Stories of the Highway Patrol
My first assignment was in Korea, while there I had re-enlisted for a direct assignment in Germany. I feel that I should start at this point in order for you to understand just how I became a member of the 62nd. At the time I did not have an MP MOS, nor had I been to the MP school. Although I had performed duties as an MP in Korea, I only had a Security Guard MOS. This is another story which I may also tell sometime in the future.
ENROUTE TO EUROPE
I arrived early in the morning at Ft. Dix. and a day late, and proceeded to the processing station. I had been on the bus most of the night which said nothing for the four hour layover in Washington. D.C. During processing I was asked why I was a day late, I quickly explained that I had fallen asleep in D.C. and missed the bus. I don't think that he really bought that excuse. He said okay, we will write it up as an extra day of leave; he then gave me a piece of paper and told me to take it to another desk where they would charge the day as leave. I kept walking, tore up the paper and heard nothing more about it. After processing, I was assigned to the Replacement Company.
I reported to the company and was giving bedding and assigned to a barracks. I found the building and checked the first floor for space, everything there was taken; I went to the second floor and found it to be only half full. I located an unoccupied double decked bunk, removed my jacket and placed it on the top bunk while I stretched out on the bottom bed. It wasn't long until I was dead to the world. Sometime late in the morning I was awakened by a big angry looking guy, who repeatedly ask for my name and told me to get out of the bed. The first thing that entered my mind was that this big guy was trying to get the bottom bunk which I occupied. J finally told him that my name was I.P. Freely, and that I wasn't about to get up. J could tell right away that this wasn't what he expected, or wanted to hear. He backed up and roared like a Lion," report to the orderly room" , acting like a bull and stating that he was the 1st Sgt., he then turned around and departed.
There was a Sgt. just a couple of bunks from me and was present during confrontation. He came over and said that he thought that this guy was the 1st Sgt. And that I should report to the orderly room. I put on my jacket and proceeded to the orderly room. I knocked on the door and was told to enter. There he was, looking mean as hell. This time he was wearing his jacket with all of his strips. He directed me to the Company Commanders office and told me to report. I knocked on the Captains door and waited for his reply. As I stood before the Captain with a snappy salute telling him my rank and name, I was wondering what would happen, what have I gotten into. The Captain requested that I tell him exactly what had happened. I related the entire story as it happened, J also stated that this person was wearing no jacket, or strips at the time of our confrontation. I also informed him of the others present, and of the Sgt. who had come to me afterwards. It was almost noon, and time for lunch. The Captain said that I could go and requested that I return to the orderly room at 1300 hours [1:00 pm].
I must say that I had a very good lunch. It was some of the best food that I have eaten in a Mess Hall. At 1300 hours on the button, I reported to the orderly room. As I entered, I could see the big guy sitting behind his desk. I also learned that his real name was Schultz. and not big guy. Upon seeing me Schultz let out one of his famous roars "what in the hell are you doing in my orderly room?' I explained that the captain had told me to return at 1300 hours. Again, good old Schultz in a loud voice informed me, that I was to get the hell out of his orderly room and to never return. I thanked him and returned to my barracks. Much to my surprise, I was only given one little detail during my entire stay.
During my stay at Ft. Dix, I got to meet a lot of MP's who were also being sent to Europe. I had never met any of them before but, they all seemed like a good bunch of guys. Movement day came and we were loaded on buses and taken over to McGuire Air Force Base for a flight to Germany. The aircraft was flown by the Navy and had four big propellers with a large engine behind each one. After taking off, our first stop was Newfoundland, Gander Field. This was a cold lonely place, and not much to look at. After refueling we were once again on our way. The next stop was Preswick, Scotland. Now this is a real place and one that I would like to return to one of these days. We were able to get off and have a real breakfast after having flown most of the night. Getting back on board and into the air was no problem, and this time we knew that our next stop would be Frankfurt, Germany. All together it took about 17-18 hours of flying time.
We were met at the Rhein Main Air Base Terminal and transported by bus to the 21st Replacement Company somewhere in downtown Frankfurt. While in-route I noticed a lot German people riding bicycles. I was amazed because I had never seen so many elderly people riding bicycles before. Arriving at our destination we were given bedding and assigned to an area for our stay. For those not familiar with the military in those days, being assigned to a Replacement Company was usually from one to three weeks. There was a lot of free time and we were permitted to go down town to the bars and restaurants if we choose.
