February 18th, 2024 § Comments Off on RADelk_USArmy_53-56_Pt05 § permalink

Okay. So you had a lot of leaves?

Well yeah, three day passes to go to Zurich and Heidelberg, and seeing my friend in Manheim. It sounds like we’re free to do a lot of stuff, but that’s all. It wasn’t really the case. Those that lived off post had to be there for a morning call when we were. So, we would get up, go have breakfast, then by a certain time we would be called out to formation and told what the day’s activities would be. And then we were on duty until night, until five o’clock or so. Sometimes later than that.

And some of the guys would get a pass then and go downtown and drink. I did not do that. A couple times maybe. And every time I felt like I was getting too much to drink, I called a cab. Well, there was usually cabs outside. And had them take me back because I just didn’t want that to happen. The day I was promoted to Specialist Third Class, which is equivalent to Sergeant … I knew I was going to get promoted on a Saturday morning and I bought a bottle of whiskey and when we got done at noon, I didn’t go eat. I just started having drinks with the guys.

And I don’t remember this, but big, long hallway with rooms on both sides in it, both ends were the bathrooms. The last thing I remembered was I was in my room, but they told me I went down to the bathroom, fell, hit my head on a latrine. They called the dispensary down at the down in. They came up
with an ambulance, got me, took me down here, and the medical officer on duty, which was one of our doctors, put a couple or three stitches in my head. And this was Saturday.

I woke up Sunday morning, I had no idea what happened. And after I made Sergeant, then I got moved to a room with another Sergeant. His name was Sergeant Woodley. And Sergeant Woodley had been in the Korean War, and he was a Prisoner of War for 39 months. And so, he had a lot of back pay plus prisoner pay, and he drank it all up.

So, every payday he’d go over to the NCO club and get in a game of craps, and he’d buy a bottle of whiskey and keep giving these guys whiskey. He just got so drunk. He didn’t get … He could still walk and do everything. So, he’d go over, get these other guys really dead drunk, and win their paychecks. Well, of
course, they couldn’t go home to their wives without their money. They paid you in cash in the Army.

So, when I moved in with him, first payday come, and he came in the room about one o’clock in the morning. And I woke up, and I turned over and spoke to him, and he threw this wad money at me, said, “Hold this for me until in the morning.” And then I heard the other Sergeants out walking up and down the hallway. I thought, “Uh-oh, one of them was going to come in and try to get this money.” I didn’t go back to sleep.

So, the next night he went back and he lost all the money back. But the one Sergeant, Sergeant Bell, two pay days in a row, he took all his money. And Sergeant Bell had a wife and kids down, and finally she started coming up and getting his money before he went to the NCO club. And the same with Sergeant

But that was an experience. Well, the whole tour and in Germany was. It was good for me. And a tour of duty in the Army got me back on track as to where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. But in the Army at that time we had the draft. And you get drafted for two years. And I think, like I said, I was not
going to be drafted. But when when you’re drafted, your serial number is U.S. Something. When you enlist, your serial number is R.A. Something, Regular Army.

About the summer of ’56, and all these guys that were getting out in August like I was, they got their orders and they were out of there, and the reason why is because they were going to be sent up to Bremerhaven and get on a trip transport. My orders didn’t come down. And for the Regular Army people,
the R.A.’s, I found out later they anticipate you re-enlisting and they’re not going to send you away until they’re absolutely sure you’re not going to reenlist.

Well, they twisted my arm every way. But I was scheduled to get married and the reason I went in the Army was to get the GI bill to go to college, so there was no way I was going to reenlist. In fact, they said they would send me to Officer’s Training School. I turned that down. Anyhow, when I finally got my orders, it was to fly home. So I went by truck up to the Air Force base by Manheim and got on a military air transportations plane there and flew from there to Prestwick, Scotland. I didn’t see anything there. They just refueled. I don’t even remember us getting off the airplane. We refueled and
took off flying to Goose Bay, Labrador. Goose Bay Labrador.

On the way over the North Atlantic, the pilot comes back and says he put the plane on automatic, and came back to talk to us. All of a sudden the plane started … Let me tell you, he took off like a bat out of hell, and if you really want to know what a bat and out of hell is like, that was what he … There was a copilot up there and I’m not sure what he was doing.

