Summer Memories, Part I
Posted: 20 September 2008 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  1438
Joined  2008-08-18

Reported by Ed Sachnik, 1963-64.

I arrived at Herzo Base in June 1963. It seemed that I was there forever, but it was maybe a week or so. I arrived there after two months TDY to Ft. Meade, MD. There were three of us. Larry Crow, Richard Allen, and me. Larry stayed in Herzo the first year. In ‘64 his wife went back to the states and he joined us in Rimbach in the summer.

I had graduated from The Army Language School in March in a class of seven. One was attached to the Judge Advocates Corps, two were assigned to Fort Meade and the other four of us were sent to Herzo Base. Howard Currier, who was at Fort Meade, joined us a year later. The others were Larry Crow, Larry O’Brien and Richard Allen. O’Brien stayed at Herzo Base.

After a couple of weeks of floating around operations and being confined to base until we were “oriented,” I guess, I got a call one day to get my gear and get on a deuce-and-a-half. Richard Allen and I must have gone out together. Next thing I knew I was rolling across the German countryside to some place unknown.

We got into Rimbach long after dark. The driver driving was Sgt Knabel. He put the truck in the yard across the street from the Silberbauer Gasthaus and Blacksmith’s. Everyone had gone to bed, as I remember. I had a room on the second floor. The next morning at breakfast, I had my first chance to speak German and all I could remember was Czech!

I don’t really remember how many of us there were. There were communications people, ELINT, 058s or 059s (TTY people), Marys and two or three sergeants. There was a SP5 Jackson as I remember, also a Mary. One of the sergeants was an ELINTer. With about 4 tricks that would have been about 20 to 25 people in all. I think we all fit in Silberbauers.

The deal was that they brought a special communications van in from Berlin that we used as operations on the hill. Dave Hubbard went to Berlin, as I remember, and they flew it out of Berlin in a C-135. It was supposedly equipped with special equipment to record a huge number of signals at once. It never did really work on Hoherbogen. They had better luck with it that winter on Mt. Schneeberg. There were three vans or huts on the hill that year. The Berliner van lost a clutch that year from backing it into position on the hill. They sent a mechanic out to replace the truck before it could leave that year. It was a good thing the ‘balloon’ did not go up. We never would have made it out!

Knabel was a large, red-faced sergeant. It seems like we spent a great deal of our time moving rocks and making level spots to keep generators. They were a constant problem. I remember Knabel cursing at me and Richard, “goddamn college degree and you can’t even level a generator!”

Knabel had been in about 8 to 10 years when I met him. According to what I’d heard, he’d been at Mahring when the locals were harassing a Mary at a Gasthaus one night. The next time he went there he had a logging chain in his shirt and was ready to use it. He took his discharge after that summer. Later we heard that he had taken a job in California building towers for high tension wires.

That summer was a rather rowdy one. At least one of the ELINTers was an alcoholic. I remember him coming into the dining room at Mutti’s (the Silberbauers) drinking Micrin mouth wash. (Strange, what one remembers.) Mutti had a helper, Herta, I think. A slight quiet woman with short curly blond hair.

One Sunday morning we awoke to a funeral procession. One of the locals had been in a card game the night before and lost DM20 (about $5 at the time). He proceeded to go out and commit suicide.

We sometimes went to the Schwimbad up the hill, but it was not well-kept and actually off-limits, I think. If it wasn’t, it should have been. The water was rather murky, but the girl watching was good.

One of my buddies was Louie Allen, an 059 from Elizabeth Town, Kentucky. He fell in love with one of the local girls. I wish I could remember her name. I do have a picture of her picture from a photographers in Kötzting or Cham. It didn’t work out. Louie took his discharge in ‘64 and the two never became one. Last I heard of Louie he took a job at Fort Knox as a typist. (This may have been a ‘64 story, not ‘63. I’m trying to keep the years straight but time has blurred this.)

Like I say, we were very loose that year. One night one of the ELINT people went to the gasthaus up towards Hoherbogen and proceeded to get rather drunk. He took one of the Army jeeps for his travels. As he left he ran over a fence, wrapped it around the jeeps rear axle and did in an apple tree. Within a day or two we had the Army internal investigation people up taking statements. Louie Allen and I happened to have gone up there that night. I remembered hearing the church bell ringing at 8 p.m., so I had a nice statement to give.

That year we stayed until the end of September. We were there for the church feast day at St. Michael’s. At least the big day was on Sunday. I think the feast day is Sept. 29. There were a lot of booths. I remember one was a coin toss into some glassware. I won a small vase on my first throw. One treat was a booth that sold bananas. Then there were several booths that sold clothes. The streets were lined with booths of all kinds.
We pulled out the next week or so, back to Herzo Base.

Louie Allen and I spent Christmas ‘63 in Rimbach. We stayed with Mutti. We went to a village party where they auctioned off the Tannenbaum. Drank too much and danced. I wound up asking one of the more tipsy women to dance after she bugged me for quite a while. I found out what it meant to “pay the piper.” I did two-fold that night: once dancing with her, once paying the accordionist!

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6913th Security Squadron USAF
Rimbach, West Germany