At the end of the sixteen weeks, we got a couple of weeks off before we had to report with all of our gear to a dock in N.Y. or N.J. to board the William Buckner troop ship going to Bremerhaven, Germany. Tony and I were slated for the 97th Signal Battalion in Boblingen, near Suttgart in Germany. As we were called onto the boat one at a time by a Puerto Rican Sergeant, Tony Arcoraci had his name pronounced correctly for the only time in his military career. In a loud and clear voice- Antonio Arrcorrachi get on board.
For most of us, the 9 days at sea was a series of latrine cleanings and sitting around. For Tony it was hell on water. He threw up every day from seasickness and lost 24 pounds in the process. You can imagine how he felt when he touched ground. We got to Bremerhaven and took a train to Stuttgart and then Boblingen. I spent the next month or so getting myself set and hanging around with guys from Kansas, Texas and California. I learned so many lessons there. One of the guys I hung around with was Sam Allred, a relative of the former Governor of Texas and a great musician singer and songwriter. I saw him later on the Merv Griffin show with another fellow and they called themselves the Geezenslaw brothers. Sam could write songs of a moment and later on did record some of them. He was last seen in Austin, Texas a few years ago on a morning show as co-host. He was a funny and talented man.
In about a month or less, Elmer Augustine (Ellis Kansas) and I were transferred to a small support outfit in Hopstaden in a more northerly part of Germany. It was there that I learned that you cannot drink ¾ of a liter of Cognac without getting sick for days and that my German ( from the 13th century Yiddish) was pretty good. I was able to speak to girls and sort of carry on sensible conversations. The only odd part of our stay in Hopstadten was a bar that we went to, whose barmaid was a little person. She would serve you beer and crawl under the table and do other things for you for a price. I was never that horny. Other guys were both drunk and horny.
In another 6 weeks we had our whole outfit, about 60 of us transfer to Baumholder about 20 kilometers from Hopstadten. The detachment had its own barracks at Panzer Kaserne (Panzer is tanks and yes it was the home of Rommel). There we had our own mess hall, mess sergeant and the best food the army could produce. Sergeant Sladek was a genius of a chef and made us almost what we wanted on a daily basis, as long as he had the materials to do it.
Baumholder was not a good place to be I was later told. It had 20,000 troops, civilian workers and others. We had French troops (Algerian) and Polish workers and others we did not commune with these “others” for whatever reason and were cautioned not to hang around with them when we were in town.
Since I was one of the few people with any college education among my peers, I was soon made supply sergeant. My time there, as well as my time as a radio teletype operator would require an additional set of words in a book. However, I lucked into a relationship with David Stanton Russell, who had gone to Pomona College for three years and had decided to get into the service, before the service got to him. He became my friend almost immediately. After over 50 years we still communicate and in 2009, Carol and I went out to California to see him and his wife Tassie and their daughter Carolyn and her family.