THE 62ND MILITARY POLICE [HIGHWAY PATROL]
I am not sure just how long we had been at the 21st; at least a week must have gone by before we found our names and assignments posted on the board. We were all excited about where we were being sent, my friends were being assigned to various MP Battalions throughout Germany and France. I was the only one in the group that was assigned to the 62nd MP Company. Asking some of the old timers if they knew anything about the 62nd, no one could, or would tell me anything. I thought to myself that the 62nd must be the worst unit in the army and that somehow Sgt. Schultz from Ft. Dix had gotten his revenge. About mid-afternoon on Friday, I was taken to the Bahnhof and put on a train for Heidelberg, Germany. Arriving at approximately 1800 [6:00 p m] hours, I was met by a SFC Todd from the 62nd and taken to Company Headquarters at Patton Barracks. I was given a place to stay and was told that I would be there until Monday, at least. On Saturday morning SFC Todd informed me that I was to go with him to get a drivers license. It is a good thing that he took me, without him I would never have passed the test. I had never taken a drivers test like this one in my life. With the help of SFC Todd I managed to get my permit with little; or no problem.
I spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday wondering just what kind of a mess I had gotten myself into. I was the only one in the room assigned to the 62nd and no one to talk to, or ask questions of. On Monday morning I got all dressed up and went to the orderly room. The 1st Sgt., and I talked for a short time, he then directed me to the Company Commanders office. I knocked on the door and waited until I was ask to come in. I reported to a short red headed Major who was seated behind the desk, he was looking at my records. As I stood there at the rest position, the thought entered my mind "Ed you have had.it now, this outfit must be tough to have a Major for a Company Commander". The Major would look at me and then at my records without saying a word. I didn't have long to wait, finally he looked up without a smile and said "Smith, the fastest way to make Corporal in this outfit is to come in a Sgt., suspicions confirmed, my heart dropped to the soles of my shoes. After continued conversation the Major started to smile and my heart slowly seemed to climb back up my body to the spot where it was supposed to be. The following are a few of the memories I have of Major Byrnes;
Major Byrnes and I seemed to hit it off real well after that. I remember one morning while in the Orderly Room delivering the Morning Report; he came out of his office and caught me with ball
point pens in my brassard. This was a no-no and something that he didn't like to see. He reached up and pulled the pens from the brassard and informed me just where the pens were to be kept. From that time on when he heard my voice, or saw me in the Orderly Room, he would stick his head around the corner, say nothing and look at my brassard; of course I had taken the pens out and left them in the patrol car. I soon made it a point to show him my brassard as I entered the room, he would always smile and ask how things were going.
I don't recall just when it was but, the 62nd started a Soldier of the Month, or Quarter and I was one of those selected. I remember being informed of this and ask what I would like to have from a selection of gifts, I chose a cigarette lighter, a savings bond also went with this award. What I wasn't aware of was the fact that this award would be presented at the HACOM Provost Marshal office by Major Byrnes and the HACOM PM. On the day of the award the only trousers that I had clean were too long for low-quarters and I tried to get them to let me wear boots with a blouse to no avail. I had also been short of time and didn't have a haircut. I thought that I had gotten away clean until it came time to leave and Major Byrnes stopped me in the hallway. He quickly stated "Smith, dam-it, take that money and get a haircut and then get those pants shortened,"
Another time I accidentally set a couple of cars on fire that had been involved in an accident on the Mannheim autobahn. It was raining at the time and I was assisting in setting out some flares. What I didn't know of course was that one of the vehicles had a ruptured gas tank and that gas was running down the autobahn mixed with water. The fire was extinguished with only minor damage to the vehicle with USA plates which just happened to be an Opel. I ask the owner if he wished to sell the vehicle, he replied that he would and I bought the car for $50.00. The next day I was called to the telephone, Major Byrnes was on the line. His first words were "Smith, I hear that you bought yourself a car." I replied that I had, Byrnes then stated "Smith, you lucky SOB, be a little more careful the next time", nothing more was said.
