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Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, United States

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Drei Jahre in Deutschland

The couple sailed to Hamburg from Boston
On a Displaced Persons ship deadheading back to Europe.
The quarters were spartan, and the food was mediocre,
But the baby settled down to sleep regularly on the eleven day trip.

They were quartered first in an old resort hotel in Bad Wildungen,
Then given a requisitioned house in town, with a maid.
He went off to work in a kaserne in Fritzlar, close to the border,
That housed the First Battalion of the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

This was his first encounter with enlisted men in the army,
As platoon leader of thirty men, two light tanks, five jeeps,
   and two old half-tracks.
The G.I.s were a mixture of urban delinquents and poor rural boys,
Who had been encouraged to join the army by local authorities.

Fortunately, the sergeants were experienced men
Who had stayed in service after the war
And also stayed in Germany during the occupation.
They were patient and helpful to the new lieutenants.

Work was mainly maintenance of equipment and
Classes for the troops in their various combat specialties.
He took to teaching classes with ease,
Developing original material in addition to the field manuals.

Periodically, the battalion traveled to Vilseck or Grafenwoehr
To fire their weapons on the ranges;
Or engaged in patrolling maneuvers along the border
Between East and West Germany.

The strategic mission was to be the early warning of
A Soviet invasion, and to fight a delaying action if it occurred.
So when the U.S. forces were enhanced and reconfigured,
The new commander moved the battalion to Fulda,
   in a less exposed salient.

The families were moved to Frankfurt, to live in the
Old I.G.Farben apartment building,
Until new quarters were constructed in
Giessen, nearer to the kaserne in Fulda.

This caused a period of almost nine months,
When they only saw each other on two day leaves.
She almost decided to pack up and go home,
But her mother forbade her to do so.

So their second son was born in Frankfurt,
And has a German Geburtsurkunde to prove it,
With the parents listed as, Beide Katholische.
The family of four moved to a new airy apartment in Giessen.

When the battalion adjutant returned to the States,
He was given the job, and liked it, as primarily office management.
But the new battalion commander thought he belonged in the field,
And made him executive officer of Tank Company.

This was a job in motor pool management
Keeping seventeen M26 heavy tanks on the road,
And acting as range officer at Vilseck,
Where he lost about forty percent of his hearing.

Thinking of his posting after his three year tour in Germany,
He remembered how impressed he was by Colonel George Lincoln
Who was a Rhodes Scholar and department head at West Point.
His lectures on leadership were intellectual and inspiring.

So he applied for graduate school, to study for a Ph. D.,
And to teach military history at West Point.
His new battalion commander was also a scholar,
Gave him an enthusiastic recommendation, and sent it up
    for command endorsements, duly received.

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