Anyhow, they got the plane. Well, this as August, and we got to Goose Bay Labrador, and the snow was piled up about three stories because they kept this runway open all the time. And we did get off the plane there. It was cold and lots and lots of snow still there. And we flew from Goose Bay Labrador to some place in New Jersey, an Air Force base. And there, they put us on another plane, and I think it was a charter plane to go to Fort … Or to Chicago. We got off at, not O’Hare but at Midway, and that’s on the South part of it. And we had buses … Or bused there, and there was a bunch of us, and took us upto Fort Sheridan, which is up by Evanston.

The flight from New Jersey to Chicago was through thunder storms. And the thunder storms didn’t bother me. It was the cold because they didn’t have the plane heated or anything. It was just … But anyhow, we got to Fort Sheridan and I was there a few days. And I got out and they ticket to go up the Des Moines, and I got home. So, that’s my military experience.

You weren’t able to see anyone, contact anyone, any of your military …

No. This fellow, Billy Dexter, who I met at Fort Riley. We went through basic training and Brooke Army Medical Center together, and then he went to Denver and I saw him in … Because he was in the hospital up by Manheim. I went up there once and I tried to contact because I had met his girlfriend.

She came to the train station at Kansas City when we were going from Fort Riley to Camp Pickett, and she was really a sweet thing. And then he kind of got out of hand. He broke off their relationship, and she had come then over to Germany when he was over there, and they got together again and ended up getting
married. And as far as I know, he went to college, and I’m not sure where. He was from Independence, Missouri. And he ended up … I think he was a chemist in Indianapolis for some company there.

I finally got a hold of his grandfather down in Missouri, and he gave me his telephone number in Indianapolis, and I called it several times and never got an answer, never got an answer. Back then, they didn’t have answering machines, so I wasn’t able to leave a message. And so I thought, “Well I either
got the wrong number or something. I don’t know.” So I never did find out what happened to him.

Okay. Well that’s all I have.

Okay. Just one more thing.


I told you about the incident in the bar dance hall with the black soldiers. In Camp Pickett, I went out one night, and in our group there was a black soldier. Before we took our passes, the Sergeants told us, When
you go into Blackstone, you white guys can go here. He’s got to go there.” See, I never thought about that. I mean we had our problems in Des Moines, but not like that. I had black students in my classes from the time I was in seventh grade through. And then at Drake. And I had no comprehension of that. Then, when we got to Texas, although I wasn’t with … I didn’t have any black students in my training, so I didn’t have any friends in my barracks or anything that were black. So the times we went into San Antonio,which is only maybe once or twice, but San Antonio at that time was segregated. But it wasn’t then when I got to Washington. So, that was a lesson I learned. Not too good of a lesson, but exposure I had in the Medical Corps. They put all the conscientious objectors. So most of them were … I can’t … Seventh Day
Adventists, but we had some others.

The Seventh Day Adventists would serve, but they wouldn’t carry weapons, so they were all put in the medical. We had some others that were conscientious objectors that were not Seventh Day Adventists that were real kooks. One of them set up in Fort Louis, Washington… Set up an altar in the boiler room, the furnace room of the barrack, and he went in there every time he could. And they fought at everything the whole way. But the Seventh Day Adventist did not. They just asked to have Saturday off because that as their Sabbath.

So, that’s the story.

Dad’s Time in the Service 1955-1956 Part 04

February 3rd, 2024 § Comments Off on Dad’s Time in the Service 1955-1956 Part 04 § permalink

Richard Delk Time in the Service

Okay. When I got to Schwabisch Gmund and signed to the medical battalion, they asked me about my OS and I said… Because they said it’s the things don’t add up. And I said, well, I had it changed and they said, you can’t do that, so they changed it back, which didn’t really mean anything because of it not being active in war-time. So, while I was there from December of ’54 to August of ’56, we had two division maneuvers. One NATO maneuver where we were with the other and one core maneuver.