Enough about the Major, let's get back to the story. I was assigned to Det. "B" at Seckenheim. This is on the Autobahn about half way between Mannheim and Heidelberg. The detachment commander was a Capt. Lyle J. Garitty and the NCOIC was a SFC. Broadus High. I was assigned an area and quickly unpacked my things. At this point I was tired of living out of my duffel bag. I was soon introduced to everyone, and sent to see the operations Sgt [Sgt. Charles L. Kingsley]. Sgt Kingsley briefed me on the way things were done, procedures, reports, and what it was all about. Sgt. Leo B. Schan was the NCOIC of maintenance and supply. Sgt. Schan issued me my equipment and patrol car, number #39. This was a 1954 Ford; I must say that it was as clean as any new car that I had ever seen. Even the motor compartment sparkled. I was impressed with everything I saw.
Detachment "B" also had a sub-detachment in Karlsruhe on the Autobahn. Being small and having no mess facilities we were given extra money for food. Most of the time we ate in the Snack Bar located next door at Seckenheim. In Karlsruhe there was no Snack Bar close by. The food was great. no matter where you ate. On my first evening there some of the guys ask me to go with them to the Gasthaus for a few ‘beers. I think they had in mind to get me intoxicated on the strong German beer. Most all of the German beer ran approximately 17%, and it didn't take much for the inexperienced drinker. What these guys didn't know was that I had long been used to alcohol. The beer in Japan and Korea was just as strong as the German beer, and I had drunk my share of that while there. I think the guys were very much surprised that they were unable to get me intoxicated the way they had anticipated.
I Worked with other members of the unit for a couple of weeks until I learned the routine. I remember my first day working alone. It was also the first day that I investigated a fatal traffic accident. I hoped that I hadn't forgotten anything, and that ( would get everything right on the report.
It must have pleased every one, I got no complaints. I would have lots of experience in accident investigation before leaving this assignment.
Approximately sixty days after arriving at the detachment there was a NEO alert. This is a practice of what you are supposed to do in the event of war. Ours was to escort military dependents and civilians in their own vehicles to a port in France. We made a full trip across France about every three months. I had my vehicle loaded, my partner and I were about to leave the parking lot when Capt. Garitty flagged us down and informed me that I had just been promoted to Cpl. I was surprised and excited, I thanked the Capt. And we were on our way.
In February of 1957, I went to Traffic School at Oberammergau for three weeks. In April, I returned to Oberammergau for five weeks of MP School. Both were great classes and Oberammergau and Garmish were fun places to be at the time.
This assignment was a true adventure, something new and exciting every day. More often than not we would go to Mannheim and make our rounds at the bars. Usually this did not start until around 11:00 pm and would usually end somewhere around 3, or 4 a m. I remember one night we were sitting around the table in one of the bars, I think it was the Rheingold. There was this German girl who was more than a little intoxicated who started to buy us drinks. When it came time to pay her bill, she pulled up her dress, reached into her stocking and pulled out a wad of 50 and 100 Mark bills that would choke a horse. There were a couple of young looking German males sitting near by, I assumed that since they were trying to get the girl to go with them, they also knew about her money. After all she had made no secret about it. The girl [can't remember her name] for some reason had chosen me as the one she wanted to leave with. Somewhere around closing time we managed to get her down stairs and into a waiting taxi. She was trying her best to get me into the taxi with her. It was tempting, and I probably would have had it not been for the fact that I did not know where she lived. she was very drunk, and I had no money for taxi fare. At this point I wasn't sure if she would have paid for the taxi or not. How would I have gotten back to the station? I closed the door of the taxi and waved as the taxi drove out of sight.
One of the guys, Glen E. Kline who lived in an apartment with his wife soon became a good friend. Glen helped me a lot. Glen's tour was almost up and he would be leaving soon. Glen drove a 1949 Opal Kapatan that he had purchased from the US Army Salvage Yard located across the Autobahn. It had once been a staff car. Of course everyone called it the Rock-n-Roll auto. It was blue in color, four doors and had a six cylinder engine. One of the things I liked about the car was its mox-nix sticks [a little arm that was recessed in the post between the doors that came out with the flick of a switch to indicate which way you were going to turn]. Kline was to soon rotate back to the states and sold me the car for $300.00.
TO BE CONTINUED
This story previously appeared in Volume # 6, Issue # 4, July-August 2003 edition of "The White Mice"