62nd Highway Patrol (MP)
 Germany      1948 - 1958

Stories of the Highway Patrol



y  Lawson Stevens




Being in the US Army Highway Patrol was one of my most interesting jobs. Our duties included routine traffic patrol, accident investigation, assistance to motorists, responding to incidents, and providing escort services when needed. We would work for twenty-four hours on, and forty-eight hours off; not that we were really ever off - we had our highway patrol sedans to clean and polish; equipment to maintain; and all of our leather to spit shine to a mirror finish. But, we could catch up on sleep, which was often interrupted while on duty, even though we could bunk down on standby in our uniforms after midnight. Our shift could be tiring, and it was fatigue which contributed to my accident.


I was assigned to a small contingent of seven or eight patrolmen, and three sedans in the medieval town of Bamberg. We operated out of the Bamberg Military Police Station to cover a network of secondary roads radiating in every direction - to Wurzburg in the west, Nurnberg in the south, and Coburg in the north. And at that time, our unit commander was Sgt. Nathan Elec, a seasoned veteran of World War II, who had the experience and confidence to deal with the large military organizations in the area. He also had the experience and wisdom to handle our own internal problems when they occurred.


It was not uncommon to put four hundred miles on our sedan during a shift. In the evening, we would take a break to eat in the mess hall, or go to the Bamberger Hof, the military transient hotel, for an ., MP sandwich" - anything we wanted on the house. It was after such a meal break on a cold, foggy, winter night, that it happened. I was not aware of being tired, but with a full stomach, the heater on, and the monotonous drone of the wheels on the road, the stage was set. Fatigue can be insidious - it can gradually envelope you like a gray fog which mesmerizes the brain and slows down reaction, such that without warning, you slide from the conscious state to a deep sleep ....


I awoke when my partner shouted, and grabbed the steering wheel. The car was already off the pavement and on the grass verge before my senses reacted enough to steer the car away from a looming tree; the rear fender did not survive the collision, but fortunately we were not hurt. While I was happy about that, I knew that it had been my fault, and the Army would likely prefer a statement of charges against me, and I would be liable for the damage. We radioed the Bamberg MP Desk Sergeant with a report, and he in turn contacted Sgt. Elec. "Bring the sedan back in", he ordered.


He listened to my story without much comment. He had already prevailed upon the Motor Pool Chief to open up one of their garage bays to hide the vehicle. Then, he instructed me to bring two cartons of cigarettes the next day for the workers who were going to repair the sedan. For in those days, the Motor Pool workers were all German, and American black market cigarettes a much sought after commodity. It was the last I ever heard of it. As far as I know, the matter was closed. There had been no witnesses to the accident on that dark night, there was no formal report, and no incident reported on the police blotter; the accident "never happened". The Army was different back in 1954, and so were the unique conditions of Cold War Germany. I don't think such a cover-up could be managed today.


Lawson Stevens would also like to know if there is anyone who has a copy of the Soviet Military Liaison Mission card. This was a wallet size cards that was issued to the military. The card contained an image of their license plate and a telephone number to call should you see one. Lawson would like to have a copy of the card should anyone have one.  If you need assistance  in making a copy, just send it to me and I will make a copy with the help of the computer and return the card to you.


Lawson’s address is:

411 Red Bud Drive

Elizabethtown, KY  42701




This story previously appeared in Volume # 7, Issue # 4, June-July 2004 edition of "The White Mice"


<< Previous page

^ Top of page ^

Next page >>

HP Home Page

© 2001-2020  (and beyond) by the Webmaster and the  62nd. Highway Patrol Association.
ALL rights reserved.©