The information compiled in this collection is presented on behalf of those who served in
the United States Air Force Security Service throughout Europe during the cold war.
During their tour of duty, these men were not allowed to discuss their mission with
anyone outside the confines of the chain link fences that surrounded the compounds in
which they performed their duties. Moreover, they were not allowed to reveal anything
about the mission to family or friends.
The need for silence and secrecy was continually stressed and violations were not
acceptable. The men selected for this duty were thoroughly investigated by the FBI
along with family members and friends. In many cases, the investigations took several
months to complete while the service members waited to be given access to highly
classified material. Each member was indoctrinated prior to being given a final
clearance. During the indoctrination, the individual was informed of the consequences
for revealing classified material. Whenever questioned about their duties, about the only
answer an individual could give was “I work in Operations”. The favorite saying of many
was, “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you”.
Since the fall of the “Wall”, much of what these people accomplished has been
declassified and can be openly discussed. Even after all these years, many of them are
still reluctant to discuss various aspects of their mission. The saying “Loose Lips sink
Ships” still resonates through their minds.
This collection contains the history of the various units these men served; who these guys
were; where they were trained; and reflects on how they dealt with the pressures during
their off duty time. Hopefully, the information in this collection will enlighten family
and friends of those who served.
Table of Contents
Radio Squadron Mobile
Darmstadt to Augsburg
Who Were These Guys
Where Were They Trained
Getting to Europe
Equipment and Tools We Used
Origin Of The
"Radio Squadron Mobile"
Before we can begin, let me briefly explain the purpose of these Security Service units in
which these guys served. By the time the majority of these men entered the United
States Air Force, the units had become known as Radio Squadron(s) Mobile. The
mission of the units was to perform cryptologic and communications security for the Air
Force. The remainder of this chapter explains the evolution of these units from their
inception within the United States Army until they became part of the United States Air
During World War II, Army Signal Radio Intelligence Companies (SRIC) and Signal
Service Companies (SSC) collected SIGINT (Signal intelligence). SRICs were attached
to the various Armies whereas SSCs were attached to various Corps within the Armies.
SRICs were manned at a level twice as large as a SSC. Additionally, the SRICs utilized
three Direction Finders whereas the SSCs usually had two. The SRICs were normally
large units and not very mobile. Arriving at the new location it usually took in excess of
45 minutes to set up for operations. This consisted of assembly, placing the antenna, then
leveling and orienting the structure to magnetic north1. The SRICs were quite sizable
units, each with an assigned strength of slightly over 300 officers and men, internally
divided into a headquarters platoon, an intercept platoon, a direction-finding platoon, and
a wire platoon for communications. The unit did not have any analytical personnel.
Analysis and translation were to be accomplished centrally by small radio intelligence
staff elements at the theater and field army levels2
The Army Air Forces' wishes had led the War Department to authorize similarly self-
contained units, designated "Radio Squadrons, Mobile (RSM)," to meet the special needs
of the Army's air arm. These squadrons replaced the mix of signal radio intelligence
companies (aviation) and monitoring platoons in signal service companies (aviation)
which previously had supported the Army Air Forces. In addition to containing a large
analytical section, the new squadrons could intercept both continuous wave (Morse code)
and voice transmissions from dispersed locations3. The units retained the "Radio"
identification; however they were aligned within the Army Air Force command structure
and acquired the "Squadron" designation. The RSMs were normally smaller units than
their Army predecessors and could be easily relocated to provide support to the various
Army Air Forces; thus they were called "Mobile".
The history project of the 118th Signal Radio Intelligence Company (SRIC) published by John W. De Grote. Mr. De Grote was an
Intercept Operator with this unit.
SRH 391, American Signal Intelligence in North Africa and Western Europe, pp. 6-7.
AAF Manual 100-1, AAF Radio Squadrons Mobile (Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, Army Air Forces, 1944).
In March 1944, the Army Air Force assigned the 951st SRI Company, Aviation, an Eighth
Air Force unit collecting Luftwaffe communications for RAF Cheadle to Ninth Air Force
and redesignated it the 3rd Army Air Forces (AAF) Radio Squadron Mobile (RSM)
(German [G]). This unit was self contained, mobile and equipped to “provide radio
intelligence to the Air Force Commander and to the Theater Commander by means of
radio intercept, radio direction finding, traffic analysis, and the evaluation of enemy air
radio traffic, telegraph and voice.” The 3rd RSM (G) divided into five detachments to
support Ninth Air Force units. Detachment A stayed with Ninth Air Force, Detachment
B went to IX TAC and the 70th Fighter Wing, and Detachment C supported XIX TAC
and the 100th Fighter Wing. Detachment B landed in France on 8 June 1944 with the rest
of the unit arriving shortly thereafter. In short order the detachment set up at Cricqueville,
France next to a perforated steel plate airfield of the 354th Fighter Group flying P-51s.
The unit intercepted its first transmission on 9 June 1944.4 Detachment A produced
order battle and situation reports and stayed in close touch with RAF Cheadle to assist in
code breaking. Detachments B and C passed all intelligence they intercepted directly to
fighter control centers (FCC) of the tactical air commands that then radioed American
fighters and bombers. Detachment D was setup to support XXIX TAC with Y
Luftwaffe flak messages send by radio were a useful source of Y intelligence. If bombing
Strikes cut landlines then the Luftwaffe was forced to use radio links to warn flak units of
friendly Luftwaffe aircraft in their vicinity. These radio communications were vital in
helping 9th Air Force to steer clear of fighter concentrations, and to intercept Luftwaffe
fighters before they could mass against bomber raids. The unit also tracked other
Luftwaffe movements such as supply flights to the beleaguered garrisons in French ports
such as Lorient and Brest, and battlefield interdiction bombing sorties early in the
Normandy operation. This allowed 3rd RSM (G) personnel to warn U.S. AAA of German
aircraft approaching allied frontlines. Aircrews had to make compromises in conducting
the air war over Europe. Jamming to protect the bomber formations from radar guided
flak was conducted by the 36th Bomb Squadron (Heavy) with modified B-17s and then B-
24s. This airborne jamming also disrupted Luftwaffe communications links, both radio
and Morse operated, which degraded the ability of the Y-service to intercept valuable
communications. Therefore careful coordination with jammers was required to ensure
that the 3rd RSM (G) could still listen to relevant links to gather Y intelligence. This
jamming in 1944/45 over Germany illustrates a point that continues to pit operations
against intelligence to the present day. When do you jam or destroy a communications
node and when is it better to leave a site operational in order to gather signal intelligence
data. This issue only is resolved at the highest level of command and frequently will find
a theater commander at odds with his intelligence chief.5
15 Arnold Franco, Code to Victory, (Manhattan, KS: Sunflower University Press, 1998)
p.65 This is the only account written by any member of the 3 rd RSM (G) and covers the
unit from the UK till Arnold Franco’s discharge in 1945 from the Army.
Alfred Price, Instruments of Darkness: The History of Electronic Warfare, (New York:
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1978); Martin Streetly, Confound and Destroy. 100 Group and
the Bomber Support Campaign, (New York, Jane’s Publishing, 1978); Stephen Hutton,
American forces in Great Britain were finally committed to the cross Channel attack on 6
June 1944. Once fully deployed, they mustered an impressive array of tactical signal
intelligence units. Signal Security Detachment "D," a field element of the Signal
Intelligence Division, ETOUSA, provided analytical support to the signal radio
intelligence companies at the army-group and field army levels, while AAF radio
squadrons furnished signals intelligence to the numbered air forces.
By July 1944, there were nine RSMs assigned to the Army Air Force (AAF) to intercept
German (G) and Japanese (J) traffic.6 By the time the war ended, the 3rd RSM was
located at Bad Vibel, Germany. Detachments B,C and D were combined into one
detachment “B” and transferred to Bad Kissingen to await rotation back to the States.
The 3rd RSM designation was deactivated. It is during this time period, the paths of the
2nd and 3rd RSMs become intermingled. Detachment “A” became detachment “A” of
the 2nd RSM (G).
As noted by the historical personnel for the Air Intelligence Agency, The 2nd RSM was
constituted as the 139th Signal Radio Intelligence Company on 7 February 1942, and
activated on 14 February 1942 at MacDill Field, Florida. The original cadre was
transferred from the 402d Signal Company, Aviation, Headquarters Third Air Force,
Tampa, Florida. Trained in German radio procedure, the 139th Signal Radio Intelligence
Company, Aviation, was alerted for overseas movement in 1943, but, before it could
move, a majority of its key personnel were transferred to other alerted units. On 16
March 1944, the 139th was redesignated as the 2d Radio Squadron, Mobile (G). On 2
August 1944, the squadron departed MacDill Field and arrived at the Western Signal
Aviation Unit Graining Center (WSAUTC), Camp Pinedale, Fresno, California, under the
command of the Fourth Air Force. The immediate mission of the squadron was to train
and maintain trained personnel in the organization to be used as replacements for Radio
Squadrons Mobile, both G (Germany) and J (Japan). Fourth Air Force terminated the
assignment of the 2 RSM (G) and reassigned its personnel to the T-3 Squadron, Camp
Pinedale, Fresno, California, effective 21 March 1945. The unit was then organized in the
European Theater as the 2 RSM (G) at Vittel, France, on 10 April 1945. The primary
purpose of the unit was to provide mission support to the First Tactical Army Air Force
Squadron of Deception. The 36th Bomb Squadron in World War II, (Atglen, PA: Schiffer
Publishing Ltd, 1999).
In the Pacific the U.S. Navy employed Radio Intelligence Units (RIU) on ships
especially aircraft carriers. These collected Japanese tactical aircraft communications and
provided valuable information allowing carrier based naval aircraft to intercept and
destroy many Japanese aircraft. “The Employment of Mobile Radio Intelligence Units by
Commands Afloat During World War II”, in Ronald H. Spector, Listening to the Enemy:
Key Documents on the Role of Communications Intelligence in the War with Japan,
(Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources, 1988), 76-79
(Provisional). The 2 RSM (G) then moved from Vittel to Heidelberg, Germany, where it
stayed until June 1945, when it moved to Darmstadt, Germany7.
According to information I acquired from the ASA Alpiners website, the location and
movement of the 2nd RSM to Darmstadt is slightly different from that stated by the AIA.
In the fall of 1945, all units not essential to the (Theater) Headquarters were ordered to
get out of the Frankfurt Area. (Note; there were three other SIGINT units remaining in
Germany: the 114th and 116th SRICs (tactical units) and the 2nd Radio Squadron Mobile
(RSM) - remember, at that time the Air Corps was part of the Army and was not yet a
branch in itself). The CO of SID, Col. Earl Cook, was not happy with the Gross Gerau
location and they started looking for a better location. Shannon Brown, CO of the 2nd
RSM (located outside of Frankfurt and thus had to move) found a German airfield near
Herzogenaurach. Cook, Beard and Brown all liked the location and Herzo Base was born.
This was probably in the fall of 1946. Between 21 January and 4 March, 1947, the units
moved down to Herzo Base 8.
It is possible the author of the information submitted by INSCOM (the AIA counterpart
for the Army) may have considered Heidelberg in the Franfurt area. I am inclined to
believe the 2nd RSM was located in or around Darmstadt and then moved to
Herzogenaurach and then moved back to Darmstadt in 1949 after it was transferred to the
United States Air Force Security Service from the Army Security Agency.
The 3rd RSM, which had played a major role in the defeat of Germany, was eventually
reactivated at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska during the build-up for the Korean War. The 2nd
RSM remained in Germany and became the first USAFSS unit in Europe.
“From Whense We Came”, A brief overview of the organization and mission of the 2nd Radio Squadron
Mobile and the Air Force Security Program during “Our Time”, Dr Dennis F. Casey and MSgt Gabriel G.
Marshall, Chief Historian and Senior enlisted Historian, AIA.
SOME SIS/ASA HISTORY AT HERZO
Editors note: Earlier this year I started getting some feedback about a 6th Detachment of the 2nd Signal
Service Bn. beinstationed at Herzo base. Sending requests for information to the INSCOM history office
and to Bob Zikowitz, who puts out a 2nd Signal newsletter, I got what I think is some absorbing information
that I think our readers would find interesting. Since the information received is both narrative and
chronological in format, I have taken the liberty of narrating it in my own fashion. My thanks to James L.
Gilbert, INSCOM Command Historian; Albert C. Leighton of San Antonio who served with the 6th Det.;
and, MG James E. Freeze (USA Ret.) who provided excerpts from his monograph "Saga of a Siginter", the
Gene Beard Story. (Ralph R. Thadeus - Editor)
Who Were These Guys and Why did they enlist
During my 20-year career in USAFSS, I never met anyone who was drafted into the Air
Force. As far as I know, the US Army and Navy were the only branches of the military
that drafted personnel. The guys and gals who served in Security Service and its
successors willingly joined the US Air Force. They came from all corners of the country
and from all walks of life. Even though the voluntarily enlisted, the reasons for joining
were as varied as the number personnel who served. The reasons, although mixed, can
be categorized as: avoiding the draft; inability to gain civilian employment after
graduation from school; or not wanting to stay in school.
The following are responses I received when the question was presented to a group of
I had turned 17 years old and was at that point in my life that I needed a boot in the rear
to keep me moving. I didn't want to go to school and would skip every chance I got. A
month after my birthday, I went to school and told the assistant principal "I quit". He
didn't even try to talk me out of it but instead said, "you have 30 days to find a job or you
have to come back". In early 1955, the economy was a mess and there were no jobs to be
had; especially when they would ask if you had completed your military obligation.
Needless to say, on the 29th day I enlisted in the Air Force effective 25 March 1955. My
parents had to sign for me to enlist, which they did willingly. That was the smartest move
I made in my life. I did finish school before my graduating class and managed to get an
AS degree when I retired from the Air Force.
I was in about the same situation. 17 and no jobs, restless, know-it-all, so I enlisted in
the Air Force for a 3 year hitch. Got caught in the Truman year, but only pulled about 6
months of it. Was positive I wanted no part of being a lifer. Hell, they made you wear a
hat. So I got out and stayed out about 8 months. Reenlisted because most of my friends
were gone and again jobs were scarce. Pulled another 4 years and got out again, was
sure I wasn't cut out to be a lifer. Got a good comm center type job with the CAA (now
FAA) but didn't like the NYC area where that ex wife of mine came from, Soooooo,
reenlisted again before my 60 days were up so I wouldn't lose another stripe. One thing
led to another, the kids kept coming, so I finally reconciled myself to being a lifer, even
started to wear my hat. And I wouldn't trade those 20+ plus years for any thing. Finally
decided that I loved the Air Force, the unique work, the comradery, and the satisfaction
of serving my country.
I was a freshman at UND and as a typical 18-year-old decided one spring day that I was
wasting my time in school, and my folk's money, so I went down and enlisted in the AF.
