Arial view - 50's McNair Kaserne 32nd Signal emblem

A cold war look at the former home of the 32nd Signal Battalion, the 201st Signal Company, the 17th Signal Battalion, and some other groups.

The 60s

In the 1960's:
The Vietnam war was warming up.
Germany readopted the draft.
12 people escaped via a tunnel under the Berlin Wall.
Border guards killed 18-year-old Peter Fetcher, as he attempted to cross the Berlin Wall into West Berlin.
And Jutta Kleinschmidt, German rally driver was born.

McNair Kaserne, meanwhile, was still home to the 299th Combat Engineer Battalion and the 317th Combat Engineer battalion, from 1954 until 1963.

Why don't I have many photos of McNair from the 60's?
I think one reason is because there were just not that many affordable cameras back then.
I know that most of my photos came about from an impulse buy of a Kodak Instamatic 110 camera.
It was cheap and it got the job done. Little did I know then how much those photos I took would mean to me now.

Any comments of mine are in italics.

299th Crest

58-60 Toland 60 Johnson 62 Ewing 62 Love 64-66 Skootsky (video)
65 Toomey 66 Castino 68 Hill 68-69 Hilliard 69 Gallo
    69-71 Murphy    

The following images are courtesy of Dennis Toland

Mr. Toland writes:

Doug, I was stationed at McNair Kaserne with HQ Co 317th Engineers as a radio operator. I was there from December, 1958 thru May, 1960.
Here are some pictures I dug out of my cellar of the 'company area'. Looks like we were getting ready to depart for some manuevers - probably Wilflecken (sp).
One of the pics shows me on the left with Paul Skrypek goofing in front of the radio shack. Another shows Sgt Chuck Delong, me and SPC Harry Kurtz. Others show us at various watering holes.
This is a great site that really brings back some great memories. Johnny Johnson is the only guy I have been able to stay in touch with. Maybe others will see this and get in touch.
Thanks, Dennis Toland

(These images are a bit lower resolution that most, but I am still grateful to have them for the site.)
(Click on any photo to view an enlargement.)
1960 image
Left to right: Chuck Delong, Dennis Toland and Harry Kurtz on pass;
1960 image
Group at Wildflecken - rear row L-R Unknown, Walt Kubiak, Delong, Toland, Paul Skrypek
1962 image
Outside either movie or EM club Delong, Toland(best view), Kurtz, Skrypek
(I can't identify the building either, maybe it's the gym?)
1962 image
Kaserne entrance
1962 image
Look at HQ co
(Anyone know what the pole-looking line is on the left?)
1962 image
Skrypek in Radio Shack
1962 image
Toland and Skrypek outside Radio Shack
1962 image
Photo taken from the 3rd floor of the north wing of McNair, looking to the south/west and showing the west wing.
Just how many years did we have these Deuce-and-a-half trucks anyhow?.


The following images are courtesy of John Johnson.

Mr. Johnson writes:

Hi Doug,
My name is John R. Johnson, and I was stationed at McNair Kaserne from Jan., 1960 until August 1961. I was a battalion radio operator with HQ Co., 317th Engr. Bn. Since you don't have many pics from the 60s, I thought I'd upload a few to you.
I like this site; hope these help build it out.

Johnny goes on to say...

