Eight weeks of basic training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. Confidence Course, Physical Training, "double-time" everywhere we marched, field strip cigarettes.

On my first trip from Paris to Toul, I was accompanied on the train by a female nurse who was travelling on orders to become a staff member on the Hospital Train. She and I shared a cab ride from the Toul station to the 57th Field Hospital (my destination).

The train was a beautiful thing -- freshly painted and beautifully maintained. Only one problem -- it could not be moved because its couplers were incompatible with all French locomotive power. I never saw that nurse again.

The fellow in the CO's office (what was that office called? -- something about Officer of the Day, as I recall) was surprised to see a woman arrive on our 100% male base. The train had not been staffed for many months. I don't remember how the awkward situations was resolved. But we never had a female staff member on our base. (Except for hostesses in the Service Club, who did not live on the base.)

"Lossage due to leakage" was motor pool's Sgt. Lucas explanation when gasoline remaining in storage tanks did not match amount reflected on use logs. I got to know the motor pool staff very well. They "gave" me a 3/4 ton truck. That was to their advantage because I made sure the truck was properly maintained. I gave it a fresh coat of Army OD paint, including white stencileed markings.

COMZ Europe -- Army Communication Zone Europe from 1945 to 1991 in the defense of Europe from possible attack of the USSR.


(Click)

We had Polish Labor Service troops who pulled our guard duty. In addition to guarding our hospital grounds, they guarded the neighboring "TED" (Toul Engineering Depot), "TTD" Toul Transportation Depot, "TOD" Toul Ordinance Depot, and the Hospital Train that never moved. Unlike us, they carried live ammunition.

An interesting and enjoyable part of the time I was stationed in Toul, France was the time I spent in the dark room provided by Special Services. The man in charge of the dark room and related services was a Mr. Vasko. He hired me to teach photography and dark room techniques to other Army folks. (I had learned my dark room skills from Hideo Koike, at the SIU Design Department, his skills were "technical.")

Just ran across this clipping from "Stars and Stripes," probably from 1960. I won a camera and a "silver" desktop cigarette case! Now I'll have to find the photo that won the prize -- an image of an old man who had fallen asleep while selling pretzels a few feet from the Gran Prix road track at Rheims, with a Formula One race underway. (Formula Ones are loud.)

Prize-winning photo (a print) has recently lost in the shuffle, recently found:

I was stationed with a field hospital (think MASH) occupying a "station hospital." Photos will follow in a few weeks. Why the delay? Read this.

In the Army, I was a Preventive Medicine Technician; as a draftee, and college junior, I was ripe for special training. I wanted to avoid "ground pounding" so when I finished my eight weeks of Basic training at Ft. Dix, NJ, I asked to be a dental technician.

"Second eight" training: Found myself at Ft. Sam Houston in Texas, waiting for "dental" school to start. Typical Army efficiency had me waiting many weeks for school to start. Tired of waiting, I asked if there were other options. That put me in school for preventive medicine with a class of old-timers wearing many stripes.

One other slick-sleeve (Doug Wilcox) and I spent much of our time tutoring the old guys. Doug was a pre-med drop-out from Stanford -- and an excellent guitar player, having worked on the stage at the Hungry I.

In those days, every soldier had an "MOS." i.e. 111 was Infantry. 941 was Preventive Medicine Technology, etc. Today the PMT has this "M.O.S."

The school was really good, including a lot of classroom study and many field trips to food service operations, swimming pools, water treatment facilities, etc.

When we graduated, Doug and I flipped a coin for the only two vacancies in the Army. All the NCOs were already stationed, and been trained for their new M.O.S.

Doug went to Korea, I went to France, where I replaced an alcoholic Master Sergeant and inspected water points, swimming pools, and NCO and officer clubs. I also traced the sources of venereal disease, meeting every prostitute in eastern France, and taught photography for Special Services.

It wasn't talked about much, but our mission was to 1) man the station hospital and 2) evacuate the military dependents to Switzerland if the Russians invaded Germany and France. We might not have been very good at that. One guy was told to drive a "deuce and a half" -- with trailer -- in convoy to Switzerland. He was from New York City and had never driven even a car. He lost the trailer over a cliff in the mountains. Our rifles were M-14s. Trained in "basic" with an M-1, I had never seen an M-14 before being given one in Toul. We were not given ammunition -- a good thing; I did not know how to load the rifle.

About that 3/4 ton truck pictured --
"Mine" was made by Studebaker. Don't know when, much earlier than when I drove it. You may note in one picture — its "shine." The motor pool sergeant, Sgt. Lucas, "gave it" to me; one less for him to care for. I painted it -- even adding a nice caduceus at one time. (Not in any photos I have :( )

While in Toul, I owned a Fiat 500. Drove it to "the alps" and to Reims, etc. If I drove the Fiat, I paid for the very expensive gas, but driving the 3/4 ton, the Army paid. Two buddies and I drove a Citroen "Traction Avant" on a trip to the French Riviera -- and camped in our army tents on the beach at Saint-Tropez.

My boss was Captain Jay Rosenblum, a medical doctor from NYC, commissioned "Captain" because of his being an MD. Jay hated the army and seemed to enjoy irritating others in the military -- wearing argyle socks, walking outside "uncovered," etc. (Jay and his wife had me to dinner; I photographed her and their baby, etc.)

This situation was great for me. I never had a pass request refused, and he would arrange for orders taking me to Paris. I woud frequently drive "my own" 3/4 ton truck dressed in fatigues (unlike today, clothing prohibited off base unless on duty.) We had to wear Class "A's" if off base; but being on orders I could wear fatigues on that 200 mile drive.

I'd park "my" truck in the basement of the U. S. Embassy where it was guarded by U.S. Marines. Parked, I'd change into civies in the back of the truck and show my orders to a USMC guard to exit, and to re-enter the garage. I'd stay in Paris as long as I could afford. I had a favorite hotel and used that "local knowledge" when Phyllis and I visited Paris on our honeymoon trip in 1965 -- that night shot below may have been taken on our '65 trip.

Dog

Images

Here are some images to go with the above text:

Grant
Grant
Grant
57th Hosp. Motor Pool
Grant
Grant
Grant
Sgt
Sgt. Lucas
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Grant
Reims
Grant
Grant
today
Grant
Hospital Jeanne D'arc
Grant
Citroen (in Monaco)
Grant
Grant
"PM Express"
(in Switzerland)
Grant

Another pretty good web page by
Grant MacLaren

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