It was the best decision I had made up to that point in my life. When I called my folks
that night and told them I enlisted my mom was really disappointed. The next day she
was downtown shopping and ran into a friend of hers. The friend looked at my mom and
said, "Dorothy, what’s wrong?” Mom replied, "Oh that Larry he went and enlisted in
the AF". Her friend saved my bacon when she replied, "Does that mean he's going to
hell?” It was a little easier for Mom to accept my decision after that. I also gave Mrs.
Ramage a big hug the next time I saw her. I had a tour of duty in Darmstadt and gained
some wonderful friendships, and then went to Japan and found many new friends
My situation was similar to others. Not caring much for school, about to have to repeat
and thought I knew enough, so off I went at 17. Parents had to sign, which they did
reluctantly. After the first phase of basic at Lackland, off to Keesler and just as soon as I
could, I made it over to the radio school, as I was assigned to the SAGE school. I showed
the school adjutant my ham license and asked if there was any possibility of getting a
transfer. Next week, I was in the intercept class learning how to type and to coordinate
it with my Morse code knowledge. Remember that they had the basic split and second
half was done at Keesler - morning school, and afternoons various basic training items
including drill and marching, etc. After that was finished, I decided the best thing for me
was to see what the education office had to offer. I went for a week of tests in the
afternoon, got the high school GED, then the ed officer suggested I try the college GED -
another set of 5 tests. Got that too. The local high school at home even presented my
mom with my diploma after completing the tests and her showing the paper results.
Smartest thing I think I ever did as those tests, results and schools made my FBI and DEA
career a possibility. Otherwise, would have been pushing papers in an office or
something exciting like that.
Mine is a little different then most. Two friends and me had just graduated from Junior
College and I had just turned 21 we saw this advertisement "Join the Army Air Corps"
and become an officer (that never happened). We went to McClellan AFB and signed
up. They both went to mechanics school after basic and I stayed at McClellan, as it was
only two miles from home. I never did go to basic. One day a SSgt, who became a good
friend of mine, Said if you’re tired of sweeping hanger floors, come on into the radio
section. That started my career as a radio operator in 1940 (never went to radio school)
except as an instructor, years later. My enlistment was extended by the Japs. In 42 our
outfit (7th,troop carrier) went to war. When I came back in 45 I had enough points to get
out. Not much work for a radio operator. Two months later I was back in....the rest is
history. Thirty-three years later I retired. Like most of you I wouldn’t trade it for
anything. Retired pay isn’t bad and life has been good.
First of all neither the Army nor the Marines appealed to me as camping out to me is the
Holiday Inn. Although I grew up on the water, less than 150 feet from Long Island
Sound, I was never bit by the boating bug. Whatever appeal the Navy had was lost when
I saw the sleeping accommodations, if one can call it that coupled with 6 month cruises.
Wanted to travel so the Coast Guard did not appeal to me as I knew a guy who was in the
Coast Guard during Korea and spent his whole tour at Governor's Island in NYC Harbor
- less than 20 miles from home. In the early 50s remember seeing a bunch of guys in
blue uniforms outside Grand Central Station in NYC. Someone told me they were
airmen. Never saw another AF blue until I talked to the recruiter and I liked that, as it
was different and unusual in the NYC area. What a very pleasant surprise it was to find
out that the airmen carried their passes in their pockets and wore civvies.
Grew up under an old Army first sergeant. Needed to leave so I was on a train to San
Antonio 3 days after graduating high school. Basic was a snap. Was making hospital
corners by age 8 and had the house clean and dusted by the time I went to school each
AM. As a teenager who would come in late at night the old first sergeant would get me
up by 5AM to show me if I could stay out at night I could get up as needed. Usually had
my bed made and dressed at 5AM reveille. When in trouble knew the magic words, "No
excuse, Sir!" Got me several extra KPs but my TI must have told the Mess Sergeants, as I
never got really bad KP duty
I had been fooling around at a small college for 3 years - flunked all but 1/2 hour of my
last semester. I was more interested in my girlfriend - now my wife of 42 years as of
December 22, 2003. Since I had had a student deferment for those 3 years (this was
1961) and I couldn't find a job I decided I had better enlist to avoid the Army. My
college roommate and future brother-in-law had been in the Navy and discouraged that
so, since my Dad had been in the Army Air Corp, I joined the Air Force. Of course the
first thing they did after Basic was ship me back to school - Indiana University for
Russian language training. Not all bad since my then fiancée was only a few hours away
in South Bend. We got married that December while I was still an E-2. Talk about
scraping by! But we made it and I have always been glad that we spent our four years in
the Air Force. The training and experience (along with a bunch of night school classes)
enabled me to go to work for NSA for 8 years and then become a defense contractor for
18 years. Wish I could still be involved in the defense business - I loved it!
To avoid the draft and see the world. It worked!
I wanted to get away from my family and the city that we were living in. I had just
finished high school and turned 18 so there was nothing to prevent me from joining the
Air Force in 1959. Did not want the Marines (my brother had gone into that branch of
service) nor the Navy and certainly not the Army, so the AF was it.
In June 1950 my national guard unit had been put on alert and I was on my way to
advanced infantry school. I decided that I wasn't tough enough to do the things that
would be required of me so I joined the Air Force to become part of the flying AF. Never
made it -- Had some good times and bad times but all memorable. Now, I think often of
the good times, and I have forgotten most of the bad times.
My story is the same as most of you... not doing to well in college, enlisted for 4 years...
went to basic at Lackland, Morse intercept school at Keesler, 2 years in Darmstadt and a
year in Danang.... Got out of the service in '66 and finished my BA degree in
accounting/marketing in '69. Boring but true!!!
Where Were They Trained
The Air Force had several different locations where basic training was conducted. The
majority of the guys completed their basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio,
Texas. However, some completed their training at Sampson AFB in Geneva, New York,
Amarillo AFB, Texas and Parks AFB in California. Many of the guys who served during
the Army Air Force days completed their basic training at various Army basic training
bases. Through the years, the length of basic training changed from approximately 13
weeks to 6 weeks. When the training period was reduced to 6 weeks, much of the basic
training was completed at the technical training bases.
Through the years, the Air Force tried to accommodate enlistees by allowing them to
select their career field prior to enlisting. Prior to enlisting, enlistees were given a battery
of tests to ensure they were qualified. This battery of test was called the “Air Force
Qualification Tests” or AFQT. In almost every case, the results of these tests determined
what career field an individual was placed in.
While in basic training, individuals were given more tests to further determine their
abilities. These tests covered several different areas including mechanical skills,
I am sure each individual’s experience in basic training was unique; however the overall
effect was similar to each of us. To give you a little insight into what we went through in
basic training, I have included my own personal account of basic training at Sampson
AFB in Geneva, New York.
It was well after dark when we got to the base. Sampson Air Force Base was located on
Lake Seneca in Upper New York State. Our training started as soon as we got off the bus
and would continue for eleven weeks. At the time, it seemed like it was going to be the
longest eleven weeks of my life.
We were taken to a large room where there must have been several hundred other guys
being processed. We were given forms to fill out which included naming our next of kin
for insurance purposes and getting our first military identification cards. We spent
several hours in this room completing paper work and getting pictures taken for our
identification cards. Again names were called, and we were assigned to a specific
training flight. Our flight was designated 4250 and was comprised of about eighty guys.
We were then introduced to our training instructors (TI). Our instructor was Airman First
Class William Worden.
Since the weather was so cold, instructors were told to take us to another area of the
building where we were issued two pair of wool long underwear and a field jacket. After
we received our gear, we were allowed to put on the jackets and our training instructor
took us outside. Once outside, our training began in earnest. After a bit, Sergeant
Worden, as we soon learned to address our training instructor, introduced himself to us. I
can still recall his speech. “My name is Airman First Class William Worden; but you will
call me Sergeant Worden. I will be your training instructor for the next eleven weeks. I
will be your mother, your father, your sister and your brother; but I will not be your
girlfriend because you will not screw me. If you try, I will be the lawn mower and you
are the grass.” He gave us some military marching commands which didn’t make any
sense to most of us and to this day I don’t know if it was part of the training or he was
actually embarrassed, he began to call us girls, idiots and what ever other name he could
think to muster. He marched us to our barracks.
The barracks were wooden double story buildings that had been built during WWII. On
one end of the building was a room with a furnace that was supposed to heat the building
and the hot water. The entrance to the building was near one end of the long side. The
floor plan was identical for both levels. As you entered the building the latrine
(bathroom) was next to the stairway and to your right was the living quarters for the
assistant training instructor. On the opposite end from the entry was an open bay with
double bunks and footlockers evenly spaced. On both sides of the open bay, were small
windows. The windows were positioned to allow in sunlight but were at a height that
made it almost impossible to look in or out. The room was lighted with one hundred watt
bulbs. Across the hall from the assistant training instructor’s room hung a large empty
artillery shell. Located next to the stairway was a coke and candy machine.
I believe it was around midnight when we got to our barracks. Most of us just wanted to
find a bunk and go to sleep but our Sergeant Warden wasn’t having any of that. He said,
“I know you girls are tired and want to go to sleep. But before I allow you to sleep in
these bunks, you are going to learn the proper way to make them.” We must have spent
two or three hours learning the proper way of making a hospital corner in our sheets and
cover before he allowed us to finally go to sleep. Feeling extremely tired and depressed,
we finally fell asleep for what we hoped would be a good nights rest. Low and behold,
around four in the morning, the loudest noise I have ever heard in my life began to ring in
my ears. All I could hear was a loud clanging noise and somebody yelling “Fire! Fire!
Fire!” I jumped up confused as hell and looked for the fire. There was no fire; but there
was sergeant Worden screaming at the top of his lungs, “Get out of this damn barracks.”
After the last man was out of the building, he came outside and thoroughly chewed out
the whole outfit. “If that had been a real fire, all of you would have burned to death,” he
said. He stressed the importance of getting out of the building because it was old and
made of wood and it would burn like a match box if it ever did catch on fire. He told us
he wanted us to be out of the building in less than three minutes the next time a fire drill
was conducted. For the next hour or so, we practiced getting out of the building until we
were able to do it within three minutes.
Sometime around five or five thirty in the morning, He decided it was time for us to get
our first meal in an Air Force chow hall. Again we were given military commands that
didn’t make much sense to us and we were on our way to go eat. “Leb! Leb! Leb! Right!
Leb!” he kept repeating over and over. After about ten minutes we reached what
appeared to be a very large building with several stairs leading into the front. “Parade
Rest” sergeant Worden belched. We all looked at each other wondering what he meant.
“Ok you idiots, put both hands behind you with your left hand holding the right at the
bottom of your lower back.” Sergeant Worden commanded. “Spread your feet apart but
stand erect. I want you to look at the neck of the guy in front of you and count every hair
on the back of his head.” He continued. Little did we know this would be the routine
every time we went to chow. After awhile he called us to attention and told us to enter
the building one column at a time.
Inside the building were many serving lines and several hundred tables with four chairs at
each table. We entered the serving line and told to take a tray along with silverware.
Sergeant Worden told us to move through the line and take only what we wanted; but we
would be required to eat everything we had on our trays. He told us to move to a table
once we had our food and not to sit until there were four men at each table. When there
were four of us at each table, we were required to sit in unison and told to eat our food
with no talking. We were given about fifteen to twenty minutes to eat our meal and then
he told all of us to stand take our dirty trays to the cleaning area and report outside. Once
outside we were told to form back into four columns and stand at attention.
On our return to our barracks, we passed other training flights. They were all either
dressed in their blue uniforms or neat looking fatigues. The only thing military on us was
our field jacket. As we would pass the other units, they would yell out and laugh at us
calling us “Jeeps and Rainbows.” Their instructor would yell and tell them, “Ok Shut
Up!” I don’t think any of us ever figured out what the word “Jeep” was to mean; but, the
word “Rainbow” came from the fact all new trainees were still in their civilian clothes
and the flight looked like a rainbow with all the colors.
After we were back in the barracks, sergeant Worden put us in two rows in the center of
the bay. He introduced us to the assistant training instructor and told us the assistant
would handle most of our drill training. He was a short black guy about five feet six
inches tall with a medium built. He had spent a tour in the Marine Corp and had enlisted
in the Air Force. Sergeant Worden told us he was so embarrassed with our attempt at
marching that before he would allow us outside the building again we would have to
learn how to execute military commands. We spent at least two hours listening to “Right
face! Left face! About face! Left face! Right face! About face!”. Over and over they
would bark out the command. Each time one of them would go to one of the guys and
individually instruct how to make the move. They instructed us how to begin marching,
how to make turns and how to stop. When the instructors were satisfied with our
performance, they told us to go outside and get into formation.
We were then marched back to the building where we had been processed through the
previous night. We were given more forms to complete and we were issued a partial
payment for our sixty-eight dollar monthly pay. From there we were marched to the Base
Exchange where we were taken to the barbershop and given our first military haircut.
Even though some guys knew what was coming, there were a few who actually cried
when the hair was shaved from their heads. We were then taken into the exchange and
told to purchase a razor, shaving cream, soap, soap dish, shower clogs, two towels and
two wash rags, a laundry bag, athletic supporter and sport shorts. We were also told to get
black shoe polish, after shave lotion, deodorant, writing paper, envelopes, stamps, a pen,
sewing kit and a combination lock. By the time we had purchased everything, most of
the money we had been given was gone. I probably had five dollars remaining out of the
thirty they had given me.
We returned to the barracks and were instructed how to store the items in our footlockers
and then locked. Sergeant Worden entered the room and we were brought to attention.
“This place looks like a pig pen. We are going to have a G.I. party to clean this place.
When you are done, I want these floors clean enough to eat off of.” He exclaimed. The
flight was divided into groups some with mops and buckets, others with dry mops, some
had brooms and some had rags. We all looked at each other since the floors were wooden
and they had been cleaned so many times, the wood had actually turned white. How
could he say the place was looking like a pigpen? It took us about an hour to finish the
task and then we were once again told to go outside and get into formation.
We were marched back to the chow hall where we went through the same procedure as in
the morning and were fed the noon meal. When we had completed and reformed outside,
we were marched to another large building. We were taken into the building where we
went through a processing line and issued our uniforms. At the first position, we were
issued our duffel bag and told to put every item into the bag except for your garrison cap.
At every point throughout the building there was an airman to issue you a uniform item.
When someone didn’t know what size they wore, the airman at the distribution point
would give you what he believed was your size. In most cases, the sizes were correct and
the only thing that did not fit was the one-piece fatigue uniform. This uniform was similar
to coveralls and one size fit all; it was up to us to make them fit.
When we had been issued all items, we were marched back to the barracks where we
were instructed how to hang, fold and roll the various uniform items. There was a
specific way to secure every item. Every hanger had to be perfectly spaced, every button
had to be fastened and no loose shoelaces were allowed to show. As soon as we had
secured all the items, we were told to make the necessary alterations to the fatigue
uniforms. We were told to take our civilian clothes and store them in a box that would be
shipped home to our parents, guardians or wives. We would not see civilian clothing for
the next eleven weeks. We were then told to dress with the fatigue uniform which we
would spend the majority of our time wearing. We were then ordered outside and
marched to the chow hall for the evening meal. The procedure was the same as before
and would not change during the next eleven weeks.
