My Army Experiences, Part 3   3 comments

new_tinyThis means I added something from the basement of my mind.  This is so you won’t have to read everything all over again.  Look for the new_tiny symbol….
My 18 months with the 11th Armored Cavalry in Fulda, Germany, went entirely too fast.  Before I knew it, I had orders transferring me to Frankfurt, Germany, to V Corps Headquarters.  V Corps had a policy of moving Officers every 18 months.  I figured I would be assigned to another combat unit.  Much to my surprise I was assigned to the Corps Headquarters as the Chief, Personnel Actions Sectiom, a Major’s position.  The Corps G1, my immediate boss, had asked for and received permission from US Army Headquarters, in Washington, DC, for me to work a Major’s position.  After I had reported in and was told where I was to work,  I thought I would  be in a tiny back office with nothing to do and be bored out of my mind.  Nothing was further from the truth.  The V Corps Personnel Actions Section was one of the busiest places I had ever seen.  Myself and my people were responsible for creating the awards and decorations  for all the non-divisional units in V Corps.  Plus, answering all the Congressional and Presidential inquiries received by the Corps.  I had 48 hours to answer Congressional Inquiries and 24 hours to respond to a Presidential Inquiry.
Some background is in order.  I was really honored to have been selected to work a Major’s position.  In the beginning, I had some real problems with the commanders that I had to deal with.  I was responsible for dealing with the commanders of all the non-divisional units in the Corps with regards to Presidential and Congressional inquiries.  In the beginning, I was treated like dog poop.  Who was I to ask Colonels and LTC for information.  I was only a Warrant Officer.  In my day, a Warrant Officer was a high paid technician; the expert in his field.  If you needed an answer or wanted to know how to do something, you asked the Warrant Officer who specialized in that field.  Now I, and the G1, had to brief the Chief of Staff (One Star), the DCG (Two Stars) and the Commanding General (Three Stars) each weekday morning.  About once a week, the CG would ask me if everything was OK.  The first time he asked me, I was having a very hard time getting these senior officers to give me the facts I needed to formulate the appropriate answer to the Presidential and/or Congressional staffs .  I told the CG about my problem getting factual information from these Senior Officers.  He looked at me and said I would never again have this problem.  I thought, “Yeah, right!” and went back to my office feeling rather dejected.
The next day I really got a surprise. The first LTC I spoke to was ready for me.  He gave me the information I needed to close out the inquiry without any hassle or bull shit.  He also gave me the private phone number  to his desk and told me that any time I needed any information to call him direct.  He then thanked ME for calling.  I couldn’t believe  my ears!  For the rest of my tenure as chief, Personnel Actions, I never again had a hassle or an attitude while gathering the information that I needed.  I don’t know what that 3-star General did and I never asked.  What ever he did, he put the fear of God into them.  I heard a little while later that he referred to me as “his Chief”.  Warrant Officers were addressed as “Mister” or “Chief”.  It really made me feel good.
Another mission I had was the issuance of Awards and Decorations for all the non-divisional units within the  Corps.  Believe me, there was a bunch of units that fell into this category.  I was fortunate to have a young SP5 (E5) working for me with a Masters Degree in English and he could write up some beautiful narratives for these awards and decorations.  No computers in those days.  Mark and his crew of 4 turned these things out by hand as fast as they do today with most of the verbiage stored in computers.  He was on  the phone one day trying to make a Sergeant Major understand his first name.  He screamed, “Mark…Mark…Mark, like a hair-lip dog!  Mark….Mark, now do you understand?”  My Sergeant and I nearly fell out of our chairs with laughter.  I didn’t hear the end  of the conversation.  Just as well as I didn’t want to get involved.  Yes, even in a higher headquarters like a Corps, the phones were still known as “Hitler’s Revenge”.  During this period I was promoted CW2 Promotion 2 to CW2 by my boss, the G1 and my Battalion Commander.
While stationed in Fulda I used to go out to eat several nights per week because the further out in the country you were, the cheaper the food was.  Each small town in Germany has it’s Gast (guest) Haus (house) which is normally the center of social life.  Just about each town has it’s own small beer brewery.  It was a lot of fun to go from town to town sampling the food and drinking their local beer.  Plus. it was inexpensive.  Not so in the big city of Frankfurt.  I went out to eat just once and never again.  Couldn’t afford it.
My shooting was also curtailed.  What few outdoor rifle and/or pistol ranges were available in Frankfurt were very expensive.  I did, however, find a new shooting venue:  air pistols.  They are big sport in the larger cities, so I migrated to air pistols.  Actually they’re a lot of fun.  They are rather strong.  I have had a .17 cal pellet come back from down range and nip my ear.  From then on I had a greater respect for air pistols.  Until I left Germany, air pistols were my main shooting venue.
After arriving at V Corps Headquarters I kept trying to reach the Transportation folks to see if my household goods had arrived from Fulda.  After trying to call several times a day for three days, a had my sergeant take me over there.  I walked in and saw a woman sitting behind the counter working on her nails with the phone receiver laying on the counter.  While I was making arrangements for my household goods to be delivered, my sergeant found out from some of the workers that she did that all of the time.  They had complained but nothing ever came of it.  I didn’t say anything but, I was really pissed.  The next morning after my briefing with the CG, he once again asked me if I had any problems and was every thing OK.  I told him that yesterday I witnessed something that really bothered me.  He told me to sit in his couch and explain my problem.  The next day my sergeant had to take a new man to transportation to see if his baggage had arrived from his last post.  He came back into the office with as big grin and told me that yesterday afternoon the woman was relieved and fired.  I learned that if the CG got wind that something was amiss, he took action.  Good man, that General.
In the Army, Officers are of two categories, Reserve and Regular Army.  Regular Army is the number of permanent officers allowed, by law, in the standing Army.  Most of the Officers you see are Reserve Officers on extended Active Duty.  I decided I wanted to stay for thirty years and the only way to do that was to apply for Regular Army, which I did, and was accepted.
I had about 2 1/2 months left before I was to rotate back to the USA.  I received a call from a CW4 in Warrant Officer’s Branch, in Washington, to let me know what my next assignment would be.  STOP…. More background is in order.  When I first was appointed a Warrant Officer, Warrant Officers were managed by their Commissioned Officer counterpart, ie AG Warrants were controlled by the Adjutant General Branch:  Ordnance Warrants by Ordnance Branch.  In the meantime Army had made huge amounts of Aviators (chopper pilots) for service in Vietnam.  Now, some idiot decided that Warrants should have their own branch.  Ouch, that really hurt.  Now, if you weren’t an aviator, you couldn’t get any favors from Warrant Officer Branch. OK, back to my tale of woe.  This CW4 tells me that I am going to Ft. Dix, NJ.  This really hurt, as I had been to Ft. Dix twice before.  I felt that if the world were to get an anima,  Ft. Dix is where the tube would go in.  Sorry, but thats how I feel about that Army post.  So, I sat down and wrote a letter to my old next-door neighbor, a retired Bird Colonel named Tom.  Colonel Tom had a great sense of humor.  Tom had 8 children and where ever he was assigned, they had to break through the wall into another set of quarters to have enough bedrooms for all his kids.  One time, a young Sergeant asked Colonel Tom if he was Catholic.  Tom answered, “No, just careless.”
Anyway, Tom did his magic and about a month later the same CW4 called me.  He told me to call off the dogs and he would send me to Ft. Gordon, GA.  He asked me who I knew in high places due to the number of General Officers that had called about me.  I told him that I didn’t know anyone in high places but, I knew people that did.