And what this entailed was, you would sit around all evening waiting for them to tell you to leave, and then you would load up your trucks were all loaded. You would load yourself onto the trucks and head out to a designated spot, usually woods, where you would set up essentially a mesh hospital with the four tents. And usually we had another tent we’d set up for the mess tent, for the cooks and stuff. And you’d do this in the middle of the night. And then in the morning, they would inspect, and you would move to
tear you down your tents, put them back in your truck with all your equipment, move to another location. And then they would put off smoke bombs during the day. Then you’d have to put up your tents within the smoke. And they’d come in and inspect, and that evening you’d tear them down in the dark, move to another location, put them back up in the dark. Sometimes you did this four or five times, others you just did it just couple times.

And, we always moved, went to the east of Schwabisch Gmund toward the East German border. And we got close on two occasions, enough to see across the border and see them ready to shoot us if we did anything wrong. And at that time you felt a little tension, but you just lived with it and nobody got real upset. But you could tell there was tension, especially when the MP’s were telling you, when you get up here don’t make a right turn cause you’re going to go the wrong place and you’ll initiate some bad activity.

The NATO maneuver that we had, the French were using live ammunition. So we did have two or three Frenchmen come back and they didn’t bring one back, but we were told that he died before they could get him back. Why they were using live ammunition, I don’t know. But most of the time when we weren’t onmaneuvers, we were in training. We made sure that our equipment was all ready to go all the time. We trained in loading the trucks a certain way so that you could take it off. We had classes, I taught classes, and I also at one time was the assistant company clerk, so I didn’t have any duty. We did not have KP.
We hired Germans to pay the money every month. We did have to do guard duty.

Start back up with, you didn’t have to do the KP duty.

But we did have to do guard duty. We had a ammunition dump where we kept stuff. We had a gasoline petroleum dump outside of the Kaserne. It had a fence around it, but at that time the Germans were still recovering from the war and they stole if they could get it and we were issued live ammunition to put in our carbines when we were on duty. So, part of the time I would walk around one or the other of those dumps when I was on guard duty.

We also had to have guard walk around the gym building and the mess hall building, even though part of the mess hall building was pretty light, it lighted up. Then there was Officer’s Quarters and varied NCO and Enlisted Men Quarters off of the base. And we had to have guards around those. But on the base we had a Enlisted Men’s Club, an NCO Club. Down at the Kaserne in Schwabisch Gmund they had an Officer’s Club. They had a PX, and a bowling alley. And I spent a lot of time bowling when I was off-duty and not on pass.

We formed our own league and we had a league and I was treasurer of it for awhile and… So I spent a lot of time bowling. Oh, on one maneuver, the Germans were, like I said, pretty poor. If we went out on a road march, we never went down into the city. We always went on the road that led out onto the east. It went through a town called Oberbettingen. And, Oberbettingen, which means, over Bettringen, and Unterbettringen which is down below.

And all these little villages… People didn’t live out on farms. They lived in the villages and then they would go out daily to the farms and grow their crops. And these homes… be like an attached garage or an underneath garage because they kept animals in there. And a wagon that we called a honeywagon because they had straw in there. They had the manure from the animals, they mixed it with the straw, urine from upstairs mixed with it. They loaded on this honeywagon, this wagon, that’s the reason
they called it a honeywagon, and took it out to their farms to put it on the ground to fertilize. We were told, do not eat the raw vegetables from… But, most of the places I went to eat, they made it very clear that they had washed their lettuce very good. So I had the salad and nothing ever happened, but then I didn’t smell any different or the lettuce and that.

But I didn’t go out on pass very often to Schwabisch Gmund. That was a soldier’s hang out. And the guys I hung out with, most of us wanted to learn about things. So we would get a cab, which the cab driver sat outside our camp every night. And we’d get a cab and take it down to Oberbettingen. All these little towns had what they called Gasthauses, guest houses, Gasthauses. And they’d have one or two or three bedrooms that people could rent, and they had a restaurant down on the first floor. And we would go to these places and talk with the Germans to try to learn about them. And it was very interesting, learning
about the conditions in the war because Schwabisch Gmund was bombed. But these people out in the… were not, but there was Nazis that kind of kept an eye on everybody, and they were all afraid. But they’re all pretty poor people. They were glad to have our business, I’ll tell you that.

