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.

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