Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Letters Home: "I hope the other outfits over here are combat ready because we're not"

Click To Enlarge

October 6, 1952
Fliegerhorst Kaserne
Dear Mom,
Well we finally got moved. I don't like this camp as well as the other one. This used to be a town. The barracks look like a college or high school. Long hallways and rooms. I'm in a 3 man room. Number 17.
I'm about 3 miles from Hanau and 15 from Frankfurt. Only 20 miles to the Russian border. [1] We are going there on patrol about the 13th.
I got your letter today. I think Marvin is stationed about 5 miles from here but I don't know his address.
What kind of deal will Le Vake give Dad for the Mercury? I don't think he should trade it before winter. It needs a bigger battery.
I gave Les Jim's address. I doubt if I will write to him. I don't like to write. I'll talk to him when we both get back.
It's not too cold here yet. It will be this winter though. I'll be camping out most of winter I suppose. In Dec. we fire the 90 m.m. for the first time. [2] I think if Russia ever attacked the 141st would have to run. I hope the other outfits over here are combat ready because we're not. [3]
Put plenty of mothballs on my leather jacket and tankers jacket, because I will be wanting them when I get back next Fall.
I go to the show every time it changes. It costs 20 cents; I think the price is going up to 25 cents after awhile.
I took a carton of cigarettes to town and sold them to a German for 15 marks ($3.75).  They only cost us $1.00 a carton but I still can't afford to smoke. I can't see it anyway. You have to be careful who you sell them to because that's Black market. Coffee sells for $2.50 a pound.

[1] He was stationed near the Fulda Gap, then strategically considered the most likely flashpoint of a shooting war between the US and the USSR.  The Fulda Gap was defended on our side (in part) by the 3rd Army Armored Division. On the other side was Russia's 8th Guards Army, defending a still prostrate Eastern Germany.

[2] The new Patton tanks were equipped with 90 mm cannons.

[3] I wondered what may have caused this momentary shudder in confidence. Nixon's Checkers Speech? The Brits going nuclear?  I think what may have been bothering him was a sense that Eisenhower really was going to be elected.  Ike was leading in the polls at the time. For a young soldier, this meant that the leadership at the very top was about to change--and that change would come on his watch when Ike took office in January the following year.  What effect could that have had on his mind?  Eisenhower after all had been a very successful general--a European war general.


  1. The only comment I'd make on his "momentary shudder in confidence" is that it was percolating among his peers, else I'd be surprised if he'd give voice to it. Whether it was the impending Ike election or his regiment's own leadership, that kind of "shudder" is the result of a problem in the command structure. Just my armchair-philosopher opinion :)

  2. Well I've peaked ahead through the rest of the year and it's really the only place where he shows that kind of attitude.

    I think you're right about the other things-good call!

    BTW, have you ever watched Nixon's Checkers speech? I'd read about it but I never actually watched it until now--thanks to YouTube!

  3. It's amazing your father stationed in a land a few scant years before was under the domination of one of the world's cruelest dictators. Imagine that world ten years before your father was there. And then five years before. How things can change.