I went on leave one time, it was the summer of ’54… summer of ’55. There was four of us. Bill Quinn, Jerry Ratterman, Bob, and myself. And we took the train out of Schwabisch Gmund to Stuttgart, got on another train and went north. Part of it went by the Rhine River because it was going North, and to Amsterdam. We stayed a few days in Amsterdam, went out to see the Zuider Zee and the dykes that they’d put up and the land that they had… And I have a couple of pictures of stuff there. And then we got on a train and went from Amsterdam to Paris. In Paris, for some reason we didn’t get to go to Notre Dame. But there was another cathedral there that was well-known that we did get to tour. We went to the Louvre, didn’t have the money to get in there. But we did go to the Folies Bergere. And that was quite interesting. And it’s quite interesting to walk the streets of Paris at that time at night because they trying to hustle you all
the time.

And I don’t remember how many days we were there but we took the subway out to the airport, Orly. It’s Gaulle now. And you got on what is called a Military Air Transportation Service Airplane. And they were flying all over, taking people here and there on official duty, so we could hop on rides. So we got on a MATS plane, and flew to London.

And even in ’55, ten years, they did not have all of the bridges fixed 100%. And so we were roaming the streets of London. My camera got jammed, and we ask a guy about a camera shop and instead of giving us directions, he took us there. But on the way he showed us this bridge. He said, this bridge was fixed, that the bombs had torn the bridge apart and they had planks over it. And women driving ambulances because all of the men were in the service and they had to drive over these planks over the Thames River. It was very interesting because he said, some of those planks dipped down and the ambulances was
went across them. He said, they just had to do it to get from one place to the other. And we saw Big Ben of course, and Parliament, and 10 Downing Street, Buckingham Palace, and we had a good time in London.

Talking to them, you would think they won the war, single-handed, and that was okay. But they were nice people, they looked after you. We ask them where good places to eat were, they told us. We ask about beer, they drank their beer warm, but they said, if you go here you can get cold beer. From London then, we took a train down… and I think it was close to the mouth of the Thames, and got on a barge that took us all back to Amsterdam. We stayed another day or two in Amsterdam, and then went back.

I went on probably four three-day passes. Friday, Saturday and Sunday to Zurich, Switzerland. Most of the time the weather wasn’t too good when I was there, but it was cold sometimes and rainy others, but people in Switzerland were wonderful. I took a three-day pass to go up to Heidelberg. If you’ve ever heard of The Student Prince, that restaurant where The Student Prince hung out. We went there, saw the castles and we… I took a three day pass and went up to the army hospital. Was up by Mannheim… I don’t
remember the… There was an air field there.

But one of my guys that I went to neuropsychiatric school back, we went into the service at Fort Riley, and went to Camp Pickett. We were together in Camp Pickett, and then we were together at Brooke Army Medical Center for that training. He went to Denver for his, I can’t remember the hospital, but there was an army hospital there for his training. And then he got sent over to Germany right away. So he was up
there at that hospital and we went into town. And at that time, segregation was still…

And we went into this dance hall restaurant, and we were sat in the back. It was a fairly big room, because there was a big dance hall, there was a band, and a lot of tables. We were sitting at the back enjoying a nice beer. And there was French soldiers sitting right over here, and we could see across the dance hall to the front door. And some black soldiers came in. They didn’t get in more than a few steps and they were told that they weren’t welcome there. And they insisted that they were going to come in, so a fight broke
out. Well we were clear at the back and before things could get too out of hand, the MP’s come in. But when the fight broke out, the French soldiers went right under the table. And not because they were cowards, but because if they got into trouble they’d be in jail for a long time and mess with them. They made sure that they understood that if you get in trouble, you’re probably going to spend a long time in jail. They went right under the table.

