restricted access Chapter 3. A Plan for Life
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CHAPTER 3 A Plan for Life I never planned to enlist in the army. I did it almost on the spur of the moment. I had just graduated from the McDonogh School in June 1946 and was working on the farm at Oakington that summer. I had not decided which Ivy League college to attend, although my mother favored Princ­ eton because of my academic standing and athletic record. I was in Havre de Grace early one Saturday evening when I noticed an army recruiter’s bus parked there. On an impulse, I decided to see what the recruiter had to say. World War II combat had ended, but we still had more than a million troops overseas waiting to come home and armies of occupation to staff and organize in Germany and Japan. Germany had been devastated— cities leveled by bombs, hundreds of thousands of homeless refugees, no food or medicine, and, in some cases, little in the way of government. Our country, however, was weary from war and having trouble finding enough soldiers to go over and help with the occupation. The recruiting sergeant told me they were offering a unique, onetime deal.You could enlist in whichever branch of the army you wanted, pick where you’d like to be stationed, and serve only eighteen months instead of three years. If you enlisted before the end of the year, you automatically would be eligible for the benefits of the GI Bill when you got out. Frankly, I was tired of school and was not looking forward to college . The idea of military life appealed to me. After all, I had been wearing a uniform and doing military drills as a student at McDonogh since I was in the fifth grade, and by the time I graduated I had become the cadet major of the cavalry.To me, the thought of enlisting seemed like a pretty good deal: I’d get to see a bit of the world, serve my country, and line up tuition for college. 31 A PLAN FOR LIFE I went home and told my family what I was thinking of doing. My motherwasnotenthusiastic,butbothmyfatherandgrandfatherthought it was a good idea, so I enlisted. I knew that service in the army overseas would allow me to see what the real world was like on my own and away from my protected environment. Germany After basic training at Fort McClellan in Alabama, I boarded a Victory troopship that crossed the Atlantic and arrived at the German port of Bremerhaven in December 1946. Along with other infantry replacements , I was sent by troop train across Germany to US Constabulary headquarters in Bamberg. In 1945 the Allied victors, while meeting at YaltaandPotsdam,haddividedpostwarGermanyintofourparts—aBritish sector to the north, a small French sector to the west, an American sector to the south and southeast, and a big Russian sector to the east. General George S. Patton, commander of the Third Army, had been given major responsibilities in 1945 to organize the postwar occupation . As part of his response, he established an elite mobile unit called the US Constabulary. It consisted of mechanized cavalry regiments, at least six of which had been horse cavalry prior to 1938. At peak power, the constabulary consisted of three brigades, ten historic regiments, and about thirty-five thousand soldiers. Each regiment had spotter planes, Jeeps and armored cars, a motorcycle platoon, and a horse platoon for patrolling the roughest terrain.1 Horse platoons like that of the 6th Constabulary were among the last active horse cavalry units in the US Army. I was initially assigned to constabulary headquarters in Bamberg, but because of my experience in the McDonogh cavalry and with ponies and horses, I was transferred to the Horse Platoon, 6th Constabulary Regiment. Our platoon was sent to a crossroads about fifty miles from the beautiful, historic city of Coburg, north of Bamberg. We were billeted in a little town called Neuendorf, where we were directed to patrol the border along a forty-mile section between the US and Soviet zones. 1. “The U.S. Constabulary in Post-War Germany (1946–52),” prepared by DAMH-FPO, US Army Center of Military History, last updated May 20, 2011, http://www.history.army.mil/ html/forcestruc/constab-ip.html. 32 CHAPTER 3 The Cold War had just started and the Allies were concerned that the Soviets would be running agents across the boundary line into the US zone. There were not many roads where we were...


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