When we returned to our barracks, Sergeant Worden told us we had made the barracks
dirty and it needed to be cleaned. For the next hour or so, we had another G.I. party. I
believe we had a party almost every day of training for the first eight weeks. After the
barracks was clean, we were told to sit down and write letters to our parents, girl friends
or whoever we wanted to write. That evening we got to bed a lot earlier than the
The next morning we were awakened at four thirty in the morning, which would be the
norm for the remainder of our training. He then marched us to the chow hall. After we
finished with our breakfast meal, we were again taken to a fairly large building where we
were instructed to strip down to the waist. We were formed into a single column and
moved into the building. Once inside the building, we were greeted by several medics on
both sides. As we moved through the room, they took turns giving us shots in both arms.
At the end of the line, we were instructed to drop our drawers and we were given one last
shot in our rump.
As soon as Sergeant Worden had put us back in formation, he told us what our training
would consist of for the next eleven weeks. In addition to taking care of our barracks on
a daily basis, we would be given physical training, attend classes on Military training.
Along with marching everywhere, we would participate in drill competition, learn water
survival, qualify with the M1 carbine and be required to complete a week of field training
that included the obstacle course. We would also be required to pull kitchen police (KP),
guard duty and fire duty.
Physical Training (PT) consisted of being marched to a large drill field along with several
hundred other trainees. In the center of the field was a raised platform. The PT instructor
would be on the platform and give us various calisthenics to perform. I remember our
instructor very well as this guy was probably more muscular than Charles Atlas. He
would tell us to do two-handed pushups while he did one-armed pushups. Usually we
would be given training for a minimum of an hour. I never realized there so many
different exercises a body could endure. I will admit that when I finished my basic
training I was in a lot better physical condition than when I started. The only thing I
didn’t like about the PT was doing the exercises while there was snow on the ground. It
gets a little difficult to do a pushup when the snow hits you in the face.
Our Military training classes consisted of learning military history, customs and
regulations. We were given classes on hygiene and many of us were educated on
venereal diseases for the first time in our life. Those classes were some of the most
memorable because of the comical things that took place. I remember one class the
instructor was discussing the ways you can get the various diseases and one of the guys
had fallen asleep in class. The instructor rudely awakened the guy and asked him “How
do you catch syphilis?” The guys replied “From a door knob.” The whole class broke
out in an uproar and it took the instructor several minutes to restore order. High school
was never like this.
As the weeks progressed, our marching improved and we began to look pretty sharp.
Sergeant Worden and our assistant instructor would constantly harp on us to improve and
we did. I remember one time to excuse one guy from special detail Sergeant Worden
decided to put us through marching drill using “Simon Says” commands. We were all
pretty darn good and the “Simon Says” game really brought out the best in us. As it
turned out another guy and myself were the last two remaining and Sergeant Worden
marched us directly toward an abundant chow hall. He gave the command “Left turn
Huh!” The other turned and I walked right into the closed chow hall door. All the guys
got a good laugh; but I got excused from the next detail. I think it was around our ninth
week of training we had to compete against other training flights in drill competition.
We did pretty well and were given an award. I don’t think we won the competition; but
at least Sergeant Worden and our assistant let up on us after that.
Another of our training requirements was to complete water survival. Until around 1956,
most military personnel were shipped overseas by ship. The Air Force wanted every
enlisted man to be able to jump from the side of a ship and swim to safety. The training
was held in a large drill hall that had an Olympic size swimming pool. A tower had been
constructed with a jump platform approximately 25 feet high. We were told to climb the
tower and while holding our nose with one hand and our testicles with the other jump into
the water. Once in the water we were to swim under water to the other side of the pool.
This practice was to simulate jumping from the side of a ship that was afire. If a person
did not do the jump properly, he was required to redo the jump until he did it properly.
Suprisedly, there were many guys who did not know how to swim and several who were
fearful of the water. These guys had to attend special classes to enable them to complete
this phase of the training.
Qualifying with the M1 carbine was another phase of our training and took a week to
complete. We started with classroom instructions to learn how to tear down and rebuild
the weapon. We practiced that until we could do it in less than five minutes. We learned
proper cleaning techniques and how to properly aim and fire the weapon. The final day
of the training was spent on the rifle range and we were required to achieve a specific
score. I guess we all achieved the goal because none of the guys had to retake the class.
The last phase of our training was to complete field training. This portion of the training
included bivouac, gas chamber and obstacle course and it would take a week to complete.
This was probably the longest week I endured during basic training. Within that one-
week period, it snowed, it rained and it got very hot. We spent our nights sleeping in pup
tents and our days attending classes on various field-training subjects. One day was
entirely dedicated to learning how to use the gas mask, which included having to go into
the gas chamber. We were taken into the chamber and told the gas to be released was
tear gas and we would not be able to put on our facemasks until we could answer a
question for the instructor. We only had one guy panic for several minutes; but he
eventually answered the question and was able to wear his mask. As soon as you
answered the question correctly, you put on the mask and were allowed to leave the
building. Once outside we removed the masks and used water to wash our eyes.
The rest of the field training included playing war games and the obstacle course.
About our tenth week of training, we were promoted to Airman Third Class and were
allowed to sew our chevrons on our uniforms. By this time we were among the elite class
and would take every opportunity to tease new trainees when we encountered them. We
were aware our training would soon end and we would be moving on to our new
assignments, which for most of us meant technical training. Several of us had applied
for airborne Radio Operator and had to complete the flight physical. At the end of the
first week of June we got our orders and I was assigned to Radio School at Keesler Air
Force Base, Biloxi, Mississippi.
On the morning of last day, we were all excited, as we would be leaving that day. We
had turned in our bedding the day before and it didn’t matter because no one slept
anyway. Everyone was going around saying good-bye to friends we had made and
eventually we boarded buses to take us to the bus and train stations or the airport.
I am sure the basic training experience was very similar regardless where the individual
attended. While we were there most of us hated it; but I have heard many of my fellow
veterans say they would do it again in a heartbeat.
Technical schools were located all throughout the United States. Guys selected to
become analysts would be going to March AFB in California or Goodfellow AFB in
Texas. Those selected to become linguists would be going to Syracuse University,
Indiana University or the Defense Language Institute at Monterey, California.
Communication specialists would attend technical training at Sheppard AFB in Texas.
Regardless where they were going for their advanced training, all the guys were excited
just to get away from basic training.
The following collection of comments reflects what some of us expected when we
enlisted in the Air Force.
I HAD NO CHOICE...However, I had spent a summer in Gulfport, with my Brother's-In-
Laws, while I was in High School. I knew a lot about the community, and on the
weekends, I traveled to see my Brother's-In-Laws for Sunday Dinners. When I was a
Teenager, my Brother had given me a Radio Receiver with a Code Book and had wanted
me to learn code and have fun with the Radio. Actually, in the beginning I hated Radio
School at Keesler, and I almost flunked out of School. However, when they told me that
they were assigning the troops to either Air Police or Cook Schools - I sharpened my
focus and finished close to the top of the class. I figured that being a Radio Operator was
a whole lot better than being a Cook or Cop. So, in the end, I wanted to be a Ditty
Bopper, but it was more of a fear factor of being trained in something else. At the end of
the day, it didn't really prepared me for any Civilian Skills, but I did have a chance to see
and do some exciting things while in the Service.
Joined the USAF 3 days out of high school. Had no family and wanted to see the world.
Selected and was assigned Admin before going. Talked about this recently on the Misawa
site. Remember going into the Green Monster at LAFB and given 3 choices: Admin,
Finance and Statistical Services. Came out staring at statistical services and having no
idea what it was. The TI shook me out of it. After getting an accounting degree and
masters, glad they never put me in statistical services at that time. Would have a disaster
for the service and me.
I went in to the Air Force after working at the Colorado Mental Health Institute as a
psychiatric technician (a glorified mental health nursing attendant). Had thought I would
be a mental health analyst - instead ended up being a communication analyst. Go figure!
Joined the AF three weeks out of high school. Joined the AF because my cousin was in it
and he recommended it over the other services. I was supposed to attend Rider College in
New Jersey but I knew I could not take any more schooling for a while. Joined the AF
with a buddy but he changed his mind and went in a couple of months after me. Went in
as Admin and flew out of Newark for San Antonio - my first time on a plane. Ended up at
the Green Monster, didn't know a dit from a dah, and when I left I still didn't. Someone
mentioned copying w/m/n, I seem to recall copying i/r/e. Told I was selected for intercept
school and when I asked if I did not want it what else could I get I was told "truck driver
or refueling specialist". Morse intercept sounded a little better. I knew three guys that got
out of intercept school (two flunked and one asked to get out) none became cooks. The
one that asked to get out wanted medics when he enlisted and got it when he got out. The
others went OJT at Keesler - one into admin and the other into the base gym. I had four
AFSCs while in the AF - in my opinion intercept was the best for choice overseas
assignments, admin was the best for choice stateside. Clinical lab and transportation
Well, initially I had intended to be a fun loving college student, marry the girl at the end
of four years and settle into happily-ever-after land (you know, right next to idiotville and
a few miles from lalaland....) but it didn't happen that way at all - we got disengaged
during the first year of college. I lasted a year at Penn State, didn't want to be there,
didn't know what to be if I ever grew up (jury is still out on that one....) and at the end of
the first year, Penn State agreed and threw my ass out. In those days, the land grant
colleges in Pennsylvania slept with the draft boards, so I knew I was going - the only
choices I had were where and when, and if I waited very long, the when part would go
away. Remember, this was 1961, and Viet Nam wasn't really all that interesting yet - but
somehow I knew that face-down-in-the-mud wasn't it for me, even thought it was the
shortest option available, so I examined the services and talked to some high school
friends that had gone in right after graduation. I had a friend that was a morse intercept
operator in Japan and since my father was a Ham I thought that might be interesting
(and I must admit, some of the tales of Life in Japan were pretty interesting...) - but then I
though AC&W for electronics might be better (my father's having done that in Berlin
during the Airlift) so I signed up with the Air Force for AC&W. I was pretty naive, I
guess.... Anyhow, I had good test scores, and when I finally got to Texas (in July of 1961)
I discovered lots of things - one was that recruiters were like politicians - they could tell
you whatever they wanted, and another was that it didn't matter what I wanted, my ass
was theirs for the next four years. I got summoned one day to Language Screening, and
went because it meant I didn't have to deal with Airman Strickland at PT. I lasted the
three days, and got called back for Chinese screening. I lasted three days there, too, but
they filled up the Yale Chinese class before they got to the letter 'R' in the alphabet, and
the next need was Russian linguists, so I ended up at Syracuse. AC&W might have been
more useful when I got out, but I am not sorry - I learned that I could learn languages,
and knew I would go overseas - and wanted to go to Germany, and went there. I was
discouraged by my recruiter after he saw my scores about being a morse intercept
operator - he mentioned linguist, but I was convinced, having just failed German 1 twice
in a row in college that I had no real gift there. But that was where I went - and along the
way it was implied that I could get to be an AP or a Cook if I screwed off and washed out.
Being a no confrontational sort, I didn't think AP was it for me - and I already didn't
want to associate with the so-called cook types at Lackland. So I became a linguist, went
to Germany, and stayed there after my four years was up. Along the way I got into a few
troubles, did a lot of stupid things, made some friends and a few enemies, and generally
pissed away (with the help of the beer, of course) a couple of years for which I have very
Well I don't guess my story is any different than the rest of yours. I wanted and was
promised by my recruiter IBM maintenance, someone must have told me that computers
were to be the thing of the future, anyway I was to be a teletype operator went to school
at Sheppard AFB, Texas, then to Germany, OJT to crypto operator and that was about it.
As Bob or someone said the recruiters would tell you anything, I would bet they became
car salesmen after the Air Force.
I wanted to be a cook and they never even listened to me and said I would be the best in
communications and what did I know so off I went to be a ditty bopper. I really didn’t like
being a Morse code interceptor but because of it I got to live in Germany which I loved
and wanted to stay an extra year but uncle Sam said no your going to Viet nam, then he
changed his mind after giving me orders to go to Washington state for some kind of
jungle training and sent me back to san Antonio to finish my air force career. No regrets,
the experience helped me grow up fast and I got to meet a lot of great people and see
some places I might never have seen other wise.
Well, during our initial classification interview at Lackland they said I had best scores in
electronics - so said we could look at that - offered me analyst and I asked what that was
and they said had to do with radios, so took their word and accepted that one!! Sure
wasn’t the radio stuff I had thought it was!!!
I signed up for Link Trainer Specialist first and Instrument Trainer Specialist second. I
figured if I was teaching others to fly, I would learn how. In basic, at Amarillo, they gave
me a language test. I'd never had another language, but I passed, barely. They asked if I
wanted to go to language school. They said I'd go to a civilian university, live in a
civilian dorm, wear civies and get Staff Sgt's pay. I said, "Where do I sign?" I ended up
going to Syracuse University, lived in a dorm owned by the university (away from
campus), wore a uniform and got Airman's pay. I guess 2 out of 4 wasn't bad considering
the source. I ended up washing out of language school and ended up at Keesler in ditty
I had no idea what I was going to do in the AF in 1962. I just followed when the recruiter
pulled the leash attached to the ring in my nose. I did discover one thing, I now know how
to tell if a recruiter is lying . . . watch closely and see if his lips move!
In the early 50's there was no green monster, also no signing up for a particular
afsc.........during basic, we tested several days for discovery of our talents.........We heard
nothing until we graduated from basic. At that time the only folks that knew where they
were going were the ones selected for OTS or Flying school. The rest were given
assignments over the next week, except for 8 or 10 of us.... we asked were we going? No
one had an answer. Several weeks later we found out, we got on a bus and made the trip
around Loop 13 to Brooks. We were all going to pre-language school at the hilltop on
Kelly. At that time there were only 4 barracks, a chow hall and a boiler room for heating.
At that time and I am sure during your passage thru Lackland or Sampson or Parks, they
were selecting the cream of the crop for service in USAFSS.........I don't know why they
selected me, cause I turned into a lifer. Most everyone else got out at the end of 4 years,
went on to college, and became successful, Doctors, Engineers, Teachers turned College
Presidents, Bankers, etc..........
Wanted to be ATC (Air Traffic control) but that didn't happen. Should have known that
things would not go as planned after being screwed (not the pleasant type of encounter
that you may have envisioned) at the induction center. A buddy joined the good old USAF
w/ me and we were going through basic together and have a good time afterwards. We
had to leave Raleigh NC on 14 Aug. 1966. At that time all of the airlines had shut down
due to a strike so instead of delaying our departure the kind folks put us on a train
headed to San Antonio. My buddy boarded one train and I got on board a different rail
job. We didn't see each other again until we were discharged 4 years later. The train took
24 hours (riding coach---no berth for us) to get to New Orleans. Some hot shot NCO in
NO reamed me out (they had put me in charge of that bunch of misfits since I was the
oldest in the group) for arriving late (the train encountered many delays enroute) and
they put us on a puddle jumper shuttle flight out of New Orleans to Texas. A short flight
and a few bus rides later and we arrived in Texas after traveling 48 hours w/ no sleep
and little in the way of personal hygiene. As I said, it kind of went downhill from day one.