While I was reminiscing, I thought of something that happened while I was at McNair, and thought I'd pass it on to you.
During WW II, German POWs were placed in U.S. detention camps that had, insofar as possible, climates that were similar to where they had been captured. So it happened that a POW facility, Camp Swift, was installed outside of Elgin, Texas (near Austin), where my mother was from, and where I would spend a few weeks with my grandparents during the summer. During one of these stays, probably 1945, I would go outside early in the mornings and wait under the water tower for the Germans to pass by.
These prisoners had been captured in the North African campaign and would be loaded up on cattle trucks and hauled out to the cotton and corn fields to work the crops. You could hear their singing of German army songs from a mile away while en route to the fields. When they passed by the water tower where I was waiting, I would wave to them and some would wave back and yell.
Fifteen years later, in 1960, I was in the motor pool one day (I was a radio operator but had responsibility for the radio van also) smoking a cigarette by the perimeter fence when a middle-aged German came walking by. He stopped to chat--he could speak passable English and I knew a little German--and during this conversation he asked me where I was from. I told him "Texas" and he brightened and asked if I knew where Elgin, Texas was. I told him that I was born there and spent summers there with my grandparents.
It turned out that he had been imprisoned at Camp Swift back then. He said he really enjoyed it and didn't want to return to Germany, but he had to. Almost incidentally, I asked him if he remembered ever seeing a little boy under the water tower waving to them.
Astonished, he said, "Ziss vas you!?"
Small world.
(Click on any photo to view an enlargement.)
1960 image
Photo of the east entrance.
Some trees from Stadt park area can be seen in the distance.
Photo taken from the top floor (I think) of the North side of the kaserne, above the north dinning hall.
Note the similarity to the photos taken by Ed Ewing below.
Also, it looks like the clock over the driveway entrance was removed by the 80's.
1960 image
Photo of the west side of McNair taken from the middle of the quad.
Note the lack of communications antennas that were on the roof by the time the 80's rolled around.
This part of the building housed the PX, Snack Bar, and other retail establishments.
1962 image
Photo of the south-east part of McNair, probably taken from the same place as the above photo.
Note the large tank or whatever in the distance on the left part of the photo. Water tank maybe?
Very interesting.
Apparently it was gone by 1962.
1962 image
Photo looking north from the north side of McNair, just to the west of the future Michael Barracks.
The library is in the foreground. The enlisted club et al is in the long building on the right. The large building with the 7 little windows towards the left is the theater.
What a great set of photos.
1962 image
Photo of the south part of McNair, probably taken from the same place as the above photo.
1962 image
"The 317th commo shack was located just west of battalion HQ."
I think this is just north of the east entrance. The road to the Motor Pool was behind this building.
Note that we still used those same vehicles as late as 1980.
1962 image
"The AN/GRC-19 radio, mounted in van on back of HQ-17 truck that we used for field commo."
I guess they used this for communications while en route to the Field Problem or Trinkhalle or wherever they were headed.
1962 image
"Lunchtime at Campo Pond exercise."
Note that the standard mess kits and Russian style hats.
1962 image
"WinterShield exercise, January '61. It was f****** COLD!! Slept in pup tents on about a foot of snow."
Is this two "shelter halves" hooked together?
1962 image
"Me and a few buddies having a cool one at Florida Bar in Hoechst, January '60. "
1962 image
"During joint exercise w/German army, summer '60, high-level military meeting, Rod&Gun Club."
Now that's my kind of meeting!


The following 5 images are courtesy of Ed Ewing.
(Click on any photo to view an enlargement.)

1962 image
Photo of part of the east entrance.
The 201st building will soon be built in the left side of this photo.
Some trees from Stadt park can be seen in the distance.
Photo taken from the top floor (I think) of the North side of the kaserne.
1962 image
Photo of east entrance.
The headquarters company building is in the rear.
The south mess hall and part of the south side of Mcnair on the right.
1962 image
Photo of parts of the south and west sides of McNair.
Photo taken from the same vantage point as the photo on the left.

1962 image
Photo of the west side of McNair.
Photo taken from just north of the east entrance, about where the 201st building will be located.
1962 image
Photo of parts of the east, south and west sides of McNair.
Photo taken from just north of the east entrance, about where the 201st building will be located.


The following images are courtesy of William Love.

William writes:
Hello Doug, My name is William Love, I was stationed at McNair Sept 1961 thru Sept 1963 with the 299th Combat Engineer Battalion The 299th was at McNair from 1954 thru 1963 when the Battalion was moved to Ft Gordon, Georgia. I was a Crane Operator in H.Q. & H.Q. Company. We worked with the Germans on local projects and built pontoon bridges at Campo Pond at Hanau and on The Rhine river all for training the grunts in the line companies hated it because it was hard physical work but for me it was easy just stayed on my butt and pulled levers and pushed pedals.
The 299th had the South half of McNair and The 317th Combat Engineer Battalion was on the North side they moved to Eschborn after we left.

Will Love McNair Kaserne
I did enjoy my stay at Hoechst and McNair
(Click on any photo to view an enlargement.)
299th Crest
The 299th crest, I assume.
2005 Cold War Times article
This is a 2003 Cold War Times article describe the 299th role during the 1959-1961 era.
It's a good read.

1962 image
Mr. Love in front of a crane.
It's hard to make out but I think Mr. Love was a Spec-4 back then.

1962 image
Photo is titled "Army CAMPO POND GERMANY 2".
It looks like they are building a pontoon bridge.

1962 image
Photo is titled: "Army Crane's Rhine River 1962".
This photo shows the massive effort it took to erect a path across the Rhine river.
This was done to practice the making of a pontoon bridge should the bad guys bomb the real bridges.
I wonder how the German government worked with the problem of a pontoon bridge blocking water traffic on the normally busy Rhine river? I guess they just dealt with it while it was erected and the Army split it apart a bit when we didn't need it.

1962 2 1/2 ton trucks.
Some of the 2 1/2 ton trucks used in 1962.
For some deja-vue, have a look at the same type of truck being used in the 1970's.
I'll do you one better. I saw these same type of trucks being transported on the interstate for the Army not 2 days ago!
There have been a few changes along the way. Look at the difference in headlight location between the left truck and the rest of the trucks for example.

1962 image
This photo was taken from in front of the theater, looking south at the west end of McNair.
The library building can be seen on the left.
Note the guard shack in the middle of the photo and the tall fence along the road on the right of the photo.


