I Go AWOL to Paris and Find a Career – Part 1

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 280th Combat 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

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