In, Stuttgart, which was the big city, we went there a few Sundays. Go down on the train Sunday morning and… Stuttgart still had big piles of rubble, and there was areas of the city that we were told not to go to because homeless veterans or gangs in this rubble. And if we went, make sure that there was three or four of us together because if we went by ourselves, we’d be…

But, in Stuttgart, they had a big square, and streets went out from it and the train station was on one side and there was a restaurant on the other side and dance hall. You went into this place and on the first floor there were some tables and place for band and a dance floor. But then, like the rotunda at a Capital, you go up, second level was round, had tables. You could look down at the dance floor. Third level, you could look down at the dance floor. And if you wanted to dance, you had to go down the stairs to get there. But most people that were on the second and third level were just eating. German food was was great. French food, it was okay. English food was very boring. Food in Amsterdam was was very good. And I brought back labels from beer, Heineken labels, which is… But in Schwabisch Gmund, we had our own local beer, Dinkelacker.

You also brought home mom those steins.

Yeah, I probably sent them home. I sent some to Joyce. And, are those the ones you’re talking about? Yeah, and her mother, she collected them. But I’ve got one there that it was the 9th Medical Battalion stein. I’ve got it. And some from others that are German types. I sent your mother a set of dishes that are in that cabinet and crystal.

Dad’s Time in the Service 1955-1956 Part 02

March 29th, 2023 § 1 comment § permalink

Here is part 02 of Dad’s time in the service. I am including the full transcript as well.

So where did Bob serve?

Well, when Bob first went in, he went in at San Diego. And after his boot training, he was assigned to the aircraft carrier, Lexington, but they were out of San Diego at that time. And so he went in in October of 1940. In 41, our grandpa died. Bob got emergency leave to come home, but he didn’t get home in time for the funeral, but he was home.

That’s all the photos we have?

Yes, of him with grandma in his uniform.

He went back, and the Lexington sailed to Honolulu. I have cards that he sent, and some letters from Pearl Harbor.

The family thought he was at Pearl Harbor when December 7th occurred. Actually, he had sailed out of Pearl Harbor the day before. So his aircraft carrier was not there. He remained on the Lexington and it went into the Coral Sea.

And that’s where he was put ashore as a spotter at Guadalcanal. And he got wounded three times. One time was with hot gasoline from a plane engine. I’m not too sure exactly what the other two were. But while he was on Guadalcanal, the Lexington got sunk.

And of course, your parents had no idea where he was, did they?

No, but they knew that he was injured. They got word of that.

So then in the summer of 44, he got leave to come home, and so he was home for awhile. And then he did not go back overseas. He was stationed in Memphis at the Naval Air Station and in Virginia. And when I went into the army, he was stationed at Bainbridge, Maryland.

And Bob?

Bob was in-

Or Ed, I mean.

Ed was at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Bob was at Bainbridge Naval something or other.

And Warren was-

He was out. He was not in at that time.

He was, though, stationed in Missouri though, right?


Now did he go overseas?

Yes. But he did not see combat. I mean the war was still on, it was on when he went over, but he did not see combat.

So you’ve gone over your daily routine, when you were in Tacoma. How did that train you for then going overseas?

Well, after we got back from Yakima-

Right, Yakima, I’m sorry.

We just went around daily soldier stuff. We had classes, we had training. But then I got a temporary duty assignment back to Madigan Army Hospital, which of course, was right next door. So I went there for six weeks and worked on the psychiatric wards again.

And then when I came back to the unit, we started in our daily routines, and I actually gave some classes, but then one of the guys in my outfit… a bunch of them were going to be shipped out. And a fella by the name of Richard Neil, he had just gotten married, living off post, and he got transferred to Germany, and of course he didn’t want to go. So I volunteered to take his place. Now the problem was, I was a neuro psychiatric technician, and he was a regular corpsman. So, since I’d gone through all of this basic training as a corpsman, I said change my military occupation specialty number back to corpsman, and I’ll take his place to go to Germany. So they did. It’s called a Military Occupational Specialty is called an MOS. So they changed it, wrote me orders to go to Germany.

And so in November of 54, I went home on leave, and then flew to Washington DC and stayed a few days with Ed, and he drove me up to Fort Dix, New Jersey, and I sailed the Atlantic.

How was that.


No, I mean, here’s an Iowa boy, saw the Pacific Ocean, but put on a boat to sail the Atlantic. How was that experience?

But let’s retrograde a little bit so that you get a little better feel.