The following video is courtesy of Steve Skootsky

Steve writes:
Hi Doug,
I ran across your web site and thought you might like to see a music video I put together from my time in Germany (1964-66) when I was stationed at McNair, and worked at the I.G. Farben Bldg. You're welcome to post it if you can, or I can send you any of the still pics in it that you might be interested in.
Steve Skootsky

What can I say? This video is great! Remember, it's the 60's. Not everyone was running around with video equipment.

(Click on the play button, folks.)


Mr. Toomey has sent me a years-old and yellowed August 6th, 1966 edition of the Victory CORPS Guardian, a photo or two, and a nice long written description of his time:

Page 1

(Click for an enlargement.)

Page 2

(Click for an enlargement.)

Page 3

(Click for an enlargement.)

Page 4

(Click for an enlargement.)

This is a handout or something like that about radio communications in the Farben building:
Page 3

(Click for an enlargement.)


Arial view - 50's

Larry Toomey:
Hi, Doug. I had never seen an aerial of McNair until a few minutes ago. Coordinating that image with what my memory remembers, I cannot equate what I remember of the gates with what the aerial shows. The motor pool looks different, like it is further back. I don't remember buildings between what was the barracks for the medical unit sharing residence with us and the "Seven Steps to Hell" unit sharing residence with us which were in the same wing'(in fact which might have been the same unit) and the motor pool.
We didn't have a "laundry mat", a modular shell such as construction management uses for their offices on work sites. We had a dry cleaner/tailor and we had laundry call once a week for bed linen, fatigues, socks, towels, winter dress shirts and summer dress khakis. Though we so seldom used dress clothes, it was just as easy to take them to the dry cleaner/tailor.
I don't remember a bowling alley, but I never went bowling. I think I remember we had one, but I only remember from the perspective of knowing about it. My memory of it is that it was over by the NCO/CO clubs, USO and movie theatre. I don't remember the field as it looks here, looks like farming going on there, at the left/top of the image. At the time, those fields were just overgrown weeds. Those apartment buildings might have been there, I remember apartments like that being there, about the same view. I was on my way somewhere cutting across those fields, apartment buildings (the same ones?) off to my right I believe, and I heard this commotion going on off left in the weeds off the path. I look over and a guy and girl were having a go. I don't know how far along they were, they had their clothes on. But they could have been seen from the apartments. The railroad tracks are still there, but that entrance face of the building and street looks different. I don't remember that sculpted configuration of the street, that little half circle roadway in front of the gate.
Rooms look as dingy. Same gray paint on bottom half, beige on top half. 11 foot ceilings? One photo of a guy near his wall locker bending over into his foot locker, yeah,that gives an image of the configuration of the room. Some of the pics of the rooms look the same, some look greatly improved. I still have dreams about the rooms. I don't remember having beer in the room, or the nice furniture that seems to be in some of the rooms. We had bunks. No easy chairs, no end tables. Living conditions almost look like a college dorm or a non-campus dormitory for single people. We never had women.
Headquarters Company was in the wing on the bottom left but I don't remember it being a separate building as it seems to be in the photo. I don't remember 5 companies being with the 32nd. We had HQ Company, A and B. All the companies except HQ had at least 4 platoons, maybe 5. Well, if there is a fourth floor, I guess there was a C company. That would make 4 companies. Although, I'm beginning to think now only 3 floors, and two companies (not involving HQ) were on 1 floor. I don't think there were any companies on the first floor on the side of the building at top of photo. All that was as I said Post Office, PX, Tailor, etc. I can't believe that the kaserne has been turned into an apartment building. I can't envision the rehabbing effort, physically or logistically, to make it so on such an old building. Why did they not tear it down and construct new?
Hmmmm, the view of the shoe tree. Is that from the second floor wing?---which would be upper left corner of pic, overlooking those fields. At the time, those fields were just wild overgrown weeds. If it is, I was in that room for about 4 months. TDYd to TAC-Team, a first response commo squad. Otherwise my proper room of five guys overlooked the Quad from the second floor, I think it was just to the left of the entrance into the Quad.
TAC-Team established earliest communications at a field site, or at an isolated emergency field site when there was a disaster level situation (we had these individual alternative sites so that if a natural disaster or enemy attack occurred, it wouldn't wipe out all communication which might have been located in one spot, just like they have contingency plans for the President, VP, Cabinet Members in Washington, everyone goes to a diverse location to separate the leadership so we have something instead of annihilating all of our eggs in one basket), while awaiting arrival of permanent installation and Wire-Ops people. If we went on scheduled maneuvers, Battalion might move out at 3 AM, we preceded them to the field maneuvers site leaving at 2 AM. We also had unexpected drills that they didn't have. My mobile commo unit--a 1-1/4-ton with two 555-557FM radios, and a single larger FM radio and commercial SSB equipment for RWI patching in a hut on the truck bed ---was up on Hill 880, a site of a radio tower and restaurant. Seems it was north of the area. ;We had a mobile UHF with us on a 5-ton truck, but we had two other similar units on our team---one went to an isolated location from us, one went with the battalion, who had their own similar 5-tonners and 1-1/4 tonners. UHF put up the horns, and we coordinated by running wire into them so we could shoot through their horns, but we also implemented our own vehicle-mounted aerials. We didn't need wire into a land line system---regular battalion did that when they got to field on regular maneuvers--we sighted all of our shoots until Wire-Op's set up permanently if we were in a non-emergency location, i.e., regular field maneuvers.
