Grafenwöhr, 1964

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This is the only picture of me in uniform (taken by a guy who didn't know about focusing or centering). It's at the garbage dump of the Grafenwöhr tank range during our annual "winter vacation" there (I was in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, stationed in Kaiserslautern, a short train ride from Frankfurt; its main job was guard duty along the Czech border with West Germany). Evidently "Graf" still exists. (Later I was assigned to 7th US Army Heaquarters in Stuttgart where I got some 1960s-vintage computer exposure).

I arrived back in Germany in Spring 1963. I revisited Frankfurt High on a three-day pass; it was just the same as 2 years before. There was a football game in progress and some people I knew were still there and we had a nice mini-reunion after the game. So you can go home again. But don't wait too long.

Grafenwöhr was the site of a horrible artillery accident that occurred in September 1960, when I was at Frankfurt High, in which parents or friends of many FHS students and teachers were injured or killed; CLICK HERE for some photos of the memorial service.

Of course there were also countless lesser accidents when Army units moved out from their Kaserne to Graf or on maneuvers in the countryside -- deuce-and-a-halfs running over chickens, M-60 tanks misnegotiating tight turns on narrow village streets and knocking corners of houses off. These were billed back to the Army according to a regular schedule -- a chicken, for example, was worth a great deal of money, considering all the eggs it would have laid, all the chicks it would have hatched, all the eggs they would have laid, etc. Legend had it that when farmers heard a convoy approaching, they would herd their chickens into the road.

Some accidents were more serious. A self-propelled 155mm Howitzer in my regiment exploded in 1963 or 64, killing all on board, when its radio antenna made contact with an overhead power line on a country lane.


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