The best thing that happened to me was an assignment to the Motherland (that would be
Germany) and Charlie Flight. Can’t say that I enjoyed being a morse intercept operator
(had it moments-- 2 or 3 anyway) but better than I would have enjoyed being Air Traffic
Controller but C'est la vie!! Da dit da!
Someone reminded me of when he was ordered to carry the other recruits papers to basic
'cause he was the oldest guy. I too carried the papers for we all who flew out of
Minneapolis to Lackland. I was 22 and the oldest. Squad leader in basic, class leader and
barracks chief at Goodfellow (me and 2 roommates had 'private' room with T.V. in
barracks so we could watch football and drink beer and invite anyone who wanted to join
us). I would organize beer busts at the rec camp on the lake and load up the troops in my
1950 Chevy pickup (which I traded even for my 90 cc Hodaka from an old Mexican) and
off we'd go. I recall marching 80 troops (2 classes) down to our 6 A.M. class and being
confronted by a one striper shouting for me to get those troops in line. He squealed on me
to the captain after I politely responded for him to 'bite my ass', and the next morning I
was ordered to drill my class on the flight line before school. They should have allowed
us to wear shorts for drills, 'cause guys would drop like flies when it got hot.
I "worked" one whole year with some staff Sgt. recruiter my senior year in college,
intending to enter OTS in the admin. Officer training. The school closed due to
overbooking and so they flew me to a base in North Dakota to see if I could fly. I passed
the flight physical and test but sucked at navigation. Chances were I could get the sucker
off the ground but wouldn't be able to get home. So much for my pilot license.
The army drafted me after graduation and I enlisted in the Air Force Mar. 1, 1968. After
basic and testing, I decided 'Intelligence Specialist' sounded interesting, so off to
Goodfellow for analyst training. I got my first choice Germany and arrived in Darmstadt
Dec. 28, 1968. Charlie flight poke shop for a year and then MSD training at ASA in
Frankfurt to finish off my career. A year into my tour a field officer in Texas wrote a
recommendation for OTS with the stipulation I extend my length of service to 6 years. By
then I had had enough of the military and rejected the offer (along with the reenlistment
bonus later) and was discharged 1 week short of 4 years. Often thought I should have
chosen an AFC that could carry over to civilian life, especially after debriefing when they
told me to forget everything I had learned. I am proud of my service to this country, and
grateful for the lifelong friends I see at reunions throughout the years.
I enlisted in '66, after a year of college. Took the tests. The recruiter said that I could
pick anything that I wanted. Yea, right!! Anyway, near the end of basic when you go into
the classroom and they post on the blackboard all 20 AFSC's available, you pick your
first, second and third choice. I fortunately got my second choice. 202 Analyst. And got to
Germany with a bunch of great guys.
I was about a credit short of graduating with my class so I quit 12th grade at mid term
1958. Joined the AF in Jan 59 and about 97% of our flight became cooks or security
police. I didn't know, or really care what I did in the military; I just wanted to be there.
Went to Darmstadt in Jun 60 and was a cook in the main dining hall on Cambria Fritch
(sp) Only worked the site a couple of times and really spent most of my three years over
there driving the ration truck to pickup the food from the army quartermaster. I thought it
was a pretty good gig.
They showed me the unclassified job description for 202xx and I never regretted taking it.
The discharge/re-up "NO RELATED CIVILIAN OCCUPATION, choose one of the
following: Clerk typist, Code clerk, etc." made me X-Train (cross train) the first chance I
had and into electronic maintenance, 306xx (305 and 304 were other two choices). Tried
to make sure I could still work in USAFSS with those choices.
I had no idea what I wanted to do when I joined. So on that day in basic when we were
supposed to choose, the guy behind me in line (I think his name was David Bell) told me
"Hey, my brothers a Morse intercept operator in the Philippines. He says it's a great
field! Lots of time off etc., etc., etc." So I signed up. It turned out to be kind of a s___ job.
But you know what...I would do it all over again simply because of the 6910th and all the
great places I saw, and the great guys I met who gave me all the great times I had!
In Dec. of '68 I was asked (?) to leave the college I was attending with little frequency. As
a matter of fact the Prefect did the old Animal House routine and informed me that my
draft board would be notified. My cousin had just recently returned from Nam and
advised me to look into the Air Force, which I did. Took the usual tests and scored well in
all fields. The recruiter said I had a choice of what I wanted to do. Thinking that this was
the usual "recruiter" talk. I chose the Security Service and left New York City via Fort
Hamilton and became a 202 (analyst).
Like many, I had no idea what I wanted when I enlisted. I had no goals and like the
saying goes, "the man who doesn't have anywhere to go isn't going anywhere." The Air
Force gave me some direction and through a series of accidents I went to Indiana,
became a linguist, and got a lot out of my Air Force enlistment.
I remember choosing three jobs. I got neither of them. I wanted to wear that blue uniform
and do something with airplanes. Remember I was only 18. The Air Force saw my test
scores and decided I would be in USAFSS. I had a high freq hearing loss (too many loud
bands, cars, and guns). I couldn't listen to a radio so I became a 202 (analyst). Actually
I'm glad I did.
I wanted to be an air traffic controller but I wasn’t old enough (you had to be 18 –
federal regulations) so my second choice became my first choice -- language specialist
but I had no idea what you actually did with the language… I don’t remember the 4
categories – electronics, admin, general and mechanical? I think I scored fairly high in
everything except mechanical (unless I’m making up that category) and I seem to think I
picked “general” and my 2nd choice after language specialist was a 202 (analyst) –
though I had no idea what it was just that it was in intelligence and you needed a high
score. They held me at Lackland – at the dreaded “casual” area for a couple of weeks
after basic (and in the summer of 66 basic was only 4 weeks) because my fingerprints
weren’t “clean” – I had a cut on my hand. When they finally got a good read on my
prints I was released from casual and took a bus to San Angelo and my saga with the
Security Service began. I’m glad I didn’t become a linguist – I probably would have
flunked out of school – I’m terrible at languages and though this is, I know, arguable,
being an analyst was a better job. Then, as now, I think it kind of typical that I wasn’t old
enough to be an air traffic controller but I could get a top-secret crypto clearance – no
Immediately after high school in Sept. 1965, I entered Michigan State University with big
plans. Boy did that change in a hurry. After two years of none stop parties and watching
some pretty good football, the university asked me politely to leave. Living in Michigan I
knew the Draft would come quickly. Since my brother and best friend were in the Navy, I
decided to join. The Navy recruiter told me that they had 13-month waiting list. Since I
didn't have 13 months, I left. As I was exiting the door, I could hear him hollering for me
to come back. I went to the Air Force recruiter. He also told me there was a 13-month
waiting list. After some passing remark about slicing my wrists, he told me to go ahead
and take the exam. There might be options. Several weeks later, I went back to get the
results. Evidently my scores were not too bad. He said he could get me in with what he
called a delayed enlistment. In other words I would be in the inactive reserves for 3
months and then go active duty. He said since I scored fairly high on the General portion,
I should take the language aptitude test and go for language training, Like a fool,
according to all my friends, I believed him. I told everybody I was going in for language
training. Little did I know they would automatically give me the language test. Since I
scored pretty well on that test, they put me into language hold. After six months of
training at the Defense Language Institute-East Coast, I guess I had the last laugh.
I received a notice to report for the draft and got into the Air Force before the draft date.
The AFSC I was looking for was anything but the Infantry. I had taken the Air Force test
in High School and was given the same test again by the recruiter. It had been 3 years
since I had taken it. In any case, my scores were higher than any he had seen (typical
recruiter talk) and he has able to get me in. I have no regrets about spending the 4 years
instead of the 2, I had a lot more capability of seeing things and being in different places
than if I had been in the Army. I do remember the test at Lackland, the letters were I, N,
T. I didn't know Morse code; I did have some experience in music so it wasn't difficult for
me to tell the difference. I always thought it was interesting that for the 292 AFSC you
only needed to score a 65 in the administration field to qualify. Most of the people
assigned to Keesler with me scored a 90 or better in the administrative.
Graduated high school in Allentown Pa. as an auto mechanic and they were a dime a
dozen. No work, and was talked out of going Army and had lost interest in Navy.
Relatives talked me into the AF, Feb 48. In the Old days, you had no choice, just sign on
line and go to Basic for further tests. Sat in the room with all others with headsets on and
had the letters "T", "I", "N" pounded into our heads. At the end we took a test and at the
end of basic sent to Scott. 34 weeks later after washing back 2 weeks for not passing
20WPM code in the required time and after filling out a 3-page double-sided "Pink/Red"
background investigation form earlier, was sent to Germany.
I wanted to be a "boom" operator. Got to be honest and say that the recruiter didn't
promise anything. Took the I, N, T, test at Lackland and told them I wanted to go
overseas. Had no idea where Goodfellow was, but that is where they sent me; from there
to Misawa as a radio printer operator. Closest I got to refueling was with a bottle of
As I recall, we didn't have a choice back in 48/49. The AF mostly sent you where you
were needed. When I graduated RO school they sent me back to Brooks. I went into the
Commander and told him I would go crazy if I had to attend anymore school. He said, "
where do you want to go son, the 1st, 2nd, or 3RSM?" Even then I was smart enough to
figure that Darmstadt was the better choice.
Didn't really have a career field in mind. But after "aceing" the A-N-T-E test at the Green
Monster at Lackland my fate was sealed. Turned out good though, that career field has
given me a life-long hobby in Ham Radio with a great proficiency in Morse code.
I was a year out of high school when I visited the AF Recruiter. When he asked what I
would like to do, I knew that electronics was up and coming so I decided on that.
Fortunately, I qualified for tech school and after 4 weeks at Lackland, we were off to
Keesler. I was about 2 months from graduation from 304x2 (maintenance) school when
USAFSS tapped me. That was one of the most fortunate things that could have happened
to me. Ten years with the work and training opportunities that they provided gave me a
good foundation to build on. And, I think that it gave me an opportunity to associate with
above average friends on and off the job. I was fortunate to never have an isolated or
remote tour and wore civies for the last ten years of service. I must say that I got pretty
much what I wanted when I enlisted and have never regretted a day that I spent with
When I entered the service, I entered the Navy. When I found out that they wanted me to
be a radio operator, stuck in the Hold of a ship, listening to Morse code, I wrote my
Congressmen asking for assistance to switch branches of the service. They contacted
NavPers and I received permission to change to the Air Force. Low and behold, I ended
up being a 292X1. I can't believe I ended doing what I did, given that I could have done
that and saved 9 months of enlistment. Got to laugh.
I wanted to get into an Electronic Field when I joined in 1962. I ended up in
electro/mechanical field. Pretty close but no trophy.
On-The Job Training
Not all training was accomplished at the various technical schools. Technical schools
prepared the student with the basics for work in the field. There were some guys who
received their training in the field on the job. Once a guy arrived at his assignment, he
had to be trained for the specifics of the job. In the case of equipment maintenance,
repairmen worked with a qualified repairman to learn the ropes. Morse Intercept and
Voice Intercept Operators were assigned to “side saddle” positions. These were positions
where the operator would perform the same tasks as the experienced operator until they
were proficient to man an intercept position without assistance. Communications
personnel had to be trained on the various communications equipment unique to that unit.
Regardless of the Air Force Specialty, there was additional training required at the unit
How Did They Get To Their Assignments
U.S.N.S. General Alexander M. Patch
During WWII and up to the mid 1950’s, the majority of the troops were transported to
and from Europe on military troop ships. These ships were very small in comparison to
the large luxury liners crossing the Atlantic. Troops were normally confined to crowded
quarters in the lower portions of the ship. The living quarters left a lot to be desired.
Between the close quarters and men getting sea sick the majority of the guys could not
wait to get to their destinations.
Troops viewing the White cliffs of Dover
There were several locations where the troops would report to prior to being shipped
overseas. Fort Dix in New Jersey was one of the most commonly used stations. The men
would be loaded on to buses and transported to the New York Harbor where they would
board the transport ships for the seven to eleven day trip across the Atlantic.
After passing through the English Channel, the ships would arrive in Bremerhaven,
Germany. By this stage of the trip most cases of seasickness had faded and the guys
would go on deck to see the white cliffs of Dover. Upon their arrival in Bremerhaven,
the troops would be put on troop trains to be transported to various replacement depots.
The most commonly used depot was Marburg, Germany. From the repo depot (as the
troops referred to them), the men would be shipped to various units throughout Germany.
The following are comments from some of the guys who traveled to Germany by troop
They were sending so many troops to Germany in 1951 due to the Korean conflict that
they had to open Sonthofen. Don’t know if they still used Marburg or not. They moved
an entire army division (PA National Guard) to Munich at that time. They had two
baseball pitchers (Curt Simmons and Robin Roberts) from the Philadelphia Philly’s
WHIZ KIDS that won the world series in 50 in that Keystone division. Eddie Fisher and
Vic Domone were at Sonthofen at the same time as me. One of them was on the ship
with me - forgot which one.
The only “stand up” besides the NCO club that I remember was in Bremerhaven and the
first joint that we hit after the boat ---that 8% beer almost killed us, I think it wiped out
the whole crew in three beers “twas a lot different than “ lone star beer “HA!
Did they leave you guys off the boat and then hit town??? Man we got off the boat and
onto a train and then pulled out to the yard and waited for some time before hitting the
tracks for Marburg. Did get to see a lot of DP’s in the yard and they had everything to
sell tucked inside their old GI horse blanket overcoats. The first safe drinks we got were
at the Repo Depot and we had to use the old canteen cup to drink it out of. Best thing to
use for ice-cold beer.
What I remember is that we got off the boat and were taken to some sort of billet then
given a pass or maybe we had that first beer in a PX and never left the base. The bar
however is burned into my memory and the experience of the strong German beer I
remember well. I don’t think we stayed in Bremerhaven for very long and then we were
taken by train south. I remember the long train ride and the endless flat country we
passed through. I don’t remember how we finally got to Darmstadt.
If you guys got a beer before getting on the train, you were lucky. We were dry till
Marburg, unless you wanted some of the rotgut from the DP’s. We were warned not to
touch the stuff as you could go blind. Us young guys were given the word, just like the
VD movies as to what could/would happened. Scared me. Made up for it at Marburg.
I read in Johnny Cash’s autobiography that he went to a barracks at Bremerhaven
directly from the ship. He told of watching a race riot between GI’s while there. Both
times that I sailed into Bremerhaven we went directly to a train; the first time in 48 we
went to Marburg and in 51 we went to Sonthofen. They moved the repo depot from
Marburg to Sonthofen.