If I remember the second floor wing correctly, it was on upper left corner of building, but I can't tell from this photo because it doesn't look like the side of the building goes a little past the longer (north?) face of the building. Coming in from that side (not track side) of the building was the dry cleaner/tailor, px and mailroom, snack bar maybe and the mess hall. The TAC-Team squad room (where we slept, not where we recreated and played cards--we went to the NCO and USO clubs for that was, I believe, that room from which the pic of the Shoe Tree was taken. Next to it in the wing was our E5's room, and next to that on the wing was Company B office. I have to hand it to all of you guys who had the moxie to do landscape plans of the area, and the photos. My guys had other things on their minds.
Other than the TAC-Team, my whole time was with RWI. We did Phone-radio patching. Also one of the guys on my team ---Bill Mccollugh--- was radio-enabled sedan driver for the V-Corps Colonel who lived in housing across street from kaserne and worked in the Farben building. RWI worked out of the I.G. Farben Building in Frankfurt. Farben V-Corps HQ ran a civilian Ham radio link out of the first floor right in the lobby for civilian personnel wanting to talk home. Apparently they had their own wire patch RWI setup, civilian/commercial. We had free transportation from the kaserne, either a 1-1/4 tonner or a deuce-and-a-half, what ever was available. Trouble is, driver would be late or not at all. So then we were forced to take public transportation or not go to work at all.; And of course this affected the guys who came off duty, they wanted to get back to barracks, shower, sleep, maybe take a day trip. If they got back late, that ruined their plans. Not at all was not an option because our radio hut on the 7th floor of the Farben Building was manned 24-7. So we had to rotate personnel. We soon enough gave up on taking the deuce and a half to work in favor of the strassenbahn which was just about out our front door, to the right and down a little path paralleling those railroad tracks, there was a little kiosk down that path, we'd go over and get a wurst and a beer every now and then. Nice husband and wife had it. Strassenbahn went past the HauptBahnhof. We might have had to make one transfer/zumsteiger. But public transportation was so cheap despite what we were paid, it was the better option. You went to work feeling like you were going to work, a plus in nasty weather. Weather was never nasty. Snow was like fall/spring here in Philadelphia. You get an inch or two, its gone in two three days. Rainy got a little depressing, adding to the darkness, being in a northern attitude where the sun wasn't above the horizon as long as Philadelphia. What was nasty was doing 70 miles an hour on the autobahn into town in the dark or with the cold whipping under the canvas on the back of a deuce and half, wet fog or rain blowing in adding to the cold.
My standard crew was a crew of 4 or 5. Once in awhile we had six or seven. But they didn't last. I'll tell you why. My basic crew consisted of Ray Nakaya from Hawaii, with a degree in architecture from a college in Oregon; Gary Holst, who had a Masters degree in Oriental Studies/Philosophy, Bill McCollough, the Colonel's Driver who had a degree in classical music from a New England College and played the organ, especially at Church at home. Dave Nordang from Wisconsin, don't know what his background was. Scandinavian American guy. Good worker. We all had something in common. We all appreciated 24 on 24 off, never having any KP or motor pool or guard duty. We were such a low-manned short handed squad we never pulled any of that. Other people did our motor pool. I had KP twice in 18 months, Guard duty twice, and my crew had similar tours if not less.; That was not like the rest of the troops who every 3 weeks they were doing something. Both KP's I filled the salt shakers, both Guard duty's I was officer of the guard assistant. I didn't have any grunt duty. Anyway, other guys would come on our crew, not only did they not show up for work, or go wandering about once they got there, but by their attitude they had nothing in common with us. They didn't like the 24/7, 24 on 24 off arrangement. They would rather work their 9-1/2 hour days M-F and 5 hour Saturdays. What they wanted to talk about while we sat around on duty wasn't in our conversational dialogue. Their behavior was usually not very good, and they had no respect for us in our squad room back at the barracks. They didn't last long. Either they got disgusted with us (Good!) or we took the issue up with our CO. Either way, they were outta there.
I was voice-radio operator MOS 05B20, but trained in Morse at Ft. Dix. Never trained in voice until I got to Germany, and what training did I need?--- It was like talking on a phone, do people need to be trained to talk on a phone? Never used Morse Code in Germany.
I arrived at 32nd Signal in October 1965 and rotated back to the States April 1967. It seems the oldest vets on these sites of the 32nd go only back as far as 1985. That is because the internet started in the 1990s, and all of you younger fellows grew up with the internet and computers in a different way than what my generation did. Because of when the internet became publicly available my fellow soldiers who were there are disenfranchised from being on the rolls of such sites. Not through any fault of people who made these sites, but as I said, computer and internet availability and significance is different for your crew than for mine. Also, as I said earlier, my guys had other things on their mind. Vietnam. And we didn't have the social perspective that your generation did. We just wanted to do our two or three years and get out of there. From the living conditions there, and the co-ed habitation, it seems you had a more convivial atmosphere there. I still think of Ray and Gary and Bill, Buddy Peltier (since died, someone broke into his apartment, killed him), Dave Austin of Baltimore. But we didn't keep in touch. Buddy and I did until his death more than Bill and I.
Just days before I left there, there was a major alert. We had to go out into the field because a missile---this was not a drill--had been launched from Russia. We were very sober going out, because we, having some idea--some of us--what was going on in Vietnam, projected to ourselves visions of WW2 about to repeat themselves in real time. When I got home, I found out that Russia had launched an unannounced radio satellite.

