15 August 2011

The "WALL"

From the Soldier side:  When I joined the US Army in 19--- I didn’t get the job (MOS) I had asked for…but I guess it turned out OK anyway.  It was at the end of the Viet Nam war and it seemed the US Army was really short of grunts in most of it camps in Germany.  I went through AIT (Advanced Idiot Training) at swampy Fort Polk Louisiana and became an 11 C 10- Indirect Fire Crewman..or in plain language- Infantry Mortars.  A grunt who could both readn and write.

Not only did I fail to actually get the job I thought really wanted in writing, but I failed to get a duty location in writing…so Uncle Sam sent my ass to Frankfurt, Germany.  For a few days in transit, we stayed in a former German prison….it looked like a former prison. 

Those of us who failed to get a written guarantee for a duty assignment were herded into a big room and told: “most of you are grunts…so look in the map of Germany and where you see Blue Pins is where they need grunts.  Pick a place and we’ll try to get you there.”
CI Roller Dude was in C-2-6 weapons platoon

I looked at the map and it was covered in blue pins….every US Army base in Germany (there were a lot in those days) needed grunts.  As I looked at the map, I noticed that there were blue pins way over inside of East Germany---in the City of West Berlin.  Wow.  That looked kind of cool.

When my turn came up to talk to the clerk and tell him where I wanted to go I said: “I’d like to go to Berlin.”

The clerk looked at me and said: “Shit!  Do you know how much paper work that is?  Oh well, if that’s where you want to go I’ll do it.  Give me your ID card and we’ll have to make up special orders.  You’ll leave tonight....put on your Class A uniform.” 

And off I went on the over night “duty train” to West Berlin. 

The anniversary of the “Wall” coming down was the other day.  I remember two things very well about The Wall.  When I was in West Berlin, we joked that our kids and our grandkids would be going to Germany to keep the Commies in check.  We felt that the wall would be there forever.

The 2nd thing I remember....When the “Wall” came down and I was watching it on TV with my sons…I said: “ I thought you guys would be going there to keep the world free.  Oh, by the way, you see that part of the wall right there?  That’s where I got drunk one night and pissed on it….and waived at the East German Border guard up in the tower.    


TheNewMagoo said...

Lawks, the Wall coming down was a bit of a watershed in my life - the first thing in The News that i actually paid attention to, outside of my immediate life. I was 12 - are you feeling old, Rollerdude? :D

A year later we took my (German) Granny back to Berlin for the first time since she left as the bride of a Scots soldier in 1947. It was emotional.

Planning on returning next year. Have you been back since?

Coffeypot said...

Beautiful scenery aside, I say piss on the whole country.

Anonymous said...

1. Flew from Maguire AFB to Rhein Main and then was bussed to the processing center in Frankfurt.
2. Was about 10 PM and the troops on the bus were oohing and ahing over the strange signs and vehicles.
3. Yelled, "There's a MacDonalds," and the bus just about turned over with troops rushing to that side. Nowadays, you'd probably pass six of the damn things along the same route.
4. Asked to join an airborne unit (506th in Mainz or an 8th ID unit).
5. Because of an admin screwup in my old unit, was traveling without personnel or finance records.
6. Was told only serious screw-ups traveled without records, that my records had better back up what I had on my uniform.
7. Being tolerant of A**hole PFC clerks, remarked, "What are you jerks going to do? Shave my head and send me back to Vietnam?"
8. Wound up being chewed out by a SGT, being told I was going to be sent to a leg unit and would be treated as a PFC until my records arrived.
9. That happened including my new 1st SGT ordering my to take the Specialist rank off my class-A's.
10. Subsisted on $50 a month part pays for five months until my records showed up.
11. All I can say is that my attitude was sunny compared to that of some of the people in my unit.
12. I heard there were worse units, but my outfit was pretty awful.
13. Your superiors were not on your side.
14. Your barracks mates included addicts, black racists, white racists, petty criminals, serious full-on gangsters with GI blood on their hands and a lot of crazy people.
15. Was probably the worst 14 months of my life.
16. 12 years later, worked with the Army at Ft. Lewis. Was night and day.
17. The troops wore proper haircuts, looked fit and carried themselves with pride.
18. Aboard the base for 5 minutes, knew the Army had completely changed. A very proud thing.
19. If I had known a change like that was possible, would have probably gone back in the Army instead of joining the USMC.
20. The word was that only 'picked troops' got sent to Berlin -and that if you screwed up, you were shipped back to West Germany on zero notice. Can't verify it -but you can.
V/R JWest

el chupacabra said...

After completing the bus ride from Frankfurt to Bad Hersfeld me and my buddy since basic (who were the only people on the 32 passenger bus) got off at the tiny kaserne of Mcfeeter's Barracks.
Some dirt bag on extra duty sweeping the cobblestone street said,"Welcome to Hell gentlemen."
There were only two girls on the entire post except for an emphesymatic frau who ran the cleaners. The two girl soldiers were brought in by van from another base over an hour away every day.
I worked 12-16 hours a day without a day off for the first 3 months.
I can still recall border code words when reminded by seeing random words in print and can recite several by memory.
The Hind that crashed in the gap was during my tenure. We fully combat loaded our Brads and went to a different dispersal site than the last eleventy billion alerts- we just knew that was it...
My random memories.

solfine said...

Hey Roller Dude,
Why do you think of writing in a negative context when you are doing such a bang-up job in this piece. They really overlooked a hidden talent when you were assigned to the Wall. Just remember you picked the "Blue Pin" for the detail you wanted and considering the extra work it required, seems like a suitable solution at that time. Point that spot out to me if you get a chance.
After all ...every little thing has significant historic value today.
Was my pleasure to visit here again.

CI-Roller Dude said...

We had a few grunts who couldn't read or write. they used to send them to me to help them before a test or inspection...reading the manual or whatever. I should have told them I couldn't read.
When they asked if I could type, i told them "no" because they would have made me a damn clerk.