sons in the army stationed on opposite sides of Germany, I was able to
fly to Paris and meet with my (middle) son and his wife. We entered
Germany two days later. After remaining with him about a week, we
met my oldest son and his family in Nuremberg and I was once again on familiar
ground. Plans were made to visit Herzo Base long before I returned
to Germany for the first time in ust over 33 years. I was amazed to discover
that “Herzo Base” had its own exit off an autobahn (the sign was old).
This dumped you very near the gate! There are in fact two traffic lights
between the entrance to the base and the town.
When I left in June
of "64", the winding road from the front gate to “town” passed between
fields used for agriculture, a fact that was confirmed by the unmistakable
fragrance of the spring visits of the “honey wagon” and tilling
by horse-drawn plows.Today the city is pushing toward the front gate
of the old base.
I approached the familiar
arch and guard shack. The lettering now read Herzo Artillery and the
“guard” was a bewildered German man who finally was made to understand
that I had been stationed there in the early ‘60s and I wished to
park the car and walk around to take pictures. He explained that
the property had been “privateized” a few weeks prior to my arrival and,
yes, I could take pictures.
Col. McFadden would
have been despondent at the sight. Tall grass (with weeds) now grew
in front of the small “parade field” near the flagpole. The fence
was gone. Modern family quarters stood at the right rear (in the
old antenna field) and contrasted with the deterioration of the other structures,
relics of my remembrance of our combat readiness days under Col. J.J.!
(Remember the Schnauzer?) There was no fence and no guard shack at “opps.”
I couldn’t get in (padlocked) and I could find no window to look into the
building. I wanted to see if the German phrase “mortal danger
from the crane” was still there from the Nazi days.
All the other converted
hangars were in place. The mess hall was gutted of furnishings and
equipment. Other buildings kept their secrets behind dirty glass
and darkened interriors. I was able to peer in some rooms on the
ground floor of 182nd, 183rd,and HQ Co.; no furnishings and no other
signs of the life I knew there. The building where the USO girls ran things
was still there; same name (now forgotten).
I remember that I was playing “Hearts”
with three other soldiers there when news came of Kennedy’s having been
shot in Dallas. We went to “opps” and learned that he had died just
before it came over the radio.
Looking up the paths
from the HQ barracks was very much the same view of the mess hall that
I remembered. The roads are unchanged except for needed repairs.
The EM Club now belonged to a furniture company. I think they used it for
a warehouse. Best of all I knowledge that the motor pool, where we
pulled “firsts the eschalon (sp?) maintenance” on vehicles is now a WINERY!
Amazing! A sign is up and all the other evidence that confirms its
purpose is cluttered around it.