Larry Toomey


The following image is courtesy of Mike Castino.
(Click on any photo to view an enlargement.)

1962 image
Mike C writes: "Here is photo of me(left) and a buddy at the Trinkhalle sometime around fall of 66.
I think the place was a little bigger than today."


The following images are courtesy of Richard Hill

Richard writes:
Hi Doug,
Attached are some pictures of McNair in the late 60s. I don't remember all the guys names. I was stationed at McNair from 1968 to August 1969, in the 32nd Signal Bat. Co. B , Cable and WirePlatoon. I played war games in the field, then washed and cleaned equipment and my duce & 1/2 truck in the motor pool. I had some adventures like training at Grafenwoehr, leave at Berchesgaden, delivering mail to Stuttgart, delivering a prisoner to Frankfurt and going home on leave. Free time was drinking Henninger beer, movies and going to Hoechst. I also liked the alerts and the time in the field. After we removed the cable from my duce & 1/2, I would transport guys back to McNair in the back of the truck for showers and such. It was fun bouncing them around in the back on the dirt roads in the field. I enjoy your site, and maybe some of guys in my pictures will e-mail you, and I might find out their names.
Richard J. Hill
(Click on any photo to view an enlargement.)
Alert. Rich Hill (left), Ray Kugler (right)

A Soldiers Story Bill Sobolewski
Wire Platoon
(Yet another example that those curtains survived forever.)

Cable & wire platoon in the field (woods next to Frankfort Airport)
Cable & wire platoon in the field (woods next to Frankfort Airport).
Also known as the Rhein-Main airfield back then.

Company B 32nd signal cable & wire platoon.
Photo probably taken in the same type of tent shown in the upper left photo.
Note the mess gear hanging up on the upper left.

Motor Pool
Motor pool.
Looks like a snowball fight is brewing.

Rich Hill, Eiliott, and a few other troops.
Rich Hill, Eiliott, and a couple of other troops.
I can't tell if this is a room in McNair or not.

Rich Hill & Eiliott
Rich Hill & Eiliott.
Those curtains must be made from uranium or something. They lasted for decades.

Rich Hill & Scotty Gwyn
Rich Hill & Scotty Gwyn.
It looks like the room was on the third floor of the north wing of McNair.
Image out the window is of the south wing of McNair near the mess hall.

Rudy Sedillo
Rudy Sedillo.
Note the blue V Corps shoulder patch on the top of his sleeve.
The patch below indicates that he is a "Specialist Four" rank.

Rich Hill, Elliot, and a few other troops.
Sgt. Hill.
His patch indicated that he is a Sergeant E-5, one rank above a Specialist Four.

1968 - 1969

The following images are courtesy of Gene Hilliard

Gene writes:

Hi Doug.
Someone sent me your web site on McNair in Germany. I was stationed there 1968-1969 and had some great times there. I was in the 32nd Signal Batt. B Co. Combat Support Platoon. I arrived as a private and left as an E-5 Sgt. I was team chief of truck B-415 carrier and radio and was an out terminal and went to Giessen on all the alerts. I supported the 42 artillery that was stationed at Giessen. They seldom went out on the alert, but when they did it was usually a long exercise and they carried everything,even a mess hall. Their switch board connected to my Van and their communication went out over my radio and carrier. During an alert me and another friend Sgt. Jamison would race our deuce-and-a-alf down the autobahn until we got to his turn-off to another town. Some times we'd be holding up traffic trying to pass one another, then when we'd fall back in line the German people would go by shaking the finger at us. He and I had the best and newest trucks in our Platoon, or maybe Co. since we were out terminals and had the longest distance to drive.

