Write Again…A journey still remembered

Published 11:22 am Wednesday, April 14, 2021

On Thanksgiving Day in 1959, we enjoyed a really splendid meal, as good as any one might have had if he were home.  

We weren’t home, though. “We” being I Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Armored Cavalry Regiment, at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The day, mostly, was just spent taking care of last minute things in preparation for our departure.

That night the lines were long in front of each of the several phone booths located near a large facility that, among other uses, served as a PX and a very large snack bar.  

I think I had watched the Duke-Carolina football game that day on the small TV in the dayroom. Not really clear on which day I watched it, though.

Now, the following tale is certainly not one of much significance or even interest to any but those of us directly affected.  But for us, for me, it was a step into a whole new experience, in many ways.

We were up at the usual time the following day. Early. After breakfast we stripped our beds and turned sheets, blankets, and pillows into the supply room. The mattress was “stockaded,” that is, rolled into the “S” configuration. Our duffel bags were packed and ready for departure. “Bag and baggage” as they say in the army.

Then what came next? We waited. And waited. True to the familiar saying, it was “Hurry up and wait.”  

It was mid-to late afternoon when we loaded onto buses for the fairly short ride to Standiford Airport in Louisville.

The plane we boarded was a four engine, prop driven – not jets – job the army had evidently engaged from some non-military source. It was not a MATS plane.

We spent approximately twenty-four hours on this plane, and traveled six-thousand miles. Tiring, but exciting too.

Our first touchdown was in Dover, Delaware. We remained on the plane, and after a short period of time were once again up and on our way.

Next stop, Gander, Newfoundland. And guess what? We had to remain on the plane. Of course.

Many hours later we were told we were approaching Shannon, Ireland. That was exciting. The Emerald Isle. We were allowed off the plane, and went into the terminal. Some of the fellows bought the dark beers that were available. I didn’t feel quite that bold. This was before I discovered German beer.

We had a nice layover in Shannon, and then we were up and away on the last leg of our flight. A tiredness had set in for most of us, certainly for me.

It seemed it wasn’t so very long before the pilot came on and told us that if we looked out the port windows we would be able to see the lights of Paris. Paris!

Then a bit later, we were told to prepare for landing…in Nurnberg, (Nuremberg) Germany. The adventure awaited.

And so…twenty nine months later we stood topside on the USNS Patch, and glimpsed the Statue of Liberty, after a nine-day crossing. Back home in the good old U.S. of A, aka to soldiers as “the world,” and “the land of round door knobs.” It was the first day of May, 1962.

After a night spent in a motel in New Jersey, in the early evening of the following day the bus pulled into the station (long gone now). I was home.

And now I have my memories.