After the fighting ended in Europe, when an opportunity for fun or doing work that was interesting presented itself, I was determined to make the most of it. In parts one and two, I described how my buddies and I got transferred to the MP’s outside Antwerp in Belgium but opted instead to go AWOL to Paris in search of better jobs. During a tryout at Stars and Stripes, the Army daily newspaper, I’d impressed the editors enough to get them to send for me once they had the address of my new unit.
Back in Antwerp, my buddies Charlie and Bob decided to try again for a way to avoid the MPs.
At the area headquarters, a major interviewed the two in a hallway, giving their resumes quick glances. “No, nothing for you here,” he said, “report to the MPs.” Then he motioned for me to come forward and looked at my records, “You stay,” he said.
After Germany surrendered in 1945, the U.S. Army lost control of its huge force in Europe. At least they lost control of rambunctious soldiers like me.
The control began to slip when the Army disbanded units like the 280thCombat Engineers where I had served as America beat Germany on its home turf. My roots were cut and I was transferred to Antwerp in Belgium to join what my orders said was a Machine Records Company. And I wondered, what the hell is that?
I’d grown accustomed to living in comfortable apartments we had taken over from Germans so when I arrived at a tent village in the middle of a swamp in Antwerp I was mad and ready to do battle.
I had a target immediately. A second lieutenant sat behind a desk wearing a tie neatly tucked into his well-pressed shirt. Wow. I hadn’t seen anyone wearing a tie during 18 months in Europe’s combat zones.
The lieutenant studied my Army bio, which showed I had two years of college before I enlisted. Continue reading →