinzig, but that may have been another rumor. I felt sorry for the lady who took out the loan to get the house â€" I think we all did.
When Sinzig was shut down 2 of us were left behind to "guard" 2 buildings. The Ops building had to be inspected to make sure there wasn't any classified information in it. That building was probably 12' X 20" and when they took all of our equipment out - what was left to check? There was also a barracks building, which Henry Cossett and I lived in. We had a stove, shower, one private bedroom, a living area, a large billet area, which we dutifully cleaned for a lack of anything better to do and one mouse. I want you to know that this was tough duty! Henry was getting "short" and spent a lot of time with his girlfriend in Remagen but to give credit where credit is due, he shared time off quite well. (I'm speaking of "night time off" of course, since 24 hours a day, was "time off"). Finally, after 2 or 3 months, an Officer from Herzo came up driving up in a Jag (did that make him a JAG officer?), took 5 minutes, walked through the building found a match cover, or some such thing, and declared it to be "secure". The site was on an old WW2 German base that, from what I've heard, was a decoy air field. Again, this is nothing that I've ever substantiated, but the locals said that the Germans would make up fake airplanes to give the Allied forces something to bomb - hopefully to take away the temptation to blow up the bridge at nearby Remagen. It was obvious that bombing was happening since I found a bomb shelter behind the barracks. I really wanted to explore it but the limiting factor was that it had about 2 ft. of water in it - really scuzzy water. After serious contemplation - Nahhh! I nominated myself to take exceptional care of the 3/4 ton pickup which we were left with since that was my only mode of transportation and It was one lonnnnnggggg walk into town. That proved to be a mistake. The C.O. (Captain Barr) made a surprise visit and swiped it - took it back to Herzo where it was named vehicle of the month. The replacement they gave me for my "POV" was a hunk of rusty junk.
Cpt. Barr's surprise visit took place at about 9:30 in the morning. Henry jumped out of bed and yelled " I hear a car!". Barr and a buck Sgt. named Ted Kaspryski were standing at the door when I opened it in my T shirt and grubs. When they left, Barr said "Make sure you call in once in a while, like about 10 A.M. - after you get up". (Ted and I became good friends at another Detachment that also seems to have been lost in history - Pocking.)
Sinzig was famous for one thing - we had a dog that bit a Colonel in the butt. "Lasso" was known throughout ASAE. He did something that every G.I. in the world wanted to do - he chewed a Colonels' ass. Now here's a dog that would attack a Colonel but when I tried to send him into my room to get our resident mouse, he saw it, put his tail between his legs and left. Henry captured the mouse and being a camera bug, has photographic evidence of this 600 pound, weight lifting mouse that scared our fearless shaeferhund.
After 4 or 5 months of this duty, someone took pity on me and ended my hardship tour and sent me to Geiblestadt â€" another story.