I was fortunate enough to have my wife come and live in Germany while I was there, and we live on Mombager Weg in Sossenheim, about 2 blocks from the motor pool. I have lots of good memories of that time period. At that time it seemed like a world away, and hated being there at that time, but as I look back on that period of time it was the best 2 years of my life, i just didn't realize it at the time.

The wives of the army personnel have good memories of that time too. I remember how they use to ride the army bus into Frankfurt to do their laundry or shop and the driver would let them off at their stop and help them on and off with their little push carts. The wives also got together when we went on alerts and sort of camp out together and had good times. I can remember coming home just on a shower run some times and the wives would all jump up and run home so we could have some private time before I had to go back. When the alerts were over they'd do the same thing as soon as one came back home and said it was over.

I can remember going to the movies every night and sometimes would see 2 movies the same night, especially if we had missed one at the McNair theater. Normally we'd go to the one in Frankfurt since we had a vehicle, a 1955 VW. The movies got to the Frankfurt theater about 2 weeks before they got to the McNair theater, then if we missed one while on alert or some other reason, we might see the first show in Frankfurt, and as soon as it was over hurry like everything and drive back to McNair theater as fast as that bug would go, which might have been 50 mph, and get there just in time to see the second showing of a move we had missed earlier.

Their's not enough room or enough time to write all my memories. I appreciate your site and will check back and surf it some more. Sorry for all the misspelled name of the German town, but I'm sure your readers will know what they are.
Thanks again, Sgt. Gene Hilliard

Gene sent a lot of great photos, and descriptions to go with them.
I'll put his descriptions in boxes like the one above my babblings here:

(Click on any photo to view an enlargement.)

One (memory) I can remember well was a war time exercise played out at Rhine Main airport area. It was my only time there, but I know it was a regular place for field exercise for others in our Co.

We were supposed to have aggressor attack us during this stay, and we were to simulate a fox hole. Donald Blades, and I shared a simulated fox hole, I think we were both spec-4's at the time were in the same fox hole, and it was freezing cold, and snowed the next day. We took our ponchos and put them together and made a shelter and was comfy I guess would be the word for it, yet cold. I think I wore most everything I had at the time including those Mickey Mouse boots and got in my sleeping bag with everything on. We were right at the end of the run way at Rhein Main airport, in a wooded area,right next to the fence that kept people off the run way. We got to see planes coming in during one 12 hrs period, then they'd change directions, then they'd be taking off from our end. There was a cross road(little dirt road) right in the middle of a pine thicket we were to guard, we had barbwire stretched and stacked across the cross road, and at almost dark some little old German fellow came up on his bicycle,he had been out watching planes take off. WELL being good army men as we were, we thought this must be one of the aggressor trying to slip in, so Donald Blades runs out with his weapon loaded with blanks and said "HALT",,,give me the pass word, and as you can imagine all this German talk and American talk gets nowhere and I think the little guy was about to wet in his pants. Can you imagine what he must have thought, WAR again! We called back to headquarters on our field phone and they finally said let him go, so he hops on his bike and away he went.

Then after dark, we had trip flares set with Flash bulbs on them, well they start going off, and we think AGGRESSORS again. Finally when some one goes to check, it's a rabbit running around tripping the flares. These pictures are from that exercise, the guy standing out side last name was Efferd I think that's spelled right, that's me on the field phone, and Donald Blades inside his sleeping bag in the fox hole.

Troop Shelter Troop Shelter
Note the field phone. You could hook two of them together with just a pair of wires, or talk around the world if all of the infrastructure was in place.
50 Cal.
A couple of Army ponchos become home for a day. Note the mess kit and the Mickey Mouse boots the troop on the right is sporting. Is that a 50 Cal machine gun in front of the troop laying down? I'd love to have that in my collection today! It would be just the thing for a wayward javalina.

Another exercise i remember well was the "Reforger 1" exercise, to take place at Grafenwher. The exercise wasn't to start until Jan. 1969, but a select few from the 32nd Signal Bn. Went up ahead of time with our radio trucks to put in communication before it started so we could check everything out.

I remember another Signal Bn. was to have communications for that exercise, but they were going to use land line, and during the week we were there before the exercise started we would see them stringing cable everyday, they had 13 miles to run, and everyday when we'd pass by, as we were going to Velseck the little town we were set up in, we'd all say: IT'S NOT GOING TO WORK. Land lines had to have repeaters in the line, i think ever 1/3rd mile to keep them warm in cold weather. So we were sure that at that distance they could not not keep them warm enough to work. Our radios worked great at that short distance of 13 miles from Velseck to Grafenwher. Our radios were usually shooting 35 to 40 mile with a weak signal of about 13 on our meter, there at Velseck we had a reading of about 25 or more, and had no problems at all.