I don‘t remember how I got from the ship to the train. I do remember I was given 8
airmen and their orders to bring to Darmstadt. When we got there it took me almost an
hour to figure out the telephone and get the 2nd RSM. They came and picked us up in an
old 6 by. I do remember the effects of German bier on the young airmen who were used
to the BX 3.2 stuff. From 46 to 49 we flew from Travis to Frankfurt almost every week, so
I was used to the bier and its effects.
It must be frustrating not to remember how you got off the Ship and onto the train for the
overnight trip to Marburg. You walked off the ship with your duffel bag and got aboard
those 2nd class coaches. We pulled away from the docks out into a marshalling yard and
waited and were treated to our first experience with DP’s and people speaking a strange
language. It was great too to be off the rolling ship. We got a big Steam Locomotive
Engine and away we went for the overnight trip to Marburg. Had our first land chow
hall meal and access to our first safe alcohol since leaving NY. The bottom cup of our
canteen was our first beer mug. Had to stand in line to get it filled and the beer was cold
and the cup kept it nice and cold while we went out and got back in the beer line. How
can you forget something so memorable???
As I have posted here a long time ago, on our overnight train trip to Marburg shortly
after we left the station the lights went out. I don’t know if something went wrong or if
they were purposely turned off. All the light we had was cigarette lighters. I remember
that Ed (Ted) Thompson somehow rigged up an army blanket into a hammock from one
wall of the compartment to the other and slept in it.
Beginning in early 1955, the Air Force began to transport men to Europe using military
aircraft The C-118 transport was the most frequently used airplane. The seats in this
aircraft were reversed as was the case with most military transport aircraft; thus you got
to see where you had been instead of where you were going.
In the early period of the 50’s, McGuire AFB in New Jersey was the main point of
departure. Eventually, Charleston AFB in South Carolina was used for the same purpose.
The flight to Rhein Main was normally 18 hours with stops at Gander, Newfoundland,
Prestwick, Scotland, Keflavik, Iceland, Shannon, Ireland and even the Azores. In-flight
meals normally consisted of box lunches supplied by the Air Force. As the years
progressed, the military began to charter civilian aircraft and the trips over the Atlantic
became more enjoyable. The meals improved and the seating was a little more
comfortable. Many of the civilian companys who gained these contracts just to name a
few included: TWA, Flying Tiger Airlines, Capital Airways and Pan American.
Eventually, Jet aircraft were introduced on these flights and the 18 hour trip to Rhein
Main Air Base became an eight hour jaunt. Compared to the guys who traveled by ship,
the trip by plane was a snap. Furthermore, in most cases once at Rhein Main, the troops
are far less distance to travel to get to their permanent duty stations. Darmstadt was
approximately 15 miles from Rhein Main. In most cases, the guys would be met by a
sponsor to be driven in a private vehicle to Darmstadt. The receiving unit would assign a
sponsor for each incoming troop. It was the sponsor’s responsibility to assist the new
troop in anyway possible. Those without sponsors would be directed to telephone the
unit and request a military vehicle to transport them. In the case of guys going to other
units, they would be taken by “blue goose” to the Frankfurt train station. Once there,
they were placed on trains and given instructions how to get to their new base. The
passenger cars on these trains were more comfortable than the troop trains used in earlier
Day workers “Day Ladies” as they were commonly referred to performed varied
functions. There were the analysts "Day Ladies" who performed numerous analytical
tasks. Some of their duties were to keep all the Technical Publications and miscellaneous
documents up to date, insure the Recon Board schedules were up to date, initiated and
compiled reports. They were also trained to do any job in the Surveillance and Warning
center on an emergency basis; furthermore, in case a flight was shorthanded or needed
assistance with report writing, plotting, calling in from the ditty bopper positions, the day
analyst were required to step in and assist. Other Day workers “Day Ladies” included the
administrative, personnel, maintenance, supply and other miscellaneous support
Darmstadt had four flights that worked rotating schedules and were referred to as Able,
Baker, Charlie and Dog flights. Some units referred to the flights as tricks and yet some
referred to them as trick 1, trick 2, trick 3, and trick 4. The shift schedule varied from
unit to unit; however, the schedule I recall working at Darmstadt started with working
four swing shifts 1600 – midnight and then off for 24 hours; then you worked four mid
shifts midnight to 0700 and then off for another 24 hours; probably the most undesirable
shift was the four-day shifts 0700 to 1600 hours. When you finished the last day shift,
you were then given 96 hours off. The 96 hours off was an excellent time for the guys to
do some traveling throughout Germany and in many cases Europe.
Throughout the years the make up of the flights or tricks changed. In earlier years, a
flight may have only had a flight commander or shift supervisor who was responsible for
all personnel assigned to that flight or trick. In many of the larger units, the flight had a
flight commander, mission supervisor, traffic analysis supervisor (also referred to as the
Surveillance and Warning Center supervisor), and communications center supervisor.
The flight commander represented the unit commander and was responsible for the entire
function of the flight. The mission supervisor was normally the highest-ranking enlisted
person assigned to the flight and his main responsibility was the intercept function while
the analysis supervisor was responsibility for the analytical function. The
communications supervisor was responsible for the timely dissemination of reports to
various other units.
Reporting directly to the mission supervisor were the Morse, Non-Morse and Voice
intercept functions. Some units had large intercept functions while others quite small. In
the larger units, there were intermediate supervisors between the mission supervisor and
the actual intercept operator. In most cases there was at least one morse intercept
supervisor and one voice intercept supervisor. In the smaller units, these supervisors
were required to perform several different tasks. They may have actually manned an
intercept position along with other supervisory responsibilities. In the larger units, the
morse, non-morse and voice intercept supervisors could have several other supervisors
under his supervision. The lowest level supervisors were referred to as block or section
supervisors. These supervisors were in directly in contact with the operators and
responsible for their supervision. The block or section supervisor had the most influence
on the operators and was normally the person who most affected the operator’s career
Day workers or “Day Ladies” as they were commonly referred to performed all types of
varied functions. They included the administrative, personnel, maintenance, supply and
miscellaneous other functions.
There were two sides of the administrative function. There was the administrative
function of the unit commander and his subordinates who dealt with the everyday
administrative needs of the unit. The administrative needs included military discipline,
scheduling of the varied details such as mail, KP and Charge of Quarters (CQ) and
numerous other responsibilities. The other side of the administrative function was
conducted in the operations area. This function included the operations officer and the
many subordinate sections under his supervision. These functions included mission
management, traffic analysis and equipment maintenance just to name a few. These
functions provided technical and administrative assistance to the flight operations.
The personnel section was responsible for maintaining personnel records on every man
assigned to the unit. Along with their many duties, they were also responsible for pay
records, promotion records and assignments.
The maintenance function was responsible for all the equipment within the operations
area. These guys could repair anything from a pair of headsets to a complex computer.
In many cases, they were responsible for the satisfactory installation of new equipment.
Although the majority of the maintenance men worked straight days, they were required
to be on standby from time to time. When a piece of equipment failed, the maintenance
man was they guy who was responsible to ensure a quick repair or replacement.
Another day function was supply. As with most supply functions, these men were
responsible for insuring all personnel had the needed supplies. They provided the
necessary housekeeping supplies, furniture, bedding, special equipment and numerous
Other functions normally performed by day personnel included security and
transportation. The security function was mainly responsible for the protection of the
secured compound. In addition, they would provide security clearances for those
personnel requiring them. At most of the units, the security function would also conduct
weapons qualification and defense training. The transportation function was the
responsibility of the motor pool. They would maintain all vehicles and provide
transportation when required.
Time off for these guys was spent in any number of ways. Most of the guys had a
favorite gasthaus they would frequent to sample German food and beer. Most of the guys
had never drank any beer with an alcohol content stronger than 3.2. Most German beer
had an alcohol content of 16 percent. Many quickly developed a taste for snitzel and
bratwurst. There was nothing better than a wiener snitzel with kertuflen and salad or
bratwurst with mashed potatoes and kraut or German potato salad. One of the favorite
hangout spots for the guys was the “Klop” that was located on suicide alley.
Picture courtesy Larry Jaffee
Here is what Bobby Edwards had to say about Suicide Alley - The Klopperkahoff "Klop"
is down the alley where the Strassenbahn (street car) is located. Many of the Darmstadt
troops walked by this great gasthaus. More than likely, they had many a meal there of
Snitzel, Pomafritz, Kase Mit Brot, or Beef Rouladden. The Food was Good, the Rummel
beer was fantastic, and the friendships built here were lasting. A lot of evenings were
spent here, sometimes by yourself, sometimes with a friend, sometimes with a table of
friends, and sometimes with a whole room of friends. The Fuss ball table was a great
release either one on one and it really got cranking when Four Guys were slamming that
ball in a battle to get it to the other end. What really was fun were those Champagne
Bucket Drinking Contests - when the last one drinking to the bare bottom would force the
one handing the Bucket to pay for the Round. I think at times, we all thought we could
drink the Bucket to the Bottom. The Long Tables that the Drinking Games kept the
Troops guessing to see which one would have to pay for those Champagne Buckets to be
emptied out of that Rummel. No one could seem to tell from that Bucket how much beer
remained in the bottom, and everyone would try to drink it dry and make the prior person
drinking pay. Boy, Could you get really "Drunk" at that game. Great Times Weren't
Another hangout for the guys was the LaPaloma. Although not as memorable for food, it
was a place where a young airman could let his hormones run wild. The picture of
LaPaloma brought back many memories for those who frequented the establishment.
This must have been a favorite spot for Tiny Sands as one of the guys commented,“Isn't
that the place where Tiny Sands used to "perch" on the bar?” “Yes Tiny Sands used to
perch on the bar there. He also used to get down on his haunches with me holding his
hand and walk around the Klop on Suicide Alley barking like a dog. The Germans would
shake their heads because they knew we were crazy. All this happened after many
Kirchwasser's and beer.” Someone replied.
There were many more places for the guys to hang out and we could write a book about
all of them. When the guys in the 2nd RSM first arrived in Darmstadt, the city had been
severely damaged from the bombings during the war and the hangouts were far and few
between. Most of these guys would ride the train to Frankfurt to frequent the clubs and
hangouts that were not off-limits. An establishment would be declared off-limits if the
U.S. Armed Forces determined there was a danger to the troops. As time went on, those
establishments that were off-limits were the ones that were suspected to have communist
Palmgarden Service club – Frankfurt 1949
Picture – courtesy Duke Keeter
The Palmgarden was the big American USO service club in Frankfurt and it was only a
few blocks from the train station. It is still there and in use today. There are gardens and
big greenhouses with plants from all over the world, meeting halls and restaurants.
According to Duke Keeter, “the Palmgarden Club was the nicest club, excluding
Garmisch, in Germany for GIs and frauleins. It was an international
horticulture/gardening attraction for the general public while the USO club was still
operating. A pool shark could have made big bucks in the game room. It also had a big
dancehall with a live orchestra on weekends and all kinds of booze available at a
ridiculous low price. There were unattached frauleins there every night. The Army must
have given out passes. I first went there in February 48 and scored the first night. She
was a big buxom blonde about 30 and I was a kid that had just turned 18. I caught a taxi
to her place and she rousted me out around 6 AM so her neighbors wouldn't see me. I
had only been in Germany two weeks and didn't know a single German word. I caught
the first strassebahn that came along and it finally stopped at the bahnhof and I
subsequently caught a taxi back to the barracks at Gibbs Kaserne. Quite an initiation for
an 18 year old.”
Time off also afforded time to participate in sports. Almost every Security Service unit
had teams in every sport that could easily compete in professional or semi-professional
competition. It was always amazing how these units managed to produce top-notch
sports teams. I will cover sports in more detail later in a separate chapter. For now I will
concentrate of travel throughout Europe.
Travel Around Europe
Shift workers had an advantage over day-workers in that they had what we called a long
break whereas the day workers only had the weekend to travel. Many shift workers took
advantage of the long breaks to travel to the favorite spots in Europe. Some of the
favorite places were Paris, London, the Swiss alps, the Bavarian area of Germany,
Copenhagen, Brussels along with many of the major cities in Germany such as Bonn,
Bremerhaven, Heidelberg and Frankfurt just to name a few.
Straight day workers could easily visit many of the tourist sites within Germany on a
weekend. Being a small country, smaller than most states in the good ole USA, you
could travel from one end to the other within a matter of hours. Thus a trip to Garmisch
or Bremerhaven would only require a few hours travel time.
Many guys took advantage of being in Europe and used leave time to travel throughout
the continent. A 10-15 day leave afforded plenty time to travel greater distances which
made it possible to visit many interesting places. Guys would travel as far as Greece to
the south and to Scotland, Ireland and Denmark to the north. We were restricted from
traveling to the east as that territory was under communist control. Only those assigned
to Berlin or on temporary duty orders to Berlin were allowed to travel to and from that
city but were not allowed anywhere else in East Germany.
After the war and through the early 1950s, the troops could travel free throughout
Germany by train. The only problem was they were required to wear their uniforms and
the accommodations were not always comfortable. As the German economy improved
and the occupying forces returned control to the German government, troops were
required to pay their way; however, uniforms were no longer required to be worn and the
One of the more favorite places to visit was Paris. It seems like someone was always
going there either on leave or a long break. Of course when in Paris, there were many
sites to see plenty wine and champagne to drink and of course Pigalle.
I made my first trip to Paris shortly after I got a “Dear John” from my girlfriend. Talk
about raging hormones. There were about 40 of us who made the trip. Compared to the
Greyhound and Trailway buses back in the States, the German tour buses were like a
Cadillac compared to a Chevy. At that time there was no major highway and we had to
take mostly back roads to get to Paris. I remember we went through Metz and Reims,
France. Now that I look back, we probably took the same route in reverse the 2nd RSM
traveled during WWII1. We got to Paris in the early afternoon and checked into our
hotel, The Hotel De La Ocean. The hotel was located just off the Champs Elysees and
about five blocks from the Arc of Triump.
Arch De Triumph – 1957
Some of the guys who had previously been to Paris convinced the rest to catch the
subway to Pigalle “pig alley”. Several of us started walking the streets and there were
girls everywhere trying to sell their “wares”. They were sitting on windowsills and on
the hoods of cars. We found a small bar and went in. Once inside the club prostitutes
mobbed us from all sides. I don’t know if it was because we were Americans or because
of the reaction of the prostitutes but there was a Frenchman who started raising hell.
Within a few minutes the French police arrived and dragged the guy out. None of the
policemen carried weapons but they all had nightsticks which they used to beat the crap
out of this guy. We decided to get out of there.
Arnold Franco, Code to Victory, (Manhattan, KS: Sunflower University Press, 1998)
The next day we made the usual tours around Paris and took in the Eiffel Tower, took a
boat tour that passed by Notre Dame and checked out various universities and museums.
After spending most of the day touring Paris, we finally made it back to the hotel and
enjoyed an evening meal.