When I arrived back at Ft. Gordon, it was like old home week,  I saw many people that I knew from my first tour there.  The only difference was when I left they were Military.  They retired and came back to work the next day as civilian instructors.  Same folks, same jobs,  just different clothes.
When I reported in to the In Processing Center I was told to go the Personnel  Shop.  Made sense to me as I was a Personnel Officer.   So, off I went to the Personnel Shop.  Maybe I would get lucky and be the Management Officer.  I gave a copy of my orders to the Sergeant at the desk and he told me to go right back to where I had just came from.  I asked why and he told me that I was being assigned to Headquarters Command as the Adjutant.  Since there was no use arguing with him as he couldn’t do anything about it, I went back to the In Processing Center, which I found out later was a  small part of Headquarters Command.  This place was one of the largest single story wooden buildings  that I have ever seen.  At one time it had been a huge mess hall, serving hundreds of soldiers three times a day.  With Ft. Gordon building permanent buildings for the soldiers, the need for these old World War II temporary buildings was going away.  The ones that were still standing were empty, many in need of repairs.
Time for another lesson about the inner workings at the Army at Ft. Gordon.  A temporary building is made of wood and was probably built during World War II and the Korean Conflict.  A permanent building is a newer building built of brick and mortar or concrete.  Most posts probably do not have many temporary buildings left standing but, this was your history lesson for today.   On Ft. Gordon North and South roads were Avenues and East and West roads were Streets.  You could find any building on post by its building number:  the first two numbers were the Avenue, the second two were the street that intersected that avenue and the last two number(s) were the number of the building in that block.  It worked!  You could find any building on post by its building number.  Not any more.  Someone decided it was fancier to use civilian names for the Avenues and streets.  Now, it’s hard to find anything.  So much for progress.
So, back to the In Processing Center I went.  This time, my reception was much different.  All the people at the In Processing Center stood at attention when I walked in (Someone had called and said their new boss was on his way).  The Sergeant in charge shook my hand and ushered me in to the  Commanding Officer’s Office.  Waiting in there was the Commanding Officer, COL  Boe and the XO  MAJ Holster (Not their real names).  MAJ Holster was, as far as I was concerned, a kiss ass.  new_tinyHe told me that Washington had approved me working a Major’s position and the Adjutant for Headquarters Command. new_tiny COL Boe was a hunter.  One of the first questions he asked me was, did I own guns and was I an active shooter.  I told COL Boe that I did own guns and was a active shooter.  That did it.  I couldn’t get COL Boe off me morning or night.  Every time I turned around I heard COL Boe telling me there was a meeting out on Range 35.  So, off we went, to shoot 500 and 1,000 yard targets.  COL Boe was a good shot but, I was better!  My weapon of choice was a Browning Carbine, Cal. 22-250, with a 16 power scope attached.  Since I did not hunt this weapon was ideal for long distance target shooting.  After meeting all the soldiers that would work for me, I settled in, made a few changes, and proceeded to enjoy life at Ft. Gordon.
I had ben a Ft. Gordon about 6 months when the real Adjutant reported in and he was  indeed a Major.  So there I was,  a Warrant Officer without a home.



Posted March 2, 2014 by Max Nathanson in Uncategorized

3 responses to My Army Experiences, Part 3

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  1. Interesting Max. I thought you were the one who didn’t like to live in the past. I guess people change. Anyway, it makes for interesting reading,

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