Headquarters for this exercise was in the gym (behind Trucks in Pictures) We were lucky and got our vans connected to civilian power and didn't have to worry with our generator. We were set up in a parking lot next to the gym and had out trucks end to end and a sheet of plywood as a walk board from truck to truck. I remember one of the trucks had a switch board truck and one was a radio and carrier truck and one was a repeater radio truck. There might have been another 1 or 2, but can't recall what they were. Sgt. Joseph Thurston is in the close up and me Sgt. Hilliard between the trucks.

As I said we went up ahead of time in Dec. 1968, but as Christmas time drew near, the guys that were married and had there wives over there were going to get to go back for the holidays and then return just before the exercise was to start. We had taken up more trucks than was needed, and as we went back for the holidays we were taking the extra trucks back. We were within site of the hard top road when we hit a patch of ice on the tank trail and most all the truck got side ways and in ditches with trucks or with trailer. As it was we had a wrecker with us and after some time finally got everything straightened out. Then of course we put the chains on the tires just to make that last little short trip to the hard top road. See pictures attached.

I'm attaching some pictures from that exercise.

Troop and 2 1/2 ton trucks
A troop boxed in by deuce-and-a-half trucks.

Troop in front of shelter
This looks like a photo of a troop in front of the door toe an equipment shelter. The troop isn't wearing any rank insignia. Don't know what's up with that.

2 1/2 ton trucks.
Another photos of the trucks. Probable an A-company truck and a B-company truck. Note the model difference between the truck on the left and the one on the right.

trailer turned over.
Got some work cut out for them here...

Note the chains being installed in the left of the photo.

Fuel truck in ditch.
Fuel truck slid off the road... Going to winch that puppy out...

Fuel truck in ditch 2
"I forget. Is it 'heave' or 'ho' first?"
"Shut up and drag that cable over here."

These are just odd picture taken during stay at McNair in 1967-1969. That's me Grady E. Hilliard in the pictures. The radio is a Radio/Carrier truck. Use or delete as you wish.

Classic pose of a troop in McNair. Insignia denotes a sergeant E-5. That little radio on the table on the left shows up in some other photo posted here.
Looks like a vehicle inspection here. What all do we have here? Fuels can, tire chains, reflectors, shovel, hydraulic jack... This truck doesn't have a winch, so the cut-out in the front bumper is pointing down.
Equipment racks.
I don't recognize much of this equipment, at least not the stuff on the left.
Now this is part of either an AN-GRC50 or AN-GRC102 radio system. Frequency vernier in the left middle. Fan filter in just to the right of middle and order wire headset on the right.
I think the green thing on the table is a mini-teletype unit., with a small patch panel above it.
Snow - VW.
"What car did you have overseas, Dad?"
"A Mercedes son. All G. I.'s were rich and drove Mercedes."

Formation in the quad at McNair. East entrance shown in upper left of the photo.
Tennis net... wait a minute... Tennis?

Troop - 2 1/2 ton truck
Note the commo cable connected tot he front left of the equipment shelter on the back of the truck./

I'd like to acknowledge the wives of the 32nd Signal Bn also. There were several guys in our outfit that had there wives come over and live with them while in Germany. The wives stuck together much as the guys did. When we were on field exercise they would usually have sleep over's until we returned from the field. They'd party or go to Frankfurt on the army bus and take there laundry and go to the laundry mat, or just go to Frankfurt and shop for the day or buy grocery's. They often commented on how nice the bus drivers were to help them on and off the bus with the little carts they pull around. If we happened to come home on a shower run, then they'd all jump up and hurry home, knowing that there husbands might be there when they got home. We had great times with the other familys there also and even went on leave together with one couple on one occasion. After our return to the States, my wife kept in contact with some of the couples by cards and letters for several years. Also the Germany family we rented our apartment we stayed in contact with them for several years also. Family life in Germany outside of the army had great memories also.

On one occasion the 32nd took a field exercise to a town called Wildflicken by train. We left Hoechst by electric train and part of the way to Wildflicken we had to switch engines, and was pulled by steam engine the rest of the way. At times on steep upgrades we'd get to a snail's pace. The train trip was an experience in it's self.

Once at Wildflicken no one had to tell you it was and area that had heavy fighting during the war. Lots of bombed out bunkers and tanks still left in areas where we fired the M-50 and M-60, as well as the M-14 on automatic. We also slept in pup tents for a full week as well as ate in a outside mess hall or either had c-rations. One night we had heavy rains and i was awaken by my friend who I was sharing the pup tent with, he was digging a trench with his spoon from under his sleeping bag to turn the running water from his now wet sleeping bag. We qualified with the M-14 while there. One of the days training was to take this old bombed out town, there they had color smoke as well as gas, so everyone got to use the gas mask.