When we first started our basic training at Camp Pickett, we were not given leave at all. Three day passes or weekend passes we didn’t have. But after maybe five weeks, they started giving us passes.

So we would get off at noon on Saturday and had to be back in by first call on Monday morning. The sergeants were making big bucks with… They had cars and they would charge us, and we would go to Washington DC. And of course, I had my brother Ed in Washington DC, so I could stay with him. And I went several times, and in fact, Christmas of 53, I went to Washington DC on a longer pass to Ed’s, and then we drove up to Bainbridge, and had Ed and his wife, Barbara and I, had Christmas dinner with Bob and his family. So it wasn’t like I was being having a first Christmas way.

And so I got to see Washington DC. I went to the White House, I went to the Capitol. Of course, you can’t do a lot of that today. I went to Mount Vernon. All of the Washington monument, all of them that were there at the time. I got to see all of that. And actually on one of those weekend passes, I ate my very first pizza in Washington DC.

Basic training was like the first eight weeks was what every soldier goes through. So you had to take weapons training. We had to learn to clean the weapons and disassemble them, clean them, put them back together in a certain amount of time. We had to go to the firing range, fire the weapons. We had to go underneath, crawl underneath barbwire for a period. I don’t remember how far it was, but they were shooting ammunition and whether it was live ammunition or not, it sounded like it. I don’t know whether it was or wasn’t, but I kept my head down.

And one time in November, we went out in the field, and every soldier is given half a pup tent, a blanket and a couple of sticks that holds the pup tent up. So you have half, another soldier has another half, and you put it together and that’s where you sleep. Well, we had to sleep out and it snowed, and the snow was so heavy, most of the pup tents were down on top of us. It snowed in the middle of the night. And so we woke up in the morning with our tents laying on top of us. And then we went back into to our barracks, and I got ready and went to Washington for the weekend. And people in Washington DC had no idea how to drive in that snow. And it melted within one day, but it was a good six inch now, and it was heavy. So I got to observe those people.

We had a captain in Camp Pickett, his name was Captain DeGaulle. And I don’t know whether you want me to say on tape or not, but he was a first class prick.

Stereotypical, movies?

Yeah. And when we were out on this maneuver, we were fed. Cooks fed us sea rations. But they just took these sea ration cans and opened them up and throw them all together, and heated him up and slopped him into our mess kits, and he’d stand there and he said, “Oh my wife spent all week getting this food ready for you guys.” And there were actually guys that believed it.

So anyhow, when I first got to Camp Pickett, there was a real gung ho sergeant and he said we want our company to be the best, so we want to form a drill team. So they signed up people for the drill team, and I signed up, but on the day that they first met, I was on duty and I couldn’t practice with it. So they had this original list of people that signed up and they gave it to the First Sergeant and he took those people off of the duty roster. Okay, I was on duty the day they [inaudible 00:16:06], they made a new list, and those were the guys, and my name wasn’t on it. So I was taken off the duty roster and I didn’t pull KP again until he discovered it in late December and he put me on KP, and then he sat in the mess hall all day and laughed at me because he caught me.

But he soon was not laughing at me but every, I don’t remember whether it was week or every month, but they nominated someone to go to the Battalion Commander. There are four companies in a battalion, and four soldiers, one from each company, went to the Battalion Commander, and he quizzed them and did other things, see how they were dressed and all of that, and picked a Battalion Soldier of the Week. It was weekly. And in December I got to be Battalion Soldier of the week.

And then, there’s three battalions in a regiment, we were sent… Those who made Battalion Soldier the Week were sent to the Regimental Commander, a Colonel [Bolus 00:18:06], and I was named Regimental Soldier of the Week. And I was the first one from our company to get this. So our Captain was very happy, it made him look good. Our first Sergeant was happy, it made him look good. Our Platoon Sergeant, who was head of the drill team, and he also took us to Washington most of the time, he was happy. I got them, and I have at home an article and picture from the paper that they sent and, back in those days, they published that kind of thing in the paper.

Okay, I’ll need that.