Eiffel Tower -1957
That evening I decided to do some window-shopping along the Champs Elysees. After
walking an hour or so, I headed back toward the hotel. As I was getting ready to cross an
intersection, I heard a female’s voice, “Do you have a light?” I looked in the direction of
where the request came from and sitting in a white, 1953, Buick convertible with the top
down was this good looking French woman. Hey this stuff was supposed to only happen
in movies. I walked over and gave her a light. She thanked me and asked if I would like
to see the sites of Paris. I thought for sure here’s where I get bashed on the head and
rolled. Anyway, the hormones of an 18 year old took over and I accepted.
She drove me around Paris for about an hour or so showing me most of the sites I had
seen earlier that day. Eventually she asked me if I would like to spend the night with her.
This woman was very attractive and probably in her early 30s. She was probably one of
the prettiest women I had ever met and being an 18 year old with raging hormones I
She lived very close to the Eiffel Tower in an apartment that had a garage on the street
level. We rode the elevator up to her apartment and when the door opened I nearly fell
over. We stepped right into her living room that looked like something out of a
Hollywood movie set. This place had all the latest conveniences and made me feel like I
was back in the States. I began to think something is wrong here. Surely I would get
myself rolled. The only problem was I didn’t have more than twenty dollars in my
I told her I needed to be back at the hotel by 8 A.M. to get the bus back to my base and
she assured me I would make it in time. The next morning she woke me in time and gave
me instructions on how to make it back to the hotel. I made it to the hotel just as the rest
of the guys were boarding the bus. When I told my friends about my adventure, they all
accused me of tell a tall one. I guess they finally believed me because I had a smile on
my face for a couple weeks.
Nato Headquarters – 1957
Taken from the Eiffel Tower
Everyone has a story to tell about his or her travels throughout Europe. We could
probably write a book with all the stories. Maybe some day someone will take on the
task; but for now, I will only include a few.
Carroll Sickles of the 2nd RSM along with several buddies made a grand tour of
Switzerland. Their trip started in Basel and went clockwise around the country. They
had no advance reservations for any Hotels. When they arrived at a stop, they got off the
train and had to find a hotel. All they had was an itinerary made by the American Express
office in Frankfurt. It showed what cities they would be staying in and gave the train
numbers and times for them to get the train for the next leg of their journey. They had no
trouble since they were traveling in the between seasons. The summer season was over
and the winter season had not yet started. Most of the places they stayed in they were the
only tourists there, so they got the red carpet treatment all the time. For the whole 11-day
trip their expenses were less than what it would cost for one night in a First-class hotel
Swiss Tour Map
Courtesy – Carroll Sickles
Another favorite spot to visit was Garmisch, Germany and the Swiss Alps. I am sure
they were no more than a handful of guys who did not make the trip to Garmisch or the
Swiss Alps. Both areas were great for skiing, camping or just relaxing. Many of the
guys who never had even seen a pair of skis, learned to ski and still enjoy the sport to this
Skiing at Garmisch
Picture – courtesy Kent Wilke
Picture – courtesy Charles Church
There were so many places to visit that a person would stay constantly busy traveling
during a tour of duty in Germany. Many of the guys went to England for the sake of
visiting London. Periodically, there would be religious trips to the Vatican in Italy.
Along with touring the many cities throughout Europe the troops were able to experience
various sporting and world events. One of the more interesting attractions was formula 1
and formula 2 racing throughout Europe. Many of the guys managed to attend races at
the famous Nurburgring. In 1958, many of us had the privilege to attend the World’s Fair
at Brussels, Belgium. Many troops were able to witness the summer Olympics in Munich
Picture – Courtesy Bobby Edwards
Although many of the Security Service units were small in size compared to other Air
force units, they managed to excel in various sports. Almost every Security Service unit
in Europe was as competitive as most air bases. The majority of the Security Service
units had far less personnel in comparison to major installations. In competition with US
Army units in USAEUR, the unit at Bremerhaven dominated the headlines in all sports
year after year. The unit at Sembach Air Base, which was far smaller in size than most
units on the base, dominated intramural sports continually. I recall in 1957, the unit
basketball team successfully defeated the base team. At the time, the unit commander
would not allow 6914th RSM personnel to compete in base level sports. When the unit
basketball team defeated the base team, the base commander did some arm-twisting and
eventually Security Service personnel were allowed to participate in base level sports.
That year the base team managed to win the United States Air Force in Europe (USAFE)
championship. Unfortunately players from the 6914th RSM were not allowed to
accompany the team to the All Air Force Championship and the Sembach Tigers failed to
win the championship. Members of the units at Bingen, Zweibrucken and Landsberg
also competed in various sports for either unit or base teams.
One of the best teams to compete in baseball was the Darmstadt Comets. Year after year
the team excelled in competition with major air bases in the German Sports District
(GSD). They competed with bases such as Ramstein, Rhein Main, Weisbaden, Hahn and
several others. The “Comets” could always be depended upon to finish either in first
place or near the top in the GSD. In 1961, the “Comets” won the GSD and were invited
to participate in the European Baseball Championship at Alconbury, England. In the
Booklet cover for European Baseball Championship
Tournament, the Darmstadt “Comets” competed against the best base teams in Europe
and managed to secure the runner-up position.
The 1961 GSD Champs and the 1961 USAFE Runner up team
Back row: Pop D'Arcy, Dave Flemming, Carmon Hartsfield, Ralph Divito, and Terry Almeter. John Troxell, Bob Story, Mike
Magiera, Charlie Church, Bob Billetdeaux.
Front row: Bill Baker. Red Meshach, Lennie Fields, Forrest Graham, Bruce Goins, Howard Nance, Tillie Vasquez, Bill Steele, Will
Barton. Batboy in front center Chuckie D'Arcy. Note Dave Flemming was Army, the rest of us were AF.
1962 Comets Baseball Team
Standing: Landon Jackson, Johnny Ross, Mert Proctor, Marvin (Red)Meshach, Bruce Goins, Bill Gignac, Matilde (Tillie) Vasquez,
John Fricke, Ralph Divito, Charles Church, Mike Magiera.
Kneeling: William (Bill) Steele, Forrest (Frog) Graham, Marshall Bryan, Lunard Fields, Will (Rotund) Barton, Gene Lynds.
Batboys: Tony Gignac, Randy Cable. Bob Story is missing from photo (Probably pulling KP).
In 1963 the team won the USAFE championship and demonstrated a small unit could
compete with and defeat major European air bases. Many of the bases had choice players
who had competed in sports at the college level and in many cases at the professional
level. Many, if not most, of the “Comets” had only participated in high school sports.
The 1963 USAFE Champions
Standing: Bob (Spade Cooley) Story, Marshall Bryan, Billy Jack Cornsilk, Carmon Oliver Hartsfield, Gary Steer, Jim Hendrichs,
Johnny Ross, Mert Proctor, Marvin Meshach, John Fricke.
Kneeling: Jack Dusseault, Bob Woodrow, Landon Jackson, Tom White, Gene Lyndes, Forrest Graham, Bill Veasley
The 1964 Comets
Back Row L to R: Richard Umberger, Red Meshach, Ken Sides, James Miller, Ralph Woods, Mert Proctor, Billy Jack Cornsilk,
Landon Jackson III, Stacy Cranmer, Fred Leath, Johnny Ross, Carl Jacka.
Front row L to R: Gale Cole, Robert Lively, Ben Cole, Curt Stokes, John Fricke, John Dusseault, Sam Hargrave, Irv Anderson.
In 1966, the Darmstadt “Comets” hosted the USAFE Baseball Championship and won.
Teams that participated in the tournament included: the Hahn “Hawks”, the Lakenheath
“Eagles”, and the Wethersfield “Raiders”
1966 USAFE Champions
Johnny Ross Mert Proctor
Name Number Position Hometown
Thomas A. Diibon 1 Infielder Kansas City, Mo
Robert E. Lively 2 Infielder Griswoldville, MA
Edward E. Portello 3 1st Baseman Portland, OR
Edward Konscol 4 Pitcher Pittsburg, PA
Grant W. Yost 5 Infielder Pittsbrug, PA
Johnny J. Oakes 6 Shortstop Byram, CT
James B. Rollins 7 Centerfield Jasper, TN
Johnny Ross 8 Pitcher Stearns, KY
Kenneth J. Sides 9 3rd Baseman Philadelphia, PA
Johnny L. Wilson 10 Outfielder Hickory, NC
Lawrence E. Groeber 11 Infielder Springfield, OH
Elwyn A. Jimerson 12 Outfielder Corning, NY
Jerry M. Luke 13 Pitcher San Diego, CA
Rene Renz 14 Batboy Darmstadt, Germany
Mert Proctor 15 Pitcher coach San Antonio, TX
Edward V. Dow 16 Outfielder Beckley, WV
James B. Berish 17 Outfielder Brownsville, PA
Ralph Woods 18 Catcher South Bend, IN
William Sancibrian 19 Outfielder Barre, VT
Lawrence Benkovich 20 Pitcher Detroit, MI
Most Valuable Player
Jerry M. Luke
Many outstanding baseball games were played at “Memory Field” in Darmstadt. I am
sure those who served at Bremerhaven, Berlin, Bingen, Sembach or any other location
can also recall many memorable games.
Men from the unit at Darmstadt were always active in sports of all types. Prior to the
years of the “Comets” the men of the 2nd RSM participated in softball and other
intramural sports. The following photos are of teams from the very early years of the
1950 Softball Team
L to R, Rear: Lt Louis P. Bitsko, Dick Fetch, Jake Harcum, Orin S. Jones, Elmer Legin', Harvey Smith, Martin Weidemann.
Front: Bill simmons, Harvey Drung, Dave Dawson, Carl Dobbins, Bill McGinness, Tom Kohnie.
This team turned in an undefeated season and ended up as league champs. The league
consisted of various team from units throughout the Darmstadt area.
2nd RSM Softball Team 1954
Front Row L to R: ?Post--Jack McGown--Clyde Tucker--Vince Augostine--Ed? Stewart--Hap Arnold--Don Hogen--Walt Travis
Back Row L to R: Dusty Rhodes--John Mansfield--Jim Ginn--George Christie--Eddie Eggert--? Winchell--? Neal--John Campo
The unit was also active and successful in many other sports including volleyball. In
1954, the 2nd RSM won the 12th Air Force and USAFE championship. As a result,
several members of the unit were selected to perform on the USAFE All Star Team.
This pic is of the USAFE Volleyball All Star team taken after we won the Euro championship
Three of us from the 2nd RSM were selected to the all star team. In the front row, far right is Buzz Hundley. In the back row 4th
from L (in glasses) is Lew Peterson and all the way to right the 2nd from the end is Jim Porter.
This is a team picture of the 2nd RSM 1954 Volleyball team that won the 6910 Security Group, 12th AF and USAFE championships.
We then were flown back to the states to Hamilton AFB, California where we came in third in the USAF World Wide tournament.
The players are: Front Row, L to R: Buzz Hundley, Chops McKrill, Don Lane, Unknown, MSgt Ed Luman - Coach.
Back Row, L to R: Duke Snider, Don Lambert, Lew Peterson, Jim Porter, Lash Larue.
Official AF photo taken during the AF World Wide Volleyball tournament at Hamilton AFB, California when the 2nd RSM played
Scott AFB, Illinois.
This photo shows Buzz Hundley #70 attempting a block while Lewis Peterson #81 looks on. As I recall the Scott AFB team was
heavy with Iranians. That was when the Shah was in power and we all loved one another.
2nd RSM basketball player from 1949-50 team
Alvin Mathis,Tom Frank, Bob Trowbridge (8), Bill Blackstrom, Don Fulton, Don Boggs
Maj. Pryor, 2nd RSM Commander, congratulating 2nd RSM basketball team (1950)
Gordon Younts is receiving the trophy from Major Pryor. The team members are L to R: Den
O'Connell, Bob Hall, Alvin Mathis, Clyde Bailey, Tom Frank, Bob Trowbridge, John Towler, Bill
Backstrom, Don Fulton, and Don Boggs.
1950-1951 Basketball Team
The team members are: rear, L to R: Lt. Russey, coach, Jacob alexander, Alvin Mathis, Bob Bradbury, Clyde Baily, Tom Moran,
Bob Hall, and Lee Gutherie,
In front, L to Right, Bill Rushing, John zimmerman, Leroy Harris, John Towler, and Jim Vines
When this picture was taken, the team was well on the way to turning out another top-
notch season. One highlight of the season up to this time was the trouncing handed to
the much-favored Wiesbaden Flyers on 25 January 1951.
2nd RSM Comets 1953-54 Basketball Team
Front Row: Special Services officer: Lt Hull, #71-Bill Gray #81-Lew Peterson #88-Lou Wuensch #84 Bob Gilbert #78-Hap Arnold
#77-Clyde tucker Coach-Lloyed Cundiff
Back Row: Ira Gregg Hal prichard Marty Tesseto Lew Avenatti Buford Mills Eddie "Snuffy" Eggert and Manager-Bill
The 1953-54 2nd RSM Basketball team season record
Scheduled games: 17 12
6910th Sec. Grp Tourney at Landsberg:
2nd place 4 2
12th AF-Southern Division at Neubiberg 1 2
Season Record 22 16
2nd RSM 1953-54 Basketball Team at the Landsburg Tournament
Team schedule in the tourney:
2nd RSM vs 12th RSM (Thurs. evening) lost
2nd RSM vs 6910th Scty Grp (Fri. afternoon) won
2nd RSM vs 85th RSM (Fri. evening) won
2nd RSM vs 34th RSM (Sat. afternoon) won
2nd RSM vs 41st RSM (Sat. evening) won
2nd RSM vs 12th RSM (Sun. afternoon) lost
1st place:12th RSM-----2nd place: 2nd RSM
1957-58 Comets Basketball Team
1961 Darmstadt Basketball Comets
Kneeling L to R: Gary Dalton, Unk
2nd Row L to R: Bob Billetdeaux ,Unk, Unk,Unk,Unk, Jr. Wilson, Chuck "Pop" D'Arcy.
Back Row L to R: Walt Majewski, Larry Wilson, Bill Borris, Billy Wilson,Unk, Joe Turner.
Although none of the Security Service units had tackle football teams to compete
at the base level, they did have many players who performed on various base teams.
Many players for the Sembach “Tigers”, the Rhein Main “Rockets” and the Wiesbaden
“Flyers” were members of various Security Service units. In early years, some units did
not allow their personnel to participate in contact sports such as tackle football because of
the injuries substained in the sport. The manpower of many units was normally very
limited and could not afford personnel being excused from duty because of injury. Many
units did manage to compete in intramural touch football leagues and a few did
eventually participate in tackle football leagues.
After the end of World War II, the black market was operating in full force. You can
only imagine how the lives of the German people had been changed as a result of the
war. Many had lost their homes to the bombings. Many fathers and husbands had been
killed, crippled or still in prison somewhere in Russia.
Bomb Damage in Darmstadt
Picture – courtesy Homer Baker
A pack of cigarettes, a pair of nylon stockings, a can of coffee were but a few of the
items that could be sold for enormous profits. As conditions improved throughout
Germany, the black market activity subsided; however some guys still managed to make
a little extra money.
