Stories of the Highway Patrol
NOBODY EVER WOUND UP IN THE 62nd MP CO. [HIGHWAY PATROL]
by Eugene R. Klompus
Back in Baltimore where I was raised, there are many Denny’s Restaurant's. And, like Denny’s all over the country, they are all open 24 hours. The food is usually adequate-but never great. And so, the folks in Baltimore, often say, "Nobody ever left their home with the intention to go eat at Denny’s; it is just a place that you went to ... if every other restaurant was closed". You simply wound up there!
I like to tell that story because it reminds me that the 62nd Military Police Co.. Highway Patrol, was never a place where you "wound up". As I have often said at our annual reunions, every one of us was privileged to be selected to serve in the 62nd• When we completed MP School we had no idea where we would be assigned. After all, there were many, many Military Police outfits around the world ... we had no choice in where we would be sent. And, though it might have happened a time or two, I have never met anyone who went from MP school directly to the 62nd MP Co. Highway Patrol. And that's the point: Most of us went to another MP outfit and were later hand-picked and transferred to the 62nd• It was a privilege that you earned at some other unit by demonstrating traits that met the high standards of the 62nd Military Police Co. It was a place where you were deliberately sent. Nobody ever wound up in the 62nd.
My case was typical. When I completed MP training at Camp Gordon, Georgia, I was assigned to the 540th Military Police Railway Guard Battalion at McGraw Kaserne in Munich, Germany. It wasn't bad duty. We rode trains all over Germany, checking passes and policing the many American troops who travelled by rail. On other occasions we rode and guarded Mail Trains to make sure that nobody tampered with the U.S. Mail or cargo. The "Mail Runs" as we called them, were dirty jobs: we slept on air mattresses in the train cabooses. Whenever the train made a stop, we had to get off and guard the mail cars until travel resumed. During cold weather, we wore Parkas and carried Carbines. When the train reached Bremerhaven's Mail Depot [It was always the final destination}. we were billeted in a military installation and later rode a passenger train back to Munich. The return runs were cleaner and more interesting as we wore "Class A" uniforms and resumed our primary role of keeping the GIs sober, checking passes, etc.
The 540th Railway Guard Battalion was amply staffed and we would get a day off every week. I served this unit for 3 months and had settled into the routine and assumed that I would be there for at least 12-18 months.
I will never forget the day I was called into the 540th Orderly Room and told that Captain Woods wanted to see me. I wondered what I might have done wrong. I must admit that I entered the Captain's office with some trepidation. I quickly relaxed when he told me that his team was extremely pleased with my performance and professionalism. At first I thought that he was going to offer me a special pass or something. Instead, he spoke the words that changed my life then ... and until this very day: "Klompus. we have been alerted to an opening in the 62nd Military Police Highway Patrol in Augsburg, and we think that you have demonstrated your maturity and readiness for that assignment". Within 48 hours, I had completed all the paper work and transfer requirements. Thus my last train ride wearing a 540th MP Railway Guard Battalion insignia was the one that transported me from Munich to my new duty station in Augsburg. Little did I know what a distinguished outfit I would now be serving: The 62nd MP Highway Patrol Co.!!!
I recall several things about my first day in the 62nd• First, I remember being taken to Captain Oscar Oglesby's office. Oglesby greeted me with his trademark smile. He told me that he was a good friend of Captain Woods [my former CO] and said I came highly recommended. He told me that the motto of the 62nd was "Service, Prevention and Enforcement" and that was what he expected from me. In between his words were a few expletives. During my time in the outfit, I developed a great respect for Oglesby; he always backed his men. But, he could sure "kick butt" when necessary.
Getting acclimated at the 62nd MP Co. was not difficult. Everyone was helpful and demonstrated pride, responsibility and confidence. Instantly, I knew that I was going to enjoy this duty.
My days in the 62nd were interesting and usually exciting. You never knew what to expect. I recall the occasion urgent "Red Light and Siren:' relays with blood or organs ... racing on the autobahn to our detachment's Southern boundary ... picking up the package from our Chiemsee counterparts-and then racing to our Northern boundary to pass the package on to the Stuttgart Patrol, to continue its path Northbound. I believe that we called these runs "Cooperation's". We took these missions very seriously.
I also remember many occasions when we rescued stranded motorists. We would help them with gasoline [we carried a 5 gallon can in our trunks], flat tire fixing and directions. And, we didn't restrict these "assist" to American soldiers, tourists or military dependents; we also aided many non-American civilians whom we saw while patrolling. Many of these rescues resulted in letters of thanks from congressmen, military offices and government agencies. Like most detachments, we also got our share of very favorable newspaper articles. We displayed many of these articles and "thank you" notes in the orderly room.
Of course, handling incidents was a major part of our responsibilities. And, since the largest part of our detachment's territory was rural, this often involved brawls and other problems in remote bars and gasthauses that were way off the beaten track. Since these incidents often involved civilians, we sometimes requested the presence of the German Landespolizei. They were always helpful to us; they were highly feared and respected by the people.
Being a 62nd Highway Patrolman, and its close relationship with the public had many advantages. Among them was the opportunity to get to know the German community and to learn the language. While there, I learned to speak the language very well ... for which I am very proud.
I will be forever grateful for my service in the 62nd Military Police Highway Patrol. My memories of that service are indelibly within me. But, most of all is my gratitude for the privilege of being hand-picked for the assignment. In other words, it wasn't a place where I simply "wound up"!
Eugene "Gene" R. Klompus, Det. C - Augsburg
This story previously appeared in Volume # 14 Issue # 2, April-May-June 2011 edition of "The White Mice"