So, when I left Camp Pickett, I went home on leave. They took me to Washington DC, I flew from Washington DC to Chicago and down to Kansas City. Took a bus to Des Moines, and was on leave, and then I took a bus back to Kansas city, got on an airplane, and the airplane stopped at Wichita, and then at Oklahoma City, and then Dallas. It was Love Field at Dallas at the time. We were late getting out of Oklahoma City because of an ice storm. This was on a Sunday, I had to report to Brooke Army Medical Center by midnight on Sunday, and this was on Sunday.

So we were late leaving Oklahoma City, and by this time I’m getting worried. We flew to Dallas, and in Dallas when we landed, it was on ice. We didn’t miss the terminal by very much, the wing of the plane, and then we were delayed getting out of there. Well there was a man on the plane, who had talked to me in Oklahoma City, and we were both from Des Moines, because we’d gotten on there, and he bought me a Sunday night dinner, because, quite frankly, I don’t have any money. And I got… Then took off late from Dallas and got into San Antonio after 11. I went to a telephone, looked up the number of Fort Sam Houston, called them and said, “I’m here at the airport, if you want me, come and get me.” And they sent a Jeep and a driver and picked me up. And then they put me in a barracks that was not where I was supposed to be.

And I got up the next morning and shaved and all that, went to breakfast, and they said, “Well we’re going to have to find out where you belong. Go back to the barracks and stay there.” So I did. And all of… I was looking outside and stuff, and guys out there playing baseball, throwing the baseball back and forth. And one of the guys was Don Newcombe. So when they came to get me, I said, “That’s Donq Newcombe, isn’t it?” “Yeah, yeah.” So I said, “Well, what’s the matter?” “Well, he wets the bed every night, so he can get out of the Army and go back and play baseball for Brooklyn.”

And they got me to the right place then, and started my training in a couple of days, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Brooke Army Medical Center. We’re known as the Country Club of the Army.

Dad’s Time in the Service 1955-1956

February 28th, 2023 § 1 comment § permalink

I sat down with Dad a few years ago and had him tell me about his time in the service. He talked for almost four hours. Here is part one of five. I cut out quite a bit to help move it along, however I am including the complete transcript in this post.

Mic check, one, two.
Okay We’re just going to start off and give you some basic who, what, when, where questions and then try to gradually build on those and get a narrative.

Let’s start with actually, your name, and your service, what branch of Army you were in?

My name is Richard Delk. I served in the United States Army from 1953 to 1956. August 53 to August of 56.

How old were you when you joined?


19? So fresh out of-

I had one year of college.

Okay. Why did you join?

Well, two reasons. One is that I ran out of money, and I needed the GI bill. The other one is that I really didn’t know what I wanted to do or what I wanted to be.

Were other people around you like that? Was that common?

Very common.


Very common.

Why’d you choose the branch you did?

Well, I’m blind in my left eye. I would not have been drafted. The Army only required a three year commitment, and that’s really all I wanted to give them. I thought it would be easier to get into the Army than the other two services, or three services because of my eye.
Actually, they first told me they wouldn’t take me. After some discussion and reconsideration, they decided that it would be all right. I agreed to go into the Medical Corp. They were okay with that because they had schools that they had openings in, and they were willing to take me on that basis.

How did Grandma and Grandpa feel about that?

My parents were not happy. They did everything in their power to dissuade me. I was not their strongest child, physically. I had troubles. They had up to three sons in the service. One is already in, two out. Actually, one out, and two in. My dad wanted to get me a job in one of the banks.

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

I did not want that to happen. I felt I needed time to figure out what I really wanted to do. I went ahead with it, despite their objections. They finally said, okay, they would take me in the Army, as long as I went in the Medical Corp. I picked a school that I thought I would like, called Neuropsychiatric Technician School. I got committed to that school.

Where was that at?

The school was at Brook Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. I had to go through basic training, first.

Where was that?

Basic training was at Camp Pickett, Virginia.
When I first entered, they put me on a bus with other recruits to Fort Riley, Kansas. That was a recruitment center.