Although the involvement in the Black Market was almost none existent in later years,
some guys did manage to get involved. Following are some of the comments made in
regard to the black market when the subject was brought up on the Darmstadt to
What’s the most DM you ever received from the sale of one carton of cigarettes? I’ll
start it off by saying I remember getting 40 marks. And 40 marks for $1 would buy you a
Hummm best I ever received for a carton---do you remember that they preferred Pall
Mall?? My best customer was a WW1 U-boat captain he’d buy anything but would
always ask for Pall Mall. I think that the best was about 35 marks plus or minus a little.
I don’t think I could have handled 40 too much money to spend Hah! Now the real trick
was to find a nice boy who didn’t smoke and was against petty racketeering and would
give you his cigarette ration, then you were in fat city. I can’t remember what we got for
a pound of coffee or other things but we must have made a good part of our salary in
BM sales in a good month at any rate we made enough to get into lots of trouble.
Why do I keep remembering that soap was a premium item? I brought that up long ago
and you guys shot me down—said that the Germans didn’t need soap. Well guys, I still
remember what I remember and Palmolive soap was a good thing to curry favors from a
lassie or her parents and the supply was unlimited.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, good ole PA boy, but what I want to hear from you is what is the most
you ever got for a carton of butts? 20-30 marks in Berlin, early 49 during Airlift. The
DPs unloading the coal were into everything. The guy in charge of the unloading crew
did all the black market stuff for the working stiffs.
Frightening or strange Experiences
Although very few participated in the Black Market, many of us had at least one
experience that gave us a good scare. Almost everyone has experienced a frightening
moment in his or her life and we were no different.
I was involved in two situations that involved Russian soldiers. The first involvement
happened while I was a member of the unit at Sembach. We were transported back and
forth from the base to the operation site at Grunstadt on a German bus with a trailer. My
flight had just finished a mid shift and we were returning to the base.
As the bus pulled onto the Autobahn, this vehicle pulled up behind our bus. There were
three or four Russian troops in the car and they proceeded to follow our bus. What they
didn’t know was our flight commander had pulled onto the Autobahn behind them in his
1953 Chrysler. The ride back to the base was approximately 20 miles of which most was
on the Autobahn.
By the time we reached our exit (ausfart), the flight commander had positioned his
Chrysler so the Russians could not move from behind our bus. Normally on our return to
the base, the bus would take a short cut through the flight line at Sembach Air Base. We
had convinced the German bus driver to go around the flight line and head toward the
main gate of the base. In the meantime, the Russians remained between our bus and the
flight commander’s Chrysler.
The air policeman on the main gate recognized the bus and proceeded to wave us through
the gate. Evidently the air policeman didn’t notice the Russian car behind us and the
Russians couldn’t see where they were, because as soon as they saw each other the
Russians did an immediate U-turn and the air policeman started blowing his whistle.
Within minutes, there were several air police vehicles chasing this Russian car across
I don’t think they caught the Russians before they were able to get back on the autobahn
since we never heard anything more about it. The thing was that the Russians were
allowed in West Germany but they were not allowed off the autobahn.
The next incident I had which involved Russian troops was while I was at Darmstadt.
My wife and I would make trips to Rhein Main Air Base to go to the snack bar that was
located in the passenger center. The prepared the best hot fudge sundae in Germany.
On one trip to Rhein Main from Darmstadt, my car was not running properly. I had
pulled off into a rest area to see if I could determine the problem. With the hood up, I
was checking the linkage to my carburetor as I felt that was the problem. All of a sudden,
HONK! HONK! HONK! And bam, I hit my head and said a few choice words. My wife
was yelling and motioning to me to look behind our car. When I did, there were four
Russians standing out side their car with machine guns.
I slammed the hood closed jumped in the driver’s seat and we hauled butt out of there.
My wife was pregnant with our first child and I thought for sure she was going to give
birth right then and there. Needless to say we never stopped at another rest area in
The following are some frightening experiences others endured during their tours in
Other than hearing 120-millimeter rockets screaming overhead as they hit a building just
past our barracks in Vietnam ---
It was probably the spring of 1961 as Dog Flight finished its 6th day of the swing (eves)
(4pm to midnight) shift and had a 3-day break. My workmate, RC Kitchen (he had initials
as first and middle names), had ordered a French car and had to go to Paris to pick it up
from the dealer. We went to midnight chow and then to the barracks to change into
civilian clothes for the trip. It was about an 8-hour drive from Sembach Air Base,
Germany to Paris on 2-lane blacktop highways in my 1953 VW Bug. Another workmate
was along for the trip and sitting in the front passenger seat.
Driving in Europe at that time was fairly easy at night, you could drive for hours and
never see another car. RC was sitting in the back seat and had fallen asleep, his head
resting against the rear window just behind the driver (myself). I should mention that RC
was Afro-American and had a very dark complexion. It was generally a boring trip, just
miles of blacktop in the countryside.
After several hours, as we approached a highway intersection, there were barricades
across the highway and more French police than I could count. They flagged us to a stop
and as a beam from a flashlight hit the car window behind me, they started shouting (and
I didn’t know French). Immediately, police surrounded the car with machine guns
pointed at us. Then there was more shouting as others came running to join them. As
more lights were pointed at the car, one of them spotted the license plates on the vehicle
(which had “US Forces Germany” lettering) and I heard a shout of “Americana” and
they approached me and asked for identification. Upon presentation of our military ID
cards, they had a good laugh and removed the barricades and waved us on through.
It wasn’t until later that day that we learned that French President de Gaulle was to
attend a meeting in southern France concerning the Algerian Independence and that the
police had been on a heightened alert for Algerian terrorists. When the police had
spotted RC’s face in the rear window of my VW, he immediately was suspect. (Guess
some would call this profiling – haha). Frank O
That July 1970, John Corrigan, Red Pendelton and I flew to Madrid...caught a bullfight
and some flamenco nightlife...then bussed to Benidorm and on to Sitges, where we stayed
the whole month. We rented a flat and ate and drank with people on Holiday from all
across the world...inexpensive then...it was wonderful.
One evening I went on my own to walk to a thriving disco bar to have a few cervezas. So
I'm sitting at the bar (which was packed) and in through the door storms the Spanish
military waving nightsticks, tearing up cushions, yelling out orders and tossing patrons
into a paddy wagon right outside the entrance. So I'm sitting there nursing my beer and
wondering what in the hell I should do next. They were obviously looking for drugs and
didn't seem to be particular whom they tossed in the wagon. So...in between removal of
the partygoers, I slipped out the door and ran the quarter mile in record time and did not
glance back for one moment.
'Though innocent of any wrongdoing, I didn't want to get clobbered by the uniformed
thugs as they didn't seem to be particular about who to bust, and my Spanish left a lot to
be desired. What fun, eh? - Terry O'Brien
The worst fright I ever had was running down the Autobahn on a new (borrowed) BMW
R-69S at 160+ and cresting a hill only to find 2 of those big ass Kraut trucks passing one
another - at perhaps 30 KPH
Flew right between them - took the next exit, found a beer (or probably a whole keg!) and
didn't move for a couple of DAYS. - Bob Rudolph
That was a Close One. Kind of like the night that I was with Tom Denny and a couple of
other Charlie Flight Troops coming back from Skiing in Switzerland. We were in the
middle of one of those Snow Blizzards and had lost our way out of Lausanne. We saw a
Snow Removal Truck along the side of the Autobahn so we stopped to get directions. As I
spoke a few words of German, I was elected to go get our bearings. As I got out of Tom
Denny's VW Camper and started Walking between the Back of the Snow Truck - The
Truck Started Backing Up, and I was right between the Vehicles. I jumped as fast as I
could - Just missing the Crunch and Bammmmn of the Truck against the Camper. 1/2
Second later and I would have been Jelly Toast. Another Close Call. The two men got
out of the Snow Plow and came up to and started speaking Swiss French. Of course, I
had a very little amount of German Language Skills and the Swiss and I were not
connecting at all. Well, after hearing Chaney (I believe) brag the whole trip about his
French Skills, I went back to get him. For Whatever reason, he wouldn't get out of the
Camper - I remember getting a bit upset over that. No one else could speak any French -
So I went back to the Swiss Fellows and asked them and Pointed at the same time –
“Gendarmes, Sveou Vous Pleis”. They motioned us to follow them. As Tom tried to crank
up the Camper, he discovered the Snow Plow had destroyed the Window Windshield
Wipers, and they were not moving any of the Snow at All. It's a Good Thing that we were
following a Snow Plow, as they were plowing the road as we were following them. Well
after a couple of miles, we pulled off the Autobahn into a Gasthouse / Rasthouse type
place. We went inside to get warm, and the Snowplow driver called the Gendarmes. A
couple of Swiss Constabulary came - they were in Civilian Clothes and we sat at the table
and discussed the accident. They finally explained that there was nothing that they could
do, so we talked about our Ski trip for about 30 minutes. They suggested to Tom Denny to
get with his Insurance Company when he got back to Darmstadt.
Just One Problem - It was still snowing to high heavens, and Tom's Windshield Wipers
were not working. Even though there was a place to stay right there where we had pulled
into, we were out of money, and we had just enough to buy gas on the way back to
Darmstadt. We were faced with the decision of spending the night in the Camper, and
that's exactly what we did - with great hesitation. We opened up our Suitcases and
removed our Sweaters and extra clothing and tried to get everything on that we could.
The temperature must have gotten down to the Zero range that night - which turned out
to be the Coldest that I have ever been. I don't know if I ever felt comfortable enough to
go to sleep, and as the first light of dawn came - I was ready to get out of there as the
snow had stopped and no one else was on the roads.
I learned how to drive on Ice and Snow on that trip back to Germany from the Lausanne
area of Switzerland as I gripped both hands on the wheel and started the trip back
slipping and sliding all the way back until the roads got better later in the morning. Tom
Denny, Chaney, and could have been Steve Beaudoin were asleep in the back, and it is a
good thing that they did not wake up as we were going downhill and sometimes sliding
more than we should - I could have imagined if they had awakened and taken a look over
the side of the Mountains a few thousand feet downhill. Tom awoke after getting down the
highway a couple of hours later, and he took over getting us back to Darmstadt with
about a hour or so before we had to go back to work. We made it back on Swing Shift and
the Operators we had to relieve had taken off 10 or 20 minutes earlier as the Block
Controller, Michael Nelsen had relieved them before we got back. Boy What a Trip to
Remember. - Unknown
Almost getting caught with two bottles of Bourbon going down the stairwell by the OD -
"Officer of the Day" as he called for me - "Hey Troop where are you going with those
bottles"? - I called back - to a Party and jumped down to the other side of the landing
real fast and broke through the doors and ran into one of the cubes where I was lost in a
I don't think I could ever figure that one out - You were not supposed to have booze in the
barracks, however you had class VI Privileges to buy booze. Geeze - we lived in the
Barracks, where else were we supposed to keep that stuff, unless you sold it on the Black
Market, and there was trouble if you got caught doing that. It was no problem in Danang
keeping Booze in the lockers or Fridge as it was never an issue. - Bobby Edwards
I recall a certain birthday, in 1966. I was out by then, living in tghe
Heimstaettensiedlung, and it was Ash Wednesday Morning, and I started to wake up, and
I was a bit worried because I was not real sure where I was nor for a time was I too sure
who or what or even IF I was, as I had spent the past several days at what must have
been one hell of a fashing party. Finally with the help of both hands I got an eye open,
and was relieved to find that I was in a bed, and when the focus stuff started working I
found it looked like my bed - and then a little farther away was a wall with a window, and
it looked like my wall, with my windows - and the clothes on the floor, at least some of
them resembled my clothes....
And then I rolled over, and knew damn well I wasn't in Kansas any more, 'cause I knew I
had no roommate, and I also knew my landlord and his wife had rules about sleepovers -
and had no idea at all who the girl was, where she came from, or if.... well, you get the
I'll never forget that wakeup even though for more than thirty years I have never
managed to remember the 48 hours that preceded it! - Bob Rudolph
I guess the closest I ever got to being wasted in Germany was one night in Frankfurt.
My friend Gordon Perry had just received fifty bucks in cash from his mother for his
birthday. He had heard that the best rate of exchange was at the RR station so being
young and dumb that's where we went. Finding a guy that looked like a black marketer
was easy they all looked like gangsters, so we selected a likely suspect and approached
two guys wearing black leather trench coats who looked like they had just gotten their
discharge from the Gestapo? Gordon showed him the 50 bucks the guy showed Gordon
the marks then they exchanged the money---Gordon pocketed the envelope and we
walked away --Got about two blocks and Gordon opened the envelope and it was filled
I said the normal GI response s--- lets go! We ran back spotted the guys just as they
spotted us and they took off running. Now then, to set the scene, one block from the RR
was a devastated area that resembled a big brickyard, that’s where they headed. I got
within about 50 feet and they stopped and turned, the gangsters started talking in
German and saying something like "come on Ami and you’ll find out how we dealt with
you guys in the Ardennes". Now this really really pissed me off--so I picked up a brick
and threw it at the guy that was biggest and best target, hit the SOB in back as he turned
away. I knew these guys were bound to have some weapons but dumb me I just kept
throwing bricks The Gangsters finally started throwing bricks back at me and we chased
each other over the piles all the while throwing bricks just as fast as I could, All the while
poor Perry was yelling "come on Chris lets go it's not worth getting killed over "! Funny
thing I was never scared till later when I realized that these guys were killers and I was
an innocent kid who had never killed anything--big experience difference between them
They finally lost me when they entered a residential section and I was out of bricks---but I
had won the field and the battle, This may have been the last pitched battle between
German and US troops -- 2:1 and we still won--I was very proud!
This is one of my favorite Germany stories and I've told this to all my kids, they just reply
"gramps you were crazy" I guess that you had to have been there to appreciate it...
The moral to this story is that the German Army never stood a chance against us "sweet
young kids". -- We kicked ass! - Chris Christie
I guess my most frightening experience was while I was in the 97th General Hospital in
Frankfurt, I got on the elevator on I want to think was on the 3rd floor with several
others including one of those 3 decker carts that must have weighed 500 pounds, and
before the Dude could close the door a half a dozen more got on, the door closed and the
Dude pushed the button and we fell about 4 foot and wham we stopped, the operator
started pushing every button on the control and all of us yelling for him to leave the
buttons alone, we were overloaded by double what the capacity was, they pushed the bell
finally some of the maintenance people arrived on the scene and they were trying to pry
the door open but there was some piece of machinery that stopped them from getting it
open, they told us someone would have to climb through the trap door on top of the
elevator and hold back some kind of a stop so they could open the door, so stupid me
volunteered for the job. Up through the hole I went scared to death the elevator would
break off what ever was holding it in place and down we would go, anyway got on top
held the thing back and the door opened. Out I jumped, the top 2 foot of the interior of
the elevator was all you could see when the door opened but out everyone crawled.