One day that stands out in my mind about that trip was a day we played soft ball. Everyone was having a good time, not even sure how many was playing, but probably more than what makes up a team. I was never a great ball player, but someone hit a long high fly ball in my direction and it looked as if no one could make a play it was hit so far, but at the last moment I leaped as high as I could and snagged that ball with one hand. As I said i was not a great ball player, it was just one of those time when everything went right. I had my moment as a hero for that brief period of time.

The trip back to Hoechst was another experience also. It was all down hill going back and the old steam engine ran so fast you would have thought it was a run away engine. We'd go through these small towns so fast that they looked like little dots as we flew through them. The steam engine pull us all the way back to Hoechst, and i think in record time too.

I'll attach some pictures for that exercise. You can see color smoke rising in some of them. I wished i had gotten more pictures of that area.

A typical small German village. If I were a billionaire, I'd still chose a place like this to live.
The local church can bee seen just to left of center.

You can see the forest-covered hills in the background. I think most towns I member are like this. Small main paved road near the bottom of the valley. A clutch of houses along the roads. Fields leading up the side of the hill. And finally a ring of trees along the hilltops, circling the valley.

Countryside - Tree
Taking a break under a tree stump.

Countryside - Troops
An image repeated hundreds of times, representing hundreds of skirmishes and wars. The equipment may change, the country names change, the troop names change as well; but it all boils down to the same thing.


The following information came courtesy of Emil Gallo Jr.

Emil writes:

My name is emil and I was at McNair 69-70 and I found this on the web. I thought you might pass this on to the guys stationed at McNair Kaserne in 1969. It's a Concert April 12th, 1969 with Janis Joplin at Jahrhunderthalle where Janis invites everyone on stage. Now the concert goers were almost all GI's so Janis was loving it.

At 1:31 look for the all USAREUR boxing champ Mark Fisher and his red headed girl. He was based at Harvey Barracks in Kitzingen.

Almost the entire concert was released (or maybe not) and is on you tube:

I think the guys would like to see themselves onstage.

Company clerk
Company C 32d sig Bn.


The following images are courtesy of Tom Murphy

Tom writes:
I (was) going through my old Army photos and decided to try a search on Mcnair Kasern. To my surprise I found your site. My name is Tom Murphy. I was stationed at Mcnair from October 1969 thru January 1971. I was with B Company 32nd Signal. As I think back on those days it brings a smile, ice skating at the Frankfurt Stadium every winter weekend with my buddy Dave Wilkerson, the eye popping experience of my strolls down the Kaiserstraus, those many rides on the street cars.
Your photos of the motor pool and the barracks brought back many memories, thinges did not change much from the early 70's. I had the pleasure of driving a deuce-and-a-half to RhineMain AFB for our "COM OP RED" alerts. I believe I participated in Reforger 1 & 2. I was a "patch panel tech" MOS 31N40, so I was lucky to be in a heated van for the operations. I think we set up at a base in Hanau for Reforger 1. Reforger 2 was spent in the cold mountains during January.

My first night in Hoschst, my travel mate (Ed Adams, St. Louis, MO) and I were bunked across the street behind the USO, we had not yet been officially assigned to the 32nd, decided to see Frankfurt. We were warned to stay away from the "KaiserStrasse" but didn't know what that was. We headed downtown, Ed still in dress greens since his duffle bag was lost in transit, we followed the lights from Hauptbanhof to Kaiserstrasse. Ed wanted a drink so we stopped at a local bar, and of course two young girls who had "been to Cleveland, Ohio and St. Louis Missouri (our home towns) quickly joined us. They asked us to buy them a drink, so not wanting to appear rude on our first day in Germany, we complied. They ordered Cognacs, we did not know they cost about $17 a drink, we had cokes. We soon ran out of our combined money, about $75, and meekly returned to the barracks, broke, but much wiser. We laughed and said to ourselves "now we know why the guy told us to stay away from the Kaiserstrass.e"

My over all experience at Mcnair was enjoyable. We didn't have females on base in the early 70's and we still had KP duty. There was a lot of racial issues on base (with several fights) and lots of drugs. I did not use drugs and was too "straight" for some of the guys, I was accused of being an undercover CID (Criminal Investigation Division) agent, I was threatened and had a guy from the 201st pull a switchblade on me my first week in the 32nd (the 201st was down the hall from B CO 32nd). During the later months of 1969 the main trouble makers and drug dealers were given dishonorable discharges and sent to Leavenworth. 1970 saw a rotation of many Vietnam vets sent to Germany to serve their last few months before discharge. Drugs were a big problem and there were undercover agents sent in to report on the goings on after hours. We had two major drug busts, 3AM raids with MP's outside every room, but they knew which rooms to concentrate on. As it turned out my roommate was the CID undercover agent, he quickly disappeared after the raids. Things became more subdued after the drug busts, I got some new roommates and we had lots of laughs.

(Click on any photo to view an enlargement.)

Downtown Frankfurt


Reel to Reel


Downtown Frankfurt.

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