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

From there, we got our uniforms, our shots, whatever we needed to continue. From Fort Riley, they put us on a train and sent us to Camp Pickett, Virginia. I know we went through Kansas City, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and I’m not sure exactly where we got off the train. We took buses, then. There was a few of us going to Camp Pickett, and we took a bus from wherever we got off the train to Camp Pickett, Virginia, which is outside of Blackstone.

What were your comrades, your soldiers, how were they feeling about this? Were they all going to basic training to then disperse other places?

Yes, they were going to basic training. That’s what Camp Pickett at that time was the basic training center for medical service personnel. We would go through eight weeks of regular basic training. Every soldier that went in went through eight weeks of some kind of … Then, we went through eight weeks really designated for medical service personnel. I was there a total of 16 weeks.

Then, where did you go?

From there, I had a short leave, and then went to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

How long were you there?

I got to Brook in January, and we left there sometime in February. I went to Madigan Army Hospital. This was on the job training, served in a Medic and Army Hospital outside Tacoma, Washington.

Some people in my school went to an army hospital in Denver, some of them went to the army hospital in San Francisco. Others went to other army hospitals. There were a couple that stayed in Brook Army Medical Center.

What did you learn at Brook?

I was taught by psychiatrists, mostly, about psychiatric issues and psychiatric treatments.

At that time, there was two basic treatments other than just talking to you. There was electric shock, and insulin shock. We learned about the care of mentally ill patients, we learned how to attend to them during the shock treatments. We learned about what their tendencies were, what we can look for, and how we were to respond to them.

Were you still going through other training as well?

No. When I got to Brook, it was classroom training. We did visit the wards, but there was no hands-on there.

When I got to Madigan, then I was put right out to pasture. I had to do the things necessary. The wards were all locked wards. I was given a key to the wards, and I was to guard it with my life. You never knew what the patients were going to do.

While on the ward, I helped manage the patients, I helped give them treatments. When they were given electric shock or insulin shock, I helped hold them down. Generally, they did not get these treatments every day, but every day they were on duty except on the weekends, we gave treatments to some of the patients.

These patients were from the Korean War?
Some of them were from Korea.

An example, one very, very intelligent young man had gone to Cal Tech, I think. He was put on a duty in Korea where he spent eight hours looking at a screen that had gauges on it. When those gauges did something, he was supposed to do something. He never had, he never did. He spent eight hours a day, staring at this screen. It affected his mind because he was used to using his mind in a lot more substantive manner.

You’re done with Madigan. Did any time when you were in service, was there a fear that war would break out again?

Not while I was in the United States. I didn’t have any fears whatsoever. After I left Madigan, I was on leave. I went back, I flew from Seattle to Minneapolis, took a bus to Des Moines, and was on leave. That was in April 54. I took a train, then, back to a base between San Francisco and Sacramento, California. That was the base where they assigned you to where your permanent position was to be.

I got to that base, and I don’t recall its name. They immediately shipped me out, and sent me back to Tacoma, Washington to 24th Infantry Division, in their Medical Battalion.

When I got to Fort Lewis, they were all out … Fort Lewis was by Tacoma, by Madigan Army Hospital and McChord Air Force Base. They immediately sent us out on a truck. My civilian clothes, my army clothes, everything was loaded into a truck, and several other soldiers. We went across the Cascades, to Yakima Proving Grounds, near Yakima, Washington where they were on maneuvers.

I immediately went to the Medical Battalion. They had their tents sent up, kind of like a MASH. They had a receiving tent, where wounded would be brought in and evaluated. They had a surgical tent, a ward tent, and an evacuation tent. They had four basic tents. I was assigned to the ward tent, but of course we didn’t have patients because we were just on maneuvers. Well, we did get some patients eventually, but not psychiatric patients.

The maneuvers involved the whole Division. We’re in a desert. We simulated battle. The big thing that would happen every day, we would have an air raid from planes from McChord Air Force Base. We had to be prepared for that. We did have a few patients with injuries, some of them were minor. We had one major patient, not psychiatric, but he was an Infantry man that threw himself down by some rocks. A rattlesnake was in the rocks, and it bit him in the corroded artery. He did not make it. Other than that, and a few bruises and a couple broken bones, we didn’t have anything. The big thing was keeping our equipment clean and getting ready for the air raids.

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