Needless to say I never got back on an elevator the rest of the time I was in the hospital. -
- Charlie Church
Dec / Jan 69/70 sometime. Just purchased my brand new fire engine red Volvo 142 from
Frank Duffy agency. Tooling out to the OPS site one fine morning before the sun woke up
- turned down the road off the highway and was heading toward the bridge.
Did NOT know about such a thing as BLACK ICE back then. Did a 360 in the middle of
the road - scared the bedevil out of me.
Only other time in Germany was also winter weekend morning with slight hangover -
taking Red Volvo out to Frankenstein's castle and it slid all over a patch of REAL ice. -
I had a bad accident on a curve between Eberstadt and Phungstadt. It was with my brand
new Volvo GT123. I only had it 2 weeks. There were 3 MP’s in the car with me, heading
for the Ponderosa Bar.
The frightening part about this was I was driving down the sidewalk, 80 mph, minding my
own business and this big cement light post jumped right out in front of me. Now that was
Ps. Having 3 MP's with me saved me from being in a lot of trouble... - Oz Cartwright
Today, few people remember how perilous the situation in Europe was in the early days
of the Korean War. We were always outnumbered at least by ten to one, only by the grace
of God did we survive and are here to talk about it. I remember that the only comforting
factor was our motor pool and the engineers across the street that could build a bridge
across the Rhein in a few hours. ---Just fast enough to beat the Russian T34’s which
traveled at 30MPH.I remember that the Rhein was the only obstacle that could slow them
up but in Berlin we were screwed ---no way out! ---Sure was a long time ago, funny it
was such an adventure that we never worried over our safety, anywazz we waz bullet
proof and immortal—like Bill Mauldons “Willy and Joe”. – Unknown
In the early hours of June 24, 1948 by order of Joseph Stalin Russia halted all traffic into
and out of the Russian sector of Berlin at Marienborn, which was the Russian checkpoint
located nearly one hundred miles from the city of Berlin. Stalin also cut off all electricity
to the city of Berlin claiming "Technical Difficulties". General Clay who was the Military
Governor of Germany at the time contacted General Curtis LeMay who was the
Commander of the United States Air Forces in Europe and asked him if they could start
flying food supplies into Berlin. General LeMay agreed and the airlift started on 24 June
1948. In July of 1949 The U.S. and Britain announce plans to phase out the Berlin Airlift
by October 31, 1949.
The United States Air Force Security Service (USAFSS) was established at Arlington
1 February 1949, the 2nd Radio Squadron Mobile (RSM) becomes part of USAFSS.
By 26 February 949, the 2nd RSM has moved to Ernst Ludwig Kaserne at Darmstadt.
By 1950, the 2nd RSM has detachments at Linz, Australia, Rothwestern and
Bremerhaven, Germany. In September 1950, a detachment “D” was established in
Berlin. On 5 December 1950, approximately 90 men departed for Chicksands, England
to establish the 10th RSM.
On the 25 June 1950, North Korean troops invaded South Korea. The United Nations was
quick to respond and immediately encouraged its members to support the South. Many
countries sent troops including the USA, Britain, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand
and South Africa. UN Forces were quick to drive the North Koreans back into the North
and up to the Yalu River, the border between China and North Korea. China immediately
entered the war and pushed UN forces back into the South. The opposing armies faced
each other in trenches little more than a mile apart. Armistice negotiations began in July
1951 but with little success. It wasn't until 27 July 1953 than an armistice was signed
agreeing that Korea was to remain a divided country.
The 12th RSM was activated at Landsberg, Germany. On 23 May 1951, the 6910th
Security Group was activated at Brooks AFB, Texas. On 1 September, the unit moved to
Germany. By the end of 1951, the 2nd RSM also helped establish the 41st RSM at
Bremerhaven, Germany and the 34th RSM at Wheelus AB, Libya.
Armistice negotiations for Korea began in July 1951 but with little success.
27 July 1953 armistice was signed agreeing that Korea was to remain a divided country.
1 August 1953, the 6900th Security Wing is established at Landsberg. On 8 December
1953, the 85th RSM was activated at Sembach AB.
America starts to send military advisors to Vietnam.
By the end of 1955, USAFSS had redesignated all units with the 69XX designator.
In September 1956, most of the RSMs are renamed as Radio Group(s) Mobile.
The Hungarian Revolt, anti-Communist and anti-Soviet rebellion in Hungary began in
October 1956 and lasted for 13 days. The Russians put down the revolt.
October 4, 1957 The Russians launched the first artificial satellite from the Baikonur
cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, which demonstrated the technological superiority of
Communism. They equipped the Sputnik with transmitters to broadcast on frequencies at
20 and 40 MHz so everyone would know it was up there.
15 May 1961, the 6910th RGM at Sembach is deactivated and moved to Darmstadt. The
6911th RGM is deactivated.
There were 1,500 special advisors in Vietnam and the number would grow to over 16,000
July 1963, the 6910th RGM is redesignated the 6910th Security Wing.
In August 1964, the Tonkin Incident occurred when North Vietnamese gunboats attacked
two American destroyers while they were in international waters.
In March 1965, the first American ground troops landed in South Vietnam and by
December 1965, there were 150,000 stationed in the country. The bombing of North
Vietnam had already started in February 1965.
On August 20, 1968, Russia invaded Czechoslovakia to put down revolt.
The 6910th Security Group is deactivated at Darmstadt and reactivated at Augsburg,
In January 1973, all sides agreed to a cease-fire in Vietnam during which the remaining
American troops would have to be withdrawn and all POW's would have to be released.
It was agreed that Vietnam would be "eventually reunited".
America's involvement in Vietnam ended in 1973.
30 June 1974, the 6910th Security Group is deactivated.
The ceasefire lasted no time at all and the North attacked what was left of the South's
army. By April 1975, Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam had fallen. It was re-named
Ho Chi Minh City and a united Vietnam came into being.
On 1 August 1979, USAFSS was redesignated the Electronic Security Command (ESC).
Gorbachev comes to power in Russia.
Reagan and Gorbachev sign the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in
Washington. It removes more than 2,600 medium-range nuclear missiles from Europe.
In March 1989 Hungary decides to allow free elections and take down the fence between
Hungary and Austria. Gorbachev says he will not stop the moves. In June 1989, Poland
holds its first free elections. The Solidarity (labor) Party beats the Communists. July
1989, Thousands of East Germans "vacation" in Hungary and then flee to the Austria and
the West. In October 1989, East German leaders celebrate the 40th anniversary of the
founding of the Communist GDR. Two days later 70,000 protesters demand an end to the
regime. Russian troops stay in their barracks and GDR soldiers and police back down.
Communist leader Honecker is voted out of office by the Politburo. In November 1989,
Soldiers in East Berlin open some of the gates in the Berlin Wall. Crowds respond by
tearing the wall down. Bulgaria's communist party leader resigns. In December 1989,
Protesters in Czechoslovakia jangle keys in front of the government saying, "Your time is
up." The government gives up without violence, and elections are held. Romanian
communist forces kill 73 in riots. Crowds storm the government and later capture the
leader Ceausescu. He and his wife are tried and executed. Elections are held. June 1991 --
In Yugoslavia, the provinces of Croatia and Slovenia declare their independence igniting
a decade of fighting and genocide. Eventually, the country splits into Serbia, Slovenia,
Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and the region of Kosovo.
In August 1991, Russian military leaders put Gorbachev under house arrest and take over
governing in order to save the Soviet Union. Boris Yeltsin, leader of the Russian
Republic, occupies the Parliament building, defying the coup. The Army backs down. In
December 1991, the republics of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine act to dissolve the Soviet
Union, finally freeing Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova,
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and
On 1 October 1993, The Electronic Security Command (ESC) is redesignated the Air
Intelligence Agency (AIA).
On 30 June 1994, Headquarters, 26th Intelligence Wing activated at Ramstein AB,
Equipment and Tools We Used
The following pages have pictures of some of the equipment and tools we used to
perform our mission throughout the years. These pictures are just a sample and are
in no way a complete collection of all the equipment and tools. Many of these items
were classified and could not be discussed until the purpose for which they were used
was declassified. I am certain each item will generate many memories for those who
The following receivers were some that were used by the Morse Voice and Non-Morse
intercept operators. They were also used for Direction Finding (D/F) purposes.
Collins J-51 Receiver
Hammarlund SP-600 Receiver
Magnetic Tape Recorders
The Voice intercept operators mostly used these recorders. There were some instances
when Morse and Non-Morse operators used them. They were however, normally
mounted in an upright rack or a console position. The recorders were configured to
record whatever signal the operator was monitoring.
Data Processing Equipment
This equipment was the forerunner to modern day computer equipment. It was
utilized throughout the unit to generate all types of reports and documents that were
used for any number reasons. An operator would sit at this machine and type and the
machine would punch holes on an 80-column punch card. The card could then be
fed into a card reader and the information on the card would be transferred to hard
IBM-29 Card Punch
The card sorter would sort the card in the desired method. This is basically the same
thing that is done when you sort data in a computerized database. With a modern
computer this procedure is accomplished in a matter of seconds whereas with this
equipment the sorting may require an excessive period of time.
The map shown is a sample of what the analysts used to plot the movement of aircraft.
The intercept operator would record the transmissions from a tracking station and the
analysts would plot the flight of each aircraft. This map was normally located in the
Surveillance and Warning center. The size of the map was large and normally reached
from the ceiling to the floor of the room. In most cases it was covered with plastic that
allowed the analyst to mark tracking information with a grease pencil that could later be
erased. There were other styles of plotting boards including the clear plastic board with
outlines of major points indicated.
The protractor was also used by the analysts to determine locations and to plot
direction-finding (d/f) bearings.
USAFSS European Organizational Chart
6910th Security Group
OPS - Darmstadt
HQTRS - Wiesbaden
2nd Radio Squadron 10th Radio Squadron 12th Radio Squadron Det D, 136th CSS
Mobile Mobile Mobile Camp Pieri
Darmstadt Chicksands Landsberg Wiesbaden
Det A Det 102 Det 1 Det L, 136th CSS
Linz, Austria Kirknewton Linz, Austria Bushy Park
Det B Det 2
Det C Det 2
Bremerhaven Ho f
Det D Det 3
USAFSS European Organizational Chart
6900th Security Wing
Detachment Det 3, 31 CSS 6901st
Bushy Park Camp Pieri 6910th Security Group SpecialComm
L o ndo n Wiesbaden Center
Comsec/Transec Comsec/Transec Landsberg Landsberg
2nd Radio 10th Radio 12th Radio 34th Radio 37th Radio 41st Radio 85th Radio
Squadron Squadron Squadron Squadron Squadron Squadron Squadron
M o b ile M o b ile M o b ile M o b ile M o b ile M o b ile M o b ile
Darmstadt Chicksands Landsberg Tripoli Kirknewton Bremerhaven Sembach
Detachment 1 Detachment 1
Linz, Austria Berlin
Detachment 2 Detachment 2
USAFSS European Organizational Chart
6900th Security Wing
I.G. Farben Bldg
Detachment Detachment TUSLOG Det 3-1 6901st 6905th Comm
6982nd SS 6982nd Bushy Trabzon, Turkey SpecialComm Squadron
Camp Pieri Park Transec Group Zwiebrucken
6911th Radio 6950th Radio 6912th Radio 6934th Radio 6952nd Radio 6913th Radio 6914th Radio
Squadron Squadron Squadron Squadron Squadron Squadron Squadron
M o b ile M o b ile M o b ile M o b ile M o b ile M o b ile M o b ile
Darmstadt Chicksands Bingen Tripoli Kirknewton Bremerhaven Sembach
Rhein Main Detachment 1 Detachment 1 Detachment 1
L a nds hut Iraklion, Berlin
Detachment 2 Detachment 2
USAFSS European Organizational Chart
I.G. Farben Bldg
6910th Radio 6911th Radio 6913th Radio 6930th Radio 6950th Radio 6937th Radio
Group Mobile Group Mobile Group Mobile Group Mobile Group Mobile Group Mobile
Sembach Darmstadt Bremerhaven Iraklion Chicksands Peshawar,
6912th Radio Detachment 1 6933rd Radio 6952nd Radio
Squadron Rhein Main Squadron Squadron
M o b ile M o b ile M o b ile
Berlin Ankara, Kirknewton
Detachment 2 Detachment
Kassel Tuslog Det 3 Bushy Park
Karamursel L o ndo n
Wasserkuppe Tuslog Det 3-1
L a nds hut Tuslog Det 3-2
Hof Tuslog Det 3-3
USAFSS European Organizational Chart
I.G. Farben Bldg
6910th Security 6913th Security 6916th Security 6917th Security 6931st Security 6950th 6937th Security
Wing Group Squadron Group Group Security Wing Group
Darmstadt Bremerhaven Rhien Main San Vito, Italy Iraklion Chicksands Peshawar,
Crete UK Pakistan
6910th Support Detachment 1 6933rd Radio 6952nd
Squadron Athens, Squadron Security
Darmstadt Greece M o b ile Group
Security Tuslog Det 3 Bushy Park
Squadron (M) Karamursel Transec /
Tuslog Det 3-1
Tuslog Det 3-2
6 9 1 5 th
Squadron Tuslog Det 3-3
USAFSS European Organizational Chart
USAFSS Kelly AFB
6910th Security 6916th Security 6917th Security 6931st Security 6950th Security 6937th Security
Group Augsburg Squadron Group Group Group Squadron
Rhien Main San Vito, Italy Iraklion Crete Chicksands UK Peshawar,
Detachment 1 Detachment 1 6933rd Security Detachment
Rimback Athens, Squadron Bushy Park
Mt Eckstein Greece Karmursel Transec
Detachment 2 Detachment 1
Camp Pieri 6934th Security Bremerhaven
Transec Sinop Turkey
6 9 1 5 th
ESC European Organizational Chart
Kelly AFB Texas
6912th Electronic 6916th Electronic 6917th Electronic 6931st Electronic 6950th Electronic 6911th Electronic
Security Group Security Security Security Security Group Security Group
TCA-Marienfelde Squadron Group Squadron Chicksands UK Hahn AB
Berlin Athens Greece San Vito, Italy Iraklion, Crete
6954th Electronic 6913 Electronic
Mildenhall UK Augsburg
450th Intelligence 6918th Electronic
Chicksands UK Squadron
Squadron Hof AS
AIA European Organizational Chart
426th 6916th Electronic 6931st Electronic 488th 402nd
Security Security Squadron
Intelligence Intelligence Intelligence
Squadron Iraklion Crete
Squadron Riyadh Saudi Squadron Squadron
Vogelweh AB Arabia Mildenhall UK Bad Aibling
OL – RS 6913 Electronic 6914th Electronic
Souda Bay Security Security
Greece Squadron Squadron Bad
AIA European Organizational Chart
426th Information 451st Information 488th Intelligence 485th Intelligence
Operations Operations Squadron Squadron
Squadron Squadron Mildenhall UK Mainz-Kastel
Vogelweh AB Menwith Hill UK